Courtesy of the New York Times…
Alabama county mulls bankruptcy; could be largest failure in history
With irresponsible borrowing and excessive leverage threatening the financial well-being of so many families, at least one county may be joining them in the soup line.
Jefferson County, Alabama, with a population of 662,047, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, is preparing for a possible bankruptcy filing, according to The New York Times.
The culprit? $3 billion in bonds with rapidly escalating interest rates resulting from the exact same short-sighted financial planning that got so many home owners into trouble: adjustable rate loans (In this case, auction rate securities) that require higher interest payments as interest rates move up. The current turmoil in the credit market has sent the county’s rates as high as 10%.
Town officials told the Times that a bankruptcy filing is not a sure thing and that efforts to negotiate with the creditors, Citigroup (NYSE: C) and JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM) have “some likelihood to work.” If it doesn’t, this will be the largest municipal bond default in U.S. history, and will etch Jefferson County’s name in the annals of infamy alongside Orange County and the Washington Public Power Supply System.