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Advance Refundings of Municipal Bonds

63 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2013 Last revised: 14 Aug 2014

Andrew Ang

BlackRock, Inc

Richard C. Green

Carnegie Mellon University - David A. Tepper School of Business

Yuhang Xing

Rice University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 16, 2014

Abstract

Municipal bonds are often "advance refunded." Bonds that are not yet callable are defeased
by creating a trust that pays the interest up to the call date, and pays the call price. New
debt, generally at lower interest rates, is issued to fund the trust. Issuing new securities
to fund payments on existing liabilities generally has zero net present value. In this case,
however, value is destroyed for the issuer through the pre-commitment to call. We estimate
that on average in an advance refunding the option value lost to the municipality is
approximately 0.75% of the par value not including fees. This translates to an aggregate
value lost of $7-9 billion, depending on the option pricing model used, from 1995 to 2013
for the bonds in our sample, which are roughly two-thirds of the advance refunded bonds
that traded during the period. The worst 5% of the transactions represent a destruction of
$5.3-7.5 billion for taxpayers. We discuss various motives for the transaction, and argue that
a major one is the need for short-term budget relief. Advance refunding enables the issuer
to borrow for current operating activities in exchange for higher interest payments after the
call date. We find that municipalities in states with poor governance generally destroy more
value by advance refunding.

Keywords: municipal bonds, advance refunding, public finance

JEL Classification: G12, G28, H20, H24

Suggested Citation

Ang, Andrew and Green, Richard C. and Xing, Yuhang, Advance Refundings of Municipal Bonds (April 16, 2014). Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 13-65. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2305900 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2305900

Andrew Ang

BlackRock, Inc ( email )

55 East 52nd Street
New York City, NY 10055
United States

Richard C. Green (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University - David A. Tepper School of Business ( email )

315B Schenley Park
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-2302 (Phone)
412-268-7064 (Fax)

Yuhang Xing

Rice University ( email )

6100 South Main Street
Houston, TX 7705-1892
United States

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