The slow start to 2016 did not dampen the enthusiasm at CREFC’s Annual Conference, held last week in New York City. The conference saw record attendance, with standing-room-only crowds at virtually every panel. As with the Industry Leaders Conference in January, the hot topics on people’s minds were risk retention (and the rest of the regulatory headwinds), liquidity and the competitiveness of the CMBS market.
The conference made very clear that we are at an inflection point in the current cycle. The general mood of the conference, in our view, was the confluence of nervousness and cautious optimism. The gloominess of the first quarter, and fears over the “sky is falling,” has yielded to mild bouts of enthusiasm (at least if the parties were any indication). The capital markets have settled down over the past few months, spreads have tightened, and borrowers have begun to trickle back into the CMBS market.
Clearly our industry faces headwinds, and nobody is betting on a record second half, but we also did not hear anyone ringing the death knell for our business. We left the conference with more questions than answers. Here are some: