BOCA RATON, FLA. - Predictions for 2006 ABS volume were all over the map at the ABS East conference last week, as evidenced by the panel entitled "What Lurks Around The Corner?" moderated by Fitch Ratings Managing Director Kevin Duignan. The panelists, many of whom were talking heads from previous years, discussed the general outlook for next year and tried to project the impact of such issues as interest rates, increasing fuel prices, home price appreciation and the wide-ranging effects of Hurricane Katrina on the market.

There was clearly no consensus on where ABS volume is headed in 2006. In a survey conducted by Duignan prior to the panel, the panelists said next year's volume could range anywhere from a 10% decrease, to a 25% increase over this year. One panelist, John Arnholtz, a partner with Mckee Nelson, even predicted a 100% increase in volume for next year, though it was assumed to be a joke. Duignan also dredged up last year's predictions, made by a similar panel, which included a forecast that 2005 ABS volume would be down 10% from the year before, when it is actually up 25% to 30% so far.

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