Month: April 2018

April 30, 2018

This will be the only post this week from me. This week I’m attending the ULI Spring Meeting in Detroit, MI.

Cheers,

Duff

Perspective

WSJ – Why Tech Titans Are Betting on India, in 14 Charts – Newley Purnell, Min Jung Kim, and Rosa de Acosta 4/18

  • Clearly there is some disconnect between showing just this chart and the title. Emphasis less on India and more on the gender split of Facebook users.

Worthy Insights / Opinion Pieces / Advice

Bloomberg Businessweek – China Quietly Rolled Out a Very Big Bang – John Micklethwait 4/19

Bloomberg – Latest Climate Threat for Coastal Cities: More Rich People – Christopher Flavelle 4/23

Financial Samurai – Why Households Need To Earn $300,000 A Year To Live A Middle Class Lifestyle Today – Sam

WSJ – Real Estate Stocks Are on Sale but No One Is Buying – Ken Brown 4/27

Markets / Economy

WSJ – Cable TV’s Cord-Cutting Woes Grow, Highlighting Divergence With Netflix – Shalini Ramachandran 4/27

Energy

Reuters – Venezuela faces heavy bill as grace period lapses on China loans – Corina Pons 4/27

Finance

FT – WeWork bond finds home in yield-starved market – Alexandra Scaggs 4/26

  • “This week high-yield bond investors faced a puzzle: how to value a bond sold by an unprofitable company that does not own hard assets or offer a clear outlook for its free cash flow?”
  • “The company in question was WeWork, the office-sharing company that last year attracted a $4.4bn equity investment from Japan’s Softbank. WeWork, which hired JPMorgan to lead the sale but had more than a dozen other banks working as well, attracted enough demand to increase the sale to $702m from $500m.”
  • “Several investors who steered clear of the bond — and one who bought it — said WeWork’s debt was not the type that typically appealed to high-yield investors. But nor was it the first company vowing to disrupt an industry to have found buyers in the junk market. Last year electric carmaker Tesla sold a $1.8bn high-yield bond, and in March, Uber raised $1.5bn in a leveraged loan.”
  • “A combination of low interest rates and shrinking supply has made it harder for money managers to find bonds with attractive yields. WeWork’s bonds were sold at a yield of 7.875%.”

Environment / Science

LAT – A Hawaiian island got about 50 inches of rain in 24 hours. Scientist warn it’s a sign of the future – Heidi Chang 4/28

Construction

WSJ – Daily Shot: CME Lumber (Jul) 4/26

China

FT – China’s HNA reports debts have soared to $94bn – Lucy Hornby 4/28

Middle East

Visual Capitalist – Knight Frank: A Time-lapse of Dubai’s Astonishing Growth – Nick Routley 4/28

  • Very cool animation.

South America

NYT – ‘Their Country Is Being Invaded’: Exodus of Venezuelans Overwhelms Northern Brazil – Ernesto Londono 4/28

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April 27, 2018

Perspective

WSJ – The New Test for Cash-Strapped U.S. States: Teacher Protests – Heather Gillers and Michelle Hackman 4/22

indeed – Teachers in Low-Pay States More Likely to Seek Jobs Outside Education – Andrew Flowers 4/24

Compare cards – Cities Where Credit Card Debt Has Increased and Decreased the Most – Chris Horymski 4/23

Worthy Insights / Opinion Pieces / Advice

Bloomberg Businessweek – Americans Are More Eager Than Ever to Put Down Roots – Sophie Caronello and Brendan Murray 4/24

FT – GoPro CEO salary slashed to $1 after poor 2017 – Tim Bradshaw 4/26

  • “Nick Woodman goes from highest paid US boss in 2014 to bottom of the pack.”

Visual Capitalist – Global Population by Region From 1950 to 2100 (Animation) – Simon Kuestenmacher 4/25

Real Estate

BI – WeWork documents reveal it owes $18 billion in rent and is burning through cash as it seeks more funding – Shona Ghosh 4/25

FT – US housing: how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac became rental powerhouses – Alistair Gray 4/25

  • “Established to make mortgages more affordable and expand US home ownership — Fannie during the Great Depression and Freddie in 1970 — the Treasury propped them up with about $188bn in bailout funds after the housing market meltdown. While Fannie and Freddie have private shareholders, they send most of their profits to the Treasury.”
  • “Since then, far from being reined in as critics demanded in the aftermath of the crisis, the two ‘government-sponsored enterprises’ remain as important as ever; even more so for commercial real estate markets.”
  • “Fannie and Freddie are best known for their principal role as the leading source of financing for owner-occupied mortgages. But for decades, they have played another role in supporting the market for rental housing, by helping finance property companies that acquire or refinance investments in apartment blocks. This second, lower-profile, part of their business has boomed since the crisis.”
  • “By the end of last year the pair had a financial interest in almost $500bn of commercial mortgages, equivalent to 38% of the total outstanding across the US. That compares with almost $200bn, or 25% of the market, a decade ago. Last year alone, the pair financed almost 1.6m rental units.”
  • “The expansion has raised eyebrows in the industry. Competitors that provide this type of finance — banks, life insurance companies and other institutional investors — say the taxpayer’s backing allows Fannie and Freddie to offer borrowers better terms than they can.”
  • “Supporters say the pair have also helped stave off an affordable housing crisis, especially as a new generation of renters has been locked out of the post-crisis recovery. ‘If they didn’t exist, there would be a major problem for multi-family housing,’ says Shekar Narasimhan, managing partner at the real estate group Beekman Advisors, who was the first chair of Fannie Mae’s advisory committee on this type of housing.”
  • “For critics, the pair have played a central role in financing the boom. Developers have completed about 1.3m rental units in the US over the past five years, according to RealPage data, including a record 365,000 in 2017.”
  • “’Aggressive lending practices by the GSEs this cycle have been an important factor in the degree of over-investment and over-valuation of multi-family properties in certain key markets,’ says Michael Shaoul, chief executive of Marketfield Asset Management.”
  • “’I do not think that the GSEs have been as critical in commercial real estate as they were in traditional mortgages a decade ago — but they have perhaps allowed some of the more marginal projects to minimize equity capital this time around.’”

