Florida Client Conference
Jude Wanniski
February 3, 1999


To those of you who have never been to a Polyconomics client conference, and this will be our fifteenth with Evans&Novak, it may be your last opportunity. We’ve decided  to forego a conference next year, on the chance that Y2K will be sufficiently disruptive that a February conference would cause too many cancellations. As with all our conferences, Bob Novak, Rowlie Evans and I do our best to peer into the future with our speakers and a fully engaged audience. Because everyone in attendance has been reading from the same Poly pages, the sessions are fast paced and efficient -- in the sense that the information value-added comes in cascades. Here is the plan behind this year’s conference. 

Sen. Bob Bennett, Republican of Utah, accepted our invitation three months ago, when we put him at the top of our list because he is the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Y2K. He and his wife Joyce had been at two previous conferences, so he is familiar to our regulars as a key member of Senate Banking as well. Known among his Democratic colleagues as the least partisan of the GOP Senators, Bennett also has been active in the impeachment process, a sought-after guest on the talk shows, precisely because he is always fair and open-minded. Our guests are generally more open with us than they are in other public venues, because we keep the discussions completely off the record. Bennett has been popular with us because he does speak his mind openly, and we can expect him to offer plenty of insight to the impeachment process -- which we assume will be over just before our weekend. Getting us on the margin with Y2K, though, is his primary mission. Our resident Y2K expert, Paul Bond, will be on hand as well.

The impeachment process itself may be over, but Novak and I reckon your interest in what follows will be keen. Rep. Lindsey Graham [R-SC], one of the stars to emerge among the House managers and the fellow who developed the arguments on Sidney Blumenthal that turned me around on the President’s impeachability, will be with us if the process is completed by our dates.

Next on our list of what must be covered is Europe and Euroland. Novak and I went up and down the lists of diplomats we might invite, until it occurred to me that the greatest living expert on optimal currency areas is our old friend Professor Robert Mundell -- who was chief international economist of the IMF back in 1960, when he first published his treatise on optimal currency areas. One of these days he will get a Nobel Prize for that work, and for being the moving force behind the revival of classical, supply-side economics. Fortunately, for us, Bob has spent the last two years on leave from Columbia University, living and working out of his little palace in Siena, Italy. You may recall that last year The Wall Street Journal gave Bob two full pages to discuss the future of the Euro. To have him give us a personal assessment at the end of this month will be worth the price of admission itself. Bob and his wife Valerie will be with us for the whole weekend, so you will have plenty of opportunity to grill him in one-on-one discussions.

Presidential politics was next on our list, and while we have invited Jack Kemp, who has attended almost all of our annual conferences, it has always been doubtful that Jack would decide to run. Bob Novak himself always makes a fascinating presentation on how the political field shapes up, and he will do so again. Vice President Dan Quayle tried to make it, but will be at the California State GOP convention that weekend. It struck me that Quayle’s campaign manager, Kyle McSlarrow, in some ways would be just as good, and Kyle has agreed to be his surrogate. Why better? Everyone agrees that Quayle always assembles a superlative staff. Kyle McSlarrow is no exception to this rule. Like Quayle a devoted supply-sider, McSlarrow twice ran for Congress in impossible districts held by Democrats and twice lost narrowly. Republicans I talked to on Capitol Hill tell me that Quayle’s chances of winning soar with Kyle as his jockey. Not your normal campaign operative who goes where the money is, McSlarrow will earn a fraction of his normal income in the two years ahead, on the bet that Quayle will win. He will tell us why he picked Quayle, how he sees the rest of the field, and how he expects the 2000 race to unfold. After two hour-long telephone talks with him in the last three weeks, I predict he will be one of the highlights of the conference. 

Novak and I knew we absolutely had to have a top-flight governor, who would give us a sense of relations between Washington and the statehouses. When Novak argued strenuously for Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania, I readily agreed. Ridge, after all, was a member of Congress himself, and can see the devolution of power-and-money process from both sides. In addition, if George W Bush is the nominee, Novak believes Ridge would be on the very short list for running mate. The pressures on Ridge from the steel industry relative to foreign competition also gives him a wide angle on international commerce. His presentation should be a lively one. 

The House Ways&Means Committee is, as always, at the center of the action on taxation and social security. At our conference last year we had chief-of-staff Pete Singleton tell us in advance that the capital gains holding period would be cut to a year, and that we should not expect more. He was exactly right. This year, coming off the elections, there is going to be much more happening on taxation and Social Security, Pete tells me. We have invited Rep. Bob Matsui, Democrat of California, one of the sharpest members of the committee, to discuss the financial and partisan parameters. We’ve been trying for years to get Matsui and it looks like he’s in. 

We’ve also been trying to get Daniel Patrick Moynihan for the last several years. Novak is trying again at this late hour. It would be nice to have a Senate Democrat, sensational to have Pat in the twilight of his political career. If not, Sen. Paul Sarbanes, the ranking Democrat on Senate Banking is also on our wish list. I will definitely be on hand to offer the latest thoughts on where the world is headed. Rowlie Evans, as always, will give us a global reconnaissance on national security issues in his inimitable fashion. Reuven Brenner will be a guest, who you will enjoy in the social hours. I invited him at the last minute as my guest, just for the fun of it. He’s the best business economist in the world, I think. Finally, Mike Kurtz, who runs our Global 2000 shop, will give a rundown on China, Japan and Asia. He speaks Chinese fluently, but will speak in English. 

Any more questions? Give me or Tom Demas or Charles Hanabergh a call. If not, sign up soon. We do have rooms available, but may not for long.