Podcast: Inflation, Deflation, Recession, Depression or Dollar Crisis?

While a lockdown stops the economy and slows everything down … putting downward pressure on prices … central banks led by the Fed are conjuring TRILLIONS of fresh dollars out of thin air. And Uncle Sam is making sure they get into circulation.

Will prices rise or fall? Can an economy grow when it’s locked down … or will it recede perhaps even into a dismal depression?

And how long will the world trust a dollar that’s being diluted by the trillions on a monthly basis?

Tune in and find out when we talk all this and more with PhD economist and best-selling author Richard Duncan.


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This ONE chart tells a BIG story …

Most investors don’t really know what it means … or what to do about it …

Real estate investors are more likely to be interested in grading slopes than yield curves. And the Fed’s balance sheet? That’s REALLY esoteric and boring.

BUT … the Fed is the most powerful and influential financial force in the world … affecting the stock and bond markets (where mortgage rates are set), the economy, and even geo-politics.

The Fed seems to prefer hiding in the shadows …

… except when diverting attention from charts like the one below with cryptic congressional testimony and occasional PR appearances on TV.

This chart shows the Fed’s ballooning balance sheet 

Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve

The numbers might be too small to read, but they’re too big to comprehend … with over $7 trillion of assets (nearly double from just 4 months ago).

You may or may not know what it means, but set that aside right now … and just look at the slow and stable trajectory leading into the end of 2008 …

… and the “big” spike at the beginning of 2009.

Bring back any memories?

We found flipping the chart over helps …

Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve

Now, instead of looking like a positive, happy, upward trend … it looks more like the way it felt …

… like you were paddling along on a river until late 2008 when … whoosh! You went into a rough patch of white waters.

Then after a bit of a bumpy ride, you settled into a deep but slow descent into “the eye of the storm” (yes, we just mixed the metaphor) where it seemed stable and trending up.

Then some headwind … you might say your momentum was tapering … and then a little teaser turbulence right before …

WHOOSH!!! Over the waterfall.

This is what it FEELS like for investors riding waves of Fed liquidity via “quantitative easing” (Fedspeak for printing unfathomable amounts of dollars).

Of course, the Fed doesn’t really “print” … that’s so 20th century.

Here’s the official explanation straight from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s appearance on 60 minutes:

60 MINUTES: Fair to say you simply flooded the system with money?

POWELL: Yes. We did. That’s another way to think about it. We did.

*** (ANOTHER way to think about it? What’s the first way???) ***

60 MINUTES: Where does it come from? Do you just print it?

POWELL: We print it digitally. So as a central bank, we have the ability to create money digitally. And we do that by buying Treasury Bills or bonds or other government guaranteed securities. And that actually increases the money supply.

Hopefully, that’s VERY clear.

The Fed, by their own admission, simply conjures dollars out of thin air and uses them to buy government-backed debt.

Keep this in mind when you’re perplexed about why the government not only grows its own debt but seems all too willing to guarantee private debt also.

But don’t think about all that too much now. Let’s focus on the discussion at hand …

The Fed’s balance sheet shows HOW MUCH digital money the Fed conjures out of thin air … as reflected by how much government-backed debt they own.

Think about this …

The Fed creates dollars out of thin air at no cost. At this point, it has no value because it cost nothing to create.

Those fresh dollars only become valuable later when someone who did real work and produced a real product or service is willing to trade their product for those previously worthless dollars.

Doesn’t seem quite fair to the person doing real work. But that’s a rant for another day.

Of course, the Fed doesn’t actually put the money directly into circulation. They loan it to the government, who then must spend it into circulation.

Seems like a pretty good deal for the government. They get to spend lots of money to buy nice things … like votes.

If we didn’t know better, we’d be tempted to think the Fed and Uncle Sam have a bit of a racket going.

Nah.

So if the Fed prints dollars for free and then loans them to the government, wouldn’t this make them separate parties?

Good catch. Yes, they are. Of course, that’s also another rant for another day, and not our point right now.

Today, we’re less concerned with who the Fed is … and more focused on what they’re doing and what it REALLY means to Main Street real estate investors.

It’s a bit more complicated than just interest rates and inflation. Sorry. But it’s important because what’s brewing isn’t your run-of-the-mill financial crisis.

Back to our story …

So the Fed prints money from nothing and lends it to Uncle Sam. But when the government borrows money, who pays it back … and how?

Hint: The Federal Reserve, the income tax, and the IRS were all created at the same time as part of the 16th amendment in 1913.

Why?

Well, it seems there was a financial crisis in 1907, and the politicians and their funders decided to “fix” the situation.

Of course, “fix” is a word subject to interpretation …

“Repair, mend” … OR … “to influence the actions, outcome, or effect by improper or illegal methods”.
– Merriam-Webster Dictionary

And since we’re quoting …

“Never let a crisis go to waste.” 
– Saul Alinsky

“Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
– Winston Churchill

“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
– Rahm Emanuel

You get the idea. Exploitation of a crisis is a standard operating political principle that’s been around a long time. And the consequences often land on Main Street.

And speaking of principles that have been around a long time …

“The rich rules over the poor; and the borrower is servant to the lender.” 
Proverbs 22:7

Interesting.

We’re guessing you’re smart enough to put all that together for yourself. Must be nice to print money out of thin air and buy up trillions in debt.

Meanwhile, back on Main Street …

You don’t need to be a rocket surgeon to know you can only extract so much tribute … even at zero interest … before the burden is simply too much.