WSJ – Clouds From the Retail Storm Reach Hawaii Real Estate – Esther Fung 4/24

WSJ – Retail Rents Plunge in Major Manhattan Shopping Districts – Keiko Morris 4/25

  • “In all, first quarter annual asking rents for ground floor retail space declined in 13 out of 16 shopping corridors, and the overall average asking rent for those areas dropped 19.5% from the previous year to $653 a square foot, according to a report from real estate services firm CBRE Group Inc.”
  • “The continued drop in retail asking rents comes as no surprise—as traditional companies reshape their businesses to the growth in online shopping, retailers reduce the number of brick-and-mortar stores they operate. Also, merchants continue to balk at high rents. Between 2010 and 2014, average asking rents in Manhattan jumped more than 100% across the 16 retail corridors, according to an earlier report from CBRE.”

Energy

Reuters – Chevron evacuates Venezuela executives following staff arrests – Alexandra Ulmer, Marianna Parraga, Ernest Scheyder 4/25

  • “U.S. oil major Chevron Corp has evacuated executives from Venezuela after two of its workers were imprisoned over a contract dispute with state-owned oil company PDVSA, according to four sources familiar with the matter.”
  • “The Chevron workers may face charges of treason for refusing to sign a supply contract for furnace parts drawn up by PDVSA executives, Reuters reported earlier this week. The workers balked at the high costs of the parts and a lack of competitive bids.”

WSJ – Daily Shot: US Gross Crude Oil Exports 4/20

Health / Medicine

Economist – A typical American birth costs as much as delivering a royal baby – The Data Team 4/23

WSJ – Retirees Are Less Confident About Having Enough to Live On – Anne Tergesen 4/24

China

Bloomberg – A $7 Trillion Debt Pile Looms Large Over Chinese Households – Tian Chen, James Mayger, Heng Xie, Ling Zeng, and Emma Dong 4/24

April 26, 2018

If you were only to read one thing…

Economist – High prices in America’s cities are reviving the suburbs 4/19

  • “The Great Recession, combined with a mortgage crisis, hindered mobility and curtailed home-buying, dragging down the growth of the suburbs. At the same time, urban cores began to grow more quickly than they had before, inspiring questions about the future of America’s development. Academics began theorizing that perhaps the ‘back to the city’ movement would endure, driven by millennials who cared less about white picket fences than about being within strolling distance of cafés hawking cold brew and avocado toast.”
  • “Recent migration trends suggest otherwise. Analysis of United States Census Bureau data by William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a think-tank, shows that lower-density suburbs and exurbs—areas separated from cities by rural land—have been growing more quickly since the Great Recession, while the growth of urban cores is slowing. Since 2012, considered the peak year of the urban renaissance, the growth of urban cores has fallen by half and exurban county growth has quadrupled.”
  • “Looking at the same data, Wendell Cox, who runs Demographia, an urban planning consultancy in St Louis, found that between 2016 and 2017 nearly 438,000 net residents left the counties that included urban cores, while suburban counties of the same metro areas gained 252,000 net residents. Growth in America’s three largest metropolitan areas is sluggish. Los Angeles grew by just 0.19% from 2016 to 2017, while New York expanded by 0.23% and Chicago actually shrank by 0.14%. In 2017, five times as many Americans moved to New York’s suburbs as moved to the Big Apple. The large metro areas that have added the most people—Dallas, Houston and Atlanta, for example—have relatively small downtown areas and are dominated by residential neighborhoods that feel every bit as suburban as Stepford.”
  • The last time Americans fled the cities for the suburbs, from the 1950s to the 1980s, they were driven primarily by fear of crime. This time the migration is the consequence of the cities’ success, not their failure. Housing and rental prices in many of the country’s largest metro areas have soared, inspiring residents to pack up and move out. In Los Angeles and San Francisco median home prices are more than ten times median household incomes. The ratio is only slightly better in Boston and Seattle.”
  • “According to the National Association of Realtors, a trade association for estate agents, more than half of Americans under the age of 37—the majority of home-buyers—are settling in suburban places. In 2017, the Census Bureau released data suggesting that 25- to 29-year-olds are a quarter more likely to move from the city to the suburbs than to go in the opposite direction; older millennials are more than twice as likely.”
  • “Despite the widespread perception that millennials are allergic to cars, gardens and chain stores, they are actually less urban than the previous generation. Analysis by FiveThirtyEight, a data-journalism website, found that while the share of 25- to 34-year olds with bachelor’s degrees living in hyper-urban neighborhoods grew by 17% from 2000 to the period between 2009 and 2013, as a whole millennials were less likely to live in urban areas than young people were in 2000.”

