Tag: New York Times

Jack Zuckerman’s 450 word persuasive essay on the importance of teaching rap music in schools was one of  a record-breaking 7,895 entries in The New York Times’ Fourth Annual Student Editorial Contest. That’s stiff competition, but the rising sophomore was pleased to discover he earned one of 45 honorable mentions. Congrats, Jack! There were 10 winners and 15 runners-up. You can read Jack’s essay below the Q &A.

Jack Zuckerman

We caught up with Jack in his hometown Manheim Township near Lancaster, PA, where he’s been working this summer at a minor league baseball stadium. He plans to double-major in film studies and business, possibly marketing.

Q: Were you surprised when you received the NY Times Contest honorable mention?
I was definitely surprised, especially because they didn’t send out emails. I found out while I was scanning the titles of recognized essays and saw my own at the bottom.

Q: Which artists would you feature in a course on rap?
At least one from every major area in rap music, so maybe Tupac for the West Coast, Nas for the East Coast, OutKast for the South, and then an artist not necessarily affiliated with a geographical movement like MF Doom.

Q: Are you going to try to get into Prof. Jeffrey McCune’s  Kanye West course next year? [McCune is associate professor of women, gender and sexuality studies and African and African-American studies at WashU. He teaches “The Politics of Kanye West: Black Genius and Sonic Aesthetics.” ]
Definitely, but “try” is the key word there.

Q: What are you looking forward to when you return to campus?
I’m mostly looking forward to seeing my friends and getting more involved with my activities on campus.

Here’s the editorial Jack submitted to The New York Times contest:

We Should be Teaching Rap Music in Schools

I didn’t understand Toni Morrison until I heard Kendrick Lamar. Sure, I could try to interpret her prose and analyze her symbolism, but I couldn’t feel her work until I started listening to rap music. Nas, Killer Mike, and Kendrick connected the dots, they ripped Morrison’s words from the pages and threw them on the streets.

That sentiment isn’t meant as a slight on Morrison, but a testament to the power of music. For many high school and college students, music takes the formalism of literature and frees it from its didacticism. Bob Dylan breathes palpable fervor into an emotionally confusing decade of American history, 1920’s jazz voices the breaking and rebuilding of the interwar period. It would be a shame, then, to ignore the opportunity that today’s students have to learn about the current cultural and political climate through the lens of modern music.

When Kendrick Lamar released his sophomore album To Pimp a Butterfly in 2015, a post-Trayvon-Martin, post-Michael-Brown America received it as a declaration of fearlessness and pride in the face of racial injustices. As New York Times writer Joe Coscarelli recounts, “Awash in black music, black pride and shame, [Kendrick] attempted to propel the ghosts of Nelson Mandela, Tupac Shakur, Huey Newton and Michael Jackson through the will of his conflicted rhymes.” The rapper’s cultural dominance could not be denied after one of the album’s singles “Alright” became the anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement. Suddenly, Lamar became a living, breathing representation of Baldwin and Angelou and Hughes and so many other socially conscious artists.

Moreover, Lamar and his contemporaries demand attention, especially from a younger population that tends to favor beats over books. As, almost-inarguably, the most pivotal musical trend of the past thirty years, rap music is a conduit for ideas and emotions that leads straight to the young-adult masses. With “socially-conscious hip-hop” as a rich and expanding sub-genre, there’s a supply and demand relationship begging to be utilized.

So why are we not teaching rap music like literature? Well, to a certain extent we are. New college courses about Kanye West, OutKast, and other specific rap artists are gaining popularity on campuses across the country. But this type of curriculum is not yet normalized to a point of serious integration, and it won’t be until we remove the stigma of senseless violence and sexism that surrounds rap music. We should be championing the music that avoids and surpasses these stereotypes, often by facing them head on. We should recognize that some of the loudest voices of our generation come from rappers. We should listen to Kendrick: “Let these words be your earth and moon, you consume every message.”

Works Cited
Coscarelli, Joe. “Kendrick Lamar on the Grammys, Black Lives Matter and His Big 2015.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 29 Dec. 2015. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.

Lamar, Kendrick. Mortal Man. Kendrick Lamar. Sounwave, 2015. CD.

Yoo, Noah. “OutKast Class Being Offered at Georgia College.” OutKast Class Being Offered at Georgia College | Pitchfork. Condé Nast, 06 Jan. 2017. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.

Image: Future and Kendrick Lamar at the BET Awards June 25, 2017.

The formal programming of the immersion course in Washington DC began at the Brookings Institution on May 23. Ian Dubin, Associate Director of Brookings Executive Education, the partnership of the Brookings Institution and Olin Business School, welcomed and introduced us to the long history between the Brookings Institution and Washington University. Philanthropist Robert S. Brookings, the founder of Brookings Institution, was also president of the WashU Board of Trustees from 1895 to 1928. Besides devoting his time, Mr. Brookings also gave his fortune, and later his personal estate, to revitalize the university. It immediately reminded us of Brookings Hall and the Brookings Quadrangle back on campus in St. Louis.

The first guest speaker of the day was a correspondent for The New York Times and an author. He briefed us on the political situation in Washington D.C. under the current administration; he saw it as an interesting time in current American politics, especially because one party controlled the the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives at the same time. The Trump administration is seeking a wide range of changes in tax policy, health care policy, and global trade. The speaker also discussed the vital role that automation will play in the US manufacturing industry, offering us another way to think about the future of manufacturing in the US. Later, the Q&A session also covered topics such as over regulation/deregulation, the tax cut, and budget cuts.

Next, we learned from an individual with an impressive resume in academia, high levels of government, and financial institutions. She first gave us a brief introduction to the role of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), which is to provide academic views and economic insight on current micro economic and macroeconomic trends to the White House. She then shared with us more insights about serving as an economist with the CEA on a daily basis. Primarily, her role had four responsibilities: consulting on policy process to get certain legislation to pass Congress, advising the President by briefing and writing memos of pros and cons of relevant issues, updating the President on recent research, and providing external reports on certain economic events. She felt honored that their work was highly valued by the President since he incorporated their thoughts into his thinking. Overall, her speech was inspiring and insightful.

After lunch, our next speaker was a fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution, where he focuses on financial regulation and technology, macroeconomics, and infrastructure finance and policy. Today’s speech was focused on the Dodd-Frank Act, which he has worked on significantly. The act promotes financial stability, accountability, and transparency in the financial systems. He then discussed Dodd-Frank’s significant impacts on the financial regulatory environment, and the balance between economics of scopes and scale and the added costs brought by the Act. Also, he mentioned the fact that the current administration is attempting to roll back certain components of the Dodd-Frank Act and the rationale behind it.

Our speaker then introduced the history of American financial regulations, ranging from Glass-Steagall Act (1933), Community Reinvestment Act (1977), Sarbanes-Oxley Act Section 404 (2002), to the Volcker Rule (2010). During the Q&A session, he answered one of the student’s questions and talked a little about the geographical distribution of the US population and its regional features.

With the evolution of the influence of the Federal Reserve on financial markets and the implications of the Federal Reserve’s actions on the US economy currently being significant, our final speaker was perhaps the best person to provide insight on the institution. She has a significant history with the Federal Reserve, and continues to monitor it closely. With the U.S. economy in its 8th year of recovery, monetary policy having clearly been effective in the recovery process, is currently not particularly controversial. However, it is expected that over the next 12 months, the Federal Reserve may look to make a couple of small increases in short-term interest rates and attempt to reduce the large size of the Fed’s balance sheet, which is primarily due to the quantitative easing during the Global Financial Crisis (2008).

In a forward-looking view on the U.S. economy, our speaker held a positive view on where things are currently heading. However, she highlighted four significant challenges the country faces moving to the future: the aging workforce, climate change, looming federal debt, and income inequality. She also shared how the Clinton administration was able to generate a fiscal surplus, primarily due to the complementary work done by monetary and fiscal policy.

To conclude her speech, she addressed the causes leading into the Global Financial Crisis and the lessons they had learned or probably should have learned from the Asian Financial Crisis (1997). With the four speakers of the day providing us with insight on a diverse set of topics, we left Brookings for the day only to look forward to what awaits us the next day.

Guest Bloggers: Xin Hu, Krishna Chaitanya Mutya, Hanyi Zhou, Bingjie (Zoe) Zou (GMF 2017)

This is a series of blogs chronicling the experiences of 42 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. Names of speakers and presenters at firms are anonymous at the request of the firms and course organizers.

Photo: President Obama signs the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010.

We were fortunate enough to begin the morning of May 17 with a speaker from Waterfall Asset Management–the visit had been rescheduled from Monday. The incident that had occurred on Monday was able to serve as an interesting case study of sorts for us. Our speaker had placed a bid for a product, but his bid had been only the second- highest submitted. He explained to us both the positive and negative lessons to be learned from this incident. The first lesson is that, in certain instances, being second best only signifies that one is the best loser. He did clarify, however, that this does not always hold true. To paraphrase him, the person who graduates last from medical school is still referred to as “Doctor.” The second lesson is that it is sometimes advantageous to lose. The entity that had outbid him for the product had done so by a wide margin. As this was the case, the entity should probably reassess the risk profile of the product that they purchased. As no other entity thought it was even close to the value as they did, it is probably riskier and worth less than what was paid for it.

Most importantly, we learned about the mindset that finance professionals should approach their careers with. The speaker stressed the significance of humility and gratitude and how those virtues remain the guiding lights that have allowed him to achieve both great professional and personal success. It was inspiring to see that there truly are those who maintain such strong moral fiber in a profession which is so often (and sometimes falsely) accused of being bankrupt.

