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Opinion: Third Bloomberg Term Good for N.Y. Finances

The New York City Council on Thursday passed a controversial bill, by a margin of 29-22, allowing for elected officials in New York City to extend term limits and to receive a third term. The council also voted not to send the matter before the voters in a public referendum, despite voters twice supporting the electoral limits in the 1990s.

The approval paves the way for billionaire Michael Bloomberg to seek a third term as mayor of the city. A third term for the mayor could be good news for municipal bond investors who might be looking for safe havens in a difficult market environment.

Bloomberg warned of the economic peril facing the future of New York in a press statement: "City Hall must now move forward with the important decisions that face us, particularly finding ways to soften the fallout from the economic downturn and balancing our budget as revenues decline."

Bloomberg's description of New York City's fiscal crisis is dire, but correct. The city has been bolstered over the last several years by the strength of the euro as European tourists took to shopping sprees in New York's retail stores and real estate market. That game has ended. The euro has taken a beating since hitting its high of 1.60 vs. the dollar in the spring. On Friday it was trading below 1.26. With fears of inflation receding, the dollar may continue to strengthen against the euro.

Of course, the worst news for the city would be Wall Street. The financial crisis has seen several major banks and brokerages implode, including Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch (MER) and Lehman. Some estimates suggest Wall Street could shed as many as 200,000 jobs, and performance bonuses for 2008 are likely to be stunningly bad.
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