Real Assets Adviser

May 1, 2018: Vol. 5, Number 5

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From the Current Issue

Ten years after: Global gateway cities underperforming regional gateways

Since the global financial crisis, property investors have sought the perceived safety of portfolio diversity and capital growth in global gateway cities, on the premise these economically dynamic and well-connected cities would provide greater liquidity and more stable cash flows than secondary markets, according to MSCI. In its February report, Global Gateway Cities: The Performance Behind the Hype, MSCI asks, “Have these cities, which include London, New York and Tokyo, offered the superior and safer investments to justify their premium pricing?”

Typhoons of change in Puerto Rico: Ground-floor opportunities and tax incentives await investors in a U.S. territory whose best years are still to come

September 2017 wrote one of the most dramatic and important chapters in Puerto Rico’s modern history. The widespread destruction caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria negatively affected an already-beleaguered economy mired in an 11-year recessionary period. Almost paradoxically, however, these catastrophic events could very well represent a positive and significant turning point on the path to economic recovery that the island desperately needs.

What next for the DOL fiduciary rule? Though overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, a high level of uncertainty remains

On March 15, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Department of Labor “lacked statutory authority to promulgate the [fiduciary] rule with its overreaching definition of ‘investment advice fiduciary.’” In their decision, the court determined the DOL relied on an “a historical and strained interpretation of ‘fiduciary’ and boasted ‘arbitrary and capricious exercises of administrative power.’”

Renaissance moment: Tackling the impediments that slow infrastructure projects

Infrastructure investing has gone from the back to the front burner in the past year, with the rise of multibillion-dollar mega-funds and a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan offered by the Trump administration. One of the planks of that plan is a streamlining process that aims to cut project approvals by six to eight years, a goal that has been long sought by infrastructure practitioners.

Shedding light on the market: After a record-breaking 2016 for new capacity installation, 2017 proves partly cloudy

In 2017, the U.S. solar market installed 10.6 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity. Despite installing 30 percent less solar than during a record-breaking 2016, the market still exceeded 2015 levels by 40 percent. In line with previous years, 59 percent of the installed capacity came from the utility PV segment, while distributed solar accounted for 41 percent of installations.

Going organic: Peter Mallouk bought a $100 million RIA in 2004. Today, Creative Planning is a $34 billion leviathan, and all that growth came without raiding wirehouses or making acquisitions

Industry awards and rankings are a dime a dozen, which is why this magazine has never paid heed to such dubious honorifics. Still, it is an attention-grabber when an RIA is identified as the nation’s best four times by Barron’s, including three consecutive years (2013–2015); the No. 1 wealth management firm in the United States by CNBC two consecutive years (2014–2015); the decade’s top RIA by Forbes; and a member of the top RIAs list compiled by the Financial Times.

Cobalt and electric vehicles: As production of the precious resource more than doubles, its cost spirals

In the past year cobalt has appreciated from roughly $55,000 per metric ton to more than $91,000 per metric ton. Prices have risen dramatically because of the increasing demand for electric cars and the perception of supply constraints. The largest cobalt mines in the world are in the Congo, accounting for about 58 percent of global cobalt production in 2017, and subjecting the market to significant geopolitical risks.

Take me to the river: Remembering the waterways that made a nation

Long before we built railroads, interstate highways and airline systems, the country’s circulatory system was its vast network of rivers, which spread across our landmass like life-giving veins and arteries. Even today, people gravitate and have a preference for living near or alongside waterbodies, whether coastal, lakeside or riverfront. Major cities in the United States, as well as in countries around the world, have tended to develop along rivers, giving them access to navigation, the exchange of goods, agricultural irrigation and sources of power.

The autonomous future of cargo: Six innovative concepts for moving freight

While public interest in transportation focuses largely on commuting and personal travel, much of the future growth in transportation demand will involve moving freight rather than people. Some extraordinary technological developments in this area are already under way, including the following.

Then we saw the light — and the light fixtures: LED lighting projects and the return on investment are quickly calculated based on a few data points

Owners and asset managers still struggle to justify light-emitting diode (or LED) lighting renovation projects. Worse yet, the responsibility is considered a maintenance issue rather than a capital improvement. Ever walk into a building, experience multicolor light sources, dark corners and glaring white lights over computers? This results from replacing LED bulbs in existing fixtures from a local electrical store. It is expedient and cheap. It will reduce energy costs but fails to deliver on the numerous performance benefits on offer. Take notice, as this approach immediately degrades the building environment. Doing it correctly, however, only takes a dash of skill, basic math, and a reasonable and fully recoverable budget. These few simple steps can significantly transform and improve the building environment, reduce one’s carbon footprint, enhance worker productivity, and help save our planet.

Alternatives in bloom: The menu of offerings expands as investor demand grows

A parade of new products is coming to the alternative investments market, giving individual investors greater access to real asset classes. Some of those products are grabbing the attention of private wealth advisory firms, as well as the general public. Private equity, hedge funds, managed futures, hard real estate assets, commodities and derivatives contracts all have their adherents. Today, nontraded REITs, preferred stock, private credit funds and interval funds seem to be gaining popularity. So does private placement of capital in individual assets, as well as investment in non-glamorous categories such as student and workforce housing.

Roundtable: Real estate in present and future tense

Though the real estate sector has already experienced one of the longest expansions and recoveries in U.S. history, the industry continues to perform strongly and with few warning signs of an imminent downturn. But that is a 30,000-foot view of the business. To dig more deeply into the particulars of real estate property types and the economic forces that affect it, Albert Haworth, CEO of Preferred Capital Securities, and Chuck Schreiber, CEO of KBS, joined us for a webcast on the subject that can be accessed on the Real Assets Adviser website on the Videos & Podcasts page.

The future of retail in an era of changing technology and consumer tastes

As the economy of the future becomes increasingly high-tech, the retail sector must follow. New technologies such as smartphones and automated checkout stands, especially in grocery stores, are paving the way for the future of retail and how consumers will shop. In addition, retailers and landlords have an increasing number of high-tech tools to better track shoppers and better tailor retail offerings to shoppers’ needs and wants.

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