Assessing the Credit Quality of America's Cities - Part Two: The Achilles Heel to the Fiscal Condition of Cities - Public Pensions

"Governmental credit quality is a byproduct of both the underlying economy and the cumulative decisions made by officials and citizens over time. The potential for severe strain tends to increase when both the economy and fiscal management break down, which can become even more likely if huge governmental liabilities loom in the backdrop." The second installment of the series, Assessing the Credit Quality of America's Cities, examines The Achilles Heel to the Fiscal Condition of Cities - Public Pensions. Using Merritt data derived from city Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports, this...

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Category: Report, Merritt Data

Assessing the Credit Quality of America's Cities - Part One: Focus on Bond Ratings

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...

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Category: Report, Merritt Data

Gini Index of Income Inequality

Merritt has added a new demographic field to the database, the Gini Index. The Gini Index is a measure of inequality in the distribution of household income that was developed by Italian statistician Corrado Gini. According to the American Community Survey and Puerto Rico Community Survey 2012 Subject Definitions, "The Gini ranges from zero (perfect equality) to one (perfect inequality), and it is calculated by measuring the difference between a diagonal line (the purely proportionate distribution) and the distribution of actual values (a Lorenz curve)." Therefore, an index of zero would...

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Category: CreditScope, Demographics, Merritt Data

What Type of Credits are Included in the Standard Credit Universe?

Clients often ask about the type of credits included in the "Standard Credit Universe." For a detailed explanation, open your CreditScope program. On the Task Bar located on the left side of your screen, highlight "CreditScope." Below that, select the first heading that is bolded with a small triangle pointed to the right. A list of sectors will be displayed. The sector names notated with an asterisk are considered current Merritt Sectors and thus contain the credits included in the Standard Credit Universe. Credits which fall within Sectors not notated by an asterisk can often be made...

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

How Soon Are Demographic Releases Applied to CreditScope?

Demographic data within CreditScope is obtained from three federal governmental agencies: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the U.S. Census Bureau. With the release of new updates almost weekly, Merritt is continuously updating demographic data so that it is as up-to-date as possible. In some cases, updates can take longer to implement, which leads to the question: "How soon do demographic releases get applied to Credit Scope?" The most frequent updates come from the BLS. These updates are generally released on a weekly basis,...

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Category: CreditScope, Demographics, Merritt Data

On What Basis Are You Accounting for That? Part Six: Regulatory Basis of Accounting

A reporting entity uses the regulatory basis of accounting when the entity is subject to a governmental regulatory agency's jurisdiction. The regulatory basis of accounting is a comprehensive basis of accounting other than accounting principles generally accepted in the United States. Regulatory basis accounting rules and guidelines vary from one regulatory agency to another. The regulatory basis of accounting is used in about four percent of the City, County and School District credits in CreditScope. The majority of the regulatory basis of accounting credits in CreditScope are put in...

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Category: Accounting

Merritt Enhances Pension Data Provided in CreditScope

Merritt Research Services recently added the following fields to CreditScope for Pension Data and will be providing data on these fields respectively: Total Percent Contributed of ARC for all pension plans in the City, County, School District, Special District and State sectors. Total Participants in each Pension Plan with the following breakout: Employee Participants, Retiree & Beneficiary Participants and Terminated Employee Participants, along with the ratio "% Retiree Participants". The Participants will be provided for single employer pension plans in the City, County, School...

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

Revised and Improved Taxpayers Data

Merritt Research Services recently enhanced the "Taxpayers" data available in CreditScope. We now have the ability to provide data for more than one year for the Top Ten Taxpayers. The user has the option to view the Top Ten Taxpayers by clicking on Taxpayers to see data for all years of Top Ten Taxpayers or clicking on the hyperlink "Most Recent Taxpayer Summary" which will only show data for the most recent year. The Top Ten Taxpayers data will be stored under "Taxpayer" in the Credit Detail Screen. With this revision, Merritt will begin to provide historical data for Taxpayers in the...

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

Merritt Adds Community College Sector to CreditScope

Merritt Research Services recently added the Community College sector to CreditScope. This enhancement includes financial data for over 200 standard credits in the Community College sector. These credits had been included in the Public Higher Ed sector prior to this change. If you are not seeing this information in CreditScope, please check the date of your most recent software system update by clicking on the [Help] button on the top menu bar of your screen. Then, click on [About CreditScope]. In the resulting pop-up box, check the line that reads: "Invest.exe date." In order to see this...

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

Focus on Credit Quality Puts Sharper Spotlight on Municipal Bond Audit Times

Merritt Research Services recently released its 2013 municipal audit timing report, revealing that, on the whole, municipal bond issuers continue to substantially lag their corporate counterparts in completing their annual audited financial statements. As in the past, this year's audit timing study also continued to show a significant variance among municipal bond sectors - and among individual issuers within each sector. While relatively slow audit times among municipal bond issuers has been a longstanding complaint in the municipal bond market, the concern is being echoed in even wider...

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Category: Report, Merritt Data

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