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Illinois Paying for Its Big Debt

July 04, 2010

Brian Battle discusses the issuance of another $900 million in Build America capital projects bonds by the State of Illinois. Battle said, "Every time Illinois comes to market, the premium they have to pay gets higher because the market experiences Illinois debt fatigue." The secondary market, where previously issued bonds are bought and sold, provides a clue of what investors think bonds are worth at that moment, Battle said. If that proves to be the case, Illinois may have to pay a 1 percentage point premium to move its $900 million in bonds Wednesday, which would translate into another $10,000 a year for every $1 million in bonds issued. Battle declined to estimate a total extra cost, noting the 25-year issue is a collection of bonds with varying maturities. But a ballpark estimate, arrived through simple multiplication, reveals an annual premium of about $9 million. The state can still borrow, Battle said, "but it's paying more because it's a compromised borrower."