NEW YORK CITY-All eyes are on Congress. They’re the people who can disengage the economic growth if they drop the ball while tackling the so-called Fiscal Cliff. That was just one of the sentiments floated at an afternoon panel discussion at the Global Real Estate Conference, held Friday at the New York Stock Exchange and sponsored by the Wisconsin School of Business. Panel members were Ric Clark, CEO of Brookfield Office Properties; Jeffrey Schwartz, chairman of Global Logistics Properties and Robert Toll, executive chairman of Toll Brothers.
When asked if the macro indicators impact the micro issues . . . the business decisions these executives have to make, “We see an opportunity,” said Toll. “The macro indicators say its pedal to the metal on the micro issues.
“We can’t do anything about the fiscal cliff,” he continued, adding some skepticism about the worth of calls to your local congressman. “But it won’t stop us from making any business decisions.”
“From a business standpoint,” said Clark, “we’re poised to do very well if Congress does something smart like adopt Simpson-Bowles [referring to the recommendations on fiscal reform coming out of that presidential commission] or get the economy in order.” He added that he could not see a solution to the fiscal problem that does not involve some sort of tax hike.
But at least two of the panelists, Schwartz and Clark, seemed as enthused about foreign markets as the potential found stateside. “We’re more excited about Europe,” Clark admitted. “Their balance sheets are a lot worse, so they can’t participate in any recapitalization, and that’s where companies like ours step in.”
As for the Far East, “People have renewed confidence in China,” said Schwartz, emphasizing that any country with a 7.7% GDP growth is anything but suffering. In addition, “the new leadership is reformist, and the transition was very positive.”