Yesterday DealBook announced the dreariest news possible for muniland: Meredith Whitney is publishing a book entitled Downgraded: Why the Next Economic Crisis Will Be Local, which is due out in November. DealBook says:
Two big events happened on Tuesday in the municipal bond market: it was the annual conference of SIFMA, one of the industry trade associations; and it was also the one-year anniversary when Meredith Whitney began her campaign of predicting the collapse of the muni market. Whitney was of course way off-base with her prediction of hundreds of billions of dollars in bond defaults. In fact less than $1 billion of muni bonds have defaulted so far . But many believe that she did cause substantial damage to retail investors, mutual funds and insurance companies, all of whom were caught up in the downdraft of selling that followed her words of doom.
Regulator wants to require fair dealing
In a far-reaching proposal, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission for permission to impose new rules to protect municipalities. These rules would vastly expand the disclosures that dealer underwriters are required to give their municipal clients who issue bonds.
It’s more than a little frustrating that CNBC continues to feature equity analyst Meredith Whitney as she talks about municipal bonds over and over again. I’m not really sure she evens knows what she is talking about.
Just the numbers please
You can save the $100,000 that Meredith Whitney charges for her research. Reuters has the data on municipal bond issuers with the weakest profiles by bond-market standards. Puerto Rico leads the pack as the least credit-worthy issuer.
I had really hoped that Meredith Whitney had gone back to analyzing banks and trying to interpret how the new Basel 3 liquidity ratio would be phased in. Unfortunately, she is back touring the mainstream financial media with another shrill message for muniland.
CA Treasurer launches another derivatives investigation
We often see Wall Street selling sophisticated products to state and local governments which are not appropriate for them — think interest rate swaps and Jefferson County. So it’s always refreshing to find a government official who actually tries to keep Wall Street in line.
How does $775 billion of bonds go missing?
There is a sleeper story in muniland about a big pile of just-discovered municipal bonds. The story has some odd twists and turns. John McDermott of FT Alphaville scooped the details yesterday: