Why SEC adviser rules are desperately needed

May 31, 2013

Stockton, California is in the early stages of their bankruptcy and a local grand jury polled current city council members about their understanding of public finance. Does the latest round of public servants have any knowledge municipal finance? No, sadly the San Joaquin County Grand Jury discovered that there was little understanding of the city finances that the council oversees and that they could easily repeat prior mistakes. Local ABC affiliate, News10, reports (emphasis mine):

America is not growing, it’s contracting

May 30, 2013

The Guardian’s Heidi Moore wrote an epic screed about the illusion of economic recovery and waded through a river of micro data to prove her point. She highlighted how the housing recovery was driven by banks withholding their foreclosure inventories from markets and how three large banks halted foreclosures, which slowed supply. Unfortunately, she only had anecdotal evidence to support these ideas. She berated consumers for their increasing confidence in the economy and called it unfounded. She blasted the federal government, Congress and corporate CEOs for doing nothing to revive employment and stimulate economic growth. Moore writes:

The Detroit Institute of Arts should sell part of its collection

May 29, 2013

Massachusetts leads states with ‘green bonds’

May 28, 2013

Massachusetts is again setting the gold standard for muniland. The state has a solid lead in best practices for bond market disclosure, and now it is offering the first ever state-issued “green bond” to fund environmental projects. Here is what is happening, according to Colin MacNaught, the Assistant Treasurer for Debt Management in the Office of State Treasurer Steven Grossman:

More bridges, less war spending for America

May 24, 2013

In a Detroit bankruptcy, who is first in line?

May 24, 2013

The state-appointed emergency manager for Detroit, Kevyn Orr, has been given a year of legal authority to address Detroit’s insolvency problem. It is a herculean task to right decades of complex problems. Muniland observers believe that the city will end up filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

Municipalities try to throw off pension plans

May 23, 2013

Two California cities, Pacific Grove and Canyon Lake, are trying to end their participation in CalPERS – the statewide public pension plan. The communities are unable to bear the cost increases in their retirement systems, which they are unable to control today. Now we hear news of another community and a non-profit group on the other side of the country that are trying to untangle themselves from established pension plans.

Memo to Congress: Increase funding for the SEC

May 22, 2013

The newly confirmed chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mary Jo White, testified to the House Financial Services Committee on May 16 and requested an increase in funding for her agency. SEC funding does not come from federal government revenues, but from fees assessed on securities transactions. White’s request to increase the agency’s funding does nothing to increase the federal deficit or take funding from other programs. She is merely asking to spend the money the agency collects.

Despite neighborhood watch efforts, bankrupt Vallejo is still running defecits

May 21, 2013

Since going through a three-year bankruptcy process, a lot of wonderful initiatives have taken place in Vallejo, California – a city of 118,000 people in the northern end of the San Francisco Bay. After the city’s police force was cut down over 300 community watch groups formed to protect neighborhoods. The city recently launched Nextdoor, a private social network platform for neighborhood communication. In the most substantial move, the city has established a first in the nation “Participatory Budgeting” process. It was described by a participant as:

California launches the best new source of muniland data

May 17, 2013

Last December I wrote about a project sponsored by California Treasurer Bill Lockyer that is now up and running: