At the moment the US is the only country in the world enjoyingrobust economic growth. The EU is again in decline. Emergingmarkets are in potentially serious trouble as commodities pricesdecline and China's economy continues to slow to a point of seriousproblems. In the EU there are not only major economic issues, butmore serious political issues which are not going to get resolvedfor a very long time. Merkel and Germany essentially ran Europe forthe past 15 years.  Merkel was the defacto president ofEurope and the Bundesbank held a major influence over the ECBactions. Now Merkel is weak, and on her way out. She will bereplaced as party head next year, and it is highly unlikely shewill remain as Chancellor for the rest of her term. The country ismoving right due to the refugee flood, and other nations likeHungary, Poland, Italy, Austria are no longer toeing the Germanparty line. Italy has basically told the EU it is doing what itwants and not what the bureaucrats in Brussels tell them to do.This has set up a real test of who runs finances in the EU, theindividual nations or Brussels. Macron thinks it should beBrussels, and Italy and others think it should be a sovereigndecision. We then have Brexit coming to a finality in March. It isvery unclear right now how this will end. Most likely there will bea deal, but there is no certainty it will pass Parliament. A hardBrexit will further create dysfunction in a already dysfunctionaltrading block.

The EU will be in disarray for possibly one, or two, or maybeeven more years. Macron insists on the EU in Brussels having nearcomplete control of budgets and other fiscal and monetary issues.Several other countries refuse to go along. The right and populistsare getting stronger, which means less control by Brussels. Even ifItaly and the EU work out their differences, it will just betemporary. There will be more fights to come. None of this bodeswell for the EU economic growth. Macron tried to reform France, andmade some progress, but he has now hit a wall with a 29% approvalrating. Badly needed additional reform will not happen. France willcontinue to be a slow economy and bogged down in bad labor and taxlaws. Germany will be in political no mans land for another year ortwo. The old order has been stopped and dismantled. What comes nextis unclear. Their economy is slowing and the refugee issue remainsa big problem. Merkel did it to get a lot of low cost labor, butthat is now ended, and the issues of absorbing these people iscreating major political issues. Italy remains a basket case andthe new government is not going to get things straightened out, andpotentially will make it much worse. So all of the major EU nationshave big problems and the UK will be out. Investing in the EU isvery high risk, and could be a real loser going forward.

China is having real issues with Trump as he is disrupting theway they did business and built their economy. Everything they hadbeen doing to cheat and enhance their own economic and militarygrowth is now being challenged for the first time. Trump is notgoing to stop or roll over on this. If he does not stop what hasbeen going on at this juncture, they will just continue to takeadvantage and will threaten US dominance. Trump has no choice tochange the entire dynamic of how China does business. On this theentire world is with him.  He will also have to change theWTO which at the moment is as useless as the UN. The extreme debtlevels in China are unsustainable, and the demographics of 400million old people with no real support system will weigh on thebudget. China is going to go through major revisions over the nextseveral years, and it is very unclear where all that ends.

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Joel Ross

Joel Ross began his career in Wall St as an investment banker in 1965, handling corporate advisory matters for a variety of clients. During the seventies he was CEO of North American operations for a UK based conglomerate, and sat on the parent company board. In 1981, he began his own firm handling leveraged buyouts, investment banking and real estate financing. In 1984 Ross began providing investment banking services and arranging financing for real estate transactions with his own firm, Ross Properties, Inc. In 1993 Ross and a partner, Lexington Mortgage, created the first Wall St hotel CMBS program in conjunction with Nomura. They went on to develop a similar CMBS program for another major Wall St investment bank and for five leading hotel companies. Lexington, in partnership with Mr. Ross established a hotel mortgage bank table funded by an investment bank, and making all CMBS hotel loans on their behalf. In 1999 he formed Citadel Realty Advisors as a successor to Ross Properties Corp., focusing on real estate investment banking in the US, UK and Paris. He has closed over $3.0 billion of financings for office, hotel, retail, land and multifamily projects. Ross is also a founder of Market Street Investors, a brownfield land development company, and has been involved in the acquisition of notes on defaulted loans and various REO assets in conjunction with several major investors. Ross was an adjunct professor in the graduate program at the NYU Hotel School. He is a member of Urban Land Institute and was a member of the leadership of his ULI council. In 1999, he conceived and co-authored with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Hotel Mortgage Performance Report, a major study of hotel mortgage default rates.