Sports as a Microcosm of Life
As many of you no doubt know, the NFL just approved the St. Louis Rams relocation back to Los Angeles. In a news conference, team owner billionaire Stan Kroenke, ironically named after St. Louis sports icon Stan Musial, said this was a difficult decision because of their loyal fans. Really?! This was, as noted sports writer and author Mike Lupica said, “all about the money and building a few more luxury sky boxes.” Of course, the value of the franchise will skyrocket, but what about the loyal fans of St. Louis and all the folks who will lose their businesses and jobs? As further irony, the Rams only produced four winning seasons in the last twenty years—not exactly a sterling track record.
What Does This Have to Do With Anything?
Well, while probably sounding like an old fuddy duddy, the thread of what happened in the NFL extends to all walks of life and industry. What has changed dramatically over the last twenty years is that almost everything has become all about the money. Don’t get me wrong, money has always counted, but now it seems to take first, second, and third place. Money and power were behind our government’s fiscal cliffs. Clearly, money and greed fueled the mortgage debacle which triggered the devastating 2008 economic recession from which we are still digging out.
Where We Are Today
Just visiting San Francisco over the weekend and looking in my own backyard in Seattle, new construction in the downtown corridors is beyond vibrant. I am not against economic growth and progress, but clearly we could be setting ourselves up for another economic fall through overbuilding, again fueled by the almighty dollar. For example, home prices in the Seattle market skyrocketed 20% in 2015 over 2014. How soon we forget the pain of yesterday.
How Does This Impact Banking?
A number of my clients have whispered the “bubble” word to me. The escalation in building and home prices could potentially trigger another real estate bubble. We have seen what the effects of a market crash in China can have on our stock market. Bank stock prices have been hit hard recently and that reduces the value of currency of acquirors and makes doing deals more challenging. Another real estate bubble could have a similar effect.
Can We Strike a Healthy Balance?
I realize that things tend to be cyclical. However, we need to strive to reach some semblance of balance, where long-term stability, social and public well-being, and people are actually taken into consideration. If we are a money-driven society, I fear that will lead to a much inferior world for our children and grandchildren. The famous line “Show me the money” from the movie Jerry McGuire, uttered numerous times by Cuba Gooding Jr., seems to ring louder than ever. I hope we can rebalance our priorities so that the quality of our lives and those of our kids and grandkids can be preserved.