Charlie Munger, the 99-year-old investor and vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, contends that rough waters lie ahead for the U.S. commercial real estate market, according to an article in CNBC. In a recent interview in the Financial Times cited by CNBC, Munger said that U.S. banks have too many “bad loans” on the books that will become vulnerable when property prices fall during market turmoil.
Though it won’t be “as bad as it was in 2008,” Munger believes there will still be trouble in the banking industry, and indeed his warning was prescient as First Republic was taken over by JPMorgan Chase this weekend, the latest bank to collapse after Silicon Valley Bank’s failure in March. Meanwhile, Berkshire Hathaway has mainly remained on the sidelines during the banking crisis, though the company has a long track record of helping out American banks during tumultuous times, CNBC reports. That reticence to enter the fray is partly out of caution from the risks that can arise from the many commercial property loans that the banks are holding, Munger intimated in the interview. He pointed to the numerous properties that are currently in trouble, from office buildings to shopping centers, telling the Financial Times that much “real estate isn’t so good anymore” and that “there’s a lot of agony out there,” CNBC quotes.