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Reading list for entrepreneurs

I’m often asked what to read in the business literature.

At least as regards entrepreneurship, Tom Eisenmann of Harvard Business School has done a good bit of the heavy lifting with this very comprehensive and up to date list.

Eisenmann and Eric Ries are breathing life into HBS’s entrepreneurship teaching.

And I say that without the slightest hint of cynicism.

Columbia updates disclosure requirements

Delighted to find that Columbia’s business school refreshed its disclosure requirements for faculty with outside interests this past July. Those who fail to fulfill them will be “subject to sanctions as judged appropriate by the Dean.” The same Dean, Glenn Hubbard, whose dismal performance in Inside job, I suspect, prompted the review in the first place.

UBS’ Rogue Trader

When Jerome Kerviel was charged with losing 5 billion Euros at SocGen, I wrote about his case in The Sunday Times of London. My conclusion was that there was no way he could have acted without some level of management consent, even if it were just tacit.

My suspicion is that in these cases, a huge loss is preceded by a huge gain. The gain is quietly accepted, but the loss produces a panic and all the blame is foisted on one individual, often at a very low level in the organization. Kerviel at SocGen, Fabrice Tourre at Goldman Sachs and now Kweku Adoboli at UBS.

Carsten Kengeter, the head of UBS’ investment bank, has spent his professional life in derivatives. Earnings at the bank have been poor for some time now. Many jobs were on the line. My guess is that in an effort to boost them, short-cuts were taken which led to excessively risky trading.

It worked well for a while, but in the kind of volatile markets we have seen in recent months, there was a sudden drop. A few hundred million can be made back. Once you get to $2 billion, you have to call in the authorities, before anyone finds out what’s going on.

Kerviel said something along these lines in his own defence, but wasn’t believed. Adoboli may be taking a similar fall.

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