Editor’s Note: Today, we’re sharing an insight from colleague and income specialist Brad Thomas. Below, Brad shares how the current banking crisis has given markets a “reality check.” And he shares how investors can protect their portfolio in the turbulent times ahead…

brad thomas

Recently, I was in New York City for a few days checking up on the financial heartbeat of America after the collapse of Signature Bank (SBNY).

One morning, I visited the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and took a picture with Peter Tuchman, also known as the “Einstein on Wall Street.”

Brad Thomas beside the “Einstein of Wall Street”

He got his name because his hair resembles Einstein, and he is also “Wall Street’s most photographed broker.” He has been on the floor of the NYSE since 1985 when he started as a teletypist.

He has seen the rise and fall of many fortunes, and right now it’s happening again.

The collapse of Signature Bank in New York City not only caused panic as investors started dumping bank stocks, it also eliminated a significant source of liquidity for New York commercial real estate.

Today I am going to give you my pulse reading of America’s overall financial heartbeat and provide some hope and direction as panic is still looming over head.

Where We Are Now

Over the last week or so I’ve been contemplating the shockwaves in the banking sector, as the dominoes keep falling. First it was Silvergate (SI), then Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), then Signature Bank, and more recently Credit Suisse.

What’s the common thread with these “too big to fail institutions”?

First off, remember that SVB and SI took in a wave of deposits during the pandemic as stimulus funds entered the economy and the tech industry thrived since the client base for these two banks is heavily weighted toward the tech (SVB) and crypto (SI) industries.

Next, both banks were forced to sell bonds at a loss to cover deposit withdrawals.

Similar to the Great Depression, the accelerated withdrawals became what’s known as a “bank run”, which could have been prevented if better risk management systems were in place.

I spoke with a friend this week who has been in banking for over three decades, and he told me that in 2020 and 2021 banks parked a lot of excess cash in securities investments. As interest rates rose in 2022, long-term securities investments took a hit on valuation.

With the repricing of these securities, banks have been sitting on large amounts of unrealized losses that may never translate into actual (or realized) losses if the securities are held to maturity.

However, if the bank is pinched for liquidity (like SVB), these paper losses turn into actual losses that erode the bank’s capital base.

Upon further inspection I found that Signature Bank was heavily invested in crypto and similar to Silvergate, there was a bank run that could “send crypto back two years” according to my friend.

As a former developer, I understand the overall health of the financial market best through the lens of one particular sector.

Which has made the answer to the following question very important to me.

What does all this mean for commercial real estate (CRE)?

Commercial Real Estate Impact

Financial conditions will tighten as commercial real estate lenders pull back over liquidity constrains. And right now, real estate investment trusts (REITs) are beaten up year-to-date over worries that the pace of rate hikes will impact future earnings.

As we learned in 2008, credit issues in the financial sector can lead to the so-called “contagion effect” in which shocks like these create a chain reaction that spreads to other sectors and increases volatility across the broader financial sector.

Signature Bank’s closure casts a dark shadow on New York City real estate. SBNY was ranked 10th among bank commercial real estate lenders in the U.S. in 2021.

Around $25.5 billion of the bank’s $35.2 billion real estate loan portfolio was made up of properties in the New York metro. And that’s a 12% market share according to Trepp, one of the leading providers of CRE data.

Again, citing Trepp, “the closure of Signature Bank will remove a significant source of liquidity in the New York commercial real estate market… as if this doesn’t seem like enough of a bad omen for mortgage liquidity in one of the highest-cost metros in the country.”

But there is hope. Fear always leads to a flight to safety as investors purchase Treasury bonds which will push down their yield. And this will be a positive change for commercial real estate borrowers as mortgage rates decrease.

A Healthy Reality Check

As I looked out the penthouse window of my friend’s apartment over NYC, I see the heart of this nation is filled with uncertainty, but poised for opportunity as a result of this healthy dose of reality. That is my pulse reading on the overall financial market of America.

What do I mean by that? Safety may not be sexy. But this trend of investors running toward safety is a good thing for the overall economy. 

I learned my lesson after I lost everything in the Great Recession of 2008 when I was a real estate developer.

It took me several years, but I built back my fortune with high-quality dividend-growth stocks. Now my portfolio is built on solid rock rather than sand.

And these are the times when safe income-building strategies focused on dividend growth outperform all the sexy market timing schemes.

Today, I will happily give you a free pick and share the secret to building a solid portfolio that will not be impacted by every ounce of volatility in the market. Click here to watch my presentation and start securing your financial health for the future.

You do not need to share in the sleepless nights of everyone on Wall Street.

Happy SWAN (sleep well at night) investing,

Brad Thomas
Editor, Intelligent Income Daily