Meredith Whitney has done it again, turning Wall Street against her with a contrarian call, this time on municipal bonds.
The analyst’s prediction for “50 to 100 sizable defaults” of U.S. municipal bonds totaling “hundreds of billions of dollars” could become her Big Wrong Call. If so, it will knock Whitney from a pedestal, to the satisfaction of her many critics.
She has staked her credibility on this forecast, broadcast Dec. 20 in an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” Her summary of a 600-page report to clients prompted a National League of Cities analyst to say she possessed a “stunning lack of understanding.” Other critics called her prediction “ludicrous,” “irresponsible,” “damaging,” and “overreaching.”
There’s a huge gap between these descriptions and Whitney’s track record as an analyst. The chasm is so big that it is worth exploring. Something interesting is going unexamined or unexplained.