Portfolio Updates

Fed Does a 180

Does the most dramatic change in the Federal Reserve’s policy outlook indicate a change in the economy?

Prior to December 1, the Fed had widely broadcast that it intended to raise it benchmark rate 3 more times in 2019.   At the December meeting, they lowered that to 2 times in 2019.  In January after the horrid December stock market fall, the Fed changed once again, removing expectations of further rate increases.

The Fed has claimed to be data-dependent and the major economic data points have been indicating slowing growth for most of 2018, and more so since Q2 2018.   The Fed may have realized it overtightened, having raised the Wu-Xia Federal Funds Shadow Rate (Atlanta FRB) by more than 5%.  This was the fastest rate of increase in almost 40 years.

Now the Fed’s balance sheet normalization plan is being questioned and pundits are calling for an early cessation.   In November 2017 the median targeted estimate for the Fed’s balance sheet was just under $3 trillion.   The balance sheet peaked at $4.5 trillion and is currently a tick under $4T.  At the beginning of 2008 it was $800 billion.

So, from a target Fed Funds rate of 3% and Fed balance sheet of $2.75T, to a ‘normalized’ rate of 2.25% and a Fed balance sheet of $4 trillion.    The last few recessions we have seen the Fed raise rates right into economic weakness, only to cease then ease as the recession begins.   With that kind of track record its no wonder people believe the Fed to either be behind the ball, or the outright cause of recessions.

The irony is that the US may have crossed the Rubicon regarding diminishing returns from cheap credit (low rates) aka velocity of money.   While over the past 40 years we have lowered the cost of credit to induce consumption, each recession we must lower the rate below the previous recession lows.  And while we ramp up credit expansion to boost the economy (borrowing more and spending more today) each time, we are getting less and less growth for each dollar borrowed/spent (velocity continues to decrease).  And when there is low velocity, in order to create growth, exponentially larger amounts of money (credit) are required.

I have seen a few reports discussing the idea that low rates decrease future potential growth.  Essentially low rates fail to attract capital, reducing investment, reducing future productivity gains which reduces overall growth.

We have seen the Fed essentially stop tightening (balance sheet runoff should continue to at least this summer) the next step will be for the Fed to ease again, indicating a recession has begun.

Self-storage Construction Increasing

Private investors continue to place assets in Self-storage for income and capital appreciation, new units are absorbed quickly to meet growing consumer demand. Today 9.4% of all households use a self storage space, for a variety of reasons.

Below is Self-storage Sector Snapshot

U.S. self-storage sector snapshotData
Annual industry revenue$38 billion
Number of storage facilities (range)44,000-52,000
Total rentable self-storage space2.3 billion square feet
Self-storage space per person7.06 square feet
Percentage of households that rent a self-storage unit9.4 percent
Average monthly cost for a self-storage unit$91.14


Number of self-storage facilities in the U.S.

Between 44,149 (Self-Storage Almanac, 2018) and 52,000 (Self Storage Association, 2018). Sources vary depending on definition and methodology.

Industry ownership is fragmented, with 18% of facilities owned by the six largest public companies, 8% owned by the next top 100 operators (minus the REITs), and 74% owned by small operators. (Self-Storage Almanac, 2018)

Largest self-storage operators (publicly traded) in the U.S. (by annual revenue)

  1. Public Storage: $2.51 billion (2017)
  2. Extra Space Storage: $1.1 billion (2017)
  3. CubeSmart: $558.94 million (2017)
  4. Life Storage: $529.75 million (2017)
  5. U-Haul: $286.89 million (fiscal 2017 – self-storage revenue only)
  6. National Storage Affiliates Trust: $268.13 million (2017)

Data from most recently reviewed company earnings reports.

Largest self-storage operators in the U.S. (by number of facilities, owned or managed)

  1. Public Storage: 2,386
  2. Extra Space Storage: 1,483
  3. U-Haul: 1,482
  4. CubeSmart: 936
  5. Life Storage: 675
  6. National Storage Affiliates Trust: 533

Data from most recently reviewed company earnings reports. U-Haul number reported by MiniCo Storage Almanac 2018.

A sensible approach to lower risk

The emergence of real estate in securitized form (REITs), evolution of modern financial theory and the development of more sophisticated multi-factor models has made it easier for investors to decide on the suitability and allocation of real estate as an alternative investment in their portfolios.

As the number and size of REITs in the United States continue to grow and the list of countries adopting REIT or REIT-like structure expands, we believe investors should consider how (not if) to incorporate real estate into their portfolios. For more information read

Blame the Fed! (for following through on previously telegraphed guidance)

The Federal Reserve today reiterated it plans to continue what it has been doing and said it would continue to do, much to the chagrin of market participants.

