Dr. P.V. Viswanath



Economics/Finance on the Web
Student Interest

  Courses / MBA 648 /  


22852: Mondays 10:10 AM - 12:55 PM W620
Email: pviswanath@pace.edu Tel: (212) 618-6518
Webpage: http://www.pviswanath.com
Blackboard: http://blackboard.pace.edu

Office W416, Pace New York
Office hours: Mondays, 3:30 to 6 pm and Tuesdays, 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and by appointment
Note:  I am in my office in New York most of the week; let me know if you want to see me at other times.

Course Objectives

The primary objective of this course is to provide the student with an introduction to finance theory and practice, so that s/he can apply it in the different areas of business management. In addition, this course should enable the student to decide whether to proceed with more advanced study of finance.

Although the course will be self-contained, optimally, the student should also read the business section of newspapers or business newspapers like the Wall Street Journal on a regular basis.  Class meetings will be an opportunity to discuss the issues raised in the relevant textbook chapters, and to engage in exercises designed to improve understanding of finance concepts.  Students can also obtain information on companies and on financial markets from the Internet. Useful software for this purpose can be found at the G-PACT Room (Global Portfolio Analysis Center; W404).  

When you have completed this course successfully, you will be familiar with:

  • The meanings of fundamental financial concepts
  • The functions of the financial system
  • The Time Value of money
  • The management of risk
  • The relationship between risk and return
  • The basics of the valuation of bonds and stocks
  • Optimal Capital Structure: how to and how not to finance a firm or project

When you have completed the course successfully, you should be able to do the following (time permitting):

  • Understand what should be the objective of the firm's managers.
  • Manipulate formulas based on the time value of money.
  • Interpret the firm's financial statements
  • Use financial statement information to value stocks and bonds
  • Decide how to finance a firm on a basic level.

Course Text

Jonathan Berk and Peter DeMarzo, Corporate Finance: The Core, Pearson Prentice-Hall
  • MyFinanceLab without e-book - $40 (purchase at http://www.myfinancelab.com); if you choose this option, you will need to get the book itself from elsewhere.
  • MyFinanceLab with full e-book - $70 (purchase at http://www.myfinancelab.com)
  • Student Value Edition plus myfinancelab (ISBN: 0321557611) -- you can buy this at the Pace Bookstore.

Once you buy access to MyFinanceLab in on of the ways indicated above, you need to go to http://www.myfinancelab.com/getstarted/register.shtml to register and access to the learning materials that I have customized for the course. For details on how to access this course on MyFinanceLab, click here.

The first step, however, is to read all the assigned chapters of the book thoroughly, if critically. You should read each text-book chapter before we begin it, while we are working through it, and also after we complete it; as discussed above, class sessions are meant to complement the text, rather than substitute for it. Also make sure to read the powerpoint slides for each chapter; links to these can be found from the Class Schedule.

Computer Use and E-mail Policy:

You should obtain a Pace e-mail address as soon as possible, so that I can send you e-mail. Any student's Pace e-mail address can be obtained by going to http://appserv.pace.edu/WhitePages/Students.cfm or by going to the main Pace Home Page and clicking on White Pages from the IntraPace section towards the bottom of the page (the default password is the studentís Pace Identification Number).  More information about e-mail address, etc. can be obtained from the DoIT website and clicking on Computer from the left-hand side menu panel.  Even if you have another e-mail address where you wish to get your e-mail, you should still get a Pace e-mail address.  Once you have your Pace e-mail account and password, you can go to the Pace University Student E-Mail Server at http://stmail.pace.edu and have your e-mail forwarded to your preferred e-mail address.  You can find information on how to have your mail automatically forwarded at the DoIT websiteThe only way that I can communicate with you is through your Pace e-mail account.  So please get your Pace account information as soon as possible.

Check your e-mail and the MBA 648 website on a regular basis.  This will enable you to get the maximum from the course. I am available for consultation by e-mail at pviswanath@pace.edu. I check my e-mail practically every day, and, in most cases, you should get a speedy response to any questions.  

We will also be using Blackboard as a gateway for some aspects of the course.  Please log in to Blackboard at the earliest opportunity.    Blackboard login procedures can be found on the appropriate Blackboard site.  Essentially, your login ID for Blackboard will be your email ID, and your password will be your 9-digit social security number.  

Course Requirements

Class Attendance and Participation

Class attendance is mandatory.  This is for two reasons: one, I believe that you will understand the material much better if you attend the class sessions; two, modifications to the class schedule will be announced in class and/or on the BlackBoard website.  Also, on occasion, I conduct classroom exercises, give short quizzes, or assign additional work. If you miss a class session during which we have such a classroom exercise, or additional work is assigned, your grade will be adversely affected for this reason as well.  (Of course, it goes without saying that missing quizzes will affect your grade adversely.)  In any case, you should consult fellow students on what was done during the class time that you missed, and collect handouts for that day's session. You should also bring a calculator to all class meetings.

I also require that you read the Wall Street Journal and/or the business section of the New York Times on a regular basis. Some exam questions will be based on current newspaper and magazine articles that are related to course material. Hence you should cultivate and improve your ability to read newspaper articles critically.  If you do not already subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, you can do so online from the MBA 648 Home Page.

There are two other reasons why you should try to attend as regularly as possible. One, classroom participation will help your grade. By participation, I mean answering questions and making intelligent comments. Two, we will sometime do learning exercises in class; doing them can help you substantially in understanding the material.  I often also give credit for participation in these classroom exercises.


The Tutoring Center, located on the 2nd floor, 41 Park Row, offers free tutoring to all Pace University students. Check to make sure that it is available during the summer. 

