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MSRB Update: Summer 2020

MSRB Update: Summer 2020

Leveraging the Cloud to Shed Light on COVID-19’s Effects on the Market

Ronald Dieckman, Chair of the Technology Committee

The dark cloud of COVID-19 has cast a long shadow on the municipal market, ushering in a period of unprecedented market volatility and fiscal pressure on states and communities across the country. A bright spot in these challenging times is the tremendous potential of cloud-based technologies to shed light on the effects of this pandemic. The data and insights gleaned from the cloud have helped inform the development of effective emergency relief for this critical capital market.

When the Board committed to migrating all of its MSRB market transparency systems to the cloud by the end of this fiscal year, we knew we were laying a foundation for the MSRB to more quickly and easily deliver insights to the market in the future. Little did we know that only midway through the cloud migration, we would be able to rapidly deploy a prototype search engine to answer one of the most pressing questions of this crisis: How are state and local governments being financially impacted by the pandemic?

Our data team leverages the power of cloud computing to comb through the thousands of disclosure documents submitted to the Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA®) website every week to identify those that reference the impact of COVID-19 – 8,200 and counting disclosures since January 2020. We synthesize these search results into our weekly COVID-related disclosure report, which serves as a window into how states and municipalities are grappling with the impact of COVID-19 on their revenues and ability to finance essential public services. It is a tremendous example of the kind of enhanced search capabilities and data analysis the MSRB hopes to offer EMMA users as a self-service tool in the future. Access this report and other COVID-related information on the MSRB’s website here.

To help us imagine and prioritize other impactful ways to leverage the power of the cloud, we have established a new Market Transparency Advisory Group (MTAG). This group of 13 market professionals representing a broad and diverse cross-section of the municipal market also will serve as beta testers for prototypes of advanced data and technology tools that may eventually make their way to the EMMA website.

While we are still early on in our cloud journey, we are on track and expect to migrate all of our market transparency systems and data to the cloud before the end of the year. We will continue to share updates and milestones as we work to enhance our service to the market. In the meantime, stay safe and stay healthy.

Ronald Dieckman is a member of the Board of Directors of the MSRB and Chair of the Technology Committee and also serves on the Nominating and Governance Committee and the Steering Committee. He has been retired since 2011 after serving for 42 years in the fixed income industry.

Supporting the Federal Reserve’s Municipal Liquidity Facility

To help support the industry during this difficult time, the MSRB has been closely monitoring and assisting with the creation and implementation of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF). First announced in April, the MLF is designed to help state and local governments better manage cash flow pressures. Read more about the Federal Reserve’s Municipal Liquidity Facility.

The MSRB is temporarily waiving market activity fees for municipal market transactions related to the program. The waiver is temporary and only applicable during the duration of time the MLF is purchasing municipal securities, which is currently scheduled to cease on December 31, 2020. Read the MSRB’s press release announcing the MLF fee waiver.

In addition, MSRB Chief Market Structure Officer John Bagley temporarily joined the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on secondment to lend his deep municipal market expertise to the implementation of the MLF. Read more about this secondment.

Sign Up for Compliance Corner

Want additional regulatory updates and resources to help with your understanding of how the MSRB is addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic? Sign up for the MSRB’s Compliance Corner, our quarterly newsletter designed to deliver compliance obligation information to dealers and municipal advisors. Read the Spring 2020 edition.

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New Publications and Resources

Frequently Asked Questions Related to COVID-19 Pandemic Regulatory Relief

The MSRB is providing these answers to FAQs to address the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic-related regulatory measures and guidance for dealers and municipal advisors in light of disruptions to normal business operations.

Read the FAQs.

COVID-19 Crisis Drives Spike in Transaction Costs for Municipal Securities

Commentary by the MSRB’s Chief Economist Simon Wu reviews how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected trading costs for investors buying and selling municipal securities.

Read the commentary.

MSRB Quarterly Statistical Summary: Q1, 2020

MSRB quarterly statistical summaries include aggregate market information for the most recent quarter.

Read the report.

Trading in Municipal Bond ETFs During the COVID-19 Crisis: Price versus Net Asset Value

Market commentary by MSRB Chief Economist Simon Wu looks at the impact of COVID-19 on the most actively traded municipal bond ETFs during the month of March 2020, analyzing the price divergence between the ETFs and their benchmark indexes.

Read the commentary.

Municipal Securities Market COVID-19-Related Disclosure Summary

This weekly summary of primary market disclosures and continuing disclosures submitted to the EMMA® website assists market participants, policymakers and the general public with identifying disclosures made by issuers of municipal securities that reference COVID-19. The report is released each Tuesday.

Read the report.

Municipal Securities Market Trading Summary

This daily analysis of trade activity assists market participants, policymakers and the general public with understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the liquidity of the municipal securities market.

Read the report.

Rules and Guidance Roundup

Visit the Rules and Guidance page of to stay up-to-date with the latest requests for comment, proposed rule changes, rule approval notices and market advisories.

Compliance Resources

Visit the online Compliance Center for resources and information to help regulated entities understand and comply with MSRB rules.

Recent Press Releases

Read the MSRB’s latest press releases on