2.50 credit hours
The course seeks to help corporate managers understand how financial design can be used to advance the goals and strategies of the firm. In the Finance course, you concentrated almost exclusively on the firm's capital expenditure decision. You studied in great detail the discounted cash flow model, NPV, how you get your cash flows, and how you discount according to risk. Now we move to the other side of the balance sheet to look at how the firm can finance these expenditures. The first part of this class provides the basic building blocks of financial engineering which begins with call and put options. The course focuses on using derivatives (calls and puts) to change a firm's risk profile with respect to equity, interest rate, foreign exchange, credit, and commodity risks. We look at capital structure decisions and securitization issues and discuss what it means to create optimal structures. Almost immediately we will tie this to our financial crisis and obtain an appreciation for financial designs that could be setup so as to enhance firm value, mitigate systemic risks, or accomplish specific sustainable goals in a global economy. The second part of the class is geared towards real options and its relationship to strategic planning. In competitive markets, no one expects to formulate a detailed long-term plan and follow it mindlessly. As soon as we start down the path, we begin learning about business conditions, competitors' actions, and so forth and we need to respond flexibly to what we learn. Unfortunately, the financial tool most widely relied on to estimate the value of strategy, DCF, assumes that we follow a predetermined plan, regardless of how events unfold. A better approach to valuation would incorporate both the uncertainty inherent in business and the active decision making required for strategy to succeed.
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