As we noticed last September, there were signs of severe systemic stress BEFORE the COVID-19 crisis hit.

Now everything is moving much faster … so it’s important to pay close attention and be ready to react to both the approaching dangers and opportunities.

Obviously, dollars are nearly free right now. It’s probably not a bad idea to grab all you can while credit markets are still functioning.

We’re noticing small businesses and commercial properties coming on the market at an increased pace … and with “price reduced!” in the pitch.

That’s a clue the crisis sale might be starting.

You also may have noticed precious metals are catching a bid in dollar terms. That’s talking head jargon for gold and silver prices are going UP on dollar price.

This indicates more dollar-denominated investors are choosing to keep some liquidity in precious metals versus currency.

This makes sense as every other currency in the world is already at all-time lows versus gold (i.e., gold is at all-time highs in every currency except the dollar).

When the Fed is printing trillions of dollars each year … and Uncle Sam is aggressively putting them into circulation … the historical result is a falling dollar.

And despite what you may hear on financial TV … we think it can be strongly argued this is setting up a perfect storm for leveraged income-producing real estate.

Remember, Wall Street and the TV gurus who promote them believe investing is “buy low, sell high”.

But real estate investors think “cash flow” … which is the only reliable source of equity. Income creates real equity.

Meanwhile, strategic real asset investors put it all together into a bigger picture …

Real estate (especially residential) is a sector strongly supported by the most powerful constituencies … politicians, bankers, and voters.

That’s a lot of love … and a great place in line when emergency help is doled out.

More importantly, debt is the real investment.

Income property mortgages are essentially a big short of the dollar with a great feature: the income from the property makes the payments.

So while you may not be able to print money like the Fed, using the right real estate debt is pretty close. And …

… the Fed is ALWAYS working on making debtors winners.

And when you use debt to convert real estate equity into precious metals, you have a very powerful shield against a falling dollar.

Yes, it’s true the dollar is catching the “best last paper currency standing bid” …

… but the dollar’s relative strength against other paper currencies at the same time it’s showing weakness against gold …

… is a major clue there’s some real-world weakness likely coming for the dollar in the not-too-distant future.

Yes, we know this is a lot to absorb. It’s why we keep repeating ourselves.

But rather than getting bored, we hope you’re getting inspired to study and prepare. This is a whole new ballgame.

This four-phase cascading crisis is still very early in its life-cycle.

It’s not the time to succumb to a short attention span.

Which rabbit to chase?

The person who chases two rabbits catches neither …

Another week and a thousand sub-plots and angles to the COVID-19 story and how all this might affect real estate investors.

In a run-of-the-mill market gyration, those are usually fun and relevant rabbit-trails to go down. But there will be plenty of time for that later.

Sometimes it’s more important to stay focused on the main thing … even if it’s a little boring, redundant, or even (gasp!) political.

This is one of those times.

Think about it …

Virtually all major factors impacting the future of the economy, financial system, and currency that your portfolio and financial security depend on are being driven by policy.

Market participants like buyers, sellers, investors, tenants, and businesses all seem to be left out … or perhaps “locked down” is more accurate … of the process.

And the “gauges” most people focus on to determine the national, state, corporate, and individual health are questionable at best.

Whatever is going on right now is a far cry from “free” markets. It’s all driven by Federal Reserve and government (again, they’re not the same thing) policy.

So are we here to critique policy or rant about what “should” be?

Heaven forbid.

We’re not that smart … or brave. Besides, no one in charge is asking us what we think, so our opinions don’t count much in the real world anyway.

But with a thousand things to distract you, we’re simply pointing out that policy matters … and it’s a good idea to pay attention to policy so you can pivot to avoid problems and capitalize on opportunities.

As of this writing, we’re waiting to see what the Fed will say and do. They’re the makers of those important monetary policies which affect everyone everywhere.

For the uninitiated, the Federal Reserve is the issuer of U.S. dollars. The U.S. dollar currently serves as the reserve currency of the world.

Even though a lot of people know this … very few really understand it … and that’s a problem for both individuals and societies …

“By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”

– John Maynard Keynes

The Fed expands and contracts the amount of dollars in the system to directly or indirectly manipulate interest rates, inflation, asset prices … including stocks and real estate.

If you’re paying attention, you’re watching a hyper-active Fed operate in real-time.

The Fed underwrites the United States government’s debt and deficits … including all the stimulus spending, bailouts, and vote-buying handouts by both parties.

If you think of dollars like blood … a currency that flows through the body of the economy supplying nutrition to individual cells (people) and organs (organizations) …

… then it’s easier to understand the impact of the quantity, quality, and velocity of those dollars.

There are MANY issues at play in today’s world. But we think the dollar may well be the most important developing story.

Of course, long-time followers of The Real Estate Guys™ know we’ve been watching the dollar for quite some time.

The long-term demise of the dollar is a mega-trend which began in 1913 …

SO much we could say about this one chart, but we’ll save it for future rants.

Profiting from the dollar’s persistent decline is the essence of leveraged real estate investing and the main thesis of Equity Happens.

Yes, we know we need to re-release Equity Happens. It’s on the to-do list. But it’s kind of flattering to see used copies trading for hundreds of dollars.

In fact, let’s use Equity Happens as a quick case study in inflation …

Right now, the supply of Equity Happens books is small. Apparently, the demand is high, so the price has been bid up.

(Note: We don’t get any of that premium. We wish. But it goes to the used booksellers. We’re still rummaging around the garage looking for copies so we can get in on the action.)

