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A Political Perspective on the Euro Crisis

Students and faculty from the Wisconsin School of Business are attending MIPIM 2012 this week. Bashar Elayyan reports on his experiences and takeaways from Day 3.

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Joschka Fischer conf

Bonjour from Cannes!

Day three of MIPM is nearly over, and it remains a beehive of activity in what is currently the de facto center of the real estate universe. I had more time to walk about the booths today and I can inform you that it is a dazzling carnival of renderings, animations, techie pavilions and shiny models. You are enveloped and bombarded by a mosaic of competing ambitious projects screaming for your attention. Your eyes simply can’t have enough of this feast of monumental aspirations that radiate national pride.

Today I attended a highly anticipated keynote speech by the former foreign minister of Germany Joschka Fischer. The Grand Hall was packed with hundreds of attendees eager to hear an individual who was a key figure in Eurozone relations during a decade of growth, prosperity and optimism. A light show accompanied by techno music more fitting to a night club setting greeted the minister as he walked on stage as a precursor to a speech that immediately turned serious and somber.

The minister wasted no time in presenting the assertion that the integrity of the Eurozone is not an idealistic option but is an economic imperative that dictates the future of Europe. He proclaimed that the last century was a period of destructive bipolarity where European nations were exploited by political camps as proxies to engage in wars.  The Eurozone was a remedy that brought permanent peace and cohesion to the continent through economic unity rather than brute force.

He conceded that a single currency was not crucial in an economic sense but was more of a political necessity to unite these nations. The minister pounded the podium as he declared that “Greece must not and cannot exit the Eurozone, it would be a historical disaster. If Greece exits then who is next?” The minister ended the speech by proclaiming that people should not sell Europe short and that the Eurozone will weather the crisis, come back better and stronger than ever.

After the speech, we had the great experience of meeting a Danish architect working on some fascinating projects around the world. We met with a representative of a U.S. company that develops an amazing platform that compiles global real estate transaction data. A seminar entitled Energy Efficiency: New & Refurbished Projects showcased an interesting project using algae as an integrated energy generating system.

Simply put, this has been another incredible day. So much to see in so little time; MIPIM is a fountain of global cutting edge information and no matter how much you try to absorb from this source, you remain to be thirsty for more.

Bashar Elayyan is a first-year MBA student in the James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate in the Wisconsin School of Business. As an architect based in Chicago, he was involved in the design and execution of numerous complex large scale projects in the U.S., Mideast and Chinese markets. His career aspirations lie within the domains of REIT management or real estate finance and investment banking.

This is the seventh year that a delegation from the Wisconsin School of Business has attended MIPIM. It’s a great opportunity to observe international investment in action and to get the inside scoop on the latest topics and trends in the industry. Speaking of which, be sure to stick around the Palais on Friday for the wrap-up keynote address by François Ortalo-Magné, Albert O. Nicholas Dean of the Wisconsin School of Business.

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