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Treasury turns its gaze to Municipal Bond Market

Publisher: Wall Street Journal
Author: Andrew Ackerman

US policy makers have begun taking steps to keep closer tabs on the ability of states and cities to raise money in the $3.7 trillion dollar municipal-bond market.

The Treasury Dept has announced it will form a new unit to broadly monitor the market, with an emphasis on troubled borrowers. The new unit will be headed by Kent Hiteshew, a veteran public-finance banker formerly at JP Morgan Chase. The Treasury unit will track state and local pensions, as well as the financing of bridges, roads, and other infrastructure projects. The new unit hopes to improve the Treasury departments understanding of the ramifications of municipal-market stresses, especially in light of the financial problems in Puerto Rico, which is beset with challenges that include 15% unemployment and roughly $70 billion dollars of outstanding debt.

The municipal-bond market has long been viewed as a reliable source of tax-exempt income and as a vehicle for retirement savings. However, bankruptcy filings by Detroit, San Bernardino, Stockton, and potentially Puerto Rico have rattled those assumptions. For full access to the article, please click here. Please note that the article is behind a Wall Street Journal paywall that requires a log in to have access.

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