Navajo Nation Issues First Bonds

November 02, 2011

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was originally reported by Bloomberg. It is our policy to give full and accurate attribution in all of our news stories. We regret our failure to do so in this case.

The Navajo Nation plans to issue its first bonds to raise funds for local infrastructure projects. Unlike their state and municipal government counterparts, tribes typically face more challenges borrowing money.

This move may pave the way for other tribes looking for economic stimulus.

The $120 million sale would be the biggest by a tribal government that isn’t backed by gaming revenue. Instead, the Navajo Nation would use revenue from oil, gas and coal royalties to build shopping centers, restaurants, office parks and industrial complexes. The Navajo Nation has more than $1 billion in reserves.

Standard and Poor’s gave the tribe an investment grade A rating, one level above California’s bonds.

"The tribe has been able to get a fairly solid credit rating, so it should be attractive to investors," said Gavin Clarkson, an expert in tribal finance who teaches at the University of Houston Law Center. "And at the end of the day, it should make a major difference to the lives of tribal members."

The bond sale is intended to create jobs and stimulate the economy. Almost 40 percent of the reservation’s residents lived below the federal poverty level in 2009.