Dr. P.V. Viswanath



Economics/Finance on the Web
Student Interest

  Courses / MBA 648 /  


21401: Tuesdays 9 am to 12 noon at the NY Campus Room W513
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: Noon to 2:30 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays
Note:  I am in my office in New York most days 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 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, 3rd edition
  • MyFinanceLab without e-book - (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 - (purchase at http://www.myfinancelab.com)
  • Student Value Edition plus myfinancelab -- you can buy this at the Pace Bookstore.

Here's how to buy the book:
The first possiblity is to buy the loose-leaf textbook plus MyFinanceLab Access Code from the Bookstore.
If you don't want this option, go to http://myfinancelab.com; then, click on the Student link. You will be asked for a Course ID; you can find the course ID here on my website. Click Next.
If you have bought your textbook from the bookstore, then select Access Code and put in your Access Code. If not, select Buy Now.

You will now have the following two options:

  • MyFinanceLab with Pearson eText
  • MyFinanceLab without Pearson eText

With any of the options above, and after being fully registered into your MyFinanceLab course, you can purchase a discounted loose-leaf, full color version of the text. This option is located in the “Textbook Resources,” available from inside your MyFinanceLab course. However, it might take a week to get the hard copy of the book, so order it right away!

There may also be a possibility that if you only buy MFL access, to begin with, that you might then be able to get a loose-leaf hard copy version for a cheaper price from http://www.mypearsonstore.com; in other words, buying an electronic version plus MFL access initially might cost more.

Once you buy access to MyFinanceLab in one of the ways indicated above, you need to go to the MyFinanceLab site and register to access 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.

How to Study for this Course:

  • At the beginning of the course, read my notes on Recurring Themes in Finance.
  • Make sure you have read each chapter before you come to class and also tried your hand at the questions on the chapter. The more you have read, the better you will be able to participate in class.
  • Make sure you go through my powerpoint slides before you come to class.
  • Use my hints to prepare for the exam

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. Fall 2011 hours for MBA 648 are:

Monday               11:00—5:00
Tuesday               11:00—4:00
Wednesday       11:00—1:00
Thursday             12:00—5:00

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

Students must accept the responsibility to be honest and to respect ethical standards in meeting their academic assignments and requirements.  Integrity in academic life requires that students demonstrate intellectual and academic achievement independent of all assistance except that authorized by the instructor. The use of an outside source in any academic paper, report or submission for academic credit without the appropriate acknowledgement is plagiarism. It is also academically dishonest to submit anything in electronic form as one's own that is the work, either fully or in part, of someone else.  It is unethical to present as one's own work, the ideas, words or representations of another without the proper indication of the source.  Therefore, it is the student's responsibility to give credit to any quotation, idea or data borrowed from an outside source.  Students who fail to meet the responsibility for academic integrity subject themselves to sanctions ranging from a reduction in grade or failure in the assignment or course in which the offense occurred to suspension, dismissal or expulsion from the University.

If you need more information on how to avoid plagiarism, you can find it on the Library's website.

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

Pace University believes that it is important for students receive appropriate accommodation for any disability.  To receive accommodation for any disability, students must contact the campus Counseling Center (Pace Plaza, 212-346-1526; Westchester, 914-773-3710).  The Coordinator of Disability Services will:

  • Evaluate the student's medical/learning/psychological documentation
  • If further documentation is necessary, refer the student for appropriate tests
  • Make recommendations for a plan of accommodation
  • Prepare letters for the student arranging for the recommended accommodations.

Course instructors are not authorized to provide any accommodation prior to your arranging for it through the Counseling Center.

School policy regarding disabilities is described on page L-56 of the Graduate Catalog. 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. 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. Some of the assignments are individual assignments and some of them are group assignments; this will be indicated on the Course Outline and on the Assignments page.

Discussion Board Participation:

The Discussion Board forums are an important part of the course. You will be given articles to read and react to. At the bottom of the article, you will generally find some comments/questions at the bottom of the article; however, you should not treat these questions as requiring "answers" necessarily. Rather treat them as my thoughts and simply comment on the issues raised by the article or by the information contained in the article. Even if you are reacting to my thoughts, the structure of your posting should not in the form of an "answer" to my questions. I will deduct points if you ignore this requirement! Postings must be made according to the schedule indicated on the calendar. Do not start new threads unless you have also responded to a previous posting in an existing thread.

Postings will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  1. Originality
  2. Proper Grammar and correctness of spelling
  3. Logic of arguments
  4. Relating arguments to previous posts (the sequence of posts is supposed to represent a conversation -- not a set of unrelated posts of people talking past each other!).
  5. Relating arguments to issues brought up in the text and on the slides.

There will be at least two Blackboard discussions. Please read everybody's posting and reply to them. Look at the discussion forum every couple of days, at least, and keep the discussion vigorous.


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; however the use of computers, PDAs, graphing calculator, phone calculators or other instruments that can communicate and/or are able to store alphanumeric information is strictly prohibited during the exam. It is your responsibility to verify whether your calculator is allowed, otherwise you will end up in an exam without a calculator. 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.

If you have difficulty in accessing the site and you're using Internet Explorer, you may want to try the following fix: Go to Tools on the Main menu, then choose Internet Options. Then choose Security; after that select Trusted Sites. Then click on sites and add "http://webpage.pace.edu/pviswanath" (make sure that you have unchecked the "Require Server Verification for all sites in this zone").
This should allow you to access the articles by using the correct password.


Your final grade will be determined as follows:

Factor  Impact on grade
Midterm 25%
Final 35%
Assignments and Quizzes 10%
MyFinanceLab Homework 10%
Discussion Board Participation 10%
Class Attendance & Participation 10%

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 640. I will presume complete familiarity with all topics taught in this 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?