Lisa's Feed
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
Monday.

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.

Apr 18, 2013

Congress returns to public pension battle with new bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Congress is again joining the fight over public pensions, as a Republican Representative on Thursday pushed a bill to require state and local funds to give more accurate information on their assets and to bar the federal government from bailing them out during a financial crisis.

The legislation introduced by Representative Devin Nunes of California is essentially the same as the bill he offered in 2010 that languished as unions and advocacy groups for the retirement systems objected to having the federal government intervene in state and local affairs.

Apr 17, 2013

Pension gaps prompt Moody’s to review 29 local gov’ts

WASHINGTON, April 17 (Reuters) – Moody’s Investors Service
has placed the ratings of 29 U.S. local governments and school
districts under review as part of its new approach to analyzing
public pension liabilities, it said on Wednesday.

Chicago was put under review – rating agencies have already
downgraded Illinois over a yawning pension gap – as were
Cincinnati, Minneapolis and Portland, Oregon.

Apr 16, 2013

Rate spike may lead to US muni ‘Armageddon’-SEC member

WASHINGTON, April 16 (Reuters) – Investors in the $3.7
trillion U.S. municipal bond market could soon face an
“Armageddon” if interest rates spike, a member of the Securities
and Exchange Commission said on Tuesday.

Commissioner Dan Gallagher told a roundtable of market
participants hosted by the SEC that recent bankruptcies in
California pose the threat of losses to bondholders.