This episode is part 1 from Bob Fraser and Ben Fraser’s presentation “Top Money-Making Investments for 2023: Economic Megatrends for Investors”. They provide valuable insights including the evolution of stimulus packages, the impact on inflation, quantitative easing, consumer health, and if we’re headed into recession. Make sure that you know these megatrends before you invest, so that you can maximize your portfolio in 2023.
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Ben Fraser: Hello, Future Billionaires! And welcome back to another episode of Invest Like a Billionaire podcast. Today we’ve got something a little different than we normally do. Bob and I did a live presentation on the top Money making investments of 2023. And so for the next two episodes, we’re gonna do a part one and a part two of this presentation.
And you definitely want to listen to these episodes. So this is a research that Bob has compiled over the last several months. And if you. This podcast for a while, periodically we’ll put together some economic forecasts and economic data. This is so key as investors to understand the economic tides that we’re in and where the best opportunities will be in this coming year.
And so what we did in this presentation is Bob broke down the stimulus packages. So what has happened over the past, really two decades, and how has it evolved over time? And how is the stimulus contributing to the inflation we’re seeing right now. We look at the consumer, where’s the consumer at and the health of the consumer, where’s real estate at?
And then we really dive into some of the top opportunities that you don’t wanna miss in 2023. So be sure to tune in. And lastly, if you are enjoying this episode in this podcast we really asked that she would help us spread the word by leaving us a five star review. And we’re really close on Apple Podcast actually to a hundred reviews which we’ve been so grateful for, to see the response.
If you want, wouldn’t mind helping us bump over that a hundred number. That would be awesome. Share this podcast with a friend and hope you enjoy this episode.
Ben Fraser: Looking for passive investments done for you? With Aspen funds, we help accredited investors that are looking for higher yields and diversification from the stock market. As a passive investor, we do all the work for you, making sure your money is working hard for you and alternative investments. In fact, our team invests alongside you in every deal, so our interests are aligned.
We focus on macro driven alternative investments. So your portfolio is best positioned for this economic environment. Get started and download your free economic report today
Thank you so much for joining this presentation. We are gonna be talking about top money making investments for 2023. I know it’s a question a lot of people are asking.
We have a lot of slides to go through, so if you know us, if Bob, we have a lot of slides and it’s really great information.
So definitely wanna be taking some notes and excited to share some of this data that we are gonna be sharing. So a lot of this presentation is actually a keynote presentation, Bob gave at a conference just a few weeks ago and it was very well received and we said, Hey, we gotta put this out for more people to be able to watch and really look for opportunities, right?
A lot of people are asking, where are the opportunities right now? And there’s a lot of things going in the market. So with that, let’s get going.
Bob Fraser: All right, so what are we gonna talk about today? A few things. First of all, we’re gonna hit stimulus and quantitative easing. Now, trust me, You may think, you know what, what’s going on?
But I wanna give you a different spin on this. And so much of what we’re experiencing today is because of the stimulus in QE and the way it was done. So I’m gonna talk about that. Yep. I’m gonna talk about where we are now, which is also very interesting. Are we in a recession? Are we not in recession?
Because we have all these conflicting data points. So I’m gonna show you some charts that show where we’re really at. Then we’re gonna hit four mega trends that smart investors want to know. So we, this is the main thing we look at as investors. We want to get the wind behind us and we want to know what is happening in the earth, that, that is investible that we can make money on.
And we know that anything we do is gonna have a tailwind Yep. So to speak. And then we’re gonna look at actually what we think are the best opportunities in 2020.
Ben Fraser: Yes. And before we jump into there just for those that maybe aren’t familiar with Aspen Funds with Bob and myself and the rest of our team, just wanted to give you a quick just framework for who we are.
So obviously Bob Frazier he is one of the co-founders of Aspen Funds. And Aspen Funds is our private equity real estate and alternative investment firm. And started 10 years ago and Bob has a really unique background and technology actually was a computer scientist at Berkeley and started tech company in late nineties.
A very successful and then transitioned really into finance and ran a hedge fund for a period of time and is really leading the growth and the efforts of what we’re doing at Aspen Funds here in finance and along the way many years ago, many decades ago. They had this love for economics, understanding of economics and has become a very accurate predictor of these megatrends.
