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|Thursday, March 31, 2011|
We are currently under-building commercial real estate, which will lead to a mini-boom. The pipeline of new buildings is thin, so as the economy improves, there will be very little additional space coming to market. Occupancy rates and rents will rise. The resulting increases in operating earnings will cause the mini-boom. However, a true boom requires easy money, which is not part of our future, at least over the course of the upcoming cycle.
As a good rule of thumb, we spend about one-and-a-quarter percent of gross domestic product on commercial and health care buildings. That figure was steady through most of the 1960s and '70s, until the Savings and Loan industry diversified into financing commercial real estate. At the peak in 1985, 2 percent of GDP was devoted to commercial construction. That overbuilding as well as the tighter lending rule associated with the FIRREA legislation led to below-normal construction in the early 1990s. The 2001 recession cut development levels again.
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