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Despite the vast changes and challenges facing business leaders and policy makers today, the improved global economy leaves plenty of room for optimism, attendees at the 7th annual Milken Institute Global Conference were told.

Most regions of the world have seen their economies grow in the past year, and although terrorism, job dislocation and K-12 educational issues continue to pose barriers, a majority of panelists offered a positive view of the future.

The Global Conference, attended by nearly 2,000 leaders in business, finance, public policy and academia, offered not only big-picture visions of the future - such as how we'll deal with the vast technological changes that are inevitable in the coming decades - but in-the-trenches observations as well.

The more than 50 panels examined everything from emerging U.S. markets to the real estate trends. Several tracks were created to pay particular attention to job creation, China, health care and medical research, finance, media and entertainment, and global regions.

In addition to the usual plenary and breakout sessions, this year the conference added roundtable discussions that allowed members of the audience to engage panelists on specific topics.