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Data Observations, A Free Spin with Ambr

& Holiday Wishes Lumesis
By Gregg Bienstock
December 24, 2012

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This week’s commentary will provide some observations and insight on data recently released and try and stoke your thinking as the folks in DC play with us.  We will conclude with our annual holiday wish and a reminder regarding Ambr

Before doing so, we want to express our heartfelt condolences to all those affected by the tragic events of December 14 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, here in our home State of Connecticut.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the souls of those lost, their families and friends, all of the first responders involved and all that were impacted by these events.  While difficult to see in these days following the shootings, we hope that some good, somehow, can come of this awful event. 

We start this week with a look at the Stabilization (or rainy day) Funds of the States (“Fund”).  As most know, these Funds are created to help ensure budgets can be balanced when revenues don’t materialize as planned.  Historically, a rule of thumb has been that the Fund balance should be 5% of total expenditures.  However, in recent years, there have been calls by some suggesting this “rule” be higher. 

An important way to contemplate this data is in the context of the Stabilization Fund as a percentage of expenditures.  Recall the 5% “rule” noted above.  The 15 States not in red are at or above the 5% “rule.” 


Source: DIVER Analytics, Map Module; NASBO

For fiscal year 2013, the Fund as a Percentage of Expenditures is greater than it was in 2012 for 24 States.  However, only the 11 in bold italics are at a level of greater than 5% of expenditures. 





New Hampshire






New Mexico

Rhode Island





North Dakota

South Dakota







West Virginia

Source: DIVER Analytics, Filter Module; NASBO.

We are not necessarily alarmed by the level of reserves as a percentage of expenditures given the States have demonstrated, over the years, the necessary discipline to make ends meet.  We do, however, have a level of concern given the delicate nature of the recovery and the reality that revenues can be incredibly difficult to predict in any year let alone in a year like this with the additional uncertainty stemming from the DC two-step.  Specifically, we worry a decline or stabilization of Federal spending along with tax increases will impact States’ tax receipts. 

To conclude on this point, in the spirit of the season we highlight for you which States are naughty (less than 1%) and which are nice (above 5%):


Source: DIVER Analytics, Filter Module; NASBO

Another data set to keep your eye on is Taxes Collected at the State level.  This past week saw the release of third quarter tax colleciton data and, while full year numbers are most important, looking at quarterly trends can be indicative.  The table below shows us the 11 States that saw a decline in tax receipts from the same period ended one year ago.  We suggesat looking at this data in conjuntion with the Fund data referenced above.

Source: DIVER Analytics, Filter Module; US Census Bureau.


What Is Ambr?

If you haven’t heard, on December 10, 2012, we welcomed Ambr to the DIVER by Lumesis family.  We designed Ambr to make municipal market participants more efficient, to promote market transparency, and to support regulatory compliance for the muni-bond market. Our web-based tool is simple to use: Enter any one of the 1.4+ million CUSIPs and generate a comprehensive report within seconds. Compare that to a manual or multi-screen process that takes up valuable time.  Ambr is built on the DIVER database  and covers all municipal bond issuers from the State level down to the county, city, town, and school district levels.

We are offering a free trial to Ambr for the rest of December (if you are just learning of this offer, let us know).  Click here  to register for your password.

Holiday Wishes from The DIVER by Lumesis Team to You and Yours

As we look back on 2012, we are reminded how fragile human life is and how Mother Nature can be so cruel.  At the same time, we are heartened by the compassion, courage and strength of the collective people of our nation and the world.  As we celebrate this holiday season and look towards the New Year, may you and your families recognize all we have to be so grateful for, look to the good in so many, and pray for health, happiness and peace in our world. 

Happy Holidays.



(c) Lumesis




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