MSRB Provides ARS Transparency

Date: February 11, 2009

Contacts:          Jennifer A. Galloway, Chief Communications Officer
                        (703) 797-6600
                        jgalloway@msrb.org


MSRB PROVIDES TRANSPARENCY FOR MUNICIPAL AUCTION RATE SECURITIES
Interest Rate Data is Freely Available for the First Time

Alexandria, VA - For the first time ever, current interest rate information for municipal auction rate securities is readily available to investors through a transparency program provided by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board. The MSRB began publishing information about auction rate securities on its Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA) website January 30, 2009, when it put in place a rule requiring municipal securities dealers to submit such data to the MSRB.

So far, EMMA (www.emma.msrb.org) has made available information on hundreds of auctions in municipal auction rate securities, including the interest rate produced by the auction process, the date and time of the auction and whether or not an auction succeeded or failed, among other information.

"Transparency in municipal auction rate securities is a reality and now all investors have access to information that previously was only readily accessible to a very limited audience," said MSRB Executive Director Lynnette Kelly Hotchkiss. "The value of this transparency is impossible to quantify and the MSRB will be providing even more information in the months to come."

The MSRB requires dealers to submit interest rate information the day auctions take place and then immediately publishes the data on the EMMA website.  All municipal auction rate transactions are displayed together on EMMA so investors can compare interest rates from program to program.  Investors can also easily view trade date and official statements for each auction rate security (click here to access the ARS data section of EMMA).

The MSRB is engaged in a larger, longer-term project to increase transparency of both auction rate securities and variable rate demand obligations.  Beginning April 1, 2009, interest rate information about VRDOs will be available on EMMA. Subsequent phases will provide for the collection and dissemination of bidding information for auction rate securities and key documentation relating to auction rate securities and variable rate demand obligations, none of which has previously been readily available.  This additional information will provide investors with greater insight into the securities they own and should promote greater liquidity in this critical sector of the municipal securities market.  

EMMA is the MSRB's free website that houses official statements, advance refunding documents, 529 college savings plan offering documents and real-time and historic trade data for municipal bonds.  Beginning July 1, 2009, EMMA will publish continuing disclosures for municipal bond issuers, providing investors with a single source of comprehensive disclosure and transparency information about municipal securities. 


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.