Moody’s muniland blacklist

By Cate Long
July 19, 2012

Moody’s this week published a Special Comment (subscription required) that crystallizes a lot of the discussion regarding bankruptcies and defaults that has been going around muniland lately:

Muniland needs defenders when Meredith Whitney talks her book

By Cate Long
February 23, 2012

Yesterday DealBook announced the dreariest news possible for muniland: Meredith Whitney is publishing a book entitled Downgraded: Why the Next Economic Crisis Will Be Local, which is due out in November. DealBook says:

How risky is that rating?

By Cate Long
January 6, 2012

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board’s data platform for municipal bonds, EMMA, recently added credit ratings from Fitch and Standard & Poors to the system. This makes it really simple for investors to get a snapshot of the relative risk of one bond over another when doing research.

Munis are the star performer of 2011

By Cate Long
December 16, 2011

Bloomberg had a great piece that rounds up the factors that made municipal bonds the best performing financial asset of the past year. The story is framed as a knock on Meredith Whitney for her scare call a year ago:

Year-end in muniland, part 1

By Cate Long
December 13, 2011

Lots of excellent municipal bond market analysis is coming muniland’s way, and I’ll be sharing some of it through the end of the year. First up is Daniel Berger of Thomson Reuters Municipal Market Data, who makes an interesting point about the municipal bond yield curve. He notes that the 10-/30-year slope (or difference in yield on 10-year AAA bonds and 30-year AAA bonds) has rapidly steepened since August 1. Berger attributes this to the great performance of 10-year AAA bonds over that period. In a little over two months their yield has dropped from about 2.55 percent to under 2.00 percent. Investors are loving these bonds — it’s a full on “flight to quality.”

Project Sugar has soured

By Cate Long
October 3, 2011

Missouri has a sweet mess on its hands. A half-completed manufacturing facility, financed with industrial revenue bonds underwritten by the small municipality of Moberly, has gone bust.

The calmest seas you will ever see

By Cate Long
September 30, 2011

Low issuance, low defaults and low rates

For issuers, conditions are just about perfect in muniland now. Many have defered or withdrawn planned bond offerings, leading to greatly reduced supply for the year. Bloomberg estimates that 3rd quarter total issuance will be about $67 billion. This follows the $117 billion in muni securities issued in the first half of the year (data from SIFMA, Excel file link).

Meredith Whitney’s anniversary

By Cate Long
September 29, 2011

Two big events happened on Tuesday in the municipal bond market: it was the annual conference of SIFMA, one of the industry trade associations; and it was also the one-year anniversary when Meredith Whitney began her campaign of predicting the collapse of the muni market. Whitney was of course way off-base with her prediction of hundreds of billions of dollars in bond defaults. In fact less than $1 billion of muni bonds have defaulted so far . But many believe that she did cause substantial damage to retail investors, mutual funds and insurance companies, all of whom were caught up in the downdraft of selling that followed her words of doom.

Part-time employment up in muniland

By Cate Long
September 26, 2011

Incredible shrinking workforces

I’ve read in a few places that state and local governments were reducing the number of full-time employees and hiring more part-time workers. There is a story in the Dayton Daily News that nicely details the trend:

The swirl of ratings and CDS

By Cate Long
August 12, 2011

The Wall Street Journal ran an odd article yesterday about the unpredictability of sovereign credit ratings that are below the investment-grade cutoff (BB+ and lower). Check out the table from the IMF of S&P’s sovereign ratings.