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Office Hours: Grant’s Conference Fall 2017

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This Office Hour session was held on 10/21/2017 and features an interview with long-time Framework member and partner, Sheila Chesney about her impressions of the Fall 2017 Grant’s Investment Conference in New York City. We encourage you to post questions or comments on the Framework Forum discussion about this presentation. We have also posted the presentation made by Frank Brosens, co-founder of $7 billion Taconic Capital, entitled Has Volatility Reached a Permanently Low Plateau?

The speaker line-up for this Fall’s conference were incredible. Short-sellers Jim Chanos and Marc Cohodes, former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan, fund management legend, Jeremy Grantham, and many more.


Introduction

An introduction to Jim Grant’s famous investment conference and Framework member, Sheila Chesney.


Lunch with Jack Bogle

Sheila’s history with Grant’s newsletter and the conference. The admission fee is a steep price to pay, but eating lunch with Jack Bogle? Priceless.


The Importance of a Good Framework

Sheila found that assessing Grant’s speakers’ arguments in the context of the valuation framework we have pioneered really helped her at the conference and in general, when assessing investment ideas mentioned by gurus in the media.


This Time May be Different

When I asked Sheila about the overall tone of the conference, she said that there was a common understanding that asset classes were pretty richly valued, but at the same time, she came away seeing a lot of opportunities. Grantham thinks that this time really may be different…


Not a Word about Trump or Taxes

No one cared about politics, instead, they were really focused on interest rates and asset valuations. Pension fund assumptions might need to be changed!


Jim Chanos on Healthcare

One of the speakers I particularly would have liked to see was Jim Chanos, founder of Kynikos Associates, a prominent short-selling hedge fund. Sheila fills us in on Chanos’ latest, best short ideas in the healthcare space.


Ideas from Marc Cohodes

This is a man whose doggedness and insight is really impressive. I (respectively) refer to him as the honey badger of the financial world. While best known as a short-seller, he also talked about an interesting and surprising long idea at the Grant’s conference.


Alan Greenspan and the Importance of Living in the Real World

While Greenspan had some interesting comments about the bond market, Sheila was not impressed by the former Fed chairman. My take-away? Having skin in the game makes all the difference in the world.


“We Face a Bigger Threat than 1987”

Frank Brosens is the co-founder of $7 billion Taconic Partners and ran many of Goldman Sachs’ derivatives trading desks before founding the hedge fund. The presentation he made and an article referring to it is linked in our Articles section. His big point is that everyone running to one side of the boat (whether that’s Passive investing, volatility selling, or whatever), the boat is likely to tip over. The article I’ve linked suggests that despite the apparent stability in the investing world now, concentration in a few faddish investment types leaves us very susceptible to “negative discontinuities” — kind of like the negative discontinuities experienced on Black Monday, 1987.


Dueling Legends – Grantham and Hyman

Just to prove that there is always two sides to a market, Jeremy Grantham presented a very bearish take on the economy, suggesting that secular stagnation would prevent normal cyclical mean reversion. On the other hand, Ed Hyman, a god in the world of economic forecasting, thinks that this economy has a lot further to run.


Most Impactful Presentations

To finish up our conversation, I asked what speakers made the biggest impact on her. Despite being a long-only manager, she was impressed with the short-sellers…

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