Volatility in Muni Markets Delays Vanguard Muni Bond ETFs

ETFs’ ability to ‘tightly track benchmarks’ is the issue

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A report from Reuters noted on Thursday that the mutual fund giant, Vanguard Group, with $1.5 trillion in U.S. assets in mutual funds,  with  has withdrawn its SEC application for a line of municipal bond ETFs. The report says that the filings for short-, intermediate- and “a long-term muni ETF,” indicate that Vanguard “has no plans to proceed with the offering.”

Amy Chain, a Vanguard spokeswoman, said in an e-mail message to AdvisorOne, “We are deferring the funds' launch for an indefinite period of time (and thus are required to withdraw the application). We believe that this delay is prudent given the high level of volatility in the municipal bond market, which began in November 2010 and continues today. This volatility could impede the funds’ abilities to tightly track their respective benchmarks, deliver on the funds’ objectives, and meet shareholders’ expectations.”

The Municipal bond market has been in turmoil for months as the effects of the financial crisis affect state and local municipalities’ collections of tax revenues. Huge state and municipal pension fund liabilities are also affecting the muni markets. 

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