From a small northwestern observatory…

Finance and economics generally focused on real estate

Archive for May 12th, 2011

Global and Local Data

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Two important economic research pieces hit our desks this week — the RICS Global Commercial Property Survey, and the Dr. Bill Conerly’s Businomics Newsletter. The former, as its name implies, has a very global reach (the U.S. included), and gives a great basis for comparison of how the U.S. commercial real estate economy is doing relative to other economies. Naturally, this begs the question, “Are there OTHER economies?” From an investment perspective, all “economies” are integrated, and while each occupies a different place on the risk/reward graph, they are all viewed through the same lens by the equity and debt markets. Dr. Conerly’s work focuses narrowly on the Pacific Northwest, and gives us a great snapshot on how our local economy is doing. It’s a “must-do” resource piece for any work we do in our backyard.

RICS, of course, stands for Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. First charted by Queen Victoria in 1881, it is now the world’s oldest and largest property-focused organization, with 100,000 professional members and 50,000 students in 140 countries. Greenfield has been pleased to be affiliated with RICS here in the U.S. for quite a few years.

The headlines speak for themselves:

  • The strongest real estate markets are in Asia (except Japan) and Latin America
  • Emerging European Markets are seeing further improvements
  • Rental outlook turned positive in the U.S., deteriorated in the U.K, peripheral Europe, Japan, and the UAE
  • Capital market expectations are rising in China, Hong Kong, Poland, and India
  • from RICS Global Commericial Real Estate Survey 1Q2011

    For your own copy of the report, or one of the regional reports, visit the RICS web site by clicking <here>

    Dr. Bill Conerly, based out of the Portland, Oregon, area, is a great friend of ours here at Greenfield and one of the region’s top consulting economists. His newsletter presents key national economic trends (along with his pithy comments) and then focuses on how these play out in the Pacific Northwest. He calls national GDP growth since the start of the recovery “disappointing”, and notes that while consumers seem to be rebounding and business equipment capital spending is growing moderately, construction spending is still “weak”. Housing starts are still troubling (for more on this, see some of my prior blogs on the housing market) and despite gas prices, inflation still seems to be under control (actually near the lowest levels in the past 5 years.) The spread of junk-bond yields over treasuries hit a peak of nearly 2000 basis points in 1009, and is back down to between 500 and 1000, but still above the roughly 300 basis point level of 2007. Dr. Conerly suggests there is still some worry about risk, although I would posit that 700 or so basis points is probably a healthy level. Finally, on a national view, Dr. Conerly is looking for “decent but not dramatic gains” in the stock market.

    On the local front, Dr. Conerly notes that both Oregon and Washington bankruptcy filings have turned downward from their peak levels last year, although both are still well above levels pre-2009. Through the recession, both states have seen substantial net in-migration (Oregon at about half of Washington’s level), although Oregon’s in-migration had trended slightly downward and Washington’s slightly upward.

    For more information on Dr. Bill Conerly or copies of his charts, visit him here.

    Written by johnkilpatrick

    May 12, 2011 at 9:16 am

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