Declining sentiment and a mess of ABS-specific headlines have not helped the market for esoteric asset classes, already suffering long and hard this year. Even vanilla asset-backeds, which for most of this economic cycle have benefited from the flight to quality, saw meaningful widening this fall.

However, said principals at New York-based boutique underwriter Westwood Capital, miniscule returns linked to historically low indices could render true private, negotiated, highly structured transactions a target for investors pining for yield in 2003.

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