A theory as to why the rent is too damn high and a potato salad is ten thousand dollars and Uber is ten billion dollars and you’ll have to buy reservations for restaurants like concert tickets and tickets for Transformers 4 in IMAX are like twenty-five dollars so that it made three hundred million dollars its opening weekend:
Welcome to the Everything Boom — and, quite possibly, the Everything Bubble. Around the world, nearly every asset class is expensive by historical standards. Stocks and bonds; emerging markets and advanced economies; urban office towers and Iowa farmland; you name it, and it is trading at prices that are high by historical standards relative to fundamentals. The inverse of that is relatively low returns for investors.
The phenomenon is rooted in two interrelated forces. Worldwide, more money is piling into savings than businesses believe they can use to make productive investments. At the same time, the world’s major central banks have been on a six-year campaign of holding down interest rates and creating more money from thin air to try to stimulate stronger growth in the wake of the financial crisis.
Tidy theories that explain an unruly world are rarely as neat as they purport to be, but they are comforting, aren’t they?