Electronic Municipal Market Access


Understanding Credit Ratings

EMMA displays current long-term ratings and underlying or unenhanced ratings for municipal securities as provided by Fitch Ratings, Inc., Kroll Bond Rating Agency, Inc., Moody's Investors Service, Inc. and Standard & Poor's Ratings Services based on their agreement to make them available to the public through the EMMA website.

A municipal security's credit rating is the grade a rating agency assigns to indicate the risk of default and, in some cases, takes into consideration the potential loss to investors in the event of default. Further information and a more extensive discussion credit ratings can be found in the MSRB Education Center. EMMA users should refer to the specific rating definitions provided by each rating agency to gain a more complete understanding of the meanings of ratings assigned by the rating agencies. Users are cautioned that rating agencies may assign different meanings to similar terms.

The rating agencies that provide ratings for display on EMMA are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organizations (NRSRO). A full listing of the NRSROs can be found on the SEC's web site. The MSRB has committed to displaying on the EMMA website the ratings for municipal securities assigned by an NRSRO that agrees to make them available to the public through the EMMA website, subject to the terms of the applicable MSRB filing with the SEC.

EMMA also displays additional information provided by Fitch Ratings, Kroll Bond Rating Agency, Moody’s Investors Service and Standard and Poor’s, including forward-looking statements concerning the likelihood that a rating may change. The amount of information displayed for each security varies and it is important to note that not all municipal securities are rated by Fitch Ratings, Kroll Bond Rating Agency, Moody’s Investors Service and Standard and Poor’s. A lack of a rating from any of these rating agencies for a particular municipal security does not necessarily indicate that the security is considered “unrated” since it may be rated by another rating agency that has not agreed to make ratings available on EMMA, nor does it necessarily indicate that the security is any less or more creditworthy than other municipal securities.

Ratings that are displayed on the EMMA website are received by EMMA through automated data feeds from participating rating agencies. These feeds provide ratings information to the MSRB throughout the day, typically providing information on individual rating actions on specific municipal securities. In addition, the rating agencies provide periodic large-scale updates on all or a broad range of municipal securities they rate. The display of ratings on EMMA indicates both the date on which a specific rating action has been taken by a rating agency, as reported to EMMA in the data feed (shown as an "effective" date next to the applicable rating), and the date and time when the rating agency last provided to EMMA information regarding the municipal security through its automated data feed (shown as the date and time at which the information was "last updated," which generally would reflect the most recent time that EMMA received information for such municipal security on a specific rating action or a large-scale update). Thus, the "effective" date reflects the date on which a rating agency has taken a rating action, whereas the "last updated" date and time reflects the "freshness" of the information provided by the rating agencies.

EMMA users should be aware that ratings information appearing on the EMMA website is current as of the "last updated" date and time indicated on the EMMA website, and the MSRB takes no responsibility for independently verifying the accuracy or timeliness of the ratings information provided by the rating agencies through their data feeds. The EMMA website displays only the current ratings information for any security and does not display historical ratings information. Thus, if the rating for a municipal security has been changed by a rating agency, the prior rating will no longer be accessible through the EMMA website. EMMA users wishing to obtain information regarding prior ratings or about when rating actions may have been taken should contact the rating agency or issuer, or can check to see if any "Rating Change" continuing disclosure filings have been made with EMMA in connection with such municipal security.

At times, rating agencies may take rating actions that are not immediately included in the data feeds but may instead be released initially through other means, such as a press release or spreadsheet posted on their websites. To view any potential rating action that may have been taken by a rating agency on a municipal security since the last update received by EMMA, or to understand the meaning of the ratings and other information provided by each rating agency, please refer to the information available on those agencies' websites. In addition, rating agencies may make available, for free or for a charge, additional research or other analytical information in connection with their ratings or the marketplace in general.

Information on Fitch Ratings
Information on Kroll Bond Rating Agency, Inc.
Information on Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
Information on Standard and Poor's