But the high price of Equity Happens isn’t the result of inflation. It’s the result of limited supply against relatively high demand. A copy of Equity Happens is rare.

Compare that to Rich Dad Poor Dad, the best-selling financial book in history.

At the same time Equity Happens is selling for over $400 per copy … nearly a 20x premium to the retail price …

… Rich Dad Poor Dad is selling for $5.39.

Does that mean Equity Happens is the better book? Or the demand for Equity Happens is higher than Rich Dad Poor Dad?

Not at all. In fact, far from it.

Now stick with us because this is the important lesson …

The disparity in price between Equity Happens and Rich Dad Poor Dad is a function of how many copies of Rich Dad Poor Dad have been printed.

While we only printed less than 100,000 copies of Equity Happens … untold millions of copies of Rich Dad Poor Dad are in the marketplace.

As a product, abundant supply is fantastic for the consumer. Mass production creates abundant supply which produces low prices and allows more people to acquire the book.

In other words, falling prices are a boon to consumers. It expands the ranks of the “haves”. Cheaper books mean more people can afford them. Remember this when some official tells you deflation is a threat. It is … but not to you.

What if Rich Dad Poor Dad wasn’t a book, but a currency that you were earning and saving … how’s it working now?

Let’s say you went into the market and traded the blood, sweat, and tears of your labor for 100 copies of Rich Dad Poor Dad at a time when the book sold for $12.

Then suppose Robert Kiyosaki prints another 10 million copies because his printing cost is only pennies per book.

This printing increases supply and drives the book price down from $12 to less than $6.

Yes, more people get copies of Rich Dad Poor Dad. In fact, maybe Kiyosaki deposits books directly into the libraries of readers everywhere.

But you … you worked for your copies at a time when the value of your work was based on a price of $12 per copy.

And you saved your copies in your library so you could trade them later for other books you’d like to read. But now, your copies are worth half as much.

You lose. The act of printing more books diluted the value of the books you already earned.

Now, go back and re-read the story of Equity Happens and Rich Dad Poor Dad … but replace Equity Happens with gold, Rich Dad Poor Dad with dollars, and Robert Kiyosaki with the Federal Reserve.

Monetary policy … the printing of dollars … affects you and EVERYONE earning, borrowing, saving, and investing in dollars.

And just in case you didn’t hear, the Fed is printing TRILLIONS of them … more and faster than at any other time in history.

There are a LOT of angles to the cascading crisis created by COVID-19, so it’s easy to take your eye off the main thing. We could be wrong, but we think the main thing is the dollar.

Unfortunately, most Americans and the pundits who inform them aren’t really talking about the dollar. So we are … and have been for years and years.

Today, everything is moving bigger and faster. Extreme policies are likely to produce extreme results.

Whether those extreme results harm or benefit you and your portfolio depends on how aware, prepared, and responsive YOU are.

But your results also depend on what everyone else in the eco-system does … and the policies they support. So talk with your family and friends. Encourage them to pay attention too.

Spreading financial awareness and preparedness helps flatten the curve of economic impact to the financial system.

Like COVID-19, bad ideas are highly infectious … especially when people are highly vulnerable. Ideas affect individual actions and institutional policies.

We’re not telling you what to think or do.

But if you’ve been hitting the snooze button up to now, it’s probably time to snap to attention and start studying. Think and do is better than wait and see.

There’s a lot more to this chain of events to come.


Thanks to all of you who’ve taken the time to send a little sunshine our way.  It means a lot to us!

Here’s what The Real Estate Guys™ Radio Show community is saying … 

Awesome analogy for gold, dollar, and the Fed! … ” – John Y., 6/10/2020

Pandemic, Civil Unrest, Job Losses and Other Good News for Investors

This year has seen its highs and lows … and the hits just keep on coming. 

Coronavirus, civil unrest, unemployment … an endless parade of bad news. If it’s all starting to wear you thin … listen in!

We’ve seen our fair share of calamity and catastrophe. While what is happening right now is unprecedented, many of the principles for thriving in tough times are timeless. 

We’re talking trials and tribulations … and why you can still have a reason to smile. 

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show, hear from:

  • Your optimistic host, Robert Helms
  • His worn-out co-host, Russell Gray

Listen


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Finding good news to talk about

There is so much going on in the world! 

It’s easy to get caught up in the negativity … but these types of human emotions can often be detrimental to real estate investors. 

The big picture is that the need for real estate isn’t going to go away … we can’t imagine something that eliminates human beings from having to sleep under a roof. 

So, this week we thought we should talk about some good news. 

Tom Hopkins, a personal friend, and mentor said, “I never see failure as failure, but just the feedback I need to improve my performance to adjust my technique.” 

What a great attitude! 

The world is going to go on. People are going to be here 10 … 20 … 30 years from now and real estate is a viable asset class. 

The business model is sound … all the rest of it is just noise. 

You’ve got to calm your spirit a little bit and assess what’s going on. Then, it’s time to move forward with your wits about you.

Bad stuff happens … but in the grand scheme of things, you can find a silver lining and let these events mold you into a better person. 

Managing your psychology

How do you manage your psychology and live to become the best investor possible in light of what’s happening?

The key is to set your filter correctly. 

If you filter out ALL the bad news because you just can’t handle it, then you will be dragged down. You’ll miss the obvious because you filtered it out. 

The flip side of that is there are people that are permanently negative that can never take action because all they can see is the downside. 

If you want an excuse to quit, life is going to give you a million of them every day. 

But, the fact is that there are people out there in the exact same environment that are able to take effective action. 

