WASHINGTON — North Carolina securities regulators plan this week to begin work on a centralized auction-rate securities research center that will collect progress reports on how Wall Street and other dealer firms are fulfilling the “best effort” commitments they made to provide liquidity to institutional investors still holding illiquid ARS.

The initiative, launched on behalf of the North American Securities Administrators Association, comes as the liquidity provisions in ARS settlements reached during roughly the past 18 months have begun to expire. While firms generally are believed to have fulfilled their commitments to retail investors, it is not as clear what efforts, if any, they have made at restoring liquidity to institutional investors, generally defined as investors with $10 million or more in investments. 

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