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Market Report: ‘Falling knife’ or ‘buy on fear’?

It’s hard to even look at the numbers right now. 

After a sharp slide to end last week, investors woke to more disturbing news Monday as international market declines sent the Dow Jones Industrials into a 1,000-point tailspin to start the day. Even a big late morning rebound eventually gave way to a sell-off later in the day.

So, let’s stay away from the absolute and instead, focus on the differential. Despite the massive rally in the Treasury market, refinance rates moved about 10 basis points lower. In other words, spread widening significantly muted the Treasury run. Typically in a bearish environment, credit becomes tight and financing more difficult. However, the numbers are showing a bottom to the correction.

Although credit products blew through support levels, the quick bounce on Monday indicates a probably near term correction and potentially continued strength in the CRE market.


NikkiBy Nikki Vasco | Chief Investment Officer | FullCapitalStack

Interest rates: How many increases are on the way?

Yes, investors, interest rates will go up this year.

Here’s the question we really want answered: Will two rate hikes happen before Christmas?

Historically, multiple successive rate hikes have followed a period of prolonged low interest rates. This was the case at the conclusion of the low-rate periods of the early 1990s and mid 2000’s.

“When rates go up, they usually keep going up,” says Nikki Vasco, chief investment officer at FullCapitalStack. “There’s a good chance that the Fed could raise rates this fall, and then again before the end of the year.”


source: tradingeconomics.com

Of course, this most recent period of low interest rates has set new historical standards. With federal funds rates at or near zero since 2009, the Fed is preparing to increase rates from unprecedented territory. Raising interest rates from this point forward will be new frontier.

In a speech in Chicago on Friday, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen remained steadfast in her expectation that the central bank’s Federal Open Market Committee will enact the initial rate increase before the end of the year.

“Based on my outlook, I expect that it will be appropriate at some point later this year to take the first step to raise the federal funds rate and thus begin normalizing monetary policy,” Yellen told the audience at the Chicago City Club. “But I want to emphasize that the course of the economy and inflation remains highly uncertain, and unanticipated developments could delay or accelerate this first step.”

Yellen’s comments were closely followed by U.S. investors, who thought her outlook might change in response to the turmoil in Greece. She mentioned Greece just once in her speech, saying, “Although the economic recovery in the euro area appears to have gained a firmer footing, the situation in Greece remains unresolved.”

The Fed chair said she expects the U.S. employment market to keep improving, with inflation moving closer to its 2 percent target rate. Those expectations are coloring her plans to increase interest rates. She also indicated the Federal Reserve will move slowly and gradually, shaping decisions based on economic realities.

“I currently anticipate that the appropriate pace of normalization will be gradual, and that monetary policy will need to be highly supportive of economic activity for quite some time,” she said. “But, again, both the course of the economy and inflation are uncertain. If progress toward our employment and inflation goals is more rapid than expected, it may be appropriate to remove monetary policy accommodation more quickly. However, if progress toward our goals is slower than anticipated, then the Committee may move more slowly in normalizing policy.”

Reading tealeaves, the fate of rate hikes — and whether or not they’ll happen consistently, or in fits and starts — appears to depend Yellen’s view of economic growth. If U.S. economic growth is believed to be choppy, the rate increase schedule could reflect that. And if growth is steady? There’s a strong chance interest rates will follow suit.

Will peer-to-peer lending predict what happens next with real estate crowdfunding?

Peer-to-peer lending is about to get real — and commercial real estate crowdfunding won’t be far behind.

This week, we learned details of how Goldman Sachs will begin offering consumer loans via online platform. With plans to launch in 2016, there is little doubt the innovators who devised P2P lending will feel the heat.

As commercial real estate investment professionals, we need to pay close attention or risk being left in the dust. Technology is creating new opportunities for institutional investors and owners who are willing to adapt.

Innovators such as LendingClub and Prosper used financial technology (FinTech) to capitalize on a gap in the consumer and small-business lending markets after the Great Recession’s credit crunch. Seeing traditional banks and related lenders withdrawing, these platforms created a market for individuals to borrow small amounts from pools of cash supposedly invested by other individuals looking for new investment opportunities. The result has been billions of dollars in credit extended for debt consolidation, home improvements and other projects.

The concept is based on the idea that individual investors can now buy fractions of their peers’ debts — “peer-to-peer lending.” However, who really is the “peer” on the backside of this $15 billion to $30 billion market? It’s not savvy individuals making smart decisions for direct investing. Banks, institutional funds, and money managers looking for yield have powered the growth rate, funded the loans and have started to package the debt into securities. They are at times assisted by “first look” offers from the originators, and proprietary risk models to analyze the loans.

Most of the “peers” who own these loans are actually institutions, such as hedge funds and other investment pools. The borrower’s true peers likely end up only owning a piece of these loans through shares in a fund placed in their 401k, packaged and sourced by sophisticated institutions.

The standardization of consumer risk scores and credit profiling has propelled this new asset class into the securitization market, which has attracted new and additional capital. In turn, this will likely convert into more products at better rates for consumers.

What is the lesson here for commercial real estate investors? Our industry is on course to create the same type of standardization needed for institutional capital and lending efficiencies. These three factors are shaping the trend:

  • Crowdfunding has given real estate owners the ability to market their performance. Soon investors will be able to compare sponsor performance in standardized models.
  • FinTech is giving real estate owners the ability easily manage their investor base and post new, accessible offerings.
  • Real estate owners can now spend less time sourcing investors and more time managing their portfolios.

Although crowdfunding for real estate is in its infancy, there is already buzz about institutions and banks partnering with platforms to source product. Just like P2P lending, investors will soon find the ability to hold shares of a REIT in their 401Ks that primarily owns “crowdfunded” participations of equity in real estate.


Nikki BaldonieriBy Nikki Vasco | Chief Investment Officer | FullCapitalStack

QuietStream Financial’s Nikki Vasco to speak at SCI’s Marketplace Lending Securitization Seminar

QuietStream Financial executive Nikki Vasco will be a featured panelist at Structured Credit Investor’s Marketplace Lending Securitization Seminar. Vasco is a QuietStream managing director and the Chief Investment Officer of FullCapitalStack, QuietStream’s commercial real estate crowdfunding platform for institutional and accredited investors.

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