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The Death of Corporate Reputation: How Integrity Has Been Destroyed on Wall Street (Applied Corporate Finance) 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0133039702
ISBN-10: 0133039706
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

“...a brilliant, provocative, and persuasive exploration of a root cause of the failure of modern financial market regulation, engendered by lawmakers, regulators and prosecutors, and their legal and accounting acolytes.... A must-read for anyone concerned about the health and well-being of our capital and financial markets.”
--Harvey Pitt, CEO of global business consultancy Kalorama Partners, formerly 26th Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (2001-2003)

  • The real reasons why we can no longer trust Wall Street and what to do about it
  • How the SEC got captured--and why it’s perfectly happy about that
  • Essential reading for every policymaker, financial executive, investor, and citizen concerned with well-functioning capital markets

Trust and reputation are central to the operation of capital markets. But in our generation, reputational mechanisms are failing, and when these fail, markets and societies will fail as well.

The conventional response is more aggressive regulation. But this only worsens the problem. In The Death of Corporate Reputation, one of the world’s leading experts in financial market regulation explains why. Yale Law School’s Jonathan R. Macey demonstrates how and why poorly considered regulation has undermined traditional trust mechanisms throughout financial institutions, accounting and law firms, credit ratings agencies, and stock exchanges alike.

Macey retells Wall Street’s recent history in a new and more productive light, revealing what has really happened--and offering a different and better path back to trust and integrity.

For more than a century, law firms, investment banks, accounting firms, credit rating agencies, and companies seeking regular access to U.S. capital markets made large investments in their reputations. They generally treated their customers well and occasionally even endured losses to maintain their reputations as faithful brokers, dealers’ issuers, and “gatekeepers.” This has changed. Today’s leading capital market participants no longer treat customers as valued counterparties whose trust must be earned and nurtured but as distant “counter-parties” to whom no duties are required. The rough and tumble norms of the marketplace have replaced the long-standing fiduciary model in U.S. finance. The result has been unrelenting financial scandal.

In The Death of Corporate Reputation, pioneering corporate law and governance expert and Yale professor Jonathan Macey describes the disastrous transformation from the old reputational model to the existing buyer beware model in finance. Macey convincingly argues that the change can be attributed to several factors, including (1) the growth of reliance on regulation rather than reputation to protect customers and (2) growing regulatory complexity, which has made technical expertise more important to customers than reputation. After identifying the heart of the problem, he offers a better path forward--and a true “silver lining” in the age of Madoff.

Why traditional methods of fraud deterrence have failed in finance
The unintended consequences of aggressive overregulation--and how to fix them

It’s not just the banks: touring post-reputation Wall Street
Failure of reputation in accounting and law firms, rating agencies, and exchanges

Milken and beyond: why “nobody goes down with the ship” anymore
Why the employees of scandal-tarnished firms keep right on thriving

The perverse incentives that make the SEC so ineffective
Responding to the wrong metrics, driven by the wrong politics

About the Author

Jonathan R. Macey is Sam Harris Professor of Corporate Law, Corporate Finance, and Securities Law at Yale University and Professor in the Yale School of Management. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Yale Law School Center for the Study of Corporate Governance, a member of the Faculty Advisory Group of Yale’s Millstein Center for Corporate Governance and Performance, and Chairman of Yale’s Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility. He has served as an independent director of two public companies and is a member of FINRA’s Economic Advisory Council and the Bipartisan Policy Center Task Force on Capital Markets. His many books include Corporate Governance: Promises Kept, Promises Broken and Macey on Corporation Law.