That’s why the first step is to take your filter off. Look at it objectively. Clean it out. Then, start listening to people that you wouldn’t normally listen to, and read things that you wouldn’t normally read. 

You don’t need to accept things blindly … but you do need to hear them. 

Understanding different points of view is like being a general in an army. You have to get down in the weeds … but you also have to be able to step back and look at the big picture from a mile high. 

Real estate investors by their very nature tend to be in the weeds. We’re very transactionally detail-oriented, which means we can miss a lot of the big picture stuff. 

Remember to take a step back and try to see larger trends. 

Adapting to how things really are

There are people who believe that the housing market is tanked … but a recent article shows that home prices in April 2020 saw their biggest gain in two years. 

There are fewer homes on the market, and there’s still demand … coronavirus or not.

Even though the number of sales may be down, the price being paid for real estate is up. 

That’s why it is so important for real estate investors to learn to remain cool, calm, and collected. The saying goes, when emotions run high, intelligence runs low. 

Humans have found a way over the millennia to find a way to adjust to whatever the world gives them … disease, natural disaster, war, and oppression. 

The only thing you can be certain of is that people are going to find a way. 

One reality to face is that inflation is probably headed our way. When inflation happens, the rich get richer. 

If you don’t want to have your feet taken out from under you, you need to find a way to add value to the people who have resources. 

That’s what syndication is all about. 

When markets fall apart, they create a lot of opportunity for private equity and private capital. That opportunity keeps getting bigger … especially for syndicators. 

You may not have capital … but you probably have time that those with capital don’t have. It can be the perfect partnership. 

Let’s take a look at another example … with riots and unemployment, many businesses are rethinking their very existence. 

These things are causing businesses to evolve and find better ways to do business and new ways to create jobs. 

The opposite of any crisis is opportunity … and we could be seeing some of the best opportunities … especially in real estate … that we’ve ever seen in the coming months and years. 

You can’t control what happens in the world … but you CAN control how you adapt and respond. 

What are some practical things you can actually do to be ready for the opportunities that will come?

The biggest is to be financially ready to go. Shore up your financial house, and make sure you’re in a position to make the right investments. 

See if there are some places you can grab some equity … or find those ways you can be of value to people that have money. 

For more on the good news hidden in all the bad news out there … listen to our full episode!


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training, and resources to help real estate investors succeed.


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What Unprecedented Stimulus Means for Real Estate

During the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, the Fed created over $85 billion PER MONTH of “new” dollars … and Uncle Sam spent over $800 billion to “save” the economy. 

And now they’re doing it again. 

To take on the COVID-19 crisis, the Fed has been creating over $80 billion PER DAY … and Uncle Sam is planning on spending nearly $4 TRILLION. 

Is this spending spree going to work? What will happen next … especially in real estate?

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show, hear from:

  • Your stimulating host, Robert Helms
  • His stagnant co-host, Russell Gray
  • Best-selling author and Wall Street insider, Nomi Prins
  • Best-selling author, podcaster, money manager, and outspoken financial pundit, Peter Schiff

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Unprecedented times

The Fed is busy printing cash and sending it out into the economy. When you hear about trillions of dollars in stimulus, the question is … what does that mean for real estate?

Some of you may have started investing in real estate after 2008 … so there is a whole bunch of experience that you don’t have. 

So, if you haven’t gone back and studied what really happened in 2008 … it’s time to do so. 

Understanding what happened then will help you understand what is happening now. 

When the Fed sends more money out into the world … prices go up. And with the COVID-19 crisis, businesses are closed, and many paychecks have stopped … which means payments on a lot of debts are going unpaid. 

What’s most important for investors right now is to reach out and listen to people who have been in a similar situation before. 

That’s what we are doing today. 

What’s happening in the economy now

Our first guest today is Nomi Prins. She is an author, journalist, and public speaker who writes about Wall Street and the American economy. 

She understands that everything happening with the Fed and monetary policy works its way through the markets and affects real estate. 

“We’ve seen tremendous and far greater than during the financial crisis of 2008 electronic money printing, not just from the Federal Reserve but from all of the central banks in the world,” Nomi says. 

The central banks around the world are trying to keep their liquidity, their credit markets, and their economies … and the Fed is trying to create money, provide liquidity, and keep rates at zero. 

Nomi says that, in her opinion, this relates to real estate in two ways. 

One is the cost of money to the banks, to the lenders, and therefore to anyone investing or refinancing real estate. 

Second is the Fed purchasing real estate securities that the banks have created. The Fed has done this in the past and has continued to do the same during this period … both regular individual properties and commercial real estate. 

Unlike in 2008, a lot of the stimulus money has gone directly to people in terms of unemployment or through the PPP program to businesses. Will that make a difference?

Nomi says this method will make a difference for individuals and small businesses, but we’re still dealing with 30 million people who have filed jobless claims in the first six weeks of this crisis. 

So, there is money coming into people … but a lot of people aren’t getting enough or aren’t getting funds effectively. 

And, many people are choosing to save money rather than spend it and put it out into the economy. 

In fact, the savings rate right now is over 13% … it hasn’t been that high since 1981. 

Along with that, people are indicating that they’re less likely to make purchases … like buying homes. 

Investors look at the other side of that … does that mean there’s opportunity? Will there be some bargains to pick up? 

We asked Nomi what she expects the long-term interest rates might look like coming out of this. 

“There’s definitely an opportunity as people, unfortunately, have to make decisions in terms of whether they want to stay in their properties and, ultimately, if they want to downsize,” Nomi says. 

