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“If any economy in the world is good at restructuring itself, it’s our economy,” conference co-chair and Harry G. Guthmann Professor of Finance Robert Korajczyk told attendees.

Robert Korajczyk

Capital markets: What’s next?

Kellogg Centennial conference in New York City offers ‘clear-eyed assessment’ for leaders planning next steps

By Matt Golosinski

3/13/2009 - Some of the world’s biggest financial institutions have shuddered or even failed in recent months, in the aftermath of a liquidity crisis that began with the subprime mortgage sector and spread into other areas of the world’s financial markets.

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So what happens now?

Kellogg School experts offered answers to that question during a March 10-11 conference in New York City. The event, one of several marking the school’s yearlong Centennial celebration, brought together leading practitioners and academics to explore the future of capital markets.

Chaired by Robert Korajczyk, the Harry G. Guthmann Professor of Finance and director of the Zell Center for Risk Research, and Jerome Kenney ’67, former vice chairman of Merrill Lynch and senior adviser for BlackRock, the two-day summit featured keynotes and panel discussions on topics such as market-based solutions to environmental problems; an assessment of Wall Street, hedge funds and private equity; the shifting regulatory environment; and risk management.

Professor Robert Korajczyk opened the conference with a classic quote from the Tale of Two Cities, noting that today’s economic challenges offer “the best of times and the worst of times.”

Markets are under stress, he said, but market solutions exist for many problems. “If any economy in the world is good at restructuring itself, it’s our economy, and there’s room for optimism,” said Korajczyk.

In a keynote speech, Michael Walsh, EVP of Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), discussed market-based efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The firm is the world’s first and North America’s only voluntary, legally binding greenhouse gas reduction, verification, registry and tracking program for emission sources.

Walsh observed that “intelligent management applications” exist to address environmental issues, adding that his company pushes for “intelligent, regulated market mechanisms for social good.”

Walsh stressed the importance of leveraging market efficiencies in addressing the problems. There are “trillions of dollars in extra costs if we don’t get it right,” Walsh said.

The New York conference and other Centennial events provide an opportunity for Kellogg thought leaders, alumni and others to share insights that translate into actual practice, Jain said. This dialogue, he believes, is especially valuable as executives and scholars assess current market dynamics to understand the roots of the economic crisis.

“Given global uncertainty in the financial markets, it is important that leaders reflect on what has led us to these circumstances so that we can learn how to move forward effectively,” said Jain. “With uncertainty, prediction becomes more challenging, but the ability to anticipate possible outcomes and align strategy and practice accordingly becomes increasingly valuable.”

Jain noted that the Centennial conferences offer leaders a chance to “renew” their intellectual frameworks through interaction with Kellogg School experts.

“This conference is designed by Kellogg finance faculty to provide the clear-eyed assessment of capital markets that leaders need to make sound decisions as they work through this crisis,” Jain said. “At the same time, there is an opportunity to highlight the rigorous way that Kellogg approaches finance education.”

The New York event was the latest in a series of international Centennial conferences. In January, the school hosted a conference in Miami on customer-centric innovation, and in February, it presented one in Zurich on global threats and opportunities for business leaders. On March 25-26, the school will host a conference in Shanghai, where participants will explore brand architecture.

This spring, Kellogg will continue to mark its centennial year with alumni events in San Francisco and Mexico City before concluding the milestone celebration with an Evanston gala on May 29.