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Letter from the Executive Director
Mark J. Riedy, PhD
The crosswinds in real estate markets are so strong at present that individuals and companies find it difficult to determine their direction. For some, business opportunities are getting better, and for others, worse. For some borrowers, lenders are becoming more accommodating, and for others, more stringent. For some buyers, sellers are getting more realistic about pricing, and for others the pricing gap remains unacceptably wide. For some lenders and investors, bad assets and property valuations are less of a problem, while for others deterioration of portfolios and valuations continues without let-up.
In prior commentaries, I’ve addressed related issues such as reinventing oneself or one’s firm or business strategies. Mindful of the crosswinds highlighted above, it occurs to me that for at least some individuals facing these crosswinds, they might be stuck in neutral, fearful of attempting to move their careers or their companies forward lest they head into the wind rather than sailing an easier course with the wind at their backs.
The important point in my judgment is that real estate professionals, whether entrepreneurial risk-taking leaders or less risk-oriented practitioners who are the backbone of many companies, need to move forward in their lives, in some direction. A counter-argument could be made that “sitting tight” is a superior strategy while the winds of change are so strong and so unpredictable. From my perspective, sitting tight probably gets you nowhere and more likely than not will lead to more—not fewer—problems in the future. That would not be a desirable or happy outcome.
Today’s situation reminded me of a handout that I have provided to students at the start of each semester. While it addresses personal situations and the reasons why we all should get going, with a little imagination readers can apply its lessons to their own careers. I provide the “Road to Happiness” with the hope that it makes a positive difference in your life.
Dr. Mark J. Riedy
Fed President Yellen Speaks to Sold-Out Breakfast Crowd
Close to 300 people gathered on the USD campus Feb. 22 to hear Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President Janet Yellen offer her thoughts on the faltering economy and the Fed’s role in bringing it back to life. Yellen’s presentation was part of the Center’s Breakfast at the BMC series, which was launched in 2007 to attract speakers who seldom make public appearances in San Diego.
In fact, it was the first time that Yellen had spoken in the United States since the fall of 2009 and three years since the Center extended an invitation to her. Her appearance drew reporters from Reuters, Bloomberg, Dow Jones and was featured in the Feb. 23 edition of the New York Times.
After an introduction by William Jones, president and CEO of CityLink Investment Corporation, Yellen conveyed a sober view of the nation’s economic straits.
“The fact that the economy is growing again doesn’t mean we’re where we ought to be—far from it,” she told the captivated audience. “I’m not at all convinced that a V-shaped recovery is in the cards.”
Yellen also expressed consternation that employers who had made cutbacks during the recession would rehire at previous levels, either in the short term, long term, or ever, thanks to extraordinary productivity gains during the last year. The upshot, she said, is a jobless recovery. If the gains in efficiency and productivity continue Yellen said, “The rate of job creation will be frustratingly slow.”
Yellen offered a somewhat more optimistic outlook for the San Diego region, thanks in part to its biotech cluster.
In a post-event press conference, Yellen indicated that although the Federal Open Market Committee, of which she was a voting member in 2009, has made a commitment to stop the purchasing of mortgage-backed securities in March 2010, there may be some wiggle room. The language used in the FOMC minutes, she said: “Leaves open the possibility of potentially doing more.”
One thing that Yellen was clear on was the need for the Fed to continue to keep rates low—a statement she repeated several times during the event and one that moved markets later that day. “This is not the time to be tightening monetary policy,” she said.
For the full text of Yellen’s speech, go here. For the full media coverage, go here.
BusinessWeek Ranks USD’s Business Program 28th in Nation
For the second year in a row, the University of San Diego’s undergraduate business school has been ranked as one of the Top 30 programs in the nation, according to BusinessWeek magazine’s latest rankings. USD’s program was ranked 28th, moving up one spot from a year ago.
With the new rankings, USD’s undergraduate business school is now one of the Top 3 on the West Coast, along with the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Southern California.
Of the 138 schools that met the magazine’s initial requirements, BusinessWeek ranked 111 schools using nine distinct measures including student satisfaction, post-graduation outcomes and academic quality. Nearly 88,000 graduating seniors were surveyed for the rankings. In addition, BusinessWeek polled 718 corporate recruiters for companies that hire thousands of business majors each year, asking them which schools have the best graduates, most innovative curricula and most effective career services.
USD received grades of A+ in the categories of teaching quality, facilities and service and job placement from surveys of students. USD’s ranking for student satisfaction rose to ninth from 40th last year and its score for academic quality rose to 31st from 40th.
“We are dedicated to creating one of the top business schools in the nation, and this continued recognition is more evidence that we’re on the right track,” said David Pyke, dean of USD’s School of Business Administration. “This is a strong endorsement of the outstanding caliber of our faculty, staff and students.”
This latest ranking continues the school’s streak of placing in the Top 30 of national and international rankings. Last fall, USD’s evening MBA program was ranked 26th in the country by BusinessWeek, and USD was ranked 21st in the world for the Aspen Institute’s 2009-10 edition of “Beyond Grey Pinstripes,” which focuses on social responsibility and ethics.
Record Number of Students Attend Annual Real Estate Career Expo
Don Zech, president of CDC Commercial Inc., was one of 22 representatives from companies who participated in the Eighth Annual Real Estate Career Expo in the Hahn University Center Feb. 25. Seventeen private and public organizations and more than 60 undergraduate and graduate students interested in pursuing careers in real estate took part in the expo, which was sponsored by the USD Real Estate Society. This year's expo once again used a speed networking format, during which students were given six minutes with representatives from a variety of different organizations to network, discuss employment opportunities and practice their interviewing skills.
On February 26 and 27, MSRE students, along with other members of the university and San Diego communities, attended a two-day training course to better understand green building and LEED core concepts, as part of their Sustainable Real Estate course. The training, which was provided by Drew George and Partners, will include an additional session to prepare students to sit for the LEED Green Associate exam. The LEED Green Associate is the first level of certification of the recently revised United States Green Building Council certification levels.
Stath Karras Promoted to National Cushman & Wakefield Position
Policy Advisory Board Executive Committee member Stath Karras has been appointed to the position of executive managing director-Investment Sales at Cushman & Wakefield.
In his new role, Karras will focus on the operational aspects of the Investment Sales group and oversight of the Cushman & Wakefield Resolution Group, including its integration into Capital Markets, Client Solutions and Brokerage operations. In this capacity, Karras will oversee relationships and engagements with national and multi-market clients, develop and implement group communication, efficiency and standardization initiatives and represent the group at industry functions and events.
Karras will continue to be based in San Diego and work with Investment Sales brokers throughout the United States. He will oversee the management of Investment Sales activity for distressed assets and collaboration with the firm’s property management, leasing, project management and receiver groups in their involvement with distressed real estate asset needs.
Karras has more than 30 years of experience in the real estate industry, including 19 years with Burnham Real Estate Services, where he served as president and CEO.
Kelly Souza, vice president at Wells Fargo’s Real Estate Group in San Diego and a USD alum, spoke to MSRE students at a networking event held at the company’s offices in downtown San Diego on Feb. 12. The students spent the afternoon listening to presentations from several of the company’s senior-level staff members, who provided corporate information, career advice and industry insight.
Louis Galuppo, director of residential real estate, was a featured speaker at the North San Diego County Association of Realtors (NSDCAR) “Conversations 2010” symposium, held at California State University-San Marcos March 5. The symposium is an annual series of one-day presentations on the social, economic, governmental and market factors impacting housing in North San Diego County. Galuppo appeared on a panel that discussed “The New Consumerism” to the audience of Realtors and other NSDCAR members.
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