Investors See Far Out Profits in Psychedelic Medicine
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    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,495,064 (-0.25%)       Melbourne $937,672 (-0.06%)       Brisbane $829,077 (+1.01%)       Adelaide $784,986 (+0.98%)       Perth $687,232 (+0.62%)       Hobart $742,247 (+0.62%)       Darwin $658,823 (-0.42%)       Canberra $913,571 (-1.30%)       National $951,937 (-0.08%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $713,690 (+0.15%)       Melbourne $474,891 (-0.09%)       Brisbane $455,596 (-0.07%)       Adelaide $373,446 (-0.09%)       Perth $378,534 (-0.83%)       Hobart $528,024 (-1.62%)       Darwin $340,851 (-0.88%)       Canberra $481,048 (+0.72%)       National $494,274 (-0.23%)   National $494,274                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 7,982 (-85)       Melbourne 11,651 (-298)       Brisbane 8,504 (-39)       Adelaide 2,544 (-39)       Perth 7,486 (-186)       Hobart 1,075 (-37)       Darwin 266 (+11)       Canberra 840 (-4)       National 40,348 (-677)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 7,376 (-100)       Melbourne 6,556 (-154)       Brisbane 1,783 (+12)       Adelaide 447 (+11)       Perth 2,139 (+3)       Hobart 173 (-1)       Darwin 393 (+1)       Canberra 540 (-29)       National 19,407 (-257)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $750 ($0)       Melbourne $550 ($0)       Brisbane $650 ($0)       Adelaide $550 ($0)       Perth $595 ($0)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $720 (+$40)       Canberra $675 ($0)       National $639 (+$6)                    UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $750 ($0)       Melbourne $550 ($0)       Brisbane $550 ($0)       Adelaide $430 ($0)       Perth $550 ($0)       Hobart $450 ($0)       Darwin $483 (-$38)       Canberra $550 ($0)       National $555 (-$4)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,759 (+74)       Melbourne 5,228 (-159)       Brisbane 2,940 (-7)       Adelaide 1,162 (-13)       Perth 1,879 (-7)       Hobart 468 (-15)       Darwin 81 (+6)       Canberra 707 (+10)       National 18,224 (-111)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,359 (+95)       Melbourne 5,185 (+60)       Brisbane 1,588 (-3)       Adelaide 335 (-30)       Perth 752 (+11)       Hobart 161 (-1)       Darwin 107 (-16)       Canberra 627 (-36)       National 17,114 (+80)   National 17,114                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 2.61% (↑)      Melbourne 3.05% (↑)      Brisbane 4.08% (↑)        Adelaide 3.64% (↓)       Perth 4.50% (↓)     Hobart 3.85% (↑)        Darwin 5.68% (↓)     Canberra 3.84% (↑)      National 3.49% (↑)             UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 5.46% (↑)      Melbourne 6.02% (↑)      Brisbane 6.28% (↑)        Adelaide 5.99% (↓)     Perth 7.56% (↑)        Hobart 4.43% (↓)       Darwin 7.36% (↓)     Canberra 5.95% (↑)        National 5.84% (↓)            HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 1.6% (↑)      Melbourne 1.8% (↑)      Brisbane 0.5% (↑)      Adelaide 0.5% (↑)      Perth 1.0% (↑)      Hobart 0.9% (↑)      Darwin 1.1% (↑)      Canberra 0.5% (↑)      National 1.2% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 2.3% (↑)      Melbourne 2.8% (↑)      Brisbane 1.2% (↑)      Adelaide 0.7% (↑)      Perth 1.3% (↑)      Hobart 1.4% (↑)      Darwin 1.3% (↑)      Canberra 1.3% (↑)      National 2.1% (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND       Sydney 30.9 (↑)      Melbourne 32.6 (↑)      Brisbane 37.7 (↑)      Adelaide 28.7 (↑)      Perth 40.1 (↑)      Hobart 37.6 (↑)        Darwin 36.1 (↓)     Canberra 33.0 (↑)      National 34.6 (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND       Sydney 32.5 (↑)      Melbourne 31.7 (↑)      Brisbane 35.2 (↑)      Adelaide 30.2 (↑)        Perth 42.8 (↓)     Hobart 36.9 (↑)        Darwin 39.6 (↓)     Canberra 36.7 (↑)      National 35.7 (↑)            
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Investors See Far Out Profits in Psychedelic Medicine

A former hedge-fund portfolio manager raises millions from scientists, financiers and crypto bros eager to buy into treatments that aren’t even legal yet.

