They call it the “debt wall,” and it is not the kind of wall that protects you. It’s the kind that might collapse and crush your village, or into which you might crash your car. Specifically, it is $1.5 trillion in commercial real estate debt, owed to banks, pension funds, and insurance companies before the end of 2025, and secured by a national portfolio of office, retail, industrial, and multifamily properties that may not be worth what they were five or 10 years ago when those loans got made.
The country’s downtown office buildings, as you may have heard, are in particularly dire shape. The return to the office has stalled, and many once-vibrant business districts have fallen on hard times. According to data from the brokerage Colliers, almost all of the biggest office buildings in downtown Los Angeles are underwater on their loans—meaning, their owners owe more to the