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The Bisnow Weekender: Don’t Fear The Black Swan

Thanks for reading the Bisnow Weekender, my personally curated roundup of the most impactful news, notable quotes, binge-worthy show recommendations and other colorful highlights from the Bisnow world of commercial real estate and beyond. 

Get ready, a black swan event is coming.

Here are a few possibilities for this year alone: a colossal solar storm wreaks havoc on the Earth’s infrastructure, a nuclear faceoff between the U.S. and Russia kick-starts World War III, or a major Chinese recession ignites a new global recession.

Whatever it is, you can bet something unexpected is going to happen to shake up the economy.

“I believe in that theory of the black swan,” former Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas told Tucker Carlson this month. “It’s going to pop up, and it’s not going to be controllable.”

Paul’s advice on how to make it through this nebulous, frightening event? Educate yourself.


Until 1697, it was assumed that only white swans existed, but a Dutch explorer in Australia unexpectedly found black swans, and the discovery profoundly impacted human understanding of the animal kingdom. 

In economic terms, black swan events are unpredictable and may have severe consequences that lead to major financial losses.

Intergalactic and natural disasters aside (we get a lot of the latter), there have been numerous black swan events in recent history — from the dot-com bubble in the 1990s to the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

We had one just this week in Baltimore when an errant cargo ship lost power, slipped off course and slammed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, bringing virtually the entire 1,200-foot-long structure into the Patapsco River. 

Addressing the tragedy this week, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said, “The collapse of the Key Bridge is not just a Maryland crisis. The collapse of the Key Bridge is a global crisis.”

Last year the Port of Baltimore, a top port in North America, handled $80B in foreign cargo. It generates nearly $3.3B in total personal income and supports more than 15,000 direct jobs and 139,000 ancillary jobs.

And that’s critical not only for the local economy but also for the national economy and the global supply chain, which is already under duress by Houthi rebels firing rockets at ships in the Red Sea and a deeply challenged Panama Canal that can’t handle its traffic due to a major drought. 

Towson University's Daraius Irani told The Baltimore Sun this week that the port’s closure will cost about $15M a day in lost activity. That adds up to billions of dollars in a matter of months.

While Baltimore is still mourning those who died, the economic and infrastructure-related recovery is underway, and it's going to get even more political, complicated and expensive to pull off in the weeks, months and year ahead. But that port will reopen and that bridge will be rebuilt. 

The pandemic is one of the biggest black swan events of the century — and more than four years after it began, it's still going and it's still taking a major toll on the world’s economies. We still don’t know what the long-term impacts are going to be, and commercial real estate knows that better than almost any other sector.

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong” is Murphy’s law, but anything that goes wrong can also be learned from and recovered from, and it can lead to innovation and a better world. It’s an opportunity. The real disaster comes from stewing in fear and becoming paralyzed about things that are beyond our control.

Happy end of Q1 to you and your teams — and Happy Easter to those celebrating. Enjoy the opening weekend of baseball, and go Arsenal (Arsenal 2, Manchester City 2).

— Mark F. Bonner, Bisnow Editor-in-Chief


The Best Of Bisnow News: March 25-29

Deadly Baltimore Bridge Collapse Is Latest Shipping Snafu That Could Push Up Inflation — Atlanta Reporter Jarred Schenke

The Port of Baltimore has been indefinitely closed to vessel traffic, and the bridge — which carried Interstate 695, a major East Coast trucking route — must be rebuilt. Those factors will likely have an impact on the U.S. supply chain but are unlikely to derail the economy, economists and logistics experts told Bisnow.

But the tragedy is the latest in a series of supply chain stresses that, in the aggregate, risks driving up inflation and throwing up a caution flag to the Federal Reserve right before it is expected to begin cutting interest rates.

“These types of events, which keep occurring at increased frequency, are definitely contributing to inflation in the past few years,” said Mark Russo, vice president of industrial research for Savills. “The reality is this is an ongoing game of whack-a-mole. Now we've got this. We don’t know where the next event is going to happen, but it keeps coming up.”


