Municipal Bonds 101 – IRE 2015


In March I led a workshop about the nuts-and-bolts of analyzing public debt issues at the 2015 data reporting conference sponsored by NICAR. There was so much interest in it that IRE asked me to do a repeat session at the annual investigative reporting conference in Philadelphia in June.

The workshop covered several things that every reporter looking to understand government finance should know:

  • The different types of debts issued by governments, and what they’re used for;
  • Where to find bond sale documents (known as “official statements”) and what to look for when you find them;
  • How to calculate the amount owed (known as “debt service”) on government borrowings;
  • How to benchmark borrowing costs to see if a government is getting a fair deal for taxpayers.

If you are interested in the above, check out the slides from the workshop, which are available below. A link to the Dropbox folder with all the training materials is available here: