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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 29, 2010 / 22 Kislev, 5771

For tottering states, bankruptcy could be the answer

By Michael Barone




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | We won't be able to say we weren't warned. Continued huge federal budget deficits will eventually mean huge increases in government borrowing costs, Erskine Bowles, co-chairman of President Obama's deficit reduction commission, predicted this month. "The markets will come. They will be swift and they will be severe and this country will never be the same."

Bowles is talking about what the business press calls bond market vigilantes. People with capital are currently willing to lend money to the federal government, by buying U.S. bonds, at low interest rates. That's because interest rates are generally low and because Treasury bonds are regarded as the safest investment in the world.

But what if they aren't? What if investors suddenly perceive a higher risk and demand a higher return? That's what Bowles is talking about, and there are signs it may be starting to happen. The Federal Reserve's second round of quantitative easing -- QE2 -- was intended to lower the interest rate on long-term bonds. Instead the rate has been going up.

The federal government still seems a long way from the disaster Bowles envisions. But some state governments aren't.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger came to Washington earlier this year to get $7 billion for his state government, which resorted to paying off vendors with scrip and delaying state income tax refunds. Illinois seems to be in even worse shape. A recent credit rating showed it to be weaker than Iceland and only slightly stronger than Iraq.

It's no mystery why these state governments -- and those of New York and New Jersey as well -- are in such bad fiscal shape. These are the parts of America where the public employee unions have been calling the shots, insisting on expanded payrolls, ever higher pay, hugely generous fringe benefits and utterly unsustainable pension promises.

The prospect is that the bond market will quit financing California and Illinois long before the federal government. It may already be happening. Earlier this month, California could sell only $6 billion of $10 billion revenue anticipation notes it put on the market.

Individual investors have been selling off state and local municipal bonds this month. Meredith Whitney, the financial expert who first spotted Citigroup's overexposure to mortgage-backed securities, is now predicting a sell-off in the municipal bond market.

So it's entirely possible that some state government -- California and Illinois, facing $25 billion and $15 billion deficits, are likely suspects -- will be coming to Washington some time in the next two years in search of a bailout. The Obama administration may be sympathetic. It has channeled stimulus money to states and TARP money to General Motors and Chrysler in large part to bail out its labor union allies.

But the Republican House is not likely to share that view, and it's hard to see how tapped-out state governments can get 60 votes in a 53-47 Democratic Senate.

How to avoid this scenario? University of Pennsylvania law professor David Skeel, writing in the Weekly Standard, suggests that Congress pass a law allowing states to go bankrupt.

Skeel, a bankruptcy expert, notes that a Depression-era statute allows local governments to go into bankruptcy. Some have done so: Orange County, Calif., in 1994; Vallejo, Calif., in 2008. Others -- perhaps a dozen small municipalities in Michigan -- are headed that way.

A state bankruptcy law would not let creditors thrust a state into bankruptcy -- that would violate state sovereignty. But it would allow a state government going into bankruptcy to force a "cramdown," imposing a haircut on bondholders, and to rewrite its union contracts.

The threat of bankruptcy would put a powerful weapon in the hands of governors and legislatures: They can tell their unions that they have to accept cuts now or face a much more dire fate in bankruptcy court.

It's not clear that governors like California's Jerry Brown, who first authorized public employee unions in the 1970s, or Illinois' Pat Quinn, will be eager to use such a threat against unions, which have been the Democratic Party's longtime allies and financiers.

But the bond market could force their hand and seems already to be pushing in that direction. And, as Bowles notes, when the markets come, they will be swift and severe.

The policy arguments for a bailout of California or Illinois public employee union members are incredibly weak. If Congress allows state bankruptcies, it might prevent a crisis that is plainly looming.

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JWR contributor Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner.




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