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Is commercial real estate reliving the 1980s and early 1990s?

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  • C. Alan Garner

Abstract

Concern has been rising about the health of the U.S. commercial real estate market and any impact it may have on financial markets and institutions. It is too early to judge the full extent of any problems, but commercial real estate financing has been shaken by the financial market turmoil associated with recent residential mortgage defaults. The spreads of commercial mortgage-backed securities have widened relative to Treasury securities, and recent reports suggest that prices for many commercial properties are declining. In addition to the direct effects on construction activity, large commercial real estate losses by financial institutions might dampen broad-based economic growth by causing banks to cut back on commercial, industrial, and household lending. ; One way to gain perspective on the current commercial real estate market is to look back at historical experience. A natural comparison is with the 1980s and early 1990s. In the 1980s, commercial construction boomed, resulting in a massive oversupply of commercial space and creating serious financial problems for many depository institutions and real estate investors. Many analysts believe these problems helped cause a broader credit crunch in the early 1990s, which reduced the availability of funds to small and middle-sized businesses and slowed overall economic growth. ; Garner explores how the current economic and financial situations in commercial real estate are similar to, and different from, the conditions leading up to the real estate bust in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The recent commercial construction boom was not as large as in the 1980s, suggesting excess supplies of commercial space may not grow as large. Another major difference from the early 1990s-increased commercial real estate securitization-may expose developers and investors to shocks originating outside the commercial real estate sector. A major similarity is that commercial banks currently have a large direct exposure to commercial real estate loans.

Suggested Citation

  • C. Alan Garner, 2008. "Is commercial real estate reliving the 1980s and early 1990s?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q III, pages 89-115.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedker:y:2008:i:qiii:p:89-115:n:v.93no.3
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    1. Todd E. Clark & Taisuke Nakata, 2006. "The trend growth rate of employment : past, present, and future," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q I, pages 43-85.
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    1. The Value of Dirt: Introducing the Astor Index
      by Jason Barr in Building the skyline on 2019-09-03 12:08:02

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