AP NEWS

Spotlight on state’s finance industry

November 15, 2018

At a new investment conference Thursday in Greenwich that aims to rival the top finance events worldwide, the head of one of Connecticut’s largest hedge funds said business leaders need to look beyond bottom lines to respond to an increasingly fragmented society.

“If you’re going to have true social change, it has to come with a different mindset than we have today regarding the way companies are managed and who they’re managed for,” said Paul Tudor Jones II, the billionaire founder of the Stamford-based Tudor Investment Corp., and the anti-poverty nonprofit Robin Hood Foundation, at the Delamar Greenwich Harbor hotel. “Hopefully, (we will) upgrade and modernize the way companies conduct their business. It can’t just be about shareholders and profits.”

Jones spoke during the first morning of the inaugural Greenwich Economic Forum conference, a two-day gathering that has convened several hundred leaders in finance and public policy to discuss the global risk environment. The event also aims to burnish the reputation of the state, and particularly Greenwich, as a financial center. By some measures, Connecticut ranks as the third-largest hedge fund hub in the country, after New York and California.

“Many of you in here this room are accustomed to jetting off to Davos (Switzerland) for the World Economic Forum, going to L.A., for the Milken Institute,” said Bruce McGuire, president of the Connecticut Hedge Fund Association and a conference co-founder. “Our vision is to join that illustrious grouping and to create an annual event where the world comes to visit us.”

The CTHFA, Greenwich town government and state Department of Economic and Community Development are hosting the conference.

Among other Connecticut hedge fund managers in attendance, Ray Dalio, founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, Westport-based Bridgewater Associates, assessed the global debt cycle.

“Everyone wants assets to go up, everyone wants the economy stronger. And you want to provide demand. And demand is produced by providing credit,” Dalio said. “By lowering interest rates and pushing money out into the economy through quantitative easing and so on, you push asset prices. So if you have a downturn, there’s not as much ability for that downturn to be dealt with effectively with monetary policy.”

Jones touched on similar issues in his comments. A global “debt bubble” has probably emerged, he said.

“I don’t know whether we’re supposed to run for the exits, but we are at a point in time that I think is really challenging to that paradigm of ever-growing debt relative to the carrying capacity,” Jones said.

China’s role in the global economy also figured prominently in many of the discussions.

“The New China has an energy to it,” Dalio said. “They have changed what the environment is. The old Communist environment, and state control, is no longer the case.”

Other events scheduled at the forum included panels on institutional investing, central banks, private-market investing, China’s financial markets, venture-capital investing, lending, portfolio management, artificial intelligence and alternative investing.

While financial services’ employment in Connecticut has not recovered to pre-recession levels, the sector still stands as one of the state’s largest. Last month, nearly 130,000 people in Connecticut worked in financial activities, up 1.6 percent from a year ago, according to the state Department of Labor.

The state is a major investor in Bridgewater and Greenwich-based AQR Capital Management. Through the First Five Plus program, Bridgewater and AQR are, respectively, eligible for up to $52 million in loans, grants and tax credits and up to $35 million in loans and grants, depending on the firms meeting certain job targets.

As of May 31, Bridgewater employed about 1,625 in the state, while AQR’s Connecticut contingent totaled 770, according to state data.

“The investment industry — and particularly hedge funds — has been such an enormous part of our economy for so long,” Catherine Smith, the state’s economic development commissioner, said at the conference.

Among major changes at local firms, Tudor Investment earlier this year signed a lease to take about 25,000 square feet in the office complex at 200 Elm St., in downtown Stamford. The firm had previously been based on King Street in Greenwich, on the town’s line with Westchester County, N.Y.

A few miles away, in Stamford’s Waterside section, Point 72 Asset Management has moved this year from family-office operations into hedge fund management. For two years, until the end of last year, the firm had been barred by federal authorities from taking outside funds because of 2013 insider-trading violations at founder Steven Cohen’s previous firm, SAC Capital Advisors.

pschott@scni.com; 203-964-2236; Twitter: @paulschott

AP RADIO
Update hourly