On Friday, May 27, the last day of our trip in Washington, DC, our first speaker was Jim Wigand, Managing Director at Millstein & Co. He formerly served as the first director of the Office of Complex Financial Institutions at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and as a Senior Advisor to the FDIC Chairman. Although we were all somewhat fatigued after a hectic two weeks, Mr. Wigand’s voice, akin to a news reporter, woke us up. He provided an overview of the FDIC, such as the timeline of its establishment, its primary goals, and the key areas on which it focuses. In addition, he also explained the FDIC’s resolution for banks and thrifts when they are in trouble. After Mr. Wigand’s speech, we all have a better understanding of the relationship between banks and the FDIC.
After a short break, we had our second session of the final day: U.S. Financial Regulations from Cecelia Calaby, Senior VP and Executive Director of the American Bankers Association (ABA). Ms. Calaby focused on the area of regulatory policy, securities, trust, and investment at the ABA. Her session was borne from her past work experience, and she offered her thoughts about the US banking industry. First, she shared with us about her background, and how she became the Senior VP of the ABA from serving as a banker at a local bank. She then told us about her experience at a banking simulation program she recently attended. Before taking part in the program, Cecelia thought that monitoring banks’ balance sheets was pretty straight forward. After the program, however, her opinion had changed entirely as a result of the difficult situations she had to face during the training. Additionally, Cecelia gave us her thoughts about what she has seen in the past that still happens in the U.S. banking industry today. In the end, she described some of the biggest challenges that the U.S. has experienced since the Great Recession. She also explained how the ABA supplied information to the public about what was really going on during the subprime financial crisis.
Our last speaker of immersion course was Jonathan Weisman, an economic policy journalist from The New York Times. He passionately discussed today’s current events, and generously reviewed public opinions toward Donald Trump, a topic which most speakers avoid. Jonathan’s was asked where he stands when there exists a conflict between the public’s right to know and authorities’ requirement to keep certain information confidential. He told us that it was the New York Times’ tradition to lean on the side of the public’s right to know. Jonathan also shared that the Chinese New York Times website has been blocked by the Chinese government, but that The New York Times keeps updating the website every day, expecting to one day “break the wall.”
After the three speeches today, we visited the National Gallery of Art, one of the most famous art museums in the United States. The Gallery’s collection of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculptures, and medals traces the development of Western Art from the Middle Ages to the present. It includes the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas and the largest mobile created by Alexander Calder. The collections were so impressive; we would like to come again.
The last two weeks were intense and busy, but all of us feel a great deal of satisfaction in being exposed to things that we have never experienced before. We tend to think that Wall Street bankers and American regulators are far from our life, but we learned from these very people and discovered that they are leading American finance to a better future. Finally, we sincerely appreciate Rich, Jamie, Jessica, and Ian for teaching and helping us during these two weeks. Thank you!
Guest Bloggers: Peiyu Wang, Chufeng (Caroline) Ding, Xiheng (Freddy) Shen, Xiaofei (Dora) Liu (GMF 2016)
This is a series of blogs chronicling the experiences of 41 Global Master of Finance (GMF) dual degree students during their two week immersion course in New York and Washington, DC. Each blog will be written by a small subset of students during their experience.