Doing so may mean opportunities for people who have more access to funds. Right now with rates where they are … well, they don’t get much lower. 

“I think this crisis has created a scenario where rates may have seen their bottom for investors, which means it’s a good time right now for people financing, whether it’s for residential, through commercial investment opportunities to lock in those low rates,” Nomi says. 

Looking to the future

Peter Schiff has been talking about the inevitable crash for some time. He warned of the 2008 housing crisis back in 2006. 

Now, he says we haven’t seen anything yet. The real crash is still to come. 

“I think that COVID-19 is the pin that is really putting a gaping hole in this bubble,” Peter says. 

Peter says that, in his opinion, the bubble really began to leak air in 2016 … but Donal Trump threw it for a loop by winning the presidency. 

“In that environment, the Fed was finally able to raise rates up to about two and a half … then all hell broke loose,” Peter says. 

In the fourth quarter of 2018, we had the biggest decline in the stock market since the Great Depression. 

That’s when the Fed did what Peter says he had been warning about. They aborted their attempt to normalize interest rates and started cutting them instead. 

The Fed also started expanding their balance sheet again … then COVID-19 came along and accelerated the process. 

“Everyone thinks that all we have to do is turn the economy back on and everything will go back to being great,” Peter says, “but we can’t re-inflate the bubble.”

Peter says that while COVID-19 is making it worse, the economic problems existed before COVID … and the government cure is far worse than the disease itself. 

It’s not just the shutdown of the economy … it’s that the government is financing the shut down with budget deficits and printing more money. 

Inflation is going to create destruction in the purchasing power of the dollar … which means the real crash is going to be far bigger now than it would have been had it come sooner. 

“People have been lulled into a false sense of security and complacency in thinking that we can print all this money and not have any negative consequences,” Peter says. 

All of this is going to show up in consumer prices in a big, big way. 

We have a reduction in supply and an increase in money … which means higher prices even as demand falls. Peter predicts this could cause the dollar to collapse. 

What does Peter recommend? Invest in gold, silver, mining stocks, oversee assets where income streams are coming in … currencies that are not the dollar that will gain the purchasing power that the dollar loses. 

“You need to be defensive now,” Peter says. 

For more expertise from Nomi and Peter, listen to the full episode!


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The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training, and resources to help real estate investors succeed.


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Podcast: Pandemic, Civil Unrest, Job Losses and Other Good News for Investors

The hits just keep on coming …

If the endless parade of bad news is starting to wear on you … this episode is for you!

As a couple of more seasoned fellows, we’ve seen our fair share of calamity. Sure, what’s happening now is unprecedented. But many of the principles for surviving and thriving in tough times are timeless.

So listen in as we talk through today’s trials and tribulations and consider why there’s still reason to be of good cheer.


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training, and resources to help real estate investors succeed.


Love the show?  Tell the world!  When you promote the show, you help us attract more great guests for your listening pleasure!

And now the REAL contagion begins …

Although there may be some debate about the true origin, cause, and date of the COVID-19 virus … there’s no doubt about its presence and impact today.

And just as the health crisis began quietly, before exploding onto the scene, so it may be with the subsequent financial crisis.

After all, if you’re not both an epidemiologist and paying attention … or listening to one … like our friend Chris Martenson at Peak Prosperity …

… you probably didn’t know anything about COVID-19 until there was no toilet paper on the shelves at your local store.

Clearly, there were people who knew and acted sooner than others …

… and we’re guessing most folks would prefer to be in the group who’s aware and prepared.

Fortunately, being late to the toilet paper run didn’t result in being completely wiped out. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist.)

But as the health crisis and resulting lock down has mutated into an economic crisis …

… and is already showing signs of spreading into a financial crisis 

… the consequences of being ignorant and ill-prepared could be a whole lot messier to handle than a toilet paper shortage. (Okay, we’ll stop now.)

Punning aside, our point is there are abundant and alarming clues in the news that a financial contagion has already begun.

But preparing for it is a lot more complicated than simply stocking up on paper products … including cash.

Preparing is also a lot bigger than just looking out for you and yours.

Just as society rallied to “flatten the curve” … slowing the contagion to preempt the number of afflicted from overwhelming the health system …

… we’re “all in this together” and need to flatten the curve of people going broke and overwhelming the financial system.

Because while you might be able to get along in life not exchanging germs with other people …

… it’s impossible to live in a world of free enterprise without trading with others.

We all need each other to be financially healthy if we want to build resilient prosperity.

So, it’s in everyone’s enlightened self-interest to both prepare individually … and help others prepare to prosper through the wild ride looming on the horizon.

That’s why we’re organizing a Crisis Investing webinar … featuring a STELLAR faculty, including …

Richard Duncan – Economist, best-selling author, former consultant to the IMF

Peter Schiff – Money manager, best-selling author, podcaster, financial pundit

Robert Kiyosaki – Mega-millionaire investor, greatest-selling financial author in history, host of the Rich Dad Radio Show

Nomi Prins – Former Wall Street insider, geopolitical financial expert, investigative journalist, best-selling author

Danielle DiMartino-Booth – Former Fed insider, popular market commentator, financial newsletter publisher, best-selling author

Brien Lundin – Gold expert, publisher of Gold Newsletter, New Orleans Investment Conference producer

And that’s not everyone. The Crisis Investing webinar is a big and important project.

We’re working hard to collect the thoughts and perspectives of a large, well-qualified group of thought leaders, insiders, and seasoned investors.

By the way … this isn’t a pitch … because the webinar is totally free.

