Why Subprime Lenders Still Haven’t Learned Their Lesson

I believe that the opening of this article is the perfect time to make this confession: I have no idea how the complexities of the market fully work. Yes, that’s not a particularly pristine way to introduce one’s piece. And, for an article written by an aspiring professional, it might come across as being extraordinarily flippant or careless, but, in a lot of ways, it is the absolute truth. The market, in essence, is a recorded history of human transactions, and, like traditional history, it sputters and grows and sometimes acts in unexplainable ways. However, most of all, actions on the market tend to repeat themselves over time in the same maddeningly crazy way that actions of the course of human history tend to do. And, the nature of why people do things over and over again in the market usually boils down to a very simple but understandable reason: everyone is just looking for that extra dollar.

So, when dealing and gambling with subprime mortgages and mortgage backed-securities, it’s like sticking your finger into a shark tank and hoping that you still have that finger when you pull back. During the 2008 financial crisis, subprime loans were one of the foremost culprits of the market catastrophe as homeowners with unsatisfactory credit histories began defaulting on their loans. This, in turn, left mortgage holders and owners of mortgage-backed securities holding the bag as a domino effect ensued in which the housing market began to decline. As a result, lenders and insurance companies were pulled right into the pit of bankruptcy and disaster. Now, ten years after the crisis, some private equity firms still see it fit to issue subprime loans. This time, however, it is the auto market which has come under target of finance firms and investors looking to take advantage of rapidly changing investor demand.

Of course, while many analysts might want to point out the necessities or even benefits of issuing subprime loans, there is a really fundamental factor that needs to be established: the auto market is not the housing market. Now, while that insight seems banal at best, it is a crucial element that plays into this story. You see, if I buy a home on the market, its value does not diminish just because I bought it. The housing market varies based on a multitude of factors, but a home can still appreciate in value after it is purchased. On the other hand, the auto market (usually) does not work that way. When one buys a vehicle, it usually depreciates far below its original cost. There are some exceptions to this rule; for example, a vintage Ferrari might not depreciate like this, but this is usually not the case.

But, that should not be news to anyone, especially not to seasoned analysts and investors. So, why the interest in issuing loans to those who could possibly leave you with less-than-valuable collateral? Well, the answer, again, is pretty obvious: higher risk leads to a higher demanded return. Because the auto market, by nature, deals with assets that do not appreciate in value, it puts financiers and investors in a tight spot if loans are defaulted on. This is because the collateral that the vehicle provides will not cover the original loan value. On top of that, after the 2008 recession, some analysts felt that if new credit restrictions were too tight, economic growth could be artificially hindered. So, while many large-scale national banks – still understandably shaken by the housing crash – only dipped their feet into the auto market, auto lenders and private equity (PE) firms jumped head first into the subprime pool. As the auto market grew, this gamble appeared to pay off for them as this newfound market spurt led to a huge boost in sales and profits.

However, a different tune is now being sung. As they often do, many borrowers are defaulting on their loans. Now, some lenders and PE firms such as Ally Financial have preemptively set aside emergency funds as a means to deal with the looming problem, but for some firms, it just hasn’t been enough. Thanks to the toxic twin combination of a waning car market and rising delinquencies, operating margins for these firms have now shrunk. There is an additional wrinkle that these companies have to deal with that relates specifically to the availability of working capital. Of course, I am not really talking about the big equity lenders such as Ally. The firms who are really hit hard by this are firms that basically have been operating on a considerable amount of margin just to issue these loans. As a result, it really doesn’t help when one considers that subprime auto loan defaults for private lenders are hovering near 10% — which is a delinquency rate not seen since the recession of ten years ago. As such, with soaring loan defaults on the horizon, there is no guarantee that these smaller firms that dove head-first into this pool can even survive, and, like the 2008 crisis, lenders to these finance firms might end up feeling a bit of a pinch, too.

