Homer: Are you saying you’re never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?

Lisa: No.

Homer: Ham?

Lisa: No.

Homer: Pork chops?

Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal.

Homer: Heh, heh, heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.

From Lisa the Vegetarian

Some did-you-knows about San Diego.

  • There were $959,509,000 in taxable retail apparel sales in the city in 2007.
  • There are 69,363 military personnel in San Diego.
  • There were 19,528 foreclosures in San Diego last year.

I didn’t need to page through dozens of documents to find these statistics and others like them.

Instead, I turned to the city’s most recent municipal bond statement. It was all there in just 11 pages of disclosures.

Last week, I wrote a story on the city of San Diego’s busy first year back on the municipal bond market. When I first covered topics involving municipal bonds at my previous job in Florida, I couldn’t believe how much information bond statements contained.

So I believe these statements are, in Homer Simpson’s incredulous words, a “wonderful, magical animal” for finding out stats about a city, including the vital financial data they provide.

Issuers are required to disclose these statistics as part of their bond package. The San Diego information I’ve referenced came from a section on demographic disclosures.

The city of San Diego has a great — but hard to find — website for investors. The site lists and links to its bond statements, comprehensive annual financial reports and reports from the credit rating agencies. A warning that these documents in their entireties are large, but they are broken into sections and there’s no better place to turn for much of this information.

There are a couple more municipal finance websites that are helpful. The state has a searchable database on all the debt issued in California going back a number of years. The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, kind of a regulator for the public bond market, also has a searchable website with a vast amount of information and documents.

Please e-mail me or tweet me your thoughts or if you find something interesting when you’re paging through these documents. In no way do I consider myself an authority on bonds or bond financing. I hope that by putting this information out here we could learn about these issues together.

Update: A Twitter follower alerted me that the city of San Diego’s investor information website is accessible easily from the top left corner of the city’s homepage. I found it in a roundabout way, but given the link’s prominence on the city’s homepage the investor information would not be considered “hard to find.”


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