Bond Rating

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Fiscal Year 2017-18
Target: Aaa (Moody's)
Target Status:

San Francisco’s General Obligation (GO) bond rating acts as the City’s credit rating and is a measure of the overall financial stability of the City. In order to fund large capital projects, the City issues bonds, or debt, and the purchase of those bonds provides the financing for these capital projects. The GO bond rating indicates how safe of an investment the City’s bonds are to potential purchasers. There are three main municipal bond rating agencies: Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch. Each rating agency has a proprietary methodology for assigning ratings to a municipality.


How San Francisco is Performing

Moody’s: The credit agency upgraded San Francisco General Obligation bond rating from Aa1 to Aaa in March 2018, the highest rating in its system. High credit ratings allow the City to issue debt at lower borrowing costs. The “Aaa” classification indicates that the City presents minimla credit risk. The rating upgrade was attributed to the City’s operating revenue growth, long-term strengthening in the City’s economy, tax base and socioeconomic profile and demonstrated record of sustainable budgeting and financial management practices. Moody’s also cited San Francisco’s role as a regional economic center, effective management of liabilities, as well as the strength of the voter-approved, unlimited property tax pledge securing the bonds.

Standard & Poor’s: Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has assigned a rating of “AA+” to San Francisco, which is the second highest rating on the S&P scale. The “AA” classification indicates that the City’s capacity to meet its financial commitments on its debt is very strong. The appendage of the “plus” indicates that San Francisco is in the upper bounds of this classification.

Fitch: In January 2016, Fitch upgraded its credit rating to AA+ from AA for general obligation bonds, indicating that the City has very high credit quality and is a low default risk. According to Fitch, the upgrade “reflects the City’s fiscally prudent institutionalized financial policies which, along with several years of strong economic and revenue growth, have resulted in robust rainy day and budgetary reserves. These policies are expected to result in maintenance of solid financial flexibility through the economic cycle.”

Additional Information


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