And so this has been so key in our business as how we find where we want to go for opportunities and where do we see the best opportunities coming. And so really excited to be able to have him share some of these things. Obviously this co-part co-founder Jim and one of our partners here, he’s our managing director and been in real estate for 40.
Next slide. We’ve got Dan Schulte, who’s our other managing director and Chief Operating officer. Dan’s got an amazing background. He was actually general counsel of Waldell and Reed, which was a large mutual fund company, I think 140 billion at his peak. And he’s a trained attorney and cpa. And just really huge wealth of information and resource to our team and then myself.
So I’m our Chief Investment Officer, and I have a background in commercial banking. Was a bank underwriter and a lender for many years before joining Aspen about five years ago. And really now help vet find and structure a lot of our opportunities that we have for investors. Why do we care about mega trends?
Why do we care about economic mega trends? We’re talking about it today, right? The big reason is this is the first part of our framework that we look at for every opportunity that we invest in, right? And as investors, you need to know the tides. You need to know the tides and the seasons you’re in right now to know where the best opportunities are.
And so our framework here, as you can see this little chart, is we first look at the macro trends. What are the big picture things going on in the economy? And how can we position ourselves as investors to benefit from those trends? So then we wanna get more granular, right? We’re gonna look at the asset classes, the strategies that we know are gonna benefit from those trends.
And then we go and find the best deals, put together the best resources and teams to be, invest in those. And then we actually invest all of our own personal money into these of these deals alongside of our investors and asset manage them through going full cycle. So yeah,
Bob Fraser: I actually started a tech company in the late nineties, and, back in the.com days, any.com, it didn’t matter how bad it was, it went up in value, right?
And then in 2001 it was over, right? the.com world crashed and literally you could buy Amazon for a less than 50 cents a share at the time. And so even good dot coms went down. And so the thing I learned from that is that you need to know what is, what time it is, what is working in our world and what is not working in our world.
And you, and if you know what time it is, so you know then we don’t try to predict the waves, but we can predict the tides. And in, when the tides come in, all boats float. So we’re wanting to look at the tides, then we pick the best asset classes and the best strategies. Then we find the deals.
Ben Fraser: Yeah, just look a bit on our track record. So we’ve been doing this for 10 years and we’ve invested in all 50 states. We’re one of the fastest growing companies in the us but on the Inc 5,000 for the past three years. The Forbes Finance Council, we manage over a hundred million of investor capital.
About 300 million plus an assets. And next slide. You can see we’ve invested across a lot of different asset classes. One of the first opportunities we started 10 years ago was in distressed residential mortgages, which we continue to operate to this day. We’ve also invested in multi-family, self-storage, industrial retail as well as oil and gas and venture.
So we have a very big breadth of experience across many asset classes. . And if you’re not already a subscriber or you haven’t heard of this awesome podcast called Invest like a Billionaire, or you just wanna get more of Bob and I and Jim in your ears, you need to subscribe. This is really fun for us.
It’s something we’ve put out weekly and it’s a podcast that we are talking a lot about these kind of things, right? We’re interviewing experts, we’re talking about our own research we’re doing on trends, and it’s really focused on helping investors become better investors in this world of alternative investments in private equity and real estate.
And there’s just so much to learn and it’s been really, so explain the billionaire. Reference there. Yeah, so invest like a billionaire. The reason for the name is we found through our research that the billionaires the ultra wealthy, the family offices, the pensions, endowments, they’ve been investing very differently from the average, retail investor for at least three decades.
And the biggest difference is alternative investments. These billionaires are generally putting up to 50% or more of their investible assets into private equity, real
Bob Fraser: estate, private equity, these kind of things, venture capital. And
Ben Fraser: in most of the average retail investor, they’ve. Less than 5%, right?
Bob Fraser: training people how to do that, right? And we’re making alternatives and private investments approachable for normal people.
Ben Fraser: And lastly if you are not already on our mailing list we definitely encourage you to sign up for the mail list. You can get stay in the loop for everything we’ve got going on and information like this.
So without further ado, Bob kick us off stimulus and QE is a crazy section.
Bob Fraser: I’m gonna show you some things that you haven’t seen and I think will be a little bit eye-opening to you. As we know, stimulus and quantitative easing has become a part of our investment world. And I wanna show you exactly what’s happened.
So this is the covid pandemic stimulus since January of 2020. And these are trillions of dollars, 10 to 16 trillion in global stimulus. The blue is the United States, and this is the direct stimulus that we’ve done, and this is support stimulus. And what I want to show you is that the, it’s been global, so it wasn’t just the United States.
We had a very large stimulus program. It was really global across the entire planet. So the US was just one, one part of this global stimulus effort. Central banks monetized. $11 trillion. And this is the balance sheet of a, of the central banks. And what that means is the stuff they own, the stuff they bought and the stuff they own.
So if they’re buying stuff, this goes up. If they’re selling stuff, it goes down. . And so what happened is the central banks bought 11 trillion of stuff. What that means is they basically print money and they buy stuff, and that’s called monetizing the debt or monetizing whatever they’re doing.
And so they’re actually printing money and it’s a, it’s another form of stimulus that is very powerful. And it’s actually very new. So this only has really happened since the great financial crisis down here. So what I want to, what I want to just give you a short education on fiscal stimulus and the innovation that has happened by our central bankers.
We don’t think of central bankers as innovators, but in fact they have done some pretty major innovation. So the Central bank is the Federal Reserve. They’re the bank of banks in the United States. They manage the currency they manage, print the money, et cetera, all that, and keep the banks afloat.
And they’re about a hundred years old and they started, so when the economy is slow, what the central bank could typically do is they would lower interest rates. So they make borrowing cheaper. And so the idea is this, that if you’re a business and all of a sudden you can borrow money at 2% as opposed to 5%, then you’ll think about expanding your business or building that, building, that new office building or whatever that thing is.
And you think about spending money and you’ll end up hiring people. But. But it’s limited in its effectiveness if you think about it. So what if I don’t wanna borrow money? What if, in 2008, it didn’t matter how low rates were, people would not borrow because you have to believe that you could take the money and deploy it successfully. So it’s very loose, it’s very trickled down. It’s not very direct and it is powerful over the long haul. But it can’t push anything, right? You can’t push it, you can’t make people borrow. So it had limited effectiveness. We started some other innovations later, but then what happened is the real innovation happened in 2008.
And I was there, I was a running a hedge fund at the time. And I remember the days when really we’re witnessing a massive meltdown of our entire financial system. It was extremely serious. People may not be aware of how serious it was, the 2008, 2009 crash, and our central bankers actually stepped up.
Hank Polson and and the others in the Treasury stepped up and they did something that had never been done before. They actually did direct debt and equity injections. So they actually went into the companies and gave them money to, bailout programs like tarp. They bailed that AIG bunch of things.
And then they started a brand new mechanism that had never been done before they actually started monetizing the debt. So what that means is the Federal Reserve who print money, they can literally, they don’t literally have to print money, it’s just a computer entry. They go and create a new entry and their computer.
And they bought government debt. And what that did, they just bought it up. They just started every, all the government money that they wanted to print, they just bought it. And they also bought bonds. They bought bonds. That that that the mortgage bonds, yeah. And so drove mortgage rates to the toilet.
And so they did 3.6 trillion over a six year period there. And this actually saved the economy. And now most people like me, and a lot of people back then, I was a what’s called a hard money economist saw that if you’re gonna print money, when you start printing money, that’s when you have hyperinflation.
And I was actually expecting hyperinflation guess what? Hyperinflation did not happen. If you remember, 2009, the inflation hit these record lows. And so I really went back and revisited my macroeconomic thesis and studied a lot to go figure out what happened. And I’m gonna present some of those things here.
Yeah. Alright. So we made it through and I honestly believe we, we would have had something very similar to the Great Depression of the 1930s had they fed, not intervened. So then C O V D hits. And what was good back then? They just said, must be double good now. ? So let’s do twice as much money in one third amount of time.
And of course it’s easy. And so they, they did something, they monetized a much larger amount of money over a much shorter period of time. And then they did something that has never, ever been done before. And that was direct payments to individuals. And so they actually got, they sent money out to human beings.
