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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (February 22, 2018)

The New York Times reports that recently released minutes of January’s Federal Reserve meeting show that officials see the strengthening economy as a sign for more rate hikes. Toys ‘R’ Us plans to shed an additional 200 stores, according to the Wall Street Journal. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Fed Officials Say Economy Is Ready for Higher Rates “Robust economic growth has increased the confidence of Federal Reserve officials that the economy is ready for higher interest rates, according to an official account of the Fed’s most recent policymaking meeting in January.” (The New York Times)
  2. Toys ‘R’ Us Plans to Close Another 200 Stores “Toys ‘R’ Us Inc. plans to close another 200 stores and lay off a significant portion of its corporate staff following a disappointing holiday sales season, according to people familiar with the matter.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  3. Trump Might Propose Mileage Tax to Fund Infrastructure Projects “The Trump Administration highlighted Oregon’s mileage tax initiative as an example of the kinds of fees that could be used to pay for improving roads, highways, and other public infrastructure—a signal that the president endorses an idea that many fellow Republicans oppose.” (Fortune)
  4. NY Supermarket Chain Tops Files for Bankruptcy, Cites Debt and Amazon “The U.S. supermarket chain Tops Markets LLC filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, saying an unsustainable debt load, falling food prices and stiff competition from Inc and other low-cost rivals forced it to reorganize.” (Reuters)
  5. Fannie and Freddie Aren’t Broken, So Stop Tinkering, Pimco Tells Congress “Ever since the frantic days of the 2008 financial crisis, when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were rushed into government control to prevent the collapse of the housing finance system, the question of how to get them out – and what to do with them next – has consumed lawmakers and housing industry participants. But ten years and countless failed attempts later, one of the industry’s most important players thinks all the fuss should stop now.” (MarketWatch)
  6. Homeownership Is Increasingly for the Wealthy, According to the Latest Sales DataThe sharp drop in January home sales was not due to a shortage of homes for sale. It was due to a shortage of affordable homes for sale.” (CNBC)
  7. Here’s Where Technology Jobs Could Give Office Properties a Boost in 2018 “The U.S. economy kicked off 2018 by adding more jobs. There were 200,000 new jobs generated in January, leaving the unemployment rate unchanged at 4.1% ‒ the lowest level in 17 years ‒ as wages saw the largest gain since the end of the Great Recession. Yet while high employment might at first glance be considered positive for the office sector, the nearly two-decade low in unemployment levels isn’t necessarily translating into good news for office properties.” (Forbes)
  8. San Francisco’s Housing Market Is So Dire, People Need to Make over $300,000 a Year to Afford the Typical Home “Being part of San Francisco's middle class doesn't mean you can afford middle-class living. A new report from Paragon Real Estate reveals that the household income now required to buy a median-priced home in San Francisco reached an all-time-high of $303,000 in December.” (Business Insider)
  9. Jonathan Litt Doubles Down on RLJ Lodging “Activist shareholder Jonathan Litt of Land and Buildings has ratcheted up his communication war with RLJ Lodging, releasing a letter to shareholders that outlines in detail his problems with the REIT.” (com)
  10. Uber and Lyft Crushed Taxis. Is the Commercial Parking Garage Industry Next? “As head of Garage Management Co. for the past 30 years, Gordon Hamm has seen peaks and valleys in New York’s parking business. But he’s never seen anything like the past 18 months. Despite a healthy economy and record employment in a city that’s more crowded than ever, business at his company’s 57 garages is down across the board.” (Crain’s New York Business, subscription required)
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