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World’s Finance Thought Leaders Gather at McDonough in May

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More than 250 academics and policymakers from institutions including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the Federal Reserve Board gathered at Georgetown in May for the 2014 Financial Cavalcade, an annual meeting of academics and thought leaders in finance.

The three-day event, which ran May 18-21, featured presentations on a range of topics from entrepreneurship and personal finance, to structured finance, housing price dynamics, credit spreads and earnings management.

The event, which is sponsored by the Society for Financial Studies is held at a different U.S. university each year and came to Georgetown at the invitation of its Center for Financial Markets and Policy, which put together a thorough proposal to host. A large share of the undergraduate and graduate students at McDonough go on to careers in finance or consulting related to finance and this gathering of so many esteemed thought leaders helped foster discussions on many topics that are timely in a post-financial crisis business environment.

While the event is attended mostly by PhDs, and features rigorous academic discussions, it also presents some key themes on finance that make their way into coursework and real-world finance. Reena Aggarwal, professor of finance and director of the Georgetown Center for Financial Markets and Policy, said she also expects the event will be “extremely helpful” in recruiting faculty to McDonough in the coming years. McDonough was ranked the top undergraduate business school for finance by Bloomberg Businessweek and more than half of the school’s undergraduates enter careers in financial services.

“Conferences such as this one provide forums to discuss new research addressing the opportunities and challenges faced by global finance,” said Aggarwal, who chaired a session on Empirical Capital Structure at this year’s cavalcade. “The event helped to further solidify the Center for Financial Markets and Policy as the go-to place for thought leadership on global finance,” she said.

Aggarwal noted that Washington is increasingly regarded as a new “global financial hub” where important conversations take place on key policy issues related to global financial markets, leading to the development of meaningful research for regulators and the international community. She said the Georgetown Center for Financial Markets and Policy hopes to build on the momentum of this event and its Washington location by hosting other academic events, including seminars and workshops on topics including cybersecurity and financial markets quality.

Papers presented at this year’s cavalcade were selected from 653 submissions, a 42 percent increase over the number of submissions last year. The acceptance rate was 11.5 percent. Keynoted speeches were delivered by FeiFei Lei, Partner and Head of Research at Research Affiliates, who spoke on the topic, From Academia to Industry; and by Toni Whited, conference chair and professor of business administration and finance at the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business, whose presentation was titled Identification, and challenged traditional ideas of identification.