Muniland: 2012 by the numbers

By Cate Long
February 11, 2013

In 2012, municipal debt issuance totaled $367 billion, just shy of the 10-year average ($381 billion) and a level last seen in 2003 ($378.5 billion). The blue line in the graph above shows that about 65 percent of this debt was issued to refund previously-issued debt (to get a better interest rate or other term). The balance, about 35 percent, was “new money” debt issuance to fund projects that previously had not been funded. The market sees a slight increase in issuance for 2013. According to SIFMA’s 2013 Municipal Issuance Survey, volumes are expected to be $393 billion.

New York outpaced all other states in the amount of debt issued for 2012. Of New York’s $48 billion in debt, $11.6 billion went to general obligation bonds and $36.7 billion went to revenue bonds. (See the full list of debt issuance by state on page 7 – PDF).

Here is part of a SIFMA chart that shows the amount of debt that is outstanding for each state government and the other public entities that issue debt within that state (page 13 – PDF). If you add up the “Due in 13 months” column you can get an idea of how much debt will need to be issued this year to re-issue that debt if it is not being paid off.

The Bond Buyer gives us an idea of what the 2012 debt issuance was used for. General purpose bonds were first with $100 billion (3,568 bond issues) followed closely by education bonds at $93 billion (5,026 bond issues). The highest number of bond offerings was from school districts.

How much trading happens in muniland? Volume by market value has declined by more than half since the go-go days of 2007. Average daily par value was $11.2 billion daily in the fourth quarter of 2012.

There were very strong investor inflows into municipal bond funds for 2012. This flow, combined with a smaller supply of new money bonds, helped keep bond prices high and interest rates low.

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