Is Hollywood bad luck for the U.S. economy?
This week, an article in Slate posed that question and aimed to answer it, citing Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, Darren Starr’s The $treet and other finance-themed content whose release dates coincided with or precipitated economic downturns. Slate also pointed to several television offerings now airing and forthcoming that focus on financiers—including the ABC dramas Dirty Sexy Money, Big Shots and Cashmere Mafia, as well as an HBO show in the works about a hedge fund—and asked, Could this mean another recession is right around the corner?
Also this week, news surfaced that investment bank Bear Stearns, which has been hit hard by the recent housing market decline and has closed two hedge funds, might be ready to sell a significant number of its shares. The New York Times reported that Bear has held talks to sell an estimated 20 percent of its stock to legendary investor (and billionaire) Warren Buffett. The second wealthiest person on the planet, Buffett is well known for finding and investing in undervalued companies. According to the Times, Bank of America, Wachovia and two Chinese banks are also interested in buying Bear stock, which neared its all-time low just over a month ago—which is when Buffett first reached out to Bear. After talks were leaked yesterday, Bear’s stock price rose 7.7 percent.
While the value of Bear’s shares rose, an article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal reported on the fall in value of the MBA. The Journal outlined the premise of Harvard Business School professor Rakesh Khurana’s upcoming book entitled From Higher Aims to Hired Hands, which “argues that famous B-schools, including Harvard, have lost track of their original mission to produce far-sighted leaders who can help the economy run better … As Prof. Khurana sees it, MBA training has deteriorated into a race to steer students into high-paying finance and consulting jobs without caring about the graduates' broader roles in society.”
Has the degree indeed become, as the Journal puts it, a “badge that lets graduates latch onto situations where they can jostle the actual managers of companies and make a lot of money for themselves in the process?” Or are business schools pushing more than “greed is good” Gordon Gekko-nomics and actually preparing young minds to go out into the world economies and spread good tidings?
As always, if you have any thoughts on the subject, or others, I welcome your comments.