Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey this year have garnered higher credit scores from rating companies, including brighter outlooks for the states as well. The upgrades also helped shrink bond yield spreads in the primary and secondary municipal markets, signaling investor perception of state debt is improving.
The better state ratings are due in part to the positive effect of federal pandemic aid, which some states used for one-time expenses while others set cash aside for the future. State treasuries also saw an influx of tax revenue from residents — bolstered by US stimulus money sent to individuals — who spent on services at home at the height of the pandemic, and on travel after Covid lockdowns were eased.
Still, a slowdown in the US economy this year is causing concern that states can no longer expect a cash haul. The likelihood that the economy in the next 12 months will slide into a recession is greater now than a month earlier, according to a March 20-27 Bloomberg survey of 48 economists.
The poll, conducted after several bank closures roiled financial markets, put the odds of a contraction at 65%, up from 60% in February, amid interest-rate hikes by the Federal Reserve and growing risks of tighter credit conditions.
Author(s): Skylar Woodhouse
Publication Date: 19 Apr 2023
Publication Site: Bloomberg