Wells Fargo Securities announced that it hired Natalie Cohen to lead its research and economics department.

Her new title will be managing director and senior municipal bond research analyst, according to a company spokesperson.

Cohen founded an independent consulting and research company, National Municipal Research, which offered advice to clients on trends in state and local muni markets. Prior to that, she was the managing director at Financial Security Assurance, a bond insurance company. In the past, Cohen also has worked for New York City’s budget office, Moody’s Investors Service, American Capital Access and Enhance Reinsurance/Asset Guaranty.

“Natalie’s extensive knowledge and experience in the industry will significantly enhance our service capabilities in the municipal bond space,” said Diane Schumaker-Krieg, global head of research and economics, in a press release. “We are delighted to have [her] on our team to launch our municipal bond effort.”

Cohen will have her work cut out for her. An outside expert noted that any study of the muni market becomes a very fragmented analysis. “From an investors’ standpoint, you are only thinking of the tax-benefit, but no matter what state an investor [is in] they need to be doing some digging,” said John Jay, a senior analyst at Aite Group. Indeed, some states like Michigan and California are experiencing especially tough times.

Safety is one of the allures of muni bonds, he says. And one broad issue affecting the attractiveness now is the nagging potential for deflation. “It’s going to work in the [investors’] favor to the extent where you want income-producing types of investments [in periods of deflation],” Jay said.

In June, it was reported that Wells Fargo merged close to $2.2 billion of Evergreen investments municipal bond mutual funds into an available Wells funds as part of the bank’s purchase of Wachovia.