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Paranoid Optimism

I just returned from the West Coast, where I was attending the PREA and ULI Fall conferences. Each conference drew almost 50% more attendees than were projected just a couple of months ago. The tone was summed up by the former editor-in-chief for the Economist, Bill Emmott, as “Paranoid Optimism.” I thought the phase captured the mood perfectly. Most of the attendees were markedly upbeat, compared with the Spring Conferences. However, the elephant in the room was the eight million unemployed Americans. It will be tough to fill-up all of those apartments, revitalize the retail sector, lease office space, and crank-up manufacturing to re-ignite the industrial sector, until we address this issue. This may sound protectionist–and it is, but one solution will be to significantly scale back outsourcing to India and other far away lands. Bring home accounting, call centers, research, and other functions now in India, and put some of the unemployed Americans back to work. Delta Airlines recently shut down its India reservations center after its merger with Northwest Airlines, replacing it with a reservation center in northern Minnesota. The result is better support for clients, hundreds of Americans are now back to work, and we also protect our fishing stock by keeping them off the lake ice fishing in the winter.

Tony LoPinto is CEO of Equinox Partners, an executive search firm specializing in the real estate industry, and parent company of SelectLeaders. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.
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