Letters from our readers

Winter 2012

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Share your thoughts at mendozabusiness@nd.edu or comment as you read online by clicking on the comments link at the bottom of each page. 

Comments may also be submitted via U.S. mail: Mendoza Business magazine, 204 Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556

Letters may be edited for length and clarity, are representative of those we receive, and may appear in print, online or both.  Comments do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Mendoza Business editorial staff.


‘Greed Run Amok’

While I must profess having little understanding of many of the complex issues that drive the American business landscape, I detected a strong undercurrent of greed run amok in the spring issue of the Mendoza College magazine. Precious little of the good works by Notre Dame alumni or others is visible in the pages.

This Wild West mentality is what drove us to the brink of financial ruin as a nation, and probably will push us over the cliff. But I guess if you are at or near the top of the food chain, it is always easy to lump together the masses of faceless individuals who can’t hope to play at that level because the game has been rigged for so long.

I wish you would take a serious look at the world economy that dictates why Americans are getting less in their paychecks and finding it difficult to deal with the all-powerful medical industry.
—Michael C. Henry (’79)


The Devil, the Details and Dodd-Frank (Spring 2011)

I’m dismayed! Seven “Oraclesque” pages of “might be good, might be bad” discussion relating to Dodd-Frank! Why are academic, political and business luminaries engaging in this form of navel gazing one year after passage of a law that so profoundly affects our daily lives? Why are they not taking a principled stand against what has become the accepted practice in Washington of “You need to pass it to find out what’s in it” legislation? Regardless of the problem, why do we allow our elected officials to engage in this kind of “hide and seek” lawmaking? We have seen the idiocy of 1099 regulation and the reality of “rationing” with IPAB [Independent Payment Advisory Board] hidden in the thousands of pages of health-care legislation. What is yet left for us to “seek” in it? Obviously, we need improvements in our health-care and financial systems, but this is not the way to accomplish those goals. We cannot allow ourselves to become so numb to the process of lawmaking that we fail to question it and we must insist on absolute clarity of content in our laws. I’d have preferred an article from these individuals discussing why we are at risk for allowing this practice to continue rather than reading one which meekly accepts it.
—Robert C. Johnson (’65)


Friends or Just Friendly? (Spring 2011)

Excellent article by Joseph A. Holt. Would love to sit in on one of his lectures. When I read the stories of “Al” and “Kate,” I realized that I too shared their stories. Looking forward to Professor Holt’s next article.
—Marion Gingras (MBA ’92)


In Memoriam: Mary Kathleen Hamann (Spring 2011)

Thank you for the lovely tribute to my younger sister Mary. As your essay described, Mary was a woman of compassion, wisdom, understanding, faith and love. She never had a bad word to share about others. She tried to see the best in all of us. Since Mary became associated with your magazine, I admit to being a huge fan. Reading the magazine from cover-to-cover, every issue, I was particularly partial to the editor’s letter written by Mary. I loved her sense of humanity and justice that shined through every essay. Good luck to all of the fine people at Mendoza and Notre Dame in the years to come. 
—Christine and John Murphy (’81)


Everyday Grace: Thoughts on Remorse (Winter 2011)

Welcome back, Prof. Cunningham! Your previous series on “The Seven Deadly Sins” was excellent, and “Everyday Grace” started on a very right foot! It’s a pleasure to read you, and needless to say, most enriching. And ... GO IRISH!
—Juan R. Pacheco (’56)


Editor’s Letter: 2010 Women’s Soccer team and the Notre Dame Fight Song (Winter 2011)

It is possible to sing your words to the Fight Song tune.

I recall quite vividly how in 1974, those of us from Fisher Section 1-B would stand together in the frosh seats and loudly sing, “With her sons and daughters marching ...” See, it fits: It’s an 8-count with the exact same accentuation.

Thank you for sharing your gifts with us through your endeavor: ND Business is our critical link to University culture, and an extremely respectable representation of our school.
—Gerry Roybal (’78)

Your comments so resonate with me! As a 1987 grad, the male-female ratio was still unbalanced at 3-to-1, but my sense was that we had made some progress as a new gender at Notre Dame. Watching the women’s soccer team prevail, I had tears of pride in my eyes as I sang our version of the Fight Song: “While her loyal sons and daughters march on to victory.” Thanks for your inspiring words!
—Sue Callaghan (’87)


By the numbers: MBA Program named a Military Friendly School (Winter 2011)

Congratulations to the Mendoza MBA Program for being named a 2011 Military Friendly School. Notre Dame’s MBA Program has a history of attracting armed forces veterans, including my classmate, Pat Brady who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1969 for his actions in Vietnam.
—Bill Effler (MBA ’72)


Is Fair Value Really Fair? (Winter 2011)

Your article on fair-value accounting presented a very thin slice of a very complicated subject. The headline, “Banks claim an accounting practice made the recession worse, but research indicates they’re just trying to shift the blame for their own bad loans,” is dismissive of the underlying issue—what is a reasonable value, or measure, of an asset?

Is the value of an asset being priced upon condition of immediate sale really its fair value?

Evidently the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) is not so sure either, and the FASB is an organization with a proud history of mandating accounting rules that it believes to be correct, regardless of the popularity of such pronouncements.

GAAP accounting rules have real impact to the financial statements of public companies, such as banks. I am the CEO of a billion-dollar-asset community bank, and we retain nearly all of the loans that we originate on our balance sheet. If a 20-year mortgage that we originated in 2005 at 6 percent interest is paying as scheduled, why should our bank have to “mark down” this loan if new loans later this year are now priced at 7 percent? The cash flow that we expected at the outset is still in place, and the loan is performing. But fair-value accounting would require a write-down of the old loan, because a current investor could receive a higher yield on the new loan. There are valid arguments in support of differing opinions, but I do not see a simple solution, and the suggestions by Mr. Benchley et al. that the FASB was outmaneuvered by bank lobbyists and politicians is a great disservice to anyone who is seriously engaged in this discussion.

Complicated—definitely. A work in progress—you bet. But I felt that your readers of fair-value accounting were treated unfairly by this political explanation of the subject.
—Thomas Ritter (MBA ’76, ’74)