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Keynote Speakers

Morning Session

Prof. Paolo Garonna, Director General of the Italian Associations of Insurers.

Prof. Paolo Garonna is currently Director General of ANIA, the Italian Association of Insurers. He is also the Secretary General of the Federation of Italian Banking and Insurance Associations. He is full Professor of Political Economy at the University Luiss G. Carli of Rome. He was Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, in Geneva, from 2001 to 2003 and from 2005 to 2009. He held the position of Acting Executive Secretary of the same organisation from August 2005 to February 2006, from November 2001 to March 2002, and from November 2008 to February 2009. From 2003 to 2005 he was Director of Research at Confindustria, the main private sector employers’ organisation in Italy. He has also been Professor of Applied Economics at the Faculty of Political Science of the University LUISS G.Carli of Rome and at the Faculty of Statistics of the University of Padova in Italy, where he moved up the academic ladder from lecturer to Associate Professor and full Professor. In the 1990’s, Mr. Garonna was Head of the National Statistical Institute of Italy (ISTAT). He joined the United Nations (UN) in 1999 as Director of the Statistical Division of the UNECE in Geneva. Before then, he worked at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris from 1988 to 1992 as Deputy Director for Employment Education and Social Affairs. Author of many books and articles on international relations, economic policy, applied economics and official statistics, Mr Garonna was economic advisor to many Governments, business- civil society- and international organisations. He served as Vice-President of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) Committee of Union of Industrial and Employers’ Confederations of Europe (UNICE), the employers’ association of the Europe Union.  In the 1990’s he was Chairman of the UN Conference of European Statisticians.

Topic: Recovering From The Crisis: Lessons Learned And Opportunities For Real Estate Markets And The Global Economy

The subprime crisis snowballed into a global and systemic fracture of an unprecedented scale and gravity. Shortcomings in real estate markets triggered a chain reaction that led to a collapse of finance, stock exchanges, trade and economic activity, with severe consequences on incomes and jobs. But they also stimulated a fundamental rethinking of the financial economic and institutional frameworks underpinning the national and the international economies. New and stronger partnerships were set in motion in reaction to the crisis in order to rebuild confidence and revitalize growth. Public-private partnerships; national-regional and international partnerships; monetary, financial and trade partnerships; real estate, savings and investment partnerships; etc.

Will these new or reinforced partnerships deliver their expected outcome? Will they determine sustainable recovery and stability? Will they bring about better governance, more efficient markets, stronger investment and growth?

Assessing the challenges and opportunities for real estate provides a key to understanding the strength of the recovery underway, and the prospects for greater stability and prosperity in the world economy. "


Mr Steven Xu Sitao, The Chief Representative of China for the Economist Group and Director of Advisory for Economist Intelligence Unit.

Sitao is Chief Representative of the Economist Group in China and Director of Advisory Services for the Economist Intelligence Unit in China. He is responsible for programme development and corporate and advisory services for China. He also provides research and analysis on China for EIU Corporate Network programmes across Asia.  

Sitao’s first expertise was on China economics, and today, he remains one of the region’s leading China specialists. Over the years, he has broadened his expertise to encompass Asia (ex-Japan). He has a track record and first hand experience in advising companies and investors understand and navigate through Asian currency markets, interest rate movements, and macro-economic drivers of the region’s growth.  Sitao began his career as the Economist for Indonesia, Korea, and Thailand in Singapore, working for MMS International of Standard and Poor’s Group. He was then recruited in 1996 to work in Hong Kong for Standard Chartered Bank as Regional Treasury Economist. Following this, he became Societe Generale’s Chief Economist for Asia (ex-Japan). Most recently, Sitao worked for ICBC (Asia), the overseas flagship of China’s largest bank (the world’s largest bank based on market capitalization), as the Head of Economics.

Sitao holds a B.A. in Economics from Peking University, an M.A. in Economics from the University of Connecticut, and a M.S. in Finance from Boston College.  He has been a columnist for Caijing and 21st Century, China’s leading business publications and has contributed frequently to leading regional and international publications, such as YaleGlobal Magazine, the Asian Wall Street Journal and Financial Times.  He appears regularly on CNBC, Bloomberg, and other TV shows as a commentator on Asia and an accomplished public speaker and lecturer.  Currently, Sitao is particularly interested in how China’s three transformations – of its consumer markets, financial markets, and social welfare—will impact international companies operating in China. Sitao is on the Speaker Retainer Programme for the Virginia-based CFA Institute and speaks regularly on asset allocation strategy in the context of China to institutional investors, central banks, endowment funds, and regulators in Asia, Europe, South Africa, and the US.

Topic: From Boom to Bubble? Impacts of Growth in China’s Real Estate Sector

The global economic crisis has forced China to stimulate domestic consumption as a way of reducing its reliance on external demand. Real estate, as a pillar sector driving domestic demand and fiscal revenues, has resumed strong growth in response to extremely accommodative macro conditions.  Experts are now predicting a V-shaped recovery for China in 2009.  However, the apparent strength of China’s property sector has also caused concerns among policymakers who point to risks from potential bubbles.  Moreover, there are many who say that the needed industry shake-out has failed to materialize, with the price to be paid in the years to come.  

Is China repeating Japan’s mistake of tolerating bubbles in the real estate sector?  If Beijing wants to deflate the property bubble gently, what would be the best policies? What experience and lessons China could draw from the experiences of Hong Kong and Asean countries?