LuxUrban Hotels Stock Plummets After Disclosing Audit, Posting $65M Loss — New York Reporter Ciara Long

The disclosures came after a short seller report and an investigation by Bisnow revealed that the company had potentially misrepresented the status of at least two hotel leases on previous financial disclosures.

In unaudited financial statements published Tuesday, LuxUrban said it lost $65.2M in 2023, $40.2M of which came in the fourth quarter. The losses represent massive increases from 2022, when it reported a $9.4M annual loss. The company reported $114M in net rental revenue last year.

It also revealed that it had surrendered four hotel leases, dropping its portfolio to 14, and called off a previously announced deal.


Fitch: Plunge In U.S. Office Values Could Match Or Exceed 2008 Real Estate Fallout — National Reporter Dees Stribling

So far this cycle, office values have declined about 35%, Fitch reports, citing Green Street Advisors’ U.S. Commercial Property Price Index. Current trends suggest office property values haven't yet reached their post-2020 trough. Further declines are expected to surpass the post-GFC bottom, which was a value drop of 47% from the peak.

The recovery of office values after the crash in 2008 took 87 months, according to the CPPI, or more than seven years. The post-2020 drop has already lasted four years.

More Big News From The Week …

Meridian Capital Names New CEO Amid Fannie, Freddie 'Blacklist'

5 Charts That Capture Miami Real Estate’s Slowdown

S&P Downgrades Outlook On 5 Regional Banks, Citing CRE Exposure

Landmark NAR Settlement Could Impact A Handful Of CRE Deals, But For Most, It's 'Business As Usual'

With Debt Harder To Get, CRE Finance Is Facing A 'New Reality'

The Stars Were Aligned For A Green Loan Program To Take Off In NYC. Instead, It Fizzled


My Slightly On/Off-Topic Media Diet

It’s Time To Be Honest About America’s Commercial Real Estate Hangover (FT): “But the problem is that as long as these ‘pretend and extend’ tactics are playing out, uncertainty will haunt the property sector, threatening to undermine American growth. What needs to happen now, in other words, is not just for owners and lenders to become more transparent about their losses and write them down — as Manulife did — but distressed properties to start trading too. Only then can the pandemic-era excesses be resolved, either by tearing unwanted buildings down or repurposing them.”

Lots More On Commercial Real Estate's Big Can Kick (Bloomberg): “The doomsday scenario in commercial real estate just hasn't played out like a lot of people thought it would. Defaults have increased, but they aren't disastrous. And some measures of CRE have even been rallying in recent months. So what's driving this surprising resilience?”

NYCB And Meridian Rode The Property Boom Together. Now They’re Struggling (WSJ): “The turmoil at both companies comes at a difficult time for the commercial real-estate market and the banks that lend to it. Investors and regulators are wary of a coming crush of soured loans — and what it might do to the still-fragile regional banking system. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and federal housing regulators are launching wider looks into the opaque market, according to people familiar with the probes. Federal prosecutors are investigating landlords and suspected mortgage fraud, according to people familiar with those efforts.”

Cities Face Cutbacks As Commercial Real Estate Prices Tumble (NYT): “In a research paper that was updated late last year, Mr. [Arpit] Gupta and his colleagues estimated that the national office market lost $664.1 billion in value from 2019 to 2022. To fill the budget holes created by the lost tax revenue, they posited that cities could cut services or raise other kinds of taxes. But that would come with its own downsides, including prompting businesses and residents to leave, exacerbating the problem by further eroding the tax base.”

Without Realising It, Britain Has Become A Nation Of Immigrants (The Economist): “But the fact is that, asylum excepted, Britain handles immigration very well. The country manages to attract people from a large and ever-growing range of countries. Although the popular image of a migrant is a desperate young man floating across the English Channel, Britain’s foreign-born residents are frequently middle-class and slightly more female than male. They quickly get up to speed economically, and their children do strikingly well in school. The government makes no effort to disperse immigrants from ghettos, as, say, the Danish government does. Yet they disperse themselves anyway.”

