Real Assets Adviser

March 1, 2018: Vol. 5, Number 3

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From the Current Issue

Power shift: Five reasons why the clean-energy future cannot be stopped

It is now safe to say clean energy is not just winning the battle to shift our energy resources — it has officially won. As companies and organizations focus their efforts on accelerating the adoption of clean energy, these five reasons explain why the clean-energy future cannot be stopped.

Tree-planting drones to shade-grown tea: Businesses are making money by reforesting the planet

An estimated 15 billion trees are cut down each year — more than 41 million per day. Given this pace of land degradation, it is hard to imagine how traditional reforestation methods, which rely on hand-planting live seedlings, could ever keep up. BioCarbon Engineering offers another way: a specialized drone, no more than two feet in height, that has the potential to plant 400,000 seeds per day, which is 150 times faster than a pair of human hands.

Many shades of gray matter: The young and the brainy flock together

An executive vice president from Resource Real Estate pointed out a few years ago that for the first time in human history employers are moving to where the talent is, rather than talent having to move to the employers’ locations. Indeed, is there any doubt Amazon’s search for a second U.S. headquarters is going to be a city already replete with young, bright talent?

Q&A: What will it cost to rebuild Canada’s infrastructure?

In the 1950s, Canada spent more than 3 percent of GDP on infrastructure. Over the next three decades, spending fell to 0.4 percent of GDP. By 2015, as Canada’s Conservative Party prepared to defend its majority in a general election, the infrastructure deficit — the money needed to fund necessary repairs and replacements — was more than $200 billion, according to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Despite low interest rates, governments were reluctant to borrow to fund bridges, roads and rail lines.

Text messages to myself: Shannon Eusey’s to-do list includes aggressive expansion plans for Beacon Pointe Advisors, her $9 billion RIA

The co-founder and CEO of Beacon Pointe Advisors got a “B” grade on her firm’s business plan, keeps an updated list of mistakes made by financial industry players, runs marathons, blogs, coaches her children’s soccer teams, and offers solace to Guatemalan orphans. On the scheduled date of her interview with this magazine, she was operating on four hours sleep because she was at Staples Center the night before attending the Sacramento Kings versus Los Angeles Clippers NBA game. “I do like sports,” says the former UC Irvine collegiate volleyball player. At 5-foot 5-inches she is more Misty May than Kerri Walsh (though she played indoor, not sand, volleyball), guarding the back line against opponents’ spikes and volleys. The Clippers won the game, by the way, and the Beacon Pointe co-founder proved during the interview that she had no shortage of energy despite her evening of sleep deprivation.

Suburban shift: Three reasons office investors are shifting their focus to secondary markets surrounding urban cores

Unemployment throughout the United States is the lowest it has been since 2008. Propelled by robust job growth, the office sector is expected to continue to expand in 2018. Despite fears the U.S. construction boom would cause a potential slowdown, activity in the office sector remains largely expansionary, with the technology and creative sectors continuing to drive leasing activity. Although the office sector is expected to continue to grow this year, many owners and investors are reacting to the increased inventory in many primary markets across the United States. This supply increase, among other factors, has caused many investors to shift their focus to suburban markets in 2018.

The rise of family offices: 10-fold growth in less than a decade

A March 2017 article in The Wall Street Journal described the family office as an investment phenomenon. Indeed, the story referred to the co-investment practices of 15 of the United States’ wealthiest families ultimately growing into a network of 150 high-net-worth families. Family offices are what the article describes as “disruptive force” entities that are being “set up to manage the fortunes of the wealthy, and able to operate under the radar.” Family offices are capable of conducting transactions that “traditionally were the province of big companies or private-equity firms,” and they are “making their presence felt with their growing numbers, fat wallets and hunger for deals.”

The cost of inactivity: A compelling case for actively managed fixed-income instruments

Active equity strategies suffered outflows in recent years as the shift to passive strategies gained momentum. Indeed, active equity strategy performance appeared to justify this shift. Take large-cap value equities as one example. In 2017, the median active manager performance was –179 basis points versus the S&P 500, according to eVestment, which maintains a database offering investment performance and other metrics. On a seven-year basis, this strategy lost 98 basis points per year versus the index. On top of that, managers charged a median fee of 51 basis points.

The 1031 exchange survives tax reform: A roller-coaster year ends with tax code changes favorable to real estate investors

Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code was at serious risk of being eliminated by the Trump administration’s tax cut and reform plans, a threat that prompted the real estate industry to launch a major lobbying campaign to protect this important and long-standing provision. The good news is, following the intense lobbying campaign, congressional leadership concluded Section 1031 reflects sound tax policy and is good for the economy. As a result, real property exchanges were not affected by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, though personal property exchanges were eliminated effective Jan. 1, 2018.

A look back at 2017: Infrastructure fundraising just keeps on keeping on

For much of the past 10 years, infrastructure fundraising has ebbed and flowed — up one year, down the next. Based on early numbers, it appears that 2017 will continue that pattern. Looking at the numbers, however, we can see that overall fundraising is growing ever so slightly, with each ebb and flow being a bit higher than its previous counterpart. For example, the market closed on $49.3 billion and $51.3 billion in the 2014 and 2016 ebb years, respectively, and $56.4 billion and $57.1 billion in the flow years of 2015 and 2017. More capital will likely be attributed to 2017 as additional fund closings are captured and added to the database.

The case for an infrastructure trust: Democratizing investment in roads, bridges and other economic backbones

While there is broad agreement on the need for significant investment in U.S. infrastructure, the question of how to pay for it is more contentious, with different views of how to privately finance public assets. The United States in fact has a long history of successful private market solutions to infrastructure needs, dating back to the creation of our railway system more than 150 years ago. More recently, listed structures such as REITs and MLPs, targeting telecommunications and energy pipelines, have proven successful in answering the challenge of stimulating private investment to address infrastructure needs by offering access to the widest possible pool of capital.

How to invest in equipment leasing

Ancient clay tablets from 2000 B.C. Sumer record the leasing of farm implements. Ancient Phoenicians leased ships using very specific residual assumptions, thus making equipment leasing the world’s oldest form of finance. Banking, in contrast, began during the Roman Empire about 700 B.C., and compound interest did not exist as a concept until well into the second millennium. Today, all types of personal property can be leased, including equipment used in transportation, manufacturing, mining and medical applications, as well as software and even intellectual property and artwork. And where would commercial real estate be without leasing?

Green acres might not be the place to be: Despite a growing global population, investors have been vexed by flat farmland prices and crop surpluses

No industry is more enduring than agriculture, and no commercial activity is as likely to persist through future epochs either. One can imagine various enterprises reduced to vestiges in the face of progress, such as bricks-and-mortar retailing, or the manufacture of internal combustion engines. And whether any particular tech stock or cryptocurrency will hold value through a season is always a question. But investors may justifiably posit the human race will always eat and will want to eat well. The perhaps sobering news, however, is demographers expect 8.5 billion people on the planet by 2030, up from 7.5 billion now. In only 12 years, food will have to be produced for another 1.2 billion mouths.

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