The commercial Dungeness crab season has been cut short for most of California for a fifth successive year in an effort to reduce potentially fatal whale entanglements in fishing gear.
State Fish and Wildlife Director Chuck Bonham announced Thursday that all crab pots and vertical lines must be removed from the ocean south of Point Arena by April 15 — 2½ months before the commercial season’s traditional June 30 close. The season also started six weeks late, with crews allowed to put only 50% of their gear in the water at first.
Though not entirely a surprise, the early finish comes as a significant blow to a struggling fleet that has yet to make up for the repeated loss of its lucrative Thanksgiving and Christmas markets in the beginning of the season.
And with the salmon season canceled this year because of a collapse in king salmon stocks, the inability of commercial crews to harvest crab for a longer period this spring may mean some fishermen and women decide to pack it in.
“It’s a business,” said veteran Bodega Bay fisherman Tal Roseberry. “Most people get into it because they love it. But if it doesn’t operate in the black, and you’re not able to feed your family, put a roof over your head, you have to start looking at something else. Loving it doesn’t pay the bills.”
This year’s early close also comes as state, federal and nongovernmental conservation agencies are putting increased funding and support behind whale-safe “ropeless” or “pop-up” gear in development over recent years to allow for crabbers to extend their efforts during the shoulder seasons, even when the giant marine mammals are present.
Instead of fixed gear, with a crab trap on the ocean floor connected to a floating buoy by a long vertical line, the experimental style keeps all the gear together on the sea floor until it’s triggered by a timer, acoustic signal or some other mechanism, releasing the buoy that then rises to the top.
Many commercial crabbers have been dismissive of the idea, convinced it can’t meet their needs and concerned that costs for the new equipment will put it out of reach. They say failure rates are high, and the fact that surface buoys don’t mark their location is an invitation for different crews to get their crab pots piled up.
The next thing you know, “we’ve created a whale gill net,” said veteran Bodega Bay fisherman Tony Anello.
There’s been some reluctance on the part of commercial captains to apply for the state permits required to experiment, even though it would allow them to continue catching crab into June.
“The ropeless gear is a non-starter, as far as we’re concerned,” said Crescent City crabber Ben Platt, president of the California Coast Crab Association, which represents about 140 commercial Dungeness crab permit holders in California, including about two dozen in Bodega Bay.
“We’re trying to keep ourselves alive, and we want to spare the wildlife, too,” said Dick Ogg, vice president of the Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Marketing Association. “There’s a lot of tension around pop-up gear.”
Members of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and conservation groups are bullish about the new traps, however, with several manufacturers working on or ready to test equipment.
Ryan Bartling, a senior environmental scientist with the state, said it may that only a segment of the fleet decides to use it in the end, but it would allow for crabbing during more of the traditional Nov. 15 to June 30 season.
“I think it’s within reach,” he said. “What the timeline looks like, I’m a little uncertain. But the technology is there. It’s just making it all work together.”
Geoff Shester, senior scientist and California campaign director for Oceana, said he has worked with crabbers who have tried some types of gear during its development and seen it function well in the ocean, but says they need to test it, find the strengths and weaknesses so they can be addressed.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” he said. “It’s going to take some trial and error.”
He said the whole effort is intended to allow crabbers to spend more time on the ocean without harming wildlife or violating rules, but it only works if the fleet participates.
“We’re trying to do this in a way that’s really going to work,” Shester said. “We want them to stay employed.”
Dungeness crab and chinook salmon have long been the mainstays of the North Coast’s fisheries, even as salmon populations declined over recent decades along with their freshwater spawning habitat.
But the region’s crab fishery has been in tumult for most of the past decade, first because of a protracted marine heat wave that spurred a toxic algae bloom, delaying the 2015-16 season start by more than four months.
BROADLANDS — The Oakwood baseball team had 13 hits as the Comets beat Heritage 18-0 on Thursday.
Brody Marcinko had seven strikeouts on the mound and two hits at the plate for the Comets, while Josh Ruch and Chase Harrison each had four RBIs, Grant Powell had three hits and two RBIs, Dalton Hobick had two hits and two RBIs and Alec Harrison had one RBI.
The Comets were coming off an 11-4 win over Marshall at home on Wednesday. Travis Tiernan had three hits and three RBIs, while Ruch had two hits and two RBIs, Matthew Miller had two RBIs, Hobick had two hits and a RBI and Brody Taflinger had a RBI.
