MSRB Publishes Notice Clarifying Application of MSRB Rules To Transactions In Auction Rate Securities

Date: February 19, 2008

Contact:           Lynnette Kelly Hotchkiss, Executive Director
                       (703) 797-6600
                       lhotchkiss@msrb.org  


MSRB Publishes Notice Clarifying the Application of MSRB Rules to
Transactions in Auction Rate Securities
 
Alexandria, VA − Today, the MSBB published a notice reminding brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers (“dealers”) of the MSRB disclosure and suitability requirements that apply to all customer transactions in municipal Auction Rate Securities whether in primary offerings, at subsequent auctions, or in non-auction transactions.  The notice is attached and will soon be available after 3:00 P.M. on the MSRB’s web site at www.msrb.org.
 
The MSRB continues to monitor the recent downgrades of municipal bond insurers and other short-term liquidity concerns that have created extreme volatility in the market for municipal Auction Rate Securities.  To improve the amount of information available to municipal market participants about municipal Auction Rate Securities, the MSRB is considering a centralized system for the collection and dissemination of critical market information about Auction Rate Securities.  Plans for this system will be proposed in the coming weeks.

The MSRB publishes Statistical Patterns in the Municipal Securities Market monthly on its web site based upon information reported to the MSRB Transaction Reporting Program.  These statistics illustrate the growing market in municipal securities with long-term maturity dates and short-term (nine months or under) interest rate reset periods, of which municipal Auction Rate Securities are a large component.  The number of transactions in this sector has increased from approximately 32,000 transactions per month in 2000, or about 6% of all transactions, to approximately 190,000 transactions per month in 2007, or about 25% of all transactions.


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.