Founder and Chair – LMFC
Vice Chair – LMFC
President and CEO – LMFC
President & CEO – The Bank of Holland
SVP of Shared Services - LMFC

Hear from the founder of Lake Michigan Financial Corporation, Rich Lievense, and his insight on what this blog encompasses.

We have all been reading about the difficulties in the commercial real estate markets. Over-building, reduced rents, fewer potential tenants, lack of available financing, large and high profile defaults, reduced appraised values, and aggressive banking regulators all affect this important segment of the economy. Since this asset class tends to be financed with loans that mature every five or seven years, many existing loans will come up for renewal in 2010. As a result, this will be a pivotal year.


We believe there has been too much money chasing this asset classification for some time and it has led to over-development and rampant speculation. We are going through an adjustment period that will be difficult for our economy and for commercial real estate owners. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this problem and we all might just might need to survive (as opposed to prosper in) this difficult period.

Read more, article: Capitalist Fools in The Atlantic.


In recent months, we have all see an avalanche of new and increased fees coming from the banking and financial service industry. Anyone who has a charge card, brokerage account, or an account at another bank knows what we are talking about. Many Banks are scrambling to increase profitability by charging what we call 'nuisance fees'. This has caught the attention of lawmakers in Washington and there is a move to significantly reduce banking fees. While this will be good for the consumer in the short run, a predictable result of this action will be a reduction in branch systems and account availability over time.

We have been careful not to base our banking model on nuisance fees. We do not believe they are fair and they tend to especially impact lower income people.   Through legislative action, the industry will be forced to reduce these fees and, as a result, banking services will become less available in our society.

Read more, article: Consumer Fees: The Hits Keep Coming from American Banker.



We have been hearing a lot about the challenge presented by and progress being made in China. Something that many people do not know is their commitment to the long-term development of clean energy. They are embarrassed about the world's view of the environmental situation in their country as shown in the air quality during last year's Olympics. They have also realized the political risks of building an economy on oil produced in the volatile Middle East. In 1986, they made a commitment to the development of a new technological revolution. Many compare it to the commitment this country made to getting people to the moon in the 60's.

We are starting to see the results of this commitment. The best wind power technology in the world comes from China, they are at the forefront of the next generation of nuclear power generation, and they have made a long term commitment to academic research. Sounds like a formidable competitor doesn't it? It also reminds us of America in a different time doesn't it?

Read more, article: Green Giant via The New Yorker.



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