Borrowing for your college from your Uncle Sam — Doug Criscitello

Doug Criscitello, Executive Director of MIT’s Center for Finance and Policy

Doug Criscitello, Executive Director of MIT’s Center for Finance and Policy

From The Hill

Let’s consider student loans for a moment. Many of the candidates for president have promised relief of some sort from the high cost of college tuition.  That’s not surprising considering that 40 million Americans currently hold student loans and that debt incurred for education now lags only mortgage debt as a source of consumer indebtedness—logging in at the astonishing total $1.2 trillion. And, here is the rub, most of that debt has been loaned directly by the government and, as the current policy debate illustrates, students who borrow from the government don’t necessarily have the same expectations and sense of repayment obligation to their lender – as those receiving loans from a private financial institution.

Decisions made in the 1990s to transform the US government’s role in providing student loans, from that of a guarantor to a direct lender, were driven primarily by budgetary rather than policy considerations. Direct lending had a clear advantage because it had a dramatically lower price tag than the guaranty program at the time. And when private lenders became reticent to assist students during the darkest days of the 2008 financial crisis, direct loans from the government became the primary source of student loans in the US and the guaranteed student loan program was abolished.

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The surest way to create millions of new jobs – featuring Bill Aulet

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Bill Aulet

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Bill Aulet

From Yahoo Finance

Tax breaks? Infrastructure spending? Free college? These are some of the ideas the presidential candidates have for boosting growth and creating jobs. But the best way to do it may be one neither candidate has highlighted: bringing more immigrants to the United States. In a Q & A with Rick Newman, Bill Aulet discusses this issue and many others.

See the video at Yahoo Finance.

Bill Aulet is the managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship at MIT and also a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

How startups can run better landing page tests — Elaine Chen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Elaine Chen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Elaine Chen

From Xconomy

In today’s fast-changing world, new product teams are constantly pushed to do more faster. They need to run fast to keep up with rapidly changing market conditions. Oftentimes it means making decisions about what to invest in with very little information. How can teams validate hypotheses without over-investing on speculative engineering projects, and potentially losing time and money building the wrong thing?

It turns out that there is another way. In both B2B and B2C scenarios, you can often get a very good read on the interest and even purchase intent from potential economic buyers by running a series of landing page tests.

What is a landing page test?

A landing page test is a form of Minimum Viable Product (MVP) test, in which one uses a landing page as a way of gauging some aspect of customer interest and/or purchase intent.

While you can gather a tremendous amount of insight by running detailed, open-ended interviews with potential customers, at the end of the day you are still limited by what the customer thinks they will do, instead of what they will actually do. Purchase intent is frequently inflated when you test your product idea with people face to face, because they are often loath to hurt your feelings by telling you the truth. It’s emotionally much easier to just say “yes, this is very interesting!” or “Sure! I will certainly buy it!” rather than “you are talking to the wrong person – I have no interest whatsoever.”

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Imagine if robo advisers could do emotions — Andrew Lo

MIT Sloan Professor Andrew Lo

MIT Sloan Professor Andrew Lo

From The Wall Street Journal 

At a conference last year, I was approached by an audience member after my talk. He thanked me for my observation that it’s unrealistic to expect investors to do nothing in the face of a sharp market-wide selloff, and that pulling out of the market can sometimes be the right thing to do. In fact, this savvy attendee converted all of his equity holdings to cash by the end of October 2008.

He then asked me for some advice: “Is it safe to get back in now?” Seven years after he moved his money into cash, he’s still waiting for just the right time to reinvest; meanwhile, the S&P 500 earned an annualized return of 14% during this period.

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