“Capital Insights” with Jack Kern

“It was impossible to get a conversation going; everybody was talking too much.”

Yogi Berra

I’m an average sports fan. I like some sports more than others and for the most part, find fun in just about everything. Even NASCAR ( continuous left turns for 500 miles at Beltway speeds) is a lot more interesting since I found a Chevy hat while recently walking my dog. At least I can sit on the sofa, wear my Chevy hat and call my dog Bo. That’s not her name, but if I’m eating something I’ll call her and she’ll come over to see what I’m doing.

The one sport I’m finding I’m not much of a fan of is politics. Recently, there have been a lot of baseball analogies about how the prez is coming up to bat, or the economy isn’t even in the 3rd inning yet and other references. From my vantage point, politics is alot like sitting at the ball park during a rain delay. You know that if you just wait long enough, something, anything has to happen. The outcome won’t always please you or your buddies, but there will be a result. I used to see famed columnist George Will at Baltimore Oriole baseball games. He was sitting there eating hot dogs (he really eats a lot of hot dogs) and entertaining some luminary from sports or television. I was just try to keep from getting mustard on my shirt. What George and I shared was a love of the possibility, that somehow the players could put together a win. We were frequently disappointed, not only by the team, but by the laundry bills.

What I find fascinating is how the game is played these days. The dynamic is really kind of funny. Picture this, you have an election and the democrats win by a landslide. They eventually win control in the Congress and have a democratic prez and now the fun starts. The democrats pitch the ball, and the prez gets called out on strikes. The prez bunts and gets thrown out at first. Remember, these are his own players. The prez finally bulks up a bit on pork (which is every politician’s steroid) and the thing next you know, he’s running the bases like an olympic sprinter.

In an economy where the recession is causing the most pronounced softness in rents and occupancies we’ve seen in many years, and every facet of the business world that contributes to GDP is suffering, we still have this political game in Washington, where someone has to win. The republicans are proudly standing their ground while their states are mired in disaster and the democrats are still playing the tax and spend symphony. It’s hard, to paraphrase Yogi, to get something going where the sides will listen to each other. I’m hopeful that this year will bring increased consumer confidence and employment, but until then, we may just witness the democratic party destroying itself in the name of doing what’s right.

I’d buy a ticket to that.

(Jack Kern used to play baseball as a kid and then decided working in the apartment industry was a better calling. He is the managing director of Kern Investment Research and can reached at JKern@KernIRC.com or 301-601-1900.)