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Watching For The End Of The Cycle? Watch This.

The end of the cycle is inevitable, right? 

Across the industry, experts are pondering what will be the catalyst to shock the cycle into its next downturn or recession. Will the market fall to another oil bust? Or will it come from the single-family housing market like 2008? Will it start in 2020

"Everyone is looking for a bubble," Bay Mountain Capital Chief Investment Officer Will Dyer said during Bisnow's Capital Markets event in Houston Wednesday.

Bisnow Vice President Greg Cox, The Hanover Co. CEO Brandt Bowden, JLL Executive Managing Director Tom Fish, Green Bank Senior Vice President Rhonda Sands and Bay Mountain Capital Chief Investment Officer Will Dyer

Keep your eye on escalating debt going into 2019, Dyer and the other panelists said. 

That comes in many forms. The mounting student debt is a trigger to pay attention to, Dyer said.

U.S. student loan debt totals $1.48 trillion among 44 million borrowers, according to Student Loan Hero. That figure beats out the total U.S. credit card debt by $620M.

The financial burden is not letting up. Graduates averaged $39,400 in loans in 2017, a 6% increase from the previous year.  

Coupled with the increasing debt, Dyer is also concerned about the borrowers' ability to pay the loans back. He fears the government will be tapped to reverse this student loan crisis and that the solution will have a rippling effect on the U.S. economy. 

The amount of alternative debt capital for real estate has increased, The Hanover Co. CEO Brandt Bowden said. 

"It is not going to get bad in one year," he said. "But you could see a scenario where one year of good results compounds to another good year of good results ... [But,] If anything goes wrong, it gets really bad really fast. That's where I am kind of concerned."

Corporate debt has also reached an all-time high — surpassing the 2007 level, JLL Capital Markets Group Executive Managing Director Tom Fish said.

The recent success of the stock market is due in part to the corporate bond bubble and doomed because of it, according to Forbes. The ultra-low interest rates have caused tension between the corporate bonds and the stock market. 

U.S. public corporations took advantage by borrowing heavily in the bond market after the Great Recession. Total outstanding nonfinancial corporate debt has climbed by over $2.5 trillion, or 40%, since its 2008 high, which was already a dangerously high level in its own right, Forbes reported. In the end, rising interest rates will likely burst the corporate debt bubble.  

Experts are mixed on whether a financial downturn will impact commercial real estate.

Fish remains optimistic about how the cycle will end.   

"We don't have to the end of the cycle as a crash. It could be a much softer landing," he said. "What we are feeling is the effect of the pig moving through the python — a tax cut that we have been receiving."

No matter the outcome of the cycle, America still needs to check two fundamental headwinds: the lack of population growth and lower productivity due to our struggling education system. Fish said a systematic cure may help promote a slowdown instead of a crash.