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While You Were Working – Day 3 of the Milken Institute Global Conference

Biden talks moonshots, a unicorn is spotted at Milken and people are talking about the Bolsheviks again

4 min read


Joe Biden and Michael Milken

Former Vice Presidnet Joe Biden talks cancer "moonshot" with Michael Milken

Biden keeps it real at Milken

In the end, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Considering the roots of the Milken Institute Global Conference, was there ever going to be a better speaker to capture the attention and power of attendees than Joe “Cancer Moonshot” Biden. Biden took the stage this morning at the Beverly Hilton and delivered.

His family’s personal experience dealing with cancer and the experience Biden has had interacting with global leaders made his remarks incredibly powerful. Biden mentioned numerous instances when he would attend meetings in places as far away as Abu Dhabi with the intention of addressing unrelated topics, but repeatedly be asked to begin the talks with a conversation about cancer. Biden also appealed to all areas of the medical research community to keep up the fight and not lose sight of what sometimes end up being near-term goals.

Biden’s passion for his moonshot was on full display when he implored the audience to remember that for cancer patient, success can be measured in days or weeks as they yearn to extend their lives long enough to do things like walk their daughter down the aisle, attend a graduation of see the birth of a grandchild.

Biden also used the pulpit at Milken to bully medical researchers into sharing more data. He derided researchers who advance the fight to beat cancer. Biden chided researchers who accept government funding to conduct their research and then hide their findings or only publish them “behind the wall of a publication that costs $160,000 to get.”

“There are so many silos that are erected in cancer research. You docs don’t play well in the sandbox.”

If you need some inspiration regarding the battle to beat cancer, watch Biden’s full remarks. You will be glad you did.

Bill Gross and “Dr. Doom” are not big fans of Trumponomics

Despite this year’s Milken conference having a palpable feeling of excitement about what the policies of the Trump administration will mean for corporations, a couple of high-profile personalities sounded warning bells during Wednesday’s session.

Bill Gross, the legendary fund manager from Janus Capital expressed skepticism that Trump policies would generate the kind of economic growth more optimistic pundits have been predicting.

Meanwhile, New York University economist Nouriel Roubini, who is also known as “Dr. Doom,” was much more pointed in his critique of Trump’s economic edicts.

“When Trump says ‘do this’ to corporations, they all shut up and they’re all sycophants. If Obama had said one-tenth of the things Trump says, he’d be called a Bolshevik socialist.”

Tell us how you really feel, Nouriel.

Is that a unicorn? Is that Sasquatch?

No, it is just a female founder and CEO of a private equity firm making an appearance at Milken. Maria Boyazny, the boss of MB Global Partners, seized her opportunity to warn conference-goers that leverage levels for buyout deals reaching levels not seen since before the financial crisis.

After offering opinions such as, “Institutional memory has been very short,” we will see if Ms. Boyazny ever gets invited to make another appearance.

How FinTech can change lives

There have already been a lot of hits and misses when it comes to FinTech. However, that doesn’t mean FinTech is going away – or even set to diminish. Jackson Mueller from the Milken Institute moderated a panel that looked at past lessons learned and what the roadmap looks like for FinTechs of the future. Some FinTechs will certainly be snatched up by bigger companies – and not always banks – but the ideas being spawned form the sector are poised to not only change the way people do their banking, but how they live their lives.