Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Auction-Rate Education

Nothing will ruin a perfectly fine day away from school faster than another phone call from your delusional principal reading the Chicago Tribune's exacting, hair-raising reporting of David Vitale's investment follies on behalf of CPS. To use Common Core parlance, Vitale and the Board's investment in auction-rate bonds and interest-rate swaps could be described as robustly complex. You see, reader, auction-rate bonds are bonds that go to the lowest bidder and whose interest rates are regularly reset. This practice has been so successful the SEC issued a Cease and Desist order to stop such *innovation* and a basic Wikipedia search notes these markets have largely been frozen since 2008. No matter, nothing like using an untested, risky means of finance to needlessly expand the district.

Unfortunately for tax-payers and public school students, such robust complexity may end up costing the district $100,000,000 more than necessary upon repayment. One can safely assume the Board's, "unanimously approved contracts...that didn't even specify exact costs," will benefit Wall Street grifters and not any students. 

If terms like auction-rate bonds and interest-rate swaps don't readily roll off your tongue, the Tribune describes such deals variously as: exotic, unconventional, flavor of the day, and risky. If these articles were not so finance-laden one would think you were reading about CPS education policy. 

Using another refrain that could be a blanket statement for most CPS decisions, Jackson Potter of the CTU puts it best when he says, "It did not have to be this way."