By Robert B. Pollsen and Ernestine Warner, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services

The U.S. residential mortgage market has benefited greatly from the unprecedented economic boom and robust housing market of the past five years. As a result, in 2000, Standard & Poor's focused its review process on identifying those residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) deserving consideration for an upgrade, which has led to the largest number of upgrades in Standard & Poor's history. The surveillance performed from the beginning of January through mid-December has resulted in 665 ratings changes, consisting of 502 upgrades and 163 downgrades.

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