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Municipal Finance Conference

The 9th annual Municipal Finance Conference was held virtually, July 13-14, 2020. Session videos, slides, and papers can be found here.

The Municipal Finance Conference aims to bring together academics, practitioners, issuers, and regulators to discuss recent research on municipal capital markets and state and local fiscal issues.

We’ve launched a quarterly municipal finance newsletter. Read the first edition here, and sign up to receive future editions here.

2021 ConferenceAbout the OrganizersAdvisory Committee | 2020 WebinarPast ConferencesQuestions


Check back soon for the dates of the 2021 Municipal Finance Conference.


Michael D. Belsky is the Executive Director of the Center for Municipal Finance at Harris and teaches a course on the fundamentals of municipal bonds as part of the Municipal Finance Certificate Program. Mr. Belsky has over 30 years of experience in the Municipal Bond Industry. Mr. Belsky spent most of his career as Group Managing Director of the Public Finance Group at Fitch Ratings. He worked at the rating agency from 1993 to 2008 and was named top rating agency executive in public finance by institutional investors three years in a row (Smith’s Research and Ratings Review Municipal All Star Team, 2005–07). Mr. Belsky began his career in 1984 as a municipal bond analyst at the Northern Trust Company. He subsequently worked as a municipal bond underwriter and as a public finance investment banker. In 1989 he established and began managing a public finance department for Mesirow Financial, a regional investment bank in Chicago. Mr. Belsky also served two terms as a member of the City Council in Highland Park, Illinois (1995–2003), and two terms as mayor (2003–11). Under his leadership the city received national recognition in the areas of environmental sustainability, budgeting, financial reporting, affordable housing and local health initiatives. The city maintained a triple-A rating by Moody’s Investors Service throughout his tenure. From 2008 to 2011 Mr. Belsky was a member of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, a national body that sets accounting and financial reporting standards for state and local governments. Mr. Belsky received a BA in urban studies from Lake Forest College and an MA in public policy from the University of Chicago.

Daniel Bergstresser is Associate Professor of Finance at the Brandeis International Business School. Bergstresser’s research focuses on municipal finance and on the impact of taxation, regulation, and market structure on financial markets. This research has been published in the Journal of Law and Economics, the Journal of Financial EconomicsThe Quarterly Journal of EconomicsReview of Financial Studies, and the Journal of Public Economics, and has been widely cited in both the academic and business press. He earned a Ph.D. in Economics at MIT, and earned an A.B. at Stanford. In addition to his service at Brandeis, Bergstresser has also served as an Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, as Head of the European Credit Research group at Barclays Global Investors, and on the research staff of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Richard Ryffel is a part-time Professor of Finance Practice at Washington University in St. Louis’ Olin Business School. During his 30-year career in investment banking and asset management, Mr. Ryffel advised colleges and universities, hospitals, cities, states, airports, school districts, and corporations on financings and capital structure, and led hundreds of financings in both the taxable and tax-exempt markets.  He previously worked at A.G. Edwards (now Wells Fargo Advisors), Bank of America, Edward Jones and J.P. Morgan.  In 2012, while in industry, he conceived and launched the Municipal Finance Conference with Professor Daniel Bergstresser of Brandeis University.

Louise Sheiner is a senior fellow in Economic Studies and policy director for the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy. She had served as an economist with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System since 1993, most recently as the senior economist in the Fiscal Analysis Section for the Research and Statistics Division. (At the 2013 municipal finance conference, Sheiner and Byron Lutz at the Fed presented their work on state and local retiree health obligations.) She also has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury (1996), and served as Senior Staff Economist for the Council of Economic Advisers (1995-96). Before joining the Fed, Sheiner was an economist at the Joint Committee on Taxation.

David Wessel is director of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, which provides independent, non-partisan analysis of fiscal and monetary policy issues in order to further public understanding and to improve the quality and effectiveness of those policies.  He joined Brookings in December 2013 after 30 years on the staff of The Wall Street Journal where, most recently, he was economics editor and wrote the weekly Capital column.  He is a contributing correspondent to The Wall Street Journal, appears frequently on NPR’s Morning Edition and tweets often at @davidmwessel.

advisory committee

  • David Abel, Columbia Capital Management
  • Chris Berry, University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy
  • Tim Coffin, Breckinridge Capital Advisors
  • Joe Fichera, Saber Partners
  • Mark Funkhouser, Funkhouser & Associates
  • Allen Garman, Maryland Transportation Authority
  • Tracy Gordon, Urban Institute
  • Nikki Griffith, Howard County, MD Department of Finance
  • Craig Johnson, O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University-Bloomington
  • Andy Kalotay, Andrew Kalotay Associates
  • Brian Knight, Brown University
  • Byron Lutz, Federal Reserve Board
  • Colin MacNaught, BondLink
  • Michael Nadol, PFM Group Consulting LLC
  • Carol O’Cleireacain, School of International & Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Peter Orr, Intuitive Analytics
  • Kim Rueben, Urban Institute
  • Ivan Samstein, University of Chicago
  • Daniel Shoag, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
  • Win Smith, Win Analytics LLC
  • Sarah Snyder, Ramirez & Co., Inc.
  • Bryan Sullivan, State of Delaware
  • J. Ben Watkins, State of Florida
  • Bradley Wendt, U.S. Department of Treasury
  • Nancy Winkler, (formerly) City of Philadelphia
  • Stephen Winterstein, MarketAxess Holdings Inc.
  • Stephen Wood, Stephen A. Wood Consulting

2020 Webinar

“Are state and local governments prepared for the next recession?”

Wednesday, January 29, 2:00 – 3:30 pm EST

  • Presenters: Michael Nadol (Managing Director, PFM Group) & Laura Porter (Managing Director, Head of U.S. Public Finance, Fitch Ratings)
  • Moderator: David Wessel (Director, Hutchins Center at Brookings)


2019 conference

2018 conference

2017 conference

2016 conference

2015 conference

2014 conference

2013 conference

2012 conference

See also: February 2019 Webinar – “The Flint water crisis: Lessons learned”


Please direct any questions regarding conference registration, logistics, etc. to Anna Dawson ( or Haowen Chen (

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