Led Zeppelin probably wasn’t talking about economic forecasters in “Dazed and Confused,” a song the rock band made famous on their 1969 debut album, but the track aptly describes the dark science of today.

During the pandemic, it was clear that the new curve in COVID-19 cases would dictate the response of the economy. As the vaccine reduced the number of new cases, the economy came back to life. There have been clear lockdown winners and clear losers.

For real estate investors, the big winners were owners of industrial buildings and, in many markets, apartments. Businesses and hotels were clearly the losers, and office buildings were stuck in a sort of purgatory.

As fears of a pandemic began to fade, consumers began to spend heavily on experiences, dining out, and travel. The obvious beneficiaries were hotel owners and retail businesses. Office building owners continued to envision a return to normal, with Zoom trending downward and encountering in-person and hybrid models on the rise.

Now the curve is back with the rapid spread of the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus. Besides Nebraska, every state in the country has a “high” or “substantial” level of community transmission, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Retail sales fell in July and consumer confidence weakened. The Federal Reserve is trying to calm the markets by telling everyone that inflation will be transient, but a new playbook is being written every day.


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