So, be sure to tell your family, friends, neighbors, associates and total strangers to get on the Advance Notice List ASAP.

Remember, most of the “experts” on mainstream financial media are directly or indirectly underwritten by and beholden to Wall Street and the big banks.

So, most don’t understand or value Main Street investing … especially real estate. Yet that’s where most people live … and where all the fallout lands.

Of course, it’s possible to see danger coming in time to get in position to avoid most problems and capture many opportunities.

Of course, this requires focus and diligence because these are truly unprecedented times …

Fed’s balance sheet tops $7 trillion, shows increasing buying of corporate bond ETFs
MarketWatch, 5/21/20

Not sure what that means to you? You’re not alone … and that’s the point.

The wizards behind the curtain are pulling levers, flashing lights, and using smoke, mirrors, and fancy words to manipulate the currency, credit markets, and interest rates YOU depend on.

Hint: The Fed’s balance sheet represents how many dollars they conjure out of thin air … and it’s nearly doubled since the COVID-19 crisis hit just a few months ago.

But anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of economics knows that no amount of money printing creates products and services.

If it did, then the Fed could just print money and everyone could stay home and watch Netflix.

But like any form of debt, money printing is simply a claim on existing and future products and services.

If you earn, borrow, or measure wealth in dollars, this should concern you.

Meanwhile …

Over 4 million Americans are now skipping their mortgage payments
MarketWatch, 5/24/20

With nearly 40 million jobs lost in the last few weeks … defaults on rent, mortgages, car payments, credit card payments should surprise no one.

Sure, the Fed can print money for Uncle Sam to direct deposit to everyone.

And MAYBE they’ll use it to make debt payments … versus less important things like say … EATING.

But you may recall …

Alarming number of Americans don’t have enough savings for unexpected expenses

New York Post, 1/30/20

“One in four Americans do not have enough money saved to cover more than two months of expenses, according to a recent poll.”

Many of those folks are your tenants. But it’s not just the little guys who are struggling as the economic contagion spreads …

Default Notices Are Piling Up for Retailers Unable to Pay Rent
Bloomberg, 5/22/20

Hertz, slammed by coronavirus, to continue under bankruptcy protection
Chicago Tribune, 5/26/20

‘No business is built for zero revenue.’

NO business is built for zero revenue. Neither is any city, state, or nation.

No society can survive long without production AND commerce.

So, while it’s good that the world is coming out of its COVID-19 induced economic coma …

… the extent of the damage … and what’s temporary vs what’s permanent … will not be known for some time.

But with so much uncertainty remaining about whether the health crisis at the front end of this chain of calamity is past its peak …

… there’s no rational reason to think the subsequent economic crisis is even close to over.

And even if it was, all those missed payments and printed money is likely to create a financial system crisis … and perhaps even a currency crisis … down the road.

So our bet is things get MUCH choppier before they get better.

BUT … that’s not all bad news. In fact, there’s likely a lot of opportunity in all this mess.

So rather than go full-fetal freak out … or waste a bunch of time blaming (pick a perp or scapegoat) … or philosophizing about what the people in charge should or shouldn’t do …

… we think you’re better served to stay focused on what YOU can do NOW.

We’re sorry if this is a little repetitive …

… but if you were on the deck of the Titanic, would you want the crew to stop boring you with repeated directions to the lifeboats?

Of course, no one knows exactly the “best” way to mitigate risks and capture opportunities … there’s still too much unknown.

But as we often say, focus on being diligent to control what you can so you’re in the best position to respond to what you can’t.

And listen to as many smart people as you can who are also diligently preparing and paying attention. That’s what the Crisis Investing webinar is all about.

The follow up to the webinar will be to take all these expert perspectives and then come up with the best ideas and action plans.

But be patient. With MANY hours of interviews, the project won’t be ready for a few more weeks. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, we still think it’s wise to get as liquid as you can while you can … especially with respect to equity and taking advantage of the cheapest mortgage money you may ever see.

Take a good look at your portfolio … and think about how it would respond to rising rates, a banking crisis, a credit market collapse, or a substantial decline in rents.

Remember, “no business is built for zero revenue”.

Sometimes you simply can’t save everything from a worst-case scenario. So it’s also important to know when to retreat and preserve capital … so you can live to invest another day.

But if you’re liquid, conservatively structured, well-educated, and connected … you’ll probably hold onto most of what matters …

… and easily make up any losses by grabbing the bargains likely to be littered across the landscape as this all unfolds.

And if this turns out not to be as big a deal as it seems … how are you worse off for being prepared?

Podcast: What Unprecedented Stimulus Means for Real Estate

The Fed created over $85 billion per month of new dollars … and Uncle Sam spent over $800 billion … to “save” the economy from the Great Financial Crisis of 2008.

To take on the COVID-19 crisis of 2020, the Fed has been creating over $80 billion PER DAY … and Uncle Sam has already pledged to spend nearly $4 TRILLION … and they’re not done.

Will it work? Can the system handle it? What happens next? And what happens to real estate?


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training, and resources to help real estate investors succeed.


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Ask The Guys — Scaling Up, Credit Lines, and Pandemic Prepping

It’s time for Ask The Guys … the episode where you ask and we answer!

This edition we are tackling topics from how to use credit lines strategically BEFORE they disappear to how to prepare NOW for the investment problems … and opportunities likely to emerge from COVID-19 … and more!

But remember … we offer commentary, education, and resources … not advice. 

Always consult with tax or legal professionals before making any investment decisions. 

