MuniLand Snaps: February 15, 2012

There was a fantastic article, “A Sneak Peek at the Streetcar Revival,” in Government Technology yesterday. Old streetcars are being refurbished for service in American cities. I imagine we will see more of this.

Good Links

NASRA: About 3 percent of state and local government spending is on public pensions

Rockford Register Star How will Illinois communities absorb their teachers’ pension obligations?

The Economist: What’s America’s real crime rate?

Reuters: Special Report: Towns go dark with post office closings

Pew Center on the States: Voter registration is a mess across the nation

WSJ: With $5.75 billion on tap, it’s the biggest week of muni bond issuance so far this year

Bond Buyer: Midwest follows the rest of the nation and scales back on bond issuance

MuniLand Snaps: February 14, 2012

“Providence is in peril: That’s how Mayor Taveras opened his State of the City speech [Monday], the mayor dropping a bombshell that he’ll suspend all COLAs for all retirees, whether he has approval from the state or not.” Source:

Good Links

NYT: Best ever infographic of a proposed federal budget

Reuters: Obama seeks to cut municipal bond tax breaks

On Wall Street: Market thinks President Obama’s budget has no chance of passing

Bloomberg: Federal government has trouble figuring out how much it spends

Detroit News: Could the Institute of Art sell off some paintings to help the near-bankrupt city?

MuniLand Snaps: February 13, 2012

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board has released data for January showing that the monthly number of small trades is decreasing while trade size is increasing. Trades of municipal securities of $100,000 or less, which are typically used as a proxy for retail activity, continued to trend lower, accounting for 81.4 percent of the 797,451 trades in January 2012. In terms of par traded, or the face amount of bonds that are redeemed at maturity, small trades accounted for 9.5 percent of all par traded in January. In comparison, trades of more than $1 million accounted for 3.5 percent of all trades and 72 percent of all par traded in January 2012.

Good Links

NYT: National entitlement map

NYT:  Federal safety net spending consumed ~66 cents of every dollar of revenue

BGov: A primer on President Obama’s budget process

The Edublog Awards Blog: The best education blogs of 2011

Dallas Morning News: Editorial: Poverty’s role in school reform

Off the Charts Blog: Want to promote job training and adult ed? Then fund them adequately

MuniLand Snaps: February 10, 2012

Just-in-time inventory comes to municipal agencies. This is the way to more efficient government. Video: GovTech

Good Links

Stateline: Will states use foreclosure money for other purposes?

Lakeland Times: The best of credit ratings, the worst of credit ratings

Bond Buyer: Muni bond rally weakens slightly

Reuters: 10th straight week of muni bond fund inflows

State Impact: Map of Pennsylvania areas receiving revenues from gas extraction

Patriot News: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget proposal: Who gets thumbs up, thumbs down? Vermont treasurer announces $25 million Citizen Bond sale March 5

MuniLand Snaps: February 9, 2012

Municipal Market Advisor’s Matt Fabian explains the basic equation of muniland: State and local governments are issuing fewer bonds for new projects, which constrains supply. Demand is extremely strong, and the combination is keeping municipal bond yields at historical lows.

Good Links

Tax Policy Institute:  What tax reform would mean for the states

USA Today:  Momentum growing for sales taxes on online purchases

Economics Intelligence: Are credit ratings massively overrated?

Van Eck Global’s MuniNation: Perspectives on municipal bonds

Bloomberg: Pennsylvania lawmakers pass fracking bill allowing county fees

Unfair Park: Are conduit bonds being used as a land grab on public education?

@Twitter Talk LynnHume @BondBuyergirl LynnHume    MSRB Warns Underwriters Consenting to Changes for New Bonds May Violate Rule… ILStateHouseNews @ILsthousenews ILStateHouseNews  Could it be bailout time for Illinois’ prepaid tuition program? Maybe, some say.

Romy Varghese @romyvarghese Romy Varghese   Brown may give more money to near-bankrupt Providence. Can Harrisburg achieve that with its tax-exempt groups? Bruce Katz @bruce_katz Bruce Katz  Gov. Deal: We’re trying our best to get the Savannah port deepened | Panama Canal ripple

Zach Carter @zachdcarter Zach Carter  Dear California, More libraries, less prisons plz.

MuniLand Snaps: February 8, 2012

At minute 8 in this Bloomberg video, Larry Fink, CEO and chairman of the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock, says everyone must be 100 percent in equities. I hope he doesn’t mean that everyone should sell their municipal bonds. Could he become muniland’s next Meredith Whitney?

Good Links

NCSL: Database of state responses to federal health reform requirements

Reuters: Senate Finance Committee approves new tax provisions for conduit bonds

Bloomberg: Head of muni research at BofA Merrill Lynch says muniland quality improving

MuniLand Snaps: February 7, 2012

Very interesting map from Gallup showing the variance of economic performance across the nation. Bloomberg has a more in-depth graphic on the same topic.

Good Links

WSJ: Itchy investors ramp up the risk

Reuters: $44 billion in municipal debt is backstopped by European banks

Seeking Alpha: Book review: Joe Mysak’s Encyclopedia of Municipal Bonds

Bond Buyer: Pittsburgh defies state receiver and issues new debt

Detroit Free Press: More than 20 percent of Michigan’s state prisoners have severe mental disabilities

Patriot News: Harrisburg recovery plan keeps bankruptcy option on the table, calls for chief operating officer

MuniLand Snaps: February 6, 2012

Kroll Bond Ratings does some good analysis on which types of municipal bonds tend to default:

The largest share consists of industrial revenue bonds, followed by bonds supporting healthcare and then housing. These three sectors accounted for 67% of all defaulting issuers during this period. Special assessment bonds, typically issued to support real estate development, also ranked high among defaults. General obligation bonds, the largest outstanding sector today, contributed the fewest number of defaults.

Good Links

Investment News: Will credit-rating changes rough up muniland?

Reuters: ”Best week in over five years” for muni bond funds as they pull in $1.67 billion

MuniLand Snaps: February 3, 2012

This chart is from some interesting work by Kroll Bond Ratings:

“The amount of municipal bonds outstanding over time varied greatly. As shown in this chart, the pre-Depression municipal bond market was much larger, expressed as a percentage of GDP, than we have seen more recently. It should be noted, however, that the last portion of the pre-Depression upward spike was due to a rapid shrinking of GDP between 1929 and 1933.”

Good Links

Bond Buyer: 2012 is “a better environment for borrowers”

Morgan Stanley: Municipal bond monthly

Bond Buyer: The types of bond deals that cultural institutions do

Bloomberg: Citigroup opposes applying Dodd-Frank to municipal-bond market

Dow Jones: $1 billion Puerto Rico muni-bond sale proves immense muniland demand

Out of Control Policy Blog: Threat of bankruptcy hangs over Providence, Rhode Island

Bloomberg Businessweek: Super fracking

Patriot News: Corbett tells legislators to send him a Marcellus Shale bill “as soon as possible”

MuniLand Snaps: February 2, 2012

Now Al Jazeera weighs in on fracking.

Good Links

WaPo: CBO: If Congress does nothing, deficit plummets

Bond Buyer: More confusion about Obama’s approach to municipal bond tax exemption

The Capital Exchange: A primer from muniland’s most knowledgeable commentator, Bloomberg’s Joe Mysak

Bloomberg: LBJ-era yields for municipal bonds

Bond Buyer: 17 percent more municipal bonds come to market in January

Marketwatch: Treasuries, muni bonds beating company debt

The Energy Collective: Worst. Transportation Bill. Ever.

Capital Alert: California Controller: State to run out of cash in March without action

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