NEW YORK: Scramble for Solvency

Once I wrote the budget, gee what fun

Playin' with my magic wand.

I could fudge the budget, now that's

done—Brother, won't you buy a bond?

The tune was the Depression lament Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?, but the lyrics—sung by a character playing Mayor Abraham Beame in this year's Inner Circle satire by political reporters —are all too relevant today. Beame still cannot sell New York City bonds, and the state's Municipal Assistance Corporation securities marketed on the city's behalf recently suffered a ratings drop by Moody's Investors Service. Last week the...