The eviction of a Chinese-owned agtech company from Arkansas farmland, a Fed officer who acknowledged the central bank’s negative impact on housing and a big ball of fun on the Las Vegas Strip. From the wild and wooly world of real estate, here are the hits and misses for the real estate week of Oct. 16-20.
Hit: Saying No to Xi. Kudos to Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who ordered the agtech company Syngenta to sell 160 acres of farmland in the state within two years because it is a Chinese-owned company. Earlier this year, Arkansas enacted a new law that prevents certain foreign companies from acquiring or maintaining land. Chinese government-owned entities fall under the law because China is subject to a federal arms export controls known as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. For once, it is invigorating to have an elected American official who is not kowtowing to the Communist regime in China.
Hit: Preach It, Brother Broeksmit. Mortgage Bankers Association President and CEO Bob Broeksmit came out swinging at the opening of his organization’s Annual Convention & Expo this week, will a full-throttle assault against the federal government for policies that he decried as having a destructive impact on the housing market and the livelihood of mortgage bankers. Said Broeksmit: “While you’re fighting to survive, and while we’re fighting for you, Washington, D.C. is fighting against you. At a time when you and your customers need relief, you’re at risk of being hit with the most extreme overregulation. At a time when you desperately need stability, your own government is sowing the seeds of profound instability. Honestly, Washington is pushing you and our economy in the wrong direction. And no one will suffer more than American families – especially minority, low-income, and first-time homebuyers. This madness must stop before it’s too late.” Amen!
Hit: A Rare Omission of Oops. Also addressing the MBA’s convention was Philadelphia Federal Reserve President and CEO Daniel Harker, who offered a rare public acknowledgment of the central bank’s ruinous impact on the housing market. Harker admitted that “our efforts to tame inflation and get it back down to our 2% annual target have, in their own way, contributed to the current mortgage climate.” While Harker stopped short of an apology for the collateral damage created by the Fed’s policies, at least he admitted what went wrong – as opposed to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, who has yet to reflect on the errors of his leadership.
Miss: The Wrong Message. This week, the Biden administration released a statement promising “new actions on homeownership” that included multi-billion-dollar proposals designed to pump up the quantity of new homeowners – but these proposals offered no assurances that the would-be homeowners will be able to cover the Bidenomics-inflated costs of their new properties. For those of us who remember 2008, the idea of artificially growing homeownership numbers strictly for political purposes offers an unwanted sense of déjà vu. Amazingly, the administration’s statement admitted there were high mortgage rates and an evaporated housing inventory – but, of course, the Biden team didn’t take any responsibility for that situation and blamed Republicans in Congress for not getting behind this new plan. The statement was issued without any attribution – to date, the president has yet to make any public statement about homeownership and the sad state of the housing market. But Biden is hardly alone, as the GOP leadership on Capitol Hill has not made any public statements on fixing the lopsided housing market.
Hit: A Sphere of Influence. It isn’t every day that a new building captures the imagination and becomes an instant landmark, so praise is deserving of the remarkable Sphere just off the Las Vegas Strip. This extraordinary spherical structure has the most sophisticated audio-video capacity within its 18,600-seat auditorium, including an astonishing 16K resolution wraparound interior LED screen. The band U2 opened their Las Vegas residency at the venue in a show that visually astonishing (you can catch a glimpse of that in the video below). The Sphere’s exterior has 580,000 square feet of LED displays that enables for playful and imaginative animation – the photo at the top of this article is from last month when Novak Djokovic’s tennis court triumph was celebrated in an amusing manner. Another Sphere is being planned for London, and it wouldn’t be it fun if more Spheres began to show up in other cities? Really, when was the last time that a building made anyone smile?
Phil Hall is editor of Weekly Real Estate News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cover photo courtesy of Sphere Las Vegas