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Apparently, it wasn’t much of a catastrophe

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* Despite all the media hype, today’s bond sale was way oversubscribed and Illinois got a fairly decent rate, considering the state’s miserable credit rating and a muni panic which appeared to abate only yesterday. From a Gov. Quinn press release…

The state received more than $9 billion in bids Wednesday from 145 investors for $1.3 billion in General Obligation bonds. The average interest rate on the bonds was 5.042 percent.

* Bloomberg

The revised yield is about 1.5 percentage points more than benchmark munis. In April, the state sold 10-year securities yielding 3.3 percent, or 1.29 percentage points above AAAs.

The state was still able to lower borrowing costs from preliminary levels as investors said the biggest losses since 2008 in municipal bonds signal a buying opportunity. The $3.7 trillion municipal market has lost about 5 percent this month as of June 25, Bank of America Merrill Lynch data show.

Yields on 10-year debt have risen to the highest since April 2011, leading issuers such as Georgia to cancel sales this week. Individuals have pulled $5.3 billion from muni mutual funds in the past three weeks, the most since February 2011, Lipper US Fund Flows data show.

* There is a price for legislative inaction, however. Back to the guv’s press release…

Without the downgrades the state has suffered as a result of inaction on its pension shortfall, the rate would have been lower, based on the prices other units of governments that did not suffer similar downgrades earned Wednesday. That difference works out to about $130 million over the 25-year life of the bonds.

That’s an average of about $5 million a year.

* Related…

* Committee likely to mine old ground for pension compromise: “I think the healthy way to do this is to walk into the room and say, ‘We’ve got a lot of different things that have been Frankensteined together, and let us now examine all of them and see what we can assemble that can get 30 votes in the Senate, 60 votes in the House and achieve adequate savings to put the state on a manageable fiscal course,’” said Sen. Daniel Biss, an Evanston Democrat.

* Lawmaker Says Pension Deal Could Happen Soon: Tracy, like the majority on the committee, supported a plan that would unilaterally cut benefits to teachers, state employees and university workers. But she says that was the only plan that came before the House. She says she is open to alternatives.

* Dan Montgomery: Rhetoric vs. reality on pensions: Last Thursday, a column by R. Eden Martin relied more on rhetoric than reality. In it, Mr. Martin argued that the unions protect the status quo while everyone else fights for “major reform.” While Mr. Martin is entitled to his opinion, his assertions are patently false.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

31 Comments
  1. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 1:57 pm:

    The fact that the bond issue was way over subscribed is an indication Illinois could have gotten a better rate and a poor reflection on Illinois bond personnel. Ideally you want your bonds to be over subscribed by about 25% which would indicate you are getting close to the lowest rate the market will accept.


  2. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 1:59 pm:

    ===The fact that the bond issue was way over subscribed is an indication Illinois could have gotten a better rate ===

    Agreed.


  3. - Small Town Taxpayer - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:07 pm:

    “She says she is open to alternatives.”

    I wonder, would Rep. Tracy be open to a plan to solve the pension funding problem by 1) increase taxes (for example income taxes) and/or 2) cut spending on other state programs (for example education)?


  4. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:12 pm:

    If the gov doesn’t like the rates, perhaps he could have opted to not borrow.


  5. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:22 pm:

    –The state received more than $9 billion in bids Wednesday from 145 investors for $1.3 billion in General Obligation bonds.–

    That’s oversubscribed nearly seven times — can someone explain that, please? The pricing is way out of whack.

    You don’t get Green Stamps for being oversubscribed — it just shows you’re not getting the right price and paying extra juice.

    Looking forward to Sarah Burnett’s at the AP follow-up story on “toxic” Illinois debt. She might want to take the rest of the week off with Blackhawk fever.

    If nothing else, this sale should silence the know-nothings who think market access will dry up. Demand is robust, and we should be getting better rates no matter what the rating agencies say.

    If you’re going to put any credence in the rating agencies, view their ratings as their judgement of Illinois’ fiscal — not economic — position in relation to other states. It has nothing to do with real-world perceived creditworthiness, as the market bears out.

    It’s not great, but $5 million extra a year in juice over AAA is pretty small potatoes to get these big-ticket infrastructure projects rolling.


  6. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:23 pm:

    === Without the downgrades the state has suffered as a result of inaction on its pension shortfall, the rate would have been lower, based on the prices other units of governments that did not suffer similar downgrades earned Wednesday. That difference works out to about $130 million over the 25-year life of the bonds ===

    Illinois - dying the death of a thousand cuts. Perhaps a little over the top but I just wanted to say that. :)


  7. - anon - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:28 pm:

    “Dan Montgomery: rhetoric v. reality:” He needs to apply his own critique to himself. Rhetoric about the We ARe One plan being constitutional cannot change the reality that the plan is an unconstitutional diminishment.


