AFIRE European Conference 2011, Amsterdam

AFIRE (Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate) held its 2011 annual European conference at the famous Amstel Hotel in Amsterdam on June 15-16. As usual the conference day on Thursday June 16, was filled with a great line up of well-known speakers and panelists. The conference was attended by 135 international investors and capital/asset managers.


Dr. Holger Schmieding.

Keynote economic speaker Dr. Holger Schmieding, Chief Economist, Berenberg Bank, one of Europe's oldest banks, opened the conference with a broad perspective on the world's economy starting from 1989/1990 – the turning point where communism ended in Europe followed by serious economic reforms in China and India.

"In Europe major innovations (PCs, information technology) boost productivity. The result was a major surge in global growth. Catch-up stages for China: export-driven first, consumption to follow," said Dr. Schmieding. It led to two mega-trends:

1. Ms Lee goes shopping
2. Fast pace of innovation – more people than ever before can do research and they can spread their ideas faster than before.

Some headlines from Dr. Schmieding's speech:

On Europe:
  • Debt crisis? The euro zone looks much more prudent than the US.
  • A smaller fiscal deficit (4.2% of GDOP in 2011 vs 10.1% for the US).
  • Less public debt (95.6% of GDP in 2011 vs 101.1% for the US).
  • Less household debt (98.7% of disposable income in 2009 vs 117.4% US).
  • A higher household saving rate (12.1% of disposable income vs 8.5% US).
  • Hardly any current deficit (0.4% of GDP in 2011 vs 3.5% for US).

But the US has:
  • Stronger population growth.
  • A better record at integrating immigrants.
  • A proven ability to tackle problems once they become serious.
    and also:
  • US not faster per capita – but more people.
  • The FED got it wrong – so did households.
  • Germany has turned the corner.
  • US: gradual healing. Soft patch – no double dip.
  • The crisis could be good for Europe – in the end.

Investing after the collapse?
How are the relatively newer investors putting capital to work in the US? Is their strategy different from past investors? Has the financial crisis changed the way in which deals are structured? Is the new watchword KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid?

Enough to

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