The U.S. asset-backed securities market in 2005 swelled to a record $1.1 trillion of issuance - exceeding year-ago analyst expectations and for the first time reaching into the trillion dollar range, according to data maintained by Thomson Financial. More than a few firms had felt 2004's then record-breaking $873 billion of issuance would be unbeatable last year, but phenomenal issuers such as Countrywide Financial Corp., which brought more than $93 billion to the market in 2005 [see article pg. 10] and underwriters such as Citigroup, which sold $98.5 billion, helped push the bar even higher.

U.S. ABS underwriters, while selling more deals than ever, scored a number of notable individual achievements, with players such as Merrill Lynch rising by an impressive 58% in total arranged volumes to reach the number four position, from eleventh place in 2004. The top five underwriters this year were seemingly packed tighter than ever. The number one arranger, Citigroup, was separated from number five by a $14.6 billion margin, versus a corresponding gap of $23.8 billion in 2004. The difference between Citigroup and number five was a tiny $7.6 billion in 2005.

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