Landmark Links June 19th – Misplaced Priorities


Lead Story…  Nearly everyone from older generations gives Millennials crap, sometimes rightly deserved and sometimes not.  In fact, it’s virtually a right of passage for older generations to dump on younger ones for not having the same perceived drive, ambition, etc that they did.  Due to their massive numbers and unique position of being the first young generation to really come of age during the Great Recession and subsequent recovery, so much ink has been spilled analyzing every move of the Millennials that it’s nearly crowded out conversations about any other age-sorted demographic group.

The Millennial generation includes those born from roughly 1980-1995, meaning that it’s youngest members are now in their early 20s, and have mostly graduated college.  This means that focus is going to begin to shift to an entirely new group that will begin entering the workforce: The Post Millennials or Generation Z.  Last week, I came across an interview in Globe Street with Pushpa Gowda, Global Technology Engagement Director for JLL entitled 7 Ways Generation Z Will Change CRE. It was an interesting piece that had a couple of points that I have written about in the past, including a a renewed focus on the suburbs and a reversion to private workspaces in offices.  However, the following passage made me do a double-take (emphasis mine):

6. It’s the technology, stupid. “Generation Z is in need of corporate workplaces that support the highly interactive and tech-enabled environments they’ve grown up in,” Gowda says. In fact, 40% of Generation Z said that working Wifi was more important to them than working bathrooms. This is in line with Generation Z expecting not only technology basics but also the latest technology. ”Corporations should make certain to provide a variety of workplace sizes and styles accessible 24/7, as choice and individuality are defining characteristics of Generation Z.”

Ummmmmm, I beg your pardon?  If the above is to believed, 40% of high school kids, college kids and recent grads would rather poop in the parking lot than have to plug their computer into the wall.  Seriously.  I did some quick Google research on this incredible (and disturbing) statistic and it appears as if it came from  a survey done by author David Stillman as research for a book.  While I was unable to find the exact methodology, it does appear to be legit.

I recognize that technology has come to dominate our work world like nothing else, but I also have to question the logic of kids who would apparently rather crap in the trees behind an office building an wash their hands in a stream than have to use a cord to access the internet.  Yes, wifi is increasingly important but there are more elemental things in modern society (like functioning indoor plumbing) that might seem less sexy – and therefor easier to take for granted. Yes, technology will continue to become more important in the years to come but there is still a hierarchy of needs that human beings have and it’s never going to overtake food, running water or sanitary restroom facilities.  If polls like this are a sign of things to come, the big winner will be Millennials.  They’ve been taking crap from the rest of us for years and it looks as though they may finally have someone else to dump on.


Upward Trajectory: The Fed raised interest rates this week for the second time in 2018 and indicated that two more hikes this year are highly likely.

Much Ado About Nothing? Despite recent hand-wringing about US debt levels, not much has really changed over the past few decades:

…debt is a perennial worry, but much of what you hear about debt in the US is hyperbole. Here are the facts. Household debt has fallen in the aftermath of the Great Recession and debt relative to net worth is as low now as in 1985. Corporate leverage today is not materially different than it was in 1993 or 2003, i.e., early in two expansion cycles. The “tax reform” bill signed in 2017 is forecast to further expand the federal debt, but there is no strong correlation between federal debt and economic growth over the next 5-10 years.

Left Out: The economy is fundamentally healthy but a look underneath the hood reveals a darker truth: a lot of people are being left behind.  Analysts at Oxford Economics found that the bottom 60% of earners were essentially drawing on savings just to maintain their lifestylesSee Also: for the biggest group of American workers, wages aren’t just flat, they are fallingAnd: The mystery of puny pay raises.


This Time is Different? Typically, industrial space would be getting overbuilt at this point in an economic cycle.  However, things are far different this time around thanks to insatiable demand resulting from the rise of eCommerce.

Double Down: I’ve been highly critical of WeWork and its massive mismatch of short term leases to tenants with long term obligations to landlords with minimal assets to show for it.  However, SoftBank apparently doesn’t see things that way and is in discussions with the co-working giant to invest another giant slug of capital that would push its valuation to $40 billion.


Gateway Drug: House flipping shows are drawing lots of people into the business but the reality of successfully renovating and selling a house for a profit is far more difficult than what is portrayed on TV.

Conflicting Trends: American households have shrunk substantially in recent decades.  However, at the same time, houses are growing (along with the number of bedrooms and bathrooms) and lots are shrinking.

Correlation vs. Causality Follow Up: No, high house prices don’t lead to declining birth rates – it actually has more to do with self sorting by those with higher levels of education and income.


Pains in the Ass: Wannabe Instagram influencers are driving luxury hotels nuts with requests for all-expense-paid vacations in exchange for some social media posts because Millennials.

A Fool and His Money: People are paying up to $200,000 in cryptocurrency for “plots” in a virtual city mostly because a lot of people are idiots.

Self Storage: Despite Tesla’s well-publicized recent struggles, it has quietly installed a massive amount of energy storage, changing the world’s power grids and making energy more reliable.  See Also: How Cell phones, and then electric cars brought batteries from primitive power to global domination.

Chart of the Day


Clever: A man was arrested for bringing meth to a police station to have it tested by cops after thinking that his dealer had duped him because Florida.

Feel the Burn: An Arkansas highway was drenched in Fireball Whiskey after a fiery semi-truck crash.  Clean up crews consisting of thirsty 18-22 year olds instantly assembled to clean up the mess.

S%!t Storm: A massive gust of wind sent to porta potties flying into the air in a crowded park, wreaking havoc below – thankfully it was caught on camera.

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