Tuesday, September 30, 2008

So now what?

I've been quiet the last few days. So have my clients. My reaction to what is going on comes on multiple levels and it is hard to put on paper, or silicon, for that matter.

Where do we go from here? Beats me. The Fed can print money and continue to make ad hoc decisions on bailouts. I know some businesspeople are more than a little worried from a CRE standpoint. As Robert Carr points out, even optimists are at a loss for words:

The best thing that can be said about commercial real estate, after the House of Representatives voted down a $700 billion bailout plan Monday, is that the industry lags somewhat behind what’s going on in the financial market today. Most experts agree that, after a shaky past month or two, a standstill has come over the industry, as financing has dried up, jobs get cut and corporate America holds its collective breath as politicians duke out the country’s future.

Yes, politicians. (Note the contempt in my typing there.) Congress never ceases to amaze me. Statesmanship is gone by and large. If you voted for or against the bailout on principle, that is one thing. But this point really angered me:

One common strand that tied some of the diverse opponents together: a tough re-election fight. Eighteen of the 21 most vulnerable Republicans up for re-election, and 10 of the 15 Democrats in the closest races voted against the $700 billion financial rescue, illustrating the political hazards of bailing out Wall Street without offering an equally generous hand to taxpayers.
The bickering and finger-pointing between the parties after the vote also irritated me.

Do people have no convictions at all anymore? Our country is more important than political gain, or even political office. Again, I'm not even taking a position one way or the other here. But it sure looks like a good number of House members in "marginal constituencies" (as the British call them) voted based on trying to keep their jobs. Sometimes you have to do what is right and not what is politically expedient.

And the most unkindest cut of all? Out of 434 representatives (there's one vacancy), one, and only one, didn't vote at all: mine. I guess Jerry Weller has already retired but is still collecting a paycheck. Unless there was a life-or-death emergency of some sort, shame on him. WLS-AM and the Joliet Herald-News report that apparently he was in the country and wasn't in Central America (where I think he's going to move soon) but he's also not saying what he was doing.

Lastly, what would I do if I were in charge? One thing: Suspend the mark-to-market rule. And go from there. Some smart people disagree with me, and that's fine. They think suspending mark-to-market could lead to Japan-like thought of not facing reality. I think mark-to-market does not reflect reality. I respect that opinion.