By Matt Wirz
Thu, Jul 14, 2022 2:06pmGrey Clock 5 min

It’s been a long strange trip for Brom Rector to become one of the few venture capitalists investing exclusively in psychedelic medicine. The 31-year-old has been experimenting with drugs like LSD for a decade but he never imagined he could turn that interest into a career.

Now Mr. Rector, a former hedge-fund portfolio manager, is raising millions of dollars from scientists, financiers and crypto bros eager to buy into treatments that aren’t even legal yet. They are betting that hallucinogens will eventually be approved for medical treatment and recreational use, spurring a boom from biotech to the entertainment industry that will far outstrip the fitful growth of legal cannabis.

Mr. Rector burned out from his job as a quantitative researcher for Los Angeles-based Crabel Capital Management in December 2020 and launched a podcast a few months later to delve into the budding psychedelics market. Listeners began asking him for investment ideas, prompting him to open his VC firm—Empath Ventures—in the fall.

Empath has since raised US$2.1 million of a $10 million target for its first fund and made 10 investments. Portfolio companies include Mindstate Design Labs, which develops new psychedelics, and Wavepaths, a company that designs smart music software to help therapists steer clients’ trips. The firm is one of a small but growing cadre of investors, including JLS Fund and billionaire Peter Thiel, taking interest in psychedelics.

Psychedelics are making the jump from party drugs to prescription drugs because some clinical research shows they are effective at treating conditions like depression, post traumatic stress disorder and addictions. Investors are also backing research and development in new drugs with other applications, like treating traumatic brain injuries. Much of how psychedelics affect the brain is unknown and critics worry about potential long-term damage or psychosis from excessive use.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of a drug similar to ketamine for treatment-resistant depression several years ago, and is expected to rule on an application for MDMA-assisted therapy in 2023. MDMA is more commonly known as the main ingredient in Ecstasy. Psilocybin, the hallucinogenic compound in mushrooms, could also see action from the FDA in the next few years.

The Wall Street Journal spoke to Mr. Rector about his return targets, legalization and convincing his mom to trip.

What are the returns you are looking for in your investments?

It’s just like a traditional biotech play. There’s a high probability of failure and potential upside of 10, 20, maybe 50 times.

I also invest in the infrastructure and accessories around psychedelics. The clinics where the stuff is delivered, the companies that make software to support the clinics. A lot of those businesses are not going to have that 50 times potential but they have a lot higher probability of becoming cash flow positive.

When most people think of psychedelic therapy they think magic mushrooms, maybe ayahuasca, both of which grow in nature. What about man-made drugs?

The final frontier is the exciting world of novel psychedelic molecules. It blows my mind that LSD was invented in 1938—before computers. We have all these amazing tools at our disposal now, and we’re entering a time where it’s culturally acceptable to apply those tools to the discovery of new psychedelic drugs.

LSD is amazing, as are classic cars from the 1930s. The Tesla Model S of psychedelics is yet to be created.

What is socially acceptable psychedelic use in the industry? Do you trip with your investors?

I’ve had a lot of people tell me that if I want to raise capital I should just start passing out psychedelics to my investors. I think there’s a moral issue with that. No, I have not tripped with my investors and I don’t plan on tripping with any of my investors. I haven’t tripped with any of my portfolio companies either.

There are some other investment groups out there that do not have the same answer that I just gave you. I know that it happens.

Are there medical applications of psychedelics other than mental health coming down the road?

Mental-health indications and addiction treatment will likely be the dominant applications of psychedelic medicine in the short term.

