1:59 pm July 20, 2009, by Henry Unger
Tom Bell, who retired as chairman and CEO of Atlanta-based Cousins Properties at the end of last month, will be in charge of a U.S. Chamber of Commerce campaign to promote free enterprise.
Bell told the Rotary Club of Atlanta on Monday that government actions and their unintended consequences threaten our “fragile system.”
“You can’t spread the wealth if there is no wealth,” Bell said. He added that financial and real estate markets hate uncertainty, but recent government actions create a lot of it.
“The federal government has to quit changing the rules,” he said.
To promote free enterprise, Bell told the business leaders to “buy a Ford,” referring to the automaker that did not receive a government bailout like General Motors and Chrysler.
On the real estate front, Bell said the market would bump along the bottom until late 2010 or 2011. “Asset prices still have not stabilized.”
In Atlanta, given how much it grew from 2000 to 2007, the real estate contraction has been “traumatic,” he said. “It will take awhile to deal with.”
Over the long-term, however, Bell was most concerned about Atlanta’s water situation in the wake of a judge’s decision last week requiring Georgia, Florida and Alabama to come up with a water-sharing agreement for Lake Lanier.
Without a consummated deal over the next three years, which the judge required in his ruling, Bell said the metro area faces a “tragedy.”
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