New Markets Lab gives students real-world experiences
When Janet Yellen, the new Federal Reserve chairwoman, gave her first testimony before Congress, the markets reacted immediately and positively.
Students in Professor Mary Papazian’s International Finance class watched the events unfold live in the Girard School’s new state-of-the-art Markets Lab.
These students had recently started trading international equities, foreign exchange and commodities in their portfolios. On this day in early February they saw how news influences investors: When Yellen said she would follow the policies of her predecessor, Ben Bernanke, the Standard and Poor’s 500-stock index rose 1.1 percent, and the Dow Jones industrial average shot up 192.98 points, or 1.2 percent.
“To see the energy and sense of urgency in executing trades real-time before an earnings report or economic release is revealed … is truly amazing,” says Papazian, director of the Markets Lab.
“From a professor’s point of view, it is quite stimulating for all parties involved.”
The Markets Lab features 15 Bloomberg terminals that students use in the three classes Papazian teaches: two in International Finance and one in Financial Analysis. Papazian has hired three lab assistants who work a combined 20 to 30 hours a week to assist students working on class projects or seeking Bloomberg certification. Located in the new Academic Innovation Center, the lab was dedicated in September 2013. It’s open to all students on campus.
“I like to think of this room not only as a trading floor that provides innovative teaching and learning for the individual student, but as a business research classroom designed to foster teamwork,” Papazian says.
For business major Shane Simbeck ’14, an exciting moment in the Markets Lab came while using StockTrack, a simulated trading game, in one of Papazian’s classes. Teams of two compete to generate the best returns, trading multiple asset classes and securities. Simbeck and his teammate chose to go long on the euro because of an attractive technical setup, he said, and made $1.7 million on the trade.
“With $10 million under management, a $1.7 million gain on a single trade is a solid return,” Simbeck said.
“The Markets Lab has generated great excitement across Merrimack College. The amount of resources provided to students via the Bloomberg terminals is breathtaking,” added Simbeck, one of the three lab assistants. Both the Finance Club and a new Trading Club, which Simbeck started this semester, meet in the Markets Lab.
Proficiency on Bloomberg terminals is a virtual prerequisite in today’s financial world. Most large financial firms subscribe to the Bloomberg Professional service, which provides real-time financial data, news, and other information to support sophisticated trading.
“The Bloomberg terminals give students wide access to detailed data at the product, company and industry level,” Papazian says. The Markets Lab allows her to provide real-life experiences for every student, such as bringing bond trader Maurice Kauff, Managing Director of Fixed Income Trading from Northern Capital Securities Corporation to her Financial Analysis class to show how he uses a Bloomberg terminal.
“The terminals and the lab are important components that will enable the Girard School of Business to offer more sophisticated, experiential learning opportunities for its students.”
Students can perform research on companies, markets, countries and economies. Bloomberg offers certification in four market sectors: fixed income, equities, foreign exchange and commodities. Papazian says she expects all finance majors will become certified.
“Once a trader, always a trader,” said Papazian, who joined the Girard faculty in 2012 after 20 years working in capital markets, many of those years as a foreign exchange trader. “I feel quite at home in the Markets Lab.”
Having been a foreign exchange trader when the euro was introduced in 1999, she says it’s “exhilarating” now to teach how the current markets reacted to the euro.
“For me, it has been an easy transition to teach classes such as Advanced Investments, Corporate Finance, and International Finance in a trading environment that looks quite similar to real life.”
Papazian received her B.S. in finance from Salem State University and a master’s in international management from Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Simbeck says students are excited at using the Bloomberg terminals to learn how to draft their own equity research reports. He recently helped another student find an equity research report from a JPMorgan Chase analyst on Pandora radio.
“Having working experience with Bloomberg is something that will make every student’s resume more marketable to potential employers,’’ he says.