Brick-and-Mortar Meltdown Sinks Property Prices

Other sectors are weak too, but one sector is hot.

Commercial real estate prices soared relentlessly for years after the Financial Crisis, to such a degree that the Fed has been publicly fretting about them. Why? Because US financial institutions hold nearly $4 trillion of commercial real estate loans. But the boom in most CRE sectors is over.

The Green Street Property Price Index – which measures values across five major property sectors – had soared 107% from May 2009 to the plateau that began late last year, and 27% from the peak of the totally crazy prior bubble that ended with such spectacular fireworks. But it has now turned around, dragged down by a plunge in prices for retail space.

The CPPI by Green Street Advisors dropped 1.1% in October from September. In terms of points, the 1.4-point decline was the largest monthly decline since March 2009. The index is now below where it had been in June 2016:

This phenomenal bubble, as depicted by the chart above, has even worried the Fed because US financial institutions hold nearly $4 trillion of CRE loans, according to Boston Fed governor Eric Rosengren earlier this year. Of them, $1.2 trillion are held by smaller banks (less than $50 billion in assets). These smaller banks tends to have a loan book that is heavily concentrated on CRE loans, and these banks are less able to withstand shocks to collateral values.

Rosengren found that among the root causes of the Financial Crisis “was a significant decline in collateral values of residential and commercial real estate.”

But the CRE bubble isn’t unraveling as gently as the chart suggests. Some sectors are still surging, while others are plunging. According to the report, the index, which captures the prices at which CRE transactions are currently being negotiated and contracted, “was pushed down by falling mall valuations.”

Which sector is plunging, and which is soaring?

Brick-and-mortar retail space is getting crushed. The index for strip retail fell 5% year-over-year. And the index for mall prices plunged 6% in just the month of October from September – a huge move in one month – and are down 11% from a year ago.

The self-storage sector, formerly the hottest sector of them all, having surged 180% since the trough of the Financial Crisis, has turned cold, and prices are down 3% year-over year.

Lodging took a 12% plunge that started in 2015, and it never recovered. It has remained essentially flat since, currently with a 1% gain over the beaten-down levels last year. Lodging has been under attack from a structural shift to home-sharing rentals, such as Airbnb, and even at its peak in 2015, the index barely hit its peak before the Financial Crisis, before dropping again. It is now down about 10% from its 2007 peak.

The industrial sector is hot. The index jumped 10% year-over-year in October. Industrial includes warehouse space for “fulfillment centers,” as Amazon calls them. They are in hot demand, not only from Amazon, which has been leasing them around the country, but also from other logistics and retail companies involved in the online retail boom.

The apartment sector is still hanging on by its fingernails, with prices up a measly 1% from a year ago, but down from their peak.

The office sector index rose 3% year-over-year. While price growth has slowed, there has been no significant decline in recent months.

Healthcare is still rising, up 4% year-over-year, as the industry takes up an ever larger slice of the US economy.

The CPPI is based on estimates of private-market value for REIT portfolios across the five major property sectors with an aggregate asset value of $600 billion, according to Green Street Advisors. Since REITs own high-quality properties, the index measures the value of institutional-quality commercial real estate.

Investors tend to jump on the next hot trend, and years ago, they jumped on retail malls in the hope that the American consumer couldn’t ever be crushed. That is likely true. But that consumer has changed buying habits, and malls are being left out. Maybe these folks should have bought gold coins instead. At least they’d have something that doesn’t have to be razed, which is the fate many malls are facing.

CRE is clearly showing the side effects of the structural switch to online retailing. For retailers with a large brick-and-mortar presence that are trying to restructure their operations and finances to survive in this era, or for their landlords such as REITs, this structural change will drag out for years and will be painful. But for some, this (creative) destruction in the brick-and-mortar meltdown is already painful. Read…  Malls and their Hapless Investors Keep Getting Crushed




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  63 comments for “Brick-and-Mortar Meltdown Sinks Property Prices

  1. Rob
    Nov 6, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    The private bank I used to work in managed to stick $500m into Blackstones $18bn Q1 2016 US commercial real estate fund. Nailing the top for this cycle. The only reason the chart isnt far worse is the tardiness of Clamity Janet with interest rates at 1.25% when in the last cycle they were at 5.25% when U6 was below 8%.

