2013 May FIRE Policy News

Issue Date: 
May, 2013
Newspaper PDF: 

The May issue of FIRE (Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate) Policy News reports on Pennsylvania’s interest in using “pension obligation bonds” to avoid steep increases in pension payments over the next few years. Experts warn the cure can sometimes be worse than the disease.

Also in this issue:

  • The CIA and other spy agencies could receive full access to the financial records of anyone with a bank account in the United States. The agencies have never before been allowed to operate within the nation’s borders except in rare case-by-case instances.
  • Rita Crundwell of the small town of Dixon, Illinois has been sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison for stealing almost $54 million from the city to finance a lavish lifestyle that included ownership of farms with hundreds of show horses. Her thefts lasted at least two decades and did serious harm to city finances.
  • When people follow rules, they don’t expect to be penalized years later for having done so. But that is what’s happening in California, where state tax officials have decided to retroactively apply taxes that small business owners and investors were told they would not have to pay.
  • The packaging of homes into multimillion-dollar real estate bundles by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has made South Florida real estate prime for the picking--if you’ve got the cash. That’s meant tough times for small investors and a heyday for hedge funds and other institutional investors scouting for deals.
  • Some people say government debt repudiation is unthinkable. Here’s someone who is thinking about it a lot, arguing private debts and public debts are on different ethical planes.
  • Wisconsin’s Legislative Audit Bureau found the state’s insurance commissioner “materially misstated” loss liabilities and underwriting expenses in its triennial audit of the state’s medical malpractice insurance fund, housed at the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance.

Newspaper Articles in this Issue