However, It needs to be made clear that this crisis will not reflect the seriousness or scope of the 2008 crash. For one thing, as I previously mentioned, banks and other large firms have learned their lesson from the 2008 crash and have chosen to invest in prime borrowers, which, although it has taken time to do so, has started to pay off in the form incremental revenue increases. So, this craze does not occupy a plethora of capital space on the market. In fact, overall, private firms roughy have $3 billion tied up in the auto loan market. That may sound like a significant amount, and it definitely is. But, in spite of this, it still makes for a fascinating case study that is a little funny, a little sad, and says a lot about how our markets work. It shows that, at any point in time, old things become new again, and dying trends of the past begin to rise from the ashes again.

On the one hand, it is perfectly understandable to see why small lenders and private equity firms would choose to hedge their bets on such a risky market. Of course, when one sees an opportunity to make an excess return, it is understandable to want to jump on it, especially if that opportunity has the backing of a high-demand industry like auto sales were. However, one could still make a counter argument that the impatience shown by these firms in not allowing the prime auto loan market to thrive is counterintuitive. It is the equivalent of waiting for your phone to charge and going out into a lightning storm to speed the process up a bit. However, the interesting point in all of this is that, larger firms who had the wisdom to limit the issuance of subprime auto loans instead chose to focus on creditworthy borrowers are not incurring these kinds of devastating losses. In fact, while some of these larger institutions do have some subprime loans sitting on their books, their default rates currently sit somewhere around 4.4%, which arguably does not indicate any dire level of emergency. It certainly does not sit anywhere near a recession-level.

There is one final thought to consider here, and it is really about how these events will continue to unfold. It is obvious that some of these firms will recover and some will not. But, in the end, what have businesses learned from this? Well, it’s hard to say that we’ve learned anything new because the lessons here are the same as they have always been. Sometimes, firms find an outlet for growth and take it, despite the risks involved. Sometimes, those risks work, and, at other points, firms just go too far and unintended — yet avoidable — consequences occur. Granted, one would like to think that, as history continues to move forward, we as a society become smarter in spotting these kinds of situations, and, in many ways we do. It is a long, arduous process, but mankind tends to learn from its mistakes in an incremental fashion. So, yes, some firms will learn their lesson. And, some will look at this situation, think it over, then promptly re-stick their fingers back into the shark tank. That, all in all, is just another lesson of market behavior at work.

 

 

http://www.valuewalk.com/2017/12/auto-loan-quality/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/subprime-loans-return-with-economic-risk-and-rewards-quicktake/2018/01/02/47ca5854-f003-11e7-95e3-eff284e71c8d_story.html?utm_term=.1a64da5db826

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2017-11-14/subprime-auto-delinquency-near-crisis-levels-at-non-bank-lenders

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2017-12-21/subprime-auto-defaults-are-soaring-and-pe-firms-have-no-way-out

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-02/never-mind-defaults-debt-backed-by-subprime-auto-loans-is-hot

Fox, We Hardly Knew Ye

There are several principles that always ring true in the world of business, and these principles transcend time, cultures, and trends. One of those key principles is this: things are always changing. No matter how prestigious or ostensibly powerful something may seem, if it can’t keep up with the times, it simply gets lost to the times. But, another interesting tidbit about business is that one always needs to expect the unexpected. So, for many in the media industry, it was an unexpected shock when, in November, it was reported that media mogul Rupert Murdoch approached Disney, then later Comcast and Verizon about selling off much of the assets contained within the massive media empire of 21st Century Fox. The company, which contains the Fox film library, also contains assets related to FX, FXX, National Geographic, and more. If this deal were to occur with one of these companies, it would leave 21st Century Fox with its broadcasting company, its affiliate stations, Fox News, the Fox sports networks, and various networks in other countries such as STAR in India and a portion of Sky broadcasting. So, why would this media mogul want to sell such a massive portion of one of Hollywood’s most historic film conglomerates? Is it a sign that, perhaps, this media empire cannot keep up with technological change like other titans can, or is there an ulterior motive at hand?

