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    Entries in municipal market (28)

    Friday
    Apr212017

    The Week in Public Finance: Ballmer's Data Trove, Grading Pension Health and a New Muni Bond Threat

    BY  APRIL 21, 2017

    This Goes Way Beyond Open Data

    You might not peg former Microsoft CEO and current owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers as a government data geek. But Steven Ballmer stepped into that role in a grand scale this week when he unveiled his privately funded, years-long project to help citizens easily track how government spends their money.

    Called USAFacts, the website contains federal, state and local aggregated data on revenue and spending, as well as on debt, population, employment and pensions. Want to know about pension debt? Two quick searches reveal that unfunded liabilities in state and local retirement systems have more than quadrupled since 2000. At the same time, the median age in the country has increased by 2.5 years.

    As a businessman used to the corporate world, Ballmer wants to make government financial reports more readable. To that end, the site has introduced the first government "10-K report" -- the private sector's version of an annual financial report. It aggregates data from all U.S. governments and gives progress reports on government programs, provides financial balance sheets and gives data on key economic indicators.

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    Wednesday
    Mar082017

    How Refinancing Debt Can Help Pensions

    North Carolina wants to use existing low rates to shore up retiree pensions and health-care debt.
    BY  MARCH 8, 2017

    In the low interest rate environment, states and localities have been saving billions by refinancing old debt. In most cases, the savings have benefited the general fund balance. But in North Carolina, State Treasurer Dale Folwell is making a push to instead use those savings to pay down pension and retiree health-care debt.

    Starting this spring, Folwell plans to refinance “every dollar we possibly can.” He'll ask the General Assembly to divert the savings to the treasurer’s office, where he'll then divvy up the extra dollars: 15 percent goes into the pension fund and 85 percent goes toward retiree health-care debt, which has a larger unfunded liability.

    The approach has garnered rave reviews, but some question just how big a dent any such savings can make in an unfunded liability that in North Carolina totals nearly $38 billion between retiree pensions and health care.

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    Friday
    Feb032017

    The Week in Public Finance: States Vulnerable to NAFTA Changes, New Amazon Taxes and a Credit Ratings Spat

    BY  FEBRUARY 3, 2017

     

    Where a Change to NAFTA Could Hurt the Most

    When it comes to trade, a handful of states rely heavily on Canada. That relationship could significantly change if President Trump follows through on his intention to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

    In an analysis, RBC Capital Markets’ Chris Mauro looks at which states are the most exposed to changes. As it turns out, half of Canada’s exports wind up in the U.S., and 35 states have Canada as their top export destination. Michigan and Illinois are the top destinations, absorbing 16 percent and 11 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of North Dakota’s goods land in Canada and nearly half of Maine, Michigan and Ohio’s exports are sent there.

    The Takeaway: Trump has called NAFTA a bad deal for the U.S. Although no specifics have been outlined, it’s safe to assume that he would promote more protectionist policies. In his analysis, Mauro warns that “the risk that Canada implements countervailing duties or that the U.S dollar appreciates significantly would severely affect the competitiveness of these U.S. states.”

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    Thursday
    Dec152016

    Startups Seek to Democratize the Muni Market

    They're bringing in new investors, big and small, to disperse the power and lower interest rates. It's already paying off for some governments.
    BY  DECEMBER 15, 2016

    For all the post-recession financial market reforms, few ultimately made their way to the municipal bond market. For the most part, the muni market remains a low-tech place by Wall Street standards, and one that's still largely controlled by the same group of big investors.

    "The muni market has a lot to do with relationships, power and influence," said Rob Novembre, a former trader who has spearheaded a new alternative bond trading system. "The bigger you are as an account, the more attention you get from sellers. If you buy bigger blocks [of bonds], that gets you more power."

    Thanks to Novembre's new startup and another in San Francisco, though, that's starting to change. The two companies are not only set to give the market a tech update but also to bring it more buyers. The idea is that more buyers will increase demand for municipal bonds and, in turn, will net governments lower interest rates on their debt.

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    Friday
    Dec092016

    The Week in Public Finance: Federal Budget Chaos, a Bankruptcy Win and Pension Portfolios

    BY  DECEMBER 9, 2016
    Chaos on Capitol Hill ... and in Statehouses

    As state lawmakers begin preparing for their fiscal 2018 budgets, their biggest challenge is in the unknown. With Donald Trump’s election, the future for key state and local funding is almost anybody’s guess.

    With Trump in the White House next year, Stan Collender, author of The Guide to The Federal Budget, predicts that a Republican-controlled Congress will move quickly on making major changes before the 2018 midterm elections. But after this unpredictable election, few are willing to predict what exactly those changes will be. All we know now is what’s on the table.

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