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POLITICS

Let’s pretend Chevron and ADM are government agencies

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

When government picks winners and losers, it’s usually the big guy who wins. Today’s New York Times covers a special sort of government favor for businesses: when states allow business to sell tax-exempt bonds to finance certain big developments.

In effect, these are municipal bonds, but the “municipality” is a politically favored big business. Highlights from the Times piece:

A winery in North Carolina, a golf resort in Puerto Rico and a Corvette museum in Kentucky, as well as the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the offices of both the Goldman Sachs Group and Bank of America Tower in New York — all of these projects, and many more, have been built using the tax-exempt bonds that are more conventionally used by cities and states to pay for roads, bridges and schools.

In all, more than $65 billion of these bonds have been issued by state and local governments on behalf of corporations since 2003, according to an analysis of Bloomberg bond data by The New York Times. During that period, the single biggest beneficiary of such securities was the Chevron Corporation, which last year reported a profit of $26 billion….

Chevron used most of its federally tax-free borrowings to expand a refinery in Pascagoula, Miss. Archer Daniels Midland, the agribusiness giant, used about $180 million in tax-exempt bonds to improve its grain-processing facilities in Indiana and Iowa. Alcoa raised $250 million to renovate an aluminum plant in Iowa.

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