Policy students immersed in financial markets

Friday, Sep 21, 2018

Ten years after the fall of Lehman, an enthusiastic group of 45 second-year Master in Public Affairs (MPA) and Master in Public Policy (MPP) students from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs spent the final days of summer immersing themselves in the inner workings of the financial market. 

Now in its ninth year, the intensive three-day “Short-Course: Financial Markets for Public Policy Professionals” provides a framework for future public policy professionals to understand the operations of financial institutions, the economic purposes they serve, the markets in which they deal and the regulatory environment in which they operate.

The course was created in response to the financial crisis.  The crisis highlighted how financial instruments and financial policy touch every aspect of our economy.  It demonstrated that anybody working in any sort of public policy area needs to have a basic understanding of financial markets.

The course is an important part of the Wilson School’s curriculum.  Organized and coordinated by the Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy and Finance (JRCPPF), the course is taught by faculty from Columbia Business School (CBS) and Princeton University, government officials and financial industry executives.

Since its inception in the fall of 2010, the course has included offerings on securities, credit markets, mortgages, and derivatives, taught by business school professors with considerable professional experience in the financial services industry, which lends real-world insights to their research and teaching. The core curriculum is complemented with a series of lectures and panel discussions that have evolved overtime and include topics such as cryptocurrencies and Dodd-Frank legislation.

This year’s course ended with a panel discussion on financial regulation.  One of the panelists, Kathryn Judge, Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, addressed the issue of information gaps in the financial regulatory architecture.  Judge was impressed with the high quality of the course and the thoughtful questions of the students.  In her view, the course is a valuable effort in helping policy practitioners become conversant with finance.  “ I see these issues as critical and, far too often, not well understood by those who do not specialize in finance.  Expanding the pool of policy folks prepared to engage in these debates is a critical step toward improving outcomes” said Judge.

Student comments suggest that the course is achieving its objective of providing a basic understanding of financial markets. A student that participated in this year’s course said “… I was extremely impressed at how well this course reviewed fundamental concepts, using countless real-world examples and real-time trends. I came away feeling as though I can now read the WSJ and Financial Times! I especially appreciated the thorough review of the bond market, the housing crisis, and the role of the US banking system in the global economy. I also appreciated the chance to be exposed to new ideas and thought leaders during the final day of sessions.”  And another student commented “Brilliant, added a lot of new knowledge, especially the basic workings of financial markets and some inherent flaws.”

In addition to Judge, speakers for the course this year included Donal Byard, Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College; Michael Johannes, Columbia Business School;  Atif Mian, Princeton University; R.J. Gallo, Federated Investors Inc.;  David Rubenstein, co-founder of The Carlyle Group; Noah Gottdiener, Duff & Phelps; Philip Bennett, former EBRD; Ashoka Mody, Princeton University; Amber Baldet, Clovyr; Aaron Klein, The Brookings Institution and Duncan Jepson, BNY Mellon Investment Management. 

 

The full course program can be found here.  For course photos visit flickr.

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