Worthy Insights / Opinion Pieces / Advice

Economist – America is on track to admit the fewest refugees in four decades 4/21

Economist – Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party is doing lasting damage 4/21

Economist – China wages war on apps offering news and jokes 4/19

Vice – San Francisco Is Fighting the Scooter Trend With Poop and Vandalism – Sarah Emerson 4/24

WSJ – Retirement Shock: Need to Find a Job After 40 Years at General Electric – Thomas Gryta 4/22

  • “Roughly $140 billion in GE stock-market wealth was lost in the past year, not just at Wall Street firms but among former employees who, like many small investors, long believed the company invincible.”

Markets / Economy

WSJ – The Next Challenge for Global Growth: Keeping Up With Demand – Richard Barley 4/24

  • “Order backlogs in manufacturing have reached their highest level since May 2004.”

Real Estate

WSJ – Daily Shot: US New Single-Family Home Sales 4/24

WSJ – Daily Shot: FRED – US New Single-Family Home Sales between $300k-$399k 4/25

WSJ – Daily Shot: FRED – US Median Sales Price for New Single-Family Homes 4/25

WSJ – Daily Shot: S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-City Index YoY Change 4/24

India

Economist – The humbling of India’s tycoons – Leaders 4/21

  • “A new era of Indian capitalism may be dawning. For the first time a large number of struggling tycoons face the prospect of having their businesses seized from them. The fate of 12 troubled large concerns is due to be settled within weeks; another 28 cases are set to be resolved by September. Between them, these firms account for about 40% of loans that banks themselves think are unlikely to be repaid.”
  • “Reforming the state-owned banks is the most important task of all. Their balance-sheets are where you find 70% of loans and nearly 100% of problems. Ensuring banks make commercial decisions can only realistically be achieved by privatizing at least some of them. Privatized banks would also be free to pay salaries to attract talented staff. The bosses at state-owned banks currently earn under $50,000 a year, a pittance even by Indian executive standards—and it shows.”

Other Interesting Links

Economist – A group of people with an amphibious life have evolved traits to match 4/21

April 25, 2018

If you were only to read one thing…

Bloomberg – These Are the U.S. Cities With the Fastest-Growing Wealth Gaps – Vincent Del Giudice and Wei Lu 4/19

  • “The analysis of Census Bureau data tracks the differences in annual income between household income groups. The rich versus poor gap compared households in the top 20% to those in the bottom 20% by metropolitan area.”
  • “At No. 1 is San Jose, California, the Silicon Valley city where the rich versus poor gap widened by $73,600 to $339,000. At No. 100, with the smallest change among 100 largest metro areas, is the border city of El Paso, Texas, where the gap widened by $2,600 to $131,200.”
  • “Nationally, the rich versus poor gap expanded by $31,000 to just over $197,000. Last year’s measure, using data from 2010 to 2015, showed an increase of $29,500 to $189,600.”
  • “The Bloomberg ranking also shows the change in the gap between the super-rich to middle class which widened in 98 of 100 metropolitan areas, led by Bridgeport, Connecticut, which overlaps entirely with Fairfield County. The gap narrowed in Ogden, Utah and Colorado Springs, Colorado. The super-rich to middle class gap is defined by those in the top five percent of income vs households in the middle 20%.”
  • “A third take of data shows the middle class income span — defined as the gap between those within 30 and 80% of an areas income. The middle class span grew the most in San Francisco where it rose to $140,800 in 2016 from $108,300 five years earlier.”

Perspective

Economist – A study finds nearly half of jobs are vulnerable to automation – The Data Team 4/24

Worthy Insights / Opinion Pieces / Advice

Economist – The Republican Party is organized around one man – Leaders 4/19

The Irrelevant Investor – How? – Michael Batnick 4/24

  • “How can Netflix be worth nearly as much as Disney?”

Mauldin Economics – China Plays It Cool – John Mauldin 4/20

NYT – We Don’t Need No Education – Paul Krugman 4/23

Pragmatic Capitalism – The Fed is in a Pickle – Cullen Roche 4/24

WP – The craft beer industry’s buzz is wearing off – Rachel Siegel 4/10

  • “A new report by the Brewers Association — a trade association representing small and independent American craft brewers — showed that craft brewers saw a 5% rise in production volume in 2017. Yet with that growth comes an increasingly crowded playing field, leading to more closures of small craft breweries. In 2017, there were nearly 1,000 new brewery openings nationwide and 165 closures — a closing rate of 2.6%. That’s a 42% jump from 2016, when 116 craft breweries closed.”

Markets / Economy

FT – WeWork to test junk bond appetite with $500m sale – Eric Platt, Alexandra Scaggs, and Richard Waters 4/24

  • “WeWork, the lossmaking provider of shared office space, will seek to raise money from debt investors for the first time in a sale that will provide a stern test of sentiment in the junk bond market.”
  • “The $20bn US company has hired more than a dozen banks to pitch a bond sale to US money managers this week, according to five people with knowledge of the planned sale.”
  • “Sales at the company more than doubled to $886m in 2017 from the year before, although its loss also widened to $884m, according to bond documents reviewed by the Financial Times. WeWork said sales had continued to quicken and by last month had reached an annualised pace of between $1.4bn and $1.5bn.”
  • “WeWork has raised nearly $7bn through equity investments over the past seven years. Its ambitions received a big boost in the middle of last year with a $4.4bn injection of cash from SoftBank and the Japanese conglomerate’s Saudi-backed technology fund, laying the ground for more rapid expansion around the world.”
  • “The move by WeWork to tap the $8.8tn US corporate debt market, a vital source of funding for companies, will bring new investor scrutiny to the company at a time when corporate borrowing costs are on the rise.”
  • “The bond offering drew junk labels from the leading US credit rating agencies, underlining the risk of investing in the debt. One person briefed on the sale added that the seven-year bond could price with a yield as low as 7%, although a second added that the final price WeWork pays could be higher.”

