Tag: Faculty

Last month, the Impact Investing Symposium returned to Olin. In it’s second year, the Symposium brought together professionals in finance, foundations, social justice, and government to discuss the potential for impact investing in St. Louis. What a turnout: 180 attendees across industries and experience of impact investing.

The afternoon began with a keynote interview with Nicole Hudson, exploring the work of the Ferguson Commission and what types of projects are ripe for investment in St. Louis. The Ferguson Commission was crucial in advancing a community understanding, response, action plan and forward steps after the shooting of Michael Brown in North St. Louis. Like all community action, the initiative needed tangible measures for impact as well as buy-in from an entire community, across backgrounds and city/county lines.

The necessity for common language and common ground is paramount for impact investing: we need voices of the under-served, perspectives of the financiers, and mediators who can find the common goals. That’s what makes the Impact Investing Symposium unique. It’s a rarity to get folks of these industries in the same room, having a conversation, exchanging dialogue, looking forward.

This year’s panel expanded on a discussion of last year: why impact investing is imminent. Mike Eggleston shared community survey results from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis while David Desai-Ramirez articulated ways for individuals and institutions to take direct action in impact investing: speak with a conduit social enterprise like IFF or Justine PETERSEN. Symposium veteran Tim Coffin shared the traditional finance mechanisms in place for investing with impact and Heather Cameron contributed macro level understandings of community impact. Jake Barnett, mediator, delivered a final parting challenge: “integrity is the proximity of one’s values to their actions.”

The conversation on changing mindsets and redefining “return” will continue – but the Symposium is ready for it’s next iteration: what are actionable steps? How can Olin be at the forefront of impact investing? Where should St. Louis focus it’s resources, intellect, and innovation?

We left the Symposium with the following directive: what projects can we support as individuals, investors, and community members? Have ideas? Be in touch – we’re ready to move forward: impactinvest@wustl.edu.

The Impact Investing Symposium was founded, organized and implemented by socially-minded Olin MBA students. We intend to keep this mission alive at Olin: bridging finance and social impact. To support this initiative or make further inquiry regarding potential future sponsorship, please contact impactinvest@wustl.edu. This event was sponsored by U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation and hosted by Net Impact, the Weston Career Center, and Olin Business School.

Our annual visit to Florida’s baseball mecca began inauspiciously. I deferred, as usual, to Elaine’s preference for checking bags on airlines, but nonetheless reiterated the standard arguments against doing so. Southwest proceeded to confirm my “fast thinking” by misplacing Elaine’s luggage. (Mine was delivered without incident.) The loss of Elaine’s bag meant that she had to sleep in my “well-aged” undershirt, but dormant passions were not aroused. No harm, no foul: the bag arrived the following morning and Elaine switched back to her own threads.

UnknownThe second day we went to breakfast at a favorite deli, TooJays, and pigged out on carbs, oblivious and delirious. After blinnies, potato pancakes, both with sour cream, cherry preserves on the former and applesauce on the latter, we belched our way to the new Ball Park of the Palm Beaches, a pretentious name for a quotidian ambiance. This is the new spring home shared by the Houston Astros and the Washington Nats (lovingly, the Nits).

Deploying my most authentic Janet Yellen accent, I was able to “schnorr” two (almost) free tickets from a generous bystander. For the $10 cost of parking his car he gave us two $32 face value tickets behind home plate. I was wearing my L. A. Dodgers windbreaker and newsboy cap so he probably knew I was a displaced crypto fan of the Mets who suffered an ignominious defeat.

Gio Gonzalez and friends managed to pitch a one-hitter. The Mets were so flat I became dispirited and totally unprepared for the 16-2 walloping they administered to the Cardinals at the Mets’ home park in Port St. Lucie the following day. Indeed, Wainwright and Weaver of the Cardinals managed to gift the Mets 14 runs in the first three innings. The hitting star of the game was Wilmer Flores, no longer tearful, with a double, a grand salami, and six RBIs. Less than suspenseful, this game was good for laughs and it exposed the managerial limitations of both the Mets and Cardinals field managers, an enduring condition I fail to understand.

Unknown-1The only adventure came with obtaining tickets for this game. We have lovely friends at the Cardinals who comp us when the Mets play the Cards, home or away. However, this was the second time the efficient Mets administration could not find the tickets set aside for the Greenbaums. We were rebuffed at the VIP window maybe five times and were ready to throw in the towel and pay for proletarian seats in the far off outfield when an apparently delusional woman circulated among the crowd of fans screaming “Greenbaum, Greenbaum, Greenbaum”. I fearlessly confessed and she seemed mightily relieved, explaining that they somehow had found our tickets. No harm, no foul: the Mets-Cards spread of 14 more than doubled that of the University of KY over Northern KY in the March Madness tourney. The previous year the people at Port St. Lucie similarly could not find our tickets and Travis D’Arnaud’s dad happened to be standing nearby to generously offer us two from his bulging envelope.

