There was no mistaking the dominant theme at ABS Vegas, the inaugural conference held Jan. 21-24 by SFIG and IMN: regulation. Numerous sessions were devoted to the impact of the final Volcker Rule, released just a month earlier. While regulators apparently took pains to avoid hurting the securitization market, providing a carve-out for deals backed by loans and leases, there were nevertheless some unpleasant surprises. Several ABS Vegas panels were devoted to the consequences for collateralized loan obligations, which despite their name, are typically backed by corporate bonds as well as loans.
Former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox generated some excitement at the conference when he predicted that the SEC would vote on revisions to Regulation AB in February and that it would put off to another day perhaps never a controversial proposal requiring deal sponsors to create an interactive computer program that would allow investors to vary assumptions about the performance of the underlying pool of assets. The SEC subsequently announced that it would vote on Reg AB at an open meeting on Feb. 5, only to pull the vote from the agenda.