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Mihir Desai on Demystifying Finance
Harvard Business Professor and Author of The Wisdom of Finance teaches basic financial concepts through stories
We see finance everywhere, from our retirement assets to our investments in housing and education. Yet, many smart people still find finance intimidating. Key ideas like insurance, leverage, risk, value creation, mergers and bankruptcies remain shrouded in mystery for the majority of people who spend their days on Main Street instead of Wall Street.
The 2008 financial crisis revealed that we could all benefit from a clearer understanding of how markets work. Yet, too often finance is taught in ways that are dry, technical, or jargon-filled.
Enter Mihir Desai. A professor at Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School, he is on a mission to restore the connection between the humanities and finance. In his book, The Wisdom of Finance: Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return, Professor Desai explores the ideas of finance from a humanities perspective. In this course, he’ll teach you the most important financial concepts using stories from books like Pride and Prejudice, the Maltese Falcon and the Bible.
This is not a personal finance course.
Instead, it will be a vivid, story-based tour of the key ideas in finance. By the end of this course, you’ll be able to converse fluently about key financial concepts, unpack financial stories in the news, and recognize financial ideas as they show up in everyday life. You’ll start to realize that, rather than being intimidating, the core practices of finance are all around us and have been ingrained in our stories for centuries.
Please go to instructor’s bio and website to find the direct link to Mihir’s Harvard course.
1. Introduction to the Course
- Pre-course Survey
- 1. Welcome to the Course by Mihir Desai (1:32)
- 2. Why Is It Important to Understand Finance? (1:27)
- 3. Exercise: Introduce Yourself
- 4. Resource: Workbook for the Course
2. Randomness, Insurance and Finance
- 5. Randomness and Risk: Understanding Insurance (2:29)
- 6. Insurance: A Financial Tool for Chaos (1:38)
- 7. Two Branches of Finance: Asset Pricing & Corporate Finance (1:54)
- Quiz 1: Distinguish between the Branches of Finance
- 8. Exercise: Analyze Randomness and Insurance in stories
3. Asset Pricing
- 9. Assessing Options: Pride and Prejudice (1:45)
- 10. Increasing Opportunity with Stock Options (2:50)
- Quiz 2: The Purpose of Optionality
- 11. Asset Pricing and Diversification to Reduce Risk (1:37)
- 12. Types of Financial Assets and Personal Relationships (3:43)
- Quiz 3: Types of Betas
- 13. The Mandate to Create Value: Parable of Talents (3:44)
- 14. What is Asset Valuation? (4:45)
- Quiz 4: Calculating Present Value
- 15. Exercise: Analyze and illustrate the different elements of Asset Pricing
4. Corporate Finance
- 16. What is the Principal-Agent Problem? (5:05)
- 17. How does the Principal-Agent Problem Affect Your Daily Life? (2:18)
- Quiz 5: Identifying Principals and Agents
- 18. Why Should Companies Merge? (3:02)
- 19. How are Mergers Like Marriages and Why do They Fail? (4:48)
- Quiz 6: Ideal Conditions for a Merger
- 20. Why is Leverage Important to Finance and Life? (5:58)
- 21. What Are the Risks of Debt and Leverage? (4:24)
- 22. Exercise: Identify elements of Corporate Finance in stories
5. The Future of Finance
- 23. Rediscovering the Humanity in Finance (2:00)
- 24. Why Should Social Entrepreneurs Understand Finance? (3:27)
- 25. Exercise: Identify the core human needs that Finance serves
- 26. About +Acumen
- 27. Complete the Post-Course Satisfaction Survey
6. Bonus Lecture: Updated Interview with Mihir on his new book “How Finance Works”
- 28. Bonus Interview with Mihir Desai
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