What Is Your City’s Debt Burden?

What is your local government’s debt burden? Or in other words, how much of your local government’s annual revenue would be fully consumed by its liabilities?
That’s a question that J. P. Morgan took on in its recent analyst report The ARC and the Covenants 3.0, in which it considered the total debt burdens of the governments of US cities, counties, and states.
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Here’s an excerpt from the report’s Executive Summary, in which the private bank explains its interest in the results of the analysis and what liabilities are included in each level of government’s total debt, which goes into the calculation of their ‘IPOD’ ratio, which is their estimate of the true burden of debt local governments throughout the United States:
As managers of $70 billion in US municipal bonds across our asset management business (Q2 2017), we’re very focused on credit risk of US municipalities. Last year, we completed our tri-annual credit review of US states. While a few states have very large debts relative to their revenues, many are in decent shape. This summer, we completed a review of the largest US cities and counties. In general, US cities and counties have substantially more debt relative to their revenues than US states. While most have several years to undertake remediation measures, some very difficult choices will be required in order for them to meet all of their future obligations. And when these choices become untenable and rare municipal bankruptcies do occur, bondholders have usually received lower recoveries than pensioners.

This post was published at FinancialSense on 10/09/2017.

 

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