That said, psychedelics are really good at inducing neuroplasticity and reducing inflammation, so it makes sense to research them as treatments for any indication that could theoretically benefit from either of those things.

There are in-progress Phase 1 trials of psychedelics as treatment for ischemic stroke, alzheimers and TBI [traumatic brain injury]. I also know someone who personally used psychedelics as part of a treatment program to regain cognitive and motor function after suffering a severe TBI. It’s too early to say for sure, but it seems like there might be something there.

Why are cryptocurrency traders now investing in psychedelics companies?

To really get into crypto you have to be a big believer in crazy bold new ideas. Psychedelics is similar to crypto in the sense that it is a crazy big sort of bold new investment thing.

But, I think that the underlying technology and application of psychedelics is much more proven than that of crypto. In crypto the upside is enormous because it doesn’t seem like anyone is actually policing it in these exchanges. I think in the long run the upside of psychedelics is more similar to the upside of any other sort of revolutionary biotech play.

What about recreational use of psychedelics? Is that also coming?

One of the things I emphasize in my pitch deck for investors is that I want to invest in companies that are not threatened by de-regulated recreational-use regimes because I think they are inevitable. In the long run, I think we’ll see a few states that will have fully recreationally legal psychedelics

When you look at what Oregon is doing [decriminalized psilocybin and legalized therapeutic use] they’re being very open minded about the use of psychedelics. It wouldn’t surprise me to see concerts or other events there in the future where everyone gets a low dose of psilocybin to make the colors brighter and the music sound better.

Are there any potential risks in wider recreational use, among young people?

The more that users are educated on the importance of “set and setting” [mindset and environment] and know about potential interactions of psychedelics with other drugs and other contraindications, the better outcomes will be. When things become legal, the stigma around them lifts, and it becomes easier to share this information openly—so I think that recreational legalization would actually be a harm-reduction method.

I hope the industry ends up being proactive and responsible with its messaging. There is still stigma around the use of psychedelics and a single, high-profile case of a bad trip could rob the industry of a lot of social credibility, even though many people die from socially acceptable drugs like alcohol and cigarettes each day.

Could there be a political backlash against liberalizing use of psychedelics?

Conservatives are much more open minded about psychedelics than you might think because of the narrative of psychedelics treating PTSD. Who gets PTSD a lot? It’s veterans. [Former Texas Gov.] Rick Perry has gone on the record saying Texas should fund studies on it.

Psychedelics are gaining ground all over the place even amongst the midwestern housewife subsegment of the population.

And you mentioned your mom has tried them?

My mom, who never really did any sort of substance or alcohol consumption, ended up deciding that she wanted to try it. As I started the fund she started paying more attention to it and read all the articles she could find about it, including the one in Good Housekeeping.

You hear enough experiences from people that are in your own demographic and soon enough you’re like “Maybe I should try it. It’s not just for those weird hippies after all. It’s for me too.”

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: July 13, 2022.


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It Just Had an Energy Crisis, Now Europe Faces a Food Shock

Food prices continue to rise at a rapid pace, surprising central banks and pressuring debt-laden governments

Thu, May 25, 2023 4 min

LONDON—Fresh out of an energy crisis, Europeans are facing a food-price explosion that is changing diets and forcing consumers across the region to tighten their belts—literally.

This is happening even though inflation as a whole is falling thanks to lower energy prices, presenting a new policy challenge for governments that deployed billions in aid last year to keep businesses and households afloat through the worst energy crisis in decades.

New data on Wednesday showed inflation in the U.K. fell sharply in April as energy prices cooled, following a similar pattern around Europe and in the U.S. But food prices were 19.3% higher than a year earlier.

The continued surge in food prices has caught central bankers off guard and pressured governments that are still reeling from the cost of last year’s emergency support to come to the rescue. And it is pressuring household budgets that are also under strain from rising borrowing costs.

In France, households have cut their food purchases by more than 10% since the invasion of Ukraine, while their purchases of energy have fallen by 4.8%.

