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Zimmerman's Research Guide


Municipal Bonds

Municipal bonds are bonds issued by local governments. They generally pay less interest than comparably rated corporate bonds, but the interest on a municipal bond is not subject to Federal tax, and it's generally not subject to state or local tax for in-state residents.

The Bond Buyer reports on municipal bond news and provides rankings of leading underwriters, law firms, trustees, financial advisors, etc. The Bond Buyer is available on Lexis and Westlaw. Rankings are also available in the US Municipals Review section of Thomson Reuters' Deals Intelligence; access is available after free registration.

To get information on the "players" in the municipal bond market, search the Bond Buyer's Municipal Marketplace ("The Redbook") in print or online.

Municipality Filings: Any municipal government that issues bonds is required to file annual financial reports, material event notices and other "continuing disclosure" documents. These filing are available in EMMA, the Electronic Municipal Market Access system, as of July 1, 2009. You can learn more about these filings on the MSRB's Understanding Continuing Disclosure page.

Before July 1, 2009 the go-to source for municipal bond filings were SEC-designated private companies known as "Nationally Recognized Municipal Securities Information Repositories" (NRMSIRs). I used to use a Repository called DPC Data, and you can still call them for older filings or use their MuniFILINGS database.

Official Statements: Municipal bond underwriters are required to file a prospectus called an "Official Statement" with the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) for all new public bond issues. You can get copies of Official Statements for bonds issued since 1990 from EMMA, the Electronic Municipal Market Access system. Otherwise, you can request an Official Statement by sending a completed request form and check for a small fee to the MSRB. You can get the form by calling the MSRB's office in Alexandria, Virginia (202-223-9503).

Note: Filing is not required for private placements. You can call the issuer or another involved party to try to get the private placement memorandum.

Prices & Interest Rates: EMMA provides real-time prices and yields at which municipal bonds and notes are bought and sold, for most trades occurring on or after January 31, 2005. For more sources, see "Bond Prices."

Interest rates for municipal securities, including auction rate securities and variable rate demand obligations, are available on EMMA.

See Also
Bond Prices
Debt Ratings
Interest Rates
Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board
Mutual Funds

For comments, questions and suggestions, email the author
Copyright 2015 Andrew Zimmerman