… that one of the fastest growing categories for debt investors is collateralized debt obligations (CDOs)? In the first half of 2006, total issuance reached $177 billion, up from $108 billion in the first half of 2005—and $249 billion for the entire year, according to The Bond Market Association. CDOs—essentially packages of loans that have been securitized—can be based on all sorts of assets and commitments. But one of the fastest growing sectors in the CDO business is commercial real estate, where issuance surged from $6.5 billion in 2004 to $21 billion last year, according to Wachovia Securities. The reason: the CDO structure can help borrowers securitize slices of debt that can’t be placed in the CMBS (collateralized mortgaged-backed securities) market. This includes mezzanine, B-notes and bridge loans. For 2006, real-estate CDO issuance is headed for another record. Wachovia says there were 18 deals in the first half, with a total value of $12.9 billion.