Lisa's Feed
May 19, 2014

Court stymies latest Washington D.C. try at budget independence

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Washington, D.C. will have to find a new front in its battle for budget independence from the Congress after a district court judge on Monday decided the country’s capital city cannot by law decide how to spend its revenues.

As a native of Washington, District Judge Emmet Sullivan said he was “deeply moved” by the argument that “the people of the District are entitled to the right to spend their own, local funds.” But he added he was “powerless to provide a legal remedy and cannot implement budget autonomy for the District.”

May 16, 2014

Refinancing to dominate U.S. municipal bond sales next week

WASHINGTON, May 16 (Reuters) – Refinancing will come roaring
back into the U.S. municipal market next week, when $5.7 billion
in total new issuance is expected.

Two-thirds of the $4.36 billion in negotiated sales are
refinancing deals. About a fifth of the $1.34 billion in
competitive sales will go toward refunding.

Apr 17, 2014

Detroit pension deal approved by one retirement system

By Lisa Lambert and Karen Pierog

(Reuters) – The board of Detroit’s General Retirement System on Wednesday approved economic terms of a settlement with the city that include cuts to pension benefits, putting in place another key component of Detroit’s effort to exit bankruptcy by October.

The city also has reached a tentative pact with the city’s other pension fund, the Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System, whose board is expected to vote later this week. Together, the two pension funds represent some 23,000 active members and retirees.

Apr 9, 2014

Detroit deal with insurers could set stage for more compromises

WASHINGTON, April 9 (Reuters) – Detroit on Wednesday struck
a deal with a core group of creditors that could ease concerns
about the treatment of certain bonds in its landmark bankruptcy
case and pave the way for compromises with other creditors.

Under the deal, Detroit will no longer try to classify
nearly $400 million of general obligation bonds as unsecured,
which had been a chilling prospect for investors who have long
viewed municipal bonds as among the market’s safest investments.

Mar 27, 2014

U.S. public pensions end banner year with record assets: Census

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. public pensions enjoyed a banner year in 2013, as rising investment returns and increasing government contributions pushed their holdings to record highs, U.S. Census data showed on Thursday.

Public pensions ended the fourth quarter with $3.192 trillion in cash and security holdings, the highest level since the Census began collecting data in 1968. That was 4.2 percent more than in the third quarter and 12.5 percent more than in the same quarter of 2012.

Mar 25, 2014

Property tax revenues highest in more than 20 years -U.S. Census

WASHINGTON, March 25 (Reuters) – Property tax revenues for
U.S. states and local governments reached a record high in the
final quarter of 2013, according to Census data released on
Tuesday showing the housing recovery is finally reaching school
districts and cities’ budgets.

According to the Census, total property tax revenues in the
fourth quarter were $182.76 billion, the highest quarterly
amount on records going back to 1992. That was also about 3
percent more than the $177.7 billion in the fourth quarter of
2012. Most property taxes, 98 percent, are collected by local
governments.

Mar 10, 2014

U.S. public pensions need more than investment windfall

By Tim Reid and Lisa Lambert

(Reuters) – Double-digit annual returns for most U.S. public pension systems over the past two years have done little to shrink the yawning deficits facing many of them after a decade of inadequate funding, according to analysts and recent data.

Thanks to a robust stock market, most systems have enjoyed windfalls recently, with investment returns far exceeding projections. Even so, many are still struggling with shortfalls. In some cases, they have worsened as state contributions fail to keep pace with what is needed to pay beneficiaries.

Mar 6, 2014

Puerto Rico says $3 bln bonds will price Tuesday

WASHINGTON, March 6 (Reuters) – Puerto Rico has confirmed
next Tuesday as the tentative pricing date for its $3 billion
general obligation bonds, a sale that will be geared to large
institutional buyers.

In preliminary deal documents released on Thursday, the
territory said the bonds will follow a sinking schedule with
maturities ranging from 2022 to 2035 and make interest payments
every January and July.

Mar 6, 2014

Individuals flee shrinking U.S. municipal bond market

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Individual investors have been fleeing the U.S. municipal bond market for more than a year, and data released by the Federal Reserve on Thursday shows they now hold the smallest amount of the debt in more than seven years.

The household sector held $1.62 trillion in municipal bonds in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with $1.647 trillion in the previous quarter. That was the lowest since $1.58 trillion in the first quarter of 2006.

Mar 5, 2014

Puerto Rico warns of risks to bond buyers, including restructuring

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Puerto Rico is being careful to make investors aware of all the possible risks lurking in its upcoming massive bond sale, including the chance the U.S. territory could pursue emergency measures akin to filing for bankruptcy.

A draft of the bond issue’s preliminary offering statement that was posted on the Internet by Stone & Youngberg, a division of one of the deal’s underwriters Stifel Nicolaus, warns a variety of fiscal and economic challenges “may place the Commonwealth in a position where it may be unable to honor its obligation to pay principal of and interest on the bonds in full or in a timely manner.”