Real Estate

WSJ – Daily Shot: US Existing Home Sales 4/24

WSJ – Daily Shot: NAR – US Existing Homes Months Supply 4/24

WSJ – Daily Shot: NY Fed – US Households average probability of moving 4/24

Energy

FT – US shale groups reach self-financing milestone as oil price rises – Ed Crooks and Nicole Bullock 4/23

  • “Since the shale oil boom began a decade ago, exploration and production companies have needed a steady inflow of capital to pay for drilling and completing new wells but thanks to the rise in crude prices, many can now finance themselves.”
  • “From the time the first shale oil test wells were drilled in the US in 2008-09, the industry’s capital expenditure has exceeded its cash from operations, with producers only able to stay in business by attracting hundreds of billions of dollars in financing from bond and share sales and bank loans. From 2008 to 2017, US exploration and production companies raised $293bn from bond sales, according to Dealogic.”
  • “Another factor that has helped producers turn the corner is the continued improvement in the techniques of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, which have brought costs down sharply.”

FT – Halliburton writes off investment in crisis-hit Venezuela – Ed Crooks 4/23

  • “Halliburton, one of the world’s largest oilfield services groups, wrote off its remaining investment in Venezuela at a cost of $312m on Monday, highlighting the decline of the crisis-hit nation’s oil industry.”
  • “Halliburton said it would continue to operate in the country ‘at a reduced level’, but would be careful about its future exposure. It last year wrote down $647m for late payment by PDVSA, Venezuela’s national oil company, and the fall in the value of a promissory note intended to cover some of those bills.”
  • “Venezuela’s crude production has dropped 30% from 2.15m barrels a day in 2016 to 1.5m b/d last month. It is less than half its level when Hugo Chávez, the former president, was elected in 1998.”
  • “Schlumberger, the world’s largest listed oilfield services group, similarly wrote off its investment in Venezuela at the end of last year, taking a pre-tax write down of $938m. It continues to operate a cash business in the country, but that has continued to decline into this year.”
  • “Paal Kibsgaard, Schlumberger’s chief executive, said Venezuela’s oil production was in ‘free fall’.”
  • “Although the rise in oil prices since last year has offered some help to Venezuela, the benefit has been muted because most of the oil PDVSA produces does not generate cash, according to Francisco Monaldi of the Baker Institute at Rice University.”
  • “He argued in a recent report that of the roughly 1.8m b/d that PDVSA produced last November, 400,000-450,000 b/d were used in the domestic market at a huge loss, while about 500,000-600,000 b/d were committed to repaying loans from China and Russia and owed to joint venture partners.”

Finance

Bloomberg – ECB Seen Delaying QE Exit Decision as Trade Concerns Mount – Alessandro Speciale and Andre Tartar 4/19

WSJ – Daily Shot: US – Germany 2yr Government Bond Spread 4/24

Sports

PBJ – MLB prices climb, but Diamondbacks deemed best value in sport – Patrick O’Grady 4/24

China

WSJ – Daily Shot: IIF Global Debt Monitor – YoY Change In Chinese Sectoral Debt 4/24

Japan

FT – Tokyo struggles with worst hay fever outbreak on record – Robin Harding 4/23

April 24, 2018

Perspective

Business Insider – The most disproportionately popular college major in every US state – Mark Abadi and Jenny Cheng 4/16

Tax Foundation – How High are Spirits Taxes in Your State – Morgan Scarboro 3/22

Worthy Insights / Opinion Pieces / Advice

A Wealth of Common Sense – Trading One Risk For Another – Ben Carlson 4/22

  • “In other words, investing is hard. If it was easy it would just be called earning money, not investing.
  • “You cannot eradicate risk in a portfolio. You can only choose when and how to accept risk in different variations. Doing so will always involve balance and trade-offs.”

FT – US companies count costs and benefits of Trump tax law – Rochelle Toplensky, Patrick Mathurin, and Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson 4/22

  • “A Financial Times analysis of how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has affected the accounts of the US’s 100 largest listed companies shows the truth of that sentiment, for Citigroup and most of its big business peers.” 
  • “In all, the FT analysis shows, 61 of the top 100 quoted companies have reported an initial net income tax expense, amounting to a combined $168bn. The remaining 39 have reported one-off net tax benefits worth a total of $150bn, meaning that the biggest overhaul of the tax code for a generation has cut $18bn from the current book value of its leading public companies.”
  • “The charges differ widely from company to company, depending on the tax provisions they had made before the reforms. The most significant adjustments reflect a revaluation of deferred tax balances under the new, lower headline rate. A company that had deferred taxes on past profits would record a gain because it will now pay the new lower rate; conversely, a group carrying forward previous losses to offset against future tax bills would book a hit to its value.” 
  • “The biggest one-off benefit of $28bn was to Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s holding company, which will pay the lower tax rate on decades of unrealized capital gains — if he ever sells his investments. While the accounting gains ‘did not come from anything we accomplished at Berkshire’, they were nonetheless real, Mr Buffett assured shareholders.” 

