Auction-rate bond

Auction-rate bond.

An auction-rate bond has a term of 20 or 30 years but pays interest at an adjustable rate. The rate is reset on a fixed schedule every 7, 14, 28, or 35 days in a modified Dutch auction. The process is similar to the way rates are set when new US Treasury bills are auctioned.

Municipalities and not-for-profit institutions have used these securities successfully to reduce the cost of borrowing for long-term financing.

However, because auction-rate bonds are vulnerable to lowered credit ratings, rising interest rates, and lack of liquidity, auctions for these bonds can fail in situations such as a subprime mortgage crisis.

Failed auctions, in which there are too few buyers, affect both owners and issuers. Bondholders who wish to sell what they assume to be liquid investments cannot do so. At the same time, issuers are forced to pay substantially higher default rates, which are set when the bond is initially sold. This added cost can increase local tax rates.

Some issuers may refinance to conventional long-term bonds when credit tightens. In addition, in 2008, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ruled that municipal bond issuers can legally bid on their own issues to prevent an auction from failing, provided they disclose their participation.

References in periodicals archive ?
The situation dates to 2008, when the credit crisis led to a collapse in the auction-rate bond market, and bond insurance-one of the more popular means of enhancing interest rates became scarce, explains Matthew J.
An estimated $495 million of bond proceeds will be used to refund/restructure the system's variable-rate and auction-rate bond portfolio and approximately $768 million will be new long-term debt used to fund future capital projects or reimburse the system for prior capital projects or acquisitions.
Many issuers faced failed auctions earlier in the year when there were no bids on their auction-rate bonds, which reset every 7, 28, or 35 days.
Auction-rate bonds allow issuers to issue debt maturing in as long as 40 years at short-term rates that are reset every seven, 28 or 35 days through bidding.
6 million in cash to purchase the series 2003 auction-rate bonds which will then be redeemed in fiscal 2009, which Fitch views as a credit positive.
Bay Area Toll Authority (CA) (Bay Area Toll Bridges) auction-rate bonds series 2007 D-2;
The auction-rate bonds are currently earning interest at the maximum rate.
Those bonds will be supported by two separate letters of credit from PNC Bank and Wachovia Bank, with proceeds to be used to refinance Bayhealth's series 2002 and 2003 auction-rate bonds.
South Carolina Jobs-Economic Development Authority (SC) (Palmetto Health Alliance) hospital improvement revenue auction-rate bonds series 2003B rated 'BBB+'.
Further, the airport continues to retain a relatively high variable-rate exposure despite the early retirement of $364 million of auction-rate bonds in early 2008 covered from airport fund balances.
The maximum rate definition limits the amount of interest the trust can pay on the auction-rate bonds.
The trust documents define the maximum rate on the auction-rate bonds as the least of one month LIBOR plus 1.