Heard in the Suite

An Interview With Benjamin N. Dover, III

Muffie Benson-PerellaMuffie Benson-Perella (muffie AT muffmarkets.com) was an Associate in the Investment Banking Division of a “Bulge Bracket” bank. She holds a B.A. in French and Art from Vassar College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. She concentrated in Contemporary French Poetry at prep school where she was awarded the exclusive premiership of the school’s “French Club.” Today, Ms. Benson-Perella is the Founder and Managing Director of “Muffie on Markets” (http://www.muffmarkets.com), a deep dive into capital markets, finance and investment strategy. She is also the Founder and Managing Director of Muff Cap, LLC., an invitation only, private investment vehicle for non-existent, prestigious and accredited investors only, employing an actively managed, long-short strategy.
Certainly history will write its own lists of heroes and villains with respect to the credit crisis. It is a sort of mandatory, cleansing practice that collates the pages of the current time of troubles. And, while many of history’s verdicts may form less than a consensus, it seems clear that the verdict rendered for Benjamin N. Dover, III will be one of the rosier ones.
Mr. Dover’s sometimes controversial, but always insightful observations writ large by the disclosure requirements of the SEC and FDIC public comment process have set the cutting edge for debate on everything from short-selling to the PPIP programs for the last several weeks. Here is a passage of his work:

Truth #1: Stock Market Crashes Are Caused By Stock Sales.
It should be painfully obvious by now that the market’s decline since November 2007 was caused by stock selling. Not even pernicious speculators like George Soros would dispute this basic truth. Similarly, the market’s steep fall after several large bank failures and the deepening of the economic crisis in September 2008 also was the result of stock selling. We can safely conclude, therefore, that had stock sales been banned in 2007 the stock market crash of 2008-2009 never would have happened. Logically, it follows that banning stock sales would also prevent future market crashes.

Agree or disagree, you simply cannot ignore his common sense approach to markets, finance and economics. But who is Benjamin N. Dover, III? Very little biographical information is available on the maverick finance expert, but I decided to find out. Accordingly, to lift the curtain on this modern finance mind I sat down with Benjamin N. Dover III at the Peninsula for his first public interview:
Muffie Benson-Perella: Benjamin Dover, is that British? Perhaps Irish?
B. Dover: I’m an American original. (Not be confused, of course, with Native American.) And I appreciate your calling me by my given name. For some odd reason, many people seem to find it amusing to use its abbreviation.

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Don’t Even Try To Blame Harvard For This Mess

Muffie Benson-PerellaMuffie Benson-Perella (muffie AT muffmarkets.com) was an Associate in the Investment Banking Division of a “Bulge Bracket” bank. She holds a B.A. in French and Art from Vassar College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. She concentrated in Contemporary French Poetry at prep school where she was awarded the exclusive premiership of the school’s “French Club.” Today, Ms. Benson-Perella is the Founder and Managing Director of “Muffie on Markets” (http://www.muffmarkets.com), a deep dive into capital markets, finance and investment strategy. She is also the Founder and Managing Director of Muff Cap, LLC., an invitation only, private investment vehicle for non-existent, prestigious and accredited investors only, employing an actively managed, long-short strategy.
Apparently it has become fashionable to bash higher education. And it seems to be even more fashionable to bash higher higher education and the graduate programs that compose it. It doesn’t take an in-depth understanding of non-linear systems in mathematics to draw a straight line right to the premise that bashing the highest institutions of higher higher education [(higher)3 if you will] has become the most fashionable. This little bit of social algebra is borne out by the number of no-nothing articles, petty blogs and opinionated op-ed pieces that have, of late, attacked no lesser a monument than the noble and proud edifice of the Harvard Business School.
A recent Bloomberg piece (written by a Columbia graduate, obviously) went so far as to suggest that a November task-force was formed at HBS as a reaction to scrutinize the ability of HBS to teach risk management and develop a case to facilitate that goal. Of course, this betrays a very poor understanding of the role of cases at HBS. Harvard cases are written to market to other institutions. Attempting to teach actual Harvard cases to Harvard students would result in a massive and near violent revolt of apathy and boredom. The width and breadth of world experience already under the skirt of the matriculating Harvard student makes any attempt to teach the trite and condescending prose that typifies the average Harvard case the height of effrontery. To the extent cases are discussed at all in HBS classes it is to critique them for their eventual redistribution to the Crimson-challenged. Clearly, the task-force discussed in the article is to distribute better risk management teaching expertise to the world and prevent the sort of melt-down that non-Harvard types seem to enjoy causing every 20 years or so. Despite all our efforts to place alumni at the top, and in key positions around the country, incompetent minions, listless staff and executives who cannot learn to take orders manage to scuttle our progress time after time.

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Ask Muffie: Cause and Effect

Muffie Benson-PerellaMuffie Benson-Perella (muffie AT dealbreaker.com) is an Associate in the Investment Banking Division of a “Bulge Bracket” bank. She holds a B.A. in French and Art from Vassar College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Her regular column “Heard in the Suite” is a probing (and, ahem, fictional) weekly look into the secret lives and behind the velvet curtains of the investment banking world.
Dear Muffie:
I am considering going to law school in order to be a “deal lawyer” but I am worried because I hear there is a lot of discussion of “cause and effect” in law school. These are concepts that are foreign to me. Can you help with a female perspective on “cause and effect” and how it impacts the banking profession?
Betsy “Boom-Boom” Baylor

Dear Boom-Boom:
The best way for me to teach you is by example, so I am including some real-life cause and effect examples from investment banks that involve a legal element.
Example #1: Email from work account

Cause:

—–Original Message—–
From: associate@prestigiousbank.com
Sent: May 20, 2007 4:35 PM
To: associate2@prestigiousbank.com
Subject: test
hey – iwas wondering if you knew anything that could help me pass a saliva/mouth swab test? i think I’m pretty screwed.

