While ratings migrations for the third quarter of 2003 lacked much positive news, the outlook is decidedly positive, noted analysts on a quarterly review conference call hosted by Fitch Ratings last week. There were zero upgrades in the three-month period ending Sept. 30, according to Fitch, but with a few notable exceptions, analysts foresee positive ratings actions and increased issuance in some sectors - notably student loans and time-share receivables.

While collateral performance in the prime sectors of consumer asset classes has and will likely remain strong, managing director Mike Dean stressed that consumers' unwillingness to lighten their debt obligations threatens subprime sectors. "Until consumers are willing to clean up their balance sheets, the prospect of another downturn could prove overwhelming for many individuals and stressful for consumer ABS," he said.

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