More than 1,000 attendees are expected to gather this week at Information Management Network's Spring ABS 2007 conference held in Miami Beach, Fla. Aside from the emphasis on global emerging markets, which is new to this type of conference, what sets this gathering apart is the time it's occurring - when the subprime mortgage market is in the midst of a fallout and is, naturally, on everybody's mind.
The title of one of the conference's first panels says it all: It's Been a Hard Day's Night: The U.S. Subprime MBS Market. Market participants have said that the subprime debacle could actually boost attendance at the conference because everybody is nervous, and it's a chance for market professionals to reconnect and discuss the prevalent issues in the sector, and probably find solutions to many of the problems facing it.
Jade Friedensohn, senior vice president at IMN, has said that with headlines concerning subprime mortgages, as well as the student loan sector, it is beginning to feel as if the pace of the ABS industry is rapidly accelerating. "In this environment, we are definitely getting the impression that industry players are happy to have more opportunities than ever before to meet with their peers," she said.
In fact, earlier in the year, IMN conducted an online survey among prospective Spring ABS attendees about subprime collateral, once again highlighting the importance of the issues in this sector to everyone involved in the industry.
Not surprisingly, the survey found that 85% of respondents were expecting that subprime would have at least a "partial impact" on the performance of higher-rated mortgages. Furthermore, the survey found that 75% of respondents think home prices - which they consider to be the most important determinant of loan performance - will drop for the remainder of this year.
In a twist to the way things are usually done, IMN has collaborated with the International Finance Corp. and with the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency to co-host an "emerging markets day" at Spring ABS. As ASR reported earlier, these partnerships are geared toward exposing conference attendees to recent securitization developments in the Latin American and European emerging markets - a task that partnering with both these agencies would facilitate.
By bringing together securitization players from Latin America, Asia, Central Europe and the Middle East, attendees will be able to meet key personalities in these local markets as well as learn about structuring and investing in structured transactions in these regions, which could help diversify the network and investor base of U.S.-based attendees.
In another welcome development, ASR's own senior editor in emerging markets, Felipe Ossa, will be moderating a panel on Tuesday called Mortgage Securitization in Latin America, which, with the help of six prominent industry panelists, will closely look at Mexican RMBS activity. Meanwhile, ASR Senior Editor Allison Pyburn will be heading up a panel on CRE CDOs on Wednesday.
In other highlights of the emerging market day, the conference will focus on the Islamic markets by featuring Shariah scholar Majid Dawood, the London-based director of BRR Investments who was previously the Pakistan representative of Credit Lyonnais Securities.
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