In many cities around the world—New York, San Francisco, London—most people find the rent to be unaffordable. Buying is out of the question. Perhaps that is because your city’s housing stock is now just another fungible financial instrument, like pork bellies.
You, the middle class resident of a major urban area, may have complained at length about the fact that your city is full of exclusive luxury condos priced far out of your price range, yet you—the majority of people—cannot find a decent place to live within your price range. The next time you are puzzling over the fact that our massive and energetic real estate industry cannot seem to produce affordable housing for regular humans, it may be useful to stop and reflect on this comment made yesterday by zillionaire financier and global power broker Larry Fink, as reported by Bloomberg:
“The two greatest stores of wealth internationally today is contemporary art….. and I don’t mean that as a joke, I mean that as a serious asset class,” said Fink. “And two, the other store of wealth today is apartments in Manhattan, apartments in Vancouver, in London.”
What Fink—a man who would know!—said, to be clear, is that New York apartments and fantastically expensive works of art are replacing gold as the assets of choice in which to park vast amounts of wealth. You may need an apartment as something basic for your survival; but a tiny sliver of extremely wealthy humans around the world need apartments, many of which sit empty most of the year, to use as a physical bank account, and their need supersedes yours.