Afternoon Session

Mr Allan Saunderson, Managing Editor, Property Finance Europe & Property Investor Europe

Allan Saunderson is Founder and Managing Editor of Property Finance Europe and Property Investor Europe, a specialist news-analysis platform on mainland Europe real estate investment. Based in Frankfurt, Germany, he is a widely-quoted commentator and analyst, and frequently speaks at conferences and in media. Mr. Saunderson was a Reuters financial journalist in London, Frankfurt and Paris during the 1980s, and was Chief Financial Correspondent France at the close of this period. He was appointed Head of European Research for Bank Julius Bär in 1990, and in the next year named by Prime Minister Pierre Bérégovoy as adviser to the French Finance Ministry. In the late-90s Mr. Saunderson founded economic and monetary consultancy Eurozone Advisors, becoming a well-known Bundesbank and ECB watcher. He moved into real estate advisory in 2002 and founded PFE-PIE in 2005. It is now the most widely-read European property investment news service for US and global professionals, providing content also to Bloomberg Professional and the largest US commercial real estate site

Topic: Revival Solutions: Experiences from the European Real Estate Marketplace

In Europe, the economic crisis has impacted real estate in different ways. Five patterns will be examined:

  • A: UK, Ireland, Spain – parallel to US/Anglo-Saxon nations with home price bubbles.
  • B: Main continental Europe, France, Germany, Italy, Benelux, Nordics – Low house price impact; slower value declines but growing pressure on banks.
  • C: Faster Central Eastern Europe (CEE) developing nations Poland, Czech, Hungary under pressure from withdrawal of foreign investors but no dramatic overbuild.
  • D. Less progressed Central Eastern Europe (CEE) & property-bubble nations Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine – dramatic collapse.
  • E: Russia-huge bubble burst but different dimension/potential for recovery via oil/gas revenues.

General: Dramatic reduction of bank lending is changing landscape via:

  • A. Emergence of different lenders;
  • B. Creative solutions, e.g. adding in equity, splitting asset ownership with banks;
  • C. Growth of debt, Mezzanine funds;
  • D. banks have not foreclosed so market is not 'clearing';
  • E. European central bank is trying to revive cover bond funding.

Gradual pressure means distressed property transacted off market but new capital pools being assembled, i.e. €3.1 billion Blackstone European Fund III; Structural shifts include growing popularity of funds vehicles to attract third party capita; REITs/listed vehicles on hold due to 50% NAV discounts... but 'waiting in wings', ie Spain, Finland, Sweden; New players emerging/ consolidation.

CONCLUSIONS: Lessons from European real estate on dealing with crisis.


Dr Philippa Malmgren, President & Founder of The Canonbury Group and Principalis Asset Management

Dr. Malmgren is the former Financial Market Advisor to the President of the United States. She worked in the White House as a member of the National Economic Council where she served on The President’s Working Groups on Financial Markets, Corporate Governance and Terrorism Risks to the Economy.  She was there during the last financial crisis which involved the bubble burst, Enron, Sarbanes Oxley and September 11th.

She is the founder of The Canonbury Group and Principalis Asset Management. She specializes in helping investors better understand the risks to the portfolio they cannot easily quantify, namely politics, policy and geopolitics. She is an advisor to hedge funds, traditional asset managers, Sovereign Wealth Funds, pensions funds and banks. She was previously the Deputy Head of Global Strategy at UBS and the Chief Currency Strategist at Bankers Trust.

She has a Ph.D from the London School of Economics and is regular guest presenter on CNBC and writes a column on markets for Incisive Media.

Topic: Politics Policy Geopolitics – what it means for investors

The Debt Problem is the War Reparations Issue of Our Generation. It will dominate the economic landscape for years to come, restricting disposable income and raising interest rates. Most indebted countries will be forced to make one or several of the following choices: default, devaluation, deflation or inflation. The market will arbitrage among the choices thus creating new opportunities across foreign exchange and fixed income markets.

The path from deflation to inflation is not linear, with one smoothly following the other. Instead deflation bears down on some parts of the market while inflation pushes up on others. It is the relative balance that matters. Both forces are at work now and this will increase the amplitude of volatility across all asset classes and increase uncertainty about the economic outlook. Policymakers will be forced to respond to both pressures thus increasing the probability of Stop: Go policy that further exacerbates uncertainty. Arguments with and among central banks and fiscal authorities already reflect this problem.

Most observers are more concerned about deflation risks. This means that most deflation risks are fully priced into markets. Inflation risks are dismissed, which provides opportunities. Capacity destruction will reduce supplies of commodities and push prices higher. This will crush margins in a world where consumers cannot sustain price hikes. This has important implications for equity markets.

Government will play an increasingly important role in markets. Taxes, government intervention, new rules and regulations will all increase. This will give rise to political responses among voters. This means more political uncertainty and greater country risk as government seek to placate their voters and reach for control over cash flows.

Geopolitics will be more important to the markets going forward. The US-China, US Russia relationships will become increasingly important for market prices. The US, China and Russia ill vie for control and influence over markets, over currencies, over the flows of capital over control of commodities and control over space and the sea. Commodity producing countries (the BRACSS – Brazil, Russia, Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia and South Africa) will have more power over market outcomes.



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