Marc D. Joffe
Public Sector Credit Solutions
Marc D. Joffe created these companion sites
Modeling State Credit Risks in Illinois and Indiana
I use an open-source budget-simulation model to evaluate Illinois’s credit risk and to compare it to that of Indiana, a neighboring state generally believed to have better fiscal management. Based on a review of the history and theory of state credit performance, I assume that a state will default if the aggregate of its interest and pension costs reaches 30 percent of total revenues. In Illinois, this ratio is currently 10 percent, compared to 4 percent in Indiana. My analysis finds that neither state will reach the critical threshold in the next few years under any reasonable economic scenario, suggesting no material default risk. Over the longer term, Illinois has some chance of reaching the default threshold, but it would likely be able to take policy actions to lower the ratio before then. If market participants accept my finding that Illinois does not have material default risk, Illinois’s bond yields willfall, yielding cost savings for taxpayers as the state rolls over its debt.