It is a Tuesday in late October at a major Wall Street law firm. A young woman arrives and is shown to a room with a conference table and telephones. She represents one of only two firms bidding on a $1.17 million sale of a New York town's bonds.

Under the state's strict local finance laws, New York cities and towns have to use competitive bidding for any bond sale of $1 million or more. And the offerings, like this one, are not attracting many bidders these days, some market sources say.

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