The SEC will launch a series of field hearings to examine the municipal securities markets, starting in San Francisco on September 21. Topics will include disclosure and transparency, credit ratings, and internal controls.
Among participants will be California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, Washington State Treasurer James McIntire, and Stanley Keller, Independent Consultant and Monitor of the City of San Diego. A panel of investors, both individuals and institutions, will also share their experiences in this market. According to SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro:
Today’s investors hold about $2.8 trillion of municipal debt. This is a critical market that touches every aspect of our lives, from the water that we drink to the roads upon which we drive. But for the market to continue to serve our communities, investors in municipal securities must be confident that they are getting the information necessary for knowledgeable decisions, at the time and in a form that they need it.
The series of hearings will take place across the country and address a wide range of issues that focus on the needs of investors in this market. Commissioner Elisse B. Walter will lead the hearings and says:
I am so pleased to have the opportunity to hear from investors, government officials, underwriters, credit rating analysts, and the full gamut of participants in this market. The Western Region is an essential player in this market, and holding our first hearing in San Francisco will provide us an important base of information going forward.
At the conclusion of all hearings, the Commission will release a staff report and make recommendations for regulatory changes and industry “best practices,” as well as legislative changes, if any.
The San Francisco hearing will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on September 21 at the Port of San Francisco, Pier 1, The Embarcadero. The public is welcome to attend as space allows. Admission is free.
Other hearings will be conducted in Chicago, Ill., Washington, D.C., Tallahassee, Fla., and Austin, Texas. Each hearing will include participants from the local region and will examine different sets of issues, including investor protection and education; financial reporting and accounting; market stability and liquidity; the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board; municipalities as conduit borrowers; offering participants, professionals and market intermediaries; Build America Bonds; and 529 plans.
The SEC invites members of the public and other interested parties to submit comments related to field hearing topics by using the comment form on the SEC website or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. More about the Commission’s oversight of the securities market here and the agenda.
As I’ve previously indicated, AFSCME is looking for people who lost money investing in municipal bonds (eg. Vallejo). They would like them to testify at the field hearing and can provide training on what to expect and how to be most effective. Contact Scott Adams. See SEC Steps Up to the Muni Plate, The Bond Buyer, 6/17/10 for additional background.