Real Assets Adviser

May 1, 2022: Vol. 9, Number 5

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From the Current Issue

Selling the sun: Nuclear fusion startups making bold and suspect claims to investors

The CEO of a nuclear fusion industry group shared a striking statistic during a meeting at the White House. Eighty-three percent of the companies his group represents expect to see commercial fusion power come online in the 2030s or before — a bold prediction for a power source with 70 years of failure behind it and no obvious path to near-term success.

Investors going digital: Report: Trading in NFTs rose 21,000% during 2021

Investors are having a hard time wrapping their heads around the concept of what nonfungible tokens are and why they have any real intrinsic value. Yet, sales of nonfungible tokens (NFTs) jumped to more than $17 billion in 2021, according to, a company that tracks sales of NFTs.

Solutions in the fermentation stage: How synthetic biology could help fix the global supply-chain crisis

Crises inevitably lead to great changes and opportunities. Today’s supply chain crisis may be no different. Since the beginning of COVID-19, companies and countries have struggled to ensure steady supply of key inputs to the normal functioning of our economies. This year, key commodities and other products from Russia and Ukraine have been disrupted amid the war. And the increasing prevalence of natural disasters driven by climate change in recent years has also interfered with supply chains.

Death to the petrostate

As the folly of relying on Russia and other petrostates for energy needs become apparent in the throes of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, nuclear power is back in fashion. France plans to construct six new plants and is aiming for “total energy independence.” Britain announced March 21 it would build a new generation of reactors at “warp speed.” A redesigned energy system that turns to alternative fuels and belches out less carbon also promises to emasculate despotic regimes funded by fossil-fuel reservoirs.

Zen and the art of cryptocurrency investing

U.S. tax forms included a new question in their capital gains section this year: “At any time during 2021, did you receive, sell, exchange or otherwise dispose of any virtual currency?” Nothing says there might be some investment value in cryptocurrency like the IRS taking notice. Being called out as an investment worthy of notice certainly gives crypto a certain credibility, but is it right for the typical investor? Should advisers be thinking about adding a bit to their clients’ portfolios? Or is it still too new and esoteric for all but the most adventurous (or least excitable) investor? Afterall, the IRS also taxes gambling winnings.

Taking real estate auctions beyond the courthouse steps

The modern auction block is the stuff of headlines. Think Picasso’s and van Gogh’s selling for millions. Ditto for McLarens and other classic or high-performance automobiles, as well as jewelry, coins, Michael Jordan basketball shoes. How about this one: The revolver used to kill Billy the Kid changing hands for $6 million at Bonhams.

5 Questions: The real estate ground lease and its attributes

There are many ways to underwrite real estate construction. One of the less used is ground leases, even though they offer several attractive features, including flexibility, according to Terri Adler, managing partner of Duval & Stachenfeld.

Venture capital 2.0: A wider range of investors gaining access to VC, while many advisers sit on the sidelines

It might be premature to call advisers and investors “yield starved” at this stage, but the hunt has clearly begun for new portfolio assets to offset what many are prophesizing to be an end to the historic bull market on Wall Street. With equities curdling under the assault of a worldwide pandemic, rising inflation and interest rates, and warfare in Europe, some investors are moving up the risk spectrum.

Why single-tenant triple-net-lease assets performed so well during the pandemic, and are strong bets for years to come

Living through the COVID-19 pandemic complicated commercial real estate investment in a myriad of ways, shifting economics of every asset class in the industry. While some investors pulled back, preferring to sit out the storm on the sidelines, others have rushed in with mountains of dry powder to scoop up battered hospitality, retail and office properties in anticipation of strong consumer demand rebound.

Talking Points: Quotations from people in the news

Aneta Markowska, chief economist at Jefferies: “It’s easy to construct a very negative narrative, but when you actually look at the magnitude of all those impacts, I don’t think they’re significant enough to push us into a recession in the next 12 months.”

AI meets property: Investors need to oversee algorithms to ensure there are no biases or blind spots

What do artificial intelligence and real estate have in common? A lot, as it turns out. Real estate has been the most fascinating space to watch throughout the global pandemic, and the applications of artificial intelligence are growing faster than housing starts. Working from home has called the value of some commercial real estate into question, and residential housing values have shot through the roof.

Profile: Dave Welling, CEO of Mercer Advisors

Dave Welling’s career didn’t exactly get off to a ballistic start. His first position — the job of Welling’s dreams at the time — landed him at Bain & Co., a noted management consulting firm still under the direction of founder Bill Bain. Alas, no sooner did Welling arrive than the firm ran aground from a combination of bad economic times and a poorly executed employee buyout plan.

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