Another Notch in Wharton’s Belt

We’ve chronicled for years on this blog the remarkable number of truly out-sized financial criminals who got their training at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Here’s another one – a Muslim who used some of his money to “to undo negative misperceptions of [Muslims] in [the] media.”

Well…

Wharton’s Age of Innocence…

… is over! (Trumper Warning)

The halcyon days of graduates like Michael Milken, David S. Brown, Robert Salsbury, Ira B. Sokolow, Bruce Lee Newberg, Raj Rajaratnam, Courtney Dupree, Craig Toll, Anil Kumar, Thomas Hardin, Rajiv Goel, Steven Cohen, and many more have given way to the dark days of Wharton grad Donald Trump.

Silent until now about their honor roll of distinguished alumni (known to all as “The Wharton Mafia”), Wharton folk have lately decided to go public.

A letter disinvesting themselves from Trump has gone out from Wharton grads past and present. They begin with a questionable assertion:

At the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, students are taught to represent the highest levels of respect and integrity. We are taught to embrace humility and diversity.

There must be a serious teacher quality problem at Wharton, because it’s really not getting through.

The letter goes on to express “deep disappointment” in Trump’s hateful arrogant ways, so at odds with sweet humble Wharton… It’s important, its co-authors say, to “speak out against” Trump… But where’s the letter speaking out about decades and decades of The Wharton Mafia?

Say what you will about Trump, no one’s claiming he’s going to jail anytime soon, which is where much of The Wharton Mafia went.

Wharton, We Have a Problem.

It all started back in the ‘eighties, with Donald Trump’s alma mater producing so many financial criminals that newspapers started keeping track of the ever-growing Wharton “Hall of Shame.” (Type WHARTON in my search engine for all the gory details.) The tradition persists today, with Wharton featuring prominently in articles with titles like Do Business Schools Incubate Criminals? and The Wharton Mafia. It’s positively embarrassing.

The Wharton School of Business has deified Donald Trump, boasting in its alumni magazine of his greatness and influence. It can’t get enough of him. It’s pleased as punch and bursting with pride to have spawned him…. or at least it was until around 2007. In a recent article about him in the U Penn paper, people are beginning to sound less enthusiastic.

A Wharton spokesperson said that the leadership of the alumni office and magazine have turned over since the publication of the article, and declined to comment further on Trump.

Hm. A bit snippy there… But, you know, it’s one thing to go the silence route (Trump? Trump who…?); it’s another thing – especially given Wharton’s cultural role as National Fraternal Order of America’s Great Insider Traders – actually to come out and repudiate “the worst human being who has ever won a Republican primary.”

UD doesn’t mean revoke his degree or anything. She means that given Wharton’s already filthy reputation, and given Trump’s incessant dropping of the Wharton name alongside his name, the school might consider issuing a statement distancing itself from its most famous graduate.

“I’m like a smart person. I went to the Wharton School of finance.”

Missed a chance to mention the most impressive thing of all: He founded a university.

“You don’t have to be a megalomaniac to prefer quantity of attention over quality of attention, as the Wharton-educated Trump would probably tell you if he were to allow himself a reflective moment.”

If UD had never started this blog, she would never have come to know the Wharton School, one of America’s most curious institutions. Though Donald Trump is by far its highest-profile graduate, Wharton (as you know if you read this blog) is the dominant source for this country’s insider traders in particular and fraudsters in general.

B-School boys do dither on a regular basis about the amorality many of their schools champion – I mean, as regular as each breaking story about another Raj Rajaratnam… Some of these guys even notice that a major function of schools like Wharton is to bring conspirators together. Guys who as lads were maladjusted malefactors find at Wharton (type WHARTON in my search engine for all of my posts about the school) a warm inviting community of people just like themselves with whom to mastermind billion-dollar larcenies. When the Justice Department starts saying unkind things about one or another Wharton grad, their school buddies come out with eloquent character references.

******************

Still, how unfair to say Donald Trump isn’t reflective! He founded a university.

‘WHARTON PRODUCING ITS SHARE OF CRIMINALS ON WALL STREET’…

… went the headline way back in 1988, an earlier insider trading season. Having covered oodles of more recently imprisoned Wharton grads on this blog, my question is: Is the Wharton school criminogenic? Does it take nice boys (they’re all boys) and make them naughty? Or is it (as UD suspects) simply notorious for being the go-to place to learn how to be a financial crook and to make, er, connections with other people along these lines? Just put WHARTON in my search engine for a sample of these amazing high-flyers! I’m thinking that if you’re not planning to defraud at the very least a thousand investors, you’re not going to bother applying to Wharton. I’m thinking that if you’re not planning to steal in the tens of millions you’re not going to bother with the application fee.

So – and I know – who’s counting? – but so the latest Wharton guy is Courtney Dupree, also a product of scandal-city University of North Carolina. Once a mover/shaker in his “super-chic loft on Broad Street in Manhattan’s financial district,” he’s now off to seven years in prison for an $18 million bank fraud. And The Legend of Wharton lives on.

ANOTHER feather in Wharton’s cap!

The Wharton School of Business. UD has lost count of how many graduates, just this year, have been indicted for incredibly high-level fraud.

[Craig] Toll … [is] charged with defrauding … investors out of $40 million, and scamming the federal government out of … $10 million [he was] given to help finance construction of a Haitian factory to build homes for hurricane victims.

Toll, 64, is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

… [He is charged with] 23 counts of fraud and money laundering

Do you suppose anyone at Wharton notices how many of their graduates are criminals, or are under indictment? Or are, like Brown University’s highest-profile trustee, getting buzzed by the SEC an awful lot?

