Risk in an Age of Uncertainty
How are Investors Understanding and Managing It?


The Pacific Pension & Investment Institute (PPI) is pleased to welcome you to Cambridge, Massachusetts for the 2016 Summer Roundtable. We thank all of our members and partners who have provided assistance in developing this program.


The Summer Roundtable will convene during momentous times. This year has brought us profound levels of political uncertainty, and this trend is poised to continue. The U.S. presidential campaign, the BREXIT vote, the recent coup attempt in Turkey, and the growing threat of ISIS-linked terrorism are just a few of the variables that are creating unrest and volatility in markets around the world. In addition to the ever-present challenge of delivering healthy investment returns, asset managers now face the specter of a new global system that again flirts with protectionism, driven in large part by populist sentiment that rising income disparity signals the ultimate failure of globalization. There are no easy remedies to these inequalities; they impede long-term economic growth and harmonious social development. 

At the same time, there are a few bright spots on the horizon. Despite a slight slowdown, the IMF expects Asia and the Pacific to continue performing well due to increasing domestic demand. Some parts of Africa are also showing promise, with consumer spending for the continent projected to be $2 trillion by 2025. Signaling strong confidence, the first quarter of 2016 saw a 10-year high for investment in U.S. venture capital firms and sovereign wealth funds are ramping up investments in the technology sector. The June U.S. jobs report had its best showing since October 2015, with retail and hospitality providing especially encouraging numbers. Technological innovations continue to advance, giving millions of entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises around the world the opportunity to access finance, find customers, and compete globally.

Program Objectives

The 2016 Summer Roundtable provides institutional investors an opportunity to discuss how political events are impacting economic realities. How will the European Union weather the departure of the United Kingdom? Will the Middle East continue to unravel, and what impact will it have on Europe and world energy markets? Will China’s slowing growth rate and tightening political grip lead to greater market turmoil? What are central banks doing to help keep global markets on track? 

Our forum will begin with opening remarks from Jeremy Grantham, one of the world’s foremost experts at identifying asset bubbles. He will examine the risk of asset bubbles in China, real estate, the tech sector, and other areas. As the roundtable continues, we will hear from seasoned politicos and policy analysts who will help us better understand many of the political and security risks that are impacting global markets. 

PPI programs strike a delicate balance between formal programming and networking opportunities. We firmly believe that the value of a roundtable to our members and other participants does not begin and end with each session.  We encourage you to contribute to the discussion through questions and comments during the Q&A periods. We also urge you to introduce yourself to new colleagues during the breaks and meals. 

Lastly, I take this opportunity to underscore PPI’s longstanding traditions. As with all PPI events, we require our participants to adhere to our no-marketing policy as well as the Chatham House Rule (no attribution of comments made). There are many ways that one might market financial products and services, from subtle to overt. Any list of prohibited marketing behaviors would be incomplete. Simply put, if a participant reports to any member of the PPI staff that their experience at a roundtable was diminished by the marketing behavior of another participant, we will act swiftly to address this violation of PPI policy, including removing the offending individual from the remainder of the program. Accordingly, he or she will not be invited to future PPI programs.

We strive to create an environment that is conducive to peer to peer learning— and in a safe setting. For many members, this is a key reason for attending PPI programs over those of our competitors. It is therefore critically important that PPI uphold the practices that encourage openness and a deeper sharing of information and experiences.

Thank you very much for your continued strong support of PPI and for your active participation in our global network of senior institutional investors.  With best wishes,

Sincerely yours,

Lionel C. Johnson