Friday, 09 February 2024 05:39

Powell Warns of Commercial Real Estate Risks

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The crisis in commercial real estate (CRE) is starting to have knock-on effects on banks according to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. In an interview with 60 Minutes, he remarked, “It feels like a problem we’ll be working on for years… it’s a sizable problem.” He added that most of the negative impact would be concentrated on smaller or regional banks who have greater exposure to CRE.


Already, the Fed stepped in following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in June of last year to prevent further damage that could impact the broader economy. In addition to this stress, banks are dealing with an inverted yield curve which has made lending less profitable, and it has led to the uncomfortable position of paying out high rates on deposits while holding loans made at much lower rates in the past. 


Ultimately, the crux of the problem is that demand for office space has declined due to more companies adopting remote work or hybrid arrangements. According to estimates, there could be 1 billion square feet of unused office space by the next decade. Another cause for concern is that over the next few years, loans will mature and need to be refinanced in a much more difficult environment. Given these bleak fundamentals, it’s inevitable that lenders will take losses.

Finsum: In a 60 Minutes interview, Fed Chair Jerome Powell warned that weakness in commercial real estate was starting to impact the banking sector. Already, the Fed intervened last year to prevent contagion following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. 

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