Economy

(New York)

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York has just announced that he will sign a dramatic bill which overhauls New York’s rental market. The bill would make permanent laws which govern over one million apartments in New York City. The bill needs to pass through the state’s Assembly and Senate on Friday, but if enacted, would greatly limit landlords’ ability to work around rent control regulations. “We believe this is going to be a huge shift in the ability of people in New York City and the surrounding areas to live in their communities comfortably without fear of being displaced”, says Senator Brian Kavanaugh.


FINSUM: Looking at the details of this bill, it appears more an effort to get votes by saying ”we froze rent increases”, than it is a well-thought out plan. We wonder if this will have an impact on the growing package of incentives wealthy people have to leave the New York area.

(Chicago)

There is an enormous asset bubble that has engulfed much of the US, yet you probably haven’t even heard of it. That bubble is threatening a meltdown that has not occurred since the 1980s. Where is the bubble? In debt linked to farm land values. Despite falling grain prices for years, Midwest farm land has held its value very well. This has led to debt levels that hve not been seen since the farm debt crisis of the 1980s. Farm income has fallen by half since its peak in 2013, yet farm equity has only dropped 5%. According to the FT, “Farmers remain creditworthy in the eyes of banks, even as their incomes fall, because the collateral value of land remains high”.


FINSUM: That last sentence is very dangerous because it sets the stage for a doom loop of dropping values and high rates, and foreclosures, leading to even worse values. Many big lenders have a lot of money tied up here, and there are likely implications for muni bonds as well.

(New York)

REITs are having an outstanding year. The FTSE Nareit Equity REITs Index is up almost 18% this year, well ahead of the market’s 12% gain. With the direction of rates and yields, it is easy to understand why. The question is which are the best REITs, which is not always easy to answer. Here are five of the best performers so far this year: DFA Real Estate Securities I (DFREX), Neuberger Berman Real Estate (NREAX), Principal Real Estate Securities (PRRAX), Cohen & Steers Real Estate Securities (PRRAX), DWS RREEF Real Estate Securities (RRRAX).


FINSUM: We like REITs right now. They have solid yields (e.g. 3%), and given the likely direction of rates, stand do well in terms of price appreciation.

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