Economics Armchair: You Have to Pay Attention to the Signs

One day I was driving down Webb Bridge Road.  I noticed a deer crossing sign and in my head thought, “Why is that sign even here?  This is Webb Bridge Road.  I’m right next to Ga. 400.  I never see deer around here.”  And just as those words and that thought completed in my head, at that very moment, an enormous buck ran across the road in front of my car.  I like to call that experience:  “You NEED to Pay Attention to the Signs.”

Below are a few signs of a different nature.  Take a read:

A Sign that Someone in Fin Tech Is Being Stupid

There is a certain fin tech lender that shall remain nameless.  The 27% interest rate they are charging their client on a 6 month loan of $50,000 isn’t the only thing interests me.  According to sources, this particular lender pampers it’s employees with treats – as in a liquor bill that costs them tens of thousands of dollars per month.  And that’s just at one location.  Seems that the size of this bill is justified by the fact that they want to keep their Millennials happy, because the Millennials that drink together, work better together.  Future rates of alcoholism aside, decisions like this are the kind that invite federal scrutiny and then do you know what happens?  Regulation happens.  And when fin tech is as heavily regulated as the banks you can kiss 1/3 to 1/2 of your emerging fin-tech’s good-bye.

A Sign that Apartments are Overbuilt

Millennials would rather be renters, eh?  Talked to my Millennial friends the other day.  He and his Millennial roommate have been searching and searching for a new apartment.  Sad thing is, they can’t afford anything they are looking at and what’s really sad is that the quality of the new stuff is worse than what they are presently in.  He says they are ready to buy a house in this case.  He also says this is the general sentiment among people his age.   (Note to skeptics:  don’t underestimate the power of the parents of Millennials to help get their Ryan’s and their Meghan’s into home-ownership).

A Sign that MARTA Ain’t Smarta

Despite the Atlanta Business Chronicle article this week entitled, “Study:  MARTA growth could pump 5.2 billion into economy, add 45,000 jobs”, there is another study, entitled, “The Impact of Rapid Rail Transit on Economic Development:  The Case of Atlanta’s MARTA”  The latter concluded, “MARTA has had neither a positive nor a negative impact on total population and total employment in station areas.”  The study did find MARTA altered the composition of employment, however….”in favor of the public sector.”  e.g. more government jobs.

A Sign that Retail is in a Huge Slump

Walk around Avalon any day of the week and look at the retail traffic.  It’s just not there.  Look at the numbers for Macy’s, The Container Store and others.  Amazon is changing the rules, or so they say.  But I’m not buying that it’s just that.  I think there’s more to the retail story than meets the eye.

A Sign that Commercial Real Estate Has Peaked or Is Peaking

North American Properties is selling Avalon.  Perhaps they will attract a Chinese investor.



2 Replies to “Economics Armchair: You Have to Pay Attention to the Signs”

  1. A friend told me last night that Avalon was sold for $550 million.
    It is not even entirely built out yet and North American Properties / Mr Toro have already moved on?
    Is this North American’s Avalon “experience” for Alpharetta?
    It just seems odd.
    I wish our city and Avalon’s new owners the best of luck.

    1. If Avalon has sold, this is the first I’ve heard of it. But who knows? Five hundred and fifty million could be a bargain. Time will tell.

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