Conference Roundup: Reports on Private Equity, Nanotechnology, India, Latin America and Europe
In this special section on recent Wharton conferences, speakers from business and academia debated the latest developments in specific industries and geographic regions. At the Wharton private equity conference, for example, discussion centered on such topics as the recent challenges to U.S. dominance in the areas of capital formation and global investing. At the Mack Center’s Emerging Technologies conference, industry experts discussed hype vs. hope in personalized medicine and nanotechnology. Speakers at the Wharton India Economic Forum focused both on the growing economic ties between India and the U.S., and on the progress that India still needs to make. At the Latin American conference, panelists considered the impact of newly-elected governments on free market systems and investment opportunities. Finally, participants at the European conference analyzed financial integration across the euro area as well as new forays by some European organizations into Asian markets.
The free flow of capital into innovative start-up businesses has been the force behind U.S. economic growth, but threats to the nation’s dominance in global investing are brewing, according to Robert E. Grady, managing partner of Carlyle Venture Partners, who gave a keynote address at the recent Wharton Private Equity Conference. Increased regulation, including Sarbanes-Oxley, declining investment in education and research, tighter controls on visas, and new competition from overseas exchanges could endanger U.S. dominance of capital formation and investment, Grady told the conference, whose theme was “Driving Returns: Value Added Investing.” Other keynote speakers included Alan Patricof, co-founder of Apax Partners, and Thomas S. Murphy, Jr., co-founder and president of Crestview Partners.
While personalized medicine and nanotechnology are still buzzwords rather than big product generators, both have the potential to produce revolutionary commercial changes, according to scholars and business people who met at Wharton last month to talk about leading-edge industries. Their discussion was part of the Emerging Technologies Update Day sponsored by the Mack Center for Technological Innovation.
U.S. president George W. Bush’s visit to India this week has focused lots of media attention on the controversial nuclear power agreement between the two countries. That debate, however, overshadowed the fact that U.S. investment in India has grown to more than $5 billion over the past decade, which has increased the pace of economic growth. India, in turn, has launched an aggressive plan to make good on the promises of the past several years. While the country has made great progress, much more remains to be done, according to speakers at the recent Wharton India Economic Forum.
Bolivians recently elected Evo Morales, formerly the leftist leader of the country’s coca growers, as their new president. Leftist or populist parties are also in power in Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela, and have flexed their muscle in Ecuador, Guatemala and Peru. The upcoming election in Mexico could also bring the leftist PRD to power. During a panel discussion at the recent Wharton Latin American conference, Wharton management professor Witold Henisz asked a provocative question to four conference panelists: Is the democratic revival of the populist left a hallmark of consolidation of democracy or a potentially dangerous trend that will return Latin America to the lost decades? Should it be viewed as a threat or an opportunity by international investors?
Don’t discount Europe. Its inflexible labor market may be weighing on the economy, but greater financial integration across the euro area is continuing at a steady pace, setting the foundation for economic growth. And while many in Europe look uneasily eastward toward cheap labor and low-cost goods, others see the opportunities of a wide-open market. Meanwhile, professional sports organizations — in particular, soccer (or football, as the rest of the world knows it) — are eyeing Asia, hoping to win over the minds, hearts and wallets of new fans. These were among the topics discussed during the recent Wharton 2005 Global Business Forum European Conference.