So It's OK To Do Drugs At Work Now? (Business Insider): “Professionals are increasingly using substances like LSD, psilocybin, and ketamine as mechanisms to improve their performance. … Drugs used to be viewed as dangerous, a hindrance to life success, or, you know, just something you did for fun. Now they're increasingly seen as a useful tool for work. Instead of trying to get high, people are using them to try to get ahead.”

Caitlin Clark And Iowa Find Peace In The Process (ESPN): “For their part, the Iowa coaches know that they are holding a rare diamond and are constantly reminding themselves their job is to polish, not to ask her to cut to their precise specifications.”

Bisnow Weekend Interview Preview

There’s no question these are tough times for commercial real estate transactions, with a 51% drop in deal volume in 2023 relative to the year before. But throughout the CRE landscape, there are people finding silver linings in the last few years of turmoil.

Among them is Kathy Kwak, chief operating officer at Chicago-based Proper Title. Her firm recently announced its expansion into commercial title after decades spent in residential, due in part to a surge in commercial demand after the pandemic hit. Kwak spoke with Bisnow National Reporter Dees Stribling about her firm’s push into CRE, diversity in her industry and how she views new technologies like artificial intelligence.

Bisnow: Your firm recently announced an expansion in commercial title, establishing a national commercial services division. Why?

Kwak: A lot of commercial deals were at a standstill during Covid, and once restrictions were lifted, these deals resurfaced. So we've had a lot of deals pop up in the past two years. The firms we were working with, our customers, had national commercial transactions that came to us organically as a bonus. Last year we closed about 80 national commercial deals, and that showed that I needed to start building a team that could handle national commercial transactions.

The Weekend Interview goes live every Friday evening — head to over the weekend to check it out!

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!

Here are this week’s top jobs over at Bisnow's careers platform, SelectLeaders. Reach out to SelectLeaders Managing Director Ryan Neale to learn more. You can email him at

Managing Director — Oversee the planning and execution of Harvard's project portfolio, project delivery standards, controls and resources.

Senior Vice President — Lead complex quantitative analysis and financial modeling for one of the largest independent commercial real estate investment banks in the world.

Chief Financial Officer — Lead financial operations for a Beverly Hills-based, family-owned real estate investment company.

Vice President, Property Operations — Oversee the operational and financial performance of a portfolio of multifamily and mixed-use properties.

Hey, Elizabeth, What Are You Going To Binge This Weekend?

I’ll be bingeing the Apple TV+ show Lessons in Chemistry while simultaneously finishing the novel in preparation for two book club meetings in April — one of which has been going strong with two friends since 2019. Historically, I tend to favor the novel over its TV/movie interpretation, but with this one in particular, I’m interested in seeing how Brie Larson portrays the main character, Elizabeth Zott, who stands up to her male counterparts in the workplace with persistence, resilience and dry humor in the 1950s. I’m also curious if or how it will highlight the perspectives of the book’s fleshed-out secondary characters, including her daughter, the producer at her TV job and, most importantly, her dog, Six-Thirty.

 — Elizabeth Reyn, Studio B Writer

Upcoming Bisnow Events And Webinars

Wednesday, April 3 (Boston): Boston Higher Ed Development & Student Housing Summit

Wednesday, April 3 (Phoenix): Data Center Investment Conference & Expo (DICE): Southwest

Thursday, April 4 (Washington, D.C.): DMV Affordable Housing Summit

Thursday, April 4 (Nashville): Nashville Industrial Conference

Thursday, April 4 (Los Angeles): Los Angeles Studio Real Estate Conference

Thursday, April 4 (Phoenix): Phoenix Healthcare and Life Sciences Summit


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