NYT – Public Servants Are Losing Their Foothold in the Middle Class – Patricia Cohen and Robert Gebeloff 4/22

Markets / Economy

Visual Capitalist – BoAML – Top Asset Class of 2018 So Far – Jeff Desjardins 4/23

Real Estate

WSJ – Daily Shot: FRED – US Home Equity Loans 4/23

WEF – Berlin has the world’s fastest rising city property prices – Rob Smith 4/16

Energy

eia – Technically Recoverable Shale Oil and Shale Gas Resources – June 2013

Forbes – Who Is Buying U.S. Liquefied Natural Gas? – Jude Clemente 4/17

Cryptocurrency / ICOs

WSJ – Daily Shot: Barchart – Bitcoin 4/23

  • “With last week’s breakout sustained, Bitcoin is approaching $9k (the blue line is the 200d moving average).”

Britain

Bloomberg – U.K. Consumers Stay Under Pressure Even as Pay Squeeze Nears End – David Goodman 4/17

Europe

NYT – Smothered by Smog, Polish Cities Rank Among Europe’s Dirtiest – Maciek Nabrdalik and Marc Santora 4/22

  • “Poland has some the most polluted air in all of the European Union, and 33 of its 50 dirtiest cities. Not even mountain retreats are immune.” 
  • “The problem is largely a result of the country’s love affair with coal… Some 19 million people rely on coal for heat in winter. In all of the European Union, 80% of private homes using coal are in Poland.” 
  • “Coal, commonly referred to as “black gold,” is seen as a patriotic alternative to Russian gas in this country, which broke away from Soviet control three decades ago and remains deeply suspicious of its neighbor to the east. Burning coal is part of daily life.” 
  • “Some 48,000 Poles are estimated to die annually from illnesses related to poor air quality. Greenpeace estimated that 62% of Poland’s kindergartens are in heavily polluted areas.” 

South America

Reuters – Under military rule, Venezuela oil workers quit in a stampede – Deisy Buitrago and Alexandra Ulmer 4/16

Other Interesting Links

Civil Beat – Hawaii Businesses Are Making Billions Off The Military – Nick Grube 4/23

April 23, 2018

If you were only to read one thing…

FT – Spanish now richer than Italians, IMF data show – Valentina Romei 4/19

  • “Spaniards have become richer than Italians — a heartening indication of Spain’s economic revival but a worrying sign for Italy, the eurozone’s third-largest economy, which is stuck in political gridlock.”
  • “Spain’s per capita gross domestic product exceeded that of Italy in 2017, according to IMF data published this week that compare countries on a so-called ‘purchasing power parity’ basis. The IMF also forecast that Spain would become 7% richer than Italy over the next five years. A decade ago Italy was 10% richer on the same basis.”
  • “By 2023 some former Soviet bloc countries, including Slovakia and the Czech Republic, are also expected to become richer than Italy on a per capita basis, the IMF forecasts show.”
  • “Italy’s stagnation is one of the main causes of the country’s increasingly bitter political divisions, with the electorate losing faith in the ability of its traditional parties to create jobs and restore growth. Anti-establishment and protest parties emerged as the big winners of Italy’s inconclusive general election last month, where voters deserted more moderate center-left and center-right forces.”
  • “Italy’s underperformance — and in particular any threat to its ability to service its debt, the largest in the eurozone after Greece’s relative to the size of the economy — is also seen as one of the biggest risks for the single-currency area.”
  • “The fact that Spain has overtaken Italy owes more to Italy’s problems than Spain’s economic progress, which has only recently gathered pace.”
  • “At the end of the 1990s, Italy — which now has almost 15m more people than Spain — had an economy twice as large as that of Spain. It is now only 50% larger and the difference is expected to shrink even further in the next five years.”
  • “Back in 1997, Italy was the 18th richest economy on a per capita basis among the countries for which the IMF has a complete data set. After 10 years, its ranking dropped 10 positions — and it has now slipped five more positions in the decade to 2017.”
  • “By 2023 Italy is expected to be only the 37th richest country on a per capita basis.”

Perspective

FT – Young buyers are being priced out of global city property – George Hammond 4/18

Worthy Insights / Opinion Pieces / Advice

Bloomberg View – Mexico Didn’t Hit the Jackpot With Nafta – Justin Fox 4/18

FT – The quiet revolution: China’s millennial backlash – Yuan Yang 4/17

WSJ – Chines Banks Find Another Funding Wheeze – Andrew Peaple 4/20

  • “Pressure from regulators means it’s been getting harder for the country’s banks to get enough money.”

WP – Trump lied to me about his wealth to get onto the Forbes 400. Here are the tapes. – Jonathan Greenberg 4/20

WP – The staggering environmental footprint of all the food that we just throw in the trash – Chris Mooney 4/18

Markets / Economy

WSJ – Daily Shot: Morgan Stanley Research – Country Inflation Targets and Actuals 4/20

WSJ – Daily Shot: @Not_Jim_Cramer – Major Central Bank Balance Sheets 4/20

WSJ – Daily Shot: IMF – Global Debt to GDP 4/20

Real Estate

John Burns RE Consulting – Challenges Mount for First-Time Buyers – Devyn Bachman 4/20

WSJ – Rising Sea Levels Reshape Miami’s Housing Market – Laura Kusisto and Arian Campo-Flores 4/20

Energy

FT – Major dilemma: oil companies hedge bets on low-carbon future – Andrew Ward and Leslie Hook 4/17

  • For the world to attain lower carbon dioxide emissions, the oil majors will need to be leaders in this initiative. They’ve taken on the charge to some degree committing larger sums to renewable energy sources; however, it’s hard when they’re so good at making money with carbon dioxide emitting sources.