  8. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:37 pm:

    Muni Bonds paying over 5%??? WOW. That’s a huge return for investors and way more than any other state. Wonder what Detroit investments are paying.

    I’m not sure what the definition of catastrophe is, but it seems to me that if we just overpaid $125 million over 25 years, that’s pretty catastrophic if we ever hope to get our house in order. As I said, WOW.


  9. - Cook County Commoner - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:37 pm:

    No doubt there is a market for Illinois debt. Its bonds are well represented in the top holdings of high yield muni funds. I highly doubt an Illinois bond sale would ever go wanting for takers. High rate relative to most other muni issuers, fed tax exemption and Illinois tax exemption for residents. The taxable equivalent yield is a no brainer. And Illinois has not defaulted on bonds since the 1840s.
    The issue is the additional cost to taxpayers as time wears on, bond sale after bond sale, pension reform delay after delay, credit downgrade after downgrade.
    And what about the Government Accounting Standards Booard changes due to kick in this year and next regarding public pensions? I think these changes are the primary reason the GA is pushing for reform. Once they kick in, the unfunded liabilities will likely escalate, and the bond rating houses will come calling. Again.


  10. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:42 pm:

    Senior (as in old folks) investors should be happy; finally something with a yield close to what they are looking for.

    As to the Pension Committee, why don’t they stop looking at all the pension theft proposals and start lookign at the State overspending and lack of revenue? Then maybe some progress can be made …


  11. - Patty T - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:48 pm:

    Everyone talks about a lack of revenue but for FY12, the income tax revenues increased around 1.5 billion dollars. Above noted we just added over a billion $ in General Bonds. Doesn’t that just add to our already very large debt service costs? I believe we have tripled or quadrupled our outstanding general obligation debt while also not paying pension liabliities.


  12. - Jimbo - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:57 pm:

    I’m curious as to what rating the press release assumes would have saved us 130 million. Does that assume the last two downgrades or more?

    Also, it looks like it was oversubscribed by a factor of 7. How much did targeting too high of a rate cost?


  13. - Downstater - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 3:16 pm:

    Now, what could the state of Illinois do with an extra $5 million a year???
    There is a cost associated with poor leadership by the Democrats and a lack of will.


  14. - Cassiopeia - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 3:18 pm:

    Perhaps the Illinois pension funds should invest in these Illinois bonds. The 5% would help with the unfunded liability.

    This is a semi-snark comment.


  15. - Small Town Taxpayer - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 3:22 pm:

    “Everyone talks about a lack of revenue but for FY12, the income tax revenues increased around 1.5 billion dollars.”

    The Chicago Tribune also points out

    “By the numbers: The 2013-14 operating budget will include about $2 billion more in spending than this year’s budget and will still leave a pile of nearly $6 billion in unpaid bills.”

    In short, none of the increased income went to fund the pension liability or the unpaid bill from the past. All of the income tax increase, and a bit more, appears to have went to fund additional spending.


  16. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 3:33 pm:

    –The 2013-14 operating budget will include about $2 billion more in spending than this year’s budget and will still leave a pile of nearly $6 billion in unpaid bills.”

    In short, none of the increased income went to fund the pension liability or the unpaid bill from the past.–

    Unpaid bills were over $9 billion a year ago. So hard progress is being made.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-23/illinois-treads-water-as-unpaid-bills-top-9-billion.html


  17. - reformer - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 3:51 pm:

    == There is a cost associated with poor leadership by the Democrats and a lack of will. ==

    The inconvenient truth is that the majority of House Republicans voted against the Madigan pension bill, while the majority of Senate Republicans voted against the Cullerton bill.


  18. - Old and In The Way - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 3:52 pm:

    Why aren’t we pursuing “reforms” in a number of areas, including revenue, bond sales and rating, as well as pensions? I think the answer is self evident. As Wille Sutton, the bank robber, once said when asked why he robbed banks, “because that’s where the easy money is.” In short it’s easier and more politically expedient to commit the final act of theft from the pension funds rather than question the corrupt system of rating and selling bonds. Everyone should be questioning these ratings. Many commentators on this site rant about Illinois debt but relative to many other entities, and yes governments, Illinois is not nearly the risk that others are. So why are we being penalized? Read the Tiabi/Rolling Stone article and tell me I shouldn’t be outraged at the abuses of the bond rating houses. No, we’d rather steal from the middle class pensions than confront this abuse…….sad commentary on the state of our politics and society.


