STRONG economy, BUT ….

This may be one of the most interesting times in economic history. 

The pace and amount of change is creating significant challenges and opportunities for both investors and entrepreneurs … not to mention policy makers.

It’s fun to watch, hard to keep up with, and impossible to avoid.

The changing future of money and wealth will affect everyone … believe it or not, like it or not, prepared or not.

Aside from growing threats to dollar dominance in global trade … there’s a tug-of-war going on between stimulating and constraining the flow of dollars through the economy.

We recently said the rollback of Dodd-Frank might increase community lending … especially into real estate.  This stimulates the economy.

But the Fed decided to raise interest rates again … ever so slightly … and toss in some hawk talk (more hikes coming this year).

Obviously, higher rates mean fewer borrowers qualify for loans, and those who do can’t borrow as much.  This constrains the economy … and directly affects real estate investors.

Earlier this year, Uncle Sam implemented tax cuts and a ginormous government budget.  Tax cuts leaves more money in the hands of individuals and corporations, hoping they’ll spend it.

That’s stimulating … IF they really deploy the funds.

Of course, even if individuals and corporations won’t spend, the government is going to (shocker, we know).  This generally stimulates the economy.

Meanwhile, rising prices … led by gas prices and healthcare … and let’s not forget tariffs … mean dollars don’t go as far, so people can’t buy as much.  This constrains economic activity.

Dizzy yet?  It’s like watching a tennis match.  And we’re not done …

The dollar is strengthening because of an improving economy, rising rates, and its safe-haven status in times of geo-political uncertainty (like now).

strong dollar makes foreign products cheaper for Americans.

Domestically, this can stimulate activity … if people buy more stuff … if it’s made overseas … and if it’s not subject to tariffs.

On the other hand, a strong dollar makes exports harder to sell, which is a drag on sales made to foreigners.  This potentially constrains cash coming into the USA.

Meanwhile, a tight U.S. labor market and the rising wages we’re told will follow tends to increase people’s ability to borrow and spend.  This stimulates the economy.

Unsurprisingly, both consumer confidence and small business confidence are VERY strong right now.

People and businesses generally feel good about their economic future.

When people feel good, they spend, borrow, and invest.  All are stimulating to the economy.

So on the surface, the U.S. economy seems to be leaning towards growth and stability.  And because a rising tide lifts all boats, real estate investors should be very happy right now too.

Still, there’s an obvious tug-of-war going on between stimulating and constraining the economy.

The challenge (and opportunity) is that SO much is changing SO fast.  Too much stimulation is a problem and so is too much constraint.

And with so much happening at once, it’s probably dangerous for an investor to put TOO much emphasis on any one thing … or prepare for only one outcome.

After all, the economy is a very complex system.

Investors who bought too much into the sunshine narrative leading up to 2008 weren’t prepared for a storm. When it came, many got washed away.

Those who bought too much of the gloom and doom story missed out on one of the best real estate cycles in recent memory.

So it’s important to listen to a variety of viewpoints … then have a plan for variable outcomes.

For years, we’ve talked about the benefits of healthy tension … opposing forces tugging hard at each other.  Just like an old-fashioned rooftop TV antenna …  it’s the tension between opposing positions that creates stability.

So we like all the debate and chatter in the market right now. It’s less confusing than comforting.  It helps us see both the opportunities AND the risks.

Robert Kiyosaki reminds us all the time to stand on the edge … so you can see both sides of the coin.  And there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

We think it’s important to keep in mind that strong economy and astrong financial system are two very different things.

It’s like getting into a boat and thinking it’s seaworthy simply because it’s fast.  A bad hull with a slow leak will eventually sink even the fastest boat.

Right now, even though corporate profits are up and more jobs are being created, interest rates are rising in the largest sea of global debt in history.

As we learned in 2008, when debt goes bad, financial ships can sink VERY fast.

But dangerous global debt levels is only one of several concerns about what some consider to be a fragile financial system tasked with supporting robusteconomic activity.

Will it hold up?  What if it doesn’t?  How will you know things are starting to break?  What will you do if it does?

Sunshine is awesome and we should all enjoy it.  But it’s always smart to watch the weather reports … and pack an umbrella just in case.

We’ll have much more to say on this important topic in the near future …

Until next time … good investing!


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