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5 min read

Market Insights from Dennis Lockhart: U.S. Economic Outlook, Fed Policy, and Commercial Real Estate Trends

Peachtree Group CEO Greg Friedman and CFO Jatin Desai hosted Dennis Lockhart, former President of the Atlanta Federal Reserve for a fireside chat conversation on the US economic outlook, Federal Reserve policy, geopolitical risks and commercial real estate trends. ‍Here are key highlights from their discussion.

Peachtree Group CEO Greg Friedman and CFO Jatin Desai hosted Dennis Lockhart, former President of the Atlanta Federal Reserve for a fireside chat conversation during Peachtree Group's annual Investor Day. Lockhart spoke on the US economic outlook, Federal Reserve policy, geopolitical risks and commercial real estate trends.

Here are key highlights from their discussion.

Dennis Lockhart, former President of the Atlanta Federal Reserve talks with Peachtree CEO Greg Friedman and CFO Jatin Desai about the US economic outlook, Federal Reserve policy, geopolitical risk sand commercial real estate.

Summary of the Economy:

  • The U.S. economy is performing well with steady growth. First-quarter growth was around 1.3-1.4% annualized GDP, but underlying indicators suggest stronger performance, with the Atlanta Fed projecting 3.1% annualized GDP growth for Q2 2024.
  • Unemployment is low at 4%, with recent job gains of 272,000. The private sector, especially healthcare, is driving job growth, leading to a more sustainable employment market and supporting consumer spending.
  • Strong employment ensures income stability for consumers, driving sustained consumption, which constitutes about 70% of GDP.
  • Inflation has decreased from its peak but remains above the Federal Reserve's target. The Fed prefers the Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) Index over the Consumer Price Index (CPI), with the current core PCE inflation rate at 2.7-2.8%, still above the 2% target. While adjusting the target inflation rate from 2% seems highly unlikely due to the Fed’s strong commitment and public trust in this goal, a more flexible approach within a defined range might be possible. This allows     the Fed to address inflation without formally changing the target, leveraging the current economic strength to be patient and let inflation decline over time.

Federal Open Market Committee’s Perspective:

  • The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is committed to making decisions on interest rates and monetary policy without political influence. Over a decade of attending meetings, Dennis has rarely seen political considerations come up. However, by tradition, the FOMC avoids action in the meeting immediately before a national election to prevent any appearance of political bias. Under Jay Powell's leadership, if necessary, the FOMC would act in September, but current conditions likely won't force action until after the election.
  • While different policies implemented by the elected candidate could shape the economy in the long term, the election itself is not anticipated to have an immediate impact. However, if post-election circumstances lead to significant disruptions, it could give the Federal Reserve pause at their November meeting.
  • If inflation doesn't improve or disinflation stalls at around 2.7-2.8%, the Fed may need to raise rates further. Conversely, consistent positive disinflation data     could lead to rate cuts by year-end. There are several scenarios to consider:
    • Sticky Inflation: If inflation remains high, the Fed might raise rates toward the end of the year or early 2025.
    • Disinflation Resumption: Positive disinflation data could lead to rate cuts in November or December.
    • Economic Slowdown: If the economy shows signs of faltering and businesses anticipate a recession, resulting in layoffs and reduced consumer spending, the Fed might cut rates to stabilize the situation.
    • Financial Instability: A financial stability event, similar to the Silicon Valley Bank incident last year, could prompt the Fed to cut rates to address underlying banking system issues, especially in commercial real estate.
  • The FOMC's narrative is that the economy is gradually slowing down. The employment picture remains very positive and strong, though it is rebalancing and not as robust as in 2022 and 2023. Inflation is still elevated, but the FOMC believes disinflation will resume, allowing them to begin easing policy restrictions by the end of the year. However, all of this depends on how the data comes in and the overall economic picture painted by the upcoming months. Upcoming Fed meetings are scheduled for July, September, November, and December. Policymaking remains cautious, with an emphasis on waiting for clear trends in inflation data before making further changes.


Geopolitical Risks:

  • Geopolitical events can significantly impact financial markets and potentially change the economic outlook for the U.S., at least temporarily. These events, often unexpected, can disrupt equity markets and influence the economy.  However, the Federal Reserve tends to be largely oblivious to geopolitics. Despite being close to the State Department, the Fed staff, mostly PhD economists, focus primarily on domestic issues and rarely consult with experts on geopolitical matters. This domestic focus means that while geopolitical events are serious and can influence the economy, they are not heavily factored into the Fed's policy decisions or economic projections.