Well, it is important to put the company’s market position into perspective when discussing what one may define as a success or failure. Over the past couple of years, 21st Century Fox has seen a trend in its annual earnings in which overall revenue has increased, but these increases are mainly attributed to the fees charged to local Fox affiliates as well as advertising fees on cable networks. Fox’s original content has actually seen revenues decline over the last couple of years. [1] If these issues are ostensibly correlated, it becomes somewhat easier to pinpoint why the company is considering such a deal, but revenue fluctuations happen in many companies at many different points. It would be irresponsible to point the proverbial finger directly at some small year-to-year trends on the company’s 10-K. As such, it also becomes important to bring a company like Disney into this discussion for a couple of reasons. For one thing, Disney does own a majority of the market share in several key Fox markets like television and film. [2] However, it also has a lot to do with Disney’s attempts to hold onto its market prestige by establishing intentions to create its own direct-to-consumer streaming service using its own film and television content, which both separates it from services like Netflix and Amazon while, somewhat ironically, adopting those companies’ respective technologies as PBR’s own Ronny Rineer pointed out in October.

Of course, this article is not about that particular matter, but it does concern itself with understanding the fact that, in a rapidly changing entertainment landscape, it is important for each conglomerate to establish itself in the new or cutting-edge technology or else risk falling behind in the market. Based on the words of management, it would be fair to assume that Fox already knows this. Following the release of the company’s earnings in August, it stated that it was optimistic about how “skinny-bundled” streaming services would affect the company’s business and was considering the possibility of launching its own streaming site. [3] But, these “projections” run a little deeper than some positive analysis in a news article. In the entertainment industry, direct-to-consumer models are a topic of conversation of which even Fox cannot escape from. In a September Goldman Sachs conference, Fox executive Lachlan Murdoch was questioned directly about said services and then answered in a way that one might or might not consider to be antagonistic to the company’s involvement in the issue.

While L. Murdoch acknowledged that there was a possibility that all companies would go direct-to-consumer at some point, he maintained that, at that point, it was more beneficial to continue utilizing a multiple-content provider model because exclusivity models have the potential to hurt the consumer. Within that discussion, there was the revelation that Fox had made a deal to give most of its FX library to Comcast for a $5.99 a month premium service for customers — perhaps a hint of things to come but also an act in alignment with Fox’s supposed line of thinking as it pertains to opening up its library to multiple content providers. Murdoch also stated that, of all the assets within Fox, STAR was the one most likely to grow, as it had a $1 billion EBITDA target by 2020. [4] Now, if this was not mentioned before, it is very much worth mentioning now because STAR was not part of the reported list of potential sales items. It should also be mentioned that the Fox broadcasting network and its profitable affiliates are also not a reported part of this “fire sale”. So, do the Murdoch’s really believe that Fox’s film and TV properties have little growing room? Is STAR really going to be the prestigious media property of the future that replaces an entity that has produced the likes of The Simpsons, Titanic, and a robust number of Marvel films…or is something else at work?

Another important factor in this conversation is that 21st Century Fox is not the only key building block of the Murdoch empire. The second key conglomerate in this pool is News Corp, which mainly owns news and publishing assets such as the Dow Jones firm, the Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, HarperCollins, the New York Post, the UK tabloid The Sun, realtor.com., and many other news industries within the U.S., UK, Australia, and other countries. Until 2013, News Corp and Fox were one entity until it was decided that the two would split.

It is thought by some that Rupert Murdoch’s true interest and passion lies with news-based products and services. If this were to be the case, then the selling off of this great media empire could just be the case of a man who knows where he wants to focus his long-term investments and let the consequences fall as they may. [5] It also makes a lot of sense when one considers how much of a grasp companies have on their respective markets. Look at it this way: Disney may own ABC News but News Corp owns everything you see above — as well as all of the digital advertising rights that come with them. It doesn’t look like Disney will dominate this field in the near future, and Murdoch, one might surmise, already knows this story by heart. Of course, one may have ideas as to what the Murdochs may want to do next, but caution must always be exercised in weighing such claims.

