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“Sunlight has long been the best disinfectant to prevent problems in our market”

SEC Seeks More Transparent Disclosure For Investors, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, press release 2008-227, Sept. 25, 2008.

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it will hold a roundtable on October 8 to discuss ways to modernize its disclosure system to give investors more useful and timely information for investment decision-making….

“Sunlight has long been the best disinfectant to prevent problems in our markets. The more direct sunlight we can shine on company disclosure documents to extract the information that investors most want and need to make financial decisions, the more honest our markets will be and the stronger investor confidence will be,” said Dr. William D. Lutz, Director of the 21st Century Disclosure Initiative.

Thanks and a tip of the hat to J.H. Snider who says, “The SEC’s disclosure technology may already be the best of any agency in the Federal government…. Nevertheless, given the recent financial meltdown, it looks like it may continue to break new ground.

EDGAR’s new companion, EMMA

Everyone knows about the SEC’s EDGAR database. Now, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, a self-regulatory organization established by Congress to develop rules for broker-dealers and banks that underwrite, trade and sell municipal securities, has launched a pilot project, EMMA (Electronic Municipal Market Access). EMMA is an Internet-based disclosure portal that provides free public access to disclosure documents and real-time municipal securities trade price data for the municipal securities market. The EMMA website is now accessible at emma.msrb.org

Dirt Diggers Digest alerted us to this story:

For more than a decade, key corporate filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission have been available to the public at no charge through the EDGAR website. This has been a boon for transparency and a godsend for researchers.

During the same period, those who wanted to access analogous documents on tax-exempt bonds filed with the lesser known Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) have had to use commercial services such as Munistatements and DPC Data that charge hefty subscription or pay-per-view fees.

Now that is beginning to change. This week MSRB introduced EMMA (short for Electronic Municipal Market Access), which is described as “an Internet-based disclosure portal.” The key document EMMA will disclose is the Official Statement (OS), a prospectus that issuing agencies publish with details on new municipal securities.