A bunch of hedge fund titans spoke at a private event in New York — here’s what they think of the economy

Some of the best-known hedge fund managers in the world gathered for a private investment conference at the Waldorf Astoria in New York on Tuesday to discuss their market views.

No one predicted a massive stock market rally. No one predicted a further decline. No one was trying to be super provocative, either. Everyone seemed relatively safe.

“It was par for the course,” one attendee said.

Nearly 800 people, many of whom were trustees who sit on boards of pension plans that allocate to hedge funds, attended the eight annual EnTrust Investment Summit.

The conference was closed to the press.

The panels featured well-known hedge fund managers including, Daniel S. Loeb (Third Point), Nelson Peltz (Trian), Mary Lasry (Avenue Capital), Bill Ackman (Pershing Square), and many others.

One attendee talked us through the main themes:

  • Despite capital markets selling off this year, there was no talk of doom and gloom. The US economy is growing, maybe not as rapidly as people would like, but growing nonetheless. There’s job creation happening. Companies are still earning money. It was that sort of assessment.
  • “It was OK. You know when you come back from a party and it was like, ‘It was OK’? That was the general theme,” the attendee told us.
  • The consensus is that everyone’s strategy is “wait.” The fund managers feel the US market is strong. The headwinds are China and commodities. The view is that the US market and economy is still strong relative to the other parts of the world. It’s a good place to be.
  • Yes, there are pockets of concern, with any weakness mostly having to do with energy. If oil stays low that’s a problem. No one there was forecasting $20 though. Some of the fund managers are seeing opportunities in credit, particularly for oil services companies.
  • As for the election, the consensus was that it’s a scary thing that folks appear to be in favor of Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner. To the fund managers, it shows how disenfranchised American people are feeling.
  • Toward the end of one of the panels, the conference was momentarily interrupted by the Hedge Clippers, a group that wants to tax the wealthy elite. It didn’t really faze anyone, though. They took a coffee break while the protesters were escorted from the premises.

Here’s the agenda:

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