A Question Of Global Confidence

“Not in 20 years has there been such a critical time. Reports of bank suspensions and the failure of old and established financial and commercial enterprises have been crowding the newspapers. The worst aspects of these failures is the seeming needlessness of so many of them. If people would only think that nothing is wrong, 2/3rds of the problems would disappear at once.”

That was from an article that appeared in the Review of Reviews more than 100 years ago.  It referred to the Panic of 1893.

I don’t know if 2/3rds of the problems would disappear, but I do believe it’s our own worry that slows our resolve.

From a view of 10,000 feet, things look pretty scary. But a more granular look reveals that there’s a lot of reason to be confident and feel good about where we’re going.

Now I want to temper that comment just a bit. At the end of the day, no one knows for sure what the outcome of all the economic, global and homegrown-political struggles will be. Accept that as a given and it’s more palatable to accept an educated guess—for good news or bad—as just that . . . an educated guess.  And our best guess is that the outlook for global capital flows into the US is still a reliable trend going forward.

The first six months of 2011 were looking pretty good and then we got squeamish. Look at the poll results I just quoted. But unless the trend is prolonged I wouldn’t be too concerned or take too closely to heart dips and bumps in the road.

And there have been fierce bumps in the global road—Spain, who’s credit rating was just downgraded (been there done that), Greece, Italy, Japan, Germany, China. And the question arises if capital investment will still flow into this country.

The interrelated nature of the global financial community makes total immunity impossible. But the best thinking indicates that the turmoil on foreign soil bodes very well for the future of international investment.

In fact, according to Real Capital Analytics, cross-border acquisitions into the US topped $5 billion in the third quarter, a figure we haven’t seen since 2007 . . .a telling piece of data given the hubris with which we approached investments back then.

Look at the facts. Jobs obviously remain a problem, which means that leasing in many markets will remain a problem, which means in turn that valuations won’t be as robust as they might be. But there isn’t much further risk of broad-based value decreases. We have virtually no new supply. And just a sliver of the spotty development we see occurring around the country is on a spec basis.

Put that together with incredibly low interest rates and the depreciated dollar and you have some very compelling reasons for continued foreign investment in US commercial real estate.

Might it dip a bit or spike day to day as European finance leaders struggle toward a solution?  Of course. In a recent Global Investment report, what Jones Lang LaSalle called “chilly economic headwinds” are leading to a more cautious attitude among real estate investors and corporate occupiers.

“The heightened investor demand of the past few months has been tempered by mounting concerns over sovereign debt and by the pace of future global economic expansion. Nonetheless, barring significant economic setbacks, we believe that the current lull in real estate sentiment is likely to be temporary and global markets will return to a more confident stride in the final months of 2011.”

A bullish realist if there ever was one, Hessam Nadji  told me: “Amid global uncertainty, the US stands out as a beacon of hope and safety. The safe haven that is the US, given all of the factors we just quoted, has never been more of a safe haven than it is today, and the promise of investment from global capital players is brighter than it ever was.” (credit , john salustri globe st)


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