It also needs to be said that even if News Corp is truly Murdoch’s pride and joy, even it is not a spectacular golden goose that always lays golden eggs for its shareholders. Over the past few years, News Corp’s global earnings have declined as well, and those declines have a few key areas in common: lower print advertising revenue, foreign currency fluctuations, and declines in the newspaper and publishing business. Yet, the company has seen recent successes with sites such as realtor.com and also with increases in digital subscription revenues and upticks in its real estate investments. [6][7] It does need to be said, also, that the company attributes some of its increased losses and expenses to various acquisitions for its news and information services division. [8]

There is something to be said here about what one may describe as a media empire. A vast asset pool filled with local affiliates and means of absorbing advertising revenue may not necessarily be the sexiest asset group one has ever seen, but perhaps Rupert Murdoch is no longer concerned with being hip and modern. In today’s increasingly competitive day and age, perhaps Murdoch and others at Fox are just acutely aware of the means by which the company is most likely to thrive in the long term.

21st Century Fox’s film and TV assets have suffered some losses over the last few years, but so has News Corp, and Murdoch does not appear to be so keen on slimming that down, at least for now. It is difficult to predict with reasonable probability what actions Murdoch will take next. However, given the actions that have already been witnessed, there might be some key ideas to take away from these developments. I’ve already proposed that a change in media habits and the subsequent growth of new and existing powers like Disney and Netflix, respectively, might have led Murdoch to reevaluate Fox’s long-term viability.

However, it is a brave new world for online applications as well. News Corp has seen upticks in its online subscription revenues, and for someone like Murdoch, whose conglomerate owns assets like MarketWatch and The Wall Street Journal, it opens up a plethora of possibilities. Of course, Murdoch also has to contend with reality in regard to News Corp’s current state. Print revenues are down and foreign currency fluctuations have also gotten in the company’s way. So, in theory, it means that one has a viable company that needs some patience and restructuring to keep its long-term viability. When framed from this light, it becomes completely understandable as to why Murdoch is taking News Corp via the fork in this metaphorical road and is, as a result, choosing to slim Fox down to assets that are either growing or making a consistent profit.

In the end, as one can probably surmise, this potential merger posts a lot of implications for the world of media, and, despite the analyses present in this article, there could still be a lot of factors that have not yet been brought to light. As a singular writer, I cannot pretend that I know either the true intentions or business mindset of Murdoch, his family, or his executives. However, what this scenario provides is an interesting look at how changing trends can alter the landscape of power in the blink of an eye. When the dust settles, only one thing will be certain, and that is the fact that the changing times wait for no one, not even Rupert Murdoch.

 

[1] https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1308161/000156459017017693/fox-10k_20170630.htm

 

[2] https://csimarket.com/stocks/competitionSEG2.php?code=DIS

 

[3] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-fox-results/twenty-first-century-fox-revenue-misses-profit-tops-estimates-idUSKBN1AP2H3

 

[4] https://www.21cf.com/sites/default/files/uploaded/investors/presentations/goldmansachsconf-lkm-transcript-sept2017-corrected_0.pdf

 

[5] http://www.vulture.com/2017/11/21st-century-fox-rupert-murdoch-broadcast-tv.html

 

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/aug/11/news-corp-posts-817m-loss-after-falls-in-value-of-newspaper-and-pay-tv-assets

 

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/aug/09/news-corp-posts-28-decline-in-global-earnings-despite-real-estate-boost

 

[8] http://investors.newscorp.com/secfiling.cfm?filingID=1193125-17-257248&CIK=1564708

 

How Tech Could Impact the Local Housing Market

If one ever had to offer a summation of what makes a market thrive, many of those respondents would probably have their own individual ideas, but they will all probably revolve around the same concept: lots and lots of growth. Over the course of modern history, the growth of industry and the flourishing of bigger and brighter ideas have been the lynchpin for success in our highly capitalistic society. Over the last few decades, Pittsburgh has transformed itself from a ghost of a dying industry into a futuristic, high-tech powerhouse teeming at the brim with opportunity for those who are willing to dive in. That optimistic trend looks to continue into the near future, as tech employment has grown 12% in the last two years while the city can boast of having the fourth-largest tech labor pool among small markets. [1][2]

