Commodities Symposium unites academic and industry leaders

August 29, 2019

The New Directions in Commodities Research international symposium returned to the CU Denver Business School on Aug. 12-13, 2019. Led by the J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities, the symposium brought more than 140 academic researchers and industry practitioners from around the world to discuss current challenges and advancements in commodities research.

Attendees included academics, policymakers and industry professionals from more than 50 companies representing 11 countries. The conference hosted senior professors from Yale, Stanford, MIT and UC Berkeley; policymakers from the Federal Reserve Board, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and International Monetary Fund; and professionals from JP Morgan, CME Group, CoBank, Robert Bosch, Janus Henderson and more. For many in attendance, the most valuable part of the conference was sharing research and ideas between academics and industry professionals.

“There’s an amazing caliber of professors here from universities all over the world, and the impact of that can’t be underestimated,” said Kassie Davis, executive director of the CME Group Foundation.

“The symposium does a tremendous job of focusing attention on topics that are of current interest to both academics and practitioners,” said Bluford Putnam, chief economist & managing director at CME Group. “In a lot of fields, the concerns of academics and practitioners are so different that there’s no communication between the two. This conference is highlighting academic research that’s important to practitioners, which is incredibly valuable and pretty much doesn’t exist in other conferences.”

Chancellor Horrell mingles with Symposium attendees.
CU Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell speaks with Graham A. Davis, faculty fellow and professor at Colorado School of Mines.

Exploring commodities markets through a multidisciplinary lens

Rather than focus on one field or industry, the symposium features researchers and industry professionals from a cross-section of commodities fields.

“I’ve spent my whole career in energy, so it’s great to connect with folks from different industries,” said Daniel Baruch, director of global energy markets & business development at URSA Space. “I’ve had the chance to talk with researchers and professionals in agriculture, glass, metals, chemicals, renewables like solar and wind, things I’ve never thought much about. It’s been enlightening to learn more about different fields and make contacts in different industries.”

“The most valuable part of this symposium for us is networking and getting to know the experts in all these different commodities markets,” said Scott Mixon, supervisory economist and associate director of the Office of the Chief Economist at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. “The participants and attendees of this conference have an enormous amount of knowledge and expertise in their research fields. It’s so important to have a network of contacts you can call on in a variety of different industries, and this is one of the places we’ve developed that network.”

Building a reputation for excellence around the world

Led by Jian Yang, research director at the J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities and conference organizer, the New Directions in Commodities Research symposium is developing a reputation both at home and abroad. Scholars and professionals from Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, and the U.K. were in attendance.

The 2019 conference has been covered in several prominent Chinese news publications including the Economic Daily (经济日报) and the Futures Daily. There are stories planned in China Futures Magazine and Denver-based Asian Avenue magazine as well, elevating the reputation of the J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities on a global scale.

Paul Teske, dean of the School of Public Affairs, moderating a panel.
Paul Teske, Dean of School of Public Affairs at CU Denver and University of Colorado Distinguished Professor, moderated the joint energy panel with CFA Society of Colorado.

Members of the J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities team, including Matt Fleming, program manager, and Yosef Bonaparte, director of the JPMCC, work tirelessly throughout the year to make the center and the symposium a success. The event also had great support from the CU Denver community, with Chancellor Dorothy Horrell attending the final evening of the conference to deliver concluding remarks and attend the awards ceremony. Paul Teske, dean of CU Denver’s School of Public Affairs and University of Colorado distinguished professor, moderated the joint energy panel with CFA Society of Colorado.

This year’s event also greatly benefited from the strong support of professors at other major research universities, including CU Boulder, Colorado State University, Colorado School of Mines, University of Denver, and University of Wyoming.

Yang and Dr. Gary Colbert, interim dean of the CU Denver Business School, are very proud of the growth and reputation of the symposium and the platform the J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities is creating.

“Based on the feedback we received from many participants during the conference, the conference continues to be more valuable for commodities researchers and practitioners each year,” Yang said. “We’re looking forward to next year’s symposium and offering an even better event for our guests.”

Guest contributor: Kathryn Robinson. To read the full post, please visit the CU Denver Business School newsroom.