…Stark Investments is staying away from all student loan bonds right now. It is instead focusing on mortgage-backed debt with comparable yields and less risk…
You know it’s a bad job market when bond investors would rather invest in mortgages than students. As the article in the WSJ notes, investors in student loans have an incentive to be realistic about the value of education and the job market.
Investors like Mr. Ades have a unique view on the future for America’s job-seekers. Their investments depend on accurately predicting young people’s ability to repay their loans, which means they obsess about everything from employment rates by profession to the long-term earning potential of young graduates.
Historically, investors have assumed 25% to 30% of student loans bundled into their bonds will default. But today they are baking in between 30% and 40% default rates among the current crop of graduates…
Not every investment in education is a poor bet:
…This analysis translates into some surprising insights for students and policy makers. For example, in the current economy, it may make more sense to enter a technical college than to go to law school.
…”It’s not just about where you can get the best education,” he said during an interview in the Miami Beach office of his hedge fund, Kawa Capital Management. Students should pick schools where the payoff from higher salaries upon graduation exceeds the cost of the education by the widest margin, he contends, especially when the job market contracts.
By that arithmetic, technical colleges come out on top, Mr. Ades said. “We’re in a skills based economy and what we need is more computer programmers, more [nurses],” he said. “It’s less glamorous but it’s what we need.”