Most expensive sewage system in history

By Cate Long
July 21, 2011

If you say “Jefferson County” to a professional in muniland, you will likely get a shudder of mild revulsion. This Alabama county is the biggest example of Wall Street aggression towards a public entity since Orange County, California declared bankruptcy in 1994 after buying too many interest-rate derivatives. Dodd-Frank, the financial-reform law that’s been in effect for a year, changed the rules for municipal bonds and derivatives.  But did it change them enough to avert a repeat scenario?

It’s hot down in Alabama

By Cate Long
July 18, 2011

It’s hot down in Alabama

It sounds like we have a deal in Jefferson County, Alabama. This has been a long festering problem where the county is unable to afford the debt payments on $3 billion of bonds for a sewer system built several years ago. Excellent local reporting by KDAF-TV and Birmingham News. It sounds as if Jefferson County wants creditors to reduce the debt owed by $1.3 billion.

Has Chris Christie “fixed” the problem?

By Cate Long
June 28, 2011

Has Chris Christie “fixed” the problem?

Joan Gralla of Reuters reports that Governor Chris Christie will be signing the pension and health-benefit reform law today. This is an important step for the health of New Jersey’s pension plans, and Governor Christie should be lauded for his accomplishment.

Muni sweeps: Employment slightly better

By Cate Long
June 20, 2011

We are making some headway on unemployment although some states still have substantial problems. For the larger, original version from Calculated Risk Blog click here.