Given the severity of the global financial market collapse in 2008 and the subsequent economic fallout, one might have expected an opportunistic property-buying free-for-all in recent years. It didn’t happen. But recently limited partner investors have shown signs of shifting their intense focus on core strategies to higher risk, higher return strategies, and general partners say there are ample investment opportunities as U.S. banks begin to address their bad loan portfolios.
From the Current Issue
Investors increasingly seem focused on fees. And in some cases, concern is warranted. Is it really necessary to pay 200 basis points and 20 percent over an 8 to manage multibillion-dollar pools of capital that are then heavily leveraged to drive up risk and return, when the manager has relatively little real capital at risk on a proportionate basis as is often the case with private equity and venture capital type investments?
2011 was a year that began with pervasive market optimism as most people hoped that the financial crisis that began in 2007 had finally largely passed and that we were readying for a real recovery. It turned out that optimism was not very well founded as Europe revealed itself to be a basket case, with a severely undercapitalized banking system, a housing crisis (in certain countries, with Spain being the most prominent), over-indebted sovereigns with out-of-control deficit spending to fund promised entitlements, too much and too inefficient regulation, and crony capitalism. If that hits close to home for Americans, well, that’s probably because it is quite similar to what we’re facing here as well.
It is not uncommon to think of global trade as a recent phenomenon. And while global trade certainly never reached the levels it has in the 21st century, it does have a long history. Its history includes multiple shifts in economic power. According to the book The Elephant and the Dragon,China and India comprised more than half of the world’s economic output in 1600. In 1664 China exported 45,000 pieces of porcelain to the Dutch East India Co. China and India remained economic powers through the 19th century. Whether it was the Silk Road or Spice Route, global trade has been active for many years. As we wrestle with and try to understand the implications of China and India’s re-emergence as economic powers, it is instructive to remember this history.