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February 18, 2005
Dallas - Business Forecast Luncheon 2005 (The University of Chicago)
Topic: 4) A Random Walk

Today the University of Chicago held its Business Forecast 2005 at the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas. Excellent talks. Prognosticators were:

Robert Z. Aliber Professor of International Economics and Finance Emeritus, Chicago GSB. Director, Center for Studies in International Finance. Formerly Senior Economic Advisor, Agency for Economic Development, U.S. Department of State.

and

Harvey Rosenblum Senior Vice President and Director of Research of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Economic Policy Advisor to the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Associate Economist for the Federal Open Market Committee.

My key notes from Harvey Rosenblum's talk (my key takeaways: be thankful, be wary):

  • Shocks that happened since the late 90s - surprised they haven't sent us into a deep depression
  • Y2K overspending and then drop in spending
  • Loss of wealth due to stock market crash
  • 2001 World Trade Center
  • 2001 Corporate scandals (Enron, MCI, etc.) drove up cost of capital
  • Sarbanes-Oxley caused unintended consequences where all public companies now have to bear significant costs of implementing S-O compliance, etc. where only 2% of public companies may have problems
  • Iraq war
  • It is surprising we (United States) are not in a depression
  • Credits attributed to good monetary policy and fiscal policy
  • Additionally deregulation has provided the US markets with flexibility to weather these shocks
  • Growth 3-4%, inflation low, unemployment dropping
  • President Bush, while Time's Man of the Year, didn't get enough credit for just in time fiscal policy
  • Long bond rate "conundrum" exists, but the economy appears to be in a zone of price stability
  • Interest yield curves are flat, but history shows that if these tip then 1 year after that there will be a recession
  • Need to watch yield curve. Some concern if Fed follows historical raise rate policies there will be problems.

My key notes from Robert Aliber's talk (my key takeaways: international policy is biggest issue, trade deficit bigger concern than budget deficit, international shocks translate into the United States importing issues as the trade deficit):

  • $600 billion hole is trade deficit
  • 25 year slide of US dollar against Yen & Swiss (which basically means Europe)
  • Thus, we have sharp slide of dollar yet the trade deficit is increasing?? (rarely happens)
  • Perspective on why this is happening. When financial crisis occurs in other countries, it shows up as an import to our trade deficit (i.e., our deficit grows)
  • China's investment boom slowing because of evergreen finance (essentially loans being made, accruing interest, but funny money since no one is paying interest)
  • Going to be a problem in the future.
  • Turning back to international trade as a whole (not specific to China), the asset price bubble may burst if US puts in import controls.
  • Housing market may have some issues. Did we see the Las Vegas numbers?

One question I had in my mind after this talk was that I understood venture capitalists in the States to be eager to do deals in China. That said, given what I heard today, I would be wary of the propsect of things going south for investments in China in a timeframe that would be shorter than the investment horizon of a VC.

Steve Shu
Managing Director
S4 Management Group
Email: sshu@s4management.com
Web: http://www.s4management.com


Posted by sshu-s4 (c) S4 Management Group LLC at 4:06 PM CST
Updated: February 18, 2005 5:02 PM CST
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