Bonds

Market ponders Landrieu exit

The municipal bond market is taking a wait and see approach about the departure of Mitch Landrieu, who has been operating under the unofficial title of “infrastructure czar,” as he prepares for a new role on President Biden’s campaign staff.  

According to the Biden administration Landrieu oversaw, “over 40,000 infrastructure projects spread across 4,500 communities in every state, territory, and Washington D.C. We’ve expanded affordable high-speed internet access to over 22 million people and started improvements on over 135,000 miles of roads in America.”

Landrieu is checking out as infrastructure coordinator, a presidential advisory position he’s held since 2021 as the effect on the municipal bond market is currently unclear.  

Mitch Landrieu is departing his infrastructure coordinator position to work on Biden’s reelection campaign.

Bloomberg News

“It might be a positive if the new czar can focus on resilience and adaptation,” said Tom Doe, president, Municipal Market Analytics. “The municipal industry continues to shoulder the burden of financing critical public infrastructure.” 

The White House announced the move on Monday via a statement from the President. “When I passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, I knew I needed someone by my side who would help deliver real results for the American people,” said Biden. I knew that Mitch Landrieu, a former Mayor and Lieutenant Governor who spent over a decade helping rebuild New Orleans, was the man to help me rebuild the country.” 

Market watchers aren’t expecting major upheavals based on a change in leadership. “Economic growth and interest rates continue to be the main drivers of issuance,” said Tom Kozlik, managing director, head of public policy and municipal strategy, Hilltop Securities.  ”So, I don’t think that good or bad, it’s going to impact what’s happening in municipal bond market.” 

As infrastructure got a front seat ride in the Biden administration Kozlik remains supportive of the outgoing czar’s reign. “He’s somebody who understands the goals,” he said. “What’s probably more important is just the fact that the role exists. I think that folks at the federal government, in both parties believe that the concept of infrastructure is an issue, and it deserves attention.”  

“Because of his background in local government it brought a special, useful perspective to directing infrastructure spending,” said Chuck Samuels, an attorney well steeped in public finance lobbying.  

Landrieu’s replacement is Natalie Quillian, who is currently serving as the White House deputy chief of staff. Quillian has also held posts as Deputy Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and deputy campaign manager during the 2020 race. 

The new hire is expected to help rejuvenate Biden’s campaign efforts. “Mitch Landrieu brings unique and valuable experience to this fight,” said Julie Chávez Rodríguez, campaign manager, said in a statement. “His work at the White House to lift up how President Biden is investing in America and rebuilding the backbone of our economy is critical to our re-election effort.”

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