LAS VEGAS (TheStreet) -- Where else would Al Pacino, Ehud Barak and Coach Mike Kryzyzewski be in the same building? Answer: The SALT conference. With the market hitting all-time highs, nearly 1,800 attendees are gathering at the Bellagio in Las Vegas this week for the SkyBridge Alternatives fifth annual "SALT" Conference. In addition to presentations by hedge-fund participants and market analysts, attendees will hear from leaders in entertainment, politics and beyond. Think of this as Coachella or Burning Man for the hedge-fund enthusiasts.
Of course, with markets continuing to roar, debates over where we go next, and the tension between bulls and bears, are at an all-time high. Already sound bites of Nouriel Roubini, economics professor at New York University, who is known for his bearish outlook, are coming through and clashing with many of the more optimistic outlooks of attendees. Of course, Anthony Scaramucci, managing partner at SkyBridge Capital, has outlined that the conference is meant to incorporate all ideas: "SALT aims to provide a forum for creative and alternative thinking. It is also ideological, but in a bi-partisan format," he wrote, in a recent press release. "We put investors, fund managers and some of the sharpest minds in the world, from disparate backgrounds, in the same room and hopefully have some fun in the process."
As outlined by SkyBridge, the focus of the conference will be on macro-economic trends, opportunities in credit, challenges for institutional investors, the art of the activist and distressed investing and general trends for hedge fund investing.
Key features of the conference include one-on-one interviews with Daniel Loeb, founder and CEO of Third Point; John Paulson, president and portfolio manager of Paulson & Co (who has recently been in the news because of the hits his Gold Fund has been taking); and Sam Zell, chairman of Equity Group Investments.
Panels will focus on the global economic forecast, including remarks from Austan Goolsbee, former chairman, President's Council of Economic Advisors, and Nouriel Roubini, co-founder and chairman, Roubini Global Economics and professor of economics at NYU Sterne School of Business.
Participants will also listen to discussion on investing in a macro-driven environment, best practices to optimizing performance, mastering mortgages, and opportunities in credit. Panels also cover confronting global fiscal policy challenges, and individuals outlining top picks and viewpoints of the year ahead from key investment professionals. Key political topics will be presented by former U.S. Senator Scott Brown, former Congressman Harold Ford, now a managing director at Morgan Stanley (MS), and former House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank.
TheStreet will be live-blogging from the Salt Conference on Thursday 9 May, starting at 1.45 PM ET.
There will also be conversations with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy as well as a presentation by Mike Kryzyzewski, head coach, Duke Men's Basketball. Some of these presentations are off-the-record but provide participants with color on broad trends and outlooks.
Oh, and let's not forget the entertainment, featuring interviews with actor Al Pacino and director Oliver Stone, as well as a performance by band TRAIN.
Keep checking back for updates on views from these panels and talks over the coming days. Put it all on black?
--Written by Nicole Urken in Las Vegas.