Illinois

Amid the concerns over public sector financing, many folks are worried about the quality of state (and municipal) bonds and the probability of default. Certainly, we’ve been writing about this, and as my colleague Mark Muro alluded in his recent post, there is a rather interesting and precise way to understand the risks of government solvency--analyzing the credit default swap market. As analysts of secondary markets know, like the late Salih Neftci, credit default swaps essentially allow market actors that are heavily exposed to debt in the form of bonds--e.g.

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Will states soon begin defaulting on their debts, with further negative implications for localities and U.S.

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Discovering Equality

The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery By Eric Foner (W.W. Norton, 426 pp., $29.95) I. As we begin a raft of sesquicentennials that will carry us through at least the next half-decade—the secession of Southern states, the formation of the Confederacy, the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, Appomattox, and so on—I confess to feeling a mixture of excitement and trepidation. These are all signal events in our history, the roadblocks and thoroughfares in the making of modern America, and at a time of general crisis they are especially important to revisit.

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[Guest post by James Downie] Most of the media attention on Bill Daley’s corporate ties has focused on his time as a JP Morgan executive, but his record at his prior job, as president of SBC Communications, is perhaps more worrisome. Hired as the company’s president in late 2001, after chairing Al Gore’s presidential campaign, Daley told The New York Times, “[P]olitics is not something I will be involved in other than as a citizen voting.” But as the trade journal Telephony wrote: The Bell company has lousy relationships with many state regulators and little Democratic support in Congress.

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Republicans and Democrats are already posturing over a vote to raise the debt ceiling. As you watch Democrats lacerate Republicans for risking the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, keep in mind that they all voted against raising the debt ceiling when Republicans held the White House: Democrats in control of Congress, including then-Sen. Obama (Ill.), blasted President George W.

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Without an extension by the end of December, the 2 year old Build America Bond (BAB) program will expire. As of this writing, both the Senate and House tax bills failed to include BABs as part of their packages. The program, which was birthed as part of the stimulus package, authorizes state and local governments to issue these bonds to finance pretty much any kind of infrastructure project.

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There was a grim, understated hilarity to the Senate debate over extending unemployment benefits yesterday. Republicans piously insisted that any extension of unemployment benefits, whose cost to the government is both small and temporary, must be offset with spending cuts: The lift just got heavier for Senate Democrats with the swearing in this week of Illinois Republican Mark Kirk. Asked whether he would support extending the jobless benefits, Kirk took a stance most Republicans take: "If it's paid for by cutting other items in the budget, I will be a yes vote.

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The Big Picture

So far it looks like Republicans are meeting, and maybe even slightly exceeding, generally expected (50-60 seat) gains in the House; they are in the process of picking up a lot of seats in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The Senate's another matter, at least until Pennsylvania, Illinois, Colorado, Nevada, and Washington are resolved. All these races appear to be very, very close.

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This is your comprehensive hour-by-hour guide to Election Night 2010. It will help you follow all of the bellwether indicators throughout the day and interpret the returns. So what are you waiting for? Print it out and keep it close during every minute of the agonizing countdown.   What to Look for Early on Election Day: There will be lots of anecdotal reports during the early hours of voting about turnout and the expectations* of both parties and many candidates. It’s colorful, but don’t believe any of it.

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One of the biggest stories in Illinois right now (bigger than Rahm Emanuel's every move and thought) is how Congressman Mark Kirk, running for President Obama's former senate seat, was unknowingly caught on tape telling state Republican leaders that he is funding "the largest voter integrity program in fifteen years for the state of Illinois." The plan, he explained, is to place election monitors in certain precincts that are, according to Kirk, especially susceptible to voter fraud.

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