  2. TJ Martin
    Nov 6, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Here in Colorado

    Warehouse space is at a premium with year + waiting lists for new constructions etc while every other commercial real estate sector including office space crashes and burns . The customer ? The Cannabis industry

    • Smingles
      Nov 7, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      Warehouse space is at a premium in a lot of the country. If it were for cannabis nationwide, we might have a happier country!

      We had clients invest in a private industrial real estate fund earlier this year. It’s primarily new warehouse space (these places are HUGE– like multiple football fields large), located around the country in various ‘distribution corridors’ (think sections of the country where major highways intersect that are near big population centers). Their main customer is the Amazons, Walmarts, etc. of the world– basically e-retail.

      • yngso
        Nov 9, 2017 at 2:12 pm

        Places to keep lots of unsold stuff?

    • rex
      Nov 17, 2017 at 9:13 am

      So you postulate the cannabis industry requires these huge, multi acre concrete warehouses? Ever peak inside one of these cavernous monsters? I assert that just one would hold enough grow and storage facilities to support the marijuana needs of the entire state for a year or more!
      rx

  3. Nov 6, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    Lodging seems headed for the same trainwreck as retail malls. Some offer weekly and monthly rates, but the group is over built. Also some cities are raising the hotel tax, to pay for infrastructure they stiff the tourists. San Diego was going to build a new football stadium using a hike in the hotel tax, the team went to LA instead. The seasonal rental business is strong though NIMBYs pushback and low income motels have a reputation for crime. The cultural shifts like in retail malls, will make a difference.

  4. Albnyc
    Nov 6, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    The only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history. This time is never, ever different in its end, just in its end games.

    • intosh
      Nov 6, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      I begin to believe that it is not about learning from history but the fear of missing out. Even if they understand history, most people could not cope with the fear of missing out.

      I see people around me getting into the stock market just now! And getting into the cryptocurrency craze too, for good measure. You try to explain to them how risky these moves are but it is futile, because you are wrong and they are right. Why? Simple: they are making money now; and while you say it is very risky, they retort: “Tell me when exactly will the crash occur, otherwise, it is useless to tell me how risky it is.”

      It’s like speeding on icy roads. It’s risky? So what? They arrived at destination faster, with no incident. So you are wrong.

      That’s the prevailing thinking — they know history but they are convinced they can make tons of money before any downturn. In a sense, they are right. It’s like going to the casino. You can’t tell them they shouldn’t play because the house has better odds. They will tell you that every day, someone walks out of the casino a winner.

      As long as there is no crash, they are right, and you are wrong.

      • van_down_by_river
        Nov 6, 2017 at 5:01 pm

        You’ve done a great job describing why people are speculating in what would appear to be a bubble and I like your analogy of speeding down an icy road – you may arrive safely to your destination this time but if you make it a habit you will probably have a wreck in your future.

        On the other hand, what if the central banks decide to never allow markets to correct. The current bull market has had some bumps along the way but each time the central banks rushed in to support the market – what if these market interventions are now a permanent mandate?

        What if markets aren’t going up but instead currencies are actually going down? In that case the road isn’t really covered with black ice and the driver speeding down the road is not in really in danger – he may actually be taking the safer course by arriving at his destination before it gets dark.

        • intosh
          Nov 7, 2017 at 12:12 am

          “What if markets aren’t going up but instead currencies are actually going down?”

          Interesting but depressing for savers like me and for those staying on the side lines — we are going on reverse, on a safe road.

          On the other hand, those speeding down the safe road may feel more and more confident and go ever faster; then one day, a deer jumps out onto the middle of the road.

        • Bobber
          Nov 7, 2017 at 10:12 am

          This is why there is a bubble. There is a belief out that that the Fed can protect everybody by providing liquidity when needed. The problem is that stocks prices and greed keep rising. With speculation this high, the Fed is forced to increase interest rates to prevent the bubble from rising quickly and exploding.

