Sarasota News Leader

09/28/12

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CHARTER CHANGERS Sarasota City Hall. Photo by Norman Schimmel AMENDMENT WOULD BAN CITY INVESTMENT IN DERIVATIVES By Stan Zimmerman City Editor The multi-billionaire Warren Buffett calls de- rivatives "financial weapons of mass destruc- tion, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal." One of the seven City of Sarasota Charter amendments on the Nov. 6 ballot would ban city investment in such a financial product. The seven amendments are not numbered or lettered. They will appear on the fourth and fi- nal page of the ballot. There is no "shorthand" way to remember a given amendment. How- ever, our "amendment countdown" will give you a key word for which to search. For this amendment, the key word is "derivatives." The amendment language says "a derivative is defined as a financial instrument the value of which depends on, or is derived from, the value of one or more underlying assets or in- dex of asset values." Derivatives can be very attractive because they are "leveraged." That means for every dollar invested, the return can be $50 or $300. But there is another side to the coin. They can lead to ruinous disaster if they go wrong. The Detroit Free Press reported that the City of Detroit lost $408 million after a decade of investments in derivatives. The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and other financial presses have all run stories in the past two years about

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