Roach and Soros at Buttonwood

October 16, 2009

Hopped over to the Economist’s Buttonwood conference this evening, where George Soros and Stephen Roach were on a panel. I will be tweeting as much of tomorrow’s conference as I can, including Sheila Bair’s talk in the morning and Larry Summers’ talk at lunch.

My Twitter handle is #OptARM.

Here are some highlights from tonight’s session:

First Stephen Roach, formerly Morgan Stanley’s chief economist in the United States, now the Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia. A well known bear, Roach had more than a few interesting things to say, only the last few was I able to jot down.

  • With regard to monetary stimulus: “There is no exit strategy.” And later he noted that “we’re stuck” in a process of “bubbles perpetuating bubbles.” What we need is a Fed that “actively prevents asset bubbles,” rather than one that reacts by blowing bigger ones when the previous ones pop.
  • Asked by Michael Panzner of Financial Armageddon who was also at the conference whether Wall Street had captured Washington, Roach demurred. He did note, in reference to Matt Taibbi’s Goldman piece in Rolling Stone, that “we’re not blood-sucking squids.”
  • Asked for a prediction, Roach said he worries that mid-term elections next year could bring pressure for a bi-lateral trade war with China. Unemployment will still be high and there will be populist pressure to get tough on our trading partners.

George Soros also had interesting thoughts.

  • Asked if the dollar will lose its reserve currency status, he paraphrased Winston Churchill noting that “the dollar is the worst currency except for all the alternatives.”
  • He added, ominously: “There is a general flight from currencies.”
  • Speaking about IMF Special Drawing Rights acting as an alternative reserve currency he said “The SDR has a lot to defend it, and the Renminbi should be part of it.” I plan to expand on this subject in a future column. Stay tuned.
  • In response to Panzner’s question (see above), Soros simply said “yes.”
  • Lastly he emphasized that it was foolish to believe global capital markets could regulate themselves. Global regulation is a challenge but is needed.

More tomorrow on Twitter (assuming I can get reception for my iPhone!)

2 comments

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[...] Rolfe caught George Soros and Stephen Roach at The Economist conference, here are their thoughts:  (Reuters) [...]

“we’re not blood-sucking squids.”
Note what was NOT said “we are not blood-sucking VAMPIRE squids”
the vampire is what makes it evil

Posted by fresno dan | Report as abusive

[...] Like Stephen Roach, I see protectionism as the largest threat to global recovery. Let’s hope the Administration is aware of the dangers. Hello there! If you are new here, you might want to subscribe via the RSS feed, E-mail or Twitter for updates on finance and economics. [...]

[...] Roach and Soros at Buttonwood @ Rolfe Winkler [...]

Maybe you can try to concentrate on the conference rather than your twittering. Honestly if these continue, I really can’t differentiate between a twit and a spam. Both are 4 letter words to me.