Landmark Links November 6th – Picking Winners


Lead Story…. It’s no secret that the Fed’s QE policy helped Wall Street, largely at the expense of Main Street. Bank of America put together an excellent report last week that goes a long way towards explaining economic stagnation despite incredibly easy money from central banks.  Deflationary expansion, anyone?


Bubble, Bubble: Despite a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking, no one (including Nobel winning economists) actually has a clue what a bubble is until it bursts.

Disappearing Act: Despite the low unemployment rate, pay raises are hard to find. However, a shift to benefits from pay might help explain why they are so sluggish.

En Fuego: Auto sales are up 10% in the past year and have doubled since their low in early 2009, leading some to believe that the economic recovery is stronger than it appears.

A Lot of People Shouldn’t Vote: Representative Brad Sherman (D – California) told Janet Yellen to wait until spring to raise interest rates because that’s what “God wants.”  Seriously.


Non-Traded REITs = Murder Holes: “Any product that pays the salesman a commission or concession exceeding 7% cannot possibly be good for the investor who buys it. The worse the investment, the more a salesperson / broker has to be compensated to inflict it on someone.” – Josh Brown   See Also:  The latest non-traded REIT implosion sounds like a blast for all involved.

Isn’t That Special: The Styvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village apartment project in Manhattan inflicted billions in losses on it’s investors during the crash and became the poster child for CMBS gone bad.  However, Fortress-owned special servicer CWCapital is set to make up to $615MM for cleaning up the mess as property values continue to soar.

Clearly Something is Working: WeWork, a tech startup that rents out offices and desks to freelancers and growing companies (and was recently valued at cool $10 billion) is set to close on a $750MM credit facility with some of the biggest names in banking.


Long Live Sprawl: Much to the chagrin of urbanists and those who get their news only from NPR and PBS, reports of the demise of the exurbs have been greatly exaggerated as Millennials with kids still prioritize for safe neighborhoods with good schools.

Sneaking Out: It’s no secret that Chinese buyers have provided a huge boost to home values in coastal cities in the US.  The average Chinese home buyer in the US spends $832,000 on their purchase, far beyond what domestic buyers pay.  However, China has strict capital controls that only allow an individual to convert $50k per year to foreign currency, leading to a large industry of underground banks, money changers and other schemes to get cash offshore.

AirBnB Battle: It’s really difficult to find someone to root for in the AirBnB vs. San Francisco affordable housing battle as both sides leave a lot to be desired.  See Also: Prop F defeated in a route as AirBnB prevails.

Housing and Politics – A Toxic Brew: My favorite thing about writing this blog is finding good writers that make their way to my “must-read list”.  I had never heard of Kevin Erdmann until earlier this week but after reading this, he is now on my list.  My favorite excerpt: “You can tell what type of city it is just by looking through the newspaper.  In open access cities, people complain that poor people are moving in and taking away jobs, pushing down wages.  In closed access cities, people complain that rich people are moving in and bidding up rents.”


The Business of Babies: “Birth Tourism” is now a thing.  Thousands of wealthy foreign women, mostly from China, are spending huge amounts of money to come to America for a few months to give birth so that the baby will have US citizenship and Orange County is ground zero.

When Dinosaurs Attack: If you were born before the late 1980s, you probably remember Polaroid – the nifty instant photo camera manufacturer.  I had no idea that Polaroid was still around until they filed a lawsuit against adventure video camera maker GoPro earlier this week because patent attorneys need to feed their families too.

Stealth Bust?  What if a tech bubble already burst in 2015 (take a look at the lack of IPOs and how much public tech company stocks are hurting) and we just don’t realize it yet because late-stage private valuations are still higher than a giraffe’s ass, masking a multitude of other issues?

Chart of the Day


Better Than a Breathalyzer: If you ever find yourself pulled over by the police and eat a roll of toilet paper to “absorb the alcohol” before you take a breathalyzer, just give up.  You are going to jail.

Yet Another Reason to Get a Dog: Here’s a new study that confirms that your cat actually would like to kill you….he just isn’t large enough to make it happen.

Without Cause: While there might be a good reason out there to stab someone, I can assure you it has nothing to do with not getting the last piece of chicken.

Finally a Winner: Buffalo doesn’t have much to brag about  but a new study from VinePair and BACtrack (maker of personal smartphone-linked breathalyzers) found that Bills fans are the drunkest in the NFL.  So, congrats Bills fans.  If I had to live in Buffalo, I’d drink a lot too.

Landmark Links – A candid look at the economy, real estate, and other things sometimes related.

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Landmark Links November 6th – Picking Winners

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