On Tuesday, Sept. 12, this reporter spent the day bumping elbows with billionaire investors at CNBC and Institutional Investor's Delivering Alpha conference in New York.
The day-long event featured some major names, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Blackstone Group's (BX) Stephen Schwarzman, Bridgewater's Ray Dalio and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon.
Here are several top tips learned from the storied speakers.
1. Tax reform is coming, and soon.
Tax reform has become a "pass/fail" exercise under which any legislation would signal a win for the Trump administration, but a bill will come by the end of the year, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.
"We need to make this system competitive," the former Goldman Sachs (GS) executive said. President Trump had widely advertised his goal of a 15% corporate tax rate throughout his campaign and in the months since he was elected -- a goal that Mnuchin isn't sure will be possible.
"I don't know if we'll be able to achieve that," Mnuchin said. But since tax reform hasn't been passed in some 30 years, any legislation would be a win for the Trump administration, regardless of specific rates.
2. Trump's CEO councils never stood a chance after Charlottesville.
CEOs on President Trump's business councils were pressured by both customers of their firms and shareholders to back out of the council following Trump's comments -- or lack thereof -- following events that rocked Charlottesville, Virginia, last month, said Blackstone Group (BX) CEO Stephen Schwarzman.
Schwarzman, who led one of President Trump's CEO leadership councils, was said to have worked to hold the group together during the time it disbanded, along with former General Electric (GE) CEO Jack Welch. But Schwarzman made it clear there was really never an option to hold onto the group, regardless of whether he supported it or not.
"Virtually anyone running a public company in that group could not deal with the pressure from their constituents," Schwarzman said. "They were under astonishing pressure. I was accused by people for being a Nazi. I'm Jewish," Schwarzman said.
"We [voted] alphabetically. By the time you got to W, it didn't much matter," Schwarzman said of rumors he and Welch were two strongholds in Trump's camp.
3. The stock market is valued high, and it's the Fed's fault.
Tiger Management CEO and billionaire investor Julian Robertson said the market is valued "very high," and it's due in large part to inaction from the Federal Reserve. "It's the Federal Reserve's fault, and the Federal Feserves all over the world," Robertson said.
"The market as a whole is quite high on a historic basis ... interest rates are so low that there's no real competition for the money other than art and real estate," Robertson said.
Even in his criticism of the Fed's policy, Robertson said he predicts Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen will "probably be asked to stay on for a while."
4. This economic environment is eerily similar to the late 1930s -- so get ready for policy tightening.
Today's economic environment is similar to the investor sentiment around 1937, signaling the possible beginning of policy tightening, billionaire Ray Dalio, chairman and chief investment officer at investment firm Bridgewater Associates, said.
There's a lot of tension in the bottom 60% of the economy, Dalio noted. That could lead to a resurgence of populism as global conflict escalates. The wealth gap and social conflicts rank among Dalio's chief concerns in the market.
5. Artificial intelligence could recruit more competitively than the NFL.
Leading artificial intelligence firms' market cap is going to "absolutely, positively" represent five to 10 times the market cap of today's consumer internet and social media giants, Breyer Capital CEO Jim Breyer said.
Even if AI becomes an enemy of humanity once it reaches our level of intelligence, we've got decades before that could happen. The median year of 2050 is generally considered the year at which AI could possibly meet human intelligence, Breyer said.
For now, investors need to focus on the competition for top talent in computer engineering and artificial intelligence. "There's great risk," that another country could overcome the U.S. in the race to the top for AI talent.
Although U.S. firms such as Facebook, Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and Apple Inc. (AAPL) still have the best of the best when it comes to AI, China represents half the most interesting AI investment opportunities in the world, Breyer said.
Amid that hefty competition, the cream of the crop in AI are commanding "NFL-like" salaries in a stiff competition for talent. Could we now start comparing post-doc engineers and PhD students from MIT and Stanford with Tom Brady? Breyer sees it as possibility.
And an extra tip...
Don't worry if you think you spend too much time watching Netflix (NFLX) . Tiger's Robertson is worth $4.3 billion, and he said he watches plenty on the streaming service. "Does anybody really not like Netflix?" Robertson asked. "That's like saying you hate Santa Claus."
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