Landmark Links February 15th – Can’t Quit You


Must Read: Blackstone now has a real estate portfolio of $136 billion, larger than any REIT in the S&P 500.  The firm’s success, coupled with the fact that real estate has more deal flow and liquidity than buyouts – private equity’s traditional investment sector – has the firm’s competitors emulating it by raising ever-larger funds that are strictly property focused.


Under Water: A record 7 million Americans are 90 days or more behind out their auto loan payments according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, even more than during the wake of the financial crisis.  But See: Americans’ confidence in their finances keeps growing. And: Why concern over auto loan delinquencies is misplaced.

Netflix and No Chill: The economic recovery has not led to an increase in the American fertility rate, which is now at its lowest point in history.  Being that babies are a leading economic indicator, this is not good demographic news.  See Also: People around the world are waiting longer to settle down.

In Search of a Culprit: From low productivity to health insurance to offshoring, wage stagnation is once disease with many causes.


Rough Month: Amazon officially dropped plans for their HQ2 in New York after a social media backlash.  In market news, I’m now long Jeff Bezos pulling out jokes.  See Also: Shed a tear for the aspiring real estate moguls who bought Long Island City condos in droves when the Amazon deal was first announced.  But See: How Jeff Bezos and Amazon are taking over suburbia.

Going Vertical: Once flat and somewhat boring western skylines are now rising with tall and sleek new buildings.

Mother of Invention: Mounting construction costs are pushing the construction industry towards technology solutions.


Smoke and Mirrors: Most of what you see on HGTV’s hit real estate shows is bullshit that is leading to unrealistic buyer expectations.

Broad Strokes: The Oregon State Senate has approved a state-wide rent control bill because apparently Portland’s ongoing inclusionary housing debacle wasn’t evidence enough that this will likely result in less units.  In other words, its a really good time to be a landlord in southern Washington right now.

Rise of the Clones: The rise of stick-built podium construction has resulted in similar architecture across much of America’s new apartment building stock regardless of location.

Overhang: A building binge that left cities with 65 million empty apartments is weighing on the Chinese economy.  It looks as though the Chinese have the exact opposite problem that we have in the US.


Profit Machine: How Renaissance Technologies – arguably the world’s most successful hedge fund – managed to convert its employee retirement plans to tax-free ROTH IRA’s invested in a vehicle that has historically returned astounding average annual returns of 80% before fees.

Chart of the Day

Today’s reminder that correlation does not equal causality.



Skeletons in the Closet: Headlines like this are why I’ll really miss Buzz Feed if it goes the way of the dodo – Kids YouTube Star Blippi “Regrets” The Viral Video In Which He Poops All Over His Friend.

Out of Body Experience: A stoner who went into an abandoned house in Houston to smoke some pot thought that he was hallucinating when he found a tiger.

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

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