Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Goldman Sachs 33 Year Stranglehold on Nashville

Goldman Sachs and Nashville will boost city-backed debt by almost 40 percent to borrow $633 million for a new convention center.

A riverboat gamble with very little upside?

The city plans to pay off the debt over the next 33 years with a series of revenue streams targeting visitors to Nashville. But it has pledged to use a $130 million-a-year pool of general fund revenues — excluding sales and property taxes — if there's a shortfall, as critics expect based on the struggles of convention halls around the country. 

Metro payments on the debt will average $39 million to $40 million a year. {more}

Lucky for Nashville, the municipal bonds for the center were sold before the SEC civil suit against Goldman was announced.
"I think Nashville's convention center deal is just another example of how elected officials are induced to approve a financing with promises that the public's guarantees will never be necessary, that the project will pay for itself," said council member Emily Evans, who used to work on the other side of the dais in the municipal bond business. "Yet once the votes are counted, the city's assumption of risk becomes a major sales point for investors, and protecting the taxpayer is forgotten."

Goldman, Sachs is the book-runner for {the bond} offering. Other members of the syndicate are Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Fifth Third Securities Inc., Harvestons Securities Inc., Mesirow Financial Inc., Morgan Keegan & Co., Morgan Stanley, and Stephens Inc. {more}

The Goldman Defense: Caveat Emptor 
The essential thrust: buyer beware.

Did Goldman scam the Nashville politicians into a heavy debt for a convention center that will rely on an economy improving to past peak levels in order to pay off the debt with extortion fees to visitors to the city?

Will taxpayers be the losers because revenues will be way short of the Goldman projections? Cutbacks to city services to service the debt? Goldman would love to have Nashville as one of its 'assets.'

Play with the devil and you may get burned. Buyer beware indeed.


  1. Well if all else fails, they can convert it into a FEMA camp.

  2. Borrow 633 million and pay back 1.3 TRILLION? That's some easy money for Goldmine Sacks.

    Nashville must have some savvy politicos that can forecast revenue streams three decades into the future.