Questions about the Port Authority’s toll hike

June 30, 2014

The New York Times has chronicled the SEC’s investigation into whether New Jersey Governor Chris Christie forced the New York/New Jersey Port Authority to pay for $1.8 billion in improvements to the Pulaski skyway without properly disclosing it to bondholders. Allegedly, Christie’s rationale was that the Pulaski was an “access” road leading to a Port Authority tunnel. It appears that Christie’s Port Authority lieutenants were scheming to radically raise tolls to pay for it.

Is muniland doping the data?

March 26, 2014

Puerto Rico and New Jersey may have played with the numbers recently to put a better gloss on their weak finances. They seem to be “doping” the data.

New Jersey is getting squeezed everywhere

May 8, 2013

Is New Jersey fiscally imploding?

January 3, 2013

The governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, held a press conference on Wednesday in which he excoriated the U.S. Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and other Republicans for failing to hold a vote on Sandy relief this week. With a tone that is rarely heard in national politics, Christie accused the Congressional leadership of his own party of “duplicity” and “selfishness,” according to The New York Times. Meanwhile, New York governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered more tempered comments.

More budget illusions in New Jersey

September 27, 2012

Last Friday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie proposed to levy a $10,000 fine on anyone who leaked the state’s fiscal data ahead of official announcements. Politicker NJ quoted New Jersey state Senator Barbara Buono (a Democrat from Middlesex):

Chris Christie’s latest budget gimmick

May 25, 2012

Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, is a master at distorting facts and attacking his political opponents. Politicians do this everyday, of course, but Christie is especially confrontational, and his go-for-the-throat approach must leave Democrats in the state legislature feeling bullied and weary.

Christie wants to cut taxes while the cashbox is empty

February 25, 2012

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie got a lot of media attention this week when he announced that Warren Buffett “should just write [the government] a check and shut up,” on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight. His great one-liner obscured the more profound question he was being asked, which was: Shouldn’t the wealthy pay a higher proportion of taxes? Beliefs about progressive taxation vary widely, but income taxes at every level of government are structured so that the wealthy pay a higher proportion of taxes.

Profligate Republicans and prudent Democrats

January 31, 2012

If you need more evidence that Republicans are no longer the party of fiscal prudence and that the Democrats are no longer out-of-control spendthrifts, take a look at two recent tax plans from the governors of New Jersey and Maryland. In an overture that primarily benefits the richest residents of New Jersey, Republican Governor Chris Christie has proposed cutting his state’s income taxes by 10 percent across the board, even though his state desperately needs revenue. At the other end of the spectrum, Maryland’s Democratic governor, Martin O’Malley, has proposed fading out deductions and exemptions for the richest taxpayers in his state, effectively raising their tax rates.

Muniland’s most active states

January 10, 2012

In the municipal bond market, one of the most insightful ways to examine a state is to look at how actively its bonds trade. Broker-dealers make money by trading, so naturally they go where the action is and commit market-making resources to those states. It’s generally true that the most populous states are the ones with the most traded bonds, but if we map the wealth of a state’s citizens to how often that state’s bonds trade, we get some interesting results. For example, New Jersey, which has only 2.8 percent of the national population but a high proportion of its wealthy citizens, might have the highest number of municipal bond owners as a percentage of state population.

Let Europe kill municipal CDS

October 31, 2011

The solution to Greece’s debt crisis that Europe’s leaders announced on Thursday has market participants and commentators howling. It includes a provision that changes long-established rules for credit-default swaps mid-game. Mike Dolan, Reuters’ Investment Strategy Editor in Europe, said this: