MTA scare highlights public finance cyber woes

Link: https://fixedincome.fidelity.com/ftgw/fi/FINewsArticle?id=202106070952SM______BNDBUYER_00000179-d86e-df56-a3fd-f8fe8d120001_110.1

Excerpt:

Subway safety in New York took on a new meaning when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority acknowleged a cyber intrusion, which set off loud alarm bells about the rising threat of system hacks.

The MTA is one of the largest municipal issuers and reports linked China’s government to the episode.

Despite MTA officials? assurances of quick troubleshooting and no evidence of compromise to its operational systems, employee or customer information, this marked the latest chilling cybersecurity event for public finance.

Author(s): Paul Burton

Publication Date: 7 June 2021

Publication Site: Fidelity Fixed Income

Providence is ready to roll the dice on a pension bond

Link: https://fixedincome.fidelity.com/ftgw/fi/FINewsArticle?id=202105211039SM______BNDBUYER_00000179-8608-ddb0-adf9-ff4cb4b00001_110.1

Excerpt:

Red flags waved as Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza proposed issuing $704 million in pension obligation bonds to deal with a pestering unfunded liability problem in Rhode Island’s capital city.

The amount exceeds the city’s annual operating budget. Bond markets often frown on such borrowing and sentiment among state officials who must sign off is uncertain. Skeptics also call the city’s fiscal management track record shaky, while memories linger of a fiasco in Woonsocket, which tried a similar move nearly 20 years ago.

Author(s): Paul Burton

Publication Date: 21 May 2021

Publication Site: Fidelity Fixed Income

Murphy’s full pension payment revives debate over New Jersey overhaul

Link: https://fixedincome.fidelity.com/ftgw/fi/FINewsArticle?id=202102241328SM______BNDBUYER_00000177-cf67-de3f-a9f7-ffef66580001_110.1

Excerpt:

Gov. Phil Murphy?s call for New Jersey to make its first full pension contribution in 25 years is generating questions about retirement-system overhaul in one of the nation’s lowest-rated states, and how might the capital markets respond.

Murphy on Tuesday revealed the proposal to pay toward pensions roughly $6.4 billion, or about 14% of his $44.8 billion fiscal 2022 budget proposal to lawmakers. Overall spending would rise 10%. Democrat Murphy’s election-year budget would increase aid to schools and provide income-tax rebates to low- and middle-income families.

Making the full actuarially required contribution will need an additional $1.6 billion expense, according to Murphy. New Jersey was initially scheduled to earmark 90% of its full contribution this year under a ramp-up plan.

Author(s): Paul Burton

Publication Date: 24 February 2021

Publication Site: Fidelity Fixed Income

New York MTA buys time as shadows hover

Link: https://fixedincome.fidelity.com/ftgw/fi/FINewsArticle?id=202101220939SM______BNDBUYER_00000177-208e-d29a-ab7f-b8fea05d0001_110.1

Excerpt:

In sidestepping for now a planned subway and bus fare increase ? a public-relations third rail ? New York?s Metropolitan Transportation Authority called a familiar crisis-management play. It bought time.

Its board on Thursday agreed at Chairman Patrick Foye?s urging not to vote on a 4% biennial fare and toll hikes.

The state-run MTA, which operates mass transit in the New York City region, is in line for $4 billion from the federal rescue bill passed last month and the prospects of an even bigger aid package under President Biden and new Senate majority leader, New York Democrat Charles Schumer.

….

Still, the authority, one of the largest municipal issuers with $47.5 billion of core-credit debt, faces a budget crunch and a variety of pandemic-related uncertainties.

Author: Paul Burton

Publication Date:

Publication Site: Fidelity Fixed Income

New York City pension funds to divest $4 billion of fossil fuels

Link: https://fixedincome.fidelity.com/ftgw/fi/FINewsArticle?id=202101260811SM______BNDBUYER_00000177-3abd-de06-a5f7-7aff55560002_110.1

Excerpt:

Dovetailing on President Biden’s clean-energy initiatives shortly after taking office, two of New York City’s five pension funds voted to divest their portfolios of an estimated $4 billion from securities related to fossil fuel companies.

The New York City Employees’ Retirement System and New York City Teachers’ Retirement System voted to approve divestments on Monday and the New York City Board of Education Retirement System is expected to proceed on a divestment vote imminently, Mayor Bill de Blasio and city Comptroller Scott Stringer said in a joint statement.

NYCERS and Teachers were valued at $91.4 billion and $77.4 billion as of November, according to data from Stringer’s office. Overall, the five systems have roughly $240 billion in assets under management, constituting the fourth largest public pension plan in the U.S.

Author: Paul Burton

Publication Date: 26 January 2021

Publication Site: Fidelity Fixed Income