David Crane: “POBs are meritless products deliberately misnamed by bankers in search of fees. Just say no.”

7 Dec

Thank Dave for sending me this “5 minute read” on Pension Obligation Bonds from David Crane. It’s certainly worth more discussion.

https://davidgcrane.medium.com/pobs-bankers-as-pushers-f0963bf853b8

David Crane

David Crane

LecturerLecturer in Public Policy

About

David Crane is a lecturer in Public Policy at Stanford University and president of Govern for California. From 2004-2010 he served as a special adviser to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and from 1979-2003 he was a partner at Babcock & Brown, a financial services company. Crane also serves on the board of the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California and formerly served on the University of California Board of Regents and as a director of the California State Teachers Retirement System, Environmental Defense Fund, and the Volcker-Ravitch Task Force on the State Budget Crisis.

While I have no formal background in finance, I think it’s obvious that POB’s are a scam that is only going to benefit pensioners and bond holders. But maybe people would rather hear it from a guy with many degrees and respectable credentials. Crane puts it very simply, “Pension Obligation Bonds (POBs) do NOT reduce pension obligations.”

“POBs would be a truthful title if the bonds actually reduced pension obligations. But they don’t. All they do is increase pension assets, which produces an accounting benefit (more assets — the same liabilities = a lower unfunded liability). Economically, a POB is no more than a “carry trade,” which is borrowing at a low rate to bet on hopefully-higher-yielding assets (e.g. stocks, private equity, hedge funds, etc). Not surprisingly, Wall Street also sells and manages those products.”

And here’s an important point – these bonds are SOLD to public agencies by bond managers, people who make a lot of money selling and managing these bonds. Read on. 

“When the smoke clears, a POB issuer has (i) the same pension obligations it had before, (ii) more debt, (iii) paid investment banking fees, and (iv) gambled the proceeds on products that beget even more fees for bankers.”

That seems pretty clear to me, even a housewife can see what’s going on here. You must wonder, are there kickbacks to city staffers? 

Crane concludes, “POBs are meritless products deliberately misnamed by bankers in search of fees. Just say no.”

That’s right, say it loud, and say it now. Besides sending emails to your newly elected “fiscally conservative” council, you can comment in the consent agenda at Chico Engaged:

https://chico-ca.granicusideas.com/meetings/349-12-slash-1-slash-20-postponed-to-12-slash-8-slash-20-city-council-meeting/agenda_items/5fbdb04ff395e7fe1d013e64-2-consent-agenda-all-matters-listed-under-the

And, Mike Wolcott is looking for “Pro vs Con” writers to argue issues like this – you can reach him at mwolcott@chicoer.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: