Is it time to replace Detroit’s emergency manager?

January 17, 2014

The states’ focus on Medicaid spending

January 16, 2014

Two political war horses, former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker and Richard Ravitch, who helped restructure New York City after its near bankruptcy, released the final report of the task force they have led for the last three years. Their group, the State Budget Crisis Task Force, came to this conclusion:

Fullerton, CA may be wasting money on its police force

January 15, 2014

Two Fullerton, California police officers were acquitted Monday in the brutal beating death of a homeless and mentally ill man, Kelly Thomas. Here is the story from Reuters:

Repurposing America’s cities

January 13, 2014

Nothing will rev up a city’s tax base faster than clearing blight and bringing abandoned properties back onto the tax rolls. The New York Times describes the problem:

Cash flow problems in higher education

January 13, 2014

There have been endless stories about the massive student loan problem. One in six borrowers are now late in their payments. It’s a crushing burden for college graduates who can’t find a job or don’t have one that pays enough. We also hear about colleges and universities that are struggling with debt loads that they took on to finance new construction. The New York Times reported in December 2012:

Cheers to the MSRB

January 10, 2014

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board made a wonderful regulatory push when it issued its proposed rule for the conduct of municipal advisers. Municipal advisers are professionals who are supposed to help state and local governments structure their borrowing and investment activities in the most economically efficient way.

How much do mutual fund flows affect the muniland yield curve?

January 9, 2014

Municipal bond yields rocketed up late last May after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke commented on the likelihood of quantitative easing being drawn back at the year’s end. Mutual fund investors, spooked by possible losses from rate increases, began exiting muni funds.

Are local governments really recovering?

January 7, 2014

Janney Montgomery director and credit analyst Tom Kozlik issued a short research piece that highlighted U.S. Census data for local government revenues. The Census data suggests that local governments, in aggregate, will continue to face a difficult time in years ahead because revenues have flattened since 2009. Here is Kozlik’s chart, which maps the Census data:

Selling Puerto Rico Cofina 3.0

January 7, 2014

Is privatization waning?

January 6, 2014

For thirty years there has been an ideological pressure for the U.S. government to sell public infrastructure, assets and services. Prisons and schools have been privatized. Toll roads, like the Indiana Toll Road, have been sold to private consortiums. Many of these assets were created by earlier generations who regarded their obligations to citizens as important. Now there is a bigger commitment to an economic philosophy that insists government is the most expensive and least efficient provider of services. Somewhere along the line, with little economic or financial validation, privatization was accepted as the best approach for public assets.