Despite all we hear about asset classes increasing in value across the board and the unprecedented strength of the U.S. economy, as a real estate entrepreneur and former professional trader, here’s what keeps me up at night: I believe we only know part of the story and that the piece we’re missing — our current inability to account for “invisible” or “hidden” leverage can have significant implications for our country’s economic health.
The hitch? We likely won’t know until it’s too late.
In a nutshell, “leverage” is the term for funds that are borrowed (outright or against an asset) with a goal of using those funds for further financial gain. Applied wisely, leverage has fueled wealth and economic growth for centuries; however, as with any debt, when things go south, borrowers can find themselves underwater, financially speaking. This is simply the reality of our economic system.
The risk is amplified when investors leverage assets that are inherently more difficult to track — such as cryptocurrencies, fine art, collectible cars and wine collections — and that are likely used far more often than our economic data shows. Trickier still, this kind of borrowing masks the multiplier effects of risk and debt, and it tends to be prevalent during times like these when we’re feeling optimistic and asset valuations “seem” to be on a never-ending upward trajectory. Click to read more at www.forbes.com.