How close to the fiscal distress edge are America's cities? In order to address that question, Merritt Research Services, LLC conducted a comprehensive statistical analysis of important factors and benchmarks that portray the most serious challenges to the fiscal health of America's cities now and in the future.

The first article in an installment series entitled, Assessing the Credit Quality of America's Cities, Part One: Focus on Bond Ratings, examines the financial health of cities against a backdrop of high ratings issued by the three major credit rating agencies. Do city bond ratings measure up evenly to the statistics which are largely used to asses them?

"The question of whether the preponderance of high-grade city ratings is warranted leaves plenty of room for debate, especially in light of the still-heavy burden of long-term liabilities, particularly retirement costs," according to Richard A. Ciccarone, President and Chief Executive Officer of Merritt Research Services and Co-Publisher of MuniNet Guide, who authored the series.

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