22 Apr 2009

Market gamble costly for council

10:30 am on 22 April 2009

A heavy price may have been paid by Gosford City Council in New South Wales for a foray into the share market.

The ABC reports it could lose about $A39 million due to the global financial crisis.

Four years ago, the council sank more than $A1 million into a new type of investment that promises higher returns than traditional Government bonds.

A collateralised debt obligation (CDO) is a financial package marketed by former Wall Street giants such as Lehman Brothers that bundle good risks with bad.

Gosford planning consultant and developer David Kettle told the 7.30 Report on ABC that the council may have lost in the region of $A39 nillion.

He said says he is concerned that the community will end up paying the price.

Peninsular Chamber of Commerce president Matthew Wales has called for a ministerial inquiry.

Gosford City Mayor Chris Holstein says the council is suffering from the fallout of the global financial crisis like many other investors.

He says the council "is no different than your average Joe in the street."

Professor Stephen Keen from the University of Western Sydney says the bonds the council invested in are very risky: with some "running at 70 - 80% default."

He told the programme: "I think they're toast."