While not the most scientific measure of foreign interest in municipal debt since the advent of Build America Bonds, Sylvan Feldstein, in his keynote address Wednesday at the National Federation of Municipal Analysts annual conference in Santa Ana Pueblo, N.M., noted more foreigners buying copies of the Handbook of Municipal Bonds.
Co-written with bond maven Franklin J. Fabozzi, the handbook is the standard reference textbook for the industry. The 1,332-page book currently sells for around $95 on amazon.com.
Feldstein does not have access to comprehensive data on who buys the book. What he does have is royalties, and basic information on where they are coming from.
In the latest six-month period, he collected royalties on 18 copies of the handbook from overseas, out of about 200 books sold.
Feldstein said he never before collected royalties on more than four or five overseas sales, which he suspects until now were made mainly to business libraries.
At the end of the fourth quarter, foreigners owned $60.6 billion in municipal securities, according to the Federal Reserve, about 2.2% of the market.