Effect:

From: dirhr@prestigiousbank.com (Director of Human Resources)
Sent: May 20, 2007 7:36 PM
Required: Associate; Cindy Reardon (Vice President, Human Resources); Robert Moss (Office of the General Counsel); Richard Fossbath (Managing Director, Investment Banking Division)
When: May 21, 2007 8:00 AM-8:30 AM
Location: Conference Room A, Human Resources, 35th Floor
Accept | Tentative | Decline | Calendar…
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

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DealBreaker After Dark: Enthrall Me

Muffie Benson-PerellaMuffie Benson-Perella (muffie AT dealbreaker.com) is an Associate in the Investment Banking Division of a “Bulge Bracket” bank. She holds a B.A. in French and Art from Vassar College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Her regular column “Heard in the Suite” is a probing (and, ahem, fictional) weekly look into the secret lives and behind the velvet curtains of the investment banking world.
Sometimes, when your BBFs turn out to be unsupportive scabs, you just need to distract yourself. Unfortunately, right when that happens you seem to get a bunch of outside influences tugging at you. Well, because a certain editor violated my privacy and splayed my AIM name (muffiehbs05) out on the entire interwebs, I now get any number of dipsticks asking me for a date. True, I had this one passable one in email already and I already had to ignore a bunch of tools in my inbox, but then you find out that some of the ones you are hoping have promise just wither away without even a fight when you shine even a dim light on them. I swear, I don’t know how you are supposed to meet someone when you work for a highly prestigious investment bank like I do.
Anyhow, so in a weak moment, I get this email, I respond to it, I have to wait 22 hours (which is intolerable for a date planning session and then this is what I get:
(after the jump)

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I Have Issues With Office Gossip

Muffie Benson-PerellaMuffie Benson-Perella (muffie AT dealbreaker.com) is an Associate in the Investment Banking Division of a “Bulge Bracket” bank. She holds a B.A. in French and Art from Vassar College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Her regular column “Heard in the Suite” is a probing (and, ahem, fictional) weekly look into the secret lives and behind the velvet curtains of the investment banking world.
The time has come to have a serious discussion about workplace privacy. I have been shocked recently to learn that employees generally have no expectation of privacy in their workplace in the United States. Their telephone calls, conversations, personal liaisons and internet chat conversations can be monitored with impunity by corrupt, draconian (and creepy) superiors without due process, a warrant, or any kind of judicial review.
Given the kind of intimate things that often go on in the office, I think it is time to recognize that this is one of the most concerning issues of our time. I just happen to know some people personally, three friends of mine, who have been personally impacted by this issue just in the last 48 hours. Their personal, private conversation about important subjects was captured by an employer, and then maliciously reposted all over the internet for everyone to see.
Really, if some people want to know so badly about the personal lives of some other people or what they were doing last night or who they were doing it with or where and with how many other people, they should just ask rather than abuse their power to steal secret conversations and publish them.
Imagine their surprise when my father’s lawyer told them that they had basically “no recourse” against their employer for invasion of privacy.
One of them was very upset and is strongly considering resigning her important executive position. You can see yourself from our chat how upset she was (after the jump).
(I have changed her name because she doesn’t know I am posting this).

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The Importance of Human Resources

Muffie Benson-PerellaMuffie Benson-Perella (muffie AT dealbreaker.com) is an Associate in the Investment Banking Division of a “Bulge Bracket” bank. She holds a B.A. in French and Art from Vassar College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Her regular column “Heard in the Suite” is a probing (and, ahem, fictional) weekly look into the secret lives and behind the velvet curtains of the investment banking world.
It is a recurring theme here in “Heard in the Suite” that working in the most substantive practice group at the most prestigious investment bank around is not for everyone. Even the most dedicated professionals sometimes have problems maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Sometimes neglecting the “play” in “work hard, play hard” is a big mistake. The harder the work the harder the play needed to maintain the balance. Fortunately, in a culture of success like my employer’s, there is a group of unsung heroes that the firm has invested piles of money into and who are dedicated to servicing the critical professional employees.
It is true that the people in Human Resources are typically disaffected, bitter women. Who better to understand the trials and travails of those of us who haven’t known much hardship until recently?

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Exceptional Situations, Exceptional Advice: Muffie Benson-Perella

Muffie Benson-PerellaMuffie Benson-Perella (muffie AT dealbreaker.com) is an Associate in the Investment Banking Division of a “Bulge Bracket” bank. She holds a B.A. in French and Art from Vassar College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Her regular column “Heard in the Suite” is a probing (and, ahem, fictional) weekly look into the secret lives and behind the velvet curtains of the investment banking world.
A reader writes:
Dear Muff Diver:
Your advice is shallow, worthless and misleading. I cannot believe that you are permitted to continue publishing anything on a quality site like DealBreaker. Go lick some carpet or something.”
Annoyed in Albany

I will have you know that my experience has helped many people. Not least of which was the reader who wrote in earlier this month looking for resume advice. Today I got a nice little thank you note. I reproduce it below:
Dear Ms. Muffie:
How are you.Thanks a lot for your advice. I am getting a lots of calls now a days. That too from top tier recruiting firms. I will be really glad to talk to you about it. Could you please give me a call Muffie (917) xxx-xxxx. Wish to hear from you.
Thanks
R. Mondavi

For your information, many people value my important contributions to the world of high finance.

Muffie Benson-Perella reserves the right to edit and reprint all submissions. Forward all your critical finance and personal (but not personal finance, that’s for the PCS group) questions to : muffie AT dealbreaker.com