BHRA 11, Fisher 1
FISHER — The Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin baseball team scored six runs in the first inning and went on to beat Fisher 11-1 on Thursday.
Winning pitcher Tuff Elson had 12 strikeouts in six innings with an RBI at the plate for the Blue Devils, while Caden Keleminic and Enrique Rangel each had two hits and two RBIs, Jordan Johnson and Ethan Dubois each had two RBIs and Chaz Dubois had two hits and a RBI.
The Blue Devils were coming off a 12-1 win over Rantoul on Wednesday. Elson had three hits with five RBIs for the Blue Devils, while Amani Stanford had two hits and three RBIs and Chaz Dubois, Owen Miller and Rangel each had one RBI.
The Blue Devils will play Oakwood on Monday.
Westville 13, GCMS 0
WESTVILLE — After a loss on Wednesday, the Westville baseball team scored 10 runs in the fourth inning as the Tigers went on to a 13-0 win over Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley on Thursday.
Winning pitcher Landon Haurez had six strikeouts on the mound and gave up only two hits. He also had four RBIs at the plate. Cade Schaumburg had three RBIs, while Kamden Maddox had two hits and two RBIs, Ethan McMasters had two hits and a RBI, Easton Barney and Matthew Darling each had one RBI and Drew Wichtowski had two hits.
The Tigers were coming off a 7-2 loss to Maroa-Forsyth on Wednesday. Maddox had two hits with a double and a RBI for Westville, while Barney and Zach Russell each had one hit.
The Tigers will play Hoopeston Area on Monday.
Hoopeston Area 5, Ridgeview 4
HOOPESTON — The Hoopeston Area baseball team rallied late on Thursday to beat Colfax Ridgeview 5-4.
Zach Huchel had the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the seventh for the Cornjerkers, while Ethan Steiner had two hits and two RBIs and Cole Miller had a RBI.
The Cornjerkers are now 2-3.
Salt Fork 5, Paris 0
CATLIN — The Salt Fork softball team took the lead early and held on to a 5-0 win over Paris on Thursday.
Kendyl Hurt had five strikeouts on the mound for the Storm and was helped by two runs in the first and two more in the third.
Kailey Frischkorn had two RBIs for Salt Fork, while Karli McGee had a RBI, Hurt had three hits and Alexa Jamison and Macie Russell each had two hits.
The Storm are scheduled to play at the LeRoy Invitational on Saturday.
GCMS 11, Hoopeston 6
HOOPESTON — The Hoopeston Area softball team lost 11-6 on Thursday in 11 innings to Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley.
Riley Miller had two hits with two RBIs for the Cornjerkers, while Macy Warner, Maddie Barnes and Alexa Bailey each had one RBI and Jersey Cundiff had two hits.
Casey-Westfield 11, Geo-RF 1
CASEY — The Georgetown-Ridge Farm softball team were down all game as the Buffaloes lost to Casey-Westfield 11-1 in five innings.
J’Lynn Waltz had two hits and a RBI for the Buffaloes, while Peyton McComas had two hits.
St. Joe-Ogden 12, BHRA 0
ST. JOSEPH — The Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin softball team lost 12-0 to St. Joseph-Ogden on Wednesday.
Ellie Tittle had two hits with a double for the Blue Devils, while Ava Acton had a hit.
Westville 13, Centennial 1
CHAMPAIGN — The Westville softball team got 14 hits as they beat Champaign Centennial 13-1 on Thursday.
Abby Sabalaskey had 12 strikeouts and gave up a hit on the mound for the Tigers and had three hits and two RBIs. Laney Cook and Madison Jones each had three hits and one RBI, Ariel Clarkston and Jazmyn Bennett each had two RBIs and Lilly Kiesel, Izzy Silva and Karma Chism each had one RBI.
Danville 6, University High 1
DANVILLE — The Lady Vikings made the most of their home match with Urbana University with a 6-1 win on Thursday.
Josie Hotsinpiller and Ava Towne each had a goal and two assists for Danville, while Lili Dowers, Maya Towne, Lexi Foley and Lindsey Porter each had a goal.
The Lady Vikings will play Peoria Notre Dame on Wednesday.
DACC sweeps Kishwaukee
DANVILLE — After a 25-1 win in the first game, the Lady Jaguars finished the sweep of Kishwaukee with an 8-0 win.
Ashlynn McTagertt had four hits and five RBIs for Danville Area Community College in the first game, while Beth Pavy and Ashlynn McPeak each had three hits with three RBIs, Raven Morrison had two hits with a home run and three RBIs, Rylee Richey and Danielle Shuey each had three hits and two RBIs, Kyleigh Weller and Ella Wolfe each had two RBIs and Amaria Wall and Hayden Smith each had one RBI.
Richey had nine strikeouts in four innings to get the win.
Kelsey Martlage had a home run and three RBIs in the second game, while Pavy, Weller and Shuey each had two hits and one RBI, Smith and McTagertt each had one RBI, McPeak had three hits and Wall had two hits.
The Lady Jaguars are scheduled to face Lincoln Land today.
Donald Trump may be the first former U.S. president to be indicted in a criminal case, but he’s far from the first big real estate player to get caught up with law enforcement authorities.
Trump was indicted Thursday for allegedly falsifying business records to cover up a hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
A number of other prominent real estate developers have faced charges including bank fraud, tax evasion and witness tampering — and more than one received pardons from the former president who built his fame in their industry, while yet another received a pardon from Trump’s predecessor in the White House, Barack Obama.
Here’s a closer look at who they are, and what happened, in the cases involving well-known real estate players in the nation’s biggest cities.
In 2004, multifamily developer and landlord Charles Kushner pleaded guilty to 18 counts, including making illegal campaign contributions, falsifying tax returns and witness tampering. He was sentenced to two years in prison and served 14 months, getting released in 2006.
In 2020, Kushner, whose son Jared is Trump’s son-in-law, received a presidential pardon from Trump.
Boutique hotel pioneer Ian Schrager was convicted of tax evasion in 1980. The property at issue was Studio 54, the famed Midtown nightclub he co-founded. He served 20 months in prison.
Schrager received a pardon from a different source — President Obama — in the final days of his term in 2017.
Though family ties put Kushner in Trump’s orbit, he’s not the only real estate player the former president pardoned.
In 1996, a federal sting operation convicted Manhattan retail titan Alex Adjmi of laundering $22.5 million for a Colombian drug cartel through a Connecticut brokerage that turned out to be an undercover operation by the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency.
The head of A&H Acquisitions served nearly four years in prison. Released in 2000, Adjmi received a pardon from Trump in 2021.
While juggling several prominent development projects, New York real estate broker-turned-developer Michael Shvo was hit with charges in 2016 for allegedly scheming to evade payment of more than $1.4 million in taxes related to the purchase of fine art, furniture, jewelry and a Ferrari.
Shvo pleaded guilty to the criminal tax fraud charges and settled the case for $3.5 million, avoiding any time behind bars, after a 19-month saga that sidelined him from a number of notable projects.
Chicago real estate developer Larry Freed went from serving as head of one of the largest privately owned shopping center development firms to serving more than two years in federal prison on fraud charges.
His firm, Joseph Freed and Associates, had obtained a $105 million line of credit for city and suburban developments based on collateral previously pledged to another bank, prosecutors said in 2016. Freed’s three-year sentence was reduced to probation in 2020.
One of the largest private real estate owners in Boca Raton, Investments Limited founder James Batmasian pleaded guilty in 2008 to evading $250,000 in payroll taxes. He served an eight-month prison sentence.
Batmasian also received a presidential pardon from Trump in 2020.
Former L.A. city councilman José Huizar pleaded guilty in January to operating a pay-to-play scheme to give special treatment to developers who funded and facilitated bribes and other unlawful financial benefits.
The politician’s seat on the Planning and Land Use Management Committee gave him purview over major commercial and residential developments. His plea came after two developers, David Lee’s 940 Hill and Chinese real estate firm Shen Zhen New World I LLC, were found guilty of bribing Huizar for help.
Huizar faces a sentence of up to 26 years in prison, though federal prosecutors recommended he be sentenced to no more than 13.
LVGEM (China) Real Estate Investment (HKG:95) Full Year 2022 Results
Key Financial Results
- Revenue: CN¥2.34b (down 47% from FY 2021).
- Net loss: CN¥730.1m (down by 163% from CN¥1.15b profit in FY 2021).
- CN¥0.14 loss per share (down from CN¥0.23 profit in FY 2021).
All figures shown in the chart above are for the trailing 12 month (TTM) period
LVGEM (China) Real Estate Investment EPS Beats Expectations, Revenues Fall Short
Revenue missed analyst estimates by 40%. Earnings per share (EPS) exceeded analyst estimates by 43%.
