Strengths

Superior Quantitative Analysis Capabilities

PRAG is known in the public finance community for its superior technical and analytical expertise. In fact, in many instances where multiple financial advisors are involved in an assignment, PRAG is selected to be the responsible party for the analytics. Our quantitative analysis incorporates the same tools that the major Wall Street firms use in analyzing, developing and implementing new structures and products. When canned software proves insufficient to meet the needs of our analyses, we develop custom models using a combination of spreadsheet-driven templates, higher level computer languages (such as Visual Basic for Applications or VBA) and linear and non-linear optimization software modules (such as What’s Best!) to arrive at optimal output. As a testament to the importance we place on our analytical services, PRAG’s President, Steven Peyser, oversees our quantitative sector.

In-Depth Knowledge of Municipal Capital Markets

PRAG has unparalleled knowledge of the municipal capital markets due to our ongoing involvement in the market through the issuance of large amounts of debt for major and frequent municipal debt issuers including the State of California, the City of New York and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We provide current information on market conditions, pricing and structures to our clients as we are constantly in the market and aware of trends in interest rates, changes in investor sentiment and newest products. We frequently communicate with syndicate managers across the spectrum of investment banks, both large national broker-dealers and smaller regional firms, which enables us to form a comprehensive view on rates, coupon preferences, spreads and investor demand for our clients’ securities. This knowledge and experience combined with our own in-house analysis enables us to provide clients with a comprehensive review of developments in the marketplace and the impact on municipal issuers. Our President, Steven Peyser, leads our market effort.

Understanding of Municipal Credit

PRAG  is highly familiar with credit issues. Our credit team is led by Claire Cohen, a former Vice Chairman of Fitch Ratings and prior to that a Managing Director of Moody’s, serving as the firm’s Senior Counselor on credit matters. She has over 40 years of experience with the rating agencies, specializing in state credits. Indeed, Ms. Cohen has been called, “The dean of municipal credit analysis.” Her leadership in this area gives us an understanding of credit that is not present in any other financial advisory firm. Ms. Cohen’s expertise and experience, combined with that of other personnel, can directly benefit the development of rating agency strategy and related presentations to maintain and even enhance its ratings, thereby reducing funding costs.

We advised three major counties – Baltimore, Chesterfield and Monmouth – on developing and implementing long-term credit strategies including debt affordability analyses and financial policies that improved their ratings to triple-triple-A from double-A. We also assisted the State of Florida in achieving a triple-A from Moody’s with the usage of a debt affordability analysis.  Similarly, we advised Anne Arundel County on credit strategy that resulted in a triple-A from S&P despite the presence of a tax cap. In addition, PRAG advised the City of New York on improving its rating from a low-A level to a mid-double-A level by all three agencies. Similarly, we advised the District of Columbia on a credit strategy that resulted in the District’s ratings rising from double-B to double-A.