Just how long ago was it that the ABS market convened in the Bahamas? Well in October of 2000, J.P. Morgan and Chase Manhattan Corp. had yet to merge, Prudential Securities had a fixed-income group and this publication was named the Asset Sales Report.

On Oct. 2, 2000, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 10,700; Capital One Financial closed at 70.5; AmeriCredit Corp. closed at 28.25; and NextCard Inc. closed at 9.38. The New York Giants were in the midst of a Super Bowl run and the Yankees and Mets were on track to meet in a subway World Series.

Clearly a lot has changed in the world since October 2000 (some changes obviously more significant than others). And here we are, following a two-year hiatus, with roughly 2000 ABS market participants set to descend upon Paradise Island. Some things, though, have come full circle. Spreads, which widened following the terrorist attacks last fall, are back to levels seen in the summer of 2001, ABS volume is ever increasing, and of course securitization is facing its annual set of challenges - this year, legislative risk will no doubt seep into discussions on the state of the market.

Following the issuer and investor workshop traditionally held Tuesday afternoon, the conference kicks off with the opening general session, titled Securitization Post Enron, WorldCom & other Corporate Scandals: Impact On The Future Outlook For The Global ABS Markets.' The panel is once again facilitated by Brian Clarkson, senior managing director at Moody's Investors Service. Clarkson skipped out on the ABS West in February and instead was climbing Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina.

Debuting on the opening panel this year are Jeremy Reifsnyder, managing director at CIFG, Michael Raynes, managing director at Deutsche Bank and Ted Yarborough, director and co-head of term ABS at Salomon Smith Barney. Repeat performers on the opening panel include Credit Suisse First Boston's Joe Donovan, Merrill Lynch's Ted Breck and MBNA Bank America's Vernon Wright. Also, well-known Clarkson antagonist Dan Stachel of State Street Global Advisors is sure to stir things up.

Following the opening remarks, the conference breaks into six consecutive tracks, each with a specific focus throughout the day. On Wednesday, tracks break as follows: Consumer ABS; Relative Value in ABS, MBS and CDOs; CDOs & Synthetic Securitization; Credit Trends, Prepayments, Due Diligence & workouts; ABCP & SIVs and, of course, Regulatory Developments & Servicer/Trustee Issues.

The panels that cover regulatory developments cover Basel risk-based-capital developments, the NextCard debacle and the SPE consolidation issue. CDOs, always a topic of interest, get an entire day of sessions, covering new CDO products, trends within the cashflow and market value sectors, arbitrage and synthetic CDOs.

Some of the more popular panels return, notably the investor panel titled, "Uncovering Relative Value," moderated by Merrill's Dan Castro, on Wednesday at 11:15 a.m. The researcher roundtable also returns, with eight high profile bank analysts, moderated by AIG portfolio manager Anatoly Burman, is scheduled for Wednesday at 2:45 p.m.

Thursday runs on a similar track-specific course, allowing attendees to follow mortgage related ABS in the U.S. and Europe, Trading & Syndication developments, CDOs, Auto, Credit Card, Middle-Market Lending & Whole Business Securitizations and Equipment Leasing, Aircraft & Healthcare Securitization.

Market segments covered Thursday include manufactured housing, equipment finance, Euro ABS, business and commercial loan ABS as well as the more well-known segments of the market - auto loan, credit card and mortgage-related ABS.

Other hot sessions include the "The Traders Roundtable," moderated by John Wells of T. Rowe Price, which is set for 9:15; the 10:15 a.m. "Syndication of ABS" panel, featuring four bank syndicate heads, is headed by David Schlesinger of MBNA. The investor-laden "Investing in Subordinate Tranches of Mortgage and Non-Mortgage ABS," scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Thursday, is headed by Salomon's Peter DiMartino.

In the film rendition of Stephen King's The Shining, Jack Nicholson typed madly, over-and-over again All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.' To break the tension and prevent the onset of cabin fever, United Capital Markets is making throwing a party following the conclusion of Wednesday's sessions. Keeping with the Caribbean theme of the island nation, UCM has booked reggae legends Steel Pulse to play the Rum Runner Rampage, which begins at 6:15.

"Steel Pulse are world-renowned for their joyful, yet thought-provoking performances, which have recently been hailed as an occasion to contemplate political art's effectiveness,'" write the reviewers at The New York Times. ASR review to follow next week.

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