Municipal Bond Sectoral Risk and Information Intermediation in Uncertain Times: Evidence from the COVID-19 Pandemic
34 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2020 Last revised: 18 Feb 2021
Date Written: February 15, 2021
The municipal bond market is not homogeneous but consists of varying credits supporting different governmental activities. In this paper we discuss how sectors form and how they are differentially subject to market risks, using the COVID-19 pandemic as a case study. The pandemic has disrupted all financial markets, and particularly some municipal bond sectors supported by non-general obligation credits, such as health care, arts, and transportation. By comparing the sectors that face a greater increase in risk with others, we empirically examine the market uncertainty hypothesis that intermediation provides stronger certification value when sectoral risk increases. We find an increased use of insurance among high risk-elevation bonds. Bond insurance, nevertheless, is not associated with larger reductions in offering yield in the high risk-elevation sectors on average, but only for issuers consistently insuring all issuances. The yield difference between unrated and rated bonds expands more in the high risk-elevation sectors; for an average unrated bond in such sectors, receiving any investment-grade rating is associated with yield reductions.
Keywords: Municipal Bond, Bond Sector, Market Uncertainty, Information Intermediary, COVID-19
JEL Classification: G14, G22, H54, H74
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation