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Final Exam Questions: FIN 9790 Spring 2022 Essential Lessons from the US Financial Crisis

The final research paper should be approximately 2,100 words.

Late papers will lose a letter grade every day that they are late! Grades will also be reduced for failing to fully follow the instructions.

Please begin the file name of your Word file submission with your last name and first initial as shown in the following example and please use the .doc or .docx format, not .pdf or any other format. Please also include in the file name which option you chose for your second question, as explained below. Use one of Factor, DFA or Fed, as shown in the following example.

[your last name first initial] final paper FIN 9790 spring 2022 [Factor DFA Fed].docx (or .doc)

For example (this is just an example; the file name does not have to be in red):

Mandle R final paper FIN 9790 spring 2022 DFA.docx

Your paper will have two parts (and please clearly separate the two parts).

· First, please answer question 1.

· Second, please answer one question from among questions 2, 3, and 4.

Within the 2,100-word limit we have given you for the final exam, you may allocate the words between the two questions that you are answering as you choose. However, we recommend that you not use more than about 500-600 words in answering question 1, and that you use the remaining words to answer the question you have chosen from among questions 2, 3, and 4.

Please address all parts of the question that you are answering and state your conclusion at the beginning of your paper. Essays will be graded in five dimensions:

· Clarity of conclusion. Think of this as an analysis your boss has asked you to do. Present your conclusion as if you were presenting it to your boss.

· Supporting arguments. We recommend using no more than three supporting arguments. If you try to use more, you will not have enough words available in the total word count to develop each argument.

· Use of facts (numerical facts are particularly good). For example, if you make the argument that something has been increasing in recent years, your argument will be much more compelling if you provide numbers that confirm your statement. Providing context for numbers is also very helpful. For example, if you were to say that the economy of Spain has grown at 4% annually in recent years, it would be very helpful to note that by comparison, the economy of the Eurozone as a whole has only grown at 1% annually over this same period. You must cite the sources of your facts.

· Quality of writing. Your grade will not reflect spelling or grammar, but we expect you to use spell check and to thoroughly proof read your paper. Quality of writing refers to organizing your paper well, avoiding inconsistencies, citing sources where appropriate, etc.

· Answering all parts of the question. We suggest that when you write your paper, start by writing a header for each part of the question. Then write your text for each section under its header. This will ensure that you address all parts of the question.

In determining your grade on the final exam, the two questions will be weighted as follows:

Question 1: 33.3%

Question 2, 3, or 4: 66.7%

To get an “A” on your final exam, your conclusion must be clearly stated in the first paragraph of each answer.  (But stating your conclusion clearly in the first paragraph of each answer does not guarantee you an “A.”) 

You must number your sources and put the relevant number at the place in your text where you refer to that source. Your sources may be placed as footnotes at the bottom of each page, or at the end of your paper. For example:

Many of the very highest buildings were built recently. The world’s tallest building is in Dubai.(1) It was built in 2008.

1. List of the world’s tallest buildings. Accessed April 18, 2022

Some Hints on Writing

Please use short, declarative sentences. In other words, write like Hemingway, not like Faulkner. Here is an example of writing in Hemingway’s and Faulkner’s styles:

Writing like Hemingway (8 sentences, 71 words):

Hemingway writes in very short, declarative sentences. If you write like him, your professors are more likely to understand your ideas. As a result, they will be more inclined to give you a better grade. You are more likely to be pleased with your grade.

Your paper must be spell-checked. We expect you to thoroughly proofread your writing. Proper grammar is required. All papers will be run through standard plagiarism-detection software.

Writing like Faulkner (1 sentence, 65 words):

Faulkner writes in long and complex sentences; if you write like him you may end up unhappy with your grade on your paper because your professors might get confused by your long sentences and confused professors tend to give lower grades, which may make students unhappy, unhappiness they could have avoided by using shorter sentences, which is what their professors advised in the first place.

Question 1 – Mandatory:

1. This question is based on the various case studies that we have discussed during the semester.

You are the CEO of a financial services company with operations in lending, trading and related areas. The market segment that accounts for well over half of your revenue and profit is growing at a moderate, but not exceptional pace. Another segment of the market, which has been small until recently, and in which you have historically been a minor player, has started to grow quite rapidly.

At the same time, you have been in discussions with your Board of Directors to make major investments designed to gain share of the overall market and to accelerate profit growth. You decide that the small market segment in which growth has recently accelerated will be an important part of your overall expansion plans.

With Board approval, you and your management team announce to your employees, shareholders, regulators and other stakeholders your plans to gain market share. Your plans include a specific, numerical market-share target that you are aiming to reach within three years. As a result, sell-side and buy-side analysts, employees and investors have increased their expectations for your company’s earnings per share growth rate over the next few years and your stock price has increased in response.

About a year later, you start to get questions from investors, journalists, your Board, as well as from your own employees, about market trends, especially in the small market segment. There are increasing indications that competitors have significantly lowered their standards and that to hit the aggressive market share targets that you had announced, you, too, would have to lower your standards and take more credit and/or market risk.

In answering question 1, you should write as though you are the CEO explaining your decision to your Board of Directors. The first paragraph should be the executive summary. The subsequent paragraphs should provide your supporting arguments; i.e., why you are proposing the decision you have chosen. Because question 1 is somewhat more abstract than are questions 2-4, the use of facts will not be an element in grading question 1. The use of facts will remain an important element in grading question 2, 3, or 4.

In question 1, we want your carefully thought out opinion on:

· what action you would take in the circumstances described in the question;

· why you would take such action;

· what effect your action will have on the specific, numerical market share target you have projected;

· how you will manage expectations if you are changing your strategy and target; and

· what the effects on the various groups mentioned in the question might be.

Specifically, what should you do in light of the questions you are getting, and why? Should you maintain your standards with the expectation of falling short of your market share objective?  Lower your standards and increase risk controls?  Scale back your participation in the new market and reduce or abandon your market share target? Exit the new market entirely? Or take other actions that you believe are appropriate? In your explanation of why you have chosen your particular course of action, please discuss the effect of your decision on:

· your employees

· your shareholders

· your relationship with your regulators, and

· on your credit and legal risk profiles, among other risk factors.

Please be sure to address the effect of your decision on the groups in each of the four bullet points above.

Question 2 – Choose one of the following three questions. In answering question 2, 3, or 4, we would expect you to use the format that we are sending separately. This format is modeled on op-eds you see in newspapers. It is an effective way to express an informed opinion. It is also a format that you may find useful for memos in your work. (The example we are sending separately is color-coded to identify various components. This is just for illustrative purposes. Do not use color-coding in your paper.)

In answering question 2, 3 or 4, your response will be an expression of your opinion, and we expect that opinion to be informed by research and facts. Please cite your research sources. The citations should be in the form of numbered footnotes. The footnotes may be placed at the bottom of each page or at the end of the paper.

2. Factor Most Responsible for Financial Crisis. We have discussed a number of factors that contributed to the financial crisis, including the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), private label mortgage securitizations (and the CDOs that were sometimes created from them), derivatives (including credit default swaps), the rating agencies, and the shadow banking system.  Please discuss:

· which one of these five factors was in your opinion most responsible for the crisis

· why you thought it was the most important factor among the five

· how the risk of this factor could be controlled

· what the effect would be on the mortgage finance system and the housing market of controlling this factor.

Please be sure to answer all four parts of this question.

3. Dodd Frank Act and Too Big to Fail. The Dodd-Frank Act (DFA) has as its general goal a more stable US financial system, and as one of its specific goals the end of “To Big to Fail (TBTF).”

Please discuss

· whether or not, and why or why not, you believe DFA (as it currently stands and before any future regulatory or legislative changes) will be successful in achieving this goal of ending TBTF (and if not, what else should be done)

· what the unintended consequences of trying to achieve this goal might be

· whether you believe big banks should be broken up, and why or why not.

Please be sure to answer all three parts of this question, including the “whether or not, and why or why not” in the first part of the question.

4. The Fed and Monetary Policy. The Federal Reserve Board’s Federal Open Market Committee (“the Fed”) maintained a zero-interest-rate policy from 2008-15, then began raising rates in December 2015. The Fed Funds rate rose from 0.25% to 2.50% by December 2018. In August 2019, the Fed initiated a new round of interest rate cuts. With the coronavirus, the Fed cut rates back to near zero. It had also vastly expanded its buying of government, corporate and municipal debt and extended currency swap lines to 14 central banks. The Fed has now started to again raise interest rates and plans to reduce the size of its balance sheet substantially.

· The Fed also announced that it will seek inflation rates above its previous 2% target in order to average 2% over a period of time. In recent months, inflation has been running at a 7-8% annual rate. What do you see as the benefits and the risks of the Fed’s policy, including the issue of getting inflation back down to 2% now that the inflation rate has recently been exceeding 2%? Please discuss both the benefits and the risks.

· What risks/bubbles, perhaps in the stock market, residential or commercial real estate market, high yield debt market, or in Emerging Markets, among others, may have been created, are still being created, or may be created by the long period of unusually low interest rates, and the dramatic expansion of Fed support to financial markets during the height of the covid-19 economic crisis?

In discussing possible bubbles, you may use, but are not required to use, the Minsky Financial Instability Hypothesis. Please only use it if you are discussing a debt-related possible bubble.

Please be sure to answer both parts of this question.

Please remember to:

· Name your file properly (as described above)

· Stay within the 2,100 – word limit

· State your conclusion up front

· Answer all parts of the questions

· Cite your sources

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