Bring back College Week aka. Rugby Week

Forget Beyoncé, the Grand Slam, the Love Festival and other failed ventures we’ve thrown too much money at.  Bring back College Week.

College week proved to be one of our most successful tourism promotions.  College students would come over the period of a month in our semi-off season and experience a great time in Bermuda.  That experience would keep them coming back, for their honeymoons, anniversaries and other trips in future life.  It was an incredibly good way to cement in people’s mind that Bermuda was a great destination, that is until College Week grew out of control and morphed into Spring Break.

There isn’t a great deal out there on Bermuda’s College Weeks, but of what little there is, it seems important for us to understand that college weeks grew out of what was originally a rugby tournament.

Seems the tradition of students going somewhere tropical over Easter began in 1935 when The Bermuda Athletic Association invited some Ivy League rugby teams down for a friendly tournament. By the ’50s Rugby Week became known as College Week, and then Spring Break.

Bermuda should do what it can to again get an annual spring ivy league rugby tournament going on this island.  Those who take note of the Rugby Classic in November are aware that it has become quite a success, drawing a considerable number of visitors during an off period of Bermuda tourism.   That is the kind of tourism we need to continue growing and recapitalize on as Rugby is an ideal sport for Bermuda’s off-season.  If we’re lucky, we may be able to restart a trend that marks the return of college week.

Benevolent meddling

“benevolent meddling is harder than it looks” – Heidi Moore

The Grand Atlantic condo development serves as a concern.  Our leadership seemed so desperate to deliver on promises of “affordable” housing that they may have overextended themselves.  While the intentions were well meaning, have we thrown money at a problem best solved by policy changes?

Housing has undoubtedly been a huge problem and it’s understandable that we’d want to do something about it.  Ideally our aim could have been to gather statistics and study trends in the overall market such that we could effectively time when to introduce policy to gently simulate or restrain the market according to market cycles.  Some of this was covered previously as we embarked on analysis of the problem and concluded that zoning restrictions and a lack of planning contributed. We roughly estimated the supply problems, identified problems with policy and lending practices and questioned if we’re in a housing bubble.  Much of this could have caused one to reevaluate the need to stimulate the market with supply, especially as we watched for and identified signs of the bubble bursting.  Unfortunately much of this analysis seemingly went unnoticed and may well not have been done elsewhere where it was most needed. 

One large concern is that beyond a perceived lack of analysis it seems like there is all too often an inclination to throw money at a problem.

Explaining the arrangement with the developer, Major Dill said: “BHC will purchase the condos from the developer and then resell to pre-approved buyers.

This is something that has jumped out about this project since day one.  Government has effectively absolved the developer of financial risk on the project.  Now a bunch of condos are ready and none have been sold.  It isn’t yet clear that we’re at the bottom of our downturn, policy hasn’t been changed to soften it and banks have swung their lending practices so heavily to the conservative side that most if not all potential demand has dried up.  There is no question intentions were well meaning but ultimately benevolent meddling hasn’t seemed to yield the kind of results most would hope for.

Ideally speaking careful regulation of policy can and should have been used to adjust things and to let the market react accordingly in order to address our problems.  Unfortunately policy hasn’t changed and we’ve poorly timed the launch of even more supply.  This glut of supply will likely add pressure to a declining market and make things even more precarious.  While certainly we’d like to shift the housing market in favor of being more affordable, stability is also a factor, especially as we face many who may struggle under oversized mortgages and an inability to sell their homes.  Most sadly if all of these homes don’t sell this could be yet another case that government could end up unnecessarily overspending and increasing our debt burden.

It’s another sad case where it’s clear the intentions were well meaning but the results may well leave much to be desired.  It is hoped that our government will conduct a full review of our current housing situation, perform the necessary analysis and take a deep look at all housing policy to determine how best to stabilize the market using sound and prudent regulation in this time of instability.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

Great at policy, bad at politics

The OBA battling the PLP on rhetoric is reminicent of bringing a knife to a gunfight.

Mr Dunkley defended his stance on the EEZ extension, saying: “My colleagues and I have listened to the people and we share their concern that the whole island is in the midst of an economic downturn and we should work to empower all people.

"Economic downturn" is the PLP's rhetoric to make the economy seem less bad than it is.  If you use their words, you make it sound like you agree with their position.  Do you agree with their position Mr. Dunkley?

It's an "Economic crisis".  Why?  It is a crisis to anyone who has lost their job.  It is a crisis to anyone who is poor.  It is a crisis who has seen their home drop in value, or is underwater.  It is a crisis to anyone who wonders when it will end.  "Crisis" stirs emotion.  "Downturn" does not.  

Our Premier is out there using words like "rape" to describe the situation of store product pricing.  It's disgusting, distasteful and shows very poor character, but it stirs emotions and emotions win elections. The OBA doesn't understand this.  They're great at policy but bad at politics.