While the last Fed minutes showed more dovishness, actual actions that are indeed ‘dovish’ have yet to occur.  Reducing expected rate increases from 3 to 2 in 2019 was widely interpreted as, ‘the Fed might stop raising rates’, for some reason.  History shows us that the Fed telegraphs well in advance what it intends to do.  Thanks to Alan Greenspan, this has been the case for more than 20 years now.

What has the Fed said it will do in 2019?  Raise rates two more times and continue to drain liquidity from the system via its bond roll-off program.  It is also expected that other nations’ central banks will also cease adding liquidity this year. China may not have gotten the memo though, as they just lower their Reserve Requirement Ratio by 1%, freeing up approximately $100 billion in bank liquidity.  This was announced on Friday, January 4, but was not even mentioned in the Saturday Wall Street Journal!

Here is a picture of global liquidity for 2019.  From adding more than any given year in 2017, to net withdrawal in 2019.   Adjust your expectations accordingly.

qt central bank 10 2018

 

IRS Provides Guide for New Tax Law

Last week the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a new publication to help taxpayers learn about the recent tax reform law and how it affects their taxes.  The IRS estimates they will need to create or revise more than 400 taxpayer forms, instructions and publications for the filing season starting in 2019 — more than double the number of forms it would create or revise in a typical year.

While the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act includes tax changes for both individuals and businesses, this publication  — Tax Reform Basics for Individuals and Families — is specifically geared to individual taxpayers. According to the IRS, the publication breaks down the law in easy-to-understand language and highlights the changes that taxpayers will see on their 2018 federal tax returns they file in 2019.

Specifically, the new guide provides important information about:

  • Increasing the standard deduction
  • Suspending personal exemptions
  • Increasing the child tax credit
  • Adding a new credit for other dependents
  • Limiting or discontinuing certain deductions

Highlights: IRS Tips to Prepare for 2018 Federal Tax Filing

Federal Income Withholding

What You Need to Know

  • Due to tax changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, many taxpayers’ withholding went down in early 2018, giving them more money in their paychecks in 2018.
  • You may receive a smaller refund – or even owe an unexpected tax bill – when you file your 2018 tax return next year, especially if you did not adjust your withholding after the withholding tables changed.Other changes that affect you and your family include increasing the standard deduction, suspending personal exemptions, increasing the child tax credit, adding a new credit for other dependents and limiting or discontinuing certain deductions.

What You Need to Do

  • Use the IRS Withholding Calculator to perform a Paycheck Checkup to help you decide if you need to adjust your withholding or make estimated or additional tax payments now.
  • Use your results from this calculator to submit a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, to your employer.
  • Make estimated or additional tax payments if the withholding from your salary, pension or other income doesn’t cover the 2018 income tax that you’ll owe for the year. Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals also has a worksheet to help you figure your estimated payments.

Federal Tax Refunds

What You Need to Know

  • Expecting a refund? Some refunds cannot be issued before mid-February.
  • By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds before mid-February for tax returns that claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit.

What You Need to Do

  • Be careful not to count on getting a refund by a certain date, especially when making major purchases or paying other financial obligations.
  • Perform a Paycheck Checkup to help you decide if you need to adjust your withholding or make estimated or additional tax payments now.

To download IRS Publication 5307, Tax Reform Basics for Individuals and Families, (14 pages PDF) click here: IRS Publication 5307

 

The 1031 Roadmap

Advantages of a 1031 exchange include many things aside from the tax benefits. Investors can consolidate, diversify, move markets, or increase income potential on their current investment property. dst 2 black-01

Some people choose to do a 1031 exchange to acquire more income. For example, they can exchange vacant land for commercial or residential real estate. The investor is able to increase income potential by exchanging a property that is not generating any revenue, such as land, into real estate that has greater income potential like commercial and residential real estate.

Another advantage of doing a 1031 exchange is consolidation. Depending on the investor’s situation, they may not want to manage multiple properties. They can exchange their properties into one larger investment property that is easier to manage. Others are tired of managing properties and of being a landlord altogether. These investors can exchange from a residential or commercial property into a more manageable and less time consuming piece of land.

Some investors are looking to diversify. With a 1031 exchange they can exchange one property for multiple property types. For example, an investor can exchange their residential investment property into a commercial, residential, and vacant piece of land. This is one of the most attractive of the advantages of a 1031 exchange!

A 1031 exchange is great for investors who have multiple properties in other states or for investors who are moving markets. Instead of traveling from state to state to manage multiple properties, investors can exchange the out of state real estate into property that’s in one state. If the investor is moving markets, for example from one state to another, they can exchange their investment property in the current states for an investment property in another state.

Every situation is unique when considering the advantages of a 1031 exchange, and it is always advised that the taxpayer consult with his or her tax advisors before making any decisions!

For more information, visit www.DST.investments.