Tuesday, 15 Feb 2011 | 3:16 PM ET

Tax Supported Munis May Be Riskier Than You Think

Posted By: John Carney
Getty Images

Many municipal bond investors who are shunning bearish forecasts of widespread defaults are relying on the fact that such a huge portion of the bonds issued are “general obligations” of the states and cities issuing debts. Historically, the default rate on general obligation bonds has been vanishingly small. Only 3 defaults have occurred since 1970.

That may change.

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  Tuesday, 15 Feb 2011 | 2:52 PM ET

Lessons for Munis From the Mortgage Market

Posted By: John Carney
Simon Willms | Stone | Getty Images

In many ways, this seems to be the perfect time to be buying municipal bonds. The yield on muni debt is now equivalent to the yield for treasuries, which means that investors can get the tax advantages of munis for free.

The headlines warning of a wave of defaults has scared away some buyers, potentially creating bargains. The default rate on munis remains microscopic.

Unfortunately, the bullish case for munis has a very frightening precedent. Two of the arguments for munis resemble those made for mortgages—just before the mortgage market melted down.

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  Tuesday, 15 Feb 2011 | 2:51 PM ET

Roger Altman: Obama's Budget Doesn't Threaten Bankruptcy

Posted By: Lori Ann LaRocco

The budget battle lines have been drawn. The barbs are being thrown from both sides of the aisle and with hearings starting today on the President's budget, you know you can expect more verbal sparring.

But the politics play in front of the cameras, doesn't stop the reality that the continuing resolution on the government's authority to keep borrowing more will end on March fourth. Compromise from both sides of the aisle will be needed in order for a budget to pass.

I decided to get the perspective from Roger Altman, former deputy Treasury secretary, and Founder and Chairman of investment banking boutique Evercore Partners.

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  Tuesday, 15 Feb 2011 | 1:55 PM ET

Advice for the Web 2.0 Kids

Posted By: Josh Brown

Hey Gang, my name is KooKoo and I have some knowledge to impart to the Startup Billionaire Class of 2011...

In case you don't remember me, in the late 90's I was the mascot for Clocks.com , one of the highest-flying companies of the first internet boom. Things didn't exactly work out so well—but we did get to burn through 400 million bucks trying. Anyway, my purpose in writing this is to save the Facebooks and the Twitters and the LinkedIns and the Groupons from ending up like we did. So if you're a social media entrepreneur or a startup investor poised to cash in on the Web 2.0 explosion, please remember the following as you go after your dream:

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  Tuesday, 15 Feb 2011 | 1:03 PM ET

Whale Watch: Will Warren Top Tepper? And Other Storylines

Posted By: Jeff Cox
Warren Buffett
Getty Images
Warren Buffett

The most recent whale-watch filings at the SEC become more interesting when you contemplate not merely who is betting on what but who is betting against whom.

Looked at one way, the quarterly 13f documents at the Securities and Exchange Commission tell you who dumped financials, who bet on retail, who still is using metals to hedge against the ever-nearing threat of inflation.

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  Tuesday, 15 Feb 2011 | 12:16 PM ET

UK Inflation Spikes to 4 Percent—Double the Targeted Rate

Posted By: Ash Bennington

Spiking inflation in the UK has just hit 4 percent —double the Bank of England's inflation target.

Coming on the heels of China's 5 percent inflation report , it isn't hard to see something of a trend.

So now we begin the guessing game: To what extent are the causal factors of inflation in the UK and China the consequence of specific national policies—and to what extent are they the result of broader global demand issues?

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  Tuesday, 15 Feb 2011 | 11:36 AM ET

Who Is This Man?

Posted By: John Carney
Actress Rose McGowan and guest attend the 2nd Annual David Lynch Foundation's Change Begins Within Benefit Celebration at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Getty Images
Actress Rose McGowan and guest attend the 2nd Annual David Lynch Foundation's Change Begins Within Benefit Celebration at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

On Valentine's Day, New York Magazine ran a post describing the actress Rose McGowan's new beaux—with an attached photograph—but no name.

The gentleman in question is 6'6"—and claims to work in "finance something" whatever that means, according to Ms. McGowan.

(I say 'claims' for this reason: If I ever ran into Rose McGowan at a party, I might be tempted to say I ran a hedge fund. Journalism is a lot of fun—but it rarely impresses the starlets.)

So do you know this guy?

Have you ever seen him crunch a pivot table or toss back shots at a Brother Jimmy's?

If so, we'd love to hear from you.

»Read more
  Tuesday, 15 Feb 2011 | 10:49 AM ET

More Bad News for Chinese Inflation?

Posted By: Ash Bennington
Flag of the People's Republic of China
Eriko Koga | The Image Bank | Getty Images
Flag of the People's Republic of China

China's inflation number came in at 4.9 percent—with food prices jumping 10.3 percent.

What's worse? Those numbers may be suspect.

To begin with: Despite China's ugly inflation numbers, economists had predicted even worse results.

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  Tuesday, 15 Feb 2011 | 9:54 AM ET

Chinese Inflation Nears 5%

Posted By: Ash Bennington
Altrendo Images | Getty Images

China's January inflation numbers have come in at 4.9 percent.

But the news for the Chinese may be more problematic than the rollup number would seem to suggest: Food stuffs rose an ominous 10.3 percent.

Food prices rising 10-plus percent is a troubling sign for a country in which untold millions live on less than $1.25 per day.

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  Tuesday, 15 Feb 2011 | 9:42 AM ET

Rep. Chris Van Hollen: The President's Budget Is Not Smoke and Mirrors

Posted By: Lori Ann LaRocco

The President's right hand man on budget, Jack Lew, will be making a trip to Capitol Hill Tuesday to testify before the House Budget Committee on the President's 2012 budget proposal.

Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan \(R-WI\) is holding two days of hearings, and by all accounts this will be Wall Street's version of "must see t.v." I spoke with Budget Committee Ranking Member Rep. Christopher Van Hollen \(D-MD\) about the hearing as well as his outlook on spending reform.

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