(Bloomberg) Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s plan to suspend payments on $2 billion of Detroit’s debt threatens a basic tenet of the $3.7 trillion municipal market: that states and cities will raise taxes as high as needed to avoid default.
Orr, appointed by Republican Governor Rick Snyder to oversee Michigan’s largest city, proposed a deal last week that included skipping a $39.7 million payment on pension-obligation debt. The city is also set to default on unsecured unlimited-tax and limited-tax general-obligation bonds as it grapples with $17 billion in liabilities to avoid a record bankruptcy.
By calling into question the safety of any security backed by a government’s general obligation to pay what it owes, Orr, 55, imperils similar debt across Michigan, the eighth-most-populous state. As local governments strive to rebound from the longest recession since the 1930s, they may confront higher borrowing costs.