The ongoing General Motors saga and concerns on whether it will end up in speculative-grade territory could affect different parts of the structured finance market, with researchers predicting it might result in positive technicals for mortgage-backed securities and a potential supply overhang for asset-backeds.
On the mortgage-backed side, a downgrade of GM to junk could increase the net demand for MBS by $4 billion, according to researchers at Lehman Brothers. They calculated a GM downgrade would force Lehman Brothers Aggregate Bond Index investors to rebalance portfolios into non-credit sectors. And they anticipate MBS would benefit from positive technicals as a result, although the researchers noted in a report this is unlikely to have a material impact on spreads.
On the asset-backed side, more expensive unsecured funding costs for GM could mean its finance unit, General Motors Acceptance Corp., increases the amount of its loan-backed bond sales. Bear Stearns' ABS research chief Gyan Sinha estimates GMAC might need to raise as much as $63 billion from the ABS market this year, partly to replace maturing debt. While the company could fund some of that through the whole loan market, a worst-case scenario would pose negative technicals for GMAC and could force spreads up to 10 basis points wider, he wrote.