WBEZ | Standard and Poor's Investors Service http://www.wbez.org/tags/standard-and-poors-investors-service Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Home prices fall in Chicago, and consumer confidence is down http://www.wbez.org/story/news/home-prices-fall-chicago-and-consumer-confidence-down-84427 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-29/88647177.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: 'Arial','sans-serif';"> </span>Home prices are falling in most major U.S. cities, at 0.22 percent overall in January. The average prices in four of them are at their lowest point in 11 years.</p><p>The Standard &amp; Poors/Case-Shiller 20-city index shows price declines in 19 cities from December to January, including Chicago, which has dropped 1.8 percent in a month, and 7.5 percent in the past year. Chicago joins Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle and Tampa in the list of cities at their lowest level since the housing bust in Spring of 2009.</p> <p>The only market where prices rose was Washington, where homes prices gained 0.1 percent month over month. The nation's capital has outperformed every other city in the index. Prices there are up 3.6 percent year over year. </p> <p>Relatedly, the Conference Board reported later Tuesday morning on consumer confidence in March, indicating that worries about gas prices are expected to pull its confidence index down from a three-year high as the recent surge in fuel prices begins to cut into income. The Consumer Confidence Index fell more than expected to 63.4 from a revised 72.0 in February, though economists expected a decline to 65.4, according to FactSet. The decline reverses five straight months of improvement and raises concern about shoppers' ability and willingness to spend in coming months.</p> <p>A reading of 90 indicates a healthy economy. The index hasn't approached that level since the recession began in December 2007.</p> <p>The Conference Board says expectations about inflation rose dramatically, but expectations about income gains have soured.</p></p> Tue, 29 Mar 2011 15:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/home-prices-fall-chicago-and-consumer-confidence-down-84427 Illinois' debt burdens 5th highest in nation http://www.wbez.org/story/credit-rating/illinois-debt-burdens-5th-highest-nation <p><p><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">A new report ranks Illinois fifth in the nation for having the largest combined pension and debt burdens per capita. The Moody's Investors Service report attempts to hone in on how pension liabilities will affect credit ratings. The report looks at metrics such as personal income, Gross Domestic Product, and debt as a percentage of state revenue to figure out state by state debt burdens. </span></p> <div><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">Robyn Prunty is an Illinois analyst with a different credit rating service, Standard and Poor&rsquo;s.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">She says that company is keeping a close eye on the state's finances, but isn't sure whether Illinois will receive a credit downgrade. </span></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">&ldquo;The rating's not directly tied to pensions,&ldquo; she said, &ldquo;There's many other factors that we use in establishing our ratings. But certainly pensions have been a significant focus for Illinois.&rdquo;</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">Joshua Rauh is a professor of Finance at Northwestern&rsquo;s Kellogg School of Business. He is concerned that government accounting standards across the country grossly understate pension liabilities. Rauh said the methods endorsed by Government Accounting Standards Board are not endorsed by the majority of finance economists. According to Moody&rsquo;s report, Illinois debt burden per capita is close to $7,000, but Rauh said, &ldquo;What you find is Illinois actually has unfunded pension liabilities alone of over $200 billion. This adds up to an unfunded liability of over $40,000 per household.&rdquo; &nbsp;</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">Moody's ranking comes just after a recent Security and Exchange Commission&rsquo;s inquiry into claims Illinois officials made about savings resulting from recent pension reform. The SEC is looking into whether expected savings from recently passed legislation are accurate. Illinois officials are planning on selling off $3.7 billion in bonds on February 17th to cover this year&rsquo;s pension payment.&nbsp;</span></div></p> Fri, 28 Jan 2011 21:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/credit-rating/illinois-debt-burdens-5th-highest-nation