The company’s shares are up 6.5% from a week ago.
Be aware that LVGEM (China) Real Estate Investment is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis that you should know about…
Valuation is complex, but we’re helping make it simple.
Find out whether LVGEM (China) Real Estate Investment is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
Farmers who have diversified by letting out commercial property such as office space and retail units must ensure they are compliant with increased energy efficiency requirements.
These are expected to be ratcheted up in 2027 and again in 2030, so rural landlords may want to take a long-term approach to any planned investment in raising energy standards.
What is changing?
The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 set out the minimum level of energy efficiency in non-domestic properties in England and Wales.
Since 2018, it has been unlawful to grant a new tenancy, including renewing an agreement, unless the property has an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of E or above.
However, from 1 April this year, landlords can only continue to let a commercial property if that property meets the minimum E rating.
If the property currently has an F or G rating, the landlord will either be required to install energy-efficiency measures to raise it to an E, or they may, in certain circumstances, apply for an exemption from the rules.
The government has also proposed that from 1 April 2027 it will be unlawful to let any non-domestic property if it has an EPC lower than a C, rising to B by 1 April 2030.
What sort of property is covered by the rules?
Letting buildings for non-farming use is the most popular form of farm diversification, according to Farm Business Survey data.
However, some buildings typically let by farmers may fall outside of the energy standards legislation.
The rules only apply to non-domestic property that is legally required to have an EPC, so buildings which are exempt from an EPC, such as industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings with low energy demand, fall outside the scope of the legislation.
A general rule of thumb is that if the building does not have any heating or cooling system, an EPC is not required (except in buildings where there would be an expectation of heating).
Property types that could fall under the scope of the regulations include farm buildings that have been converted into offices, retail space, studios, show rooms and gyms.
The situation is slightly less clear-cut with farm-based holiday accommodation. Government guidance is that an EPC is only required if the guest is responsible for paying the energy bills, and most holiday-home owners will be picking these up.
However, it is possible to argue that the guest indirectly pays the energy costs as part of their rental fee.
The safest option is to contact Trading Standards, which is responsible for enforcing the legislation, to clarify if an EPC is needed or not.
What can be done to improve EPC ratings in commercial properties?
Landlords who have a building with an F or G rating will need to take action quickly, or investigate whether they qualify for an exemption.
Installing low-energy lighting, draught-excluder strips around doors and insulation can be easy wins in terms of raising a property’s rating.
Other possible solutions include replacing single-glazed windows with double-glazing and upgrading any electrical heating systems to a more efficient model.
More involved works, such as internal wall insulation or the retrospective introduction of below-floor insulation can result in a greater increase on the EPC scoring.
However, advice on the suitability of improvement measures should always be taken before entering a construction contract to make sure a holistic view is taken.
In addition, some rural landlords are looking at installing renewable energy electricity and heating systems, both to improve the EPC and to give tenants the opportunity to buy electricity at a cheaper rate than they are likely to currently be paying.
Is grant support available?
The Boiler Upgrade Scheme provides grants to cover part of the cost of replacing fossil fuel heating systems with a heat pump or biomass boiler.
It may also be worth investigating with the local council if it has any energy efficiency funding available to businesses.
Several exemptions allow landlords to continue letting a property that does not meet the minimum E rating. They include:
- Seven-year payback test: The ban on letting non-domestic property below an E rating does not apply if a landlord can show that the cost of purchasing and installing a recommended improvement or improvements does not meet a simple seven-year payback test
- Third-party consent: This could apply if improvements cannot be made because consent cannot be obtained from the current tenant of the property, or if other third parties, such as the local authority, refuse planning permission for improvements
- Devaluation: Applies where there is evidence that the installation of a relevant measures would devalue the property by more than 5%
- New landlord: New landlords can apply for an exemption for six months.
Any exemptions must be registered on the private rented sector exemptions register.
After five years, the exemption will expire and the landlord will be required to try to improve the property to meet the minimum standard, or register another valid exemption.
What happens if there is a breach of the rules?
A landlord letting a non-compliant building could be fined up to £150,000, and anyone found to have submitted false information to the private rented sector exemptions register risks a financial penalty of up to £5,000.
How often do EPCs need to be carried out?
All EPCs are valid for 10 years. The cost will vary according to the size of a property, but a report on a small unoccupied office in a converted farm building might be expected to cost around £200.
