Sylvan Feldstein of Merrill Lynch & Co. was elected the first-team All-American Municipal Bond Generalist in 1991.

Robert Chamberlin of Dean Witter Reynolds and Robert Muller of J.P. Morgan Securities, last year's first team All-Americans, provided tough competition in the sector.

William Fish of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corp. and Stuart Bromberg of First Boston Corp. also challenged Feldstein for top honors.

Currently, Feldstein is co-authoring a book on municipal portfolio strategy and credit analysis with Frank Fabozzi. The book will be published by Business Irwin, a Times-Mirror company.

Over the past year, Feldstein has published numerous work, for example his annual review of municipal bond insurance.

Additionally, Feldstein has made several presentations, such as his discussiono of the historic and current perspective on municipal bonds, delivered at an Investment Analyst Society meeting.

Last year, Feldstein admitted that he was disappointed in not winning the top honors in the generalist category.

While Feldstein could not point to anything he had done differently during the past year, Feldstein's work was voted the best in 1991.

Feldstein believes "we're at a beginning of a renaissance in municipal bond analysis... We're at a stage when research becomes much more important."

This renaissance is being driven by changing economic forces and budgetary stresses, he said, coupled with increasingly complicated structures. All of these forces combine to create uncertainty in the investment community.

As a generalist, Feldstein "looks at all different sectors" while weighing the complex factors that have made municipal bond analysis a much more challenging field.

He reviews the different structures and issues against a broad backdrop of factors such as regional differences and complexities like corporate guarantees and changing regulations.

Over his career, Feldstein noted that he has looked at almost every major sector in municipal bond analysis.

While issues need not be difficult or complex to come under his purview, as a generalist he finds obscure and complex credits more interesting.

For example, in the non-rated sector, Feldstein found that analyzing an issue secured by medical waste disposal has helped broaden his knowledge.

"By learning more about medical waste, and how it is produced and disposed, I bring more to my analysis of hospitals," he said.

The medical waste disposal/hospital bond issue is only one example of how Feldstein believes a generalist can add value to municipal research.

He noted that becoming a generalist takes time because it requires looking at so many specific issues, in so many different categories, to develop a sense of how economic and regional forces will impact credit quality.

Feldstein noted that many new people are joining the profession and the industry needs their increased sophistication.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.