Okay. And And that is a very different kind of stimulus. It’s not like the lower interest rates, which is more trickle down hope it works. This one is powerful and massive. And just for the sake of illustration, it’s useful to put some extreme examples in place. But just for the point of illustration, bear with me.
So let’s say the government wired to every man, woman, and child in America. $1 million, boom. Come tomorrow morning, you wake up, you check your bank account, you have $1 million in there. So does your wife and your children and everything. So what would happen? Would people quit their jobs?
. Yep. A lot of people would quit their jobs. Would people go out and spend? Yep. They’d go Airbnb book that vacation. They’d go shopping, they would go, open up a Robinhood account and go start buying crypto, right? , they would and people would and there’d be massive inflation, so everybody wanted to go out to eat and go to the restaurants.
Don’t there be nobody to work there? Because every quit their job. Yeah. Everybody retired. And so my point is this, we saw when you do direct payments to individuals, you’ll see massive consumer spending and you also will see consumers people leaving the workforce. And it’s exactly what we saw.
Yep. And it is absolutely powerful what we saw. . All right. And I wanna point out to you the differences in the stimulus and why this time it’s working different. And why did the stimulus back in the 2008 crisis, why was it not inflationary, right? And why is this stimulus inflationary?
And I want to tell you why it’s different. So what this chart is, it’s called capacity utilization. And this chart here, the blue line is basically, how much of the capacity of the United States, the the manufacturing capacity is being utilized. Now, this is a simplified approach, if you’re an economist, don’t understand.
But it still it’s shows what’s happening. So what this idea is if this number is at 75%, it means that we can produce a thousand widgets a month, and we’re producing 750, right? So our factories are idling, right? If it goes to zero, it means our factories are a hundred percent turned off.
If they’re at a hundred, it means. Everything is at max capacity. We can’t produce one more widget. Okay. So what this shows is the capacity utilization of United States, and here’s what I want to show you. This is the great financial crisis right here. This gray area. And so what happened when that hit, Bush immediately did this economic stabilization act of 0.7 trillion.
Obama comes in behind and pushes this American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and notice the timing. It’s when capacity utilization is low. . So the idea is the factories are idling. There’s, there’s no orders coming in. Business is slowing down. And so these are welcome creating demand.
So if you spend, if the government spends money to create artificial demand at a time when there is not enough demand, that’s a good thing. It actually is not inflation. My factory is at idle. I’ve got I’m only producing half the widgets I can produce and the government prints money and buys my some more widgets.
It’s not inflationary. You follow me? Yep. Okay. So let’s fast forward here and let’s look at the Covid era stimulus. So we had this massive crash in capacity U utilization down here. So Trump started the ca, the CARES Act, 2.3 trillion right at the bottom. Very good timing. He follows on a second act, the CIA act again, good timing.
And then what happened is this one. 1.9 trillion. So literally the, one of the largest, the second largest of all at a time when the economy is actually at or close to high capacity. And not only are we at high capacity we’ve already we’ve got problems of supply problems where they there’s a supply chain, there’s not enough supply, and they created 1.9 trillion in artificial government printed demand, right?
At a time when it couldn’t even meet existing demand. And so this one was very different. This one was highly inflationary. So very different. So the great financial crisis stimulus happened, it was 1.5 trillion plus 3.6 de monetization over five years. And it was the demand, the artificial demand government demand was created at a time when there was lots of idle capacity.
The pandemic stimulus was much larger. Including both larger monetization and much larger policy stimulus. And it pumped trillions into the economy when the supply was already at capacity. And the one thing we really learned that this was a giant experiment, okay? No one knew what would happen.
What about when you just send money to human beings, right? You just send money there. What happens? You get, something that’s very immediate and very powerful. Consumers, consumer spending spike, and people exiting the workforce. And we’re gonna, we’re gonna look at some of those things.
This is a shocking chart, and there’s actually a lot of debate amongst economists as what is going on here. This is the checking deposits and currency in household. Checking accounts. We are seeing 5 trillion in cash sitting in people’s checking accounts. This goes back to 1950.
Look at this and it spiked up here in Covid. It went up five x post Covid . Is that nuts? It’s crazy. People are sitting on this incredible amount of cash here, and
Ben Fraser: it really goes against a lot of what the headlines are saying right now in the media of all the consumers in, bad shape.
Everything’s getting really bad and, rates of change are maybe declined a little bit, but this is very
Bob Fraser: shock. And just as a point, I’m not inventing these steps. This is all from the Federal Reserve. This is all the data I use is from the Federal Reserve economic data. So this is not in, stuff I’m inventing just fyi.
Consumer spending. Now, this is a shocker. Here we are supposedly in recession or going to be or something, right? And this is retail sales. Look at this. Here’s the trend from 2010 and just trending up up and away. And then since Covid, it’s up 30% off. It’s up trend above. It’s up trend. People are spending like crazy.
If you’ve gone shopping at Emory recently you try to go to an airport, it’s just nuts what is happening, right? Now, meanwhile, this is the people are exiting the workforce. This is the labor force participation rate. And what this is, it’s a, it’s simple concept.
It’s the percentage of the population that is either working. Or looking for work. . So this is people that are in the workforce. So if you’ve got someone who is retired, this is, they would not be considered in the workforce or a young person or somebody says, no, I don’t, I’m just not gonna look for a job anymore.
I don’t wanna work. Okay. What happens? You see this trend going down because of demographics. This is covid. So you saw a lot of people suddenly exit the workforce and they haven’t quite come back. , they’re not coming back. What? Why is that? What’s going on? And the second thing we’re saying, because of Covid, we’re seeing the wages go up and anyone’s been on the job market recently knows this.
You’re seeing this is the average hourly earnings has suddenly spiked. Again, this is Covid right here. And earnings just spiking up. So pretty shocking, and this is all stimulus created. Alright, so what does that mean? Are we in recession? What does that mean for the consumer?
We’re gonna look at this. So officially, there is no recession yet. So unofficially people say a recession is whenever we see two quarters of negative GDP growth. What GDP growth means is the amount of growth in the economy as the sum of all goods and services produced in the United States, right? Yep.
So if that declines two quarters and order supposed to be recession officially, actually it is when the N B EER declares a recession and they have not yet declared a recession, and we have seen two quarters of negative GDP growth. But look at the first quarter of 22. This was really based on imports and this was this all covid related disruption in imports.
The second quarter was based on inventories. Again, covid related changes in inventories as inventories went with berserk. And then q3 we have. G growth, and actually Q4 was just reporting, it’s up here, 2.9% GP growth. So we’re seeing the economy in the spite of the Fed raising rates and trying to slow things down.
We’re seeing the economy not slowing down. On the negative front. And consumer wise, we’re seeing this is, we’re seeing this is consumer credits consumer, sorry banks willing to make consumer loans. So we’re seeing that kind of going negative. We’re seeing banks are getting more conservative consumer sentiment.
We’re also seeing dropping. It’s actually below the great financial crisis, which is nutty. And usually this is a very important metric because consum, because 70% of our economy is based on consumer spending, and if consumers are not optimistic, they don’t spend. But in fact, today consumer sentiment is very low, but consumer spending is very high.
So they’ve actually disconnected. So those are the negatives. But then let’s look on the positives of the consumer. So this is the personal savings rate. This is the percentage of people’s income that they’re actually saving. And it’s been steady going along here. But then look at Covid.
There was this massive jump in savings. People save. Why? Because they couldn’t go out. They didn’t go out, they didn’t travel. And so they saved. And so we have this massive buildup of savings. And then with the great inflation that’s happening right now, we’re seeing savings under pressure. So we’re seeing that going down, but we still had a lot of this.
Today under pressure, and here we see 5 trillion in excess savings. So this is the amount of financial assets in all commercial banks and money market funds. And there’s 5 trillion in excess cash just sitting there. People are just sitting on a mountain of cash. Look at consumer debt. So this is the delinquency rate on single family mortgages.
Again, it’s just extremely low. People are paying their mortgages. People are not defaulting on their mortgages. Here’s household debt service. So this is the percentage, right here is the percentage of your household income. The this is being this is being spent a percentage of disposable personal income to service your debt, to make your credit card payments, your mortgage payments, your auto loan payments.
