Entertainment: Why banking's big shots swoon as they see a fistful of dollars in the stars

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The Independent Online
Wall Street has a message for David Bowie. Thank you, thank you, thank you. When times are booming - like now - the brokerage boys go crazy trying to dream up new ways to draw in the dollars of investors who themselves are scouring the horizon for new places to invest their rivers of fresh money.

In fact, the Bowie bonds have everyone swooning.

Any star with a real prospect of long-term earnings, most probably from royalties, can expect a sudden, up-front, dose of cash.

The banks rake in giant fees for arranging the deals. And the investors themselves have what should be a surefire success.

Such deals are less exotic than may first appear. For years, markets have traded in bonds guaranteed by future cash flows that can be reliably predicted. Mortgage-backed bonds are the most obvious and popular example.

Called fixed-income securities, they are attractive for investors who buy them. Over a fixed period, say ten years, they are assured a set rate of interest.

They pocket that interest, and get their original money back when the bonds mature. Thus they are less risky than stocks and shares which are vulnerable to the surges, but also the sudden falls, of the markets.

In recent years, the range of asset-backed bonds has broadened ferociously. Several US cities are raising cash, for instance, by selling bonds backed by unpaid parking fines.

City officials know that they will get most of the cash eventually, but they need it now. So they go to the investors for it.