December 17, 2014

Muni ComMUNIcations - Legislative, regulatory and tax news for municipal securities


Happy holidays! The next edition of ComMUNIcations will be January 7, 2015.


SIFMA Roundtable of Economists: Strong Growth Possible Despite Global Growth, Monetary Policy Concerns
SIFMA’s Economic Advisory Roundtable unveiled its outlook for end-year 2014 and 2015, forecasting that the economy will grow at a 2.3 percent rate in full-year 2014 and will rise to 3.0 percent in 2015. Despite concerns of global growth and monetary policy uncertainty, the outlook for full year 2014 is slightly higher than the Roundtable’s previous prediction of 2.2 percent.

“We’re forecasting the highest and strongest growth in a decade, but of course the threshold is low,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist and managing director at Mesirow Financial Holdings, Inc. and chairman of the Roundtable. “It’s important to understand that there has been a tendency to be optimistic, but it does appear that we’ve hit a pivotal point in the U.S. economy.”

“The 2014 end-year survey indicates the potential for an improving economy with greater capital investment and employment growth – all of which would benefit individual Americans and small business formation and development,” said SIFMA’s President and CEO, Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr.

SIFMA’s roundtable of chief U.S. economists conducts an outlook and rates forecast survey twice per year.

Department of Labor Delays its Fiduciary RuleSIFMA Survey Shows the Majority of Investors Are Opposed to FINRA’s CARDS Proposal
SIFMA announced the findings of a new survey of investor attitudes towards FINRA’s Comprehensive Automated Risk Data System (CARDS) proposal. The survey, commissioned by SIFMA and conducted online in November by Harris Poll among 1,103 U.S. investors, found that over two-thirds (69%) of investors oppose CARDS initially after reading a brief and balanced description of CARDS; the level of opposition goes up to four in five (80%) after investors read the different concerns that have been expressed regarding the CARDS proposal. Overall, investors do not see the value CARDS provides when weighing the benefits against the risks.

“This survey shows very clearly, the tremendous level of investor opposition to the proposal that FINRA collect all their individual account data on a regular basis,” said SIFMA’s President and CEO, Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr. “Notwithstanding the good intentions of FINRA, this further serves to cast even more doubt on the appropriateness of this proposal."

SIFMA Commends Passage of Eminent Domain Provision in Spending Bill
The $1.1 trillion spending bill to keep the government running through FY2015, signed into law by President Obama this week, contained an important provision preventing the federal government from supporting state and local efforts to use eminent domain to acquire mortgages.

“SIFMA applauds Congress and the Administration for wisely stepping into the eminent domain debate and preventing the misuse of an important federal backstop by private parties to facilitate an unconstitutional taking of personal property for private gain,” said SIFMA President and CEO Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr. “Today’s action should go a long way in improving investor confidence in the housing finance system and installs one more obstacle to this reckless proposal. SIFMA and its members welcome this development and encourage communities considering this form of eminent domain to reconsider and work to find alternatives that help homeowners and protect taxpayers and investors.” 
Press Release | Eminent Domain Resource Center


of interest

SIFMA Announces 2015/2016 Holiday Schedule for US and UK Bond Markets
SIFMA issued its 2015 and 2016 holiday schedules for full and early market closes for the trading of US dollar-denominated fixed-income securities in the United States and the United Kingdom.  The 2015 U.S. calendar includes two changes from standard practice: a noon close for Good Friday and open markets on July 3.

SIFMA will publish its 2016 recommendations for Japan in early 2015. Please note that SIFMA's recommended early and full market closes are recommendations only; each SIFMA member firm should decide for itself whether its fixed-income departments remain open for trading.  All SIFMA recommendations are subject to change due to market conditions.  Early closes will not affect the closing time for settlements.

Want to know more about how SIFMA came to be responsible for making market close recommendations? Find out here.

SIFMA: Cybersecurity Remains Top Priority
SIFMA members believe there is an opportunity to enhance regulatory guidance beyond existing requirements to improve the protection of the financial sector, and that a dynamic and collaborative partnership between the industry and government is the most effective path forward to accomplishing this goal. The benefits of this partnership approach led to the development of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, which SIFMA is actively promoting within its membership and encourages regulators to use as a universal structure that can be leveraged as a starting point for creating a unified approach to cybersecurity.

Importantly, SIFMA's paper notes that harmonization of regulatory guidance across agencies and across borders is essential to avoid confusion in the industry and the duplication of efforts. SIFMA recommends the development of an inter-agency harmonization working group that could coordinate the review of cybersecurity regulations, ensure consistency and receive private sector input.

Last week, SIFMA, in written testimony to the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Development Committee's hearing entitled "Cybersecurity: Enhancing Coordination to Protect the Financial Sector," urged lawmakers to the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014 as a means to enhancing cyber coordination.

SIFMA Cyber Resources | Cybersecurity Principles | Senate Testimony

Register for the Securities Industry Institute | March 8-12, 2015
The Securities Industry Institute (SII), founded in 1952 is the premier leadership program for the financial services industry. For more than 60 years, SIFMA and The Wharton School have partnered to develop the industry’s high-potential, rising leaders. Held on the Wharton campus, participants meet for one week each March to complete required coursework for this three-consecutive year program that utilizes unique and unconventional teaching models.

Each year, the curriculum is redesigned under the supervision of the SII Board of Trustees to reflect the needs of the business. The Institute draws top professors from Wharton and other leading universities as well as business leaders and industry experts to deliver an unparalleled, globally accredited faculty.
Learn more about SII | Enrollment Guide | Register


C&L Annual Banner



Program Available: SIFMA’s FINRA Disciplinary Hearings Forum – Feb. 12, 2015, NYC
Join FINRA’s Chief Hearing Officer, Head of Litigation, and other senior FINRA officers, as well as seasoned practitioners from the defense bar, for a deep dive into the inner workings of a FINRA disciplinary hearing. SIFMA's FINRA Disciplinary Hearings Forum is a half-day interactive program that will provide valuable insights both for lawyers experienced in FINRA proceedings and those new to the forum. Topics to be covered include: Relevant procedural rules, the complaint and pre-hearing process, discovery through hearing and the decision, and more. Attendees at this event will be eligible for CLE credits.
Register Today

SIFMA's 2015 C&L Society Annual Seminar – March 15-18 – Hotel Block Open, Register Today!
SIFMA’s Compliance & Legal Society is pleased to present the program for this year’s Annual Seminar from March 15-18 in Phoenix, Arizona. With more than 65 dynamic panels and sessions, register today at an early bird rate to hear from our industry’s experts and regulators on the latest developments impacting the compliance and legal space.
Click for more event and registration details.



SIFMA Bookstore Spotlight: The Fundamentals of Municipal Bonds
This informative volume is the newly revised and updated sixth edition of the long-heralded classic text on the municipal securities market. The text provides a basic understanding of the market for a wide range of readers, including experienced professionals – such as investment bankers, traders, brokers, and professional investors – as well as public officials, academicians, students, and sophisticated individuals.
Read More and Purchase Book

Sources: The Securities and Financial Markets Guide to Products and Services
Compiled by SIFMA, Sources is an easy-to-use buyer's guide of products and services for the securities and financial industry. SIFMA brings together the shared interests of hundreds of securities firms, banks and asset managers. Sources represents a collection of suppliers ready to meet your business needs.
Learn more about the 2015 edition.


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