Reuters blog archive
The New York State Comptroller, Tom DeNapoli, issued a new report this month that discusses public private partnerships (P3s) and makes recommendations for municipal entities that are considering P3s for infrastructure projects. The report seems to be directed at the New York State Assembly, which had legislation that would have authorized P3s in the state without any limit on size or requirement for oversight. From the report:
Since that time, [New York] has authorized a number of agencies and public authorities to use a simple form of public-private partnership known as design-build contracting. The Thruway Authority’s procurement of the new Tappan Zee Bridge is being undertaken using design-build methods, with the expectation that this approach will streamline the project, shift some financial risk to private contractors rather than the Thruway and its users, and result in savings for the Authority.
Policy makers in New York are now considering whether to authorize more sophisticated types of P3s that depend on private financial investments. The State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2013-14 Executive Budget included a proposal for “design-build finance” P3s that would for the first time have given private firms the authority to finance public infrastructure projects.
This provision, which was not contained in the Enacted Budget, would have permitted any State agency, public authority, commission, council, or other State entity to turn to private investors for the financing of public infrastructure projects. These P3 agreements would have been authorized throughout the State, without limits on the size or cost of the project and with no requirement for independent oversight.
from India Insight:
India's economy recorded its slowest growth in a decade in the fiscal year ending in March but the CEO of L&T Infrastructure Finance, that provides loans to companies such as Jaypee Group to develop roads and other infrastructure, is hopeful of an economic turnaround in less than two years that will boost business prospects.
The company, part of India's largest engineering and construction conglomerate Larsen & Toubro, will likely end up dealing with a slowdown in business growth in the current financial year, but might bounce right back next year if the winner of India’s federal elections due in 2014 starts spending on infrastructure projects.
from India Insight:
(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Reuters) Tata Power Company Ltd, part of the salt-to-steel Tata conglomerate, is India's largest integrated power producer. It aims to generate some 20,000 MW by 2020, up from more than 8500 MW now, and is scouting for opportunities abroad as well as building its thermal and renewables business at home.
from The Great Debate:
Five years into the global financial crisis, the U.S. and global economies remain mired in a weak-growth, low-inflation, high-unemployment environment. Debt busts such as 2008-09 are hard to exit from, and recoveries are long and painful. However, three complicating factors make the current environment even more challenging.
First, economic growth models lie broken across developed and emerging economies alike, with the United States deleveraging from its debt-fueled consumption excesses, the European Union locked in a fiscal and currency straitjacket and China (and emerging economies more broadly) transitioning from export-led to domestic-demand-led growth. Second, globalization is in retreat as financial institutions retrench. And third, debt levels remain highly elevated in the developed economies, leading policymakers to rely almost exclusively on monetary policy to buffer the necessary deleveraging process.
Washington state DOT spox says shutdown “is not going to be years, but it could be weeks.” Bridge obsolete, but not structurally deficient.
— danvock (@danvock) May 24, 2013
This week a semi truck plowed into the I-5 bridge crossing the Skagit River in the State of Washington, causing part of the bridge to collapse. The incident echoes the failure of the Minneapolis bridge in 2007. These are serious but rare occurrences in the U.S. Even so, the nation’s infrastructure needs more attention.
from India Insight:
(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Reuters) Is it better to pay more money for more electricity, or keep prices low and look forward to blackouts that will conk out offices, factories and homes in India? That is the question that lies at the heart of an ongoing debate about whether authorities should allow utilities Adani Power Ltd and Tata Power Co Ltd to raise their tariffs on existing contracts to clients, to compensate the companies for the domestic coal supply shortages and the rising cost of buying coal from overseas.
from Global Investing:
There's cash in that trash.
Analysts at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch are expounding opportunities to profit from the burgeoning waste disposal industry, which it estimates at $1 trillion at present but says could double within the next decade. They have compiled a list of more than 80 companies which may benefit most from the push for recycling waste, generating energy from biomass and building facilities to process or reduce waste. It's an industry that is likely to grow exponentially as incomes rise, especially in emerging economies, BofA/ML says in a note:
We believe that the global dynamics of waste volumes mean that waste management offers numerous opportunities for those with exposure to the value chain. We see opportunities across waste management, industrial treatment, waste-to-energy, wastewater & sewage,...recycling, and sustainable packaging among other areas.
New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg has a reputation as a data junkie who uses statistics to manage the city more efficiently. I think I found his doppelganger in Michigan’s governor Rick Snyder. Fitch recently bumped Michigan’s rating to AA from AA-, where it had been since 2007. Bloomberg and Snyder may be national models for the effective use of data at the local, state and federal levels.
I learned about Snyder’s efforts while watching a Council of State Government’s webinar about the American Society of Civil Engineer’s 2013 report on the condition of America’s infrastructure. The report has been panned by many, including Reuters’ Jack Shafer, who says that the proposed spending is just an enormous meal ticket for the nation’s civil engineers and construction firms. The Director of Michigan’s Department of Transportation, Kirk Steudle, used two arguments to rebut Shafer:
from Jack Shafer:Whenever the phrase "our crumbling infrastructure" passes the lips of a politician or appears in the pages of a newspaper, I change the password on my checking account and move my wallet to the front pocket of my jeans. So when President Barack Obama invoked our "aging infrastructure badly in need of repair" in his State of the Union address on Tuesday and Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria used his perch yesterday to complain that Obama wasn't proposing near enough for infrastructure, I closed my bank accounts, canceled my credit cards, converted my liquid investments into gold bullion, dumped them into 55-gallon drums, rolled the drums into a backyard pit and poured a load of cement over the heap.
It's not that infrastructure doesn't crumble — everything turns to dust eventually. Obviously, useful bridges, ports, airports and highways need to be maintained, and as a country grows it needs new ones. It's just that the press allows members of the civil engineering-industrial complex to bamboozle them into believing that all calls for building infrastructure are equal.
The need for more infrastructure must be brought back to center stage. Creating middle-class jobs “must be the North Star that guides our efforts,” President Obama said in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. More improved bridges, tunnels, ports and other shared infrastructure would be a great way to boost the economy, create jobs and improve the hard assets that support business and public activities.
Many infrastructure projects are taking place under the radar, guided and funded by state governments. These projects are usually designed and driven by states with some funding from the federal government as well as municipal bonds and toll or user fees. The bridge that carries I-75 and I-71 traffic over the Ohio River between Ohio and Kentucky is a perfect example of a joint project. This is a bridge in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Leader John Boehner’s districts that President Obama stood in front of last year to sell his $467 billion jobs bill. The bill was never approved by Congress. The bridge highlights the difference between the two parties on funding infrastructure. Bluegrass Politics blog covered the story: