PwC’s Alexis Crow Tells The Counselors of Real Estate to Expect W-Shaped Economy Recovery

Geopolitical Expert Also Addresses Health of Real Estate Asset Classes

Chicago, IL, June 12, 2020—Alexis Crow, Ph.D., Global Head of the Geopolitical Investing Practice at PwC, told The Counselors of Real Estate this week that while a V-shaped economic rebound would be hopeful, it will most likely be elusive.  Instead, she predicts a W-shaped economic recovery is probable.

Dr. Crow shared her comments in a webinar presentation hosted by The Counselors of Real Estate, an international consortium of 1,000 highly skilled real estate advisors and problem solvers.  Mario Lefebvre, CRE, Vice President of Research, Global Real Estate Markets, at Ivanhoe Cambridge Inc., moderated the session.

Though Dr. Crow said it’s difficult to collect data and forecast the economic environment amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, she offered several macroeconomic, real estate, and geopolitical predictions and observations, including:

  1. Financial vulnerabilities from the U.S. stimulus package are forthcoming, creating a second downward decline in the W-shaped model
  2. Localization of supply chains is emerging, but may be temporary due to the lack of cost effectiveness; she says supply chains in general will transition from “just in time” to “just in case,” allowing for variable uses
  3. The office sector will be unstable for 18 months but strengthen in the long term with a hybrid (in-office, virtual) model emerging
  4. The office sector will see a 20%-25% net decline in square footage
  5. Preference of city locations will remain in the urban vs. suburban battle
  6. People will come to offices for innovation, client meetings, board meetings, and the opportunity to create corporate culture
  7. Multifamily evictions are being postponed but will eventually materialize
  8. Prior to the pandemic, online retail represented 10% of U.S. sales; widespread acceleration of online shopping, combined with anticipated small business failures, will accelerate the decline of the retail sector
  9. A manufacturing rebound is underway in Asia
  10. Vietnam, Philippines, Singapore, and Colombia are emerging economies
  11. France has been a leader in production of personal protective equipment (PPE) and pharmaceuticals

Dr. Crow believes buying opportunities exist in the leisure and hospitality sector for investors with long hold times, as the asset class represents 20% of the U.S. labor force and is a main factor in economic growth or decline.  Referencing the 2008 financial crisis for comparison, she says financial services represent only 5% of the U.S. labor market.

In their discussion on affordable housing, Mr. Lefebvre stated that communities must attract people and labor talent simultaneously to—or preferably before—attracting corporations.  He said the flow of people between and within countries is a critical driver of real estate and the economy, and for communities receiving migrants, the demand for housing, goods, services, and infrastructure will expand, increasing both immigrant and non-immigrant jobs and economic growth.

The event was part of The Counselors of Real Estate’s widely received monthly webinar series “What’s Next for Real Estate and the Life Experience” and represents the thought leadership for which The Counselors of Real Estate is known.  Upcoming speakers include: Tom Shircliff, CRE, Co-Founder and Principal, Intelligent Buildings, LLC; Robert M. White, Jr., CRE, Founder and President, Real Capital Analytics; and Spencer Levy, Chairman of Americas Research and Senior Economic Advisor, CBRE.

About The Counselors of Real Estate®

The Counselors of Real Estate® is an international consortium of commercial property professionals from leading real estate, financial, law, valuation, and accounting and business advisory firms, as well as real property experts in academia and government.  Membership is selective and extended by invitation, although commercial real estate and allied practitioners with 10 years of proven experience may apply.

Among assignments large and small, Counselors have resolved the dispute between the developer of the World Trade Center and its insurers post September 11, led the privatization of U.S. Army Housing, developed a multi-billion-dollar, 10-year master plan for Philadelphia Public Schools, created and endowed the MIT Center for Real Estate, and valued both the Grand Canyon and Yale University.  Counselors reside in 20 countries and U. S. territories, with only 1,000 professionals holding the CRE credential worldwide.

For more information on The Counselors of Real Estate® and how to apply for membership, visit CRE.org.