- September 1, 2015: Vol. 27, Number 8

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Bubble? Perhaps not. Maybe it really is different this time

by Ethan Penner

We hear much today about commercial real estate values being at bubble levels, with many investors and commentators sounding alarm bells. The signs are clearly there, by just about any measurement.

I find it instructive when approaching an analysis, and particularly one with a fairly strong consensus, to ask myself: What could everyone be missing? Or, put another way, what could happen to cause a different outcome than the typical, cyclical bursting of a bubble? Today, different from times past, the world is six years into an experiment with monetary policy by central bankers that is quite new. Also different is the level of governmental indebtedness that exists throughout the world.

A student of history would note two important trends relevant to this discussion. One is the persistent level of inflation that has existed for decades, destroying the purchasing power of all currency. Even in the relatively stable United States, with its dollar enjoying the standing as th

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