A near default by Brevard County, Fla., jolted municipal bond insurers in October, triggering a close examination of lease exposure and a rehashing of underwriting criteria.

Brevard County came close to backing out of its $24 million lease obligation when commissioners almost approved a referendum giving voters the option, effectively, of defaulting on the bonds. Although only Municipal Bond Investors Assurance Corp. stood to lose, the entire marketplace closed ranks and decried the referendum proposals as "irresponsible."

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