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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Keith C Brown





Keith Brown holds the positions of University Distinguished Teaching Professor and Fayez Sarofim Fellow at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, where he specializes in teaching Investments, Portfolio Management and Security Analysis, Capital Markets, and Derivatives courses at the BBA and MBA levels.  He is also a member of the University’sAcademy of Distinguished Teachers.  For eleven years, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The MBA Investment Fund LLC, a private complex of equity and fixed-income portfolios managed by graduate students at the University of Texas and also was the Director of the Department of Finance’s Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Center for Private Equity Finance.

Keith is the co-founder and Senior Partner of Fulcrum Financial Group, a portfolio management, investment advisory, and business valuation firm located in Austin, Texas and Las Vegas, Nevada.  Keith currently is Advisor to the Board of Trustees of Teacher Retirement System of Texas and to the Board of Directors of University of Texas Investment Management Company.  He also serves as Associate Editor for Journal of Behavioral Finance and Journal of Investment Management and formerly held the position of Research Director for the Research Foundation of the Association for Investment Management and Research.

For more information on Keith's research and professional background, please follow the link to view a biographical sketch and curriculum vitae.



T C 357 • Finance And Fiction

43420 • Fall 2014
Meets MW 930am-1100am JES A209A
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Course Number: TC 357

Title: Finance, Fiction and Film

Instructor: Keith C. Brown, University Distinguished Teaching Professor and Fayez Sarofim Fellow, Department of Finance, McCombs School of Business


Description: Consider two recent works of fiction that prominently feature financial market crises in their plots: Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities and Justin Cartwright’s Other People’s Money. While both novels have considerable literary merit, one paints a very accurate and compelling portrait of how fixed-income markets operate whereas the other is almost laughably naïve about the inner workings of the hedge fund industry. In a like manner, Emile Zola’s Germinal and Richard Power’s Gain draw significantly from the presumed tension between the owners and managers of a business and that company’s employees and customers. However, do corporations really have the financial incentive to alienate their workers and harm the consuming public or are such conflicts just convenient literary devices?Similarly, the entire premise of the classic comedy movie Trading Places depends on the ability of the protagonists to manipulate prices in the commodity futures markets by obtaining and acting on “inside” information. Further, several more recent films, such as Margin Call and The Wolf of Wall Street, have stories—allegedly true, in fact—that are based on unscrupulous or deceitful practices in the financial services industry. Could the actions of the securities traders in these movies really have happened in the way they were portrayed or were they embellished for dramatic effect?What financial economic concepts must a “consumer” of these fictional treatments know so as to make these distinctions? What must we understand about how investors accumulate and manage their wealth in order to appreciate that the events in, say, a Jane Austen novel could never happen today while those in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s fiction very likely could? The purpose of this junior-level seminar is to establish and put into practice the finance and economic principles required to evaluate critically the growing branch of literary fiction and movies having plots that depend on understanding how financial markets function. Among the set of concepts that define these principles are investment portfolio theory, equity and fixed-income securities and markets, derivative security strategies, economic allocation and exchange systems, and corporate governance standards. The ultimate goal of the course is to develop in students a solid grounding in modern finance precepts that will lead them to a deeper understanding and appreciation for how those themes are applied constantly in modern literature and film.The seminar will be conducted as an alternating series of traditional lectures on finance concepts, group discussions where we analyze fictional works in the context of those economic principles, and sessions devoting to viewing films. Depending on the prior preparation of the enrolled students—and no prior knowledge of advanced investment and corporate finance topics is assumed—the course will be structured as either a streamlined Investment Management class with a considerable fictional reading and viewing component or a literature- and film-oriented class in which finance-specific content is developed to create the necessary conceptual background.


Text/Readings: The assigned readings and viewings for this course will be a combination of selected chapters from a traditional textbook in finance and the collection of novels and films that forms the foundation of the seminar. A related textbook appropriate at this level is:

Frank K. Reilly and Keith C. Brown, Investment Analysis and Portfolio Management, 10e

The three or four novels that we will read and analyze will be selected from the following list:

Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis Theodore Dreiser, The Financier William Gaddis, JR Sebastian Faulks, A Week in December Richard Powers, Gain Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged Upton Sinclair, The Money changers Jane Smiley, Good Faith William Thackeray, Vanity Fair Anthony Trollope, The Way We Live Now Tom Wolfe, Bonfire of the Vanities Emile Zola, Germinal

The three or four films that we will view and analyze will be selected from the following list:

Bonfire of the Vanities


It’s A Wonderful Life

Margin Call

Other People’s Money

The Wolf of Wall Street

Trading Places

Wall Street

Finally, I anticipate supplementing these assigned books and films with some additional short readings (e.g., articles from finance periodicals, practitioner-oriented research studies) that will allow us to consider topics at the “cutting edge” of the subject matter.


Class Structure & Assignments: The class is scheduled to meet twice a week (MW 9:30-11:00 am) and, as noted above, these sessions will typically be used in three different ways:

(i) traditional lectures on financial economic topics, (ii) interactive group discussions, or (iii) viewing movies. Throughout the semester, we will also hold some “special” class sessions for the purpose of accessing the myriad resources available in the university and local financial communities (e.g., visiting the Harry Ransom Center, field trips to institutional investment firms). Note that all of the reading and some film viewing will be done outside of class.Given the nature of the course, an appropriate system of evaluation includes a combination of: (i) two or three in-class quizzes focusing on the financial concepts (25 percent of final course grade),(ii) one short (i.e., 5-7 pages) and one longer (i.e., 15-20 pages) research term paper involving critical evaluation and synthesis of the various literary and dramatic works (50 percent),and:(iii) regular class participation, including service as a Discussion Leader (25 percent).


Instructor Biography: Keith Brown received his Ph.D. in Financial Economics from Purdue University in 1981 and he has been on the faculty at the University of Texas since 1984. His research and teaching interests include investment theory, portfolio management and security analysis, and derivative security markets. He is a member of the University’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers and also serves as an advisor to the Boards of Directors of the University of Texas Investment Management Company. He formally worked full-time in New York for a Wall Street bank and is unapologetic about his loving of reading literature.

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