In 1688, essayist Josef de la Vega described finance as both “the fairest and most deceitful business…the noblest and the most infamous in the world, the finest and most vulgar on earth.” The characterization of finance as deceitful, infamous and vulgar still rings true today – particularly in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. But, what happened to the fairest noblest, and finest profession that de la Vega saw? De la Vega hit on an essential truth that has been forgotten: finance can be just as principled, life-affirming and worthy as it can be fraught with questionable practices. Today, finance is shrouded in mystery for outsiders, while many insiders are uneasy with the disrepute of their profession. How can finance become more accessible and also recover its nobility?
Harvard Business School professor Mihir Desai, in his “last lecture” to the graduating Harvard MBA class of 2015, took up the cause of restoring humanity to finance. With incisive wit and irony, his lecture drew upon a rich knowledge of literature, film, history and philosophy to explain the inner workings of finance in a manner that has never been seen before.
In his new book based on this lecture, The Wisdom of Finance, Professor Desai provides a lucid exploration of the ideas of finance as seen through the unusual prism of the humanities. Gillian Tett of the Financial Times described it as, "a charming, provocative and readable book." Through this novel, creative approach, he shows that outsiders can access the underlying ideas easily and insiders can reacquaint themselves with the core humanity of their profession.
Mihir Desai On "The Wisdom Of Finance"
About the Speaker
Mihir A. Desai is the Mizuho Financial Group Professor of Finance at Harvard Business School and Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He has taught extensively as an award-winning teacher at HBS and at Harvard University. Professor Desai's areas of expertise include tax policy, international finance and corporate finance. His work has emphasized the appropriate design of tax policy in a globalized setting, the links between corporate governance and taxation, and the internal capital markets of multinational firms.