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August 16, 2013

No Banker Left Behind

The Detroit bankruptcy case has been cast as a contest between bondholders and pensioners that can be resolved only by shared sacrifice.

In principle, we have no problem with that, though in practice, the pensioners’ fair share will have to take into account their extreme vulnerability: Public pensions are not federally insured and many municipal retirees do not receive Social Security.

What we do have a problem with is shared sacrifice that does not seem to apply to the big banks that abetted Detroit’s descent into bankruptcy.

Last month, just days before its bankruptcy filing, Detroit reached its first settlement with creditors. The settlement was with UBS and Bank of America, and though the precise terms will not be nailed down until the bankruptcy judge weighs in, Detroit is set to pay an estimated $250 million to terminate a soured derivatives transaction from 2005.”

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Read full New York Times editorial here

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