Felix Salmon

Should states be able to go bankrupt?

December 7, 2010

Jimmy P has discovered a secret GOP plan to push states to declare bankruptcy in order to avoid bailing them out. Like most secret plans, it was splashed all over the Weekly Standard in a piece by David Skeel, and it does make a certain brutal sense:

Chart of the day: California taxes

December 7, 2010

ARJTurgot2 left this comment on my chart of US taxes:

You are, of course, going to follow up this chart with a second one that comprehensively reflects the changes in State and Local taxes, especially including sales taxes, that have changed since 1950. And that data is going to include things like registration and usage fees, especially gasoline, telecommunications and sin taxes on things like liquor and cigarettes. I understand that is going to vary widely from state to state, so two, perhaps, should be instructive: say New York and California?

Expertise mission creep datapoint of the day

November 23, 2010

Last week, Chris Whalen appeared on Tech Ticker with Henry Blodget; he said, in the accurate if sensationalist words of the Business Insider headline, that CALIFORNIA WILL DEFAULT ON ITS DEBT.

Rating munis

November 19, 2010

When Meredith Whitney released her magnum opus on America’s municipalities in September, there was lots of grumbling about why an expert in financial stocks should be listened to on the subject of municipal bonds. But she’s serious about this: building on the work that she did for that 600-page report, she’s now formally setting herself up as a credit rating agency in direct competition with Moody’s and S&P.

Beware municipal bonds

September 28, 2010

Meredith Whitney has a 600-page report warning of municipal bond defaults. I think she’s right — and I also think she makes a very smart distinction between municipal debt, as in the debt of towns and cities, and state-level debt.

Harrisburg defaults

September 1, 2010

The Daily Beast kicked off this week’s offerings with a slideshow listing “20 Recession-Proof Cities”: the ones with high pay and sustained economic growth. I’m not entirely clear on how to link to any given city on the list, but if you click through you’ll find Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at #7, the very picture of a hale urban center.

Institutions exit the muni market

July 8, 2010

Jenn Ablan takes a look at the muni market today, and although inflows have been strong this year, the smart money seems to be moving out of the market, positioning itself for a gruesome second half of the year.

Why munis don’t pose a systemic risk

July 7, 2010

David Goldman has reacted with a curious mixture of alarm and reassurance to Dakin Campbell’s story about U.S. bank holdings of municipal debt:

When states don’t pay their debts

June 17, 2010

Greg Ip reports on how Illinois is going to have to start making unnecessary unemployment payments just because it’s refusing to pay its debts: