The Recession Caused By A Pandemic That None Of Us Will Ever Forget – Part 2

PLEASE NOTE: This is Part 2 of a portion of the Year-End Summary that Jeremy Roll writes each year for his Investor Group.  He granted Left Field Investors permission to publish excerpts of the report.  If you would like to contact Jeremy, please see his contact information at the end of this article.


Thinking Further Ahead – Debt, The Next Cycle And Beyond

Before I begin this section, I wanted to be sure it’s clear that I am including it as “food for thought” for everyone in terms of longer-term thinking that likely won’t be applicable for some time (ie. 5-10+ years) but I think is very important to consider because I believe there’s a good probability that we will eventually run into the challenges I outlined below, depending on future debt levels and other key times. I hope this section is helpful in terms of providing you with some food for thought for the long-term but I do want to be clear that it’s not something that I am concerned about in the short or medium term from an investing perspective.


Given that I am waiting for the 6 events that I outlined above to unfold so I can better understand how our current recession will potentially impact the economy, markets, and asset prices, I have spent some time contemplating the potential impact that the current government intervention and increased debt could have on the longer-term investing landscape and, while this is definitely a bold statement for which I reserve the right to change my opinion as our next cycle unfolds, I can’t help but think that the next economic cycle could very well be the last “normal” economic and investing cycle that we will experience in the US for decades to come due to the increasing burden that the debt will have on our economy’s annual GDP potential.


In fact prior to the pandemic, the US was already on a trajectory of an increasingly burdensome amount of debt that was greatly weighing on the economy’s annual GDP potential. It is widely believed that, once an economy reaches a debt-to-GDP ratio of greater than 60%, the debt becomes a significant burden on that economy and the debt burden beyond this threshold begins to have very significant effects on that economy. Furthermore, it is widely believed that once an economy reaches a debt-to-GDP ratio of greater than 90%, the economy faces such a large debt burden that it will eventually slow to stall speed as the debt burden increases over time and eventually will no longer be able to register consistent and predictable positive annual growth during an economic cycle. It’s important to note that, in the decade leading up to the Great Recession in 2009, the US annual GDP potential was roughly 4% (in other words, in a given year it was very difficult for GDP to grow at an annual pace exceeding 4% per year) in part due to the debt burden that was already creating headwinds at that time. In 2009, the government chose to launch a very large quantitative easing program to stimulate the economy and reduce the duration of the recession and the additional burden of the increased debt caused further headwinds and, as a result, the US economy experienced a reduced annual GDP growth potential during our most recent decade that was capped at roughly 3% (which explains why, despite all of the stimulus he provided for the economy, President Trump was unable to register annual GDP growth beyond 3% despite his 4%+ target). Now, with the enormous amount of newly added debt in 2020 and additional debt that will be added in 2021, the US economy is once again facing a reduction of its annual GDP potential in the coming decade to what I believe will be the 1-2% range during our next economic cycle. While this is simply an estimate on my part and could very well be incorrect, it’s worth noting that the CBO is currently forecasting average annualized GDP growth of roughly 2% over the next decade and many previous CBO forecasts have proven to be too optimistic in hindsight. Not only is the debt burden likely going to cause GDP growth to eventually slow to stall speed but, if we continue to increase our debt in the future, we will likely eventually achieve a level of debt that will place our economy in a very precarious position: our GDP growth potential would be near 0%, meaning that it would be slightly above or slightly below 0% growth (say -1% to +1% growth) in a given year. This is the exact scenario that has plagued Japan’s economy since the 1990s due to its very high debt-to-GDP ratio and it’s the most probable scenario that we will face in the US if we continue to go down the path of significantly increasing our debt (if you’re not familiar with Japan’s economic challenges since 1990 then I would strongly recommend that you research it further, as I believe that their experience over the last 30 years foretells the highest probability scenario that we will face in the coming decades if we continue to increase our debt burden, with the Japanese government fighting very low growth with enormous amounts of stimulus and asset purchases that have resulted in the government owning over 40% of publicly traded stocks, among other assets). And with the size of China’s economy projected to exceed that of the US as of 2026-2028, investors will likely place more focus on and more capital into China’s economy, which will shift some capital away from the US and which will likely create additional headwinds for the US economy during the next economic downturn and beyond.