          Thus, while Fed may like high stock prices, it doesn’t want them too high. I expect the Fed would like to see a 20% drop from here, and it will keep increasing interest rates until that happens.

          The Fed will of course support markets, but it will not support insane markets that are an immediate threat to the world economy.

          Wait for a 20% dip, then buy. Keep a chunk in reserve in case the drop gets out of hand.

        • intosh
          Nov 7, 2017 at 12:00 pm

          Bobber,

          Down 20% is essentially back to prices 12 months ago. Still in bubble territory by many measures.

        • yngso
          Nov 9, 2017 at 2:21 pm

          Why believe that the central banksters can manipuñate everythinh forever

          The central banksters only blow bubbles which can’t last forever.

      • Anon1970
        Nov 6, 2017 at 8:02 pm

        Show them a chart of the Dow Jones Industrial averge from, say 1920 to 1940. Only time will tell if we are at the tail end of the stock market bubble, but it certainly looks like 1928 or early 1929 for the FANG stocks. Unfortunately, the Fed has made the bond market look like a suckers’ game. I haven’t bought a bond since 2011.

        • Smingles
          Nov 7, 2017 at 2:14 pm

          “Unfortunately, the Fed has made the bond market look like a suckers’ game. I haven’t bought a bond since 2011.”

          Between 2011 and the election in 2017, long dated treasuries (e.g. 20-30 year) had returned nearly as much as the S&P 500. That gap has widened significantly since then, as yields spiked after the election and the market took off, but that gap can narrow in a heartbeat if there is any decent sized sell off in the future.

      • JB
        Nov 6, 2017 at 9:56 pm

        Keep in mind , Intosh, that these are “paper profits”.

        • Night-Train
          Nov 6, 2017 at 11:11 pm

          Well, if the “paper profits” are for all that cannabis in those Colorado warehouses, they might be very real and significant. :)

  5. JM Keynes
    Nov 6, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    – Are there any stocks or that are (heavily) invested in CRE ? Are there any ETFs listed ?

  6. alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
    Nov 6, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    I’m near the San Jose airport. I’d consider it a fairly “prime” area simply because it *is* near the airport, it’s easy to get to by two different freeways, PayPal’s just up the road, bunch of other well-known tech companies too, but the number of empty places is amazing. I’m talking about 1000-3000sf but bigger too. Just up and down Brokaw Road, there are tons of empty store fronts – not typical retail, but places that sell commercial fasteners, do circuit boards, sell safety equipment, as well as an (expensive) exercise gym that’s open late, a place that sells billiards tables, etc. These are the places still there. But my friend and I had no problem finding a place for $1/sf that while it’s not in the most beautiful location (it’s across from a cement plant) is perfect for our needs. There are a lot of places to choose from. Even downtown, there are more empty buildings and store fronts than there were 5 years ago.

    • wkevinw
      Nov 7, 2017 at 12:57 am

      The financial results of the publicly traded companies in the US (whole globe?) are very narrow.

      All of the profits of the S&P500 (maybe all?) companies are in the top 200 earning companies. That means that for every $ earned in the lower level companies, a $ is lost by another company. Some huge percentage of all the profits in the world over the past 10 years have been earned by Apple, for example (sorry I don’t have the numbers in front of me).

      So, you get the modern CA economy: half of the richest counties in the US, but the highest fraction of people living in poverty of ALL of the states. Also, the 8th grade public education achievement (tests) are down to #46 (yes, CA is down there with the poor southern states). The homeless problem is significant.

      That is modern CA. It is most definitely not the state I grew up and was educated in. That is sadly gone.

      The government in power for the past 20+ years has given this result, mostly the state government, but the US federal government has done its part.

      We can’t keep financializing and bailing out all the companies and governments that keep blowing up. Failure has to have pain associated with it so other companies and governments avoid it in the future. (see: moral hazard).