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show, hear from:

  • Your know-it-all host, Robert Helms
  • His know-nothing co-host, Russell Gray

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Where to get liquidity from your balance sheet

Our first question comes from Alicia in Woodstock, Georgia. 

She says, “Hey guys, I want to have liquidity to buy real estate, but I’m not sure where to pull the money from.”

Alicia says she has a homestead and a rental that are both paid off. She also has a 401K. She wants to know if she should convert the 401K into a self-directed account and take money from there. 

First, Alicia is thinking the right way. If you want to acquire more real estate, you have to have more money. 

The good news is that someone like Alicia already has idle equity sitting around waiting to be worked with. 

The cheapest money out there is mortgage money. It’s very inexpensive and long-term … so the payment and the cash flow is really easy to manage. 

Someone like Alicia could potentially borrow against her paid off rental property … and the 401K is also an option. 

But, if you roll that 401K over into a self-directed account, you’ll want to talk to your tax professional first to see if you will end up facing some type of a penalty. 

Then, the only other way to go about getting money that gives income from your own balance sheet is to think about raising money from someone else’s balance sheet. 

There are people out there who have money … but they don’t have access to deals, and they don’t have the hustle. 

When to buy a house

Don is looking to buy a house and wants to know when he should be buying. 

“Prices are still high,” he says, “and judging from past market crashes, should we wait maybe two months to buy at a lower price?”

When you’re buying a residence to live in, market timing means very little. If you’re looking for an investment property, you make different decisions than you would for a home you want to live in. 

Your first priority should be finding a home that is safe, clean, affordable, and in a good neighborhood. If you’re patient, some good deals will come. 

Finding off-market deals

DC from Edinburg, Texas, says, “Due to the pandemic, people are going to be selling their homes at discounted prices. How do I find these deals? I want to get some off-market deals.”

The premise that there will be deals to find is fairly sound … and the answer as to how to find them is simple … relationships. 

You won’t find much success cold-calling or knocking doors. Instead, find someone who already has the pulse on that part of the market and form a relationship with them. 

Build a brand of someone who people want to do business with. Don’t just throw lowball offers out there and see what happens. That will become your reputation. 

And don’t jump at the very first thing you see unless it happens to be fantastic. If you build the right relationships, you’re going to find some amazing deals. 

Scaling up your investments

John in Round Lake, Illinois, is a fledgling investor looking to scale up. 

“I can’t help but have some apprehension about jumping from small things to a big thing,” John says. “How can I make sure I don’t mess up?”

Many folks make this same shift that John is looking at … and they do it for different reasons. 

Often, it’s because they get to the point where the economics of scale efficiencies, headaches, and management of single-family houses becomes a lot for them. So, many make the jump over to multifamily. 

There are many benefits to this approach. One is that once your portfolio reaches a certain size, you can get into non-recourse financing. 

This means your lender has recourse against the property, but not you personally. 

And, with bigger properties, you typically don’t buy all by yourself. You do it with partners or syndication … and those people bring support and power to the deal. 

If things were to get dicey, these factors combine to make apartment investing actually less risky than going it alone in single-family homes. 

And, one of the beautiful things about syndication is that anything you’re lacking … including experience … you can go aggregate by finding other people who need what you bring to the table. 

A query on credit lines

Mark in Ohio has a question about credit lines. 

“I have two large lines of credit, and I’m currently not using either,” he says. “Should I draw the entire amount out now, or should I wait a bit longer?”

On the one hand, John thinks it would be a shame to pay interest on money he doesn’t need at the moment. But … he is concerned that those lines of credit could freeze up in the near future. 

Short answer … we would draw them out completely. 

You see a lot of big corporations doing this right now. Ford Motor Company famously did that going into the 2008 crisis … and unlike GM, Ford didn’t need a bailout. 

Banks are nervous. The Fed is acting pretty nervous. So, if you have access to credit lines and equity … we would put the two together and get liquid. 

Having liquidity is good insurance. 

More Ask The Guys

Listen to the full episode for more questions and answers. 

Have a real estate investing question? Let us know! Your question could be featured in our next Ask The Guys episode. 


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training, and resources to help real estate investors succeed.


Love the show?  Tell the world!  When you promote the show, you help us attract more great guests for your listening pleasure!

Real estate and the economic pandemic ahead …

Here’s another installment in the continuing saga of Crisis Watch 2020 …

Last time, we discussed the scope and sequence for the mutation of the current health crisis into a potential dollar crisis.

If you haven’t read it, try to fit it into your hectic sheltering-in-place schedule.

We think it’s important to have context for the deluge of data, news, and opinions overwhelming your senses. Without context, it’s just a lot of scary noise.

Today we’re considering the future of real estate in a perpetual and post-pandemic world. After all, we are The Real Estate Guys™.

And last time we looked, none of the talking heads on mainstream financial media are talking to real estate investors. So, we will.

Of course, real estate is a vast topic with a multitude of sub-sectors. Each is affected by both micro and macro factors.

All that is obviously WAY too much for a deep dive in a weekly muse.

But with only a few exceptions, when it comes to real estate, it’s really ALL about jobs and incomes.

And right now, it’s no secret the jobs market is imploding in unprecedented fashion. The Atlanta Fed is projecting a STUNNING 42% decline in Q2 GDP.

Imagine if your blood pressure, paycheck, or rents declined 42%. Ouch.

The Federal Reserve and the U.S. government (not the same thing) are frantically trying to stave off depression with both monetary policy (lower interest rates) and fiscal stimulus (government spending).

