Its been a while since I last wrote a blog back in March about the pain and suffering the COVID-19 was about to inflict on both individuals and markets.
I will be honest and say I did not see the stock market bouncing back anywhere near as quickly as it has. However my call on Gold has been justified with a price rise from $1660 to $1951 as I write this. Thats a 17% return during a global pandemic in less than 6 months… not bad, I know quite a few clients have heeded this advice and even leveraged their position for even greater gains.
Anyway, I am not here to talk about Gold, I do see some more upside but its probably time to take profits and look for the next double digit opportunity.
So back to the virus. I was the first to call for a lockdown of sorts, or at least ban unnecessary large gatherings such as Cheltenham, I was not however promoting a total paralysis of the UK and most other global economies.
There is a great article in the FT this week about Swedens approach, a lesson in common sense. They looked at the bigger picture, i.e the economy, mental health and other indirect effects of a total lockdown. This pandemic is not going away anytime soon, we have to look at ways of managing it rather than thinking it will be destroyed any time soon. The Sweden model is a pretty good template.
I was lucky enough to spend my lockdown in The Netherlands. They also took a simple, sensible approach, keeping business open wherever possible with social distancing and encouraging outdoor activities.
The result was a 7% decline in the economy compared to the Uk’s 20%. Both are now thankfully on the mend due to government stimulus and the virus not being as bad as previously anticipated, but the debt will be around a lot longer.
The world has however changed as we know it. Much of London is still a ghost town as people refuse to go back to the office and get comfortable with home working.
I think the majority of people are shunning the commute rather than the office itself. As someone who spent 5 years crammed on the London Tube at rush hour, I wouldn’t be rushing back if I had an excuse like Covid-19.
So businesses are embracing the new normal, people are moving out to the burbs to have a garden and more space and companies look for smaller offices in more pleasant locations with shorter commutes.
Which brings me nicely on to Cambridge.
Having lived in Oxford for many years, I never spent a great deal of time in Cambridge as it seem to offer much the same experience. Having recently visited the city to view a couple of developments we have funded there, I was surprised by the buzz the city had, even in the middle of a pandemic. Offices were being filled by companies fleeing London, lab space was in short supply due to the demands of COVID-19 research and property prices are being pushed to even higher levels than before the pandemic.
However it was the biomedical campus that really surprised me the most. Has there ever been a better time to boast Europes biggest medical research and health centre? At its heart is the new AstraZeneca HQ, at a cost of one billion pounds its a serious piece of real-estate, just what you need to start a tsunami of followers to a science park.
So Cambridge has become something of a global sweat spot. I spent many of my early years sourcing emerging market property based on similar fundamentals. Its not often you find such compelling drivers on your door step. The other nice aspect of R&D is that it wont be effected by Brexit.
Knowledge still passes freely between boarders as far as I am aware.
I haven’t even touched on what a stunningly beautiful location it it. Picture postcard architecture , weeping Willow trees over the many rivers and wonderful pubs and restaurants, not to mention excellent train connections with London and only half an hour away from Stansted Airport. They are also building a new train station at the science park, which always massively boost property prices.
So to conclude, I think COVID-19 is going to be major boom for this historical city. More and more people will want to work here, pushing up both rents and property prices. Demand for office space which is already undersupplied will see yields on commercial jump very quickly.
We have already completed two development opportunities in the city and we are expecting more. We are also going to be working with a biomedical EIS fund. Investors will be able to invest in a basket of local startups and receive tax breaks for doing it. So to find out more about any of these unique ways to play the Cambridge growth story, please get in touch. There has never been a better time to invest in Cambridge.