California Bonds Improve In Sales
Thursday marked the last day of selling general-obligation bonds for the 2011 fiscal year. The bonds are sold with maturities between three to 30 years, with a possibility that they will be worth much more in the future. The money will be used towards developing infrastructure within the most populous state.
The bonds were projected to increase by 15 percent on the $1.8 billion sale; however, California offered yields of 3.6 percent on 10-year bonds at 116 basis points, up 7 points from sales in September.
"Given overall market conditions, we're satisfied with the outcome," said Tom Dresslar, a spokesman for Lockyer in Sacramento.
Buyers are warming up to buying California bonds. There has been a shortage in bonds because Gov. Jerry Brown suspended sales for nine months last year. The government is also prepared for potential spending cuts if revenue trails projections.
“[Investors] have been more comfortable with the state lately and they’ve done a few things in terms of their budgeting process,” said Michael Pietronico, who manages $590 million as chief executive officer at Miller Tabak Asset Management in New York.
“It looks like the sentiment toward the credit has improved,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg.
Current market conditions may also play a significant role in the improved performances. The national market has been rebounding, with a significant increase of sales in the past two weeks. Sales were the highest they have been in two months on Oct. 14. Local governments sold the most municipals debt since December.
California and some local sellers earned 9.1 percent this year, the highest among 26 states tracked by Standard & Poor’s Municipal Bond indexes.
The state has raised $9.1 million in infrastructure bonds, but the government has not been spending the money. Debt payments total approximately $630 million dollars a year.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the funds have been stagnant perhaps because the government borrowed too much too quickly, and that there has been systematic changes in how agencies deal with the money.
According to AllBusiness.com, such delay in using funds may affect future fiscal ratings for the California government.
Institutional weaknesses, including constraints imposed by voter initiatives and a contentious policy-making environment, have repeatedly delayed action on addressing fiscal challenges and historically have resulted in unsound budgetary solutions.
The cause of the inertia remains uncertain, however, the administration is working on it.
"We don't want that money burning a hole in our pocket," Deputy Finance Director H.D. Palme said. "Particularly in this environment."
"We thought it would go out faster," he said. "We've been telling them they need to get this money out."
California is selling another $1.8 billion in infrastructure bonds, closing Wednesday. If all sales proceed, the government will have almost $12 billion to develop freeways, schools, and other public works while bringing jobs to the economy which remains at about 12 percent unemployment.
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