From Brussels to D.C., the season of powwows is here, and ASR's editors have certainly been getting around.

The flurry of securitization gatherings began in Miami for the SiLAS annual event, which Felipe Ossa covered for our June edition.

Next stop was Brussels for ABS Global 2011. The joint effort between AFME and IMN brought in around 2,700 on its first day. The mood at the conference was upbeat, although still marred by regulation-induced uncertainty.

One of the leading regulatory topics at Brussels was Solvency II and its impact on insurance companies buying ABS. Considering the increased capital that these firms need to hold against their investments, I explain how this can be positive because it forces insurance firms to look into innovative ways of risk transfer, which could bump up securitization issuance.

After Brussels came D.C., where the ASF held its annual meeting, a nod to the paramount role regulations are now playing in the industry.

And indeed, regulatory issues were on everyone's lips in the nation's capital. But as Nora Colomer points out in her conference coverage, attendees felt that regulators might be missing the point as they drill down into the macro issues of housing while ignoring the micro issues that directly affect homeowners.

Wrapping up the conference season for ASR was the CRE Finance Council's June convention, held in New York. The main theme there was, predictably, the economy, and the soft patch that it's hit. As Poonkulali Thangavelu reports, panelists discussed how the slowdown might hurt the sector while the erosion of underwriting standards could be detrimental as well.

Meanwhile, in his column this month, Bill Berliner argues that the most complex challenge for the regulators is that they are being asked to create a permanent definition of mortgages that will be exempt from required risk retention, or the much-maligned QRM. Regulators in charge of implementing the risk-retention provision of the Dodd-Frank Act recently announced that the comment period for their initial proposal will be extended to Aug. 1. Bill says the delay was driven by widespread opposition to the definition of QRM as outlined in the March proposal.

Regulators, it appears, need more time to analyze the tradeoff between the tighter risk-retention provision and borrower access to mortgage credit.

Foreign issuers should also be watching regulatory developments in the U.S. As attorneys from Hogan LovellsU.S. explain in an observation this month, there are a number of areas that could impact issuers from abroad looking to sell to investors here.

Despite all that the industry has to deal with, many are still holding out hope that private-label mortgages can still return and government support through the GSEs can be, if not totally phased out, at least limited.

The REIT sector is preparing for this eventuality. As John Hintze details in this month's cover story, following in the footsteps of Redwood Trust, fellow REIT Two Harbors Investment Corp. plans to offer its first issue of private-label RMBS late this year. The firm, according to John, joins the growing number of REITs that are positioning themselves for a gradual reduction in government-guaranteed mortgages.

And on a different note, Felipe Ossa tackles distressed debt in Brazil. It's a small market with few players but there are pockets of opportunity, with the chance they might grow (even if the Brazilian economy stays as healthy as it's been).

 

- Karen Sibayan, Editor

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