Monetary Policy:

  • The balance sheet is a central tool for monetary policy. When interest rates hit zero during the Great Recession and the pandemic, the Fed used quantitative easing (QE) to stimulate the economy by increasing bank reserves, which supports lending and adds liquidity to financial markets. This led to the significant expansion of the Fed's balance sheet.
  • Currently, the Fed is slowly reducing its balance sheet to withdraw stimulus from the economy. This process, known as quantitative tightening, aims to find a new balance that provides ample bank reserves and liquidity without disrupting credit markets. The Fed approaches this carefully to avoid financial instability, such as the incident that occurred during a previous tightening attempt. This balance sheet adjustment is a critical but often behind-the-scenes aspect of monetary     policy.

Fiscal Policy:

  • Fiscal policy, especially deficit spending, boosts demand and contributes to inflation. During the pandemic, significant stimulus measures supported households and businesses but also added to inflationary pressures. However, inflation is a global issue and not solely caused by domestic fiscal policy.
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell acknowledges the unsustainable fiscal situation due to high debt levels but avoids criticizing Congress. The Fed factors in fiscal policy as one of many economic influences, recognizing its role in supporting growth, which can conflict with the Fed's inflation control efforts.
  • The Treasury's debt issuance strategy affects the bond market and banks holding these securities. Fiscal and monetary policies often create conflicting pressures, but the Fed incorporates these effects into their economic assessments and decisions.


Banking Sector:

  • Banks, particularly regional and community banks, have significant exposure to commercial real estate, making up around 40% of the market. While national banks have less exposure, the real estate market downturn has affected all banks, with properties like office spaces experiencing severe value declines and multifamily properties down by nearly 30% from their peak values due to high interest rates. Despite Federal Reserve Chair Powell's reassurances about the banking system's     stability, there are concerns about the real-time recognition of crises. Historical precedent suggests that crises often go unnoticed until they are well underway.
  • The upcoming maturities of approximately $850 billion in commercial real estate loans present a potential risk. The exposure is dispersed across various financial entities, which is somewhat reassuring. However, small and regional banks are particularly vulnerable. The failure of a significant regional bank due to real estate exposure could have severe economic repercussions, unlike the manageable impact of community bank failures.
  • Banks are currently managing the situation by extending loan maturities, effectively buying time to stabilize individual properties. While this approach can mitigate immediate issues, it also reduces banks' lending appetite. A significant reduction in credit availability, particularly for small businesses that rely on smaller banks, could trigger a recession. This dynamic highlights the delicate balance between managing existing problems and maintaining sufficient credit flow to support economic activity.

Commercial Real Estate:

  • The near-term and long-term valuations of commercial real estate, particularly in hospitality, will depend on market fundamentals. The office sector faces significant challenges due to the rise of remote work, which could reduce long-term demand for office space. Companies are still figuring out their office policies, with some adopting hybrid models.
  • The retail sector is affected by online shopping, and the hospitality sector is recovering from the pandemic but hasn't fully rebounded. There are no major issues expected in hospitality unless there is overbuilding.
  • Office spaces were already saturated pre-pandemic, and suburban offices now struggle to find tenants. Many offices remain underutilized, with some businesses likely to stay remote. Converting office buildings to apartments is often not feasible due to technical constraints.
  • The multifamily housing sector continues to show strong demand and remains a stable area in commercial real estate.

Press Release
5 min read

Peachtree Group Closes $40 Million in CPACE Financing for AC Hotel in 23 Days

Peachtree Group originated a $40 million retroactive CPACE loan to BLG SAN DIEGO, LLC (BLG) for its recently opened 147-room AC Hotel San Diego Downtown Gaslamp Quarter in Calif. The Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (CPACE) financing was amortized over 30 years and required no payment for a year, followed by five years of interest-only payments.

ATLANTA (June 24, 2024) – With ongoing credit market dislocations, Peachtree Group originated a $40 million retroactive CPACE loan to BLG SAN DIEGO, LLC (BLG) for its recently opened 147-room AC Hotel San Diego Downtown Gaslamp Quarter in Calif.  The Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (CPACE) financing was amortized over 30 years and required no payment for a year, followed by five years of interest-only payments. Also, the proceeds allowed BLG to pay down its senior loan with California-based Preferred Bank and E. Sun Commercial Bank, Ltd. to under $20 million, there by mitigating the banks’ exposure.

