Jonathan D. Miller

Executive Bio

Jonathan Miller is a partner and co-owner of Miller Ryan LLC, a strategic marketing communications consulting firm to the financial services and real estate industries. Miller has more than 25 years of communications and marketing experience in the real estate industry, counseling many leading executives. For the past 15 years he has also authored Emerging Trends in Real Estate, the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) premier annual industry forecast and speaks extensively on suburban and urban issues. He is also author of ULI's Infrastructure 2008: A Global Perspectives, a major analysis on the looming changes facing the

U.S. on infrastructure and land use issues. He has led marketing/communications teams at Equitable Real Estate, Lend Lease, and GMAC Commercial Mortgage (Capmark Finance), overseeing re-branding programs for those firms as well as for COMPASS, Boston Financial and Amresco when they were acquired by Lend Lease. He has extensive crisis communications and corporate-change experience. Miller graduated with honors from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism and earned a law degree cum laude from American University. Contact Jonathan Miller.

  • Topping Out?

    At lunch yesterday someone raised the lurking question—“Have values topped out?” Since we were sitting in the middle of Manhattan sushi den, I presumed he was talking about the New York office market. And of course, New York is a special case—a unique, global gateway where everybody wants in and foreign money all too readily grabs for a piece of the action.

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  • The Worm Starts to Turn

    ADDENDUM: Blog Addendum—How revealing is the news behind Tuesday’s CNN headline after Wall Street’s rebound from recent market declines—“Stocks higher on weaker GDP data—hopes rise that interest rates stay low.” Is this investing turned on its head? We used to buy shares in companies based on their prospects for increased earnings from sound business models. Here we get more news that reinforces views about relative weakness in the underlying economy and that sends markets into buy mode, because the government will keep printing more money and provide cheap financing, which helps trading spreads and CFO balance sheet manipulations. Unfortunately, real estate investors need increased GDP to spur office leasing and retail sales for higher shopping center returns. In that vein, the announcement from big law firm Weil Gotshal should not be welcome news to office brokers. Weil announced layoffs of associates and compensation reductions for some partners, probably a harbinger of more thinning to come among the professional ranks where firms cannot command the same level of fees from corporate clients they once did. That gives Bernanke and friends more prodding to be cautious and keep rates low. It’s just another buy signal, right? As noted below: the U.S economy is certainly no great shakes, but China deserves our special concern…

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  • Hold Onto Your Wallets

    There was another article in the paper over the weekend about how more mutual fund investors are wising up and moving away from stock picker managers to index funds, because the majority of pickers don’t beat the index while charging significantly higher fees for their questionable value add, further eating into returns.

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  • Infrastructure—Jobs or Jam-ups?

    Government deficits decrease, partly because of budget cuts and higher taxes, but mostly just because the economy is improving enough to generate more business and commerce and more income and sales taxes.

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  • Advisor Shakeout Underway

    So many real estate advisors looking for new allocations to stay afloat, so many lackluster or worse returns to find in legacy funds, so much capital looking for yield, and so much of that money going only to the top performing fund managers while the also-rans run out of time.

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  • Follow the Yankees

    Despite a solid, early-season winning record, the New York Yankees were selling grandstand and bleacher seats for $5 this week, according to a dispatch on Yahoo. It’s not just because Jeter and A-Rod are on the disabled list and who-knows-who is in the line-up to replace them and some of the other big name stars. Attendance is down, because the average fan just cannot afford the price tags the Yankees envisioned for seating when they formulated plans for their new billion dollar stadium—those $2,500 box seats around home plate, tailored to the Wall Street expense account crowd—have always gone wanting since the new stadium opened in 2009 and now Yankees tickets are always available for online resale at a fraction of face value. The Yankees, meanwhile, are trying to get out from under the salary cap after paying egregiously outlandish salaries to A-Rod and others before the Era of Less took hold. If Average Joe cannot keep up, eventually the guys at the top of the compensation pyramid will make less too.

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  • More of the Same

    Consider these items: •Gold gets hammered—investors who bought in and created a bit of a bubble worrying about inflation now back off in a general commodity decline as China stumbles and Europe remains mired in recession. The U.S. just keeps printing money and now Japan joins in on quantitative easing after two decades of keeping interest rates at near zero without much impact on the pricing of goods. •The housing market strengthens in part off pent up demand—a growing population needs more places to live. But much of the home buying in woebegone markets has been by big institutional investors, not Average Joes, who still cannot get mortgages notwithstanding bargain prices either because of bad credit or not enough cash to put down or both. The institutions will rent to the Average Joes in the meantime, but eventually hope to make a killing when Average Joe can afford to buy at a higher price. •McDonalds reports its global sales are off and value meals are back to increase market share. •Austerity has not worked in Europe---the latest numbers show even Germany begins to stumble, and now the sequester cuts start to bite into the U.S. economy—the jobs numbers have not been inspiring and our friends, the economists, suggest there won’t be a pick up until year end.

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  • Flight to Quality

    At a dinner party the other night with a Manhattan real estate agent and a couple from New Jersey the conversation shifted suddenly from spouses dying of aneurysms to the local residential property markets. In the city, top-end brokers find themselves in a back-to-the-future circa 2006 frenzy—it’s a seller’s market and bidding wars ramp up prices with all or mostly cash buyers having a major edge. Developers of skyscraper condos nearing completion have timed the market extremely well, attracting nervous offshore money looking for a safe haven.

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  • The Problem with Water

    Floods and droughts—they’re part of biblical lore. In our history, there have been various hurricanes, the Johnstown flood, and the Depression era Dust Bowl. The Mississippi from time to time overflows its banks and Atlanta’s reservoir system almost ran dry in 2007.

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  • Mixed Messages

    The stock market and number of food stamp recipients (nearly 48 million Americans) hit new records at the same time—both new highs, just as unemployment ticks down to 7.7% and private hiring kicks up—notably in construction. The payroll tax gnaws at weekly pay checks and it’s too early to understand the impacts of federal government spending cuts (sequester)—at least scattered layoffs and furloughs particularly but not exclusively in the public sector. The Fed keeps interest rates low, because the bankers do not see enough evidence of economic improvement, and the big commercial banks pass their stress tests—what a surprise. Instead of hiring, companies feel compelled to return excess cash to shareholders in record dividends or undertake stock buybacks—they can stay more profitable if they keep lean and do their hiring in cheaper overseas markets. The nation’s household wealth has been restored thanks to the recent stock market boom and improvement in the housing market—some folks are at least feeling more affluent. Consumers seem to be borrowing again to buy things after paying down debt. But wages are not going up appreciably and the benefit burden keeps shifting to workers. At least health care costs are not increasing as much as they had been.

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