WASHINGTON — The Securities and Exchange Commission is launching a nationwide inquiry into the municipal market that will lead to recommendations for specific statutory and regulatory changes to better protect investors, an SEC official said at the Investment Company Institute general membership meeting here Friday.

SEC chairman Mary Schapiro has tapped commissioner Elisse Walter to hold a series of public hearings across the country to solicit ideas from a wide range of individuals who have experienced the market from many different perspectives, Andrew “Buddy” Donohue, director of the investment management division, said in a speech he ­delivered for ­Schapiro, who did not appear at the meeting because she was tied up with Thursday’s steep stock market drop.

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