Muni sweeps: Happy “Bike to Work” day

May 20, 2011

House Committee launches ‘YourWitness’ program

From YouTube:

The [House] Financial Services Committee has launched a new program, Your Witness, which allows Americans to submit questions they want to ask a witness during a hearing. During an Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on the Stanford Financial Ponzi scheme, Rep. Randy Neugebauer asks the first question of Julie Preuitt.

From the House Financial Services Committee website:

@RandyNeugebauer asks question at a hearing using #YourWitness, our new program that allows Americans to get involved

California goes after it’s “wall of debt”

From the Bond Buyer:

[Governor] Brown released a revised budget Monday that dramatically reduces planned bond issuance as part of an effort to curb overall borrowing by the state that he termed the “wall of debt.”

The governor’s plan to trim general obligation bond sales will hit an already hamstrung California bond market still full of uncertainty caused by the long debate over how to balance the state budget.

Bloomberg’s take on this is here.

Paying off the smoker bonds

Here’s a thoroughly depressing story from Nicole Bullock of the Financial Times. Three states plan to use reserve funds to pay off “tobacco bonds” although they have no legal obligation to do so. Several tobacco companies have been withholding a portion of their payments:

California, Ohio and Virginia have said recently that they will tap reserve funds to make payments on so-called “tobacco bonds” after declines in payments from the 1998 settlement.

The bonds are securitisations issued by special vehicles, with names like “Golden State” and “Buckeye Authority,” which means states are not legally obliged to back them. California and New York, however, have agreed to set aside money to make up shortfalls for some bonds, but that is subject to an annual vote of their legislatures.

More from Bloomberg:

While it’s unlikely that more Americans will take up smoking, the outlook for tobacco bonds may improve if U.S. states win a legal challenge to the companies that are withholding payments, Larkin said. About $2 billion held in escrow would go to the states, he said.

“That boost in cash flow would be significant,” Larkin said. “If the states lose, it will look a lot worse.”

Happy “Bike to Work” day

In honor of “Bike to Work” day I wanted to share this fabulous video from Ms. Lucette Gilbert who shows us what freedom and joy can come from bike-riding.  I picked this piece up from, which features the great work of They “document livable streets worldwide.” What a wonderful mission.

Reducing our dependence on foreign oil and improving our health can happen one bike ride at a time. Consider getting a bike — it maybe the best investment you make this year.

Mini sweeps

Government Information Library: Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports

New York Times: Private Prisons Found to Offer Little in Savings

Collins Center: Findings and Recommendations for Florida Criminal Justice Reform

Expected Loss: A Telling Tale of Two Tables

Standard & Poor’s: U.S. State Ratings Methodology

US Treasury: The Case for Bringing Back BABs

FT Alphaville: Build America Bonds, redux

Ipreo: Muni Deal Calendar (w/o May 23, 2011)

Governing: Twittering Cities

The Big Picture: The Muni War of Words Continues

CNBC Video: Is Muni Bond Boogeyman Real?

Bloomberg: Meredith Whitney Trips Over Her Muni Default Tale: Joe Mysak

CNBC: Muni Bonds: A Dialogue

New Lowry: Water mains worth talking about

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