Pittsburgh contains even more opportunity, though, and it comes in the form of average housing prices that often fall far below what one would expect for such a high traffic area. Indeed, according to Zillow estimates, the average price of a home in Pittsburgh is $125,400, which falls below the nationwide average of $201,900, and, while the average nationwide growth rate clocks in at 6.9%, Pittsburgh’s growth rate hovers at 4.6%. This ostensibly makes Pittsburgh a great place for those who are either living on moderate income sources or just entering the job market to own an entry-level suburban home. It’s crazy to think that your mortgage can be lower than rent, but, in this town, that’s an everyday reality.

Of course, the housing market is always in flux, and scenarios are always changing, so why is this issue so important now, and what does tech have to do with anything in a market where numerous factors are always interacting? The answer possibly lies with Amazon’s plans for a new headquarters, with Pittsburgh as one of the main competitors along with fourteen other cities. This may not, at first, sound like much of a big deal. This is likely due to the fact that, over the years, Pittsburgh has seen companies like Google and Uber take residence. Therefore, the presence of another tech giant should just be a continuance of the status quo. However, there is an extra variable that makes this scenario more interesting in that the city that will be bestowed with the right to house Amazon’s second headquarters will be greeted with a whopping 50,000 new jobs. Of course, some of those jobs can naturally be filled by current residents, but, of course, many of those jobs will have to be filled by a massive influx of new habitants. [3]

So, when it comes to Pittsburgh, how much growth is good growth? Where is the line dividing opportunity and a scenario that prices middle-class families out of the market? Well, before any kind of conclusion can be drawn, it is important to put things into perspective. Namely, one should assess just how active Pittsburgh’s job market really is when compared to some others in order to get a sense of where the market is heading. If one were to do that, it would be apparent that, while Pittsburgh is still a tech hub, there are other metropolitan areas around the U.S. that are slightly ahead of the Steel City in terms of continuing growth of tech jobs.

According to Glassdoor, there are ten cities right now where tech jobs are increasing at a rate over that of other areas. Pittsburgh is not one of those cities; however, what is interesting in this case is how the housing trends in those cities compare to the national average. In all but one of the metro areas, the average home price exceeds the national average, and, in all but two metro areas, the year-to-year growth rate does so as well. In fact, Detroit, the area with the highest growth rate, is also the one previously mentioned as the area with below-average housing prices. [4] Now, of course, it would be irresponsible to claim that the entirety of this issue can be directly attributed to tech growth. A housing market can be influenced by a plethora of factors: interest rates, policies, and the overall growth of the economy, which obviously includes non-tech-related job growth.

However, there is also another critical area that can drive up housing prices, and, while it seems very simple in concept, there are key economic ideas that support this issue. This issue concerns the size of metropolitan area, and, to be clear, while one might traditionally address the size of a city by the number of people residing within it, this issue literally concerns geographical size. Of course, in economics, the theory of supply and demand is well known and understood, and its relation to how goods and services are priced is also well established. As one may know, if supply decreases while demand increases, prices will skyrocket. It is a tale as old as time, supported by miles and miles of research and evidence so laboriously conducted throughout the years.

So, what does size have to do with any of this? Well, while this may possibly be purely coincidental, the three cities listed in the Glassdoor article with the highest average home prices are also the three smallest in terms of square miles, according to U.S. Census data. [5] Those cities are, for referential purposes, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Now, if one were to invoke economic theory into this issue, one would see why size is such a substantial factor. Even if one were to assume that new residential areas were to be constructed in these areas’ surrounding suburbs, there is a limit to how much can be built in one area. So, hypothetically, if the demand for labor and, subsequently, housing increases while supply cannot keep up at the same rate, it makes sense that housing prices go through the roof.

