A key way the MSRB protects investors and municipal entities in the municipal market is by making market information as transparent and widely available as possible. By providing free access to municipal bond offering documents, continuing disclosures, trade prices, interest rates and other information, investors and others can better understand the terms, characteristics and risks of a particular security. At the same time, the mechanisms of a transparent market allow issuers of municipal securities to provide information to existing and potential investors and to gain a comprehensive view of the marketplace allowing them to compare their securities with other bonds.
The MSRB's Long-Range Plan for Market Transparency guides the evolution of the MSRB's market transparency products, including the Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA®) website, maximizes their benefits for the protection of investors and state and local governments, and provides for the efficient allocation of MSRB resources. The plan establishes a vision for developing EMMA into the central public dissemination hub for municipal securities by adding new information and customized functionality and improving commercial dissemination of data.
The MSRB continuously reviews the plan to reflect changing market priorities and to ensure the relevancy of its goals. Feedback from the marketplace and the general public is encouraged. Submit or view feedback. In addition, the public has the opportunity to provide comment on individual elements of the plan as they are proposed.
Market Transparency Programs
Below are descriptions of the MSRB's integrated market transparency programs, products and services that promote a fair and efficient municipal market.
Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA®) Website
– The MSRB launched its EMMA website – http://emma.msrb.org
– in March 2008 as a free online source of key municipal market information for retail investors. The EMMA website serves as the venue for public access to variable rate security information, transaction data, primary market disclosures and continuing disclosures described below, as well as market statistics and investor education.
Primary Market Disclosures – The MSRB makes available official statements, preliminary official and advance refunding documents for free on the EMMA website. Underwriters have been required by MSRB rules to provide these documents along with related information about the issues to the MSRB since 1990. The MSRB also collects and makes available 529 college savings plan documents.
Continuing Disclosures – Continuing disclosures consist of material information about a municipal security that arises after its initial issuance. Since July 2009, EMMA has been the centralized repository of all continuing disclosures in the municipal market pursuant to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Rule 15c2-12. In addition to disclosures identified in SEC rules, the MSRB also provides issuers and obligated persons with the ability to voluntarily post additional disclosures about their securities to EMMA.
Trade Price Data – All transactions in municipal securities are reported to the Real-Time Transaction Reporting System (RTRS) for price transparency and market surveillance purposes. Dealers have reported this information to the MSRB under MSRB Rule G-14 since the mid 1990s and on a real-time basis since 2005. The MSRB is the only comprehensive source of data on the more than 40,000 daily municipal market transactions and the availability of this data to market participants is crucial to promoting the fair pricing of municipal securities transactions. All transaction data is provided to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and made available to the SEC and bank regulators and serves as a key resource for monitoring dealer activity in the municipal market.
Short-Term Interest Rate Disclosures – A centralized, comprehensive source of current information for Auction Rate Securities (ARS) and Variable Rate Demand Obligations (VRDOs) is provided through the Short-term Obligation Rate Transparency (SHORT) System. Since 2009, the SHORT System has collected current interest rates and key descriptive data for ARS and VRDOs from dealers under MSRB Rule G-34(c). In May 2011, the SHORT System was expanded to add information about orders submitted to an ARS auction and additional key data for VRDOs as well as ARS program documents and VRDO liquidity facility documents. This collection of data and documents provides first-of-its-kind transparency to the municipal securities market and assists investors in making informed decisions about their investments.
Political Contributions Disclosures
– Under its pay-to-play rules, the MSRB requires municipal securities dealers to disclose certain information in connection with political contributions they make to governmental issuer officials, state and local political parties, and bond ballot referendum committees. The MSRB makes all political contribution disclosure documents available to the public on its Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA®)
Regulatory Services Products – The MSRB operates an extensive collection of products that provide support to the various federal regulatory agencies that enforce MSRB rules. Many of these regulatory services products leverage the information provided through market transparency products. Regulatory services products also include automated public and regulatory subscriptions to the disclosures and information provided through MSRB market transparency products.
Research – MSRB research activities are focused on developing and disseminating statistical products as well as providing research and statistical support for MSRB rulemaking, market transparency, regulatory services, market leadership, outreach and education projects. The MSRB’s market statistics allow investors, issuers, municipal securities dealers, regulators, policymakers and others to review statistical trends and patterns for the municipal market. Research activities also support and act as a resource to federal and other policymakers.