A few highlights and memorable quotes from Day One of the 2015 Milken Institute Global Conference:
Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin revealed that while he was in office he once had to explain to then-Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan that Jimmy Buffett was not the son of Warren Buffett. Apparently, Greenspan had no clue the Man from Margaritaville was not kin to the Oracle of Omaha.
Yasuhide Nakayama, Japan’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs, opened his comments during the Global Risk panel by apologizing that his English was not very strong. Nakayama explained that he taught himself English by watching movies like Beverly Hills Cop 1. Sen. Lindsey Graham then wise-cracked that he could understand Nakayama far better than one of their fellow panelist: Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Bombardier Executive Chairman Pierre Beaudoin on the sometimes useless exercise of trying to predict geopolitical and economic trends and events. “I was at Davos in 2014 and no one was talking about low oil prices or the Ukraine.”
Music mogul and entrepreneur will.i.am let everyone know what he thinks about hip-hop. “Hip-hop used to be community music, but now it is a prison commercial. … It was supposed to be about lifting the community up. Now it is the total opposite.”
A skeptical Harvard professor Niall Ferguson asked World Bank Vice President and Treasurer Madelyn Antoncic if China’s reported GDP growth figures of +/-7% could really be trusted. Antoncic quipped, “I work for the World Bank, so I am not going to comment on that.”