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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Anti-Social Investment Watch: Ratings Agency Downgrades Half Moon Bay 'Vampire Bonds' To 'Robin Hood Bonds'

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2009 at 12:40 PM

click to enlarge This economic metaphor comes equipped with a band of merry men
  • This economic metaphor comes equipped with a band of merry men
Last Week we urged anti-social investors -- the opposite of do-gooder "social investors" who shun tobacco, blood diamonds, and the like -- to load up on a pending "vampire bond" coming out of Half Moon Bay, 30 miles southwest of San Francisco.

The bonds were designed to pay off an apparently bloodsucking Woodside land speculator who'd purchased a piece of property out of town, then went to court because of pre-existing environmental conditions that kept him from building a housing subdivision. The developer settled for $18 million -- which the tiny city with an annual budget of $11 million planned to pay off by issuing the aforementioned bonds.

In our post last week, we suggested the bonds create a golden opportunity for anti-social investors "by allowing them to send money in the direction of a speculator whose machinations have threatened to bleed a small town to death."

New ratings released by Standard & Poor's, however, suggest the bonds might  more aptly bear an image of Robin Hood than of Count Dracula. According to The Bond Buyer, S&P said the Half Moon Bay residents are loaded, with an average income level 168 percent of the national average, so they'll easily pay off the bonds.

For anti-social investors, this means being forced to again resort to old standbys tobacco and blood diamonds.

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Matt Smith


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