Yield on Chicago School Bond Offering Hits 5.63%; Debate Over Risk; Miracles Not Coming; Bankruptcy the Sensible Option

By: Mike Shedlock | Tue, Apr 21, 2015
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Today a $295.7 million bond offering by the beleaguered Chicago Board of Education hit the market.

The Yield Hit 5.63%. That is 285 basis points higher than Municipal Market Data's benchmark triple-A scale.


Debate Over Risk

Municipal Market Analytics (MMA) says Despite it All, Chicago Schools' Default Risk is Low.

Peel away the layers of negative headlines and patient investors will find low default risks and underlying credit strength in this week's $300 million Chicago Board of Education deal, according to Municipal Market Analytics.

"BOE debt is well insulated from default risk by significant 'belt and suspenders' protections," MMA wrote in a market piece authored by Matt Posner & Kevin McGuigan Friday. "We understand that negative headlines, downgrades and Chapter 9 speculation have all damaged value but believe the case can be made for a considerable underlying credit strength that exists for patient investors."

The bonds' value has been hurt by a stinging series of negative headlines, from multi-notch bond rating downgrades to Gov. Bruce Rauner's comments that no state bailout looms and bankruptcy is an option.

"Regardless of statements by the governor, Chapter 9 is likely a low probability outcome, allowing for a less cynical reading of CPS' otherwise strong pledged security," MMA wrote Monday in its weekly outlook authored by Matt Fabian, Lisa Washburn, and Bob Donahue.

"This security presents only minimal payment default risk," Monday's outlook piece said.


Debate Over Risk

I strongly disagree the MMA's assessment. While it's true that municipal bankruptcies are rare, the odds of this deal working out well are poor.

The only saving grace at the moment is that Illinois does not allow municipal bankruptcies.

And Rauner pledged "The taxpayers of Illinois are not going to bail out the city of Chicago, that ain't happenin. But there are things we can do to help them restructure and get their government and their schools turned around, and I'd like to help them."


Simple Facts


No State Rescue

Where is the school district going to get $1.1 billion? Where is it going to get a $700 million pension payment?

The state? Think again.


Illinois Budget Deficit is $9 billion

Don't expect the state of Illinois to come to the rescue!

Crain's Chicago Business says Illinois' Budget Deficit is Twice as Bad as You Think.

Illinois' fiscal woes are significantly deeper and more serious than generally realized, with the state facing a $9 billion operating deficit in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

That's the horrific bottom line of a report released late today by researchers at the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs, a study that may raise the eyebrows even of Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has been warning of huge financial problems ahead.

The conclusion: The actual deficit is about twice what is commonly reported, with the hole in the current fiscal 2015 budget not $2 billion to $3 billion but $6 billion, and rising to a projected $9 billion in fiscal 2016 and hitting $14 billion by fiscal 2026, assuming no changes in law or spending practices.


No Miracles Coming

How is a state that is $9 billion in the hole going to bail out a single school district that is $1.1 billion in the hole?

The obvious answer is that it won't and can't. There are no miracles to be had. The Chicago Public School system is bankrupt. All it will take to trigger bankruptcy is for the legislature to allow just that.


Bankruptcy the Only Sensible Option

Since downstate voters will not want to bail out Chicago, we may easily be approaching the point the Illinois legislature realizes it has no choice other than to allow municipalities the option of declaring bankruptcy.

This won't come easily for the legislature, but it's the right thing to do. Upstate vs. downstate politics may be enough to tip the tide.


Right Idea

Rauner has the right idea on taxes, on bankruptcy, and on a bailout of Chicago.

Not a penny of taxpayer money should go to fund a lost cause. I find it hard to believe that Emanuel himself does not know the school system is truly bankrupt.

When you are bankrupt, the only sensible thing to do is admit it.

For more details on the miserable state of affairs of the Chicago Public School System, please see Credit Swap Event Triggers for Chicago Schools: Out of Cash in 30 Days, Cooking the Books to Oblivion.

 


 

Mike Shedlock

Author: Mike Shedlock

Mike Shedlock / Mish
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Mike Shedlock

Michael "Mish" Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management. Visit http://www.sitkapacific.com/ to learn more about wealth management for investors seeking strong performance with low volatility.

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