Finance

FT – Sovereign wealth fund assets ‘could reach $15tn in two years’ – Chris Flood 4/20

  • “Assets managed by SWFs globally reached $7.45tn spread across 78 funds as at March 2018, an increase of $866bn, or 13%, over the past 12 months, according to data provider Preqin.”  
  • “A recovery in oil prices and strong gains for equity markets drove the increase in assets, which will come as welcome news to investment managers as SWFs are among their most prestigious clients. SWFs pulled about $85bn from asset managers over the 24 months ending on December 16 as low oil prices forced governments in the Middle East to raid these rainy-day funds to prop up public spending.”

Environment / Science

Visual Capitalist – Visualizing the Prolific Plastic Problem in Our Oceans – Nick Routley 4/21

China

FT – Tencent and JD.com lead $437m investment in LeEco unit – Emily Feng 4/18

India

Hindustan Times – Cash crunch at ATMs could be the after-effects of demonetization – Roshan Kishore 4/18

  • “Analysis suggests shortage of cash in ATMs could be a result of persistence of tightness in overall money supply after demonetization.”

NYT – India’s A.T.M.s Are Running Out of Cash. Again. – Hari Kumar and Vindu Goel 4/20

April 20, 2018

If you were only to read one thing…

WP – Too Many Men – Simon Denyer and Annie Gowen 4/18

  • “Nothing like this has happened in human history. A combination of cultural preferences, government decree and modern medical technology in the world’s two largest countries has created a gender imbalance on a continental scale. Men outnumber women by 70 million in China and India.”
  • “The consequences of having too many men, now coming of age, are far-reaching: Beyond an epidemic of loneliness, the imbalance distorts labor markets, drives up savings rates in China and drives down consumption, artificially inflates certain property values, and parallels increases in violent crime, trafficking or prostitution in a growing number of locations.”
  • “Those consequences are not confined to China and India, but reach deep into their Asian neighbors and distort the economies of Europe and the Americas, as well. Barely recognized, the ramifications of too many men are only starting to come into sight.”
  • “’In the future, there will be millions of men who can’t marry, and that could pose a very big risk to society,’ warns Li Shuzhuo, a leading demographer at Xi’an Jiaotong University.”
  • “Out of China’s population of 1.4 billion, there are nearly 34 million more males than females — the equivalent of almost the entire population of California, or Poland, who will never find wives and only rarely have sex. China’s official one-child policy, in effect from 1979 to 2015, was a huge factor in creating this imbalance, as millions of couples were determined that their child should be a son.”
  • “India, a country that has a deeply held preference for sons and male heirs, has an excess of 37 million males, according to its most recent census. The number of newborn female babies compared with males has continued to plummet, even as the country grows more developed and prosperous. The imbalance creates a surplus of bachelors and exacerbates human trafficking, both for brides and, possibly, prostitution. Officials attribute this to the advent of sex-selective technology in the last 30 years, which is now banned but still in widespread practice.”
  • “In the two countries, 50 million excess males are under age 20.”

Perspective

WSJ – Daily Shot: howmuch.net – Home Insurance Cost in Every State 4/19

WSJ – Daily Shot: howmuch.net – Health Insurance Rates by State 4/19

Worthy Insights / Opinion Pieces / Advice

BuzzFeed News – This PSA About Fake News From Barack Obama Is Not What It Appears – David Mack 4/17

  • “Oscar-winning filmmaker Jordan Peele has a warning for viewers about trusting material they encounter online.”

Visual Capitalist – America: An Economic Snapshot of Every U.S. State – Jeff Desjardins 4/19

Wolf Street – Subprime Carmageddon: Specialized Lenders Begin to Collapse – Wolf Richter 4/8

  • “The subprime auto lending business is highly cyclical. For example, according to Bloomberg, citing Moody’s data, 41 subprime lenders filed for bankruptcy during the subprime auto loan bust between 1997 and 1999.”
  • “But unlike subprime home mortgages, subprime auto loans won’t take down the financial system. About 25% of the auto loans written are subprime. For new cars, it’s about 20%. Of the $1.11 trillion in total auto loans outstanding at the end of 2017, about $280 billion were subprime – less than a quarter of the $1.3 trillion subprime mortgages before the financial crisis. Even if the total subprime portfolio produced a net loss of 50%, the losses would amount to only about $140 billion.”
  • “And there are other differences: Vehicles are quickly repossessed, usually after three months of missed payments. Even in bad times, there is a liquid market for the collateral at auctions around the country, and vehicles can be shipped to auctions with the greatest demand. The results are that lenders don’t end up holding these vehicles and loans on their balance sheet for years, as mortgage lenders did with defaulted home mortgages and homes.”
  • “But subprime will take down many more of the specialized lenders. And the survivors will tighten lending standards. This will prevent more car buyers from buying a new vehicles. Many of them will be switched to older used vehicles. Or they hang on to what they have.”
  • “So automakers get to grapple with the loss of these customers. When you lose a significant portion of your customers due to credit problems, it hurts. And this is where it adds to ‘Carmageddon.’ Investors and creditors, including PE firms, get to grapple with losses and bankruptcies. But given the limited magnitude of subprime auto loans, and the limited impact on the banks, the Fed will brush it off and continue its monetary tightening, and no one will get bailed out.”

