MSRB board to discuss coronavirus response at virtual meeting

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The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board's board of directors is slated to discuss the MSRB's organizational response to the COVID-19 pandemic, among other topics at a virtual meeting next week.

The MSRB announced its scheduled discussion topics Wednesday ahead of its April 22 to 23 meeting, as is typical the week before a quarterly board meeting. Instead of meeting at the MSRB’s Washington headquarters, the board members will participate virtually in accordance with social distancing guidelines designed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Ed Sisk is chair of the MSRB board of directors.

“The board will review the MSRB’s organizational response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including measures to ensure the safety of staff and stakeholders while remaining fully operational and able to continue the MSRB’s important work safeguarding the municipal market,” the MSRB said. “The board also will discuss its ongoing efforts to monitor market activity and provide data and expertise to assist market participants and policymakers with understanding the impact of the pandemic on the municipal securities market.”

The MSRB has launched a dedicated COVID-19 webpage that includes all the board’s relevant public notices about the pandemic, as well as links to daily trading reports and weekly virus-related disclosure reports. The economic impact of the coronavirus has caused considerable market turmoil, particularly last month, and led to well over 1,000 COVID-related continuing disclosure submissions so far.

Also on the MSRB’s meeting agenda are matters that were on the board’s plate before the viral outbreak. One topic is the MSRB’s proposed revision to its Rule A-3 on membership of the board, which would reduce the size of the board to 15 from 21 members and also stipulate that board members representing the public be at least five years removed from employment by a regulated broker-dealer or municipal advisor. The current “cooling off” period is two years.

The MSRB sought comment on these draft amendments at the end of January and initially set a March 30 deadline for responses, but extended it to April 29 in light of the operational challenges associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

The board is scheduled to receive an update on the migration of market transparency systems and data to cloud storage, a major initiative the MSRB has said will allow it to leverage technology to provide more powerful analytics and other benefits.

Last on the published agenda, the board will discuss staff’s analysis of pre-trade data voluntarily provided by alternative trading systems, which the agenda says notes a significant increase in the amount of responses to requests for quotes and live quotes between 2015 and 2018.

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