Posts Tagged ‘corporate greed’

Wall Street, The Love (Hate) Affair With Credit Default Swaps, And The Case Of The Misguided Model

Monday, August 5th, 2013

By Martin Kidd

Martin Kidd is Managing Director of Embiggen Finance and is completing a Master of Business (Applied Finance) at Queensland University of Technology

Imagine yourself sitting at a dinner party, where everybody has interesting anecdotes and now it’s your turn to tell a story. You’re a derivatives trader, and you know that if you start talking about work, everyone’s eyes will glaze over because there is approximately zero genuine interest in whatever it is you actually do for a living. Unless you’ve allegedly played a part in the 2007 credit crisis, that is. Credit default swaps have had a bit of a hard time in the finance media since the peak of the financial crisis, so perhaps it’s about time we explored the journey they’ve had since conception through to what’s happening in the market today.

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When Ignorance is Not Bliss … Just Risky

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

By Emily Tooker, Student of Master of Business (Applied Finance)

In the popular 1983 comedic film, Trading Places, commodities broker, Louis Winthorpe III, and rags-to-riches profiteer, Billy Ray Valentine, bet their life savings on the frozen orange juice market to accomplish a lucrative trade in a single master stroke.

At the end of the film, we are treated to Winthorpe and Valentine basking on a tropical island, and the token yacht decorating an expanse of blue ocean in the background.

Real or imagined accounts of overnight monetary success, such as that depicted in Trading Places, have given us the false impression that risk will give its due reward. Likewise, basic finance theory tells us that there is a risk-return trade off – to obtain a higher return, you must be willing to take on more risk – and this theory has driven a risk-seeking culture in finance.

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Thief, Liar, Cheater! Do bad guys really finish last?

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

by Jenna Moore

In late 2012 Lance Armstrong ceased denying doping rumours. The seven-time Tour de France winner went from hero to zero faster than the news could be put to print around the world. Though some had always been dubious about his seemingly superhuman performance, there is no doubt Oprah’s extra long (and extra lucrative) expose would have left many die-hard Armstrong fans lost and troubled by the relentless and self-righteous deceit spanning more than a decade. Armstrong cemented himself as a cycling legend; a cancer survivor; a philanthropist, and he sure knew how to sell the sizzle without the steak. Lance Armstrong’s business was Lance Armstrong. His reputation was his capital and not only has he forfeit a large part of his future reputational nest-egg, he stands to be disrobed of the ‘unjust’ riches he was awarded by the US Federal Government through sponsorship deals amounting to US$40m. But even still, despite the seemingly rigorous international anti-doping measures in place, Armstrong proved the reward was worth the risk and is estimated to have accumulated a net worth of over $125m. Do bad guys really finish last?

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Making Sense of Nonsense: Enhancing Corporate Governance Through Compliance

Friday, July 20th, 2012

by Peita Lin

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” — Adam Smith

While not the first to make such an assertion, much of modern capitalism works under the assumption that the inherent vices that drive human behaviour, namely self-interest and the inordinate accumulation of wealth are thought to be in aggregate beneficial for society. As a certain fictional investor once so eloquently remarked ‘greed, for a lack of better word, is good’.

We’re all utility maximisers and corporate executives, as the fittest specimens of this criterion, serve to remind the rest of us why we’re not making seven digit salaries. The greedy tendencies that drives and motivates their success are often at times to the detriment of others; and therein lies the fundamental problem underpinning much of corporate governance. We expect them, the executives and managers, to act ruthlessly in competition but fairly in the allocation of accrued benefits to us, the faceless shareholders. The technical term is ‘agency conflict’ and a great deal of time has been spent detailing and proposing solutions to this problem with varying degrees of success. A quick definition for the uninformed: the separation between ownership and control in an incorporated firm creates tensions between the interests of the principal and agent thereby creating a position of moral hazard.

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