Real Assets Adviser

April 1, 2017; Vol. 4, Number 4

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From the Current Issue

Doubling Down on Real Assets: Nuveen and TIAA have committed to delivering real-asset-rich products to individual investors, and Mike Perry is drafting the game plan

Few people speak more effusively than Mike Perry about the future of real assets for the individual investor. As some of the country’s largest institutional investment managers start taking those first, tentative steps to introduce real assets to the retail market and defined contribution plans, Perry sounds ready to turn those baby steps into a full-throttle sprint.

Eight Areas of Electricity Innovation to Watch in 2017

It is 2017 and we have a lot to look forward to in the electricity sector this year. While many of us take a moment to reflect on the accomplishments of 2016, there are just as many of us who are thinking about the challenges ahead.

Pollution and Crop Production: Climate change could reduce supply and spike prices

Commodities — such as cocoa, coffee beans and other exotics — rely on a specific climate, and interruptions to these conditions can deeply reduce the yield of these crops. The supply drop can affect the global economy via a rise in prices. Changes to the Earth’s climate will impact crops and livestock across the world through altered growing seasons, changes in weather patterns and more severe droughts and rainfalls. Pollution presents a challenge to commodities as it can have a chain reaction of effects on many different ecosystems across the planet.

The Benefits of Real Assets in DC Plans

Historically, investment menus for defined contribution (DC) plans have been short on portfolio diversifiers, consisting largely of core equity and fixed-income strategies or products that combine the two. Even target-date funds have stayed mostly within the confines of stocks and bonds. This traditional approach has generally produced attractive returns over the long run, supported by a 35-year bull market in bonds. But now, bonds face a much more difficult return environment.

Autonomous Vehicle Technology Rolls Forward: From mass-transit, shipping and agriculture uses to airline and military applications, self-driving vehicles are on track to remake business and society

The business of transportation is as old and new as civilization, from moving crops to market to seafaring bulk carriers to global air travel. It is a trade that also includes the mundane morning commute. All that moving of people and goods takes labor, including more than 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the United States, as well as 665,000 bus drivers, and 119,000 airline and commercial pilots. From the early ox-carts to jumbo jets, only a human could reliably guide transport.

The Conservation Easement Bonanza: Liberals like this tax provision because it protects the environment, conservatives like it for the tax breaks, and landholders and investors are reaping financial benefits

What do the likes of Hollywood household names such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Robert Redford and Harrison Ford have in common with business leaders such as Ted Turner and T. Boone Pickens? They all have been generous donors of conservation easements that protect land from future development in perpetuity. While their respective reasons for protecting land may vary, many people are drawn to protect their land because donating a conservation easement is quite often the perfect blend of doing good while reaping some financial benefit.

The Battle Is Brewing Over Golden Years: Why brokerages will be distancing themselves from the retail retirement market

There are two distinct individual retirement account prototypes — the Brokerage IRA and the Trust Company IRA — that are vying to become the self-directed IRA exemplar and dominate the $14 trillion retail retirement market, and I sense a battle brewing between the two. Although no one is really paying much attention to it right now, I promise you that this race to launch a next-generation retail retirement product will become front page news once financial services providers recognize that the winner stands to inherit the power to redirect $14 trillion of mutual fund assets and disrupt longstanding retirement asset monopolies.

How to Invest in Public Nonlisted REITs

Public nonlisted REITs (PNL REITs) are often discussed, yet widely misunderstood, income investments. For suitable investors, they can be a powerful portfolio diversifying investment. Since PNL REITs are sold almost exclusively through professional financial advisers, awareness of their diversification benefits and suitability are not as well known as other types of real estate investments.

The Drive to Walk: A 'general theory of walkability' and its component parts

There are fitness experts who argue that walking is the ultimate form of exercise. It’s simple, painless, requires no equipment and can be done just about anywhere. Similarly, there are urban planning and real estate development experts who argue that “walkability” is the ultimate indicator of the success of a real estate project or community.

Energy Milestone: Natural gas has surpassed once-dominant coal as fuel source for electric power

Despite President Donald Trump’s pledge to revive the struggling U.S. coal industry, coal plants continue to close. And there’s really nothing he can or should do about it. Even as legacies of the Obama administration’s environmental policy — most notably the Clean Power Plan and the Stream Protection Rule, both thorns in the side of the coal industry — are rolled back, coal’s future still looks bleak. Although coal accounted for 30 percent of U.S. electricity production in 2016 and is the preferred fuel of some heavy industries, the number of coal plants is shrinking and coal’s contribution to generating electric power has been in steady decline for years. Utilities are shuttering older coal plants, and there are no plans to build new units.

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