CNBC asked some of the world's most successful businessmen for their take on the markets and the economy.
The Sports Economy
"I can't really generalize, because what we see in sports is a very strong economy. The National Hockey League is coming off its best year, best attendance, best gross income, in what would look like a down economy. Baseball is being predicted to be extremely strong this year. I'd have to say the concessions have been as predicted, and they're doing reasonably well around the country, but it's very early in this season, as you know."
Jeremy Jacobs, Delaware North Companies Chairman & CEO
Betting on Ralph Lauren
"There's opportunities he has in Europe to be as big as he is in America; in Asia, where he's just getting started; in Japan, that's a big opportunity for him; in accessories, which is an area he hasn't been in before; an opportunity to increase his profit margins in his stores significantly."
Ron Baron, Baron Capital Chairman & CEO
Capital Markets & the Credit Crunch
"Values have come down quite a bit already. We've had a shrinkage of between 10 and 20 percent, and that's really because the capital markets have been suffering from the lack of financing that's been available. Until last year, we had a perfect set of conditions: We had low cap rates, an avalanche of funds running at real estate, and a very robust economy. People could actually project very unrealistic outcomes and get financing for those outcomes, so we were really in a very strong position. Then the credit crunch came, and everything changed."
Richard LeFrak, LeFrak Organization President
Real Estate Opportunities
"Right now, you're seeing a period in which people are scared. There's been a lot of bad news, as to, particularly the condo market, but also to other forms of real estate, and we're seeing a lot of opportunities where people do not have a lot of holding power and have been over-leveraged, that we have a chance to either buy from developers that are short on cash, or from banks that want to unload mortgages that have some problems."
Jorge Perez, Related Group of Florida President
Avoiding the Subprime Meltdown
"Securitized debt's been around for three decades now, and when you start packaging something with a lot of assets that are all mixed up, and you can't get your arms around what the asset really is, what the risk is, we decided that whatever perceived profits there might be, we decided not to take that risk because we didn't know what the risk really was, and the perceived profits really became irrelevant."
Sir Allen Stanford, Stanford Financial Group CEO
Achieving Global Prosperity
"Globalization is an irreversible megatrend, and I think it's actually in the world's interest and in America's interest to ensure that we actively promote globalization. America has been the advocate of free trade and the advocate for free enterprise around the world, and I believe very strongly that it's through free trade and through collaboration that we'll actually achieve global prosperity."
Bharat Desai, Syntel President & CEO
Food Inflation, Record Gas Prices
"In the food area, we're passing everything along, because you just have to do it. In the gasoline area, margins are squeezed now, because when you have $125 crude oil, the retail margins and refining margins haven't caught up with the price of crude oil."
John Catsimatidis, Red Apple Group CEO