MuniLand Snaps: April 4

Watch Texas Justice on PBS. See more from Need to Know.

There are surprises everywhere in muniland. Here is one I learned about from PBS: Despite leading the nation in executions, “Texas has been a pioneer in finding alternatives to prison – as a way to control costs and to prevent convicts from returning.”

Good Links

Atlantic Cities: The true cost of unwalkable streets

WaPo: “Taxmageddon” in one table

NYT: Where housing once boomed, recovery lags

Reason: Recovering America: earning less, spending more, $6.7 trillion poorer

WSJ: State-by-state unemployment rate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Reuters: Municipal bond sales up 68.3 percent, to $78.9 billion, in first quarter

Bond Buyer: Symposium on distressed municipalities

Bloomberg: Ohio governor fights own party over taxing Ohio’s drillers

Columbus Dispatch: Ohio proposes coordinated care for Medicare, Medicaid

Reuters: Fish tanks and palm trees – Miami’s new baseball stadium

The Civic Federation: Chicago plan lacks details on how individual projects will be funded

@Twitter Talk California WatchCalifornia Watch @CaliforniaWatch Free military surplus gear a boon to local CA law enforcement The Atlantic CitiesThe Atlantic Cities  @AtlanticCities Everything you ever wanted to know about Bus Rapid Transit in one nifty website BlackRock®BlackRock® @blackrock By the numbers: sector performance in February Otis WhiteOtis White  @OtisWhite Tying up loose ends at S.F.’s TIF agency: Turns out, it takes a while to shut down a form of gov’t. Buffalo RisingBuffalo Rising @BuffaloRising The City of Philadelphia saved $2 million over the past year by easing marijuana possession laws:

Otis WhiteOtis White @OtisWhite 139 sq. miles: The amount of vacant land in Detroit is so great, you could fit the city of Paris in it. Jen DePaulJen DePaul @BondBuyerJen In a letter ruling the IRS denied tax-exempt status to a club that owns and operates property for a college sorority and its alumni steve from virginiasteve from virginia  @econundertow Orange County/San Diego pols demand closure of San Onofre Nuclear power station. Steam generator leaks:

Romy VargheseRomy Varghese @romyvarghese Pennsylvania mulls privatizing its lottery. State ranks 8th in Sucker Index.

MuniLand Snaps: April 3


The troubles in Jefferson County, Alabama got a little more complicated last week as the County Commission voted to default on $15 million of general obligation (GO) bonds. Up to this point, the city has been meeting the payments for its GO debt, which is separate from its troubled sewer debt. The County Commission voted to default on the GO debt to have the funds to pay for essential city services. In response the state legislature, which must approve any tax increases for the county, may have been spurred into action. (Video, care of

Good Links

NCSL: States with legislation for voluntary savings account proposals

Brookings: MetroMonitor economic performance maps

New York Times: Where housing once boomed, recovery lags

Fitch Ratings: Comparability of combined state debt and pension metric

Sacramento Bee: Republicans propose California budget with state-worker pay cut

Detroit News: Detroit council to resume consent talks Tuesday

Reuters: Detroit unions to end talks if state plan accepted

Detroit Free Press: Primer on financial emergency managers

Detroit News: Multiple local, state and federal agencies try sweep worst criminals off Detroit streets

AP: Harrisburg overseer blamed “crosswinds” in letter

NYC IBO Analysis of the New York City preliminary budget for 2013 Report details nexus of corruption and nepotism in southern New Jersey

MuniLand Snaps: March 29, 2012

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority is planning to issue new revenue bonds designated as Series 2012A (Moody’s rating: Baa1; sale amount: $455,000,000; expected sale date: Apr. 9, 2012). The data for electric power use, which sustains the payments for these revenue bonds, is published on a monthly basis by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA). You can also download the data from their official website.

Good Links

McKinsey: The bond market on acid

Bond Buyer: SIFMA barks at the MSRB about rules being too precise

Bond Buyer: Market outlook unclear as stressed cities choose unique strategies

Bond Buyer: Muniland accounting standard setter wants five-year projections in financial reports

Moody’s: Puerto Rico downgraded to Baa1 for $7.6 billion of outstanding power revenue bonds

MuniLand Snaps: March 28, 2012

The Treasury created this excellent chart about long-term deficits. Click in the image to see a bigger version.

