Bonds: Munis

(Washington)

One of the big risks to the muni sector that has gone underappreciated by the financial media and investing community is the threat of the soon-to-be revamped SEC making some big changes to the asset class. See the full story here on our parnter Magnifi's site.

(New York)

One of the big risks to the muni sector that has gone underappreciated by the financial media and investing community is the threat of the soon-to-be revamped SEC making some big changes to the asset class. The reason for concern is that Elad Roisman has just been appointed interim chief of the SEC. Roisman has long had a focus on transparency in fixed income markets, which he and others at the SEC feel is too opaque. This has raised the risk of new regulation in the space. That said, his short term before likely being replaced by Biden will limit his time frame to change any policy.


FINSUM: Roisman is a Republican and was previously chief counsel at NYSE Euronext, which gives him a very significant command of market structure. This would certainly equip him with the know-how to overhaul fixed income markets, but unless the Biden administration wants that to be a focus, it doesn’t seem he will have enough time. Bullet dodged or opportunity missed?

(New York)

Munis had a wild and rough year in 2020. Everyone who invests in the sector is wondering what’s next. While the lack of direct state and municipal aid in the recent congressional package is a downer for muni investors, there is a lot to be happy about. Election certainty, good news on the vaccine front, and the inauguration of Biden are all raising the sector’s prospects. Biden is seen as more likely to help local state and municipalities with aid, which has raised prospects for the sector. Downgrades are a risk, but widespread defaults seem unlikely.


FINSUM: On the whole, things seem like they are set up for a pretty positive year. As to the possibility of downgrades, it is worth noting that downgrades usually trail economic performance, so they would take a while to come through.

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