New York opens its Green Bank

By Cate Long
February 11, 2014

New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of the state’s Green Bank to provide financing for in-state alternative energy projects. Here is the skinny:

What is Governor Cuomo’s end game?

By Cate Long
May 15, 2013

This week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled his proposal to create a Financial Restructuring Board to help distressed local governments manage their finances. One of the key features is an alternative binding arbitration process for unions and municipalities to resolve contract issues more rapidly. New York has an unusual employee provision that leaves all previous contract terms in place if municipalities and unions fail to reach an agreement. This provision could prevent old contracts from festering with rich wage increases and swelling employee and pension costs. Governor Cuomo said in a press release:

Fitch Ratings to Governor Cuomo: Privatizing LIPA won’t work

By Cate Long
January 9, 2013

The worst performing public service in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy was the Long Island Power Authority. There are a lot of different estimates floating around, including 2.1 million of LIPA’s electricity customers were without power; some for up to 3 weeks. It was a public health disaster of epic proportions as households had to face late October and early November weather with no way to heat their homes or turn on the lights. The latest LIPA fiasco followed years of criticism of the organization.

Broke New York municipalities have more choices than bailouts or bankruptcy

By Cate Long
October 16, 2012

Things are heating up in Albany, New York’s capitol. Someone close to Governor Andrew Cuomo appears to have been whispering into the ear of New York Post reporter Fredric Dicker:

The vigilante force of the Internet

By Cate Long
June 25, 2012

America has lined up in support of Karen Huff Klein, a 68-year-old grandmother in Greece, New York, who was tormented by four teenagers while working as a bus monitor. Her ordeal was brought to the public’s attention with three postings on YouTube by that stated:

New York City’s public-private partnerships

By Cate Long
May 24, 2012

New York seems to have developed the best form of public-private partnerships in the nation. The city revitalized itself, after its rapid decline in the 1970s, by allowing private, non-profit interests to take a larger role in public affairs. For example, the city hosts 67 business improvement districts (BIDs) and two major park privatizations, and these show that cities can receive support from the private sector without having to hand over, in exchange, major profit-seeking opportunities and assets to private interests.

Governor Cuomo has the privatization flu

By Cate Long
March 23, 2012

The governor of New York has announced his intent to ask the state legislature for a new law allowing him to auction off the cash flows of the state’s public assets. Bloomberg reports:

Fracking’s externalities

By Cate Long
January 13, 2012

Fracking is under increased scrutiny in the U.S. and in Australia, in the state of New South Wales. Both nations have undertaken studies to examine the effect of fracking on groundwater supplies. But there are other potential socialized costs that need to be included in these public studies, including the possible cost of wastewater treatment plants, damage to local roads, air and water pollution and the linkages to earthquakes. The costs of these possible side effects to local communities may exceed the gains they’ll receive from extraction royalties and increased tax revenues. We need some accounting.

Muniland’s most active states

By Cate Long
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.

Reading the muni CDS tea leaves

By Cate Long
December 2, 2011

I saw a strange tweet this morning that said “State CDS blew out yesterday per Bloomberg. Not sure what I missed here.” The anonymous tweeter attached the image above of graphs of credit-default swaps for 9 big states. Notice the very sharp one-day spike for every state except Ohio. Those spikes mean that those who trade muni CDS suddenly thought U.S. states were riskier, by anywhere from 2.09 percent to 17.02 percent, in one day. That is a big gap up.