  19. - PublicServant - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 4:00 pm:

    R Eden Martin…What’s up with that? Does he just not like his first name? Or is it a plutocrat/master of the universe thing?


  20. - TwoFeetThick - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 4:00 pm:

    === Muni Bonds paying over 5%??? WOW. ===

    WOW, indeed. How do I get in on that action? Earning a 5% return on an investment that is all but guaranteed? Sign me up! I think I’m earning 0.0000000256% on my money market, and I’m only half joking.


  21. - DanL60 - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 4:12 pm:

    Don’t know if there’s a Q by Q graphing, but it seems there’s usually a buildup to April 15th, a dip at the end of Q3 (now) and another buildup starting Q4 as unpaids begin to pile up again.

    Last year the unpaid bills totaled about $3.65B end of Q3 ‘12, but were back up to the over $9B quoted in the Bloomberg article mid-April ‘13.

    Hopefully the EOQ number will be lower this year.


  22. - DanL60 - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 4:14 pm:

    ==R Eden Martin…What’s up with that?==

    L Ron Hubbard envy.


  23. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 4:16 pm:

    ===In short, none of the increased income went to fund the pension liability or the unpaid bill from the past===

    Absolutely, totally false. Half of the increased income went to fund additional mandated pension spending.

    Don’t ever post something like that again here.


  24. - fake county chairman - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 6:26 pm:

    i am probably off the mark here but wasnt this pension fraud per sec report can the union pursue a criminal tact we have sent govs to jail etc previously posted that our union might have more leverage with a pension fraud finding by the sec


  25. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 7:53 pm:

    –i am probably off the mark here but wasnt this pension fraud per sec report can the union pursue a criminal tact we have sent govs to jail etc previously posted that our union might have more leverage with a pension fraud finding by the sec–

    You may or may not be off the mark, but you’re definitely incoherent.

    What?


  26. - Lost in the Weeds - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 8:30 pm:

    Man I hope my high yield muni fund bought some of those 5 % paying bonds. The fund yields a little less than 4 % now, so it could use a boost in interest rates.


  27. - mokenavince - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 10:53 pm:

    Our whole pension system has been mucked up by the legislators. All new hires should be able to control the own pensions. Work a deal out with the present employees and keep your hands off their money.


  28. - Old and In The Way - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 8:18 am:

    Well evidentially the Guv and others don’t know much about the muni bond market. An article this AM in the New York Times by Mary Williams Walsh attributes the cost of the Illinois muni offering to market conditions for as much as 40% per cent of the additional cost!

    Governor Quinn said that the state was paying an average interest rate on the bonds of 5.042 percent. He called on lawmakers to enact pension changes “by July 9, so we can stop the bleeding, prevent future downgrades and jump-start Illinois’s economy.”
    Daniel Berger, senior market strategist for Thomson Reuters Municipal Market Data, said the pension-related downgrades cited by the governor were important factors but not the only ones.
    He said that market conditions had driven the interest rate on a typical 10-year municipal bond up by more than one percentage point since the beginning of May. The rate for longer-maturity bonds were more than 1.25 percentage points higher.
    “He’s ignoring the adverse market conditions,” Mr. Berger said.

    PUBLISHED JUNE 26, 2013

    Once again Guvernor Dufus doesn’t quite get it. Either that or he is overstating the situation. You choose……..the title of the blog is quite appropriate Rich.


  29. - jeffing in Chicago - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 8:44 am:

    My understanding of the jump in 2012 income for the state was the large increase in capital gains tax revenue. Something to do with the fed tax increase for 2013. This may or may not be a one time hit. That it was used for current expenditures and not pensions or bill backlog is the shame.
    My employer has a tenant that is a state agency. Their being 6 months overdue on the rent has caused his business no end of grief for the last year. The backlog has a serious detrimental effect on all of Illinois. Reducing it gets real money into the system and benefits everyone. I am not sure our legislature really understands that.


  30. - John Q. Public - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 9:09 am:

    Take the $5M per year out of the pay of the legislature and executive in across the board deductions. They’ve failed. They should be held accountable.


  31. - low level - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 10:14 am:

    Well done on this issue, Rich. It amazes me the people that are presented and cited as “experts” in the media really don’t have a clue. The Chicago stupiTribune being the worst offender.

    That paper used to be good. Now, it’s a refuge for biased analysis and JKass types. JKass types = angry aging guys that latch on to anything and distort it beyond reason to justify their bad reporting and outraged attitude about everything they don’t like.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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