The Federal Reserve and Beer Goggles plus what Financial Repression means for Apartment Building Investments

James Montier, who works at the intersection of value investing and behavioral investing (Author of ‘The Little Book of Behavioral Investing’ on Amazon among others) has a great quote in his latest white paper published by GMO Global Investment Management entitled “The 13th Labour of Hercules:Capital Preservation in the Age of Financial Repression” Note that you may have to register at the site (free).

His paper discusses the effects of financial repression on portfolio stock and bond allocations and by implication the effects on real estate and particularly  apartment building investments. Financial repression is the term used to describe central bank’s strategies for forcing interest rates to zero or negative to spur investment and spending at the expense of saving. Take it away James:

William McChesney Martin was the longest-serving Federal Reserve Governor of all time. He is probably most famous for his observation that the central bank’s role was to “take away the punch bowl just when the party is getting started.” In contrast, Bernanke’s Fed is acting like teenage boys on prom night: spiking the punch, handing out free drinks, hoping to get lucky, and encouraging everyone to view the market through beer goggles. [Emphasis mine]

The paper goes into depth on the effects of financial repression on investments, which grow the longer the repression lasts, up to twenty years. Does the phrase: “… for an extended period” ring a bell? How about QE1, QE2, QE3, and now QE-infinity?

Financial Repression and Apartment Building Investment
Source: James Montier, GMO


Apartment buildings are the real estate equivalent of Continue reading The Federal Reserve and Beer Goggles plus what Financial Repression means for Apartment Building Investments

Zero Bound Interest Rates, The Zirp Dimension, Stagflation and #Multifamily

Zero interest rates and apartment building investment.

First my condolences to Bill Gross on the loss of his brother-in-law. Reading his piece in PIMCO’s latest Investment Outlook it is clear that the world’s biggest bond manager is running out of places to generate returns for their investors and by extension this applies to all income investors, especially retired people trying to live on interest income. For those would like to retire soon you may have to delay that decision for “an extended period’ as Edward Harrison over at Credit Writedowns put it in Permanent Zero and Personal Interest Income.

Gross’ points out that the Fed’s zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) which they have just announced to maintain through 2014 and their defacto though opaque continuation of quantitative easing (QE2.5 as he tweeted it) threaten to take us into another dimension where their policies have the opposite effect of their intentions.

“Much like the laws of physics change from the world of Newtonian large objects to the world of quantum Einsteinian dynamics, so too might low interest rates at the zero-bound reorient previously held models that justified the stimulative effects of lower and lower yields on asset prices and the real economy.” – Bill Gross

His bullet points:

  • ​ Recent central bank behavior, including that of the U.S. Fed, provides assurances that short and intermediate yields will not change, and therefore bond prices are not likely threatened on the downside.
  • Most short to intermediate Treasury yields are dangerously close to the zero-bound which imply limited potential room, if any, for price appreciation.
  • We can’t put $100 trillion of credit in a system-wide mattress, but we can move in that direction by delevering and refusing to extend maturities and duration.

For more views on this and Europe too see also Entering the Debt Dimension from Phil’s Picks on the Phil’s Stock World Blog.

What does this mean for Multifamily?

The Zirp Dimension leads to Stagflation where economic growth remains anemic yet prices on essential Continue reading Zero Bound Interest Rates, The Zirp Dimension, Stagflation and #Multifamily