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    Entries in public health (2)


    How Zika Could Infect the Municipal Bond Market

    Even if an area has no cases of the virus, it could feel a financial impact.
    BY  MAY 27, 2016

    When you walk through Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, it’s hard to ignore the solemn warnings that the city could be an entry point for the Zika virus into the United States.

    Everywhere, large signs picturing a menacing mosquito warn travelers: “Don’t let this bad bug bite you.” Other signs warn pregnant travelers about a Zika health advisory. Last month, airport concessionaires began selling insect repellent with the recommended level of DEET to keep mosquitoes at bay.

    But there are also financial implications of Atlanta’s status as a gateway to Central and South American travel, and for other cities like it. According to a new report by the investment firm, Loop Capital Markets, the Zika virus could make it more expensive for some municipalities to borrow money.

    That's because similar to natural disasters, a virus outbreak has the potential to overwhelm local and state health departments. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina "demonstrated the enormous capacity of governments to botch disaster relief efforts,” said Chris Mier, the report's author. Since then, research has shown that a region's susceptibility to disasters now plays a role in their municipal interest rates. For example, a study of California's more earthquake-prone cities found that they paid a higher interest rate on their bonds following Hurricane Katrina.

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    The Week in Public Finance: Court Strikes Down Chicago Pension Reforms, Pennsylvania Ends Budget Standoff and More

    A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
    BY  MARCH 24, 2016

    What Will Chicago Do Now?

    The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday ruled unconstitutional Chicago’s attempt to reduce its massive pension liabilities.

    The decision, which affirms lower court rulings, doesn't come as a big surprise given that the state's highest court issued a similar ruling 10 months ago regarding Illinois’ proposed pension cuts. Still, it’s a blow to Chicago and its mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who had hoped the cuts would save the city hundreds of millions of dollars. Chicago is short $20 billion across five pension plans (including public schools), and the poor financial health of the retirement system has resulted in downgrades from credit ratings agencies.

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