Cities Struggle as They Face Higher Municipal Bond Rates

The credit crisis has caused soaring interest rates on municipal bonds, causing cities to look for other ways to fund projects. Nevertheless, numerous projects have been put on hold or face cancellation.

"Analysts said the dysfunction in the municipal bond markets appeared to signal the end of an era of relatively cheap money for governments and, probably, the start of an era of tough choices for communities. When the market starts moving again, they said, it will look a lot like the municipal bond market of 10 years ago, before the arrival of financial wizardry in the form of structured-finance products, which lowered borrowing costs but added big new risks. Instead, governments will probably be issuing plain-vanilla bonds with fixed rates of interest, higher than they are accustomed to.

And higher rates suggest some degree of belt-tightening, especially difficult in places where tax revenues are being squeezed because of falling real estate values and the slowing economy.

Municipalities will probably be able to function, but may not expand services, said John V. Miller, chief investment officer at Nuveen Asset Management, a municipal bond investment firm. 'For some, the level of service they provide will decline.'"

Full Story: Under Strain, Cities Are Cutting Back Projects

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