As the end of 2017 approaches, it’s a great time to reflect on the past year as we prepare for the new year ahead.
In this case, we thought it might be fun to look back an entire decade … and consider where things were in 2007 and where we are today.
Way back in 2007, the world was slowly sliding towards the greatest financial crisis in most people’s lifetimes. We just didn’t know it.
And who could blame us?
After all, the world’s most powerful banker at the time … the wise and powerful Ben Bernanke, then-Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States … gave a reassuring speech on May 17, 2007 …
“… we believe the effect of the troubles in the subprime sector on the broader housing marketing will likely be limited, and we do not expect significant spillovers from the subprime market to the rest of the economy or financial system.”
Of course, today we know the economy went over the cliff less than a year later.
So now, it’s 10 years later and where are we at?
According to this Bloomberg article …
Home Prices in 20 U.S. Cities Rise by Most Since Mid-2014
“Eight cities have surpassed their peaks from before the financial crisis …”
“… growth in property values has been consistently outpacing wage gains, crimping affordability … That could eventually become a headwind to faster price appreciation.”
But why worry?
After all, as recently as June 2017 … just about 10 years after Ben Bernanke’s speech … CNBC reports these comments from current Fed chair Janet Yellen:
“Fed Chair Janet Yellen said Tuesday that banks are ‘very much stronger’ and another financial crisis is unlikely anytime soon.”
“She also made a bold prediction: that another financial crisis the likes of the one that exploded in 2008 was not likely ‘in our lifetime.’”
And this more recent Bloomberg article reports additional reassurances from Ms. Yellen:
“With stocks trading at record highs, Yellen downplayed the threat of financial instability.”
In fact, Bloomberg quotes Ms. Yellen:
“Although asset valuations are high by historical standards, overall vulnerabilities in the financial sector appear moderate, as the banking system is well capitalized and broad measures of leverage and credit growth remain contained …”
Kind of reminds us of Han Solo in the original Star Wars …
“Everything is under control. Situation normal. Had a … malfunction. But uh, everything is perfectly alright now. We’re fine … how are you?”
So what can we glean from all of this?
First, just because PhDs say everything is hunky dory doesn’t mean it is … or it isn’t. So don’t lose sleep … or sleep too soundly … because of academic or political financial rhetoric.
Jim Rickards told us the Fed is clueless and history seems to affirm this.
But in spite of the sub-prime contagion and subsequent financial crisis … including a horrific stock market crash … after 10 years, real estate in most markets has come back.
In fact, many people made lots of money on real estate from 2008 to present. So a crash is nothing to be afraid of … IF you’re structured to survive it … and profit from it.
The two biggest lessons about surviving come from real estate guys Robert Kiyosaki and Donald Trump.
Kiyosaki stresses the importance of cash flow. That is, holding properties which produce positive cash flow so you can hold on to them through a severe downturn.
Donald Trump told us to always have some cash on hand. It’s hard to put out financial fires or go bargain shopping when you have no liquidity. And when credit gets cut off, cash is the best form of liquidity.
Of course, both those guys made a ton of money on equity. But … it’s cash flow that allows you to control a property until equity happens.
And it’s cash that lets you buy properties when everyone else is dumping them to raise cash fast.
It’s not really complicated. And the longer you live, the more obvious it is.
Because, as they say … history may not repeat itself, but it often rhymes.
Until next time … good investing!
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