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Bonds backed by pure life

Costa Rica: beaches, volcanoes and securitized mortgages

Pity the securitization banker, spending endless days in gloomy Detroit or tedious Wilmington, Delaware, arranging auto loan or credit-card deals. Wouldn't it be better if asset-backed securities were issued from tropical locations with gorgeous beaches and spectacular volcanoes?

Well now they are. The Central American paradise of Costa Rica has become the latest country to embrace securiti-zation. Two Costa Rican banks have launched the country's first mortgage-backed bonds. Banco de San José and Banco Interfin hope to issue $62.5 million of 15-year bonds in a deal arranged by Florida investment bank Raymond James.

Legal changes introduced several years ago paved the way for securitization in Costa Rica. But until recently, there were few assets to securitize. The country where the national catchphrase is pura vida (pure life) embraced a stable but statist social democra-tic system in 1949.

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