Guessing Games

Rate cut timing top of mind as financial elite gather from Dubai to Beverly Hills

Dubai Fintech Summit and Milken Institute Annual Conference are both underway

Ken Griffin, founder and CEO of Citadel, speaks at the Milken Institute's Global Conference at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in California. (Photo: Getty Images)

From Dubai to Beverly Hills, the question occupying the world’s financial elite is this: when will the U.S. Federal Reserve cut interest rates?

Not till September at the earliest, says hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, CEO of Citadel, who addressed the Milken Institute Annual Conference at The Beverly Hilton on Monday. Yie-Hsin Hung, CEO of State Street Global Advisors, sees rate cuts happening sooner: she predicted that the Fed will start to reduce rates as soon as July amid a more muted economy, speaking this morning at Day 2 of the Dubai FinTech Summit. 

The market-moving question is top of mind, but so too is the Gulf’s growth story amid the energy transition. “We’re known as oil exporters, but our second biggest export is capital,” Mohammed El-Kuwaiz, Chair of the Board of the Capital Market Authority of Saudi Arabia said at Milken on Monday, fielding questions from The Economist’s Editor-in-Chief Zanny Minton Beddoes. 

“For the first time in our history we may be capital importers,” El-Kuwaiz predicted, as the kingdom looks to lure foreign capital to help fuel the $3 trillion of investment from now until 2030 for its economic diversification drive.

The money is being poured into developing sectors like tourism, manufacturing and tech alongside mega-projects like NEOM.

“The capital markets are an extremely important fulcrum” at this time and why Saudi has opened up to the world and cracked into the top 10 capital markets, he said. El-Kuwaiz shared the stage with Jane Fraser, CEO of Citigroup; Harvey Schwartz, CEO of Carlyle; and Ron O’Hanley, Chair and CEO of State Street.

Back in Dubai, non-oil growth was top of the agenda for UAE Minister of Economy Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri. Speaking at the Dubai Fintech Summit, he repeated his belief in 7% annual GDP growth, but said that 4.9% non-oil growth is possible in 2024.

“We see growth away from traditional economies such as real estate and tourism to new types of tourism, such as sustainable tourism, health tech. We’re looking into AI, generative AI, the UAE is becoming the capital of AI,” he said.

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