Markets / Economy

FT – Sentiment sours for big brand consumer staples – Chloe Cornish 4/18

WSJ – Demand for Batteries Is Shrinking, Yet Prices Keep On Going and Going…Up – Sharon Terlep and Nicole Friedman 4/16

Tech

WSJ – Daily Shot: Bloomberg – IMF Says the Global Smartphone Boom Has Reached Its Peak – Andrew Mayeda 4/19

Britain

Bloomberg Businessweek – Britain Targets Russian Billionaires – Henry Meyer, Yuliya Fedorinova, and Irina Reznik 4/11

  • “As the U.S. goes after a handful of Russian oligarchs with its latest round of sanctions, the U.K. is under pressure domestically and from abroad to tighten controls and shed its reputation as a place to launder corrupt money. The U.K. National Crime Agency estimates that more than £90 billion ($127.5 billion) of such money enters the U.K. each year, feeding a vast industry of property companies, lawyers, bankers, and accountants. A lot of that comes from Russia, and ends up in high-end real estate. About a fifth of suspicious property purchases from 2008 to 2015, £729 million worth, were made by Russians, according to anticorruption watchdog Transparency International. ‘In terms of the levels of financial flows that go through London, it’s likely that it’s one of the biggest hubs of money laundering in the world,’ says Ben Cowdock, the group’s lead researcher on dirty money in the U.K.”

April 19, 2018

Markets / Economy

FT – IMF sounds alarm on excessive global borrowing – Chris Giles 4/18

  • “The world’s $164tn debt pile is bigger than at the height of the financial crisis a decade ago, the IMF has warned, sounding the alarm on excessive global borrowing.”
  • “The fund said the private and public sectors urgently needed to cut debt levels to improve the resilience of the global economy and provide greater firefighting capability if things went wrong.”
  • “Worldwide borrowing is more than twice the size of the value of goods and services produced every year and at 225%t of global gross domestic product, is 12 percentage points higher than during the peak of the previous financial crisis in 2009.”
  • “Half of the $164tn was accounted for by three countries: the US, Japan and China. The latter’s borrowing surged from $1.7tn in 2001 to $25.5tn in 2016, accounting for three-quarters of the increase in private sector debt in the past decade.”
  • “With the global economy expanding strongly, it recommended that countries such as the US stop using lower taxes or higher public spending to stimulate growth and instead try to reduce the burden of public sector debts so that countries have more leeway to act in the next recession.”
  • “The outliers were Germany and the Netherlands, which the IMF said had ‘ample fiscal space’ to boost public investment in infrastructure and enhance the long-term resilience of their economies.”

Real Estate

WSJ – South Korean Investors Pile Into U.S. Commercial Property Debt – Esther Fung and Kwanwoo Jun 4/17

  • “In all, investors based in South Korea accounted for 21% of foreign investment in U.S. real-estate debt as of mid-April, the largest proportion among foreign investors, according to data firm Preqin. Canada and Australia are second and third place, at 12% and 11%, respectively. Global fundraising for U.S.-focused real-estate debt reached $17.8 billion in 2017, up from $10.8 billion in 2016, Preqin said.”

Bloomberg – The Retail Real Estate Glut Is Getting Worse – Noah Buhayar and Lauren Coleman-Lochner 4/17

  • “At last count, U.S. store closures announced this year reached a staggering 77 million square feet, according to data on national and regional chains compiled by CoStar Group Inc. That means retailers are well on their way to surpassing the record 105 million square feet announced for closure in all of 2017.”

Finance

FT – Eurozone investors race up chart of US debt owners – Kate Allen 4/17

  • “Eurozone investors have been the biggest overseas net buyers of US debt securities in the past half-decade, a trend that could reverse as the European Central Bank continues to tighten monetary policy, according to new research.”
  • “Euro area holdings of US corporate and Treasury bonds reached $2.75tn at the end of last year, the report by investment bank Jefferies shows, an 80% increase since the start of 2012.”
  • “By contrast the volume of US debt held by investors in Japan and China remained flat over the period, while investors in the UK increased their holdings by 40% to $700bn.”

Construction

WSJ – Daily Shot: CME Lumber (May) 4/17

China

WSJ – Daily Shot: China Required Deposit Reserve Ratio 4/17

  • Effective April 25, 2018. More liquidity into the system.

Other Interesting Links

WSJ – The Trophy Homes Linked to Chinese Conglomerate HNA Group – Katherine Clarke 4/18

  • “Chen Guoqing, the brother of HNA chairman Chen Feng, and a company Chen Guoqing heads called Pacific American Corp., have purchased more than 20 homes in New York and New Jersey over the past two decades through various limited-liability companies, the Journal’s review shows.”
  • “Those deals include four pricey residences at the megatower One57, the Billionaire’s Row megalith where owners include titans of industry such as Michael Dell and Bill Ackman. The units were purchased for a combined $151.34 million in 2014 and 2015, the records show.”

