Zac Goldsmith is probably spending this weekend having a long, hard think about where his version of "principled politics" is taking him. Either that, or he is considering other career opportunities! His defeat in the Richmond Park by-election (brought about by his decision to take a stand against Heathrow's third runway) must be a bitter pill to swallow. He resigns his seat in support of his long-suffering constituents, who are sat directly under Heathrow's flight path, and they reward him by voting in the Liberal Democrats! Political commentators will argue that the by-election result was simply a protest against the Tories "Hard-Brexit" stance (even if the Government's exit strategy seems pretty opaque to the rest of us!). On reflection, however, at least Zac may be relieved that he is at last free from Tory shackles. He once famously remarked that he would need to "drug himself and be drunk" before he voted for the then Conservative leader William Hague. He didn't stop there, adding he would have to "wash myself afterwards". At least now, he can soak in the tub at leisure!
Back in September, real estate became a new sector in the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) for equity indices following a tripling in real estate's share of the global equities market from 1.1% at the bottom of the market cycle in 2009 to 3.5% in 2016. One of the reasons cited for removing real estate from the GICS "Financial" sector was the low correlation in the performance of property stocks relative to other equities in the sector, such as banks. In fact the 10-year volatilityof the FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Europe Index is 19.4%, whereas for MSCI Eurooe/Financials it is 29.52% for the same period. Heavy statistics for a Sunday morning I know (!), but the decoupling from Financials was meant to improve the risk-profile of REITS and start attracting new allocations. The reaction of the listed property sector to Brexit therefore hasn't necessarily helped the volatility argument. In the meantime, with the likes of Berkeley stating that the company's shares are "materially undervalued" and reviewing the option of share buybacks, there must be a shorter-term opportunity in there somewhere!
As the saying goes, "Dogs are a man's best friend". Nowhere is this phrase more apt than on the US West Coast. In the major cities, such as San Francisco and Seattle, dogs apparently outnumber children and pet owners are likely to refer to themselves as "parents" when referring to their beloved hound. Companies have been quick to exploit the Americans devotion to their tail-wagging family members. You can already buy organic dog food, or treat your dog to an orthopedic pet mattress. It seems they even dress them up for parties! According to the Economist, Americans this year spent more than $400 million on Halloween costumes for pets! And when it comes to holidays, the elevated status of these canine companions means old-school kennels are no longer up-to-scratch. The solution, seized upon by start-ups in the US such as Rover and DogVacay, is an "Airbnb for dogs" where owners can find a nearby, friendly and fully-vetted dog host. The model hasn't taken off in the UK quite yet. Maybe we are waiting for an Airbnb model that gives us a break from our actual children!!