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Nov 12 2013

Who would like to buy some creationist junk bonds?

This is an interesting financial analysis of Ken Ham’s Ark Park. In addition to Answers in Genesis’s usual excuses about all the delays, and their inevitable whine about ObamaCare forcing them to pay for the sinful hedonism of their employees, there’s some revealing discussion about their latest effort to raise cash by selling bonds.

In an executive summary sent to its supporters, Answers in Genesis makes the bonds sound like a decent investment. The group is offering bonds with 7-, 11-, and 15-year maturities, at yields between 5 and 6 percent. A 7-year bond starts at $250,000, while an 11-year bond begins at $50,000.

Tempting as those rates may seem, there’s a small catch. As Answers in Genesis readily admits, the bonds “are not expected to have any substantial secondary market” and are “not an obligation of AiG.” Somewhat alarmingly, the bonds are unrated, an indication that they’re extremely risky—and almost impossible to resell. High risk, higher yield: These, in essence, are creationist junk bonds.

What does that mean?

“Should the project be unsuccessful,” Yang notes, “AiG holds no responsibility in meeting the interest payments of these bonds and the bonds may default.” If the project falls through, in other words, investors won’t just lose their interest payments: They’ll lose their entire investment.

Wait. So right now, if the park fails, AiG just gets to pocket all the money they’ve raised, with no obligation to their investors? They have incentive to fail! The whole story sounds like a new twist on The Producers. They’ll probably even find a way to sneak Hitler references into it.

39 comments

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  1. 1
    cottonnero

    Springtime for Ken Ham and Kentucky/
    Winter for PZ and sense…

    (Sigh… the trouble with having Cuttlefish around is knowing there’s someone else who can do it better.)

  2. 2
    Zeno

    One more imaginary form of redemption.

  3. 3
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    Mmmhmmm. Methinks it is time for some short selling!

  4. 4
    busterggi

    Hitler was a better painter than Darwin!

  5. 5
    doubter

    They’ll probably even find a way to sneak Hitler references into it.

    I’m sure that Nazi Evilutionists will be blamed for their inevitable and spectacular financial flameout…

  6. 6
    otranreg

    @1

    ‘Don’t be stupid, be a smarty — come and join the Ken Ham Party!’

  7. 7
    left0ver1under

    Ham and goose eggs (i.e. zero ROI) is more like it.

    Whether they pay out or not, I have no doubt they will give the suckers investors false information or bad advice, putting them in trouble with the IRS.

  8. 8
    Roestigraben

    As much as I’d want to support this awesome project and pocket a sweet five percent interest on a super-risky bond without any creditor protection, I fear I have to forego this offer. I read somewhere that lending money is a sin.

  9. 9
    sqlrob

    theophontes @ 3:

    Mmmhmmm. Methinks it is time for some short selling!

    Don’t you require a buyer to be able to short?

  10. 10
    Nick Gotts

    But what happens to the bonds in the event of the Rapture?

  11. 11
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    In an executive summary sent to its supporters, Answers in Genesis makes the bonds sound like a decent investment. The group is offering bonds with 7-, 11-, and 15-year maturities, at yields between 5 and 6 percent. A 7-year bond starts at $250,000, while an 11-year bond begins at $50,000.

    I currently get 4% on a 5 year bond from our local energy provider. The loan is used to put solar panels on a school roof. Bonds started at 1.000, I can sell them back to the company whenever I need the money and hey, since it’s publicly owned it’s pretty safe from bankruptcy (this is Germany).
    Somehow their investment plan doesn’t look that good to me…

  12. 12
    jblumenfeld

    Where to begin? Even if Ham intends to pay them off, the interest they’re paying is way too low for their extreme riskiness. He probably intends to sell them to friendly churches, who will basically be gifting him the money.

    The likelihood that these things will ever pay off is just about zero – but if by some miracle (snicker) the project becomes a huge success, Ham can ‘call’ them back. This means if they ever become a good deal, they’ll be taken away.

    As for shorting – oh, how nice it would be if there was a credit default swap market for these things, but alas, no bank would do it, because for them it would be the equivalent of buying the bonds. Good luck wit dat.

  13. 13
    grumpyoldfart

    The Ark Project has got quite a few million dollars in cash from the mugs in the pews and that money is already being used to pay the salaries and bonuses to the project’s organisers.

    The big money boys, though, are merely promising to make donations but they won’t be handing over any real cash until the project is underway.

    Ham seems resigned to the fact that the project will never get underway so this new plan is probably designed to attract real cash (instead of promises) that the project organisers can use to pay their salaries until the day it is all gone – at which point the project will be wound up.

  14. 14
    blf

    Fund The Final Disproving of Eviloution and WIN $$$’s

    Dear gulliable ejitbeliever in magic sky faeries,

    We are the verge completing an infallible PROOF that evilution is false, a tool of he-who-shall-not-be-named to corupt all man and free all wimmin, and to spread the false doctrine of Commie Change. Our PROOF means the uppity athiest socialist moolsin fascist squatting in The White House must be impeached, and Faux Newts is always correct.

    Yet there is a problem. We have almost exhausted our preliminary funding. Our children’s piggy banks are empty.

    However, a solution is at hand! YOU!! Yes, you, you can help us! How? Buy our SureFail SooperFaerie SchemingFundie bonds.

    A bond is like a loan. You get your money back when it becomes due. With interest! So you get back more than you loaned to us.

    Since we intend to sue the secularists for spreading lies when we publish our proof — a proof that will stand up to any lawyer in any court of law — we will win TONS of money. And, more importantly, consign evilutionism, the left, and Teh Gay to the trashcan of complete failures!

    Buy a 7-year $1,000,000 bond and get a 40% rate, or contact us for other packages (calls cost $6.16 a second).

    Get rich defeating the evilutionists once and for all!

  15. 15
    Matt G

    Yes, but with God on their side, how can it possibly fail? With God, all things are possible! If the bonds default, it’s because God WANTS your money to be in Ham’s paws, er, hands (apologies to all creatures with paws).

  16. 16
    Larry

    I’m not a professional investor but I study a lot and try and learn from those like Warren Buffet and Peter Lynch and, with a very conservative style of investing, my recommendation, vis-a-vis these AiG bonds, is to go to Vegas and put all your money on red. The upside is you’ll double your money while the downside is exactly what you’ll get by buying these bonds.

  17. 17
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Dear (Insert Xtian Retiree’s name here),
    My name is Ken Ham, and I am a Prince in the Nigerian Royal Family….

    Hey, a 411 scam would be more honest.

  18. 18
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ sqlrob

    Don’t you require a buyer to be able to short?

    We’ll know soon enough if there are buyers. If there are, we can short. We just gotta create a bit of a buzz around Arks at some stage. We can’t fail to make big moollah on this – its all backed by God.

    @ jblumenfeld

    Good luck wit dat.

    Okaaaay. True, banks might be understandably recalcitrant. But then we just need to go LARGE on this one. I’m thinking more along the lines of setting up a big church-backed mutual fund, with myself appointed as Benevolent Dictator for Life CEO/CFO. As a clever little spin, I’m looking at appointing YHWH as Chairman, and his son to the board.

  19. 19
    Piotr Gąsiorowski

    The original Ark was every inch imaginary. It stands to reason that its faithful life-size replica should turn up to be equally imaginary.

  20. 20
    Piotr Gąsiorowski

    Typo alert: turn up => turn out

  21. 21
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    This sounds like a Kickstarter campaign run by a known con man.

  22. 22
    Randomfactor

    Jeremiah 2:20 (NIV)
    “Long ago you broke off your yoke and tore off your bonds; you said, ‘I will not serve you!’ Indeed, on every high hill and under every spreading tree you lay down as a prostitute.

  23. 23
    doublereed

    A Ponzi scheme would be much more effective of a scam imo.

    But I guess they aren’t intelligent enough to figure out how to do one of those.

  24. 24
    raven

    These are unrated Municipal bonds.

    Which can and occasionally do default and are unsecured by anything except the Ark Park revenues.

    I can’t see who would buy them. The churches might but they are mostly having financial problems themselves these days. Certainly no investors who know what they are doing are going to bother.

    The whole Ark Park looks like an affinity group scam.

  25. 25
    nmgirl

    While yes these are junk bonds in every spirit of the world, it is not because they are unrated. Rating costs money and many small issuers aren’t willing to pay the fee.

