Kevin O’Leary, featured on the ABC's Shark Tank, was not talking about asset classes but rather about active managers. Active manager-bashing is always a popular theme at Inside ETFs, or any ETF conference, for that matter. But it was especially effective given O’Leary was drawing on personal experience as he used to invest all his own money in a variety of active managers but found they "blew up" every seven years or so.

O’Leary has been slowly switching all his money out of active management and into what he calls “hard-core, rules- based, emotionless investing.” He has turned these investing rules into a smart-beta ETF product line called O’Shares. O’Leary is also representative of the growing number of smaller shops entering the ETF industry, as well as the increasing number of celebrities joining the field.'A Pool Full of Beer May Be the Only Answer'

Marc Faber, publisher of The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report and a big fan of gold ETFs, said he might fill a newly installed swimming pool with beer instead of water to deal with an economic outlook he describes as “so depressing.” He went so far as to say he doesn’t expect to see another bull market in his lifetime, adding that a massive increase in global debt via central bank policies will “contain” growth for years and years to come.

He spoke on the last day of the event and brought things full circle by going on a Gundlach-ian tirade against the Fed–and central bankers in general–referring to them as “people who have never worked a day in their lives.” Faber closed by saying he was going to leave the conference to get back to his beer pool and hang out with his new friend.

If the ETF conference is an indicator of the year to come, buckle up–it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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