April 30, 2012
How Stockton's story unfolds could have major consequences for public employee pensions and bondholders nationwide.
February 29, 2012
State tax codes are filled with a legion of special treatments that could very well lead to a state’s fiscal destruction.
December 26, 2011
In this Public Finance column, John E. Petersen says that despite dire forecasts, states and localities paid their debts on time and in full.
October 31, 2011
State and local fiscal fortunes are now linked to the ups and downs of markets on every continent.
August 31, 2011
The fiscal situation will likely make huge capital projects like the space shuttle program and Boston’s Big Dig a thing of the past.
June 30, 2011
Public employees are at the front of the firing line, paying the price for widespread voter angst.
April 29, 2011
Have states and localities borrowed too much?
February 28, 2011
History says cities and states can look to the feds for a fiscal rescue plan.
January 1, 2011
When the federal government starts reducing its deficit, watch out below!
November 1, 2010
Plunging real estate values have devastating consequences for government finance.
Could credit default swaps undermine the fiscal stability of state and local bond issuers?
Some see California's future in Greece's current woes.
June 1, 2010
The new Build America Bonds are having an outsized impact on the way states and localities raise money to build and fix infrastructure.
May 1, 2010
Deep cuts in state and local spending may exert an undertow on the nation's recovery.
Assumptions about return rates and risky investments foreshadow big problems.
State borrowing takes on so many forms that it's hard to figure out what the total is.
Build America Bonds are like the cash-for-clunkers program: They bring buyers in.
The Golden State's voters opted for more schools, roads and research, but then refused to pay for them.
A subsection of the federal recovery act may kill off the muni bond as we know it.
The financial genius overestimates the risk of default on insured muni bonds.
After the fun and games of a stimulus bump, stringency lies ahead.
States and localities should use the current fiscal trauma to adjust and amend the ways they raise money.
Even if the Wall Street bailout works, state and local governments will have fiscal problems for a long time.
In Massachusetts, there is an ongoing disconnect between enjoying the good things in life and paying for them.
The U.S. Supreme Court expresses its fondness for muni bonds and accepts the way things are.
May 31, 2008
It is an understatement to say that the financial markets are in an "unsettled" state. They are in paroxysms of uncertainty. For those in charge...
For many issuers, going to market without insurance is unappetizing. But that may be changing.
The municipal bond market is dealing with uncertain times -- not of its own making.
When the collection of revenue is too convenient, it can lead to consequences that may or may not be intended.
Public pension funds are being drawn like bears after honey to these risky, unregulated but high-reward investments.
A Supreme Court case on state exemptions of interest income from muni bonds could fire up big changes in the bond market.
July 1, 2007
America is a nation of majority rule, and one outcome of that is that
the majority typically looks out for its economic interests. Take the
uneven treatment of property taxes.
Texas is leading a charge to get rid of the accounting rule that forces states and localities to tally the future costs of health benefits for retirees.
A drive toward increased efficiency in energy and reduced oil consumption means state revenue systems will undergo wrenching changes.
If the economy turns down this year, will the feds rescue the states the way they did in 2003?
If the economy turns down this year, will the feds rescue the states
the way they did in 2003?
Rising property values fomented tax reform in South Carolina, but
restrictions in the new law may haunt the state.
There's economic turbulence ahead that state budget and fiscal systems
may not weather well.
June 1, 2006
Credit Raters Make Their Mark
Northern Virginia may be on the road to an elaborate but ultimately
workable solution to financing a subway to its international airport.
Voters may be coming around to the idea that government needs their
money to keep public works up to speed.
With slow growth from traditional investments, pension fund managers
are tempted by the snappy returns of alternatives.
The economic burdens of "hardening" transit systems are huge--and
raise politically divisive questions.
A puncturing of today's inflated real estate values would have
negative and broadscale effects on local governments.
Gone are the comforts of an era when an ever-expanding economy coupled
with growing populations could pay the future freight.
