Tesla CEO Elon Musk has pointed to the “most serious looming issue” in the banking system in a new tweet. On Twitter, Musk was responding to an analysis by The Kobeissi Letter, which noted that more than $2.5 trillion in commercial real estate debt will come due in the next five years.
As the analysts state, this is by far more than any other five-year period in history. “Meanwhile, rates have more than doubled and commercial real estate is only 60-70% occupied. Refinancing these loans is going to be incredibly expensive and likely lead to the next major crisis,” The Kobeissi Letter explains.
The worst part, however, is that the small banks, which are currently struggling badly, are at the center of this crisis as well. 70% of commercial real estate loans are made by small banks.
“This is by far the most serious looming issue. Mortgages too,” wrote Elon Musk, who has commented on the US banking crisis several times in recent weeks, calling for all banks to be protected by the FDIC, something Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has refused to do.
This is by far the most serious looming issue. Mortgages too.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 27, 2023
The analysts at The Kobeissi Letter responded to Elon Musk, saying that from the banking crisis to a commercial real estate crisis, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) is playing an important role by raising interest rates too quickly.
Banking Crisis Will Intensify
As Elon Musk notes, falling commercial mortgage bond prices are a growing problem for smaller banks, which are already suffering from declining demand for commercial real estate and fleeing depositors.
Meanwhile, interest rates have more than doubled, making refinancing these loans much more difficult and costly. At the same time, occupancy rates for commercial real estate are only 60-70%, putting additional pressure on the market.
This difficult situation could lead to a major new financial crisis, as refinancing the loans under these conditions is extremely expensive and risky.
Regional banks hold the most commercial real estate debt. 😬 pic.twitter.com/YUNC9qLLb3
— Markets & Mayhem (@Mayhem4Markets) March 23, 2023
As Scott Rechler, Chairman & CEO of RXR and Director at the NY Fed, admitted in a recent Twitter thread, most of this debt was financed when prime rates were near zero. This debt must be refinanced in an environment where interest rates are higher, values are lower, and the market is less liquid.
Rechner therefore calls for a program “that provides lenders the leeway and the flexibility from regulators to work with borrowers to develop responsible, constructive refinancing plans. A similar program was implemented in 2009 and during the heat of COVID-19.”
At the same time, Rechner warns of a serious systemic crisis in the banking system, especially regional banks. “We have been experiencing a proverbial slow-moving train wreck that has been picking up speed throughout this past year with the unprecedented spike in interest rates”, explained Rechner who added:
The events of the last couple of weeks highlight that the train is now out of control. We need to slow the train down and take the proper precautions to minimize the damage.
Bitcoin Becomes A ‘Higher Beta Version Of Gold’
For Bitcoin, this could be a turning point, as has already been demonstrated with the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). As the banking crisis unfolds, possibly surpassing the great financial crisis of 2008 that led Satoshi Nakamoto to create Bitcoin, the need for a decentralized, permission-free “freedom money” may become clearer to many.
If banks continue to fall like dominoes, this will likely have a significant impact on the value of Bitcoin. People will turn to Bitcoin to protect their wealth. As Mike McGlone, senior commodity strategist for Bloomberg Intelligence, recently explained, Bitcoin is turning into a “higher beta version of gold” in the face of the banking crisis.
Bloomberg Intelligence strategist @Mikemcglone11 says, “People are realizing #bitcoin is more like gold and treasury bonds. It’s happening.” pic.twitter.com/xYEl0Jc1UO
— Documenting ₿itcoin 📄 (@DocumentingBTC) March 26, 2023
At press time, the Bitcoin price stood at $27,832, further consolidating below the key resistance around $28,700.
Featured image from iStock, chart from TradingView.com