High energy prices mean tenants are far more conscious of energy consumption than they used to be, so raising standards should help to make the property more lettable.
If work needs to be carried out part-way through a tenancy, it is always advisable to engage with the tenant as early as possible, so plans can be put in place to minimise any disturbance.
Given any works should result in a reduction in running costs, most tenants should be supportive.
While it has not been officially confirmed by the government that an energy performance certificate (EPC) B rating will be required by 2030, the consensus within industry is that some tightening of the rules is highly likely.
With this in mind, it may be sensible to put in place 10-year maintenance plans for any commercial property on the farm, so any works can be programmed in to spread the cost.
Finally, all of the high street banks now have net-zero targets, so are becoming less keen to lend against properties that are not energy efficient.
Farmers looking to refinance and using property as security are likely to be offered better rates if they can prove a building is energy efficient.
Residential let property
There are similar, but different, obligations for residential landlords.
For residential property, it has been unlawful to let property with an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating poorer than an E since April 2020.
The government has proposed raising the minimum EPC rating to a C for new residential tenancies from 2025 and for existing residential tenancies from 2028.
The advice in this feature was provided by Strutt & Parker rural surveyor Florence Elmhirst, buildings surveyor Alexander Macfarlane, and Donna Rourke, head of environment, social and governance for Strutt & Parker/BNP Paribas Real Estate.
It’s been almost three weeks since Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) blew up. With both NY Signature Bank (SBNY) and Credit Suisse (CS) following right behind it.
Now, I recently touched on SVB and the chronic issues plaguing U.S. banks.
But there’s one issue that’s really worrying. . .
And that’s the ticking time bomb in the commercial real estate market – which is especially dangerous for smaller banks.
Because smaller banks – such as local and community banks – are sitting on a pile of toxic commercial real estate loans.
And I expect things are nearing a tipping point. . .
Let me explain.
Commercial Real Estate: Things Are Growing Very, Very Fragile
So, what is commercial real estate?
Putting it simply, commercial real estate (CRE) refers to properties used for business or investment purposes, rather than for personal residential use. Meaning office buildings, retail spaces, industrial properties, warehouses, multi-family (apartments), and other types of commercial properties.
Commercial real estate is typically purchased, leased, or developed with the purpose of generating income through rent or resale. Investors and businesses may also use commercial real estate for their own operations, such as leasing office space for employees or storing inventory in a warehouse, etc.
In other words, commercial real estate is essentially used for work-related business and thus drives income from such activities.
And this is a huge market.
For instance, the commercial real estate market is worth around $20 trillion.
And after decades of surging growth fueled by low-interest rates and easy credit, commercial real estate is now hitting a brick wall.
And I believe there are three main reasons for this commercial real estate stress:
I. Higher interest rates – which tend to decrease marginal demand for expansion by businesses (less space required), eat into landlord earnings, weigh down asset prices, and also increase the cost of debt.
This is a big problem for commercial real estate as it’s a highly leveraged sector (aka debt-dependent).
It’s estimated – according to the Kobeissi Letter – that over the next five years, more than $2.5 trillion in commercial real estate debt will mature.
Keep in mind this is far more than in any other five-year period in history.
Thus rolling over such a massive amount of debt has become much more expensive at a time when prices keep falling. And defaults are already beginning – such as Brookfield Asset Management and PIMCO failing to recently refinance.
II. Office space vacancies mount as businesses struggle to get workers to come back into the office.
For context, over 25% of U.S. employees still work remotely (up from 5.7% in 2018). And U.S. metro office space vacancies just hit 18.7% – which marks an all-time high.
This matters because if more individuals work from home, companies don’t need excess office space. So they’re canceling leases, or simply selling marginal properties.
And we’ve seen this over the last year as companies – from Meta and Intel to Chevron and Wells Fargo – downsize in big ways.
Breaking leases and selling commercial real estate will further eat away at rent margins and sink property prices (as supply overwhelms demand).
III. There was a glut of commercial real estate built over the last few years. And there’s still a ton coming online.
For perspective – as of February 2023 – there’s about 125 million square feet (M-sqft) of office space under construction. And another 271.3 M-sqft in the planning stages.
Making matters worse – according to CoStart – there’s currently 232 M-sqft of surplus commercial real estate up for subleasing. Which is twice the level from before 2020.
Now, I expect much of that planned construction won’t continue. But what’s already being built is a huge amount.
Thus – as I’ve written about before regarding the capital cycle – these builders are adding supply into a glut (typical in the late stage of the cycle).
This will weigh down building prices and rents further as the supply increases at a time when demand is already anemic.
So, it’s not hard to see that the commercial real estate market is growing increasingly fragile from both structural issues (debt and work-from-home) and cyclical downside (higher interest rates and overbuilding).
But the big question is, who’s most at risk of further downside?
Commercial Real Estate and Smaller Banks – An Unbalanced and Fragile Dance
I think it’s clear that the downside in commercial real estate outweighs any upside in the years ahead.
And while many focus on this aspect, I’d rather look at what negative ripple effects this will cause.
Hence why I’m looking at smaller banks. . .
Now, what do I mean by smaller banks?
The U.S. government describes small banks (or rather community banks) as having assets of less than $1.384 billion in either of the last two calendar years.
So – according to recent data – that’s about 3,725 banks in the U.S. (out of the roughly 4,200 total commercial banks)
And while these ‘community’ banks hold less than about 10% of total assets in the banking system (give or take) – they’re the lifeblood in smaller and rural markets.
So, what’s the issue here?
Well, these community banks are extremely exposed to the commercial real estate market.
To put this into context – according to Morgan Stanley – U.S. banks currently hold roughly 38% of all commercial real estate debt.
Meaning banks hold $1.8 trillion of the total $4.5 trillion debt.
And out of that, nearly 30% is held by small banks (compared to just 7% for large banks).
More worrisome is that the acceleration in commercial real estate loans by small banks has soared over the last decade. Rising from roughly $800 billion in 2012 to $2 trillion in mid-2022.
But most troubling is the sharp rise in the last two years. . .
And according to MSCI Real Assets, landlords received about 27% of financing from local and regional banks in 2022 – which was the biggest source of newly originated debt.
Other data – according to Goldman Sachs via FT – shows banks with less than $250 billion in assets make up about 80% of commercial real estate loans.
Thus it’s no stretch to say that the smaller banks are disproportionately leveraged in the commercial real estate market.
But here’s where the amplifying feedback loop comes in. . .
Since commercial real estate depends on a hefty amount of financing from smaller banks, these smaller banks also depend on commercial real estate prices and incomes.
When income streams from leases and property values rise, banks will make loans (as it’s profitable and secured by increasing property prices).
But when property prices (which back the loan) fall, and incomes erode (increasing default risk) – things sour.
Banks won’t extend new loans into the sector. And without new financing, these commercial real estate owners can’t roll over their debt. So they’ll sell, pushing down prices further as supply increases relative to anemic demand.
Thus reinforcing the feedback loop as banks suffer losses and tighten credit further. And on and on.
So, why does this matter now?
Because since early-2022, banks have started tightening credit standards in big ways. Especially in the commercial real estate market.
For instance – over the last year – the net percentage of domestic banks tightening credit standards for commercial real estate loans has soared to 70% in Q1-2023.
This is problematic as a tidal wave of commercial real estate debt comes due in the next few years – with $900 billion maturing by 2025.
And these owners need access to credit.
Without it, they’ll end up forced to default and liquidate.
This will also affect smaller bank balance sheets in a big way. Since they’re extremely entrenched in the commercial real estate sector.
For instance – after SVB collapsed in early March – it put a bright light on the massive losses facing loan books for commercial real estate debt.
When regulators sold off $72 billion from SVB, it went for a $16.4 billion discount from what they were “valued” at on their books.
That means they went for roughly 77 cents on the dollar (or a 23% discount).
Now, it’s important to say that not all of the assets sold off from SVB were commercial real estate related. Roughly just $3 billion of their $13 billion real estate loans were commercial real estate.
But this gives us a look at the potential issue banks are facing with unrealized losses (meaning the prices they’ll get if sold on the market).
Or – putting it another way – smaller banks are going to have to deal with some serious write-downs (i.e. the difference between what they think their worth vs. what the market will pay)
For perspective, Barclays expects office-building valuations to drop by 30% over the next few years.
This will put steep pressure on small-to-medium bank loan books – since they’ve extended most of the credit to this sector.
Making matters worse, small banks have seen deposits fly out the door after the SVB blowup.
Smaller banks saw deposits drop by a record amount – down $109 billion through March 15th. And over $200 billion by the 27th.
This marks a 1.5% year-over-year decline – which is the first annual drop since 1986.
