Saturday, 2 July 2016

Ten things I learnt at the FT Festival of Finance

Only one place to be yesterday... what did I learn?  Here are my top ten insights from the conference...where of course it is impossible to see and hear everything. 

1. Peter Praet of the ECB observe that despite central bank action having a 'very satisfactory impact on financial conditions...banks (are) under pressure with margins...something we are looking at'.  My money is on more ECB stimulus...

2. In the Brexit discussion Richard Woolnough of M&G noted that the J-curve would be applicable for the UK trade deficit ('like being back at school').  Toby Nangle of Threadneedle reported that his Bank of England contacts had been 'astonished' by how well things had gone over the last week. 

3. Mikhail Khodorkovsky said that Putin had 'underestimated how efficient I could be' and predicted that 'Russia will have serious changes...maybe not by 2018 but over the next 10 years'

4. Rich Walker of Shadow Robot bemoaned the 'waste of human potential' in the world today and that 'we should use the machines to free up people'.  Robert Shrimsley observed that his interaction with an advanced robot had been like 'dealing with a 3 year old' 

5. George Magnus in a Demographics and Destiny discussion commented that older people had a rising 'proclivity (to) own assets' contrary to theory.  Meanwhile Charles Goodhart of the LSE noted that the big challenge of future decades was still 'what you do with young men'. 

6. Robert Bayliss of Roskill noted 'real fundamental demand' for lithium and a 'struggle to substitute lithium for something else' a view shared by Simon Moores of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence who said he 'can't see it (coming down in price) for 3-4 years'.  Jon Hykawy of Stormcrow Capital observed cobalt batteries did not have the battery power and also said battery recycling will become a more important source of metal in the future. 

7. On India's future Suhel Seth of Counselage India said that 'you have a corruption free Indian cabinet (for the first time since independence)' but Mihir Sharma of the Observer Research Foundation was more cautious saying this was how a previous government had been perceived...ultimately incorrectly.  He also noted that on the central bank governor selection 'Modi be pillared if it is perceived get someone pliable' 

8. On the cyber security panel Jonathon Luff of Cyber London observed that 'there is no silver bullet'  and bemoaned bank security, William Dixon of Barclays said that they were 'reaching out into the fintech industries with hackathons' and James Chappell of Digital Shadows said that the problem lay with 'individual human behaviour' noting training had to be more innovative

9. In the China panel Michael Pettis of Peking University commented on supply side policy that 'I am not really sure it will make a difference' and observed that the Chinese name for bankruptcy could well be supply side reform.  Meanwhile the next test for anti-corruption is the next President. 

10. Thoughts from the Japan: Don't call it a comeback session included 'use companies to finance pension fund' and 'as long as people believe it is fine, it will be fine, if not, bubble burst'.  

An epic day - and highly recommended in the future if you did not go.  Congratulations to all involved who put on such an excellent event.  

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