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Rating Cut Slams California

As the California budget battle reaches white hot temperatures, Fitches has cut the rating on the state’s debt to A-, and placed it on “credit watch”, a warning of further downgrades. The move is a delayed recognition of reality, as is the rating agency industry’s practice. The legislature tried, but failed to pass $12 billion in budget cuts, which governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he would veto anyway, because they didn’t meet the full $24 billion tab (see my previous dispairing piece at href="http://www.madhedgefundtrader.com/June_18__2009.html">www.madhedgefundtrader.com/June_18__2009.html). In the package were increases in motor vehicle registration fees, $1.50 a pack in additional tobacco taxes, cancellation of health insurance for one million children, a production tax of 9.9% for in-state pumped crude oil, the firing of thousands of teachers, firefighters, policemen, and probation officers, and more smoke and mirrors accounting shenanigans that kick the can into the future. Some of the changes were only possible through a redefinition of the English language that turned “taxes” into “fees.”As California goes, so goes the nation, as many states will follow the Golden State into financial Armageddon. In a new era of soaring unemployment, restrained consumption, high savings, and crashing stock and property prices, states dependant on taxes on incomes, sales, capital gains, and property appraisals don’t do well. Make sure those muni bonds are insured. Why do I get the sickening feeling that I am watching a rerun of Thelma and Louis?