In Germany, sales of food fell 1.1% in March from the previous month, and were down 10.3% from a year earlier, the largest drop since records began in 1994. According to the Federal Information Centre for Agriculture, meat consumption was lower in 2022 than at any time since records began in 1989, although it said that might partly reflect a continuing shift toward more plant-based diets.

Food retailers’ profit margins have contracted because they can’t pass on the entire price increases from their suppliers to their customers. Markus Mosa, chief executive of the Edeka supermarket chain, told German media that the company had stopped ordering products from several large suppliers because of rocketing prices.

A survey by the U.K.’s statistics agency earlier this month found that almost three-fifths of the poorest 20% of households were cutting back on food purchases.

“This is an access problem,” said Ludovic Subran, chief economist at insurer Allianz, who previously worked at the United Nations World Food Program. “Total food production has not plummeted. This is an entitlement crisis.”

Food accounts for a much larger share of consumer spending than energy, so a smaller rise in prices has a greater impact on budgets. The U.K.’s Resolution Foundation estimates that by the summer, the cumulative rise in food bills since 2020 will have amounted to 28 billion pounds, equivalent to $34.76 billion, outstripping the rise in energy bills, estimated at £25 billion.

“The cost of living crisis isn’t ending, it is just entering a new phase,” Torsten Bell, the research group’s chief executive, wrote in a recent report.

Food isn’t the only driver of inflation. In the U.K., the core rate of inflation—which excludes food and energy—rose to 6.8% in April from 6.2% in March, its highest level since 1992. Core inflation was close to its record high in the eurozone during the same month.

Still, Bank of England Gov. Andrew Bailey told lawmakers Tuesday that food prices now constitute a “fourth shock” to inflation after the bottlenecks that jammed supply chains during the Covid-19 pandemic, the rise in energy prices that accompanied Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and surprisingly tight labor markets.

Europe’s governments spent heavily on supporting households as energy prices soared. Now they have less room to borrow given the surge in debt since the pandemic struck in 2020.

Some governments—including those of Italy, Spain and Portugal—have cut sales taxes on food products to ease the burden on consumers. Others are leaning on food retailers to keep their prices in check. In March, the French government negotiated an agreement with leading retailers to refrain from price rises if it is possible to do so.

Retailers have also come under scrutiny in Ireland and a number of other European countries. In the U.K., lawmakers have launched an investigation into the entire food supply chain “from farm to fork.”

“Yesterday I had the food producers into Downing Street, and we’ve also been talking to the supermarkets, to the farmers, looking at every element of the supply chain and what we can do to pass on some of the reduction in costs that are coming through to consumers as fast as possible,” U.K. Treasury Chief Jeremy Hunt said during The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit in London.

The government’s Competition and Markets Authority last week said it would take a closer look at retailers.

“Given ongoing concerns about high prices, we are stepping up our work in the grocery sector to help ensure competition is working well,” said Sarah Cardell, who heads the CMA.

Some economists expect that added scrutiny to yield concrete results, assuming retailers won’t want to tarnish their image and will lean on their suppliers to keep prices down.

“With supermarkets now more heavily under the political spotlight, we think it more likely that price momentum in the food basket slows,” said Sanjay Raja, an economist at Deutsche Bank.

It isn’t entirely clear why food prices have risen so fast for so long. In world commodity markets, which set the prices received by farmers, food prices have been falling since April 2022. But raw commodity costs are just one part of the final price. Consumers are also paying for processing, packaging, transport and distribution, and the size of the gap between the farm and the dining table is unusually wide.

The BOE’s Bailey thinks one reason for the bank having misjudged food prices is that food producers entered into longer-term but relatively expensive contracts with fertilizer, energy and other suppliers around the time of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in their eagerness to guarantee availability at a time of uncertainty.

But as the pressures being placed on retailers suggest, some policy makers suspect that an increase in profit margins may also have played a role. Speaking to lawmakers, Bailey was wary of placing any blame on food suppliers.

“It’s a story about rebuilding margins that were squeezed in the early part of last year,” he said.

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