Bonds

I was disappointed to read that the settlement agreement between Preston Hollow Capital and Nuveen resulted in the retirement of John Miller as head of municipal bonds at Nuveen.

While the facts of the case were covered by this paper, and the settlement, as in all cases, is sealed. That said I feel strongly that this was a mistake on the part of all parties.

But I am not writing about the case. Instead I believe some words need to be written about John Miller, a consummate municipal bond professional and a giant in our industry.

While Nuveen is a storied and well-respected institution in our business, it did not define John Miller. John is one of those unique individuals that will have a meaningful impact at any institution he decides to associate with.

His intelligence, knowledge on credit, the market and leadership will serve him well for his next chapter, if he so chooses.

John oversaw over $200 billion of tax-exempt assets, close to 50% of new issuance annual volume. He is an outspoken commentator on credit and often challenged the rating agencies on their calls, all in the interest of investors.

John ushered in ESG and through his high-yield work, provided liquidity and funding for under-resourced projects, such as senior housing, waste to energy and small colleges and universities.

When I was involved in establishing a research center for municipal finance at the University of Chicago, John gladly agreed to serve on the advisory board. Not only did he lend his expertise to the board but also to young people aspiring to get into a business. An industry that we all know builds the backbone of the country.

John also contributed personal financial resources to the center. There is a John Miller conference room named in his honor at the University’s Keller Center.

Besides his stature in the municipal bond industry there is a far more compelling reason as to why John is so well respected.  I believe I speak for the municipal bond community as a whole in this regard — John is a true gentleman. While a fierce competitor that advocates for his clients, he is a really decent and good person.

I am proud to call him a friend and am sure he will back in the game soon enough bringing his professionalism and decency to muniland.

Michael D. Belsky is Managing Principle at EKI Digital.

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