Advanced refundings are on the line as the federal government sees
revenue in cutting off some muni bond tax breaks.
The states can expect to bear the fiscal burden of major changes in
federal taxes and domestic spending.
November 1, 2004
The SEC is going after muni bond issuers who fail to supply adequate
information when their debt goes on sale.
September 1, 2004
The problem in putting a price tag on government is that costs are
deferred--buried in borrowed money and out of voters' sight.
July 1, 2004
The high costs and rising profiles of public employee pension benefits
are raising the public's hackles.
June 1, 2004
In an era of uncertainty, states and localities are looking to some
May 1, 2004
The core problem for states is not structural deficits. It's the
polarizing disagreement over what to do about them.
March 1, 2004
Corporations today believe they owe it to their stockholders to
minimize business taxes any way they can.
January 1, 2004
There's an $80 billion gap in what we spend and what we need to spend
to maintain our infrastructure as is.
November 1, 2003
Using the initiative process, Californians have fiscally handcuffed
their governor, legislature and local governments.
September 1, 2003
Because of the nature of the services they provide, states and
localities find it difficult to increase productivity.
July 1, 2003
No amount of casino gambling, Sunday liquor sales or sky-high taxes on
tobacco and booze will close state budget gaps.
May 1, 2003
States are pushing a bow wave of operating deficits ahead of them in
hopes that fiscal conditions may brighten.
March 1, 2003
The demise of the federal estate tax will take with it billions in
state revenue--unless states distance themselves from the feds.
January 1, 2003
A key factor in muni bond ratings these days is the quality of
governance or 'political risk' of an issuer.
December 1, 2002
Tax and spending changes in recent years call into question the wisdom
of prohibiting states from running deficits.
October 1, 2002
By stupidity or guile, public finance officials--like their corporate
peers--can go astray. Fast-buck opportunities are there.
August 1, 2002
While the federal government remains stymied over corporate misdeeds,
state officials have come out with guns blazing.
June 1, 2002
Either we take steps to halt the escalation of health care costs or we
make plans for the higher bills to be paid.
June 1, 2002
Earnings are down, benefits are up. For state and local retirement
systems, it's been a year of living very dangerously.
April 1, 2002
Several state and local investment funds took a beating in the Enron
debacle. It could have been much worse.
February 1, 2002
With economic uncertainties undermining forecasts of future revenue,
local budget makers are reluctant to be optimistic.
December 1, 2001
The present recession, compounded by the war on terrorism, could
fundamentally transform the economy.
October 1, 2001
This may be a time for states and localities to keep spending up and,
if need be, to borrow money to finance new projects.
August 1, 2001
Referendums held in special districts permit multimillion-dollar bonds
to be issued based on the casting of a single vote.
June 1, 2001
How well governments plan for, execute and report their financial
affairs is becoming a decisive factor in credit ratings.
April 1, 2001
With the economy weakening, will the bottom drop out of the real
estate market--and property-tax collections--again?
February 1, 2001
State and local revenues are more exposed to an economic downturn
because they're more attuned to nonstop economic growth.
December 1, 2000
What she lacks in youthful upside potential, she makes up for in
mature dependability: The muni bond's heyday is coming.
October 1, 2000
Public pensions are now well funded. But with the buildup in equities,
they have taken on more investment risk.
August 1, 2000
Leveraging future revenues to build urban-like infrastructure is
getting special attention in small towns that are growing like Topsy.
June 1, 2000
It's pretty straightforward. Those charged with investing public money have only four things to worry about: their fund's financial condition and cash flow; the state of the economy; what monetary and other regulators are up to; and how the markets are behaving, which is to say what other investors collectively are thinking about these same things and what they think will happen.
April 1, 2000
With computers able to process tons of information quickly, the
complicated muni market is a natural for electronic trading.
February 1, 2000
Why should governments calculate value for something that can't be
sold anyway? Who's going to buy a city street?