Monday, July 13, 2015

Building Bridges

There’s something really awesome about getting to go to three different buildings for class each week: one for Monday’s morning session, one for the rest of the week’s morning sessions, and one for the afternoon session.

It’s also really terrible if you happen to forget one day and go to the wrong one without realizing it until you only have three minutes left before class starts and the building is literally all the way on the other side of the campus. And then you have to run all the way to the other building, sweaty and flustered, barely making it on time since your professor specifically requested for everyone to come on time since there were going to be prestigious guest speakers.

Now I’m not necessarily saying that that’s what happened to me. I’m just saying that it would be really terrible if it were to happen to anyone plagued by forgetfulness and oblivion on occasion, anyways, moving on.

Coincidentally, we were visited by a few guest speakers today: Jared Mesznik, Professor Mesznik’s nephew and the head of Residential Mortgage Trading at Morgan Stanley; Brian Zakutansky, head of Agency MBS Trading at Morgan Stanley; and Vishwanath Tirupattur, head of Fixed Income Research at Morgan Stanley. The main objective of their visit was to explain the cause and response to the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 as firsthand accounts from people who experienced and worked to rectify the situation.

Although I didn’t know too much detail about what went down in 2008 apart from the very basics, they explained it nicely and were able to make use of a lot of the terms we had learned over the past two weeks as well. The main takeaway they wanted the class to understand was the effect of leverage and multiple levels of leverage. When leverage was spread out in the financial system, especially beyond and through the financial intermediaries, loss was magnified exponentially and the only way to combat that effect was to try and minimize leverage.

On a completely different note, the afternoon session was focused more on the fundamental ideas of game theory which then somehow transitioned into a simulation of trading and selling stock shares to each other within the class. To no one’s surprise, the simulation turned out to be hectic and chaotic, an entangling mess of voices, numbers, and slips of paper confirming that a purchase or sale had been made. But (as those things typically tend to be) it was interesting and engaging.

After a delicious pizza dinner at “Wanted” and a little shopping with Izabel and Alyanna, the crew gathered at Times Square to go walk the Brooklyn Bridge. I suppose, I’ll steal (or share) Mark’s idea that pictures speak a thousand words and share some with you.

It was a killer evening.

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