Singing the passion song

July 22, 2011

Singing the passion song

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, writes passionately in The Atlantic about the need to create jobs in the United States, especially those linked to infrastructure. I welcome her opinion as we need more passionate voices drawing attention to the need to stop outsourcing American jobs. We will never recover if we make economic decisions solely on the the basis of manufacturing costs. Ms. Townsend says:

As a country we have to decide what our values are. Do we really want to be a nation that funds our spending spree through the Chinese, who then make our goods and do our work while we go into debt and remain unemployed? Work is more important than saving tax dollars. Jobs are critical. Work, not an unemployment check, is what makes people feel they are worth something.

I hope the combined forces of politicians, the unions, and the Chamber [of Commerce] will eventually overcome the resistance to the infrastructure bank. We need to create jobs, and we need to rebuild our roads, railways, sewage, and water systems. Most of all, we need to revive our sense of energy and excitement — the deep fulfillment that comes of making things we can touch and feel, things that really improve our lives.

Red-light warning

Public pension plans beware: the scrutiny of your disclosures is increasing. The Bond Buyer reports that the chairwoman of the SEC said that the agency is increasing its diligence on pension plans:

In response, Schapiro cited the SEC’s settlement with New Jersey last year of securities fraud charges stemming from the state’s failure to disclose to investors that it was underfunding its two largest defined-benefit pension plans.

The commission has “a number of others under investigations” with respect to the adequacy of disclosures, she said.

Schapiro also said discussions are ­underway with members of Congress about potentially enlarging the commission’s disclosure authority over municipal issuers.

Under the Tower Amendment in the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the SEC and the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board cannot require muni issuers to file pre-offering disclosure documents.

No more hiding the dirty laundry.

Too expensive to keep in jail

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Californians would rather let criminals out of jail than pay more for prisons.

Cash-strapped Californians would rather ease “third-strike” penalties for some criminals and accept felons as neighbors than dig deeper into their pockets to relieve prison overcrowding, a new poll shows.

In the wake of a court order that the state move more than 33,000 inmates out of its packed prisons, an overwhelming number of voters oppose higher taxes — as well as cuts in key state services — to pay for more lockup space.

Welcome to the new fiscal reality.

Proof that government can be fun

The Huffington Post posted this delightful video of a Dutch railway station installing a slide for busy passengers. It’s proof that government can be fun.

Twitter Talk

@zerohedge: “The budget should be balanced. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome become bankrupt.” – Cicero

@MillerTabak: investors should forget about looking for “clarity” in the financial markets – it doesn’t exist – better to focus on what is “priced in”

@munilass: Bond contract is resolution / indenture and laws in force at time of issuance. How can new system “replace” pledges on outstanding debt?

@PatrickMcGee_BB: Can a Ch. 9 restructuring revoke the duties of a bond insurer? ACA: yes; an investor: no. The legal battle begins.

@JimPethokoukis: RT @breakingnycnews: New Evaluation System Finds One In Five City Teachers “Ineffective”

@munilass: Jefferson County has been discussing bankruptcy for a few years now. It has to be the slowest f&*^%ng trainwreck in human history.

@PatrickMcGee_BB: Lipper: “Municipal debt funds have inflows hanging by a thread as their weekly total was only $116 million”

@TransportNation: NY MTA Chief Jay Walder, Head of Nation’s Largest Transit System, Abruptly Resigns

Good links

Wall Street Journal: Making the Call on U.S. Credit Rating

New York Times: Debt Ceiling Uncertainty Puts States at Risk

Reuters: Analysis: Default threat rattles munis as does compromise

Bloomberg: Issuers Retreat From Selling Amid U.S. Debt Talk Volatility: Muni Credit

Business Day: IBank the start to repairing a broken America

MSRB: MSRB Publishes New Report on Municipal Variable Rate Securities Interest Rate and Trading Data

Bond Buyer: SEC, SIFMA Face Off California will borrow $5 billion from banks to bypass U.S. debt drama

Wall Street Journal: San Francisco, Los Angeles Lead California Back To Muni Market

Bond Buyer: California RDAs Ready to Cope

Christian Science Monitor: Lessons from the Minnesota shutdown: Was it even necessary?

Wall Street Journal: Florida Bolsters Hurricane Coffers

Wall Street Journal: Judge Sues N.J. Over Pension Cuts

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