Thursday, August 06, 2009

Q2: Office, Mall and Lodging Investment

by Bill McBride on 8/06/2009 09:31:00 AM

Here is a graph of office, mall and lodging investment through Q2 2009 based on the underlying detail data released yesterday by the BEA ...

Lodging Investment as Percent of GDP Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows investment in offices, lodging and malls as a percent of GDP.

The recent boom in lodging investment has been stunning. Lodging investment peaked at 0.32% of GDP in Q2 2008 and has started to decline (0.27% in Q2 2009). There was a small increase in Q2 2009 that is probably related to projects being completed. I expect lodging investment to continue to decline through at least 2010, to perhaps one-third of the peak.

Investment in multimerchandise shopping structures (malls) peaked in 2007 and has fallen sharply. As projects are completed, mall investment will probably continue to decline through next year. As David Simon, Chief Executive Officer or Simon Property Group, the largest U.S. shopping mall owner said earlier this year:

"The new development business is dead for a decade. Maybe it’s eight years. Maybe it’s not completely dead. Maybe I’m over-dramatizing it for effect."
Office investment as a percent of GDP peaked at 0.46% in Q3 2008 and has started to decline sharply. With the office vacancy rate rising sharply, office investment will also probably decline through at least 2010.

Notice that investment in all three categories typically falls for a year or two after the end of a recession, and then usually slowly recovers. Also - usually office investment is the most overbuilt in a boom, but this time the office market struggled for a few years after the stock market bubble burst and there was comparatively more investment in malls and hotels.

As projects are completed there will be little new investment in these categories probably at least through 2010. This will be a steady drag on GDP (nothing like the decline in residential investment though), and a steady drag on construction employment.

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