Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. TESLA! Cathy Wood ARK Funds Bubble BURSTS! - 12th May 21
2.Stock Market Entering Early Summer Correction Trend Forecast - 10th May 21
3.GOLD GDX, HUI Stocks - Will Paradise Turn into a Dystopia? - 11th May 21
4.Crypto Bubble Bursts! Nicehash Suspends Coinbase Withdrawals, Bitcoin, Ethereum Bear Market Begins - 16th May 21
5.Crypto Bubble BURSTS! BTC, ETH, XRP CRASH! NiceHash Seizes Funds on Account Halting ALL Withdrawals! - 19th May 21
6.Cathy Wood Ark Invest Funds Bubble BURSTS! ARKK, ARKG, Tesla Entering Severe Bear Market - 13th May 21
7.Stock Market - Should You Be In Cash Right Now? - 17th May 21
8.Gold to Benefit from Mounting US Debt Pile - 14th May 21
9.Coronavius Covid-19 in Italy in August 2019! - 13th May 21
10.How to Invest in HIGH RISK Tech Stocks for 2021 and Beyond - Part 2 of 2 - 18th May 21
Last 7 days
Tech Stocks Bubble Valuations 2000 vs 2021 - 25th Sep 21
Will Biden’s Neo-Populist Economic Doctrine Support Gold? - 25th Sep 21
Markets Deflationary Winds Howling - 25th Sep 21
Crude Oil Price Piercing the Sky: Where Will We See the Black Gold by Xmas? - 25th Sep 21
Cryptocurrency policy choices and consequences - 25th Sep 21
The Next Emma Raducanu UK Tennis Star Pleasing the Crowds at Millhouses Park Sheffield - 25th Sep 21
Stock Market Rescued by the Fed Again? - 24th Sep 21
Are Amazon Best Cheap Memory Foam Mattresses Any good? Bedzonline £69 4ft Small Double ECO Example - 24th Sep 21
Evergrande not a Minsky Moment - 24th Sep 21
UK Energy Firms Scamming Customers Out of Their Best Fixed Rate Gas Tariffs - 23rd Sep 21
Global Stock Markets Topped 60 Days Before the US Stocks Peaked - 23rd Sep 21
Should School Children be Jabbed with Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccine To Foster Herd Immunity? - UK - 23rd Sep 21
HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON CAR INSURANCE - 23rd Sep 21
Stock Market FOMO Hits September Brick Wall - Evergrande China's Lehman's Moment - 22nd Sep 21
Trading Crude Oil ETFs in Foreign Currencies: What to Focus On - 22nd Sep 21
URGENT - Crypto-trader event - 'Bitcoin... back to $65,000?' - 22nd Sep 21
Stock Market Time to Buy the Dip? - 22nd Sep 21
US Dollar Bears Are Fresh Out of Honey Pots - 22nd Sep 21
MetaTrader 5 Features Every Trader Should Know - 22nd Sep 21
Evergrande China's Lehman's Moment, Tip of the Ice Berg in Financial Crisis 2.0 - 21st Sep 21
The Fed Is Playing The Biggest Game Of Chicken In History - 21st Sep 21
Focus on Stock Market Short-term Cycle - 21st Sep 21
Lands End Cornwall In VR360 - UK Holidays, Staycations - 21st Sep 21
Stock Market FOMO Hits September CRASH Brick Wall - Dow Trend Forecast 2021 Review - 20th Sep 21
Two Huge, Overlooked Drains on Global Silver Supplies - 20th Sep 21
Gold gets hammered but Copper fails to seize the moment - 20th Sep 21
New arms race and nuclear risks could spell End to the Asian Century - 20th Sep 21
Stock Market FOMO Hits September Brick Wall - Dow Trend Forecast 2021 Review - 19th Sep 21
Dow Forecasting Neural Nets, Crossing the Rubicon With Three High Risk Chinese Tech Stocks - 18th Sep 21
If Post-1971 Monetary System Is Bad, Why Isn’t Gold Higher? - 18th Sep 21
Stock Market Shaking Off the Taper Blues - 18th Sep 21
So... This Happened! One Crypto Goes From "Little-Known" -to- "Top 10" in 6 Weeks - 18th Sep 21
Why a Financial Markets "Panic" May Be Just Around the Corner - 18th Sep 21
An Update on the End of College… and a New Way to Profit - 16th Sep 21
What Kind of Support and Services Can Your Accountant Provide? Your Main Questions Answered - 16th Sep 21
Consistent performance makes waste a good place to buy stocks - 16th Sep 21
Dow Stock Market Trend Forecasting Neural Nets Pattern Recognition - 15th Sep 21
Eurozone Impact on Gold: The ECB and the Phantom Taper - 15th Sep 21
Fed To Taper into Weakening Economy - 15th Sep 21
Gold Miners: Last of the Summer Wine - 15th Sep 21
How does product development affect a company’s market value? - 15th Sep 21
Types of Investment Property to Become Familiar with - 15th Sep 21

