Year of Publication

2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Graduate School

Department

Public Policy and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Dwight V. Denison

Abstract

The local government tax-exempt debt market is a growing, and complex, sector of public finance. As local governments turn to debt financing the factors that contribute to interest costs of that debt have become important considerations for local government officials and politicians. Governance at the local level involves a network of overlapping governments some of which share a tax base. This system of overlapping governments that share a tax base are subject to externalities that arise from taxation, expenditures, and debt. These externalities are usually analyzed in terms of tax or expenditure reactions, but there are implications for local government debt as well. For example, it can be shown that overlapping governments that share a tax base and issue debt can increase the interest costs paid on bonds by a higher level government. Further complicating the debt situation of local governments is the prevalence of a variety of special districts with the authority to issue tax-exempt debt. These special districts may have the authority to issue debt, but little is known about their financing processes. By comparing how different types of government approach the credit rating process this dissertation compares risk assessment of traditional municipalities and special districts. Through this comparison similarities and differences in the credit rating process across types of local governments can be identified. To explore these issues of local government debt several advanced econometric techniques are used to estimate various models.