Back in the 1920s, some clever marketing guy first came up with the catchphrase “The gift that keeps on giving” to help sell phonographs. As we here at the Hits sat in a meeting Saturday, listening to an analysis of the credit swap deals that are costing the city of Detroit hundreds of millions of dollars, a spin on that slogan came to mind:
“The debt that keeps on taking.”
Held at the Central United Methodist Church downtown, the meeting attracted about 140 people willing to forgo the pleasures of a spring day to sit inside and watch a PowerPoint presentation delving into the arcana of complex financial instruments.
The information was presented by members of the Moratorium Now! coalition, which is in the process of analyzing some 3,000 documents obtained from the city through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Formed in 2007 to fight home foreclosures and evictions, the group is now looking into the causes of the city’s debt crisis as well. The link is easy enough to see: the same banks that marketed predatory loans are now reaping massive profits as the result of bad bets made back in 2005, when Kwame Kilpatrick was still mayor and the city needed to borrow $1.5 billion to cover pension obligations.