Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Market Conditions Delay Sale of Stem Cell Bonds

The sale of $250 million in California state bonds to finance human embryonic stem cell research has been postponed from Sept. 27 to Oct. 4 to see if market conditions improve, providing a "better deal" for the state's taxpayers.

At this point, the delay looks like a pretty good move given the Federal Reserve Board's reduction in interest rates.

The California Stem Cell Report Tuesday learned of the bond sale delay and queried the state treasurer's office, which handles the sale, about the reason.

Spokesman Tom Dressler replied, "We made a determination that if we hung in for another week, market conditions would give us as better deal for taxpayers."

What that means is that the bonds would require a lower interest rate to be sold to investors. And since the state must pay the interest, that translates to lower costs to taxpayers.

Also on Tuesday, Fitch Ratings announced that it rated the bonds at "A+," which is below the top rating and the result of the state's continuing state financial problems.

Fitch said the rating reflected the state's "broad, diverse and wealthy economy, moderate debt burden, and notable progress made to date reducing the structural imbalance remaining from the fiscal crisis earlier in this decade and beginning to rebuild its financial position. These strengths are offset by still significant near-term imbalances, the state's continued reliance on volatile capital gains revenues, including from the slowing residential real estate market, decelerating revenue growth and ongoing spending pressures in education, corrections and infrastructure."

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