8 weakest U.S. states

By Cate Long
June 24, 2011

According to the credit rating agencies and the bond markets, these are the 8 states with the weakest credit profiles. These states may be weak because their debts are too big, because their economy is flagging or because they haven’t adequately funded the retirement of their employees. If this were a school, these would be the students sitting in the back of the class. Maybe it’s time for these states to do a little more homework.

Standardizing AAA

By Cate Long
June 22, 2011

For many years, a AA-rated municipal bond did not have the same risk of default as a AA-rated corporate bond. In fact, the corporate bond was about 6 times more likely to default.

Muni sweeps: California’s first budget veto

By Cate Long
June 17, 2011

Some thorny action in California on the state budget:

California Governor Jerry Brown, who failed to win Republican support of tax extensions in six months of negotiations, said he’d “move heaven and earth” in another attempt after vetoing a budget without the provision.

Muni sweeps: Dirty bonds?

By Cate Long
May 24, 2011

Dirty bonds?

Economic Musings has posted an excellent piece on “community development district” [CDD] bonds. CDD bonds, commonly called “dirt bonds,” were widely used to fund housing development infrastructure during the real-estate bubble. Needless to say, many have been hit hard due to the collapse of the housing market. Economic Musings outlines the legal and structural details of these bonds and then questions whether high-yield muni bond funds are accurately valuing the securities in their portfolio:

Muni sweeps: Happy “Bike to Work” day

By Cate Long
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.

Muni sweeps: New growth or decay?

By Cate Long
May 19, 2011


The New York Times food writer, Mark Bittman, has written the loveliest piece about his visit to our nation’s most devastated urban area, Detroit. He says there are little seeds of hope and change growing there:

Don’t educate, don’t grow

By Cate Long
May 2, 2011

New analysis from Daniel Berger of Thomson Reuters Municipal Market Data suggests that greater levels of advanced education equals higher growth and muni bond ratings.

Would the real default rate stand up?

By Cate Long
April 19, 2011

US_MUNIDEFAULT0411_SC Several of my Reuters colleagues sent over this graph. My editor said “it’s nice but doesn’t give much historical context.”