  7. Anon1970
    Nov 6, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    I’ll be interested to see how Jared Kusher’s investment in the 666 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan office building turns out. I think he should have declined to serve in the Trump administration and looked after his real estate interests instead. He may turn out to be one of the biggest losers during the Trump years in Washington.

    • IdahoPotato
      Nov 6, 2017 at 5:46 pm

      Don’t worry, the Saudis have it covered. He’s been there recently up chatting upto 4 a.m. with the new Crown Prince.

  8. DK
    Nov 6, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Not just on-line retailers taking business. I’ve heard that Air BnB is taking a big bite out of the lodging sector. And is growing.
    Will the Fed will be buying a bunch of this craptacular CRE paper when it starts to really crater. At least from their biggest members?

    • Nov 6, 2017 at 5:22 pm

      The index for the lodging sector is down about 12% from its peak in 2015. It is now about 10% below 2007 bubble peak.

      The Fed buys mortgage backed securities that are guaranteed by the GSEs (Fannie Mae, etc.), both single-family and multi-family — so apartment buildings. That’s something to watch. But it doesn’t buy lodging-backed securities because they’re (not yet) guaranteed by the government.

    • Mike G
      Nov 6, 2017 at 8:08 pm

      Anecdotally I’ve noticed rates at mid-range motels/hotels, through Priceline/Hotwire and such, going up substantially in California in the last couple of years. Which surprises me because I keep reading how Air B&B is eating that sector for lunch.

      • Bellinghouse
        Nov 7, 2017 at 7:15 am

        Ditto. I just paid $200 (incl tax) for the Courtyard by Marriott Oxnard! Even the 1* where you might get shot in the parking lot were charging $150. Sheesh!

      • chris Hauser
        Nov 7, 2017 at 11:05 pm

        raising prices in the face of declining demand keeps profits up, and then one day it doesn’t.

        as to CRE, too much cap rate compression, and too much, well, a lot of too much.

        but what do i know, i’m just beginning to learn the real estate business.

  9. Petunia
    Nov 6, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    They recently opened a hostel in New Orleans to compete with hotels and Airbnb. A cheaper bunk bed in a safe shared room, for those that can’t afford Airbnb or a hotel. The trend is towards cheaper everything because the working class has no money.

    • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
      Nov 6, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      There’s long been an Indian hostel that’s $20 a night in New Orleans. I’d happily pay that and smell curry all day; I like curry. I suspect there are a lot of places like that.

    • Rates
      Nov 6, 2017 at 5:59 pm

      “The working class has no money”. I say otherwise. If that’s the case, we would already be lurching in a crisis.

      I’ve just realized for the first time how much support the government is giving the unemployed.

      • Petunia
        Nov 6, 2017 at 6:55 pm

        The govt gives very little support to the unemployed. They put a lot of conditions on all their programs so people can’t or won’t sign up. My husband lost jobs during the financial crisis and didn’t qualify for benefits because you have to have 20 months of continuous employment to qualify. A string of temporary jobs isn’t enough. Even when we had no income and no assets we didn’t qualify for govt benefits. Food stamps did give us $79 one time. This after decades of being a taxpayers.

        However, had we been illegal immigrants they would have given us housing, food stamps, and third party charity money, and endless scholarship money for our son.

        • Rates
          Nov 6, 2017 at 7:02 pm

          The brutality this country visits on its citizens never ceases to amaze me.

        • Nick
          Nov 6, 2017 at 7:44 pm

          That should be easily solved — simply renounce your citizenship, and then you too can enjoy the sweet, sweet benefits that you believe illegal immigrants revel in.

        • Mike G
          Nov 6, 2017 at 8:03 pm

          I don’t comprehend this persistent myth about some secret super-generous welfare system of free stuff only available to illegal immigrants. The ones in my town toil at hard crappy jobs, ride old bicycles and live in high density in crappy housing.

        • Petunia
          Nov 6, 2017 at 9:48 pm

          Nike,

          I would definitely pretend to be an illegal. In fact I’m going to pick a country I want to be deported to.

