I’ve spent the last few days in Dayton, OH attending the R.I.S.E. Symposium. Over one hundred student run investment funds were represented as well as many industry professionals. The economic session featured:
Dr. James Glassman – Senior Policy Strategist, J.P. Morgan Chase
Dr. Jan Hatzius – Chief Economist, Goldman Sachs
Dr. Myron Scholes – 1997 Nobel Laureate in Economics
Dr. John Silva – Chief Economist, Wachovia
Dr. Silva was outstanding! He discussed how the problems in the sub-prime market should not be helped by government because they were mostly due to both consumer and business stupidity. People who cannot afford a house should not receive government assistance because they decided to get a mortgage rather than renting. Businesses that provide these loans should not be compensated for their greed when it backfires. Dr. Scholes was late and tended to ramble in his comments. The next session focused on the markets. The speakers were:
Robert Doll – Global Chief Investment Officer, Blackrock
Knight Kiplinger – Kiplinger’s Personal Finance
Louis Navellier – Navellier & Associates
Liz Ann Sonders – Chair of Investment Strategy Council, Charles Schwab
Mr. Kiplinger gave a rather lengthy opening comment on personal financial discipline which was valuable but boring. Although it was a valuable session, the markets talk was not quite as good as the economy. Gary Stern (President, Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank) gave a brief speech but was careful to avoided any substantial predictions or observations other than to focus on long term trends rather than the weekly data releases. The next session covered corporate governance and featured:
Ralph Alvarez – COO, McDonalds
Paul Atkins – SEC Commissioner
Peter Coors – Chairman, Molson Brewing Company
Patrick Dorsey, CFA – Director of Stock Analysis, Morningstar
I had some sympathy for both Mr. Alvarez and Mr. Coors because they were expected to address some difficult issues which could not be adequately answered without disclosing some of the problems their respective companies have faced. Mr Dorsey was very articulate while Commissioner Atkins often tossed out some political jibes at his fellow administration officials. The final session of the day was supposed to be a discussion on public policy. The speakers were:
Dr. Daniel Chiquiar – Research Manger, Banco de Mexico
L’Ubomir Jahnatek – Minister of the Economy, Slovak Republic
Witold Jurek – President, Conference of Rectors of Universities of Economics in Poland
Gintaras Steponavicius – Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Republic of Lithuania
Mr. Jurek never appeared and Mr. Jahnatek refused to utilize his interpreter so his comments were completely unintelligible and seemed to go on forever. The discussion never quite covered any public policy and basically focused on each speaker describing his country’s finance system like a foreign investment commercial.
Our fund presentation was excellent however, we did not win and the decision criteria were never disclosed. During the networking event, I noticed that no other schools came close to matching our risk adjusted return while most of them beat us on total returns. It seems rather absurd to discount risk when evaluating performance but who am I to argue.
Jesse Jackson was the keynote speaker on Friday night at the Air Force Museum. While I admire Mr. Jackson’s oration skills, his speech did not relate to economics, finance, or anything else business related. His message could be summarized as follows: All you rich, educated white kids need to remember the minorities who do not the same opportunities. I was personally rather put off by this since I went to public school and the only reason I have this opportunity is because I joined the military in order to get money for college. There are plenty of minorities in the military with the same educational benefits as me who simply do not utilize them.