Real Assets Adviser

December 1, 2017: Vol. 4, Number 12

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From the Current Issue

Real Estate Forecast 2018: Debt, student housing and single-family rental properties are all in season for the new year

Real estate is a cyclical investment class, and after eight years of economic growth — in fact, the United States is currently in its third-longest expansion since World War II — the current upward trend of the cycle is feeling a little long in the tooth. While no one can point to a specific event that will cause it to turn downward, it just feels like it is time for the cycle to start cycling. So how can private investors prepare for a change in the investment climate? One way is to look at what institutional investors are doing.

Understanding the Complexities of Liquid Alternatives: They provide access to key portfolio strategies, but it is critical for investors, advisers and broker/dealers to understand how regulators view them

The tech bubble and global financial crisis highlighted the need for diversification in client portfolios. There is ample research illustrating the use of alternative investments can improve the risk/return profile over the long term by helping to reduce volatility, differentiate sources of returns and create a more consistent return stream. Liquid alternatives — which are funds that invest in assets other than long-only stocks or bonds — provide access to strategies previously only available to high-net-worth investors and institutions.

Going Direct to Private Investors: New KBS online platform aims to bring institutional-grade real estate opportunities to advisers and their clients

KBS has debuted an online platform named for accredited investors and advisers to directly invest in KBS Growth & Income REIT, a portfolio of institutional-quality commercial real estate properties — the first of what promises to be several real estate products added to the platform over time. To date, the Growth & Income REIT, which has no load or upfront fees, has three equity properties valued at $150.4 million.

Is This 2007 All Over Again? The impact of macroeconomics and market cycles on real estate investments

America has suffered a recession every 4.9 years on average since World War II. It has been eight years and eight months since the global financial crisis, making this the third-longest recovery between recessions in U.S. history. By March of 2018, assuming the next recession does not begin before then, the current recovery will become the second-longest in history. Simply put, based on historical cycle lengths and a number of economic and market indicators, we are extremely overdue for another recession and market correction.

355 Infra Funds Seeking Capital: 68% of funds launched since beginning of 2014 still in fundraising mode

There are currently 355 private equity infrastructure investment funds, launched between Jan. 1, 2000, and Sept. 1, 2017, currently raising money, according to the FundTracker database produced by Institutional Real Estate, Inc. Approximately 10 percent of these funds are open-end, so you would expect them to have long tails and remain open for decades. About 130 closed-end funds in the market have been launched since 2014, so those are still relatively healthy. But 193 additional closed-end funds — 54 percent of the total currently marketing funds — were launched prior to 2014.

How to Invest in Infrastructure

Infrastructure offers a unique category of investment opportunities that can share characteristics of private equity, public equity and real estate investments. Most of the investment opportunity in economic infrastructure focuses on transportation and utility infrastructure assets, including existing brownfield assets and the development of new greenfield projects. Transport assets include toll roads, airports, sea ports, railroads and parking lots. Utility infrastructure includes gas and electric utilities, oil and gas pipelines, solar farms, cell towers, and related assets. There are seven elements that describe infrastructure investments:

Transit in Training: China rolls out trackless electric train

China’s CRRC Corp., one of the world’s largest train manufacturers, has started testing a new “trackless electric train” that is a hybrid between a full-fledged train and a bus. The Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit system, or ART for short, can transport as many as 500 passengers in a five-carriage train and will travel at about 45 miles per hour. It is being called the “world’s first unmanned smart electric bus,” and a brief video of the system in operation can be viewed on YouTube at this short link:

Markets Are Efficient but Investors Are Human: U.S. economist Richard Thaler and his well-deserved Nobel Prize

Whenever I think about Richard Thaler, who was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in economics Oct. 9 for his contributions in the field of behavioral economics, my mind flits to the Giant Blue Whale in New York’s American Museum of Natural History. In November 2008, amid financial panic and cratering stock markets (the S&P 500 Index was already down 45 percent from its October 2007 high), this pioneer in behavioral finance spoke to our clients at an event we held beneath the blue leviathan.

It’s the Math: South Texas Money Management CEO/CIO Jeanie Wyatt is always protecting against the downside.

Jeanie Wyatt remembers the trauma of her first meeting with a high-net-worth client. She was at San Antonio–based Frost Bank at the time, young and exuberant about meeting with the organization’s wealthiest client, a mature woman who showed up with her lawyer, accountant and a very large diamond on her finger. Wyatt figures the bank’s officials thought the client would appreciate working with another woman. Instead, when Wyatt was introduced as the client’s new investment adviser, the client was offended that someone so junior was assigned to her account, and she expressed that displeasure by standing and declaring, “I am not going to work with a young woman.” Then she strode out of the room, leaving Wyatt horrified and certain she was going to be fired from her new job for alienating “Mrs. Got Rocks,” as she mirthfully refers to her today.

The Future of Precision Agriculture: Ag-tech startups raise hundreds of millions to bring AI and robotics to the farm

Agricultural tech startups have raised more than $800 million over the past five years, funding startups aiming to solve agricultural challenges using technologies ranging from artificial intelligence to robotics. These types of ag-tech funding deals started gaining momentum in 2014, on the strength of funding from venture capital firms such as Bessemer Venture Partners, Accel Partners, Khosla Ventures, Lux Capital and Data Collective, which have invested in general-purpose drone and computer vision companies with a focus on agricultural applications.

Stone Age to Digital: What makes a good investor?

Staying on top of your investments can be daunting. But what if your wealth was carved in stone? On the island of Yap, wealth was stored in a “Fei” — a large donut-shaped stone up to 12 feet in diameter. The island had only three commodities — fish, coconuts and sea cucumber — all highly perishable. Only the Fei could store wealth and enable families to gather wealth and obtain credit. Still to this day, islanders use the stones for traditional or ceremonial exchange.

Story of a Dying Mall: The Oakdale Mall, a once electrifying retailer in Upstate New York’s Triple Cities, is now in its death throes

About the biggest news event I remember while coming of age in Upstate New York’s so-called Triple Cities (Binghamton, Johnson City and Endicott) was the Oct. 1, 1972, opening of the Oakdale Mall. I was just a high school student at the time and, as you can imagine, shopping was about the farthest thing from my mind. Still, that grand opening 40-plus years ago was an earthquake. It was on TV, in the newspapers and the topic of excited family conversation — especially between my mother and three older sisters. It was the heyday of the shopping mall, and people living in the relatively small Triple Cities region felt lucky to have attracted such a retail behemoth.

Roundtable: Where Family Offices Are Investing Their Assets

The number of U.S. family office has grown to at least 3,000 with investments of $1 trillion to $1.2 trillion, and average cost of those offices is about 0.6 percent of AUM. The largest multifamily office as measured by assets is more the $140 billion under management, and the largest multifamily office by number of families is Bessemer Trust in New York City with about 2,200 client families.

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