THE BONDHOLDERS: William Nast

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William Nast
Family: Wife and five children
Date of purchase: 2006
Percent of portfolio that were GM bonds at purchase: Less than 10 percent
Percent of portfolio now: Less than 10 percent
Reason for purchase: Low-risk investment
Reason for holding after downgraded to junk status in 2005: “I took my broker’s advice.”
Original investment goal: Retirement

Three years ago, William Nast bought GM bonds to fund his retirement and to “generate wealth” — as investment advisers like to say — so that he could pass on money to his five children.

Now those lofty words look empty. “My kids will suffer because they would have benefited from the bonds,” Mr. Nast said. “When dividing money up over five children, a decent amount doesn’t look like much anymore.”

Mr. Nast, who considered his investment conservative, said the bondholders he knows were making investments for similarly altruistic reasons.

“Most people wanted some retirement money or money to leave their children,” he said. “But the media is painting us out to be greedy and rich.”

When Mr. Nast purchased the bonds in 2006, analysts were worrying about GM’s inefficiencies and underfunded pension plans. But Mr. Nast took his broker’s advice and bought the bonds anyway.

“He told me at the time that GM would never go broke,” Mr. Nast said.

Still, Mr. Nast considers himself lucky: At least he kept his investment relatively small. “There are a lot of people worse off than we are,” he said.

Mr. Nast said he’s especially disappointed by the way “the ever-growing government” has handled the situation.

“When you have an American free-market company like GM being taken over by the government, it reminds me of a dictatorship,” he said. “The truth is, Obama knows the individual bondholders weren’t the ones who got him elected, so we’re not a priority.”

Then again, he said, blaming the president does not make much sense. “It would be the same no matter who’s in office,” he said.

Click here to view vignettes of seven other GM bondholders.

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