Hell, maybe Wharton’s proud of it. You have to figure there are tons more graduates out there successfully defrauding people.

“1983 Wharton MBA recipient Anil Kumar and Adam Smith have also received probation sentences, and Thomas Hardin, a 1999 Wharton graduate, is awaiting sentence on similar charges.”

When you’re a student reporter at the University of Pennsylvania, and when the subject is the Wharton School’s scads of insider traders, you have to do a lot of digging. There’s a history here, and it’s pretty impressive.

Another reporter goes farther back:

[L]ast week’s conviction of a prominent Wharton MBA alum [was] the biggest insider trading case since the 1989 conviction of junk bond king Michael Miliken, another Wharton grad.

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UD thanks JND.

“Mr. Goel met Mr. Rajaratnam while the two were business-school students at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.”

Wharton: Forcing Ground of the Great Insiders!

Just as Wharton students hung a banner from a window…

… aimed at students protesting the campus visit of Mr One Percent, Eric Cantor — a banner reading

GET IN OUR BRACKET

— so students at Georgetown University are marketing their investment fund to fellow students with the tagline

BECOME THE ONE PERCENT.

Much huffing and puffing about it here. But really – it’s a clever slogan, and it has helped attract a lot of investors.

More embarrassment for Wharton…

… which is producing the most criminalized graduating classes of MBAs in the country by far.

Unless the other schools’ grads are simply better at not getting caught.

If you’re going to take in that many fraudsters, you should at least teach them how to evade capture.

The Wharton School: Where the Magic Happens!

At first, the FBI considered sending an agent to work undercover at one of the suspected hedge funds …

“We couldn’t get in. It was such a closed industry — much like an organized crime family — that it was difficult for the FBI to either introduce an undercover agent or recruit a cooperator.”

Corrupt traders relied upon secret alliances, longtime friendships and even sexual relationships.

… [Raj] Rajaratnam relied on Anil Kumar, a former McKinsey partner, and Rajiv Goel, a former managing director at Santa Clara, California-based Intel, whom he’d known for decades. All three attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Wharton School: Forcing Ground

Born in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, Rajaratnam was educated there at St. Thomas’ Preparatory School before leaving for England, where he studied engineering at the University of Sussex. He came to the U.S. to get his master’s of business administration, graduating from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in 1983.

Two of his Wharton classmates — Anil Kumar, who became a partner at McKinsey & Co., and Rajiv Goel, who was a managing director at Intel — testified against him at the trial, telling jurors how their relationships began at the school and how they turned to crime. Both pleaded guilty and testified for prosecutors.

Found guilty on all counts today.

The Wharton School: Where you get a leg up…

… in the insider trading racket.

The University of Pennsylvania school is pumping out insider traders a mile a minute.

Hard to keep up.

Lawdy!

The term “residential depression” refers to in-clinic treatment for the disorder…

… as in “Sierra Tucson is the best residential depression treatment center,” but UD has long used the phrase to name something she noticed – perhaps felt is better – years ago, on visiting the vast house of some relatives, a married couple. Like UD, they grew up in middle class Jewish Baltimore and every year when young attended messy noisy happy jam-packed seders in narrow city row houses where cheap wine freely flowed among children and adults.

Having made it, her relatives now floated in a house whose high-ceilinged dining room sat forty people who never materialized, and whose cellared wine lay stacked as in an above-ground cemetery. They knew their neighbors (acres away in a treeless field) only in the territorial way of worrying about whether these people’s extensive lawn projects impinged on their own extensive lawn projects (recall Rand Paul’s serious injuries when one of his neighbors attacked him in a roiling dispute over grass clippings).

Home is so sad, wrote Philip Larkin; but in this poem he’s describing the sadness of having tried but failed to create a comfortable and meaningful domestic space – which is to say, having tried to make a happy life. The house started as

A joyous shot at how things ought to be,

Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:

Look at the pictures and the cutlery.

The music in the piano stool. That vase.

The pathos of Larkin’s house lies in the joyous shot at beauty and depth it obviously tried to be, if you look at its carefully and lovingly chosen pictures and music and vases. The cold pastoral of my relatives’ house lay in it having been conceived and elaborated as pure status display.

UD thought back on that house when she read Robert Shiller on the bohemoth waste of the big house. Shiller understands that “[h]aving a big house is a symbol of success, and people want to look successful,” but, as another finance person, Ellen Weber, notes in the same article, megamcmansions are “ludicrous.” Both she and Shiller are appalled not only at the economic stupidity of this sort of investment (many houses in my local megamcmansion region, Potomac, Maryland, are going begging; and I guess it’s tough all over) but at all the dead air inside it. Weber:

[F]amilies are shrinking. … More and more of our stuff is stored electronically; we should need less storage for it. There’s also a tendency to buy houses with big yards that most people do not use but end up spending lots of money paying someone else to mow and maintain.

Shiller:

[W]e don’t need elaborate kitchens, because we have all kinds of delivery services for food. And maybe you don’t need a workshop in your basement, either. You used to have a filing cabinet for your tax information, but now it’s all electronic, so you don’t need that, either. And bookshelves, for people who read a lot. We have electronic books now, so we don’t need bookshelves anymore.

From another article on the subject:

[M]edian house size has increased by some 1,000 square feet over the past 50 years. At the same time, the average size of the household has fallen as people have fewer kids than in earlier generations, [Wharton real estate professor Benjamin Keys note[s]. “For the houses that don’t fit the families, the prices are going to have to fall.” Add[s] [Dowell Myers, a public policy professor]: “The millennials seem to have a taste for living more sparsely. They don’t want as much furniture. They don’t want as much space.”

Dead space, and depressed people. If you listen, you can hear them singing: Is that all there is?

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