Featured at our 2011 event: Dr. Raghuram Rajan

Recently voted #1 in The Economist’s Guest Network Poll as
“the economist that has the most important ideas in a post-crisis world.”


2010 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year award.


Waiting for the other shoe to drop...

The unprecedented financial upheaval of 2008 was a wakeup call for institutional investors. Panic gave way to relief during the ensuing years as markets rallied and government stimulus programs took effect around the globe. The subsequent rebound was so pronounced that some felt it might even risk erasing the important memories and lessons from the crisis. Thus, in their June 2010 annual symposium, members of the Niagara Institutional Dialogue pointedly asked themselves “Have we learned anything?”

A year later, relief has turned to unease in many quarters as fears grow that the volatility experienced by global financial markets may have been the first ominous signs of deeper structural faults. Despite the common Newtonian belief that booms invariably lead to busts, could the financial crisis of 2008 have been a symptom of longer-term secular, rather than classical cyclical, pressures on the global financial system?

What exactly will be the implications for pension plans of demographic shifts both in Canada and around the world? Will calls for a new global financial system lead to financial stability or financial calamity? Will they be implemented in a serious and lasting fashion? Has the global financial system disconnected the incentives faced by those who take financial risks from the effects on those who bear the effects? Have fiscal imbalances and easy credit irreversibly altered the global financial system? And are stubbornly high unemployment and stagnant wages only the beginning of a secular global correction? In other words, should we now be waiting for the other shoe to drop?

If so, what is the most efficient course of action for public and private pension funds? Should long-term return assumptions finally be adjusted downward? Should policy makers intervene with sweeping new measures to “protect” pension plans? These questions and others will be addressed at the Annual Meeting of the Niagara Institutional Dialogue in June 2011.