Global elite heads to Milken event to talk banks, rates and recession

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[1/2] Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser testifies before a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs hearing on "Annual Oversight of the Nation's Largest Banks", on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 22, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

NEW YORK, April 28 (Reuters) - When Wall Street investors, dealmakers and chief executives meet in Beverly Hills next week to strategize on how to make money given the concerns swirling around markets, much talk will revolve around the letter R - as in regional banks, rates, regulatory regimes and recession.

Other topics on the agenda at the 26th annual Milken Institute Global Conference include reconstruction efforts related to the year-old Ukraine War, as well as the U.S. debt ceiling and the post-lockdown environment with more employees returning to offices.

The four-day event, from April 30 through May 3, promises to bring together the "best minds in the world to tackle its most urgent challenges."

Banking executives including Citigroup Inc (C.N) CEO Jane Fraser and Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) CEO Charlie Scharf will mix with investment industry leaders including Franklin Resources (BEN.N) CEO Jennifer Johnson, pension fund CalSTRS chief investment officer Christopher Ailman, Carlyle Group Inc (CG.O) CEO Harvey Schwartz and Peng Zhao, CEO of market making firm Citadel Securities.

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders are also scheduled to speak.

As last year's runaway consumer prices are moderating, attendees said they expect one more Federal Reserve rate hike before debate turns to when the central bank will start cutting again.

Talk will also center on the vulnerability of smaller U.S. banks holding swaths of office building loans even as many employees around the country are still working from home. And more resilient corporate earnings will lead to forecasts about market movements later this year, several people said.

But mostly people said they want to hear how to profit in uncertain markets. "Investors are asking, 'How do I get through the storm with my house still standing?'" said Max Gokhman, a senior vice president at Franklin Templeton Investment Solutions who helps invest $45 billion. "We are at the inflection point of an unprecedented business cycle and people are looking for which way the wind is blowing before their assets get swept up."

A Milken spokesman said roughly 3,500 guests are expected this year, about the same number as last year.

Part of the Milken appeal, said several repeat guests, are the exclusive parties where executives can rub shoulders with some of the world's most prominent investors. But some said the mood feels more muted this year with more invitations for smaller dinners at nearby restaurants instead of invites to lavish affairs at private mansions.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Carolina Mandl in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis

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