So the American consumer bought way too much stuff with money that wasn't really theirs in the malls that have appeared everywhere across our landscape. And now the bill is due, consumers aren't spending, and those malls dotting the landscape aren't looking so pretty any more.
How ironic that General Growth Properties who bought way too many malls with money that wasn't really theirs is now having problems of the Chapter 11 variety. You have to give them credit (perhaps a bad word choice in light of the circumstances), but they had done everything possible to work out something with their bondholders to get through this without having to file.
So what happens now? Well, this isn't liquidation, it's just restructuring. General Growth will continue to operate their more than 200 malls... until they can sell some of them off. It's considered likely that Simon Properties will be able to pick up some of the properties at literally fire sale prices.
I'm fairly certain that more than a couple of the nation's malls need to go dark. In fact I talked about that for an hour in October with NPR. Here in the Seattle metropolitan area we have eight malls for 3.2 million people. Sounds like a lot of potential shoppers, but the malls are just too close together. We could easily cull three or more of those from the herd and improve the local gene pool.
So now it gets interesting. It's now not just the retailers but the property owners that are having issues. And the consumer isn't at a point they should be spending like drunken sailors again. Call me funny, but I'm not seeing how the current stimulus plans fix this. It's like that song we used to sing at camp where a refrain went something like: "can't go under it, can't go around it, gotta go through it."