Issuers in four states have accounted for nearly half of the $164 billion of Build America Bonds issued since the program’s inception 19 months ago. Municipal market participants say the lopsided distribution should be a consideration for investors, but for others the unbalance has limited value in measuring the program’s success.
Created as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, BABs allow issuers to sell taxable debt and receive a 35% interest cost subsidy from the federal government. The program is set to expire at the end of this year. Congress is considering extending them for at least a year, perhaps at a lower interest cost subsidy level. Some critics of the program have pointed to the uneven distribution of the use of BABs as a weakness.