Local officials need governance resources

September 22, 2012

Every one of the 19,492 municipal and 16,519 township governments in America is unique. But, when it comes to the fiscal affairs of these entities, there are a lot of similarities. Almost all local governments provide fire and police protection, libraries and parks, tax collection and public works like street maintenance and garbage collection. Generally the 50,432 school districts in the U.S. act as independent political entities with their own budgets, tax collection and bond issues.

The birds’-eye view of muniland

March 14, 2012

My Thomson Reuters colleague at Municipal Market Data, Daniel Berger, published an excellent report on the debt of the 40 poorest U.S. cities. His work is exclusively for MMD subscribers, but I excerpted the high-level part where he summarizes the general view the credit rating agencies have about municipalities. Here is what Dan had to say:

States receive crumbs from mortgage settlement

February 10, 2012

The $25 billion mortgage-fraud settlement that was announced yesterday came after 18 months of coordinated action by the Department of Justice, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and 49 state attorneys-general. The settlement is carved up so that homeowners and governments at the state and federal levels each receive some compensation. Given the scale of national losses, it’s a tiny penalty for banks that engaged in egregious servicing and foreclosure practices, and it will do little to repair the widespread economic damage.

What do muniland insiders think?

October 5, 2011

When the mainstream press pays attention to muniland, often it’s the most colorful and misinformed voices — think Meredith Whitney — that dominate coverage. So it was great to get some interesting data today on how municipal insiders view the market from the muni team at RBC Capital Markets. They did a survey of 116 municipal market professionals at the recent Bond Buyer’s California Public Finance Conference. Respondents included officials from federal, local and state governments; bankers; and other municipal finance professionals in attendance.

All high government approval ratings are local

October 3, 2011

This great graphic from Visually maps the public’s great discontent with the federal government using data from the Pew Research Center. It’s hard to imagine the numbers being any worse than this: 11 percent of the public is satisfied with the officials in Washington, DC.

The foolishness of Ann and Amanda

July 11, 2011

Television is my least favorite medium because pundits usually strike outlandish poses that are wholly disconnected from the facts. Case in point is the short video above from MSNBC with Chris Hayes of The Nation, author Amanda Foreman, pundit Ann Coulter and political commentator and comedian Bill Maher. What are these people talking about?

Rebuild America

May 4, 2011

The United States Conference of Mayors released a survey Tuesday focused on metropolitan transportation investments. Generally the take-away is that the mayors want less money spent on highways and more spent on cities’ transport needs.

Muniland’s black swans

April 20, 2011

Are we looking in the wrong places?

John Carney of CNBC argues for the possibility of a black swan event for muniland.

Sharing services, and struggles

April 13, 2011

Rhinebeck war memorialSome of the challenges facing muniland often are legacy problems, where a certain way of doing things has existed for a long time.