A California Business Banker Speaks Out: “It's A Classic Late-Cycle Red Flag”
On occasion, I get emails from a commercial banker friend who lives in California. Today he provides anecdotes from a business banker’s perspective.chair
It’s been a while since my last email. Here are some views from this business banker’s chair.
I had lunch with a financial planner today, and he said the new tax plan coming from DC would eliminate tax-deductibility of state taxes. While Federal tax rates might go down a little, the net impact would be higher total taxes via higher total federal taxes due to the loss of writing off state taxes. At least, that is the view for those of us in high state income tax states like CA. He already had clients exiting the state.
The gentleman I had lunch with today is a lifelong financial planner, mostly on the insurance side. He stated that the insurance industry today is in worse shape than that of the banking industry during the prior recession, and yet we hear very little about it. If so, we both agreed that the world isn’t ready for an insurance industry meltdown anything like that of the Banking industry during the last recession.
I provide financing to a lot of subcontractors (the trades). While visibility 9-12 months looking forward has looked good for the past few years, I finally have a client (a framing contractor for the major home builders) that has said something to the contrary. He stated that some of his major home builders are starting to see some issues in selling inventory in CA. Without going into specifics, he also stated that he senses something is changing in their world.
I’ve seen a spike in the number of unqualified (financially and expertise) in people who want to get into flipping homes. It’s becoming vogue amongst those who lack the qualification to do it at a time when the values in the San Francisco Greater Bay Area have never been higher. Somehow, 2007 peak real estate values were crazy, but the value today that are higher than 2007 are justifiable/sustainable. That’s a classic late cycle red flag.
During the last 3-4 years, I’ve seen more people who seek to finance new restaurants than any time in the past 20 years. This industry seems frothy. With rising rental costs for space and higher minimum wages for staff, I’m seeing pressure on the cost structure of existing operators squeeze them, while people are rushing to build out a new restaurant.
Finally, for the past 12-18 months, I’ve been flooded with new loan requests. I haven’t been this busy with new loan requests since the last cycle Top. Again, this seems like another last cycle red flag.
Hope all is well
I had a friend tell me one time: “Mish if you ever get the urge to start a restaurant, please call me. I will talk you out of it. Some succeed, but most lose their investment or struggle for years barely surviving.”
Everyone thinks they are different. But they aren’t. After a run up in property values, rising minimum wages, and increased competition, this is the worst time in the last 10 years.