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HOW DO YOU SPELL ECONOMIC RELIEF?Part 1

Let the Fed stew over the economic crisis all it wants. Our readers, or at least the bulk of the 255 of you who responded to last week’s Quick Poll, chose to rely on the resilience of Private Enterprise. So say 54%. An argument can be made for Economic Relief coming through the combined good works of the private and public sector, and 38% chose this as their Great Debt Hope. A small, timid 9% believe the Fed alone can do it. Douglas Herzbrun is global head of research for CB Richard Ellis Investors in Los Angeles, and in this first of a two-part Poll on the state of the economy, he provides his take on the best way out: Here’s why:

“I’d clearly fall into the camp of No. 3—that we can’t have one without the other. We need both stimulus provided by the federal government and the private sector stepping up to the plate to get the economy back on track.

“Companies have to have the confidence that both the global and US economies are going to get back on track and start to spend resources to expand their activities. The problem we’ve seen recently is that they haven’t been expanding their activities.

“The other area is on the consumer side, and consumers also have been holding back, also in large part because, unlike the business sector, consumers really are constrained. The business sector actually has the capacity to expand. A lot of consumers right now don’t, particularly if they’re losing their jobs.

“The commercial real estate industry is being affected in a lot of ways depending on the property type you look at. Certainly shopping centers have been negatively impacted as we’ve seen in terms of overall sales and the significant slowdown in discretionary spending.

“Office and industrial? You’ve just got to look at the source of things that drive those markets. Industrial is driven by manufacturing, and that’s been a negative. If you don’t have end-consumer sales, you don’t have positive manufacturing. If you don’t have consumer activity, people are not going to hold inventories because users of those inventories, generally consumers, are cutting back.

“In office, we’ve seen a direct effect with housing. Any areas that were major centers of mortgage lending have now experienced significant negative absorption. You clearly see that in Orange County, in Southern California and in South Florida. You’re now seeing it indirectly because this credit crunch and this pull back on activities impacting financial centers.”

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