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    Entries in stress test (3)


    The Week in Public Finance: A Rate Hike, Unpredictable Taxpayers and Stress-Testing Budgets

    BY  JUNE 16, 2017
    The Federal Reserve headquarters in Washington, D.C.
    The Federal Reserve headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Shutterstock)

    A Rate Hike

    The Federal Reserve announced this week that it's raising interest rates by one quarter of a percentage point, which is its second short-term increase of the year. The move was widely expected but comes amid expectations that inflation is running well below the central bank’s 2 percent target for 2017.

    The Fed also released more details on how it plans to unwind its $4.5 trillion portfolio of bonds that includes Treasurys, mortgage-backed securities and state and local government debt. Each month, the Fed receives billions in principal payments from its various holdings, and much of that repayment is then reinvested in more bonds and other securities. Now, the Federal Open Market Committee -- which is part of the Federal Reserve -- said it intends to gradually reduce the Fed’s securities holdings by decreasing its reinvestment of its monthly principal payments it receives.

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    To Prepare for the Next Recession, States Take Stress Tests

    No government can be fully prepared for every economic twist and turn. Still, some are trying.
    BY  DECEMBER 12, 2016

    The Great Recession was uniquely devastating for states and localities because it hit all three major tax revenue sources: income, sales and property. It was a scenario that few, if any governments, were really prepared to absorb. As a result, governments were forced to make massive budget cuts.

    Now, as the recovery trudges on longer than most, a growing number of states are making sure they aren’t blindsided by the next downturn.

    Enter stress testing. The idea, which was borrowed from the U.S. Federal Reserve, essentially throws different economic scenarios at a state budget to see how revenues would be impacted.

    “We’re in an environment where everyone is starting to think about the next downturn and what that’s going to look like,” said Emily Raimes, a Moody’s Investors Service analyst. “A stress test is a tool for states to think about what types of programs they should commit to and how much to save now.”

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    The Week in Public Finance: Why Some Pensions Are Falling Behind, Stress Testing States and More

    A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
    BY  AUGUST 12, 2016

    Pollyannaish About Pension Returns

    Houston is fighting a losing battle with its pension system: The unfunded liability between Houston’s three plans totals at least $3.9 billion, up from $212 million in 1992. Meanwhile, pension costs as a percentage of the city’s revenue have doubled since 2000 and were one of the reasons behind a recent credit rating downgrade.

    new report from Rice University’s Kinder Institute identifies two main culprits for the funding crisis: Even though the city is now paying its full pension bill, it’s still not enough to chip away at the unfunded liability, and the three plans have assumed investment returns of between 8 and 8.5 percent -- that's higher than the national average and even higher than their own recent experience.

    The report's authors looked at examples of pension changes in other major cities and highlighted potential solutions, including raising the cap on the city’s revenues so it can generate more money for pensions; increasing employee contributions; and reducing cost-of-living payments to retirees. “All of these options would generate different amounts of funding in different time frames,” the report said. "[But] none would likely solve the problem alone.”

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