And if these smaller banks suffer further deposit outflows, they may have to sell assets in a hurry (and at a discount).
It’s important to remember that banks are black boxes – aka something with internals that are usually hidden or mysterious to onlookers.
Even the best analysts don’t really know what bank loan books are truly worth.
But one thing seems clear, the commercial real estate sector is growing more and more fragile.
And with it, so are the smaller banks that extended credit to them.
The black swans are lurking.
A federal judge sided with commercial landlords Friday, ruling that a Covid-era protection for retail tenants is unconstitutional.
For owners whose tenants fell behind on rent during the pandemic, the decision offers a chance to recoup some of that lost money.
Elias Bochner, landlord to a Chelsea burger joint that went under during Covid, and other commercial property owners sued the city over the rule in 2020. He claimed it violated the U.S. Constitution’s Contract Clause, which bars governments from making laws that interfere with private contracts.
The city initially won a motion to dismiss that suit. Judge Ronnie Abrams ruled that case law gave “substantial deference” to policymakers working in the public interest, as was the case during the pandemic.
Landlords appealed and won a favorable ruling in October 2021. The court identified several “serious concerns” that the guaranty law was not a reasonable means to uphold public interest, as required by the Contract Clause, and sent the case back to Judge Abrams.
On the last day of March, Abrams ruled that the city did not produce enough evidence to show the guaranty law “is reasonably tailored to accomplish its legitimate policy goals.”
Different landlords filed a state lawsuit to challenge the city law, which was sponsored by City Council member Carlina Rivera of Manhattan, but lost on appeal.
For commercial landlords whose tenants fell behind on rent from March 2020 to June 2021 and whose leases held them personally liable for that debt, the ruling is a huge win. Those landlords may now be able to go after those tenants’ assets, said Sherwin Belkin of the law firm Belkin Burden Goldman.
The Real Estate Board of New York celebrated the decision as precedent-setting for commercial real estate.
“We applaud the Court’s thoughtful and meticulous review of the record and believe this litigation will have important precedential value,” said the group’s general counsel, Carl Hum.
Kent largest independent estate agent has announced a brand new technology that will let potential buyers try out their new home ‘virtually’.
Wards is taking a huge leap into the future with Live-in VR, a headset that allows people to live inside any of their properties around the county for up to three months before they buy.
The headset is similar to the popular Metaverse video game headset and is expected to “reinvent the way people view and buy their next home”.
All customers have to do is sign a 13-page waiver at one of the specialist facilities owned by Arun Estates, the parent company of Wards, and they will have access to hundreds of properties at the click of a button.
“I was blown away by how realistic the experience was,” exclaimed one virtual tester.
“You are able to cook, clean, watch TV, have a bath, and even redecorate!”
Testers were able to sit on their sofa and do everything they could wish to do in their potential new home without even leaving the house, all through the magic of a headset.
The technology has not been launched just yet, but it has been tested during an extensive eight-month trial which was largely successful – however, there were some issues that had to be ironed out during the testing period.
“We did struggle to re-integrate some of our test subjects back into society after many of them moved straight into a new property after their three-month trial,” says Domestic Energy Assessor Neil Martin.
“The phone lines of our Central Sales Hub were filled with concerned spouses.”
“We have also drastically improved the airflow system within the spaces. We hadn’t accounted for the smell of 10 or 15 people not showering for several weeks.”
Live-in VR will soon be available to all Wards customers.
On March 28, the CFPB issued a determination that state disclosure laws covering lending to businesses in California, New York, Utah, and Virginia are not preempted by TILA. The preemption determination confirms a preliminary determination issued by the Bureau in December, in which the agency concluded that the states’ statutes regulate commercial financing transactions and not consumer-purpose transactions (covered by InfoBytes here). The Bureau explained that a number of states have recently enacted laws requiring improved disclosure of information contained in commercial financing transactions, including loans to small businesses. A written request was sent to the Bureau requesting a preemption determination involving certain disclosure provisions in TILA. While Congress expressly granted the Bureau authority to evaluate whether any inconsistencies exist between certain TILA provisions and state laws and to make a preemption determination, the statute’s implementing regulations require the agency to request public comments before making a final determination. In making its preliminary determination last December, the Bureau concluded that the state and federal laws do not appear “contradictory” for preemption purposes, and that “differences between the New York and Federal disclosure requirements do not frustrate these purposes because lenders are not required to provide the New York disclosures to consumers seeking consumer credit.”
