The tick tock of economics

From a tender age, I was taught the value of money from two distinct sides of the table: the exacting clarity and drive of my GI-generation grandparents and the wider, theory-driven engine of my boomer father.


My grandmother had a penny jar, while my father insisted we eliminate the one dollar bills and round up when playing Monopoly. The philosophical difference was not lost.

So why do policy makers seem to know less about the weight of this unmentioned green pachyderm than the braided kid in the bell bottoms? Many things have happened in the years since those Sunday afternoon Monopoly games, but like an annoying leaky faucet, the drippy decline of the U.S. dollar seems to have created quite a puddle for our contemporary workforce and its productivity.

If the value of money beats the heart of social trust and moves the needle of our workforce and rate of growth (now half of what it was in the 90s), why do we continue to confound it with policy, taxes and regulation? The workforce, so vital to our rents, stock and stability, has contracted for some fairly simple reasons… all of which seem to be lost on those in the upper room.

What’s a country to do? Innovation drives productivity, which drives growth. Big data and the ‘Internet of Things’ are on the horizon, but disruptive technologies take time. There’s little appetite for discussion on social engineering when the social part continues to disintegrate.

This issue’s cover story may be a fascinating case study of a supply-side revolution.

Even as anemic jobs, household formation and capital markets seem but a provincial concern on our national periphery, Greystar has followed the line of sight of simple supply-and-demand economic opportunity and economies of scale to become the largest management company in the country.

This single deal transforms Greystar’s market share across a number of markets and creates a history-making portfolio of over 385,000 managed units, with a small-island workforce of 10,000 employees.

The story-telling is fascinating, and may be Wendy Broffman’s finest work.

I wish to also thank Lisa Benson for her love of the multihousing industry. Her kindness and grace in facilitating this interview, and her sharing of resources, connections and information literally made this story appear in the pages ahead.

Ingenuity abounds in the makings of the Greystar deal, as well as those who made the story happen. Ingenuity seems second nature to the multifamily industry.

Such ingenuity is found throughout this issue and this industry, and creates the stories we love most. Those with a simple grasp of history understand the cycles of multifamily. Those able to spin gold from its understanding will never cease to mesmerize observers.