Thursday, October 27, 2005


Who uses it: Investment bankers
What it means: A section of the income stream of a pool of loans or other assets that have been turned into securities. Simple tranches would be interest payments only or principal payments only; loans that share a maturity date; loans that share an interest rate. Tranches can be extremely complex.
How to use it: To describe a cross-section of a group that share a common characteristic.

A good rule of thumb for investing is that you shouldn't own anything you can't explain. If someone wants to sell you securities based on tranches of anything (the word is pronounced TRAHNch), you should probably decline, unless you yourself are an investment banker.

It's not a word that comes up much in Gardiner, though we have several bond questions on next week's ballot. The Kennebec Valley is poor -- just how poor, I'm still discovering.

Gardiner has two drug stores: a large, shiny, very well (if weirdly) stocked Rite-Aid, and a slightly smaller, slightly darker, slightly less well-stocked Brooks. Prices at Brooks tend to be lower than Rite-Aid's, so that's where I go.

Yesterday I brought a new prescription, for a month's supply of pills, to Brooks.

"Do you want all 30 of these?" the clerk asked.

It took me a minute to understand what she was asking. "Uh -- yeah," I said.

"I'm just asking, because these are pretty expensive," she said. "So I didn't want you to be surprised."

"No, it's fine," I said. "Thanks."

The prescription, with my insurance discount, cost about $66. When I lived in Washington, that was a night out. It wouldn't even have paid for a round of golf, except at Hains Point. It's not a negligible amount of money for me now, but it's certainly no hardship; it's sobering to think that many of my neighbors have to buy their pills one week at a time, or not at all.

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