It’s extremely important to consider all of this when making investing decisions during the next economic cycle, as the uncertainty of our future economic growth that will likely result if our debt continues to increase over time (which, based on the government’s actions to-date, seems inevitable) could make investing in the US extremely challenging after our next economic downturn (to be clear, I am not referring to our current economic downturn but our next economic downturn that will likely be in 5-10+ years). While it seems highly likely that we, as investors, will be able to rely on positive GDP growth in the US during each of the years of the growth phase of our next economic cycle (as we have in past economic cycles), the possibility of having a lack of predictable positive annual GDP growth in a given year during future economic cycles (beyond our upcoming next cycle) is a very scary prospect for lower-risk cash flow investors (like me) who target consistent/predictable cash flows. In fact a lack of predictable positive annual GDP growth would likely make me reconsider whether employing a long-term passive cash flow strategy would be the optimal strategy, as the possibility of registering negative or flat GDP growth in a given year could have huge implications for investors who target both passive cash flow in general and, perhaps equally importantly, increasing cash flow levels to keep up with inflation over time (putting investors in the challenging position of potentially falling behind to inflation and possibly requiring a shift of focus from cash flow to value-add and appreciation to keep up with inflation). This is honestly not something that I have researched thoroughly yet, as I don’t believe this will likely be a challenge until after our next downturn, but it’s something that I believe is critical to consider in the long-term, as negative or flat annual GDP growth would create a very different investing environment than we have experienced in the US during our lifetimes. And, to be clear, this is currently only a long-term concern of mine that could change depending on many factors, including future debt levels. While it might seem like being concerned about the investing landscape in 10-20 years could be thinking too far ahead, it is definitely something that I plan to monitor very closely in the coming years because it’s important to think as far ahead as possible (as a passive cash flow investor) to help avoid potential investing “land mines” in the long-term and to enable investing strategy adjustments as far in-advance as possible to help reduce risk and increase returns in the long-term.

Jeremy started investing in real estate and businesses in 2002 and left the corporate world in 2007 to become a full-time passive cash flow investor. He is currently an investor in more than 60 opportunities across more than $1 Billion worth of real estate and business assets. As Founder and President of Roll Investment Group, Jeremy manages a group of over 1,500 investors who seek passive/managed cash flowing investments in real estate and businesses. Jeremy is also the co-Founder of For Investors By Investors (FIBI), a non-profit organization that was launched in 2007 with the goal of facilitating networking and learning among real estate investors in a strict no sales pitch environment. FIBI is now the largest group of public real estate investor meetings in California with over 30,000 members. Jeremy has an MBA from The Wharton School, is a licensed California Real Estate Broker (for investing purposes only), and is an Advisor for Realty Mogul, the largest real estate crowdfunding website in the US. Jeremy welcomes e-mails ( to network with or help other investors and to discuss real estate or business investments of any size.

Nothing on this website should be considered financial advice. Investing involves risks which you assume. It is your duty to do your own due diligence. Read all documents and agreements before signing or investing in anything. It is your duty to consult with your own legal, financial and tax advisors regarding any investment.

Chris Franckhauser

Vice President of Strategy & Growth, Advisory Partner

Chris Franckhauser, Vice President of Strategy & Growth, Advisory Partner for Left Field Investors, has been involved in real estate since 2008. He started with one single-family fix and flip, and he was hooked. He then scaled, completing five more over a brief period. While he enjoyed the journey and the financial tailwinds that came with each completed project, being an active investor with a W2 at the time, became too much to manage with a young and growing family. Seeing this was not easily scalable or sustainable long term, he searched for alternative ideas on where to invest. He explored other passive income streams but kept coming back to his two passions; real estate and time with his family. He discovered syndications after reconnecting with a former colleague and LFI Founder. He joined Left Field Investors in 2023 and has quickly immersed himself into the community and as a key member of our team.  