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Protect your Wealth by Investing in AI Tech Stocks

In 10 Years, Your State May Well Be in the Same Place Where Puerto Rico is Now

Politics / Debt Crisis 2017 Sep 19, 2017 - 05:27 PM GMT

By: John_Mauldin

Politics

This is the first time on record that two Category 4 hurricanes have struck the US mainland in the same year.

Worse, Harvey and Irma landed on some of our most valuable and vulnerable coastal areas. So now, besides all the problems, the US economy has to absorb the cleanup and rebuilding costs for large parts of Texas and Florida, as well as our Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands territories.


Now then, people who live in coastal areas know full well that hurricanes happen. They know the risk, just not which hurricane season might launch a devastating storm in their direction.

Yet, the assumptions of what constitutes adequate preparedness were largely flawed.

This also applies to public pensions.

Both pension plan shortfalls and hurricanes are known risks for which state and local governments must prepare. And in both instances, too much optimism and too little preparation ultimately have devastating results.

Puerto Rico Is a Good Example

The Commonwealth was already in deep debt before Irma blew in—$123 billion worth of it. There’s simply no way the island can repay such a massive debt.

Now Puerto Rico is in a new form of bankruptcy that Congress authorized last year. Court proceedings will probably drag on for years, but the final outcome isn’t in doubt. Creditors will get some scraps—at best perhaps $0.30 on the dollar, my sources say—and then move on.

“That’s just Puerto Rico,” you may say if you’re a US citizen in one of the 50 states. Be very careful. Your state is probably not so much better off. In 10 years, your state may well be in the same place where Puerto Rico is now. I’d say the odds are better than even.

Are your elected leaders doing anything about this huge issue, or even talking about it? Probably not.

As it stands now, states can’t declare bankruptcy in federal courts. Letting them do so would raises thorny constitutional issues. So maybe we’ll have to call it something else, but it’s going to end the same way. Your state's public-sector retirees will not get what they were promised, and they won't take the outcome kindly.

The Most Indebted States Will Be Abandoned

Public sector bankruptcy is vastly different from corporate bankruptcy.

Say a corporation goes bankrupt. A court will take all its assets and decide how to divvy them up. The assets are easy to identify: buildings, land, intellectual property, cash, etc.

Not so in a public bankruptcy. The primary asset of a city, county, or state is future tax revenue from households and businesses within its boundaries. The taxpayers can walk away.

Even without moving, they can bypass sales taxes by shopping elsewhere. If property taxes are too high, they can sell and move. When they take a loss on the sale, the new owner will have established a property value that yields the city far less revenue than it used to receive.

Cities and states don’t have the ability to shed their pension liabilities. They are stuck with them, even as population and property values change.

We may soon see an example of this in Houston.

What about those thousands of flooded homes in and around Houston; how much are they worth? Right now, I’d say their value is zero in many cases. Maybe they will have some value if it’s possible to rebuild, but at the very least they ought to receive a sharp discount from the tax collector this year.

Considering how many destroyed or unliveable properties there are all over South Texas, I suspect cities and counties will lose billions in revenue even as their expenses rise. That’s a small version of what I expect as city and state pension systems all over the US finally face reality.

Here in Dallas I pay about 2.7% in property taxes. When I bought my home over four years ago, I checked our local pension and was told we were 100% funded. I even mentioned in my letter that I was rather surprised. Turns out they lied.

Now, realistic assessments suggest they will have to double the municipal tax rate (yes, I said double) to be able to fund fire and police pension funds. Not a terribly popular thing to do.

At some point, look for taxpayers to desert the most indebted cities and states. Then what? I don’t know. Every solution I can imagine is ugly.

Get one of the world’s most widely read investment newsletters… free

Sharp macroeconomic analysis, big market calls, and shrewd predictions are all in a week’s work for visionary thinker and acclaimed financial expert John Mauldin. Since 2001, investors have turned to his Thoughts from the Frontline to be informed about what’s really going on in the economy. Join hundreds of thousands of readers, and get it free in your inbox every week.

John Mauldin Archive

© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in