But, what does Pittsburgh have to do with any of this? Well, even though the Steel City’s tech market may not be growing as quickly as these other ten markets, it has been established that it is still growing. So, then, how does Pittsburgh’s size factor into this conversation? When one understands the pattern that has just been introduced, size becomes of utmost importance. While Pittsburgh does not have as many people as San Francisco, Washington, or Seattle, if one were to arbitrarily add Pittsburgh to that list of ten cities as a means of comparison, one would see that it joins the three previously mentioned cities as one of the four smallest cities as measured by square miles. And, if one were to assume a trend with this scenario, then, if Pittsburgh were to experience continuing tech market growth on a scale comparable to that of these other areas, then one could be looking at a situation where Pittsburgh’s housing market experiences an unprecedented boom especially when one considers the possibility of something entering the city with a large plan and a demand for educated labor like Amazon has.

Lawrenceville is currently one of Pittsburgh’s most in-demand neighborhoods. Photo courtesy of nextpittsburgh.com. 

However, there are some other consequences that need to be considered if something like this were to happen. Now, of course, continued growth would be a fantastic outcome. It would be great for investors and great for the city’s economy at large, but it would certainly risk harboring some negative factors. Seattle, which also stands as Amazon’s main corporate hub, is the one place where Pittsburgh can possibly see its own future reflection, for both good and bad reasons. While the Pacific Northwest tech haven has continually experienced enormous growth, it has also inherited some negative side effects. For example, as noted by real estate reporter Mike Rosenberg in a Reddit AMA, Seattle’s nation-leading price growth could lead to an average home price nearing $2 million by 2026. This would, therefore, lead the city to have to take on increased issues regarding unaffordable housing as well as zoning concerns that would redefine neighborhoods and add increased urban density, which Rosenberg notes can be directly attributed to Seattle’s smaller size in relation to larger metropolitan areas that, conversely, have the space to sprawl out. [6]

Yet, a more serious issue looms over this scenario: in Seattle, like in several other tech-boom cities, homelessness is on the rise. In fact, in some areas, it has risen close to the point of becoming a public health crisis. Now, homelessness has been a systemic problem of the course of modern history, but it is now amplified because housing prices have skyrocketed. So, because of this, those at the lower end of the income spectrum who might have been able to keep up with rising rates before the boom can no longer keep up, and it is creating a genuine crisis. [7] In fact, as Mike Rosenberg also noted in his AMA, even his dreams of owning a single-family home have been devastated, and, at the rate that Seattle’s housing market is going, he may be soon priced out of other options.

So, what if Pittsburgh is unable to keep up with the possible effects of the housing market changes? If the patterns align, and the Steel City’s market accelerates in a way similar to that on the West Coast, will our future look like the one shown above? As these are purely hypothetical questions and situations, it is nearly impossible to confirm any possibilities with definitive resolution. However, there are some aspects that can allow one to shine a light on the possible outcomes to this situation. For example, zoning issues in Pittsburgh could be difficult to work around, as they historically have been, and, while new residential areas are currently under construction within the city limits, the way in which the city is laid out begs the question of whether or not this solution is feasible in the long-term.

Now, of course, as has been mentioned before, home prices will increase as supply decreases, which, in theory, should be good for current homeowners, but here is some more food for thought to consider: not all neighborhoods are created equally. The market is a funny thing; one may assume that, because one aspect of an industry is moving in one way, everything else will follow. This is not always the case, and this becomes incredibly important when, again, one considers this: not all neighborhoods are created equally. Some neighborhoods in Pittsburgh are in higher demand than others, regardless of some factors such as affordability. For example, areas like Lawrenceville, Highland Park, and Brookline are on the rise while some other places like Penn Hills, Carrick, and Beltzhoover remain unchanged due to various factors such as inconvenience or fixer-upper issues. [8] This means that, even with the job growth, these neighborhoods are not moving. At the moment, that is great for potential first-time homeowners, but it might not be so great for current residents if they are increasingly priced out of other neighborhoods. A situation in which neighborhoods are further divided by income class might not be in everyone’s best interest.

