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S&P: Secondary mortgage market running far behind 2015, drastically cuts forecast

RMBS-related deal activity down more than 50% in Q1

If the first quarter of 2016 is a harbinger of what’s to come for the rest of the year, the secondary mortgage market will have a far weaker year than expected, according to a new report from Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services.

The S&P report shows approximately $7 billion in residential mortgage-backed securities activity (which includes prime jumbo, re-performing/nonperforming, credit risk transfer, single-family rental, and servicer advances) in the first quarter of 2016.

That’s down more than 50% from the first quarter of 2015, when there was $15 billion in RMBS-related deal activity.

According to S&P’s report, roughly $3 billion of that $7 billion hit the market in March, in a combination of credit risk transfer deals (like the Structured Agency Credit Risk Series deals from Freddie Mac), a re-performing offering, and two prime deals.

While the issuance of RMBS-related deals picked up in March, S&P drastically cut its forecast for 2016, citing year-to-date issuance that is “undeniably well below expectations.”

According to S&P, it is lowering its 2016 RMBS forecast from $70 billion to $50 billion, which would actually represent a decrease from 2015’s total of $54 billion and reverse a trend that’s seen the RMBS issuance total rise for the last several years.

“When we originally created our forecasts, we stressed that there were downside ranges that could emerge from factors like bond price volatility and regulation,” S&P notes in its report.

“While we believe that some stabilization in broader markets will lead to a pickup in activity relative to (the first quarter), issuance YTD was undeniably well below expectations,” S&P continues. “And with risk-retention regulations coming into effect at the end of the year, it's still unclear how that will affect issuance volumes.”

It’s not just RMBS-related activity that’s down so far in 2016.

According to S&P’s report, overall structured finance issuance (which includes asset-backed securitizations, commercial mortgage-backed securities, collateralized loan obligations and RMBS-related deals) totaled $72 billion in the first quarter, which is down 45% for the year.

And because of that overall weakness, S&P is also cutting its total structured finance issuance forecast to $370 billion, which would represent a 15% from last year.

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