Friday, May 15, 2009

Late Stage MBA-Josh Moritz- Ethics, Sharing and Babson Fast Track MBA

My blog about my mother and the Maserati generated a solicitation from a site that allows people to share papers, projects, e-books, etc. for graduate and undergraduate students. There was no decision here: I rejected the comment out-right and it will not be published on this blog.

There is an element of self-righteousness here, and I am no angel--sure I have shared work with colleagues and in return they have shared with me in private with understanding that the sharing is to generate thought, not steal it --- but what is being drilled into the heads of my Fast Track Babson class is not just the concept of the law but what is also ethical. To wit: Such a blatant solicitation to share potentially copyrighted material, e-books and papers in a public venue without the potential of attribution or payment is odious.

The concept of law and ethnics is not just focused on one class, but is a theme that permeates the program. While we are being trained as large "C" capitalists, we are also taking a serious look at the philosophy behind our business conduct. It is a matter of understanding what we are selling and that the buyer understands what they are getting. There is limited stomach for promoting a product like a CDO (that odious word that is likley to get some people reared up for comment) when we don't understand exactly what it does, but selling it anyway to people who think they know what it does, but then does not.

We are encouraged to develop a general, yet flexible rule, to establish the guidelines upfront before faced with an ethical issue.

We are studying the law, but also the ethical construct behind the law. Our readings include: Kant, Aristotle, Confucious, Jeremy Bentham, John Mill, as well as others.

Perhaps the philosphy that Babson is trying to get across, more than finance, marketing, supply chain management, or strategy can be summed up by a quote from Peter Cooper in 1874, just after the rampage of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall in New York City:

"I have always recognized that the object of business is to make money in an honorable manner. I have endeavored to remember that the object of life is to do good."
Good philosphy, hope to do it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Late Stage MBA- Josh Moritz- The $100 Derivative Guantlet Award

My last post got a response from Tyler who feels that the buyers of Derivatives are as responsible for their mistakes as the sellers. I agree. But what I don't agree with is that derivatives are as easy to understand as guns (don't point at yourself, you might shoot yourself) or as TV (just shut if off).

99% of us are getting an MBA to enhance our careers, which means more money or to use the degree in leveraging our passion whether it be a cause or to start a company.

There will always be a debate about fuzzy math and caveat emptor, but I believe that our responsibility is to be honest brokers of information. If we don't get it, we don't sell it. Idealized.

Since Tyler feels that the buyer beware, and I maintaint that the sellers were less than knowledgable, I throw down the guantlet. A $100 award for a debate between brokers circa 2006 and CFO's from small to medium sized municipalities, circa 2006. One has to pitch derivatives the other has to explain what they bought. The audience clap meter will tell us who wins.

I offer anyone this: 1) It has to be a debate has to be referreed by Babson professors with backgrounds in finance, ethics and law; 2) The rules are still in flux, so come up with a structure.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Late Stage MBA - Josh Moritz - The Final Derivative

A town of wealth is feeling the pinch. Tomorrow afternoon as I tool my way across Pennsylvania to pick-up my oldest son from freshman year at college there is a protest brewing in front of the Westport Town Hall. It's not about the non-existant draft, Iraq, or the underfed. Its about sports, art classes, music and drama. They are going to be cut down, not cut out.

Westport is fast becoming a town of too much new construction on fair sized lots that are remaining vacant an unsold. Like note in an earlier post, it ain't Detroit, but eyebrows that have not been botoxed do raise a bit when houses that were on the market for $4 million sell at auction for $1.9 millon. It becomes worrysome when even the well off are denied new credit cards because their Experien credit report indicates that the value of their house has declined past even a modest mortgage. Things are getting a bit serious.

Unlike in NY where you might lose Kindergarten, Westport cuts back on things children in most towns, including pretty well-off towns, would be amazed at, which is why we moved here. I suppose it is a bit of just desserts since many MBA's, Lawyers and executives who got us in this spot do happen to live here as well.

This whole situation is pretty ironic and brings to mind a story from my days at Rutgers. One night in 1972 a student commited sucide by jumping off the roof of one of the river dorms yelling as he went down "I am not a derivative." Ahead of his time, it should be the rallying cry for the afternoon protest in front of Westport Town Hall. Maybe we can get some of our money back.