New DIVER Geo Scores, Oil Patch Claims, and Continuing Disclosure White Paper

October 5th, 2015

This week we review our proprietary DIVER Geo Score, highlight the best and worst performing States and cities as well as provide you a link to get the scores themselves.  We also track the progress of continuing claims in the oil patch and highlight a recently published white paper.

September Geo Scores

Earlier today, we released the most recent DIVER Geo Scores for States, counties and cities. The DIVER Geo Score represents a relative score of the economic health of a U.S. State, county or city. Based on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the best, this data is updated monthly and is calculated from multiple economic and demographic factors related to three primary data categories—employment, income and housing.

The DIVER Geo Scores are available here.


Among the top performers over the last year are Maine and Rhode Island.  The economies of both States have been steadily improving over the last year.


Both States have shown above average declines in unemployment rates and foreclosure rates.

State of Maine County Level DIVER GEO Scores


Source: DIVER Analytics

Within Maine, the largest improvements have been in Washington, Franklin and Piscataquis counties.  All five of Rhode Island’s counties have seen gains, with the largest improvement in Bristol County.

The chart below compares the current Geo Score for each State to the change in Geo Score over the last year.

DIVER Geo Score and Year over Year Change for U.S. States


The most interesting portions of the chart are the upper left and lower right quadrants.  States in the lower right quadrant have strong economies that have been trending weaker.  The risks of the weakening economies may not have been fully recognized.  Notable States in this category are Maryland and Virginia.  New Jersey and Pennsylvania would also be in this category, but their Geo Scores haven fallen below the U.S. average (5.0).

The States in the upper left are States with weak economies that have been improving.  Notable States here are Nevada, Florida and Michigan.

Oil Patch Continuing Claims are Growing

Last week’s weak payroll statistics are likely to renew the Federal Reserve Board’s focus on labor markets.

As we have pointed out many times, there is tremendous variability in strength among regional and State labor markets.

A look at employment growth in several key states illustrates this variability.


The growth in payrolls in Florida and Texas has been very strong over the last few years.

While this growth continues, signs of weakness are emerging in Texas.


The number of continuing claims in Texas and other oil patch States has been climbing steadily.

The ripple effects on regional and State labor markets from low energy and commodity prices continues to be one of our major concerns.

Municipal Underwriting Continuing Disclosure Due Diligence

Last week we published a white paper regarding some of the challenges faced by Underwriters in conducting continuing disclosure due diligence on new issues.  We addressed several different problems:

  1. Defining the right entities to conduct accurate “look back analysis”;
  2. Ramifications for Issuers and Underwriters of misclassified MSRB filings

We discuss a framework designed to streamline the process that involves identifying the Continuing Disclosure Obligated Party (“CDOP”), as well as the Subject of the Obligations.

This framework reflects our belief that it is critical to conduct the look back analysis in an organized fashion by identifying the relevant CDOP and Subject(s), the population of deals and the associated disclosure obligations and filings.  Taking these steps facilitates an accurate assessment of historical compliance for purposes of building or testing representations included in an Official Statement as well as evaluating the likelihood of the CDOP’s future compliance.

The full whitepaper can be found here


Have a great week,

Michael Craft, CFA