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In 1993, the last time interest rates cycled through a low phase, many corporate investors thought they had found the magic bullet that would generate adequate, if not impressive returns. The solution: load up on derivatives that in theory keep the return-on-investment machine churning. In the end, however, the strategy proved to be a career-ender for many, as flawed bets on exotic derivatives triggered significant losses and even threw a wealthy California county into bankruptcy.

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