Correspondent, New York
Megan's Feed
Jan 23, 2015

Atlantic City versus Detroit: Who is better off?

By Hilary Russ and Megan Davies

(Reuters) – “At least we’re not Detroit,” Atlantic City’s Mayor joked just last week during his state of the city address.

Don Guardian, who took the helm a year ago after two decades of promoting the city’s tourism and businesses, may want to start eating those words.

Jan 20, 2015

Cheaper oil muddies path to Puerto Rico power fix

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Tumbling oil prices may offer short-term relief to Puerto Rico’s struggling electric power authority PREPA, but could embolden bondholders and muddy the utility’s path to a long-term fix.

Crude’s slide may give bondholders more sway in negotiating a restructuring of the utility because a sharp drop in its fuel costs gives them less reason to accept reduced debt repayments.

Jan 8, 2015

Slump in New York arrests, fines hits traffic lawyers, bail bondsmen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A sharp drop in arrests and fines in New York may prove costly for the city but it could already be hurting some traffic lawyers and bail bonds firms, which are seeing their phones ring less often as fewer people are in trouble and need help.

The slump in arrest volume – last week’s total was around half that recorded a year ago – is seen by supporters of new York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as evidence of a work slowdown by police officers angered by recent comments he made that they viewed as anti-police. Police unions deny there is a slowdown.

Dec 5, 2014

Lower oil prices start to pinch Oklahoma state revenues

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The plunge in oil prices is starting to hurt Oklahoma’s energy-related revenues and if the price remains low, could hit income and sales tax revenues if energy workers have less money to spend, the state’s treasurer said on Friday.

The monthly numbers for November show the first year-on-year decline in energy tax revenues for the state in 19 months. Overall state revenues remained healthy, but the state treasurer expressed caution.

Dec 5, 2014

Falling oil prices seen boosting consumer spending, U.S. state revenues

NEW YORK, Dec 4 (Reuters) – U.S. state treasurers are
anticipating a boost in sales revenues from plunging oil prices,
which give people more discretionary spending power, but that is
tempered by fears of the harm it could to do energy-focused
states.

Oil prices have fallen by more than a third since June and
price forecasts have collapsed in the wake of the Organization
of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ decision not to cut output
despite a global glut.

Nov 20, 2014

Toll roads more attractive on lower gas prices: Lebenthal

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Toll roads are becoming a more attractive investment as lower energy prices provide a greater incentive for drivers to use their cars and boost the use of toll roads, Gregory Serbe, portfolio manager at municipal bond specialist firm Lebenthal Asset Management, said on Thursday.

The average price of gasoline has fallen to its lowest level since December 2010, to $2.94 per gallon, driven by the slide in crude oil prices.

Nov 6, 2014

Muni investors worried about tax impact from U.S. midterms

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Sweeping changes in the Senate have rekindled old worries for U.S. municipal bond investors about a clean-up of the tax code that could impact bonds, however, fundamental changes to the tax treatment of munis is seen unlikely.

Both Democrats and Republicans have talked about tax reform in the past, but having one party in control of Congress may increase the chance that something gets done, analysts say.

Nov 5, 2014

State tax cuts could gain traction after governors races

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Tax-cutting measures in a handful of states looked to gain traction following Tuesday’s elections, potentially weakening fiscal positions if revenues fail to keep pace with spending.

Republican governors triumphed in key races, riding a partisan tide that will give them control of the Senate. Policies proposed by some of those governors were aggressive about cutting taxes.

Oct 30, 2014

U.S. governor races could determine swing states’ fiscal health

NEW YORK, Oct 30 (Reuters) – U.S. voters’ readiness to face
tough issues such as pension reform rather than simply kick the
can further down the road will be put to the test next week as
two-thirds of state governor posts go up for election.

A handful of the Nov. 4 races such as the dead heat in
Illinois, possibly the most fiscally dysfunctional state, shape
up as de facto referendums on reform and their results could
make municipal bond investors alter their bets.

Oct 14, 2014

New Jersey’s Christie sees voter support slip to new low: poll

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a possible Republican presidential contender for 2016, has seen his favorability drop to its lowest level recorded as voters worry about taxes, the economy, jobs and corruption, according to a poll released on Tuesday.

Top aides of Christie were tarnished by the “Bridgegate” scandal in 2013, which saw lane closures to the George Washington Bridge. Critics said the closures were orchestrated for political retribution.