As municipal bond investors, we sometimes get so caught up in where interest rates are headed or if the yield curve is flattening or rising, we lose track of the most important aspect of municipals bonds: how the projects they finance help the community.
At their best, bonds fund projects deliver essential public services to the community.
The benefits can be both immediate and last long into the future. Schools get built, highways paved, water and sewer systems expanded, bridges and tunnels maintained, hospitals upgraded,and a host of other projects created or improved. Few other investment vehicles so positively affect our lives in such tangible ways. It’s the reason municipal bonds are generally a credit-stable asset class.
While that’s an important point for investors to keep in mind, it sometimes leaves the impression that municipal bonds are, well, a little dull.
That would be a serious error. Within the bricks and mortar of each municipal bond financed project—and given that more than 50,000 states, cities, towns, agencies and authorities issue municipal bonds, there are a plethora of them—there is an important public purpose being addressed to meet the needs of the residents in that community. The outcomes of these bond-financed projects benefit communities directly and often for a long time.
Over the next six weeks, looking at a variety of municipal bond issuers around the country, these columns will explore projects financed by bonds to create educational opportunities, offer better healthcare, improve infrastructure, efficiently use public resources, and leverage the benefits of fiscal responsibility.
It starts with educational opportunity. After all, America is called “The Land of Opportunity.” Opportunity means giving people a chance to improve their lives in a meaningful way. Intrinsic to this opportunity is first having access—whether that’s getting a job, an education, or quality health care. Funding projects, programs and initiatives that reduce inequality increases opportunity and access for everyone.
In the U.S., the vast, free, public education system often provides the clearest path to improved outcomes for individuals and communities—economic and personal. Every day, some 50 million students go to kindergarten through high school in a public-school system. In this way, investing in municipal bonds funding education and career training programs for people in need ensures the U.S. remains “The Land of Opportunity.”