The Australian mortgage- and asset-backed markets grew by a healthy 13% during 1999, in terms of the value of programs rated by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services. According to the agency, this was A$24.7 billion (US$15.9 billion), compared to around A$22 billion the previous year. Actual issuance of public term deals up to December 10, based on Merrill Lynch & Co. figures, was A$14.2 billion of which slightly more than A$13 billion consisted of MBS.

The growth was less impressive than the exponential increases of the mid-1990s, but perhaps more sustainable. Growth, in any case, is no longer the main story of the Australian market: the theme now is diversification. The year under review offered some interesting examples of asset diversification in the domestic sector and 2000 promises more.

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