But at the end of the day, it takes real jobs to produce real income to make real rent and mortgage payments on real estate. Really.

It’s productivity that creates products and gives money its value. Money from nothing doesn’t create goods and services to consume.

More money and less production usually leads to shortages and high prices. That’s hard on everyone, but especially tenants.

So, policymakers are like Han Solo flying into the asteroid belt in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back … attempting to successfully navigate a VERY dangerous landscape.

The plan seems to be for the Fed to use EXTREME dollar printing to fund ginormous government spending, suppress interest rates, and buy almost everything from local bonds to ETFs … maybe even stocks.

Ostensibly, the goal is to prevent a collapse of asset prices and the financial system (banks and bond markets) they support.

This presumably buys time for the economy to be re-ignited, so businesses, jobs, and incomes are restored. But at what price? And will it work … fast enough?

Maybe. But it’s probably smart to be prepared in case things don’t go as planned. This crisis is unprecedented. No one really knows what will happen.

In practical terms, we think increasing liquid reserves, tightly managing cash flow, dumping marginal properties in marginal markets, and staying tight with your mortgage professional are all things that make a LOT of sense right now.

We’re guessing free cash flow, liquidity, and access to capital will all be very valuable in the very near future.

For active and aspiring syndicators, NOW is a GREAT time to expand and educate your network of prospective investors …

… preparing them to join you in taking advantage of the bargains likely coming to a neighborhood near you.

Meanwhile, some investors are choosing to sit on the sidelines until AFTER the crisis passes and things stabilize.

Waiting for things to stabilize could be a BIG mistake …

First, things don’t “stabilize” on their own. Things stabilize because intrepid investors step into the chaos and go bargain shopping.

Think about it. It’s the very act of grabbing the best deals while others sit out which puts in a price bottom and stabilizes a market.

So a stabilized market is one that’s already been picked over. If you want the best bargains, you need to be among the brave and bold.

This isn’t to suggest throwing caution to the wind and buying anything anywhere for any price. That’s dumb any time, but especially when a storm is clearly on the horizon.

But if you’re in it for the long haul, which is what true real estate investing is all about …

… then the best “price” is a whole lot less important than great long-term financing.

That’s because when the best price is available, it’s often because financing is limited, expensive, or not available at all.

So, go back and think about where we’re at in the pandemic …

A health crisis leads to a lock down which crushes commerce … taking revenue, jobs, and paychecks with it.

Real estate values start to fall because buyers are either unable or unwilling to buy … and demand slows. Of course, that usually proves to be TEMPORARY.

Meanwhile, the economic crisis means missed payments and debts going bad. Lenders get nervous and credit starts to tighten. It’s already happening.

Of course, bad debt in a debt-based system is its own next-level nightmare.

IF the economic crisis continues, the bad debt contagion spreads … collapsing credit markets and threatening the banking system.

Think 2008 … only WORSE.

When this happens, credit’s not just tight. It’s nearly non-existent.

So yes, bargains are everywhere, but you better have CASH.

That’s why we think it’s smart to convert equity to liquid reserves while both equity and great financing are still available.

Of course, when you find the right deal in the right market with the right cash flow and you’re able to obtain great LONG-TERM financing …

… then you can ride the price train down and back up again on the backside.

Remember, what happens from the time you buy until you sell doesn’t matter much as long as cash is flowing positively in between.

Plus, with the updates to the tax law, rental real estate got an additional boost to the already awesome tax reform accelerated depreciation credits.

These tax breaks reduce taxes in the future, but can now also help you reclaim taxes paid in the past. This all really helps with your cash flow early in your ownership when you need it the most.

Lastly, consider how much pressure is being put on the U.S. dollar to prop up the entire world’s collapsing asset prices and credit markets.

Gold is signaling concerns about long term inflation. Smart investors are paying attention. We hope you are too.

Will the dollar soften, crash, or collapse … causing the dollar price of real assets like real estate and gold to soar?

No one knows. But it’s certainly possible. We’ll be digging deeper into this hot topic in our upcoming Crisis Investing webinar.

But whether it’s only the 2 percent per year inflation the Fed targets … or a much higher rate which could result if the Fed loses control and the dollar collapses …

… the key to profiting from inflation is DEBT.

And the best debt on earth is real estate debt because you enjoy very low interest rates and payments which can be locked in for the long term …

… with no margin calls …

… plus you get control of a real asset that produces income for servicing the debt …

… plus you only need to put in a fraction of the price … 30% or less down payment in many cases… which means you don’t have much capital at risk if you get long term deflation …

… plus you get fantastic tax breaks to further enhance your after-tax cash flow.

Meanwhile, you earn inflated dollars which might be worth less against today’s products and services … but worth a lot when paying off that old debt.

So the key is to acquire cash flowing assets with debt. This is real estate 101, but what makes it work is INFLATION.

And right now many pundits believe (and gold is confirming) the stage is being set for accelerated inflation.

The danger, as any seasoned investor will tell you, is lack of liquidity.

But with dollars losing value and banks paying zero interest, who wants to hold cash?

This is where gold comes in … not as an investment, but as liquid reserves that can insulate you from long term inflation.

In a world where massive printing of dollars (inflation) is the singular “vaccine” being administered to prevent economic contagion …

… it’s arguably urgent to start taking precautions to prepare for the potential decline of the real value of the dollar.

The main ingredients are income property, debt, and gold.

When you mix them properly, you insulate yourself from the negative effects of inflation while positioning yourself to create real profits.

We’ll be talking more about this timely and important subject in the weeks ahead. Stay tuned!

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