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Miami CEOs on Real Estate, Tourism & Healthcare

Squawk Box was in Miami this morning, and the Squawk crew interviewed Miami-based CEOs on everything from real estate to healthcare.

Behind the Wheel of the Economy

"I think the next six months are going to be ugly for real estate and for the overall economy and for the consumer. I think the rate cuts were late. You had this combination last summer of a financial crisis and the consumer pulling back, which required urgent action and the cuts came too little, too late…I think there’s a chance for stability and the beginning of a recovery in the second half of the year, certainly in ’09 things are going to look better."

Mike Jackson, AutoNation Chairman and CEO

Miami Tourism & the Hotel Industry

"The fundamentals, the balance sheets of the hotel companies are still very solid. There has been an addition to the supply, but demand has kept up with that. If there’s a downturn, we think that we’re in good shape as an industry to weather a downturn."

Jonathan Tisch, Loews Hotels Chairman and CEO

Real Estate Opportunities in Miami

"We kind of left Miami in terms of our overall investments for development about two-and-a-half years ago. Now we’re beginning to look at Miami again, because land values have plummeted. There’s so much supply right now in the marketplace on the condo side, that now land values that were ripe for condo development are no longer strong. In fact, if you look back over seven years prior to this downturn, every piece of land in Miami was looked at as what its condo development potential is, so it eliminated the opportunities to develop hotels and office buildings. Tourism is really strong, so now we’re looking more at land for hospitality opportunities."

R. Donahue Peebles, Peebles Corp. Chairman and CEO

Miami’s Commercial Real Estate Market

"Even though we have a very strong commercial real estate market today, it’s getting tougher and tougher to finance the new projects, due to the fact that we’re being painted with this negative attitude of our real estate. However, we’re seeing the surplus in housing more or less as a positive. Our downtown for years suffered without having housing, and now we’re going to have housing, and our city will become a true, 24-hour city, and therefore we’ll get the housing we need for growth with our commercial markets and commercial companies and the prices have come down to the point where it is more affordable."

Terry Stiles, Stiles Corp. CEO

Healthcare 'Retail' Shops in Florida

“In America today, healthcare has become very complex. Many Americans are a lot more comfortable going to buy a cell phone than they are in purchasing healthcare. With the affordability issues that we have today, what we wanted to do is provide a trusted environment where folks can come in and shop, and in 15 minutes…they can walk in, become educated about anything they would like in health care and health insurance and walk out with a policy for their family.”

Robert Lufrano, M.D., Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida CEO