### radionz.co.nz Monday 5 November 2012
Afternoons with Jim Mora
The flirtations of our local bodies with money mechanisms on money markets that may be getting ratepayers into schtuck.
16:35 The Panel with Garry Moore and Finlay MacDonald (Part 2)
Topics – Every schoolboy used to know that, at the height of the empire, almost a quarter of the atlas was coloured pink, showing the extent of British rule. An Otago University academic says Dunedin ratepayers should be very concerned about losses on interest and currency swap schemes that appear in the council’s annual report. Millionaire Kim Dotcom would be putting his money where other investors wouldn’t if he goes ahead with plans to relaunch Pacific Fibre, according to Prime Minister John Key. (24′42″)
Audio | Download: Ogg Vorbis MP3 | Embed
16:50 Jim Mora, Dr Robert Hamlin and guests discuss Auckland City Council and Dunedin City Council activities with respect to interest rate swaps (IRS). Together, the councils may have squandered up to $200 million of ratepayer funds. Is a royal commission of inquiry required? In Dunedin City Treasury’s case, interest swap rates and financial derivatives may be being used to ‘assist’ stadium financing, and much more. In the city council annual report the IRS activity goes unexplained, being recorded as (multi-million dollar) losses (see page 146).
The (NZ) Banking Ombudsman suggests some customers & their advisers don’t understand the product. [IRS and Derivatives]
### stuff.co.nz Last updated 05:00 04/11/2012
Banks ‘plundering society’ globally
By Rob Stock
Claims banks missold interest-rate swaps to businesses and local authorities have been making headlines around the world. Interest rate swaps are a derivative financial tool used by sophisticated businesses with skilled treasury functions to limit interest rate risk. But it is becoming clear that in places such as Britain, Italy and America, interest-rate swaps were sold by banks to organisations that did not understand the risks they were taking. In case after case, interest rate swaps often sold in 2007 and 2008 as “protection” against interest rates rising sharply have served mainly to protect bank profits by locking businesses and local bodies into high levels of interest ahead of those rates falling.
This article is from the May/June 2012 issue of Dollars & Sense magazine.
The Swap Crisis
We have your city. Pay up, or else!
Interest rate swap deals have allowed the big banks to hold local governments and agencies hostage for tens of millions of dollars.
By Darwin BondGraham
In 2002 a little-known but powerful state agency in California and Wall Street titans Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, and Ambac consummated one of the biggest deals to date involving a type of financial derivative called an “interest rate swap.” A year later the executive director of the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Steve Heminger, proudly described these historic deals to a visiting contingent of Atlanta policymakers as a model to be emulated. Swaps were opening up a brave new world in public finance by extending the MTC’s purchasing power by $200 million, making a previously impossible bridge construction schedule achievable in a shorter timeframe. The deal would also protect the MTC from future volatile swings in variable interest rates. To top it off, the banks would make a neat little profit too. Everybody was winning.
Then in 2008 it all came crashing down. The financial system’s near collapse, the federal government’s unprecedented bailouts, and global economic stagnation mean that the derivative products once touted as prudent hedges against uncertainty have instead become toxic assets, draining billions from the public sector.
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr