Bloomberg Washington Summit: Grand Finale

Bloomberg Washington Summit: Grand Finale

Bloomberg Washington Summit

Alan Krueger (Chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers)


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Krueger implies Stockman’s opinions r not worthy of consideration “…not a serious scholar of the economy.”

Krueger suggests that fixing infrastructure has the highest payoff. Problem: haven’t *ever* done it, & the budget 2 deep in deficit

Krueger spending a lot of time criticizing the sequester, suggests there is a way to do smart cuts. When have we ever done that?

Krueger on Jobs data: “Numbers are very volatile. Too much attention given to monthly jobs number.”

Krueger goes on talking about inequality, has few solutions; education is slow if it works, throwing $$ @ it hasn’t worked recently

Krueger suggests that people have to adjust their definition of fairness. Trouble is there is no fairness, it is all based on trade

Disappointing answers from Krueger on the inflation topic. Seems disconnected from what Main Street is feeling.

“‘Fix it First’ infrastructure program, $40B from winding down wars, will help job growth.”

I would only add that education is no panacea.  We’ve thrown a lot of money at it for years, with little incremental results.  Structural changes are needed to remove substandard teachers, eliminate collective bargaining if needed, move back to a “basics” curriculum similar to that used in the 50s (with updated science & history), etc.  We have to recognize that we have let fools dictate our curricula, and reverse the damage.

Other Stuff

Thanks to Peter Cook, Tom Keene, and Stephanie Call at Bloomberg for humoring me.  Thanks to Cate Long (bright lady) and other tweeters for covering the conference.

There was a lot of love for Canada, thinking it to be far better run than the US, as its financial economy teeters with too much mortgage debt.

And some more tweets:

Humorous panel w/Harvey Pitt, Robert Engle, and Anthony Scaramucci — Engle is clueless, thinking Fed policy can be easily removed

Pitt: if I were a college professor, I would give Congress an “F” for Dodd-Frank

Federal Reserve less independent since Dodd-Frank, & not in a good way, it supports the US financial sector & government

Gotta give Scaramucci credit for getting on this panel, he has said some notably odd things

Engle correct in noting that the tea party has made Washington a 3-party game, which creates a complex blocked situation

John Rogers of the CFA Institute asks Engle why we should invest in a new bubble created by the Federal Reserve? Engle waffles.

I also got the final question on that panel:

Why should investors be confident when economic policy is unpredictable, and debt levels are higher than that in the Great Depression?

They didn’t have a good answer, though Engle tried.  That said, with valuations so high, it looks like investors are confident, or they “have learned to stop worrying, and learned to love the Bomb.”

It was a very good conference; I learned a lot.  You can view the videos off of Bloomberg.

By David Merkel, CFA of alephblog

Updated on

David J. Merkel, CFA, FSA — 2010-present, I am working on setting up my own equity asset management shop, tentatively called Aleph Investments. It is possible that I might do a joint venture with someone else if we can do more together than separately. From 2008-2010, I was the Chief Economist and Director of Research of Finacorp Securities. I did a many things for Finacorp, mainly research and analysis on a wide variety of fixed income and equity securities, and trading strategies. Until 2007, I was a senior investment analyst at Hovde Capital, responsible for analysis and valuation of investment opportunities for the FIP funds, particularly of companies in the insurance industry. I also managed the internal profit sharing and charitable endowment monies of the firm. From 2003-2007, I was a leading commentator at the investment website Back in 2003, after several years of correspondence, James Cramer invited me to write for the site, and I wrote for RealMoney on equity and bond portfolio management, macroeconomics, derivatives, quantitative strategies, insurance issues, corporate governance, etc. My specialty is looking at the interlinkages in the markets in order to understand individual markets better. I no longer contribute to RealMoney; I scaled it back because my work duties have gotten larger, and I began this blog to develop a distinct voice with a wider distribution. After three-plus year of operation, I believe I have achieved that. Prior to joining Hovde in 2003, I managed corporate bonds for Dwight Asset Management. In 1998, I joined the Mount Washington Investment Group as the Mortgage Bond and Asset Liability manager after working with Provident Mutual, AIG and Pacific Standard Life. My background as a life actuary has given me a different perspective on investing. How do you earn money without taking undue risk? How do you convey ideas about investing while showing a proper level of uncertainty on the likelihood of success? How do the various markets fit together, telling us us a broader story than any single piece? These are the themes that I will deal with in this blog. I hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University. In my spare time, I take care of our eight children with my wonderful wife Ruth.
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