MOODY’S WARNS OF MASS CALIFORNIA MUNICIPAL BANKRUPTCIES
BY CHRISS W. STREET
Aug 17 2012
The klaxon horn went off this evening for California municipal bondholders when Moody’s credit rating service issued a report stating that the plummeting financial condition of many California counties, cities, school districts and other government agencies will soon result in large numbers of municipal bankruptcy filings. Concerned about their own potential liability for providing high ratings that encouraged conservative elderly Americans to invest in risky bonds; Moody’s announced they will undertake a wide-ranging review of municipal finances because of the growing insolvencies.
The Moody’s report comes just two days after we reported that “CALIFORNIA SALES TAX REVENUE NOSE-DIVES BY 33.5%.” Stock brokers have often recommended California municipal bonds as very safe investments, due to historically low default rates and relatively stable finances. But Moody’s said that outlook is changing after the Chapter 9 Bankruptcy filings of Stockton, San Bernardino and Mammoth Lakes.
Moody’s is especially concerned with the growing attitude among many cash-strapped cities that filing bankruptcy to avoid paying bondholders, is politically more advantageous than cutting spending. As a result, Moody’s will re-assess the financial condition of all California cities, which issues about 20 percent of the municipal bond volume nationwide, “to reflect the new fiscal realities and the governmental practices.”