How much are you paying on your debt? And it hit an all-time low during covid. Now it’s back up to an, it’s still an extreme low. . And this is the total financial. as a percentage of your income, and it’s still at an all time low. So obviously we’re seeing the tick up here because of inflation and because of higher interest rates, but it’s still extremely low.
Overall. So real income, this is real median household income. Now, anytime economists say the word real, what they mean is adjusted for inflation. So this is after adjusting for inflation. Look at the look at the the rise in income. And we’re seeing this, we’re received just this crazy rise in income really over the last decade.
Now, in the last, since the inflation started, we’re seeing it tick down a little bit, but it’s still extremely high. So we’re seeing income being very, wealth effect is something. So what happens if, maybe your income is not high, but you’re sitting on, million dollar portfolio of stocks and your house has got, a couple hundred thousand in equity in it?
You’re gonna feel pretty good. It’s called the wealth effect. Yep. And so this is the household net worth. And again, it’s just incredibly strong. And this is the dotted line here is real household net worth, meaning it’s adjusted for inflation. And you, again, you see this long-term trend up but here it’s above, its long-term trend.
Up 10% since 2009, 2019. So we’re seeing net worth. People are feeling wealthy, they’re feeling flush and well made. And again, just to recap, so we’re seeing very strong retail spending. And of course, low unemployment. It’s continued just to befuddle economists like what is going on, ? And unemployment hitting this.
Very low. And job openings are actually high in the midst of, the fed trying to tighten rates and all that. So what, so bottom line, where does that put us? And on the left here’s all the factors that are like, potentially gonna tip us into recession. And then on the right is all the factors that why we might not tip into recession.
And so we’re seeing on the left is tightening credit, low consumer confidence inflation squeezing consumers, and possibly a global recession. I do believe, we’ll this very likely we’ll see Europe tip into a recession this year. So we see some of those things, but on the other side, We’re seeing very strong consumer spending, very high consumer savings, low debt service, strong job market, strong wealth effect, record, real income and record cash , which is what I’ve been saying for the last, year six months to a year that the Fed can bring us into recession.
They are, they have a lot of tools, but it’s gonna be very difficult to do that. And so why don’t you read this one, Ben? Can you read that? Yeah.
Ben Fraser: So Goldman Sachs, they put out their 2023 forecast and they’re, they changed their tune a little bit, a few times, but the most recent one we’ve seen is that they are forecasting the US economy to avoid recession and progress toward a soft landing.
Which, it’s, we’ll see if that can happen, but the, as a lot of these data points keep coming out right. In a largely
Bob Fraser: positive, we think more economists saying, yes, hey, soft landing or no landing, no recession at all. . So we’ll see.
Ben Fraser: So we’ve just talked about the consumer and the, kind of pros and cons in the health of where they’re at, but we’re also gonna look at here, commercial real estate, right?
So a big question, and I’m sure it’s very relevant to a lot of you on this webinar, as well as for us, what’s happening to commercial real estate, right? Are we seeing another meltdown like we saw in 2018 or 2008, sorry. And right now what we’re seeing so far is that prices have retraced a little bit.
So we’re seeing values come down slightly in commercial real estate, but we’re not seeing substantial falloff in pricing. And I think there’s a few reasons for this, but you can go to the next slide here. We’re also seeing delinquency. They’re not very high. And this is commercial real estate delinquencies.
And what we are seeing though is that banks are tightening lending. So similar to the consumer side where banks are, less willing to be to lend a certain borrowers or being more conservative in what they are lending. We definitely are seeing some tightening in the commercial real.
Side, and this is a really interesting chart. The multi-family demand is outpacing the supply. So we’re seeing that, right now there’s still a lot of demand, especially in multi-family relative to what the supply is. And we’ll see if that changes over time, but right now we’re not seeing a lot of distress, so to speak in right now in the commercial real estate sector.
Yeah. And I will point out that, everybody always looks back, until the previous previous crash. And this is very different, the reason the 2008, 2009 crisis was so severe was that a real estate crisis turned into a banking crisis and banks got, were very unhealthy and had to be bailed out.
We saw, hundreds of banks fail. We’re not anywhere near that right now. The banks are actually very healthy. They’re in very good shape for a lot of reasons. So the chances of this becoming something bigger are pretty much nill.