          Mike G,

          My comments were about the state of Florida. The only reason we got the $79 in food stamps is because I speak Spanish and was able to use the Spanish telephone line to apply. I spent many days trying to use the English line first and nobody ever answered on those lines. The Spanish lines pick up right away. There are lines for other foreign languages as well. In fact they sent me the paperwork I needed to fill out in Creole.

          In Florida all illegals get a payment of $1400 for just showing up. I don’t remember whether that’s a state or federal payment. They also get temporary housing and private charity money from multiple sources. We didn’t qualify for any of it as citizens. The only charity we got came from a food bank we used a couple of times.

        • Lee
          Nov 7, 2017 at 1:52 am

          Nick,

          In order to renounce your US citizenship there are a number of steps you must take.

          You can not just say bye bye. You have to actually renounce in front of an official from the US consulate or embassy.

          Plus with the demand from people increasing IIRC the fee is ow US$3400.

          Finally, you have to fill out a nice form from the IRS to make sure that you have paid all your taxes for the past five years AND if you have over a certain amount of income or assets there are more rules and laws to follow which may include making you pay an exit tax or tax for another five years after you leave on your income.

          Easier for an illegal in the USA to scam the system than a normal citizen to claim benefits or actually give up citizenship.

          I should have done it years ago when it was cheap and easier.

        • Bellinghouse
          Nov 7, 2017 at 7:24 am

          Your comment about qualifying for govt benefits just isn’t true, Petunia. I help my mother with the paperwork that keeps her enrolled in many of the programs you mention. She is in her 80’s, born in Virginia and makes $800 a month in Social Security. I go with her to the welfare office, and the staff here in CA is professional and fairly administers these programs. You either qualify or you don’t.

        • Petunia
          Nov 7, 2017 at 8:57 am

          Bellinghouse,

          Please don’t call me a liar. I didn’t live in CA and obviously the state of Florida has different qualifying criteria. We got $79 from food stamps and not one penny more. We sold our wedding rings after over twenty years of marriage to buy groceries and keep the lights on. To this day we haven’t been able to replace our wedding rings and we probably never will, it’s a reminder of how bad things got.

          Just yesterday I was reading the Miami papers and the Haitians are complaining about their benefits, non citizens specifically.

      • Michael Fiorillo
        Nov 6, 2017 at 7:27 pm

        That government assistance may help people subsist, but it’s not going to do much for a mass consumption-based economy, which CRE is still predicated on.

        • Gershon
          Nov 7, 2017 at 8:13 am

          The brutality this country visits on its citizens never ceases to amaze me.

          This is what the Sheeple are voting for every time they pull the lever for a Republicrat Duopoly candidate. When the sheeple vote for predatory capitalism’s enablers, they lose the right to complain about getting what they voted for.

        • Petunia
          Nov 7, 2017 at 12:14 pm

          Gershon,

          NAFTA, welfare reform, and the crime bill were signed by Slick Willie. And I’m still embarrassed to admit I voted for him the first time. At least the other side doesn’t pretend to care.

    • Alex
      Nov 14, 2017 at 3:16 pm

      The issue with AirBnB will be its regulation (see recent regulations implemented in French Quarter) and NIMBYism amongst residents in multifamily structures who rightfully are reticent to open their complex to possibly dangerous/disruptive transients. I live in a complex owned by a publicly-traded REIT and if I was caught listing on AirBnb, i’m pretty sure I’d be evicted on the spot. Morgan Stanley posted a report recently documenting these regulations’ effect on growth in heavy-tourism markets such as New York and New Orleans.

      The real issue for hotels is new supply. The market is definitely overbuilt and some homogeneous “boutique” properties may end up being re purposed into much needed housing in dense/overbuilt markets like New York .

  10. OutLookingIn
    Nov 6, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    On the surface things look rosy.
    Now look under hood at the CMBS sector.
    The Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities in their various forms;
    eg: mutual funds, trusts, exchange traded funds, bonds, etc.
    Are in a turmoil of liquidity capital flows, as wealth seekers not only seek a safer haven, but one with yield, no matter how small.

