San Juan, Puerto Rico – The economic crash led to widespread stalling of huge real estate developments, the administration of large banks left properties distressed and official receivers cannot get the prices they desire, according to Anthony Bowen, chief executive officer of Sotheby’s International, St Lucia.
“Banks should have been concentrating, but they were left exposed to the madness. Too Big To Fail meant the use of taxpayers’ money to protect Wall Street. This has allowed banks to rebound and be in huge profit but they still do not release capital to risk. There is an old saying, ‘boats are safest in harbour, but they were not built for harbour.’
“The fact is we need access to cash to expand the base and see profit; governments need to understand that they only develop if the private sector is allowed to prosper. And they have done very little over the years to establish Investment Promotion Agencies to encourage real foreign investment,” Mr. Bowen said.
The crisis is here
He said that there was no longer a need for “talk shops” because the crisis is here and there was a need for investment to allow opportunities for the younger generation to progress and develop close to home.
“Investors want to know how they can make money. There is opportunity in he Caribbean; a high standard of education, a relatively low-cost region – and we have a zone of peace. We change government by ballot, not bullet and we tolerate each other – we are multiculural,” he said.
Mr. Bowen pondered as to whether the region “needed to build a better mousetrap”.
“We can continue to attract foreign investment – the blessings which we have are from nature. Providing we can be equally as competitive as those who have been successful like New Zealand, Costa Rica and Chile [we can do well]. Look at the investment the Cayman Islands has attracted.
“We need to be ahead of the game. A recession cannot last forever and there will be pent-up demand. [We] need to be ready for this to burst its gates.
“If we bring back levels of service and introduce concessions which make sense then we can be better than before this [recession] started,” he concluded.