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The Growth of Municipal Debt

Municipal debt is on the rise, as state and local borrowing has grown to nearly one-quarter of the U.S. GDP.
June 23, 2010, 9am PDT | Nate Berg
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Steven Malanga writes on this trend and looks at some of the big stadium projects for which cities and municipalities have put themselves deep into debt.

"Nearly 40 years ago the Garden State borrowed $302 million to begin constructing the Meadowlands. The goal was to pay off the bonds in 25 years. Although the project initially went according to plan, politicians couldn't resist continually refinancing the bonds, siphoning revenues from the complex into the state budget, and using the good credit rating of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition authority to borrow for other, unsuccessful building schemes.

Today, the authority that runs the Meadowlands is in hock for $830 million, which it can't pay back. The state, facing its own cavernous budget deficits, has had to assume interest payments-about $100 million this year on bonds that still stretch for decades."

Full Story:
Published on Monday, June 14, 2010 in The Wall Street Journal
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