In our summer 2020 special I was bullish for June 2021, and I still think that by the time of our next quarterly, in spring 2021, we will be at the foothills of a two year mini-boom in property values driven by increased global allocations to real assets with half-decent, low-volatility income streams (resi, anyone?). If I am right, then 2021 global real estate conversations will soon turn to: steep yield curves, ‘unsustainable’ asset inflation and, if you can believe it, an overvalued sterling. So, before the caravan moves on, now is probably the time to put on record some of my personal, somewhat random memories of the bonkers year that was lockdown 2020.
Mental health: No, not the fears of HR departments that those cooped up in small spaces and with smelly flatmates or infuriating families were on the verge of breakdown. Rather that, during March and April, I noticed mentally ill people out and about, unaccompanied, in central London. One huge young man shouting in great distress at magazines in a small local newsagent, another preaching at full volume near Kensington Palace and another, essentially naked, dancing and gesticulating manically. I suspect that, in those early days, their carers were not sure where to be, or how to socially distance with their patients.
Manners: This is not strictly a lockdown phenomenon but I have definitely become more sensitive, during 2020, to the deterioration in basic good manners. A couple of examples: a major City law firm that had requested a Zoom call joining it 20 minutes late with a weak non-apology (“Things are so busy”), the marketing team of a London private equity firm not acknowledging an email proposal that they had asked for (it was left to their boss to explain “I guess they weren’t interested”). I am not even going to start on the huge amount of self-congratulatory, embarrassing, immodest rubbish that is posted, to my mind self-defeatingly, on LinkedIn. But my absolute manners bête noire? Drivers that do not thank or even acknowledge you when you let them in. Appalling. But, but, but… credit where credit is due. During the dog days of late March, I stopped as a pedestrian was approaching a zebra crossing. Not only did he smile, he waved to show his thanks. Take a bow, Mr Crispin Odey.