Overseas dollars have been flooding into the municipal market for several years, with foreign investment in munis doubling since 2009 to $106 billion of the $3.8 trillion market, according to Federal Reserve data. The trend picked up in the last quarter of 2016, with foreign investors adding an unprecedented $21 billion in municipal bonds.
Foreign companies see no benefit from the tax-exemption that comes with most muni bonds, so they tend to gravitate to higher-yielding taxable bonds. But some foreign investors are also interested in tax-exempt bonds, testing an assumption of the muni market, that buyers typically are drawn in part by tax advantages.
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