What is Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA)?

The Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA) service is a website created to provide information about municipal bonds, bond prices, and market trends to the public.

Key Takeaways

  • Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA) service is a website created to provide information about municipal bonds, bond prices, and market trends to the public.
  • EMMA's tools and research allow investors to search for municipal bonds with an income profile and terms that are suitable for their unique portfolios.
  • EMMA was created by the Municipal Securities Rule-making Board (MSRB), a self-regulatory organization created by the U.S. Congress to promote a fair and efficient municipal securities market.

Understanding Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA)

EMMA was created by the Municipal Securities Rule-making Board (MSRB), a self-regulatory organization created by the U.S. Congress to promote a fair and efficient municipal securities market. Individual and professional investors can use EMMA to find information about the issuers of municipal bonds, past bond trading history, prices, and disclosure documents. The EMMA website includes tools to search for municipal bonds, calendars of relevant economic announcements and upcoming bond offerings.

Unlike standardized securities like stocks, futures, or U.S. Treasuries, the funding sources of municipal bonds can vary significantly. For example, some municipal bonds are repaid from the revenue received from a city or state infrastructure project that is being financed (revenue bonds) while others are to be repaid from tax revenues as a general obligation bond.

Because each municipal bond has different yields, conditions, and credit ratings, matching the right bond with the right investor can be challenging. EMMA's tools and research allow investors to search for municipal bonds with an income profile and terms that are suitable for their unique portfolios. The EMMA website is free to access, but requires a significant amount of background knowledge of the bond market to use successfully.

EMMA Search Tools

Investors can use the search tools on EMMA to filter for municipal bond characteristics such as yield, terms, security or credit rating. A bond investor could also look for bond information by issuer or locality.

Because bond disclosures and filings can vary, investors can use the EMMA search tools to narrow the list to the type of disclosure they want. For example, an investor could look for bonds with a disclosure related to non-payment related defaults or an unscheduled draw if they are seeking distressed bonds.

EMMA Market Analysis

The EMMA website includes yield curve tools that can be used to evaluate the current municipal bond market and historical trends. Many investors use this kind of information to help them decide when to make an investment.

Investors can use trade statistics from EMMA to evaluate current market activity against historical periods. This may help a user understand how much trading is occurring in a particular issue and identify the most liquid issues. Information about the types of bond traders (e.g. inter-dealer vs. customer) and the total dollar value of each day's trades may influence what a bond investor is buying or selling, and when they want to execute their own trades.

EMMA Education

While the information the MSRB provides through the EMMA website is likely most useful to professional or experienced municipal bond investors, there is education available to all users. A new bond investor can explore the basics of municipal bond investing including how they are priced, traded, and the special risks of these instruments. Investors already familiar with fixed income and municipal bonds can learn more about how to use the EMMA website, tools, and calendars.