LIVE BLOG: Sam Zell at IREJ Forecast Conference

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Ventas, Inc., CEO Debra Cafaro is interviewing the colorful and outspoken commercial real estate mogul Sam Zell …

8:20 a.m. – Zell on new office development in the Chicago CBD: “We will probably see [a new downtown Chicago office tower] come out of the ground in the next 24 to 36 months. We’re not quite there yet.”

8:25 a.m. – Zell on the big picture: “The real estate industry looks better than it really is. There’s a significant amount of restructuring and recapitalization that are going to have to occur in the next couple of years. There is an enormous amount of commercial real estate that is significantly overleveraged.”

8:30 a.m. – Zell on the retail sector: “Retail, more than any other form of real estate, has a very serious obsolescence factor. Those 300,000-square-foot enclosed malls are just disastrous.”

8:40 a.m. – Zell on international real estate investing: “When you’re a real estate person, ultimately, it comes down to demand. Where is it today and where is it going to be tomorrow?”

8:45 a.m. – Zell on Europe: “Why would anyone in their right mind invest in real estate in western Europe? You have no growth and no demand.”

8:50 a.m. – Zell on the U.S. dollar: “There’s no question that there’s a serious risk to the U.S. dollar. If the dollar lost its status as the world’s reserve currency, we would see, probably, a 25-percent reduction in our standard of living here.”

9 a.m. – Zell on regulation in the U.S.: “I would stop all new regulation for two years or more. I would tie all new regulation to growth.”

9:05 a.m. – Zell on taxes: “I would love to see a flat tax and a dramatic reduction in corporate taxes, which are almost all counterproductive.”

9:05 a.m. – Zell on what he would like his legacy to be: “I’ve always been a man of my word. I don’t think anyone’s ever left a meeting with me and said, ‘What do you think he meant?’  I’m also a huge believer in the 11th Commandment, which is: Thou shall not take one’s self too seriously.”

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