By Bernd Struben, Senior Editor REP (Real Estate Publishers)
At the IPD European Property Investment Conference
Barcelona, June 4-5 2009
"After a dark and depressing period we are starting to see one or two positive signs among the gloomy news."
This year's IPD European Property Investment Conference was appropriately titled 'Reality dawns: confronting European property's brave new world'. The much anticipated event, held at the Rey Juan Carlos Hotel, was expertly chaired by Piet Eicholtz, professor of real estate finance at Maastricht University, and offered a notable list of top industry panelists.
This was my first visit to Barcelona and though the conference schedule left little time for sightseeing I did manage to take a stroll down La Rambla, bustling even late on a Wednesday night, and do a quick tour around Gaudi's famous Sagrada Familia cathedral. Having checked those off my tourist's list I was ready for the conference.
One or two positive signs
Laurent Ternisien, Managing Director IPD, opened the conference by noting that, "After a dark and depressing period we are starting to see one or two positive signs among the gloomy news." Although this is hardly the kind of skyrocketing market news we'd all like to hear, it is at least an encouraging indicator. Ternisien also stated that, "The Spanish market is quite representative of what is happening throughout the Eurozone." On a Europe-wide scale there was a "huge spread" between the different funds this past year, ranging from -80% to +20%. IPD was proud to announce the opening of their Netherlands' office, the last big European market that had been without direct representation.
Willem Buiter, Professor European Political Economy
Charting property's brave new world
The first and one of the best sessions examined today's global economic reality. Willem Buiter, Professor of European Political Economy, London School of Economics, opened the session by saying that the biggest global financial crisis ever witnessed makes it, "A great time to be an economist, like being a mortician after a battle." The global contraction of real economic activity will be the deepest and longest downturn since the Great Depression. "But since politicians are capable of learning," it won't get to be as bad. Europe will have a recession at least as deep as the US, with CEE taking a particularly hard