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Smith Expert Commentary

May 01, 2012

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Gerard Hoberg, associate professor of finance, on the Facebook IPO:

“Facebook will dramatically change its access to capital markets, and in other ways, its public perception. Publicly traded firms can issue equity to fund new investment, or to fund acquisitions. It can also use its own stock as a way to buy other firms that it may wish to merge with. These issues increase its flexibility, and allow it to be more agile in its market. … On perception, you will have many institutional and retail investors reading its financials, and making investments. This will increase the publicity received by the firm, and perhaps also public confidence in the strength of its business model. In turn, this may help to secure its market share.”

Joseph Bailey, professor of information management, on Maryland's Proposed Digital Goods Sales Tax:

If Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley convinces lawmakers to pass his proposed digital goods sales tax in the 2013 fiscal year budget, the policy would be difficult to execute. State officials estimate the new tax would yield about $26 million, but Bailey said the projection is probably too high. "There would be a lot of noncompliance, not from nefarious intentions, but more from a lack of awareness and understanding of the policies," he said. "For example, if I, as a Maryland resident, purchase a download while traveling through California, how does the (national) seller count that transaction, when the packets do not travel through Maryland? The fundamental question would be 'What is the technology that enables this and how do we count and measure these numbers?'" About 25 states have recently enacted or are considering similar policy. "I wouldn't look to any of the states that have put in these policies as having success," he said. "Even the small successes have yet to be played out in terms of enforcement and the impact it's going to have in terms of competition."

Ethan Cohen-Cole, finance professor, on the recent $26 billion Foreclosure Abuse Settlement

Cohen-Cole says the agreement is unlikely to have any impact on the housing market in the short run. "The agreement allows banks to dispense with considerable legal risk in exchange for a relatively small sum -- 'small' in the sense that there is about $700 billion in underwater equity right now." He also sees no deterrent effect. "The payments are not punitive," he said. "(The payments) are largely structured to ensure that the banks can pay them without significant harm. This provides some short-term, minor relief to some homeowners without the specter of under-capitalized banks."

Curt Grimm, finance professor, on Insourcing vs. Outsourcing Jobs

The Obama Administration's recent "Insourcing American Jobs” forum brought together business leaders who have shifted employment back to the United States. The president had promoted the event as a means to discuss ways business leaders can return more jobs to the country. “With about 13 million people unemployed, companies have a deep labor pool they can tap,” Grimm recently told a reporter for Dow Jones Newswires. “And with high fuel prices and increasing wages in China and India, the cost advantages for outsourcing are thinning.”

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