Sometimes, commercial real estate is a contact sport. Over the last five years, we’ve seen some titanic industry clashes falling under some familiar narrative categories: man vs. man, man vs. reality, and man vs. stockholders. Over at Llenrock blog, a favorite read for years, Eric Hawthorn has compiled a top five list of the battles royale in commercial real estate. It’s an entertaining read. The least surprising part of this compilation? Sam Zell appears twice.
But my personal favorite is the charade inherent in the story of “SEC vs. Standard & Poor’s,” wherein the regulator slaps the ratings agency on the wrist to the tune of $1.4 billion over its demented cheerleading of toxic mortgage-backed securities that fueled the 2008 meltdown. It’s not that the fine itself is a charade — a billion four isn’t chump change — but I will never forget that all three of the ratings agencies had bloody hands over MBS bundles and that despite Dodd-Frank’s existence, each agency remains capable of doing the exact same thing all over again in the future. There’s a charade going on when we look at that regulatory result and imagine the problem has been addressed. That lesson is widely unlearned, and you know what happens when you fail to learn from history? You’re doomed to repeat it.