Good Luck With That: Harrisburg Enters Act 47

Lots of news all around on this.  Try either Bond Buyer:   Harrisburg Enters Pennsylvania’s Act 47 Program

or Bloomberg: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Declared ‘Distressed’

Kind of a metaphysical question what defines ‘distress’ for a municipality.  In the census data dump yesterday Braddock, PA is showing a 35% housing vacancy rate. That would be distress and a big jump from the 28% that the 2000 data was showing,  as inconceivable as that was.  So Act 47 has done wonders for Braddock.  I really have to wonder if that is not the highest incidence of housing vacancy for a municipality anywhere in the nation.  Other than Centralia of course, but they at least have this excuse that the state has ordered the town fully evacuated.

TARP Payback Outlook Brightens Even Further

On Wednesday, taxpayers received additional paybacks from their investments in the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

General Motors Corp., which went public last month, repurchased it’s preferred shares in the program to the tune of $2.1B.

Additionally, common shares held by the Treasury are now valued at nearly $17B based on GM’s closing price of $33.61 on Wednesday. The Treasury continues to hold a stake of 500,065,254 shares of common stock in GM via the TARP program investment.

Monday’s transaction is further evidence of the success of the $700B program that has now not only helped stabilize the U.S. Banking system, but also the U.S. auto industry.

The government investment — which initially was viewed as a cost burden to U.S. taxpayers — has now stabilized two large U.S. industries and has some analysts wondering if the investments might even turn a profit. Cost estimates over the last several months have the break-even gap narrowing nearly every month, with the last estimate closing to within $25 billion.