On the other hand, if the markets in these neighborhoods begin to pick up, then it is the first-time homeowners who begin to suffer. At the beginning of this piece, I noted that housing affordability makes Pittsburgh a great place for those on middle-class income or who are just entering the job market. Like Seattle, that trend probably cannot sustain itself if the growth is too high. And, also, renting might not be an optimal solution either, if this were to be the case. Referring to the Amazon issue again, it is noted that, of all cities considered for the new headquarters, Pittsburgh is one of the ones most likely to have the sharpest increases in rent costs. [9] If one were to combine this with a possible surge in housing prices, it makes for a possible surge in overall residency costs for everybody. It bears remembering that, even in a high-tech world, not everyone is going to be part of this market. What happens to current renters, then, if this were the scenario is that they could be priced out of their apartments, which, again, can possibly fracture communities, create class divides between neighborhoods, and, yes, even lead to homelessness if renter incomes cannot keep up.

So, in the end, there are several different ways of looking at this, and none of these ways are mutually exclusive. A city like Seattle is a place with a lot of opportunity and a lot of problems, but it does not mean that their problems are not being addressed, and Pittsburgh should do the same thing by planning for the future. However, it is important to discuss the future one last time. In this piece, I have directly tied the possibility of large growth with Amazon’s new headquarters. So, then, what if there is no Amazon in Pittsburgh’s future? Does anything change about this scenario? Well, yes, obviously, in the short term, Pittsburgh will not see the kind of massive growth that Amazon’s HQ2 will bring to the region, but it must be noted that this will not be the end of the world. For example, what if UPMC’s newly announced plans for new, high-tech specialty hospitals result in a similar scope of growth? [10]

Also, all of the statistics and stories citing Pittsburgh’s current growth do not factor Amazon into the equation. The city’s tech market is still growing, and this discussion needs to be had because, in the end, growth is still good, but there are issues around it that need to be managed. If the negative examples illustrated in this story are adequately planned for, then it remains a possibility that a good majority of this city can thrive in the new market. Of course, one cannot simply cure the ailments of the market and society. That is a truly naïve concept to believe in because no plan is perfect, and some people will lose out anyway. Every choice has consequences; if the benefits outweigh the costs, you have to take a shot at those choices, but you still have to minimize those costs, especially when lives are affected. In the end, that’s what makes this issue so important to everyone within the city limits.

 

[1] http://www.post-gazette.com/business/tech-news/2017/07/26/startup-pittsburgh-tech-jobs-growth-cbre-group-study-best-small-tech-markets-us-momentum-market-madison-wisconsin/stories/201707240106

[2] https://www.cbre.us/about/media-center/pittsburgh-among-top-cities-for-tech-talent-growth

[3] http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-amazon-50000-workers-seattle-20171020-story.html

[4] https://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/27/tech-jobs-silicon-valley.html

[5] https://www2.census.gov/geo/docs/maps-data/data/gazetteer/2016_Gazetteer/

[6] https://www.seattletimes.com/business/real-estate/seattles-crazy-housing-market-answers-to-your-questions-on-record-high-rent-zooming-home-prices-and-more/

[7] http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Homeless-explosion-on-West-Coast-pushing-cities-12334291.php

[8] http://www.post-gazette.com/business/money/2017/02/27/House-prices-rise-above-average-in-three-city-neighborhoods/stories/201702260031

[9] https://www.curbed.com/2017/10/19/16502988/amazon-hq2-bid-rent-apartment-housing

[10] http://www.post-gazette.com/business/healthcare-business/2017/11/03/upmc-2-billion-hospitals-highmark-allegheny-health-network-vision-cancer-transplant-heart-rehab/stories/201711030169

Amazon Photo: https://www.buffalorising.com/2017/09/amazons-hq2-is-a-golden-opportunity-for-the-heartland/

Lawrenceville Photo: https://www.nextpittsburgh.com/city-design/artist-dan-kitchener/