April 18, 2018

If you were only to read one thing…

FT – Venezuela’s imploding economy sparks refugee crisis – Gideon Long and Andres Schipani 4/15

  • “While the eyes of the world have been on the Syrian refugee crisis and the exodus of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, Venezuela’s humanitarian disaster has gone relatively unnoticed.”
  • “But the sheer number of people now fleeing the country is changing that. The UNHCR says 5,000 migrants are leaving every day: at that rate, 1.8m people, more than 5% of Venezuela’s population, will depart this year.
  • “It was not always like this. For decades, Venezuela was a net importer of people, luring Europeans with lucrative oil jobs. A generation ago, it was the wealthiest country in Latin America.”
  • “’We are potentially facing the biggest refugee crisis in our hemisphere in modern history’ says Shannon O’Neil, senior fellow for Latin America at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.”
  • “Many are heading west to Colombia which, emerging from a long civil conflict of its own, is ill-equipped to receive them. There are now more than 600,000 Venezuelans in Colombia, twice as many as a year ago. Thousands have poured over the footbridge that separates the Venezuelan town of San Antonio from the Colombian city of Cúcuta. Walk the streets of Cúcuta and you find Venezuelans everywhere, selling cigarettes at the traffic lights, working as prostitutes, sleeping rough.”
  • “The collapse of the Venezuelan health system has prompted a resurgence of long-vanquished diseases. The government no longer provides reliable medical data and when the health minister revealed last year that the number of malaria cases had jumped 76% in a year, pregnancy-related deaths had risen 66% and infant mortality had climbed 30%, she was promptly sacked. A recent opposition-led survey suggested 79% of Venezuelan hospitals have little or no running water. The days when the Chávez government prided itself on decent medical care for the poor are long gone.”
  • Measles, eradicated in much of Latin America, has returned. Of the 730 confirmed cases in the region last year, all but three were in Venezuela. As people flee, they are taking the disease with them. In the first months of this year, there were 14 confirmed cases in Brazil and one in Colombia. All 15 victims were Venezuelan migrants.”
  • “’The infant mortality rate is on a par with Pakistan and the poverty rate of 85% in on a par with Haiti and sub-Saharan Africa,’ says Dany Bahar of the Brookings Institution in Washington. ‘People are fleeing because if they stay, they die. They die because they don’t get enough food to eat, they die because they get malaria and can’t get treatment, they die because they need dialysis and can’t get it’.”

Worthy Insights / Opinion Pieces / Advice

A Teachable Moment – Three Ways to Fail Slow – Anthony Isola 4/16

Civil Beat – What Honolulu Rail Officials Know They Don’t Know – Randall Roth and Cliff Slater 4/17

FT – Norway snub turns up heat on private equity fee model – Javier Espinoza 4/16

  • “Industry costs for investors are high and hard to track.”

Real Estate

WSJ – Homebuilding Isn’t Keeping Up With Growth, Development Group Says – Laura Kusisto 4/16

  • “Some 22 states and the District of Columbia have built too little housing to keep up with economic growth in the 15 years since 2000, resulting in a total shortage of 7.3 million units, according to research to be released Monday by an advocacy group for loosening building regulations.”
  • “California bears half of the blame for the shortage: The state built 3.4 million too few units to keep up with job, population and income growth.”
  • “There is growing awareness that the housing shortage is widespread and it affects states not often thought of as being especially anti-development. Home prices nationally rose 6.2% in the year that ended in January, roughly twice the rate of incomes and three times the rate of inflation, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index.”
  • “Arizona and Utah are among the states that have built too little housing in the 15-year period, according to the report. The shortage in these places likely reflects strong demand as they become top destinations for retirees and people priced out of the Northeast and California.”
  • “At the same time, it is becoming more difficult to build all across America due to shortages of land, labor and materials.”
  • “Economists who have reviewed the report caution that measuring the present need for housing by extrapolating from past production is imperfect. Western states that were sparsely populated 60 years ago and experienced huge building booms in the latter half of the 20th century may not need to build at such a rapid clip today.”
  • “Housing shortages also are difficult to measure because most people will find somewhere to live by doubling up with family or roommates or moving to areas where homes are abundant but jobs may be scarce.”
  • “Nonetheless, the data underscore what economists say is a clear trend. ‘We have a housing deficit,’ said Chris Herbert, managing director at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. ‘I think we can all agree we should be building more.’”

Energy

FT – China to miss shale production target by ‘considerable margin’: report – Edward White 4/16

Finance

Bloomberg – How Hedge Funds Are Winning Back Investors – Katia Porzecanski 3/6

China

WSJ – Daily Shot: China Government Bond Yields 4/17

  • “Bond yields are falling, especially on the shorter end of the curve. Sensing a slowdown, Beijing is pulling back from its “deleveraging” campaign.”

April 17, 2018

Perspective

WSJ – Daily Shot: FRED – The state of education…or, rather, the education of states – Ana Maria Santacreu and Heting Zhu 4/12

Axios – Embry-Riddle: The best (and worst) airlines this year – Haley Britzky 4/14

Markets / Economy

WSJ – Daily Shot: BoAML – S&P 500 Sectoral Dominance 4/16

Energy

eia – U.S. production of crude oil grew 5% in 2017, likely leading to record 2018 production – Jeff  Barron and Emily Geary 4/4

China

WSJ – Daily Shot: Estimate of China’s Total Debt to GDP 4/16

Japan

WSJ – Japan to Expand Program to Bring in Foreign Workers – Peter Landers 4/12

Other Interesting Links

Economist – Great news for the dead: the funeral industry is being disrupted – Leaders 4/14

  • “Changing social norms, competition and technology are shaking up a stodgy and exploitative business.”