Thursday, October 16, 2008

Michael Pines of REventures #93

This week Bruce Norris is joined this week by Michael Pines, President of REventures. Michael is a licensed attorney, a licensed broker, and has first hand experience with the RTC in the 1990s.

Bruce asks Michael about his involvement with the RTC. He got involved originally with the RTC by working with a client who was dividing land to do manufactured housing. There was a legal dispute and the owner lost the property and the RTC got the property and inherited the litigation.

Michael and Bruce discuss the differences and similarities between now and the S&L crisis. Michael feels like he’s reliving the same scenario. It’s been 20 years since deregulation and you think we would have learned. The parallels are remarkable he says.

In the mid 90s the stock market did OK and real estate did horrible. Back then, real estate wasn’t as tied to the stock market as it is today. Michael says this time it’s intertwined and it’s impossible to separate. This time foreign counties are also much more involved.

When the RTC started it was thought it was going to be a $30-$50 billion dollar problem and then shortly there after it was much more expensive. Bruce thinks the government’s $700 billion is just the down payment. This is going to be a multi-trillion dollar solution. Telling people this would cause tremendous political fallout if they were honest upfront. Bruce talks about the story he read about a Congress woman being asked about where they came up with the $700 billion number and she replied they just needed a large number.

Michael says he doesn’t see it as a bailout. Michael says the people who made money said they got it and they are gone. There will be people who went to jail and some people will be forced to give money back. Michael thinks the major players who acted dishonestly will be tracked down and be used as an example. So many people were involved it will be hard to track everyone down. Those that profited will not be profiting from the solution.

No one knows quite yet where the money will go. Congress is not full of experts. There’s still much research that needs to be done. Institutions need to be studied and they know these institutions need money. They need the authority to buy some of these institutions.

The new bailout said the golden parachutes of the past will now be gone and some will be forced to give back unearned bonuses. Michael doesn’t think they will go down quietly.

In the RTC days, the first two years was a mess as the government tried to do it itself. They weren’t equipped. The office for disposing of California real estate was located in Dallas. They hired attorney in California but negotiations required people flying out from out of state. These individuals had no clue about the state. The RTC got taken advantage of because of the set up so it began to change. As the RTC went more into the 90s, property values kept going down.

RTC started willing to sell quantities of properties in small packages and then eventually packaged them in larger quantities. Eventually they only wanted to sell properties and debt in packages.

RTC properties were marketed in different ways ranging from auction to mailers to the bigger players who could purchase in bulk. It changed drastically every year. The arrangements got more and more complex.

Bruce asks Michael if the similar groups will be set up to handle this. Michael says past people who were involved are being solicited for jobs who can handle this again. Many are retired.

Michael says the better investor deals happened early in the cycle. Bruce asks Michael where the deals will be. Michael thinks this will take years and that the S&L Crisis was tiny compared to what’s coming. Opportunities are already here. He’s hoping there’s no great depression. Investors are a big part of the solution.

Michael and Bruce talk about the potential for true bulk deals coming our way. Stay tuned for more with Michael next week.

Michael Pines is currently principle of REventures that provides brokerage, investment, and property management services.

Michael has handled all types of civil, commercial, and business lawsuits, including cases involving real estate, insurance insolvency, insurance liability, and professional malpractice, breach of contract, lender liability, and white collar crime.

He has been involved in numerous complex cases including pursing actions against and defending major corporations.

Michael has tried cases in many state and federal courts throughout the Unites States. He represented clients before all levels of the Courts Of Appeal in California including presenting cases before the Supreme Court of California some of which resulted in a law changes for the state.

Michael represented parties and sued the RTC during the S&L crisis and hired an attorney from the law firm that represented the RTC. He is experienced in handling many complex large-scale workouts in and outside of bankruptcy and complex litigation within the insolvency proceedings.

Michael formed and runs the Michaelisa Foundation which engages in various types of charity work. It’s latest project is a “prisoner-canine” or “cell-dog” program. Under this program (dedicated to Michael’s recently deceased “best friend” for about 18 years, dogs will be taken from shelters to prisons. Prisoners will be taught how to train dogs. Then the dogs will be adopted out to good homes.

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