    Many of these financial products that are commercial mortgage backed, have found their way into derivatives, compliments of the big Wall street banks and sold to customers around the globe. Many buyers are pension funds and sovereign wealth funds, with some systemically important central banks owning large portfolios of these toxic instruments.

    Not a question of ‘if’ these financial products turn sour, its a question of when. Indications abound that this is now the case. As they rot on balance sheets and the pressure builds, the subsequent blow up will be epic.

  11. mick
    Nov 6, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    The narrative which says the FED didn’t expect this bubble or is worried about it is comical. The FED purposefully creates bubbles and then bursts them, making money for the big banks on both ends.

    The FED’s mandate is to extract wealth from the public, using sophisticated monetary strategies combined with deep, thorough, and real time economic data which their state of the art big data programs assimilate into useful info that can be capitalized on.

    But no, they’re just as clued out as the average day trader and know less than the mainstream media puts out on a daily basis.

    If you believe that, naive doesn’t even come close to describing you.

    • walter map
      Nov 6, 2017 at 6:35 pm

      Agreed. The poker faces are just that. These guys are the hungriest sharks available, and the quantities of money are so gigantic – trillions – that you can be assured the Fed has its strategies finely honed down to the billions. A few hundred million here and there wouldn’t even show up in the background noise.

      • Smingles
        Nov 7, 2017 at 3:07 pm

        Meh. I work with a former Fed economist. My impression is they’re mostly nerdy academics who live in a world of models and have trouble understanding anything outside that, as for most of them it’s all they’ve known in their professional lives.

        • chris Hauser
          Nov 7, 2017 at 11:20 pm

          yep, and some people find that nefarious.

          just removed, that’s all.

    • JZ
      Nov 6, 2017 at 9:27 pm

      And what are you going to do? I guess so.

    • Gershon
      Nov 7, 2017 at 9:17 am

      The narrative which says the FED didn’t expect this bubble or is worried about it is comical. The FED purposefully creates bubbles and then bursts them, making money for the big banks on both ends.

      Amen. These gold-collar criminals and their bankster cohorts are not the bunglers some in here choose to believe they are. Rather, they are the most brilliantly successful fraud syndicate and wealth transfer racket in human history.

  12. Maximus Minimus
    Nov 6, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    One of the most overbuilt sectors surely must be the tourism industry. Decades ago, when I went on a skiing trip, the area almost universally was a mountain village with a few hotels. Nowadays, a small town has sprung up around the still expanding hotels, all fueled by cheap credit, and the re never goes down mantra – the result of serial, continual bailouts whenever the overall market start to crash under it’s own weight. I would have thought that the so called “greens” would have connected this with their save the planet cries, and demand a return to sound money policy, but that would be a wish to far.

    • Lee
      Nov 7, 2017 at 1:55 am

      Go to Japan and see what a real tourism boom is like – you wouldn’t believe it.

      Huge numbers of foreigners running around and all over the place spending up big.

      Hotels there are making up for all the previous bad years.

      Tourism is helping keep the Japanese economy alive and providing jobs and markets for its people and companies.

  13. Kreditanstalt
    Nov 6, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    How can it be a “Green Street Property PRICE Index” while supposedly measuring property “values”?

    If the present bubblicious climate has taught investors/bettors one thing, it’s that there are no longer “values”, at least certainly not for everyone, all the time…only “prices”.

  14. Rates
    Nov 6, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    The obvious solution is to have Fannie/Freddie cover Commercial Buildings as well. Heck create a new body called Commie (pun intended).

    The Fed’s concerned about Commercial Real Estate NOT because the price is too high, rather it’s because they can’t buy these directly through QE.

  15. LAPilot
    Nov 6, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    CRE is going to look like a walk in the park compared to what’s coming down the barrel at residential real estate.