After considering public comments following the preliminary determination, the Bureau again concluded that “[s]tates have broad authority to establish their own protections for their residents, both within and outside the scope of [TILA].” In affirming that the states’ commercial financing disclosure laws do not conflict with TILA, the Bureau emphasized that “commercial financing transactions to businesses—and any disclosures associated with such transactions—are beyond the scope of TILA’s statutory purposes, which concern consumer credit.”
Pushing back against politicized investing, 21 state attorneys general signed onto a letter late Thursday warning 53 top asset management companies about the legal perils of focusing on environmental, social, and governance standards, known as ESG.
The attorneys general’s letter is addressed to financial management firms—including BlackRock, JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs—that oversee a total of $40 billion in assets.
“We are writing this open letter to asset manager industry participants to raise our concerns about the ongoing agreements between asset managers to use Americans’ savings to push political goals during the upcoming proxy season,” says the 21-page letter, which was led by Attorneys General Austin Knudsen of Montana, Jeff Landry of Louisiana, and Sean Reyes of Utah, all Republicans.
Also signing on to the letter were Republican attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
“As explained further below, asset managers have committed to use client assets to change portfolio company behavior so that it aligns with the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goal of achieving net zero [carbon emissions] by 2050,” the state attorneys general’s letter continues. “This specific, political commitment changes the terms of the products offered, as well as engagements with individual companies.”
Asset managers are legally required to act in the best fiduciary interests of their clients. In their letter, the state attorneys general specifically raise concerns about asset managers that, instead of acting in clients’ interests, push the goals of Climate Action 100+, an investor group aiming to combat climate change by influencing companies that emit greenhouse gases, and the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative, a global investor group that supports the Paris climate accord.
Beyond climate change, activist asset managers push political issues such as abortion, race, gender, and political spending, the letter notes.
“We will continue to evaluate activity in this area in line with our ongoing investigations into potential unlawful coordination and other violations that may stem from the commitments you and others have made as part of Climate Action 100+, Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative, or the like,” the attorneys general add.
The letter notes that, at shareholder meetings in 2023, asset managers will need “to choose between their legal duties to focus on financial return, and the policy goals of ESG activists,” since banks, insurers, and utility and energy companies face proposals from activists.
The letter from the state attorneys general is encouraging, said Will Hild, executive director of Consumers’ Research, a 94-year-old nonprofit organization that looks out for consumers.
“This is real leadership on display. Asset management firms have long used proxy season as means to force their woke agenda on the American people,” Hild told The Daily Signal. “Fortunately, actions from groups like ours and leaders at the state and federal level have pulled back the curtain on ESG and our country is finally seeing this scam for what it really is. With this letter, the attorneys general are sending these asset management firms a clear message, stay in your lane, or face legal action.”
The attorneys general directe the letter to these 53 asset management companies:
|Acadian Asset Management LLC · Acadian Asset Management LLC|
|Aegon Asset Management|
|Allspring Global Investments, LLC|
|Brandywine Global Investment Management, LLC|
|Brown Advisory LLC|
|CBRE Investment Management|
|Clearidge Investments, LLC|
|Crescent Capital Group LP|
|DigitalBridge Group, Inc.|
|Fisher Asset Management, LLC|
|Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. LLC|
|GreenPoint Group, LP|
|HSBC Asset Management (USA) Inc.|
|Insight North America LLC|
|Intech Investment Management LLC|
|J.P. Morgan Asset Management Inc.|
|Jennison Associates LLC|
|LaSalle Investment Management, Inc.|
|Lazard Asset Management LLC|
|Loomis, Sayles & Company, L.P.|
|Lord, Abbett & Co. LLC|
|Los Angeles Capital Management|
|Macquarie Asset Management|
|Mellon Investments Corporation|
|MFS Investment Management|
|Northern Trust AM|
|PanAgora Asset Management, Inc.|
|Parametric Portfolio Associates LLC|
|Payden & Rygel|
|Pzena Investment Management|
|Russell Investments Group, LLC|
|Sanders Capital LLC|
|State Street Global Advisors|
|Stonepeak Partners LP|
|The TCW Group, Inc|
|T Rowe Price Group|
|Vista Equity Partners Management, LLC|
|Wellington Management Company LLP|
|Western Asset Management Company, LLC|
|William Blair Investment Management, LLC|
Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com, and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.