Finance professionals rely on objective and timely information to make significant investment decisions in their business. We were honored to hear from a journalist from The Wall Street Journal, the most popular and probably most profitable newspaper in the finance field, that virtually every successful professional reads every day. The speaker introduced to us how the Journal gathers all kinds of resources to form an objective and independent reporting about the market to inform the world of finance.

In the afternoon, we departed for the New York Federal Reserve Bank on Wall Street, and there we had an insightful tour of not only the history of Federal Reserve System, but also its structure and functionality as the central banking system of the United States. Essentially, the Federal Reserve System, founded in 1913, is created to tackle the issues of financial panics. The system is composed of twelve regional banks located in a variety of cities in the U.S., such as St. Louis, Cleveland, New York, and so forth. When the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System along with the 12 presidents of regional federal reserve banks have decided to act on certain mutually agreed monetary policies, the New York Federal Reserve Bank will take the lead in carrying out the monetary policy implementation with all other Federal Reserve Banks.

What’s noteworthy is that the term length of all board members on Federal Reserve Board of Governors is set out to be a staggering 14 years, which is designed to promote independence of the board’s decision making process without being influenced by higher powers of authority.

Since the crisis of 2007, the Federal Reserve has been more conservative in loosening money supply. As time passes, the objectives of the Federal Reserve System appear to have shifted from preventing financial panic to promoting social stability by stabilizing the inflation rate and maintaining a natural unemployment level. This shift in functionality of the Federal Reserve System is enforced by open market operation, that is, buying and selling of government issued bonds in the open market to control the amount of money in circulation. In addition to OMO, Federal Reserve Banks can adjust policy rate/reserve rate and the interbank interest rate.

The main building of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 33 Liberty St., was designed by the architects York and Sawyer. The stones are Indiana limestone and Ohio sandstone. The building’s lowest floor is 50 feet below sea level.

A tour of the New York Federal Reserve Bank has provided us a different perspective on how we ought to look at the function of Federal Reserve as well as its monetary policy.

Later in the afternoon, we visited the Museum of American Finance, which features exhibits on the financial markets, currencies, banking history, and more. It unfolds the development of the market from different perspectives through diverse exhibitions.

For example, there’s a collection of used forms of currency and payment instruments, from coins to point-of-sale (POS) machines and Square magnetic stripe readers. The history of coins extends from antiquity to the present and has witnessed the ups and downs of economic history. Additionally, the new forms of payment methods such as the Square reader has carried more convenience into daily businesses, and it reflects the transformation that advanced technology and innovation have brought in recent decades.

We also saw the exhibition of high currency notes. Money serves as a medium of exchange and has value embedded. Therefore, turbulence in politics and economics could be reflected in unusual currencies such as inflationary currency. For instance, the Federal Reserve issued $100,000 gold certificates in 1934 in the aftermath of World War II.

Moreover, there are photographs showing the old exchange floor and the booth that was used before the implementation of the electronic trading system. However, no matter how the trading system has been upgraded, the passion and energy on Wall Street has never changed, and will continue to play an important role in American and global finance.

At nightfall, we gathered around on the 27th floor Terrace, chatting with each other and appreciating the view of flourishing New York. During the event, many exquisite dishes and drinks were provided and everyone enjoyed themselves. Among those in attendance were WashU alumni who are financial industry talents who shared plenty of valuable career advice and their work experience with us. It was great to have a roof top talk with alums of all ages today.

One alumna with whom we networked today got both her undergraduate and master’s degrees from WashU. She was a former Ernst & Young consultant and is now in a 15-year-old startup consulting firm based in New York City. Talking to her was rewarding. She generously shared information about consulting careers and her daily work content. Learning new knowledge efficiently and fast is one of the core qualities of being a consultant, and researching and knowing clients’ industries are a very important step of showing respect and professionalism to the clients. She also offered a job opportunity from the company in which she is currently working. However, she responsibly stressed that any of us who wants to apply for this job must be truly interested in a career in consulting instead of treating it as a stepping stone to other careers. Most of us had a great time at this event, and it was honorable for us to meet the alumni and learn from them.

Guest Bloggers: Jingyi Duan, Sheng Jin, Jie Tang, Lingfeng Zhu (GMF 2017)

This is a series of blogs chronicling the experiences of 42 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. Names of speakers and presenters at firms are anonymous at the request of the firms and course organizers.

FDICOn 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.

ABAAfter 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.

NYTOur 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.”

Day 10 - National Gallery of Art

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.

The New York Times‘ Andrew Ross Sorkin poses the question in his Dealbook column and cites research by Olin’s Judi McLean Parks and Lyda Bigelow on gender bias and investor perceptions of female founders/CEOs.

dealbook_mainJudi McLean Parks is the Reuben C. and Anne Carpenter Taylor Professor of Organizational Behavior, and Lyda Bigelow is an assistant professor at David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah and an adjunct professor of organization and strategy at Olin.