Worried by reports of rising defaults, investors turned up their noses at a new $225 million bond issue by Sallie Mae, the federal agency that packages individual student loans into large securities. The loan company canceled the offering after two weeks on the market. The WSJ reports:
…rising defaults could have crimped the cash flow of the federally backed loans supporting the new securities, because more defaults would mean less excess, or residual, income after holders of the original loans were paid.
What’s more, regulators and lawmakers have become concerned about growing levels of student debt, raising the risk political decisions could alter the bond market for student loans, said Jeffrey Klingelhofer, a portfolio manager at Thornburg Investment Management. For instance, a program that would allow borrowers to refinance their loans would reduce cash flow, Mr. Klingelhofer said.
Are student loans turning into junk bonds? With something like $1 trillion of student loan debt outstanding, investor skittishness is not good news.