The American Securitization Forum conference in Vegas used to be quite the party scene, with every bank, monoline (remember them?) and institution outdoing each other in who would throw the most amazing bacchanal. This year, not so much. Also, they moved the venue to the outskirts of DC- where, as a source said, "there really is nothing to do."
"As a consequence, unlike Vegas where in between sessions you could hang out in bars or go see a 'show,' you have nothing to do except go to the damn sessions. On the upside, they are much more well attended than they ever were in Vegas."
This year, there are no parties at Pure, no Brazilian "dancers," none of that. This year instead, they have hospitality suites, "where you know, you can hang if you need some quiet time and they put out some wine and beer at 6," which seems quite gloomy- maybe to match the mood.
"Mortgage people are really depressed at this point. Most of us are going home and figuring out what we're going to do."
The expiration of the TALF program in March was also on attendees' minds. While the core ABS sector will probably do OK, the CMBS one might have a problem without the Fed's help, and the RMBS market, well it doesn't really matter at this point because it's gone baby gone. "I thought that CMBS was more dead than we were, with the trillions that are coming due, but they're clearly more optimistic than the RMBS people."
In another sign of the times, whereas in previous years, the conference had people such as Jay Leno headline its gala dinner, this year it held a working lunch, with talking heads Howard Dean and Newt Gingrich. And it was moderated by Larry Kudlow. 'Nough said.