Monday, December 21, 2009

Harvard's Toxic...

Assets, that is.
A long article in Bloomberg (via The Awl, via Jesse) details just how risky and faulty Harvard's economic bets were during the 00's credit madness. Not only did they lose 30 percent of their endowment, and $1.8 billion in cash reserves, they had to borrow at least $1 billion from the state of Massachusetts to get out of some bad credit swaps that were bets on interest rates.

Most of the wrong-way bets were made in 2004, when Lawrence Summers [pictured] now President Barack Obama’s [Chief!] economic adviser, led the university.

Harvard has had to freeze their multimillion dollar campus expansion plans.

“They have a structural problem,” one observer says. “There’s something systemically wrong with Harvard Corp. It’s too small, too secretive, too closed and not supported by enough eyeballs looking at the risks they are taking.”

Hubris? Probably. Greed? Sure. But the worst part is the last: the lack of transparency. That is no way to run a university in the 21st century.


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