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Call it German engineering brought to securitized debt instruments. Covered bonds have been used throughout Europe since Frederic the Great of Prussia introduced them in 1769, and they currently reach a $3-trillion investor base across that continent. Here in the US, where Canadian and European banks have issued $15 billion worth of CBs year to date—a higher dollar value than the re-emerging CMBS market has produced thus far in 2010—there’s a movement under way to add them to the toolbox for domestic institutions. The idea would not be to replace CMBS (see article on page 14) but to provide an alternative means of financing.

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