By Peter Kozel, director of real estate research, Standard & Poor's Ratings Group

Of all the major property types, both the near- and long-term outlooks for the retail property sector are the most ambivalent. This uncertainty is the result of three distinct but also partially related factors. First, a detailed analysis of the supply/demand balance of retail property space in a substantial number of the major metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) indicates that a slow down in the national economy would tip these markets into a condition of over-supply fairly quickly.

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