Fisheries, tipping points, and disease “super-spreaders” in Boston

20 Oct 2009

fisheryBOSTON – We’re in Boston this week co-chairing another edition of the strictly no-media Global Absolute Return Congress.  Each year this event seems to be growing in importance to the pension, endowment and hedge fund communities.  This year’s sold-out event program features Paul Volker, Myron Scholes, Joseph Stiglitz, Henry Kissinger, Pervez Musharraf (yes, that Pervez Musharraf), Niall Ferguson and other leading thinkers from the convergence of the financial and geopolitical spheres.  It’s no surprise this event is becoming known as “The Davos of hedge fund conferences.”

Six months ago, the bi-annual San Francisco edition of this event focused on the green shoots popping up in the economy in general and in the hedge fund industry in particular.  Now participants seem to be looking beyond these shoots and are now focusing more attention on the condition of the scorched financial ecosystem from which these shoots are sprouting.

In many ways, this ecosystem analogy took on a very literal form.  The kick-off session on Monday morning featured a zoologist, a marine biologist, a central banker and a risk manager from a sovereign wealth fund.   If you think the current travails of the financial system are unique, check out the state of fisheries management in the 1970’s, the spread of diseases such as HIV in the 1980’s, or the sudden desertification of the Sahara Desert over 5,000 years ago.

The theme of network dynamics weaved its way through most of today’s panels and presentations, culminating in wide-ranging conversation with Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz.

Although the event is sold out, the Boston Chapter of the The CAIA Association is a partner in the event and is hosting a reception for conference attendees and for Boston-area CAIA Association members on Tuesday evening.  So if you’re a CAIA charter holder or candidate, you’re invited to the Hyatt Regency at 5:45pm Tuesday to share your thoughts on green shoots and the financial ecosystem.

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