You have to feel sorry for agency issuers. Having endured one of the toughest years in 2009, during which spreads blew out to unprecedented levels, they were looking forward to an easier and quieter 2010. No such luck. While there have been periods during which borrowers have been able to fund easily and successfully — for example, January was a phenomenally busy month for public sector issuers — the year so far has been punctuated by bouts of severe volatility, the most recent of which in late April was triggered by fears over European peripheral sovereign debt. In fact, so bad was the volatility that it reminded many of the dark days and weeks immediately following the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Some even said the paralysis was the worst they had seen since the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
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