Michigan’s pension problem

By Cate Long
November 20, 2013

Moody’s Investors has been on a ratings downgrade rampage for Michigan’s school districts. Here is its explanation from the new sector comment report:

Michigan excludes police and fire unions from “right to work”

By Cate Long
December 12, 2012

Lansing, Michigan is aflame with the anger of union workers who object to how state officials have rammed “right-to-work” legislation through the state house. “Right-to-work” would end the requirement that workers join a union in their workplace if it is unionized. Union workers are especially incensed that the legislation was pushed through during a lame duck session without hearings or debate. The Detroit Free Press reports:

Detroit’s fiscal situation gets hotter

By Cate Long
June 11, 2012

Detroit is standing on the precipice of fiscal collapse. The Detroit Free Press reported on Friday:

Detroit’s derivatives slip through the net

By Cate Long
April 18, 2012

If you were thinking of buying some of the city of Detroit’s bonds, you might want to tread lightly. Although the city was able to come to terms with the state and avoid the appointment of an emergency manager, it still faces enormous challenges. The biggest threat to Detroit’s fiscal stability is the risk that its derivatives counterparties will activate triggers in their interest rate swaps. If this happens, the counterparties will force a lump-sum payment, draining cash from an already shaky situation.

Bloomberg op-ed swings and misses on Detroit

By Cate Long
March 21, 2012

I was a little shocked to read a recent Bloomberg op-ed that eviscerated Detroit Mayor Dave Bing for his failure to agree to any real reforms, even as he petitioned Lansing for funds to avoid bankruptcy for the city. Written by Detroit resident Shikha Dalmia, a senior policy analyst at Reason Foundation, the op-ed basically implies that Mayor Bing doesn’t have the necessary skills or personality to engineer a soft landing for the city.

Michigan’s unemployment insurance bonds

By Cate Long
January 2, 2012

Michigan called on Citibank to help repay about $3 billion the state owed to the federal government for expenses racked up during the deepest part of the recession. Like many states, Michigan had to manage soaring unemployment insurance costs and borrowed from the feds to help workers who had lost their jobs. Washington had given these loans on very advantageous terms, but like a teaser rate for a credit card, those are expiring and interest costs will soon jump for borrowers. So Michigan, like Texas and Idaho, has refinanced these payments.

Muni sweeps: Grand Rapids singing her song

By Cate Long
May 31, 2011

A post-Memorial day salute to all who have served our nation!

Grand Rapids shakes her booty

In Michigan, the decline of the U.S. auto industry has shrunk many cities. In January Newsweek highlighted the decline of American cities and identified Grand Rapids as a city on a downward spiral. Grand Rapids has fought back, producing the video above to show the vitality of their city. Good on you Grand Rapids. Your sense of caring and community shines through. (H/T CuriousityCounts.com)

Let’s stack the deck

By Cate Long
May 17, 2011

Deficits at state-pension funds are the real monsters threatening municipal stability. Estimates of shortfalls at these funds range from $1 trillion from the Pew Center on the States to $3 trillion from Orin Kramer, the former chairman of New Jersey’s State Investment Council.