Lots of ink has been spilled about the famous ex-Major League pitcher Curt Schilling, who convinced the state of Rhode Island’s Economic Development Corporation to issue $75 million of privately placed “special and limited obligations bonds” to fund a loan to his gaming company. After getting the loan Schilling and Company proceeded relatively quickly to go bankrupt and was unable to repay the loans to EDC, which funded the bonds.
Matt Bai, of the New York Times, wrote a lengthy story of the personalities involved but provided little detail about the financial underpinnings of the story.
Josh Barro, at Bloomberg, detailed how he badgered Rhode Island’s governor Lincoln Chaffee with questions about the 38 Studios bonds and then was offended when he didn’t get the answers he wanted. Barro unfairly blasted the governor for his pension reform, which is comparable to what 40 plus other states have done.
Then my fellow Reuters blogger Felix Salmon got immersed in the intricacies of public issuer obligations to bondholders in Rhode Island:
Rhode Island’s moral obligation bonds, then, are a bit like the bonds of a sovereign nation: they’re a measure of willingness to pay. And when it comes to public-sector borrowers, willingness to pay is all important. Yes, it would be legally possible for Rhode Island to default on its moral obligation bonds while staying current on its general obligation bonds.