MSRB Chief Economist Examines Impact of Municipal Bond ETFs on Municipal Bond Market Liquidity

Date: April 11, 2018

Contact: Jennifer A. Galloway, Chief Communications Officer


Washington, DC – The Chief Economist of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB), the self-regulatory organization that oversees the municipal securities market, today shared his analysis on municipal bond exchange-traded funds’ relationship to municipal bond market liquidity. The MSRB’s analysis indicates that to date, there is no statistical relationship between the growth of ETFs and municipal bond market liquidity.

“Despite the steady growth of municipal bond ETF assets since 2007, we found no evidence of an impact on municipal market liquidity,” said MSRB Chief Economist Simon Wu. “However, the impact could certainly change over time with the continued growth of municipal bond ETFs, which, even after an explosive decade of growth, still represent less than one percent of all municipal securities-related investments.”

Today’s analysis seeks to provide municipal market participants and other stakeholders with additional perspective on the relationship between municipal bond ETFs and the underlying bonds and promote further research on the topic. The MSRB studies market structure issues related to municipal securities as part of its mission to promote a fair and efficient market. Access MSRB data reports and analysis.

Municipal Bond ETFs: Liquidity Impact on the Municipal Bond Market summarizes existing research and emerging issues affecting all ETFs, including municipal bond ETFs. It also proposes considerations for future research as market conditions evolve, particularly in a rising interest rate environment.

The MSRB protects investors, state and local governments and other municipal entities, and the public interest by promoting a fair and efficient municipal securities market. The MSRB fulfills this mission by regulating the municipal securities firms, banks and municipal advisors that engage in municipal securities and advisory activities. To further protect market participants, the MSRB provides market transparency through its Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA®) website, the official repository for information on all municipal bonds. The MSRB also serves as an objective resource on the municipal market, conducts extensive education and outreach to market stakeholders, and provides market leadership on key issues. The MSRB is a self-regulatory organization governed by a 21-member board of directors that has a majority of public members, in addition to representatives of regulated entities. The MSRB is overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Congress.