About fifty journalists made it to Prudential
] midyear conference on the global economic outlook, held at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in midtown Manhattan on Tuesday. Those who attended got a detailed discussion of how Pru hopes to ride out the global economic turmoil, a chance to share lunch with Pru execs, and, as promised in the invite, some top-shelf ice cream served with substantial trimmings.
"Muddle through" was the phrase of the day. Slowing growth in the U.S. and danger of a breakup of the euro zone dominated discussion at the press conference, which featured Pru execs Ed Keon
, a quant PM, Michael Lillard
, CIO for fixed income, John Praveen
, chief strategist for international investments, Kevin Smith
, head of U.S. business for real estate investment, and Quincy Krosby
, chief market strategist for annuities.
Discussing their outlook for the next six months, they offered a modest counter to popular doom-heavy predictions of the euro zone's breakup and the U.S.'s approach toward a fiscal cliff -- the consensus was that both Europe and the U.S. would be continue to "kick the can down the road" for a while longer.
Kevin Smith likened the world economy to the story of Goldilocks -- not too cold, not too hot -- an analogy so many other speakers picked up on that chief communications officer Bob DeFillippo
quipped, "Any reference to Disney does not constitute a recommendation to invest."
During the question-and-answer session with the press, Keon was asked for specific investment advice, and cracked that he "can't name names, or our compliance people will probably put a hit out on me." Near the end of the session, an Italian journalist asked what effect the U.S. presidential election might have on the markets. Praveen waxed hopeful that whoever wins would be able to encourage the markets by breaking through the partisan deadlock in Washington.
"Good luck," Ed Keon interjected.
After the press conference, the assembled reporters, including representatives from Reuters
, and other outlets, sat down for a lunch of sandwiches and snacks with a handful of Pru execs. A friendly and informative event. Let's hope the next six months justify the cautiously un-gloomy outlook of these Prudential chiefs.
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