I am in a obscure quotations mode today, so please excuse me in advance. No, I am not about to start brushing up on my Shakespeare or start quoting him now. (In fact, I'm not sure I ever even seen Kiss Me Kate all the way through.) But this weekend I had to think about what I have seen the last few years.
I know economists have their own definitions of recession and depression and all that. But I also know that you can cook the books on statistics such as unemployment. (This is nothing new, by the way. And thank you, Benjamin Disraeli.) We are seeing more talk of depression-like problems: the so-called 99 weekers (a term I first saw here), a real unemployment rate that is higher than the statistics indicate as people just plain give up on looking for work and thus are no longer in the stats, companies that refuse to spend the money they are making and declining to hire out of a fear of higher taxes and low demand for products (aside: I don't know a single small business person looking to hire anyone in the foreseeable future), and commercial real estate discounts of -- well, let's just say big discounts if that's okay. And the prices at the top were too darn high anyway.
On the other hand, you read that lenders are starting to foreclose and dump REO deals to get them off the book, which is good news for buyers and bad news of course for those being foreclosed upon. Others say the market is choppy. Still others say prosperity is just around the corner if not already here. (Thank you Herbert Hoover.)
Finally, I am seeing and hearing a lot of what my father called NATO: No Action, Talk Only. What do I mean? If you read this blog regularly you can figure it out, as you are probably pretty savvy about the market. We don't cater to the rank beginners here.
Traffic Court hit this one on the head a month ago from the commercial real estate perspective:
The lesson, again, is that commercial real estate is a complex business with lots of moving parts. We’re going to have crisis alongside recovery. There’s no simple narrative to be had here. We’re not going to see a clear commercial real estate recovery nor are we going to come upon a moment where all is collapsing. So let’s stop looking for the one-line takeaways about commercial real estate.Okay, I'll stop here. My point, at the risk of burying the lede? Let's all stop worrying about how to put a name on what is going on right now. Whatever you call it, what is really important is what is actually happening and not its label. So, you go and do that voodoo that you do so well and meet me back here with some deals! (Thank you Cole Porter.)