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Product Details

  • Series: Applied Corporate Finance
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: FT Press; 1 edition (March 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0133039706
  • ISBN-13: 978-0133039702
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #886,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By David Kinchen on April 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A good reputation is the most valuable thing we have--men and women alike. If you steal my money, you're just stealing trash. It's something, it's nothing: it's yours, it's mine, and it'll belong to thousands more. But if you steal my reputation, you're robbing me of something that doesn't make you richer, but makes me much poorer. -- Iago to Othello, Act 3, Scene 1 in the play "Othello" in a modern English rendering of Shakespeare's famous "who steals my purse steals trash" speech

Right after I finished reading and absorbing Jonathan R. Macey's "The Death of Corporate Reputation" I came across a story by New York Times financial reporter Gretchen Morgenson offering a word or two of advice to incoming SEC chief Mary Jo White.

Morgenson echoed Macey's criticism of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as a toothless lion, incapable of scaring anyone, and said the clock is ticking on cases brought in the wake of the 2008 economic meltdown, that "For a lot of cases involving questionable practices and disclosures arising from the mortgage bust of 2008, time is running out.

"A February ruling by the Supreme Court made this crystal clear. In a case called Gabelli v. S.E.C., the court ruled that the commission has no more than five years from the occurrence of a fraud to file enforcement actions. It cannot wait until it uncovers a violation to start that clock.

"How many S.E.C. cases are up against that five-year limit? Outsiders have no way of knowing. But one whistle-blower complaint involving potentially misleading disclosures by SunTrust Banks, a regional bank holding company in Atlanta, serves as an example. Filed with the S.E.C. more than a year ago by a former SunTrust employee, it appears to be languishing even though time's a-wasting.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By JPHoldcroft on April 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The Death of Corporate Reputation by Yale Law School Professor John Macey is a "must read" for anyone interested in the root causes of the 2008 financial crisis and why the financial institutions and markets today seem so fundamentally different from those of those of just a generation ago. Unlike so many books that attempt to make sense of the financial crisis of 2008 by simply reprinting the same tired old facts about Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, CDOs, CDS and subprime, The Death of Corporate Reputation provides an insightful and practical theory for understanding why and how our financial institutions and markets went rogue and caused Chairman Bernanke to run the biggest bond fund on the planet.

As the title suggests, Professor Macey traces the failures of our institutions, markets and regulators to a fundamental change in how Wall Street functions and more specifically to a failure of corporate reputation to provide a meaningful role in managing or transacting business. With clarity and wit, Jon Macey walks his reader through a number of case studies to make his point that investing in one's reputation made logical and financial sense in a time when information was less readily available, regulations and laws were less pervasive and enforcement of these rules was more thoughtful. An unintended effect of an explosion of securities and banking regulations (even before Dodd-Frank) and the SEC's strict enforcement of obscure and highly technical regulations ironically, Professor Macey argues is a devaluing of corporate reputation and a logical inclination of financial institutions to just comply with the law.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brian Logan on April 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Professor Macey presents a fresh and captivating explanation for the causes of the financial crisis. This book is a must read for anyone interested in the real reasons behind the changes in our economy. Like so many others throughout the past few years, I have had the hazy sense that things are different thing this time and Macey pinpoints the root cause: American finance has morphed. The reputational business model of yesteryear has been replaced.

This book is a much needed, and valuable, contribution to the debate over what happened - and provides great insight for our future.
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Format: Hardcover
It will probably come as no surprise to anyone reading this book, but corporate reputation is at an all-time low. It used to be a company's reputation was considered a prized asset, guarded jealously. In this book, Jonathan Macey shows how that time is long gone, that companies who have lost their reputations have not lost business and sometimes even gained because of wrong-doing or even illegal activity. He picks apart everything from companies, brokerages, banks, the people who run them, even the regulatory agencies tasked to make sure they play by the rules. It is a disheartening look into just how corrupt commerce and government has become. Who loses? The consumers. Who do we trust? Who can we depend on to help make decisions? The simple answer is no one. And that is the saddest commentary of all.

The book is not an easy read. Macey does a good job of explaining the complex strategies employed. I understand junk bonds for the first time in my life from this book. But unless one is very interested in this topic, it is going to be a hard slog. I admit I used this book as a sleep aid more than one night. It is one of the best documented books I have read. I think the footnote references were half as long as the chapters.
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