Lisa's Feed
May 23, 2013

Former Goldman banker settles SEC ‘pay-to-play’ charges

WASHINGTON/CHICAGO (Reuters) – A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. investment banker has agreed to a five-year securities industry ban and a record fine to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges that he broke rules against influence peddling to win bond underwriting business in Massachusetts.

Without admitting or denying wrongdoing, Neil Morrison, 38, accepted what the SEC said was the first industry ban for violating “pay-to-play” rules governing the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market.

May 16, 2013

April income tax collections climb in many states, but may be a blip

By Karen Pierog and Lisa Lambert

(Reuters) – Personal income tax collections rose by 37 percent in April from a year ago, according to a sample of states, but the improvements may not continue as a still-shaky economy, tax cuts in some states and federal budget woes could team up to depress revenue growth.

Excluding California, which had the biggest gain of the 21 states that have so far reported collections in April, the total increase was still a solid 22 percent.

May 7, 2013

Moody’s: Municipal defaults up since crisis, but still low

WASHINGTON, May 7 (Reuters) – Moody’s Investors Service said
on Tuesday that the number of defaults among the U.S. municipal
bonds it rates has risen since the financial crisis but still
remains low.

The economy has been recovering but many local governments
are buckling under a combination of stresses on their budgets,
with places such as Stockton, California, in bankruptcy.

May 7, 2013

SEC charges Pennsylvania’s Harrisburg with fraud

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Federal regulators on Monday accused Pennsylvania’s beleaguered capital, Harrisburg, of committing fraud, in a move that officials said is meant to send a warning to local officials about the accuracy of financial information they provide to investors and taxpayers.

It is the first time the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a municipality for making misleading statements outside of the disclosure documents provided in bond sales.

May 2, 2013

States balk at making up for cuts, guard revenues

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As they finalize budgets for the next fiscal year, many states are sending a message to the government about the effects of spending cuts known as sequestration on federally funded projects: You’re on your own.

Since sequestration began on March 1, states have warned they would not step in to make up for lower federal funding on programs. A survey released by the National Conference of State Legislatures on Thursday showed that they indeed are not compensating for the reductions, but are setting aside reserves in case the cuts slow their future revenues.

May 1, 2013

As municipalities turn more to bank loans, market races to catch up

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Private bank loans are riding a wave of popularity among cities, counties and other local governments, leaving the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market racing to assess and contain any risks they may pose, a white paper said on Wednesday.

“Bank loans provide issuers with access to capital, supply needed cash flow…and can be easier and less costly to obtain for an issuer than a public debt issuance,” a task force that included members of nine major banking, investing, trading, and bond organizations said in the white paper.

Apr 29, 2013

Stimulus plan helped,but spending cuts may hit states -S&P

WASHINGTON, April 29 (Reuters) – A major cutback in U.S.
federal spending could put at risk the credit ratings of states
across the nation, Standard & Poor’s Rating Service said on

S&P linked the above-average credit level of U.S. states, of
which only six, or 12 percent of the total, have debt ratings
below AA, to federal government spending and said cuts in
programs such as Medicaid, while unlikely, were a potentially
major risk.

Apr 25, 2013

Senate bill on Web sales tax moves forward but support erodes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted to move forward with legislation that would allow states to force retailers to collect online sales taxes, though the measure lost supporters after opponents stepped up lobbying this week.

The bipartisan proposal cleared a procedural hurdle after 63 members in the 100-seat Senate backed it; the measure previously was held up by opponents. Critics largely cited potential burdens on small businesses, many in states that do not impose sales taxes.

Apr 19, 2013

Jobless rates plummet in states with housing recovery

By Lisa Lambert

(Reuters) – Unemployment rates dropped in most U.S. states in March from the year before, including California where joblessness fell to a four-year low, as the recovery picked up in places hit hard by the housing downturn.

Federal data released on Friday showed that, altogether, unemployment rates fell from March 2012 in 39 states and the District of Columbia, increased in eight, and were the same in three. From February, rates dropped in 26 states and the District of Columbia, rose in seven and were unchanged in 17.

Apr 18, 2013

Fitch public finance downgrades outnumber upgrades

WASHINGTON, April 18 (Reuters) – Fitch Ratings downgraded
more public finance debt than it upgraded in the first quarter
of 2013 due to cuts to 23 charter schools’ ratings, the agency
said in a special report on Thursday.

The first quarter saw the most upgrades in more than three
years, as the total number of all Fitch’s rating changes
increased from the fourth quarter of 2012.