  26. 26
    naturalcynic

    The whole thing smacks of the power of belief. Aren’t you investing your tithes and offerings for the hoped for payoff?

  27. 27
    robnyny

    It’s not unusual for bonds to have very little secondary market, even bonds from prime issuers. I checked some secured bonds that I worked on, and not a single one has ever had a stock market trade. Of course, they might have had street trades. But this issuance is just too small for that.

    This sounds more like an unregistered public offering that a private offering. There does not seem to be any sort of disclosure document in place.

    Nothing indicates what the source of repayment would be. There might be some sort of conduit arrangement between the issuer and the museum, but it is not clear from what is disclosed in the linked article.

  28. 28
    robnyny

    “Junk bonds” in the traditional sense are rated, just not higher than BBB-.

    I don’t think there is a municipal component to this.

  29. 29
    raven

    I don’t think there is a municipal component to this.

    When I first checked on this, that is what they were supposed to be.

    The actual issuer was going to be the city of Williamstown, the place that is going to get rich when the Ark Park is built. As it turns out, Williamstown has no responsibility to repay the bonds. IIRC, these are industrial development bonds, a type of municipal bond.

    It’s possible they might have backed out. If there was anyone conscious in that town they should have.

    Another AiG Government Bailout | NCSE
    ncse. com/ blog/2013/09/another-aig-government-bailout-0015038‎

    Sep 13, 2013 – … he’s trying to build an amusement park centered on Noah’s Ark. He … to fund the park, bonds issued by the city of Williamstown, Kentucky.

  30. 30
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @piotr, #19

    The original Ark was every inch imaginary. It stands to reason that its faithful life-size replica should turn up to be equally imaginary.

    As it happens, right now I have a faithful, life-size replica in my fridge. It is no bigger or smaller than the original. It uses no more or less wood in its construction. It can even be honestly said that each held exactly the same number of animals of the exact same types at the exact same times – and this is true continuously for at least the last 6000 years!

  31. 31
    Al Dente

    doublereed @23

    A Ponzi scheme would be much more effective of a scam imo.

    Since it’s already known Ark Park is having financial problems, Ham would have trouble selling a Ponzi scheme. Too many potential investors would ask where their payments are coming from.

  32. 32
    Acolyte of Sagan

    Noah’s Ark was one thing, but Noah’s Bubble?

  33. 33
    robster

    Surely Ken and his happy clappy band of brain dead idiots could pray to their chosen deity(s) for a positive resolution of their funding crisis. The fact they don’t seem to be considering or doing the pray thing would suggest Ken and his ilk really don’t believe their nonsense. Even if praying to the baby jesus fails, which it will, he could borrow any of the other available deities, there’s the old holy spook, that virgin mary thingy, there’s also Mo and Al on the other team, not to mention those Asian and Indian god options, so there’s plenty to choose from. It just needs one of the many to work and the problem is solved. Don’t hold your breath though…

  34. 34
    notaandomposter

    are there ramification of the legality of these bonds (if municipal or not?) if the ark park venture is no longer an LLC but a 501c3? Can a municipal industrial development bond issue (or grants or other tax incentives) be for a declared religious ministry? Did Ham just shoot himself in the foot? (by trying to get around obamacare did he make his venture ineligible for gov’t monies?)— I hope so

  35. 35
    raven

    are there ramification of the legality of these bonds (if municipal or not?) if the ark park venture is no longer an LLC but a 501c3? Can a municipal industrial development bond issue (or grants or other tax incentives) be for a declared religious ministry?

    Good question.

    The Ark Park has always been hard to understand. Deliberately so and that is always a bad sign.

    The owning company is a for profit company. The operating organization is something related to AIG, a religious nonprofit that contracts to the for profit company. That means people donating money to the Ark Park are donating to a for profit corporation.

    And Kentucky has dumped lots of money into this morass. They have given them huge tax breaks and supposedly are going to improve the freeway offramps to it, which will probably run into the millions. Williamstown is lending their name to dubious bonds. As to when they run into separation of church and state, IMO, they’ve long since run over it.

