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Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk by Satyajit Das

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11. Dice with Debt

In 2009, London’s Daily Mirror found the culprit responsible for the financial crisis—David Bowie, aka Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke. In 1997, he issued $55 million of 7.9 percent per annum 10-year Bowie Bonds backed by future royalties from 25 albums containing 287 songs, including Space Oddity, Starman, Jean Genie, Fame, Young American, Ashes to Ashes, Let’s Dance, China Girl, and Modern Love. Bowie gave up 10 years’ worth of royalties in return for $55 million up front.

Although the Bowie Bond pioneered the securitization of intellectual property rights, the technique itself had been used since the 1970s to repackage loans, especially mortgages, into securities sold to investors. Michael Milken called it “democratization ...

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