As housing prices appreciate (or even stagnate), there is greater concern over exposure in the subprime market, according to panelists at the Standard & Poor's North American Financial Institutions Conference."Alt-A and subprime, good and bad growth, is where the mortgage market is moving," said Victoria Wagner, an S&P director. "A majority of the housing bubbles are in the coastal areas where there is the greatest demand for housing." Lenders have spread risk for option adustable-rate mortgages and interest-only loans through securitization, Ms. Wagner said. Richard Brown, chief economist at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., said a 30% or more increase in real home prices constitutes a boom. "The housing bubble is localized ... New England, Florida, California," he said. "A bust doesn't necessarily follow a boom. Before 1998, all busts involved shocks to the local economy."

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