  16. pw
    Nov 6, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    “The industrial sector is hot. The index jumped 10% year-over-year in October. Industrial includes warehouse space for “fulfillment centers,” as Amazon calls them. They are in hot demand, not only from Amazon, which has been leasing them around the country, but also from other logistics and retail companies involved in the online retail boom.”

    In Colorado at least, this includes warehouse space for the marijuana industry.

  17. Night-Train
    Nov 6, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    Not to start an argument, or get too far off topic, but responding to Petunia above, many of the things you have said about welfare programs are misleading , if not incorrect. My wife worked in our state’s DHR program for 30 years; two in Aid to Dependent Children and 28 as a Food Stamp supervisor. Our state has no Welfare Program for adults, save food stamps for which there are asset limits. These programs were designed to help people survive, not to keep people in 3,000 sq. ft. $500,000 homes and driving 2 $50,000 autos.

    You can always find anecdotal accounts of abuse and misuse, but there is nothing I have heard more urban myths and misconceptions about than Welfare. Except possibly shale oil plays.

    • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
      Nov 7, 2017 at 5:51 am

      Night-Train – As a childhood recipient of Welfare and Food Stamps, and an adult recipient of Food Stamps, thank you.

      Yes, Food Stamps are only awarded if you really have nothing at all. That’s why they were easy to get in central Arizona, because they believed you when you said you have no work; there was no work to be had there. In California they’re more skeptical because there’s work out here.

      Food stamp and welfare fraud is actually very low. The only fraud I saw was the thing where people would pay you 50c on the dollar for your food stamps. When I was a kid they were actual paper coupons, that people would just buy. These days, it’s an EBT card, and typically they pay you cash and then they either make out a shopping list or you go shopping together, because you have to put in a PIN. And there are store owners who will, say, sell you a carton of cigs and a bottle of vodka for $100 and chalk up $200 in hotdogs, milk, etc on your EBT card.

      Without Food Stamps this country would be f*cked. I personally would like to see more education on how to purchase and cook foods wisely, but then the snack/junk food industries would suffer bigtime. These days I eat very good food and astonishingly, I’m only spending $150-$200 a month which is about what you get on food stamps.

      And indeed, there are asset limits, I think it’s $3k or is it $1500? If you own anything beyond your basic clothing, a desk, a chair, a small TV, and maybe a jalopy with 200k on the clock, you don’t get food stamps. If you’ve got more than that, you’ve got to sell it before you get food stamps.

      Oh – another form of food stamp fraud that actually exists. A poor person had food stamps and no other “income” and they want a place to live. A person who has a garage, a backyard shed, a broken-down RV in the backyard, etc., will let them live in that, and pay by buying them food on their food stamps. Their own food? They must beg, forage, collect cans, hit the food banks, etc.

    • Bellinghouse
      Nov 7, 2017 at 7:36 am

      No one in their right mind would want to be on these programs if they could afford otherwise. The myth that people using social services are living high on the hog has been around since I was a kid. My grandfather once spotted a Cadillac in a driveway of someone living in public housing and he could never let it go. (Who knows? It could have been someone visiting the person living there.)

      We need more $$ for social services, and less money for war!

      • Annette
        Nov 7, 2017 at 8:37 am

        Close some of the US military bases in Germany alone would free up some welfare money. Ridiculous how Europe is eating your lunch.

        • Lee
          Nov 7, 2017 at 4:24 pm

          Close down the military, stop everything else in the budget and stinking politicians would still find a way to spend that money on something else.

          Raise taxes 100 per cent and it still would not be enough.

          That it the problem – the spending never goes down and that is why there will never ever be a balanced budget in the USA or here in Australia ever again………….well maybe if the whole system implodes and everything is set back to zero.

  18. Nov 7, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    Thank you very much Wolf! An amazing read on the brick and mortar meltdown.

  19. T.S
    Nov 7, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    Thanks Wolf,

    Given the amount of money that has chased return in this sector (most sectors) it will be interesting to see how ‘investors/speculators’ handle this stalling out of price growth. This is a leveraged play. They are there for return, if it stops i imagine they exit. Who will be there to provide support. Jim Grant “Sell to Whom?”

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