A matter of grammar

How well does your investment perform?

Recently, The Wall Street Journal and the automated proofreading company Grammarly conducted a survey of baseball fan bases and their grammar, spelling and punctuation as it appears in the signs and banners brought to their respective stadiums. It turns out that New York City, home of my beloved Mets and that other team, ranks number one and number five, respectively, as the site of the fans with the worst grammar.

In other words: one of the world’s most important financial, cultural and investment markets is inhabited by a populace that doesn’t seem to have a grasp on basic grammar. On the other hand, the city that ranks number one with the best grammar is Cleveland, home of the Indians. And Cleveland hasn’t really been on many institutional investors’ “short list” for commercial real estate investment.

Here is how some of the United States’ global gateway cities rate:

Worst to best (out of 30 cities)
New York Mets #1
New York Yankees #5
Boston Red Sox #11
Los Angeles Dodgers #16
San Francisco Giants #17
Dallas (Texas) Rangers #18
Washington Nationals #21

The real question is whether there is a correlation between a city’s overall ability to put together a readable sentence and the overall return on investment in that market. It does not seem to be the case.

New York City remains one of the hottest investment markets globally and probably will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. And so are the other first-tier cities attracting the majority of investment capital. Even Washington, D.C. — our nation’s capital and the city with the highest percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher — ranks at the bottom of the top 10, which is also a sign that literacy has absolutely nothing to do with investment performance at this point in the economic cycle. If this were the case, then Cleveland, Milwaukee and Cincinnati would be among the hottest markets.

To be fair, this is an unscientific approach to analyzing investment rationale. I doubt there are any pitch books that say, “When considering an investment, one important criteria we analyze is the market’s overall grammar. If its relative score is low, we’re all in.”

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Jonathan_Schein-NEWJonathan Schein is senior vice president and managing director of business development at Institutional Real Estate, Inc.