    It might not matter. The Ark Park can always just play out the clock. Get the money upfront, spend it all on themselves in salaries, perks, benefits, and expenses, and then walk away when it is gone. I don’t have a problem with that. Much of the money donated by fundies is spent on high living. Luxury car makers have to eat too.

  36. 36
    ppb

    Acolyte of Sagan @32,
    It’s not so much a bubble. It’s more of a vapor canopy.

  37. 37
    Rich Woods

    @blf #14:

    Stop giving them ideas!

  38. 38
    rthearle

    Springtime for Ken Ham and Kentucky/
    Winter for PZ and sense…

    AiG was having trouble
    What a calamity
    Needed some spondulicks to restore
    Its ark fantasy
    What, oh, what to do?
    How to pull it through?
    They looked around and then we found
    The plan for you and me
    How could they succeed?
    What could that plan be?
    They looked around and then we found
    The plan for you and me!

    And now it’s…
    Springtime for Answers in Genesis
    Ken Ham is making his play!
    They’re issuing a worthless bond
    In hopes that we will all respond!
    Springtime for Answers in Genesis
    Ken Ham is solvent once more!
    Springtime for Answers in Genesis
    Watch out, Evos
    We’re winning the war!
    Springtime for Answers in Genesis…

    Look, it’s springtime
    Winter for NCSE
    Springtime for Answers in Genesis!
    Springtime! Springtime!
    Springtime! Springtime!
    Springtime! Springtime!
    Springtime! Springtime!
    Come on, Hamites
    Go into your dance!

    I was born an idiot and that is why I’m Y-E-C.
    Don’t be stupid, be a smarty, come and talk to Jon Sarfati!
    The Rapure is coming, the Rapture is coming, the Rapture is coming!
    Praise jesus!
    Praise jesus!
    Praise jesus!
    Springtime for Answers in Genesis
    Praise jesus!

    Praise myself
    Praise to us
    We’re the men
    Who’re out to bilk our followers
    Praise myself
    Raise some cash
    There’s no greater
    Bucket shop in the land!
    Everything I got, I got from you!
        Hallelu-
    If you’re looking for an ark, here’s what you do!
    Pay myself
    Raise your hand
        Jesus!
    We’ll soon have the greatest theme park in the land!
        Hooray!
    We’ll soon have the greatest theme park…

    Praise myself!
    We’ll soon have the greatest theme park…
    Praise myself!
    We’ll soon have the greatest theme park…
    …in the land!

    Kent Hovind is causing a furor!
    He’s got himself locked in the can
    You gotta love that wacky man!
    Kent Hovind is causing a furor!
    He didn’t pay the tax demands,
    Said “No cash from Adventureland”,
    But he’s got greenbacks in his hands
    Kent Hovind is causing a furor!

    I was just a young Earth claimer
    Nothing like the prophets
    Started a YEC website
    Now I get huge profits!
    My ark plan was broke
    Where could I begin?
    Pulled up my socks
    Issued some stocks
    Now the cash is rolling in!

    YECs, YECs,
    Ken Ham bilks the YECs,
    NCSE might expose the fraud,
    but by the YECs, they’re ignored!
    Cos’ Mr Ham
        Who is that?
    Mr Ham
        That’s me!
    Tells them they’re blessed by the Lord!

    I’m Eugenie,
        You big old meany!

    I am Myers,
        You’re chief of liars!

    It ain’t no myst’ry
    If it’s biblical it’s hist’ry
    The thing you gotta know is
    Truth is in Genes-is!
    Praise myself
    Watch my show
    I’m the biggest holy roller
    Dontcha know
    We are grossing millions
    Billions and trillions
    Make a pile of cash
    From our Bible trash
    Wonderful me!

    And now it’s…
    Springtime for Answers in Genesis
    Pay fer the saviour today
    Springtime!
    Saviour!
    Rain falling from the skies again
    Floodwaters on the rise again
    Springtime for Answers in Genesis
    Our ark is floating again
    Springtime for Answers in Genesis
    Means that…
    Soon we’ll be going…
    We’ve got to be going…
    You know we’ll be going….
    You bet we’ll be going…
    You know we’ll be going to hell!!

  39. 39
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    You call them junk bonds, but that’s just because we don’t know what they do yet.

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