Good Links

Congressional Research Service: An economic analysis of tax-base broadening

ZeroHedge: “The synthetic credit bubble has now been blown to a new all-time high”

Bond Buyer: Banks gobbled up municipal bonds in 2011

MuniNetGuide: How a local government’s approach to fiscal distress can determine its future

MuniLand Snaps: March 27, 2012

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder speaks about working for the residents of Detroit to stabilize the fiscal situation and help the city start growing. It seems likely that the city and state will agree to a deficit elimination plan; some enhancements will allow that plan to qualify as a “consent agreement.” Video from the Detroit News.

Good Links

Forbes: The Media Map: Who’s reading what and where

Bond Buyer: Treasury promotes new round of BABs; Republicans likely to reject

OCC: Notional amount of derivatives exposure for U.S. commercial banks

Stateline: Doing union work on the government clock?

Learn Bonds: Puerto Rico municipal bonds – how bad are they?

Albany Times-Union: NY legislature nears agreement on budget, including capital spending changes

Detroit News: Detroit and Michigan inching closer to financial deal

Tampa Bay Times:  St. Petersburg meets Wells Fargo in court over failed Lehman investments

MuniLand Snaps: March 26, 2012

While the sharks circle Harrisburg, the French press reports on the fiscally battered city. National Public Radio weighs in on Harrisburg too.

Good Links

Bloomberg: China’s central bank may grade local governments’ creditworthiness

CBO: Federal budget outlook and aid to states

Hightower Lowdown: Post Office is not broke — and it hasn’t taken any tax money since 1971

MuniLand Snaps: March 23, 2012

Daniel Berger of Thomson Reuters MMD created this interesting chart comparing municipal bond fund flow data from Lipper and the level of the municipal bond ETF “MUB“. I’m not exactly sure what it’s telling us, but if you have thoughts, please put them in the comments or tweet me @cate_long.

Good Links

Council of State Governments: American lawmakers ride the rails in Japan

Rolling Stone: Matt Taibbi: Gangster banks keep winning public business

Reuters: Flows into US muni bond funds drop by 87 percent this week

Bond Buyer: State and local tax revenues mark ninth quarter of growth

ETF Daily News: Ten muniland problems dressed up as harbinger of market collapse

Bloomberg: Skip the jail bonds, especially those issued in Texas

Detroit News: Fitch downgrade triggers $50 million-a-year swap payments

Seeking Alpha: The interest rate swaps that are bankrupting local governments

CFA Institute: Sell-side analyst argues against the Volcker Rule N.J. Senate committee rejects Gov. Christie’s Supreme Court nominee

MuniLand Snaps: March 22, 2012

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing talks to Bloomberg’s Mark Crumpton about his efforts to get the city’s fiscal crisis under control. He says that Detroit needs help, not a takeover by the state. Meanwhile, the governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, has spent the week in Europe on a trade mission and left the negotiations for control of Detroit to his staff.

Good Links

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas:  Why we must end too-big-to-fail — now

Governing: The variation among U.S. state and cities is a mile wide

Cal Watchdog: Special series: Bondholders seek governmental transparency

MSRB: SEC approves display of interdealer yield data on the EMMA website starting Apr. 30

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney: Municipal bond monthly

Barron’s: Sit on the sidelines a while longer, says Thomson Reuters Municipal Market Data

MuniLand Snaps: March 21, 2012

NASA reports: “A huge, lingering ridge of high pressure over the eastern half of the United States brought summer-like temperatures to North America in March 2012. The warm weather shattered records across the central and eastern United States and much of Canada.”

Good Links

Stateline: Republican legislatures move to preempt local government

Bond Buyer: Indigestion hits muniland as supply still too much to handle

Reuters: Weak bond insurers thrashed by muni defaults

Bloomberg: After massive debacle in Jefferson County, JPMorgan uses balance sheet to gain top spot in muniland

Stateline: West Virginia is the first state to put funds aside for retiree health costs

MuniLand Snaps: March 20, 2012

It’s rocky in muniland, and it helps to get a view from those who have navigated the terrain before. Peter Hayes, director and head of the Municipal Bonds Group at BlackRock Fundamental Fixed Income, advises investors to consider risk factors such as a tax policy and negative headlines.

Good Links

Bond Buyer: States’ tax revenue growth softened in 4th quarter

Atlantic Cities: The U.S. cities with the fastest growing job markets

SEC: Risk alert on strengthening practices for underwriting of municipal securities

Reuters: SEC seeks better muni disclosure, record-keeping

Bond Buyer: Non-debt debt raises Chapter 9 bankruptcy issues

Reuters: New Jersey (no kidding) is among best corruption fighters

Star Ledger: Governor Christie’s budget projection is the most optimistic in nation

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