Chris earned a B.S. from The Ohio State University. After years in healthcare technology and medical devices, from startups to Fortune 15 companies, Chris shifted his efforts to consulting and owning a small apparel business when he is not working with LFI (Left Field Investors) or on his personal passive investments. A few years ago, Chris and his family left the cold life in Ohio for lake life in the Carolinas. Chris lives in Tega Cay, South Carolina with his wife and two kids. In his free time, he enjoys exploring all the things the Carolinas offer, from the beaches to the mountains and everywhere in between, volunteering at the school, coaching his kids’ sports teams and cheering on the Buckeyes from afar.  

Chris knows investing is a team sport. Being a strategic thinker and analytical by nature, the ability to collaborate with like-minded individuals in the Left Field Community and other communities is invaluable.  

Jim Pfeifer

President, Chief Executive Officer, Founder

Jim Pfeifer is one of the founders of Left Field Investors and the host of the Passive Investing from Left Field podcast. Left Field Investors is a group dedicated to educating and assisting like-minded investors negotiate the nuances of the passive investing landscape and world of syndications. Jim is a former financial advisor who became frustrated with the one-path-fits-all approach of the standard financial services industry. Jim now concentrates on investing in real assets that produce cash flow and is committed to sharing his knowledge with others who are interested in learning a different way to grow wealth.

Jim not only advises and helps people get started in passive real estate syndications, he also invests alongside them in small groups to allow for diversification among multiple investments and syndication sponsors. Jim believes the most important factor in a successful syndication is finding a sponsor that he knows, likes and trusts.

He has invested in over 100 passive syndications including apartments, mobile homes, self-storage, private lending and notes, ATM’s, commercial and industrial triple net leases, assisted living facilities and international coffee farms and cacao producers. Jim is constantly looking for new investment ideas that match his philosophy of real assets producing cash flow as well as looking for new sponsors with whom he can build quality, long-term relationships. Jim earned a degree in Finance & Marketing from the University of Oregon and a Master’s in Business Education from The Ohio State University. He has worked as a reinsurance underwriter, high school finance teacher, financial advisor and now works exclusively as a full-time passive investor. Jim lives in Dublin, Ohio with his wife, three kids and two dogs. In his free time, he loves to ski, play Ultimate frisbee and cheer on the Buckeyes.

Jim earned a degree in Finance & Marketing from the University of Oregon and a Master’s in Business Education from The Ohio State University. He has worked as a reinsurance underwriter, high school finance teacher, financial advisor and now works exclusively as a full-time passive investor. Jim lives in Dublin, Ohio with his wife, three kids and two dogs. In his free time, he loves to ski, play Ultimate frisbee and cheer on the Buckeyes.

Chad Ackerman

Chief Operating Officer, Founder

Chad is the Founder & Chief Operating Officer of Left Field Investors and the host of the LFI Spotlight podcast. Chad was in banking most of his career with a focus on data analytics, but in March of 2023 he left his W2 to become LFI’s second full time employee.

Chad always had a passion for real estate, so his analytics skills translated well into the deal analyzer side of the business. Through his training, education and networking Chad was able to align his passive investing to compliment his involvement with LFI while allowing him to grow his wealth and take steps towards financial freedom. He has appreciated the help he’s received from others along his journey which is why he is excited to host the LFI Spotlight podcast and share the experience of other investors and industry experts to assist those that are looking for education for their own journey.

Chad has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business with a Minor in Real Estate from the University of Cincinnati. He is working to educate his two teenagers in the passive investing world. In his spare time he likes to golf, kayak, and check out the local brewery scene.

Ryan Steig

Chief Financial Officer, Founder

Ryan Stieg started down the path of passive investing like many of us did, after he picked up a little purple book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad. The problem was that he did that in college and didn’t take action to start investing passively until many years later when that itch to invest passively crept back up.

Ryan became an accidental landlord after moving from Phoenix back to Montana in 2007, a rental he kept until 2016 when he started investing more intentionally. Since 2016, Ryan has focused (or should we say lack thereof) on all different kinds of investing, always returning to real estate and business as his mainstay. Ryan has a small portfolio of one-to-three-unit rentals across four different markets in the US. He has also invested in over fifty real estate syndication investments individually or with an investment group or tribe. Working to diversify in multiple asset classes, Ryan invests in multi-family, note funds, NNN industrial, retail, office, self-storage, online businesses, start-ups, and several other asset classes that further cement his self-diagnosis of “shiny object syndrome”.

