Is the concern over the municipal bond market impacting the job market for traders and others in the sector? There are certainly dire predictions for looming muni bond defaults. There's also additional regulation and enforcement on the horizon. The SEC recently set up a specialized unit to oversee the muni market.
Plus, there's increasing SEC civil fraud action on both sides of the fence. In August, New Jersey settled a federal civil fraud action. More recently, Bank of America settled muni-market fraud charges. Last year, JPMorgan Chase settled a similar SEC action.
Obviously, those on the Street aren't thrilled to hear about the SEC stepping up enforcement and regulatory activity. But it's the recent investor flight to safety and weak performance that's making some in the muni market worry about their jobs. In the week ended on Nov. 17, 2010, investors took out $3 billion from municipal bond mutual funds - reportedly the largest weekly outflow ever recorded by Lipper.
And there's more bad news. Tax-exempt municipal bonds are expected to have the worst quarterly performance in more than 16 years.
Despite the negative news, the consensus is that investors are going to keep playing it safe and look to fixed income. For now, talk of defaults hasn't made them put their tails between their legs and scurry for the hills.
So where are the job opportunities given the sad state of affairs? The concern over the quality of muni bond issuances and the uptick in regulatory action is fueling a spike in demand for analysts and compliance specialists at a variety of big and small banks, as well as small and large investment firms and private equity.