Readers, this is my last column. I wanted to thank my readers and the team at Reuters for a truly great ride. I’ve been covering municipal securities, market structure, pensions and bankruptcy for over three years. There have been a lot of big changes in America as the country seeks to recover from the global financial crisis. The crisis affected state and local governments by slowing revenues and investment in infrastructure. I don’t see this changing in the near term.
Five months after Puerto Rico officials talked publicly to market participants, they held an investor call on Thursday with over 2,000 people. The call was captured by Storify. Puerto Rico’s previous call in February rallied market enthusiasm for a $3.5 billion general obligation bond offering that was priced on March 8. The March deal, the largest speculative grade bond deal ever done in muniland, replenished the coffers of the fiscally debilitated island.
Here are the best tweets with the #muniland hashtag for July 18, 2014:
Less and less state and local money for infrastructure:
A lot of people in muniland have asked me how much the bonds of Puerto Rico’s electric monopoly Prepa will recover if they are restructured. I’ve thrown out a few numbers, but I don’t have an analytical tool to do a proper cash flow analysis. Chris Foster, managing director of New Oak, has published an open source model (download middle right of page – XLSM file) that allows one to adjust various inputs like fuel prices and electric rates to estimate the level of debt service that Prepa can support.
Why is it so expensive to trade municipal bonds? We finally have some answers from a long awaited MSRB report on trading in the opaque muni bond market. The study was conducted by former SEC Director of Enforcement Erik Sirri. It maps where bonds go before they settle into retail customer accounts. Every time the bonds change hands, the price is marked higher. In the dark muni market, nobody sees this happening.
Here are the best tweets with the #muniland hashtag for July 16, 2014:
Electricity — the nation’s most vital infrastructure:
Here are the best tweets with the #muniland hashtag for July 15, 2014:
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) July 9, 2014
Moody’s remains negative on higher education:
Moody’s: One in 10 public/private colleges suffering “acute financial distress” due to falling revenues, weak operating performance.
In a new report, Janney Capital Markets analyst Tom Kozlik calls out Standard & Poor’s for credit ratings on local governments that he says are too liberal. Kozlik claims that S&P is inflating ratings. I think his analysis is solid, but inconclusive given the size of his claim. Kozlik opens the door to more critical analysis of the comparability of ratings.