However, with all of those reaches over the years, Ryan still believes in the long-term success and tenets of passive, cash-flow-focused investing with proven syndicators and shared knowledge in investing.

When he’s not working with LFI or on his personal passive investments, he recently opened a new Club Pilates franchise studio after an insurance career. Outside of that, he can be found with his wife watching whatever sport one of their two boys is involved in during that particular season.

Steve Suh

Chief Content Officer, Founder

Steve Suh, one of the founders of Left Field Investors and its Chief Content Officer, has been involved with real estate and alternative assets since 2005. Like many, he saw his net worth plummet during the two major stock market crashes in the early 2000s. Since then, he vowed to find other ways to invest his money. Reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad gave Steve the impetus to learn about real estate investing. He first became a landlord after purchasing his office condo. He then invested passively as a limited partner in oil and gas drilling syndications but quickly learned the importance of scrutinizing sponsors when he stopped getting returns after only a few months. Steve came back to real estate by buying a few small residential rentals. Seeing that this was not easily scalable, he searched for alternative ideas. After listening to hundreds of podcasts and attending numerous real estate investing meetings, he determined that passively investing in real estate syndications was the best avenue to get great, risk-adjusted returns. He has invested in dozens of syndications involving apartment buildings, self-storage facilities, resort properties, ATMs, Bitcoin mining funds, car washes, a coffee farm, and even a Broadway show.

When Steve is not vetting commercial real estate syndications in the evenings, he is stomping out eye diseases and improving vision during the day as an ophthalmologist. He enjoys playing in his tennis and pickleball leagues and rooting for his Buckeyes and Steelers football teams. In the past several years, he took up running and has completed three full marathons, including the New York City Marathon. He is always on a quest to find great pizza, BBQ brisket, and bourbon. He enjoys traveling with his wife and their three adult kids. They usually go on a medical mission trip once a year to southern Mexico to provide eye surgeries and glasses to the residents. Steve has enjoyed being a part of Left Field Investors to help others learn about the merits of passive, real asset investments.

Sean Donnelly

Chief Culture Officer, Founder

Sean holds a W2 job in the finance sector and began his real estate investing journey shortly after earning his MBA. Unfortunately, it could not have begun at a worse time … anyone remember 2007 … but even the recession provided worthy lessons. Sean stayed in the game continuing to find his place, progressing from flipping to owning single and multi-family rentals to now funding opportunities through syndications. While Sean is still heavily invested in the equities market and holds a small portfolio of rentals, he strongly believes passive investing is the best way to offset the cyclical nature of traditional investment vehicles as well as avoid the headaches of direct property ownership. Through consistent cash flow, long term yield and available tax benefits, the diversification offered with passive investing brings a welcomed balance to an otherwise turbulent investing scheme. What Sean likes most about the syndication space is that the investment opportunities are not “one size fits all” and the community of investors genuinely want to help.

He earned a B.S. in Finance from Iowa State University in 1995 and a MBA from Otterbein University in 2007. Sean has lived in eight states but has called Ohio home for the last 20+.  When not attending his children’s various school/sporting events, Sean can be found running, golfing, shooting or fly-fishing.

Patrick Wills

Chief Information Officer, Advisory Partner

An active real estate investor since 2017, Patrick Wills’ investing journey began like many others – after reading the “purple book” by Robert Kiyosaki. Patrick started with single family rentals, and while they performed well, he quickly realized their inability to scale efficiently while remaining passive. He discovered syndications via podcasts and local meetups and never looked back. He joined Left Field Investors in 2022 as a member and has quickly become an integral part of the team as Vice President of Technology.

An I.T. Systems Engineer by trade, he experienced the limitations of traditional Wall Street investing firsthand in his career and knew there had to be a better way to truly have financial freedom.

Unfortunately, that better way is inaccessible to those who need it most. His mission is to make alternative investments accessible to everyone who seeks to take control of their financial future and to pursue their passions in life.

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