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You may know EDGAR, the online database of public companies’ filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Now, it’s time to get to know EMMA, the online database for municipal bonds. To do so, attend this free Webinar of one hour each on March 27 and 28.
EMMA is to municipal bonds what EDGAR is to stocks. EMMA stands for Electronic Municipal Market Access. Launched by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) in 2008, it provides free access to a treasure trove of information about the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market and individual bond issues, including their credit ratings and pricing. The disclosure documents filed by the local governments that issue munis can contain newsworthy information on the economic health of your region.
“The documents can contain, for example, current and projected employment numbers, tax revenues and other revenue sources, economic forecasts and other information that can help reporters understand the local economy, development and even political issues,” the MSRB says.
With Jefferson County, Ala., filing the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history in November 2011 and Harrisburg, Pa., attempting to join it, now is the time to bone up on the nation’s repository for information on 1.5 million municipal bonds.
Here are just some of the ways journalists can use EMMA, according to the MSRB:
“State and Local Government Reporters – Review continuing disclosures about the financial or operating condition of state and local municipal bond issuers, including public utilities and school districts. In addition, the MSRB makes disclosures of political contributions by municipal bond dealers to municipal issuer officials available on the MSRB’s main website. Under MSRB rules, municipal bond dealers could be banned from business with issuers based on political contributions to issuer officials.
Utilities Reporters – Review disclosures and trade information for local utility bond issues.
Education Reporters – Find disclosures and other information for school bond issues.
Personal Finance Reporters – Learn about investing in municipal bonds and 529 college savings plans in EMMA’s Education Center; view documents associated with municipal securities and see real-time trade price data to compare bonds
Financial Reporters – Access real-time trade data, daily and annual market statistics and information about auction-rate securities and variable-rate demand obligations.”
Join experts on EMMA from the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board and two journalists who have used EMMA extensively to learn how to incorporate this valuable database into your reporting.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
- What is EMMA and how can it serve as a tool for journalists
- What information on EMMA can help you report stories
- How to find that information
- How to track information on a particular community or project
March 27: What Information Is on EMMA, and How Do I Find It? — Ernesto Lanza and Justin Pica
March 28: How I Used EMMA to Get the Story — Yamil Berard and Lynn Hume
- Ernesto Lanza is the deputy executive director and chief legal officer of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB). He led the design, development and initial launch of EMMA. He holds a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
- Justin Pica is director of product management for the MSRB. He oversees enhancements to EMMA. He has an MBA from George Washington University.
- Yamil Berard is an investigative reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She wrote a four-part series that showed her home county was among the nation’s leaders in municipal-bond defaults because of its authorization of risky conduit bonds. She holds a bachelor’s degree in print journalism with a minor in business administration from the University of Southern California.
- Lynn Hume is the Washington bureau chief for The Bond Buyer, the daily newspaper of public finance. Before that she covered a series of beats for the paper, including securities, derivatives, tax legislation, regulation and enforcement. Hume joined The Bond Buyer in 1987 after a three-year stint on Capitol Hill as a staff investigator for the House Government Operations Committee’s subcommittee on energy and the environment. She has a BA from the University of Maryland and majored in English. Here is one of her favorite stories researched on EMMA: Florida Community District Has a Question for IRS (PDF).
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ABOUT THE PROGRAM
Please do not register unless you are sincere about participating. Space is limited, and signing up and not participating deprives someone else of the opportunity.
Those who successfully complete three regional workshops or online seminars presented by the Reynolds Center are eligible to receive a “Circle of Achievement” certificate.
This free seminar is sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism. If you have any questions about the workshop or the center, please email Executive Director Linda Austin or call 602-496-9187.