Monday, December 8, 2008
It's about time -- the SEC announced that it has unanimously approved measures to provide greater transparency in the municipal securities market, so that investors can obtain free, readily accessible information online on municipal bonds. Unlike investors in corporate securities who have direct access to free company information through the SEC’s EDGAR system, average investors in municipal securities currently have no free and convenient way to get important information about the municipal bonds in which they invest. Currently, municipal securities investors who want ongoing disclosure information about a municipal bond first must locate it on their own at one of the four Nationally Recognized Municipal Securities Information Repositories (NRMSIRs). Then once they find a source, investors have to pay significant fees to get the information they want and may experience considerable delays while waiting for the documents to be delivered to them by mail or fax.
The rule amendments approved by the SEC designate the MSRB as the central repository for ongoing disclosures by municipal issuers. Under a separate MSRB rule change, its Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA) system would make these disclosures available to investors in the same manner that the SEC’s EDGAR system does for corporate disclosures. EMMA will operate as a consolidated, online portal where investors can instantly access, for free, all of the key information produced by municipal bond issuers about their bonds. Offering documents, real-time trade prices, and education resources already are available on EMMA at http://www.emma.msrb.org/.
In order to provide adequate transition time, the SEC’s rule amendments and the MSRB’s rule change will be effective on July 1, 2009.