|Festivities on the second night
of the AlphaMetrix Miami 2013 Summit.
MIAMI -- The hedge fund industry found an unexpected
champion Thursday at the AlphaMetrix Miami 2013 Summit, as
former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair delivered a rallying cry
heard 'round the Fontainebleau Resort's lavish "Glimmer"
"Some of the criticisms that are leveled on hedge funds and
private equity are based on a complete misunderstanding of what
they do and their impact on the economy," Blair pronounced.
Sounding sometimes as much a hedge fund PM as a political
one, Blair struck a note that would have been welcome by the
MFA or any other industry lobbying group. What are hedge
funds? "They are just new ways of helping people get access to
capital," he said.
"We want a financial sector that's capable at the margins of
doing different things, as these alternative investments do,"
A standing room only crowd--visibly more packed than one
night earlier when
former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush had the stage--sat in rapture
as Blair tried a bit of advocacy on the cost of investing in
alternatives. "Those days that people would pay their fees and
they would go upward..." he said, trailing off into studied
silence. "Those days have ended."
Not a soul rose early for first dibs at the make-your-own
Caesar salad, wild mushroom arancini or split lobster
tails waiting at the seaside buffet.
"I'm a politician; I have no problem talking about things of
which I know nothing about," Blair grinned when asked for his
take on financial markets. "Government's role is to enable
business to prosper. Not to oppose it," he opined. "When banks
get into a defensive posture or crouch, that's not going to
help the economy."
Despite his self-deprecation, Blair does offer an inside
view of major banks--more than a few of which sponsored
poolside cabanas at the conference. After leaving office, Blair
served as an advisor for J.P. Morgan Chase, which was a
"premier" sponsor of the event.
The Telegraph reported last month that in
retirement Blair has amassed a small trading operation in
London and has built a personal fortune of perhaps $90
That's enough to get him a coveted green lanyard at this
Miami summit, a designation that all accredited investors wear
around their necks as a badge of honor or, for many hedge fund
marketers here, a target.
After the speech, the more than one thousand attendees
funneled into LIV,
by one measure the world's No. 2 night club, to toast their
success with an open bar and private performance from Blues
As trendy Miami-ites waited outside for the general public
to be let in at midnight, Blues Traveler lead singer John
Popper riffed on his hosts.
"AlphaMetrix...that sounds like a vitamin supplement," he
said as the drummer played a rim shot.
A few swigs from his drink later, he took aim once again.
"What the hell is AlphaMetrix? It's some kind of interaction
thing?" he asked no one in particular. "You know, the
Freemasons are a connection of people."
He considered the bi-level venue for a moment, gazing up at
the pink fluorescent orbs hanging from the ceiling and
suited-up crowd in front.
"Well if the Freemasons rock-n-roll, then AlphaMetrix is