No appointment is necessary, but students should check the schedules posted in the center or call 212-346-1329 for any changes.  Along with their questions, they should come prepared with their course materials.

For more information, please contact John P. Cleveland, the Center Director at 212-346-1407.

Academic Integrity

Any student taking this course is presumed to agree to abide by the school policy on academic integrity, as described on page L-52 of the Graduate Catalog. Please obtain a copy of the catalog and familiarize yourself with the policy.

Disability Policy

School policy regarding disabilities is described on page L-56 of the Graduate Catalog. You can contact the disabilities coordinator at 212-346-1526. Information can also be found on the University webpage.


Assignments are a critical part of the course.  The main purpose of these assignments is to make sure that you understand the material, and to prepare you for the exams. There are two kinds of end-of-chapter problem assignments: one that you need not turn in -- these can be found here and are suggested problems to help you understand the material and prepare for exams; and one that must turn in -- these are at MyFinanceLab.com and have deadlines. The deadlines are indicated on the Course TimeTable; if the deadline passes, you will lose points so you are advised to do them on time.

There will also be a Blackboard Discussion Group in which you are required to participate. These will be mostly media articles that I will assign, along with questions -- you will be required to comment on the article, using the questions as guidelines. Do not structure your postings as direct answers to the questions. I will grade you on your postings in terms of analytical content, understanding of the issues described in the article, introduction of new material from the textbook, other books, journal articles, or other web-content. Students how post earlier will be rewarded -- so even though your first instinct might be to wait to see what other people post, this may not be an optimal strategy.

The purpose of the Blackboard Discussion group is twofold -- one, to allow you to understand how the subjects discussed in class relate to topical issues; two, to prepare you for the exam.

I may assign additional assignments -- these assignments should be turned in by email unless otherwise instructed.

Blackboard Discussion Groups

While posting on Discussion Groups, keeping in mind the following points, which I will take into account in grading them.

  • Make sure you understand the article being discussed
  • Post early; if you post after somebody else, make sure you read the previous posts and respond to them. This is supposed to be a discussion group, not a place where you upload assignments.
  • Use grammar and spell check, if not in MS Word, then elsewhere. Use friends' help, as well. Bad English, bad spelling and bad grammar makes a bad impression and oftentimes makes it very difficult, if not impossible for the reader to understand the posting.
  • Your opinions are irrelevant, for the most part -- unless we are talking about tastes, or about something where it's very difficult to get information. Most of the time, if you express an opinion, you need to back it up with arguments.
  • When you read the questions at the end of an assigned media article, use them as directions for comment and posting. But -- don't ignore them, and don't simply write out answers to the questions.
  • The assigned media article is not the only article that is available on that topic -- try to look at other articles and cite them -- but make sure that you give us a citation, and, if it's on the web, the link.


There will normally be a midterm exam and a final; any modifications to this will be announced in class. Exams are usually closed book, but I will allow you to bring in one 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper containing only formulas -- nothing else (two sides). More details on the nature of the exams can be found on the FAQ page.  If you miss an exam without being excused, I cannot give you any credit for that exam.  University policy allows make-ups only for serious personal illness or death in the family, for which documentation may be required.  You can look at past exams and solutions on my website; however, the actual format of the exams this term will differ substantially from those of other exams. Please bring your own calculators to the exams; PDAs, however, are not allowed.  Get in touch with me regarding any question you may have regarding the exams, or the course in general.

Short Quizzes

There may, in addition, be short quizzes. 

Media Articles

On my webpages, you will find recent media articles.  From time to time, I will add to this list.  There are several reasons why you should look regularly at these pages.  

  • I will be posting interesting and recent articles to this directory.  As such, it will be a useful way for you to keep abreast of topical issues (in addition to your regular perusal of the Wall Street Journal.)
  • I will pose questions on the subject matter of several of the articles.  These questions will be good preparation for the media article based questions on the exams.
  • You can draw on the articles for classroom discussions.
  • These articles and the appended questions are useful preparation for job interviews.

The password, necessary to access the Media Articles section, will be announced in class and can also be found at the Blackboard website. In case of emergency, you can contact me for the password.


Your final grade will be determined as follows:

Factor  Impact on grade
Midterm 30%
Final 40%
MyFinanceLab Homework 10%
Class Attendance & Participation 5%; could be greater at my discretion
Blackboard Discussion Group 15%

Letter grades will be assigned as follows:  

Course Grade Quantitative Class Score
A, A- 90%-100%
B+, B 80%-89.99%
B-, C+ 70%-79.99%
C 60-69.99%
F 0-59.99%

Note that the minimum and maximum quantitative scores for plus and minus refinements to the letter grades will be at my discretion. These will be partly determined by the distribution of student scores within each letter grade category.   I place a high value on effort; at my discretion, I will raise your grade one notch if I feel that you have tried hard to satisfy all the requirements of the course.


Students must have satisfied the prerequisite for this course, viz. MBA 624. MBA 628 is recommended, but not required. I will presume complete familiarity with all topics taught in these courses.

Data Cards

On the index card handed out in class, please fill in the information requested below.  Make sure to number the item that you are responding to.  Leave space on the top right hand side for a photograph.

  1. Name
  2. Home and Work Phone number; Fax number, if any
  3. Email address, other than at pace.edu (for my convenience).  (Note that I will send you email only to your Pace email address)
  4. Functional expertise/interest in business administration (e.g. accounting, finance, personnel administration)
  5. Work experience, if any (provide particulars of what your duties were)
  6. Previous knowledge of finance (if any)
  7. Interests outside of business management (such as languages, music, etc.)
  8. What spreadsheet program do you know? Where did you learn it, and when?