The third game we observed again pitted the Mets against the Cards, but the venue was the Cards’ home field at Jupiter. We were thrilled at having seats #1 & 2 immediately behind the Cardinals’ dugout. No sooner had we settled in than another frantic lady approached us imploring that we exchange our tickets for seats #7 & 8 in the same row behind the dugout. It seemed the DeWitts, the managing owners of the Cardinals, were claiming their regular seats. Being appreciative “Schnorrers,” Elaine and I obligingly moved over. Noblesse oblige!

Greenbaum at spring training
This game again offered a striking contrast to its predecessor. The Mets led 4-1 going into the last of the eighth when the Cards managed to score three runs and all in attendance at Roger Dean Stadium seemed to expect the Mets to cave. Surprise, the Mets, thanks to Carpio and Carillo, minor leaguers both, stroked back-to-back doubles producing the leading run. Then Corey Taylor, an A-ball closer, closed out the Cards for a 5-4 Mets victory. Thus, we had ridden the rollercoaster of baseball emotions and exited elated.

Our our fourth and last day in Florida took us to the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach for a taste of over-the-top opulence. I found this supercilious and invidious consumption off- putting, a persuasive argument for progressive taxation. We further celebrated over pastrami at TooJays on our way to the airport at Orlando, a long and tiring schlepp.

No report of this kind would be satisfying without a few dark horse picks and prognostications. Watch for Phillip Evans and Corey Taylor, the former a third basemen who played in double-A last year and the latter a closer in advanced single-A. You heard it here, both seem ready for the show, even if management is probably too conservative for that to happen. I also believe the Mets may face frustrations with their vaunted rotation. Matt Harvey is currently 0-4 with an embarrassing ERA and Zack Wheeler is being mollycoddled two seasons past Tommy John. On the other hand, I like Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, the latter starting for Puerto Rico in the WBC finals, and Rafael Montero is having a surprisingly good spring. Fitting together the rest of their one-way players into a smooth functioning team is likely a managerial feat that exceeds available managerial talent in the dugout.

Oh well, this trip was great fun, even if too brief. I do hope Elaine and I have the will, wealth, and wigor to return next year.

Guest Blogger: Stuart I. Greenbaum, edited by Margaret Elaine Greenbaum


The bad news is: “the money companies spend on R&D is producing fewer and fewer results,” according to Anne Marie Knott, Olin strategy professor, and author of the just-published book How Innovation Really Works.

Knott_chosenIn an article published on the Harvard Business Review website this week, Knott says, “My research shows the returns to companies’ R&D spending have declined 65% over the past three decades.” This decline begs the question and title of Knott’s article, “Is R&D Getting Harder, or Are Companies Just Getting Worse At It?”

Her research finds that companies are getting worse at R&D, but there’s a silver lining:

“It appears the decline in companies’ (and the economy’s) ability to drive growth from R&D stems from the fact that companies have gotten worse at innovation, rather than because innovation has gotten harder. This is great news, because the problem of companies getting worse is fixable, whereas the problem of innovation getting harder isn’t. The challenge, of course, is knowing what to fix and how to fix it.”

Link to Harvard Business Review

“Right now, I think the increase in CEO pay is more stock market driven than profit driven,” said Radhakrishnan Gopalan, Olin associate professor in finance told NBC News in response to a new study from the Wall St. Journal on CEO compensation.

“The stock market is rising in anticipation of future growth in profits,” Gopalan said. “The stock awards, which are basically what’s driving the growth in CEO pay, are mostly a motivator for future performance.”

This kind of forward-looking optimism is typical of a stock-heavy incentive structure, but some warn this can be an imperfect way of measuring performance, since bull market gains aren’t matched proportionately with bear market losses.

Unfortunately, they never retrench,” Gopalan said. “That link is weaker on the down side.”

Link to NBC story here.

Watch video about related research on CEO compensation from Prof. Gopalan and Prof. Todd Milbourn that won the Olin Award in 2016.

When Marketplace asked Patrick Rishe about the potential of advertising brand-fatigue among NBA sports fans, Olin’s director of the sports business program, said, “No.”

Even with the NBA Developmental League re-branding next season as the “G” League after Gatorade bought the naming rights?

Even after the NBA lets teams sell advertising space on the upper-left corner of player’s jerseys next season?

“Rishe… doesn’t think people are going to tire of branding anytime soon,”according to the Marketplace story. “I am not concerned about the over saturation,” he said. “And I think though some purists may say that they are, let’s see how they feel two or three years from now. I doubt they’ll raise a fuss then. The sports consumer will adapt.”

Link to Marketplace story.