Muni Market Prepares for Lost AAA Ratings
By Michelle KaskeThe $2.9 trillion municipal bond market is preparing for “hundreds and hundreds” of downgrades after Standard & Poor’s lowered the U.S. one level to AA+, the first-ever reduction for the country.
S&P is likely to cut its ratings on municipal debt secured by the federal government, such as pre-refunded bonds, tax-exempts backed by U.S. agencies, and credits that are most dependent on federal spending, Peter DeGroot, head of municipal research at JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), wrote in an Aug. 5 report distributed after the federal downgrade. The New York-based ratings company said it would release a statement on state and local issuers today.
“There will be hundreds and hundreds of municipal downgrades, which will not do well to bolster investor confidence,” Matt Fabian, a managing director of Concord, Massachusetts-based Municipal Market Advisors, said in a telephone interview. “Treasuries may be able to shake off a real impact from the downgrade. Munis I’m less sure about.”
Comment: A vicious cycle has begun where bad debt begets more bad debt.