Your Experiences with Diaspora Bonds

Here are a few things that other investors have said about their homelands’ diaspora bonds.  Some members of diaspora groups are enthusiastic about using this financial instrument to support their homelands:

Jonathan Rosenblum, columnist for the Jerusalem Post:

When my mother came into awaken us on the morning of June 5, [1967,] she was crying. “Israel is at war, and I’m taking all the money out of your bank accounts to buy Israel bonds,” she informed us. Our paltry savings were not likely to turn the tide, but the lesson was clear: All were expected to contribute to Israel’s survival. 

Ionnis Arvanitis, a Greek-American small-business owner commenting on the Greek government’s issuance of a diaspora bond in the wake of the country’s recent debt crises, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal:

When Athens calls, Ioannis Arvanitis will be ready with $10,000[…]“I will do what I can do—I run a business, but I’m not rich,” Mr. Arvanitis, 58 years old, said on Wednesday as he served up baklava and espresso to customers at his new cafe Omonia Next Door (a sister to the store next door named Omonia). Mr. Arvanitis, who immigrated in 1974, said he would be willing to buy about $10,000 of the bonds, after getting his wife’s approval.

“I’m proud of Greece—we gave the world democracy and history and art, everything,” he says. “Greek people are smart people, but they don’t know how to run a government.”

However, other diaspora members have reservations about purchasing such bonds, fearful of the associated financial risk:

An anonymous reader of the World Bank’s People Move blog:

I think [diaspora bonds are] a great idea. [H]owever, it will be hard to convince members of the Diaspora to actually buy the bonds. I’m a part of the African Diaspora and I’ve seen how our leaders have squandered donor funds over the decades. So many projects haven’t materialized and Africa is growing poorer.  How will you guarantee a return and mitigate the risk of leaders misusing these funds[?] More importantly how will you persuade me to give you this money as oppose to give it directly to my family[?]

Dr. Makund Patel, an Indian-American surgeon quoted by the New York Times:

 ”There is a patriotic feeling, and there is a financial feeling,” he explained. ”People who are staunch B.J.P. [Bharatiya Janata Party] supporters, they will readily do it. People who are not will also do it, because of the economic incentives” […]A father of three who has lived in this country for 31 years, Dr. Patel says he is considering an investment, but only if bank officials offer more detailed assurances that his funds will be returned in dollars, not in Indian rupees. 

Some are reluctant to lend their money to a government they distrust:

Thomas Saras, Editor-in-Chief of the Patrides, a Toronto-based Greek and English language review:

 If [the Greek government] did not take action, it’s not our fault. I’m not going to give money – even a penny – when I know that this penny is going to be drawn into the bureaucratic labyrinth.

Yared Ayicheh, an Ethiopian-American opinion writer:

When I first heard about the Millennium Dam project[…]I found the news exciting and a bit emotional too – I almost cried[…]Should Diaspora be too quick to jump into buying Ethiopian Government bond to support the building of the Dam?[…]If we in the Diaspora refuse to support the Dam we will not only be missing a historical opportunity to make a difference for our beloved country, but we will also be politically outcasts[…]Let’s form a Diaspora Opposition Renaissance Dam Support Committee that will organize and encourage the buying of bonds for the Renaissance Dam project, but we buy the bond ONLY when [our…]five [political] demands are meet.

Joseph Alajemba, the general secretary of the UK’s National Association of Nigerian Communities:

[…d]iaspora bonds are a welcome idea, as long as the funds would be used to improve areas such as infrastructure and health care and are not mismanaged[…]If the money is going to be channeled into areas visible, that we can see, not just like the other type of money that comes in and is being hijacked from individuals, then definitely people would be willing to buy the bonds.

As diversity of opinion expressed here shows, diaspora members hold a wide range of views on the wisdom of investing in diaspora bonds. We are eager to hear your views on this topic.