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Municipal Bonds - Can't Get Enough Bad Coverage

 A little story from the New York Times.  We are starting to hear more and more of this kind of talk (Ms. Whitney aside) which is certainly not helping the municipal market.  One thing to consider, however, is that most of the towns mentioned are small and have little debt outstanding.  Stay away from the smaller towns, especially smaller towns with special projects outstanding - or the debt of the projects themselves.  Opportunity or disaster - maybe a little bit of both.

(NYSE:NYT) HAMTRAMCK, Mich. — Leaders of this city met for more than seven hours on a Saturday not long ago, searching for something to cut from a budget that has already been cut, over and over.
The political leaders of this old working-class city almost surrounded by Detroit are pleading with the state to let them declare bankruptcy, a desperate move the state is not even willing to admit as an option under the current circumstances.
“The state is concerned that if they say yes to one, if that door is opened, they’ll have 30 more cities right behind us,” Mr. Cooper said, as flurries fell outside his City Hall window. “But anything else is just a stop gap. We’re going to continue to pursue bankruptcy until the door is shut, locked, barricaded, bolted.”
“There could be many cities in this position next year,” said Summer Hallwood Minnick, director of state affairs for the Michigan Municipal League, who added that in this state, cities had already struggled with billions less than expected in state revenue sharing. “All our communities have done is cut, cut, cut. They’re down to four-day workweeks and the elimination of parks, senior centers, all of that. So if there’s anything else that happens, they will be over the edge.”
This month, the authorities in Rhode Island said the City of Central Falls could face bankruptcy if immediate, drastic changes — perhaps the city’s annexation into a neighboring municipality — failed. Some leaders in Harrisburg, Pa., which owes millions in debt payments tied to an incinerator project, say bankruptcy may eventually be the only choice.
Prichard, Ala., which stopped paying monthly checks to retired city workers when its pension fund ran out last year, is appealing a bankruptcy judge’s ruling that it did not qualify for Chapter 9 under Alabama law.
Only about 600 cities, counties, towns and special taxation districts have filed for bankruptcy (known as Chapter 9 for these sorts of entities) since 1937, said James E. Spiotto, a municipal bankruptcy expert at Chapman & Cutler, a law firm in Chicago, and fewer than 250 in the last three decades. In part, it can be hard — even impossible — to do: about half the states have statutes authorizing such filings, but some of them set limits or require elaborate approval processes. Other states have no specific provision allowing cities to pursue bankruptcy, and at least one, Georgia, bans such moves. 
 Full article here: NYT Munis

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.