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While You Were Working – Day 2 of the Milken Institute Global Conference

Day 2 of the Milken Institute Global Conference featured Jeb Bush, Terry Duffy, Jim Yong Kim, Stephen Schwarzman and plenty of talk about Trump.

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Jeb Bush shares his insights with CME Group Chairman and CEO Terry Duffy - Photo credit: Milken Institute

Jeb tells Donald to “chill out”

The first session of Day 2 kicked off with CME Group Chairman and CEO Terry Duffy interviewing former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. The chat covered a variety of topics, from Bush’s recent joint venture with the likes of New York Yankee Derek Jeter to buy Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins to the stern manner in which his mother Barbara Bush dished out discipline within the family.

But of course, the conversation also had to touch on Bush’s thoughts about the job President Donald Trump has done since taking office. Bush’s main concerns centered on Trump’s lack of a clear strategy and the rapid-fire way Trump changes topics and positions – sometimes multiple times a day.

Trump once famously branded Bush as “low energy,” so it was poetically fitting that Bush took a Spicolian tone when asked what advice he would give the current president. Bush said Trump needs to, “Chill out.”

The World Bank is open for business

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim used two appearances at the Milken Institute Global Conference to try to dispel one of the biggest misconceptions about the organization, which is that it only lends for environmental, sustainability and governance projects. Kim worked to educate the financial services titans at the conference that the World Bank can also help them on all manner of projects and highlighted how the bank is well-versed at utilizing all manner of financial products, including swaps and other derivatives. Kim also noted the bank also offers attractive terms.

“We can offer LIBOR minus 10 basis points,” Kim explained. “Who wouldn’t want to borrow at LIBOR minus 10 basis points?”

It must be nice.

Private equity crowd not digging labels

The kings of the private equity business who are gathered at Milken (are there actually any queens?), say they are tired of their industry getting a bad rap. Seen by many as mere corporate raiders, the likes of Blackstone boss Stephen Schwarzman and Jonathan Sokoloff from Leonard Green & Partners took to the stage to lament the poor PR their industry can’t quite shake.

One of the salient points that came though during a separate panel on populism is that the masses are often informed most effectively by the short content of Tweets rather than lengthy, deep analyses. That trend represents serious headwinds for the PE crowd because it will always be easier to label someone a “corporate raider” or “fat-cat banker” than actually take the time – and characters – to defend the PE process and explain its benefits.

Ding-dong, coal is dead

Despite the best efforts of the Trump administration, experts from the energy see little hope for a return to the glory days of coal. In a panel on the future of energy, all the panelists agreed that it is the economics and not the environmental limitations that have landed coal on its death bed.

Freeport LNG Chairman and CEO Michael Smith said the boom in US-produced liquefied natural gas has not only generated enough LNG to power the US, it has also generated enough exports to displace coal in markets around the world.

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