“This innovative capital structure significantly alleviated the immediate financial pressures, enabling the hotel to establish a solid cash flow foundation during its initial years of operation,” said Greg Friedman, Peachtree Group’s managing principal and CEO.

Despite the U.S. hotel industry's strong RevPAR performance, multiple headwinds exacerbate financial stress for owners. These headwinds include the lagging profitability of U.S. hotels, persistently high interest rates and historically high property insurance costs.

AC Hotel San Diego Downtown Gaslamp Quarter

“When we opened the AC Hotel San Diego Downtown Gaslamp Quarter in March 2023, there was a sizeable disconnect between hospitality fundamentals, which are strong, particularly in San Diego, while the debt markets were deteriorating meaningfully,” said Brad Honigfeld, founder, chairman and co-CEO of the New Jersey-based Briad Group®.“ The Fed’s tightening process and rising fund rates drove up the cost of debt considerably.”

Hotel and commercial real estate owners face a tough few years as trillions of dollars in debt come due, and refinancing gets harder, compounded by banks' tightened lending standards.

According to JLL Research, by the end of 2024, $5.8 billion worth of U.S. hotel-securitized loans will be due for repayment, requiring full payment, refinancing, extension or sale. However, if these loans were refinanced at current interest rates, most would struggle to generate enough income to cover their debt costs.

In this challenging lending market, Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (CPACE) financing has become a vital source of liquidity. This option is growing in importance as owners face impending debt maturities and scarce refinancing opportunities.

CPACE financing has rapidly gained traction in the commercial real estate market, reaching a cumulative $7.2 billion in the U.S. in just over a decade, according to PACENation. This significant milestone underscores the growing acceptance and adoption of CPACE financing as an innovative and effective solution. Peachtree Group, a key player in this market, has demonstrated its commitment to CPACE financing, with over $800 million in CPACE originations.  

The AC Hotel San Diego Downtown Gaslamp Quarter is in downtown San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter, known for its restaurants, shops and nightlife.

“Our hotel was benefiting from its location and performing to its original underwriting, but the debt costs were straining cash flows,” Honigfeld said.

Retroactive CPACE funding offers unique advantages for property owners. It operates similarly to normal pre-project funding, with one key difference: 100% of the loan proceeds can be used to reimburse the property owner for costs already incurred. This feature makes retroactive CPACE a valuable resource for property owners seeking better loan terms or improved cash flow for completed projects.

“The financial relief it provides not only ensures the hotel's success but also positions it for long-term stability. By reducing the financial burden in the early years, owners can focus on delivering exceptional guest experiences and achieving operational excellence,” Friedman said.

This strategic approach paves the way for the asset to transition to a more favorable financing market in the future, ensuring its sustained profitability and growth.

About Peachtree Group
Peachtree Group is a vertically integrated investment management firm specializing in identifying and capitalizing on opportunities in dislocated markets, anchored by commercial real estate. Today, the company manages billions in capital across acquisitions, development and lending, augmented by services designed to protect, support and grow its investments. For more information, visit


Charles Talbert                                                                                        


Press Release
5 min read

Peachtree Closes 22 loans totaling more than $379MM in the last 90 days 

Peachtree's lending team has closed 22 loans totaling more than $379MM in the last 90 days.

Peachtree Group Closed 22 loans totaling more than $379MM in the last 90 days 

Peachtree Group is a nationwide balance-sheet lender, offering competitive terms, in-house loan servicing, and flexible capital to handle a wide array of projects.

Peachtree provides full-stack debt capital solutions to qualified commercial real estate owners across all sectors throughout the U.S. We offer bridge, construction, mezzanine, preferred equity, CPACE, permanent and NNN financing.

See below for some of the most recent loan transactions from Peachtree Group including hotel loans, retail, multifamily, industrial, and land. Click here for our portfolio.

Need Financing? Contact us at

FEATURED: $20.5MM Development Loan for a Conversion

Peachtree Group worked with the Sponsor to convert a retail store to an industrial building in a sought-after area of Sacramento, CA.

Read the Case Study.

FEATURED: $12.5MM Bridge Loan for a Hotel

Hilton Garden Inn, Phoenix, AZ

Peachtree Group worked with the Sponsor to pay off its maturing loan while executing a business plan to upgrade its property to better compete in the marketplace and retain its Hilton flag.

Read the Case Study.

Peachtree is an award-winning hotel lender. Contact us to discuss your deal.

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