Watch that Rat Hole by Kenneth D. Campbell

Watch that Rat Hole

And Witness the REIT Revolution
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Debut author Campbell shares his journey as journalist and adviser covering the real estate investment trust market in this financial history and memoir.

In 1961, the author moved his wife and children from Ohio to the New York City area for the next step in his journalism career: working at House & Home, a Time Inc.–owned trade publication. His new boss directed him to “watch that rat hole”—that is, to track real estate investment trusts, a financial product that the U.S. Congress had recently approved. Campbell’s “rat hole” ended up dominating the rest of his life; he soon started a REIT-focused newsletter service and also eventually became an adviser to those seeking to invest or undertake merger and acquisition deals in this arena. Using many statistical charts, he recounts the REIT market’s fluctuating fortunes; it tanked during the OPEC oil crisis and general economic downturn, then rose from the ashes, thanks in part to financial players who were eager for tax write-offs and bargains. Campbell conveys his impressions of and encounters with an array of world financial figures, including Warren Buffett, Ivan Boesky, Michael Milken, and Carl Icahn, within this resurgence. He also discusses his additional work as a money manager, during which he handled assets of the World Bank. An appendix examines the short-lived New York Real Estate Securities Exchange in the 1930s, which Campbell terms “the Run-up to the REIT Revolution.” With his passion and expertise, the author will effectively capture many readers’ interest in considering REITs as an intriguing asset class. Yet he also provides a rather dizzying amount of data as well as details about lesser-known individuals in the REIT sphere, which may overwhelm more general readers. His recollections of his childhood and earlier newspaper career, while often quite colorful and charming, would perhaps fit better in a separate memoir. There’s also surprisingly little contextual discussion on how REITs fared during the most recent economic downturn. Still, Campbell clearly had a ringside seat for much of REIT history, ultimately making this compendium a valuable resource.

A highly detailed collection of insider insights into a complex investment vehicle.

Pub Date: Jan. 3rd, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4808-2314-3
Page count: 582pp
Publisher: Archway Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2016


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