Marvin Zonis quoted in Pensions & Investments

Originally published in Pensions & Investment

By Christine Williamson

Geopolitical risks to institutional investors’ portfolios are “not remote, not removed from your portfolio,” said economic strategist, Philippa Malmgren, founder of DRPM Group, during Pensions & Investments’ Global Future of Retirement conference in New York late Monday afternoon.

“Militarization is a continuation of monetary policy,” Ms. Malmgren said, noting Russia has promised “a response, economic or otherwise,” if the country is kicked out of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication global banking system.

“Geopolitics is not random. It’s happening precisely because of the global debt problem and it is already increasing asset prices,” she said.

Geopolitical risk is embedded into the long-term assumptions of the World Bank’s $22 billion pension plan, said Gabriel Petre, lead investment strategist of asset allocation for the World Bank.

Geopolitical events are “part of the continuation of globalization and the integration trend in the global economy” and do pose risks to the fund, Mr. Petre said.

“It’s important not to overreact. You have to know what your risk exposures are and how to protect them,” Mr. Petre said, adding that short of a financial crisis on the order of 2008, “diversification will protect the portfolio” from longer-term threats and might present interesting investment opportunities.

“The clash of civilization within Islam” is creating “inevitable chaos” that is likely to continue, said Marvin Zonis, professor emeritus, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago.

Mr. Zonis said it is unlikely the U.S. will be able to “destroy or degrade the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” adding there is a real possibility that “we are going to have to live with an actual ISIS state in parts of Iraq and Syria.”