The life of a bug

What if you awoke tomorrow to find you were a cockroach?


In the old-school novella, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (1915), the main character, Gregor, does just that.

It’s not so much that he bizarrely transforms from salesman to giant bug in the first paragraph of the book, but upon finding himself in such a rare state, he offers a most fascinating response.

Neither did he recoil at his newly-formed image or madly recount the evening prior to determine what happened. Nor does he set out to frantically or otherwise find a cure for his condition.

Instead he laments, how will I keep my job, smattered with general disdain for the rainy morning outside his window.

Our latest issue is filled with stories of quantum change across our country. Continuing to surface like symptoms on an episode of House are incongruities within our economy, as magnified through the lens of our country’s most significant sector, multifamily. There’s the on-going screech of lending as it compresses development, ownership and operations, the loss of jobs that continues to reduce rents and elevate vacancies, and a selective ear for consensus unless it fits a particular purpose. These are the real stories of folks who barely made it through the rapidly closing door of opportunity, and those who didn’t.

Most notably, this issue chronicles sweeping change that resets entire landscapes, like Jerry Speyer of Tishman Speyer. Speyer was featured in a November 2006 MHP story as he spearheaded the then-largest apartment transaction in history, Stuy Town and Peter Cooper in New York City. After the courts recently upheld a number of tenants’ rent control agreements, the 11,227 apartments now teeter on the verge of the largest apartment property default in history. It might be a far simpler story if it were just Speyer’s money.

One of the largest retirement funds in our country, CalPERS, is in the mix and indeed, there are many who are hoping for a bailout in their stocking from Santa this year.

Unlike Gregor, I want a solution, as do those in our industry, and yesterday is too late. This issue offers that, too.

Former Speaker of the House and General Chairman of American Solutions, Newt Gingrich has launched a “Jobs here. Jobs now. Jobs first.” agenda that cuts through the rumination and delivers action steps. It’s clear that jobs are a pivotal piece of our economic health as a country and industry, and this initiative drives right to its core.

Another spark of inspiration in this issue is “Can I get a lifeline?“. It provides an overview to the largest and oldest show in the country, the International Builders’ Show in Vegas in January. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is far from lying flat, lamenting on the rain. In addition to continuing to hold the fort on Capitol Hill, they are coming together to forge new solutions and tactics for these most unusual times.

What we have learned in the year now rapidly shrinking in our rear-view mirror, is that price and value are a precarious concept. Lest we forget those things that hold no price, and all the value, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and most Happy New Year.

It’s not the adversity, folks, it’s how you respond. And one day can change everything.