International business professor flies in from Italy

Professor Jean-Pierre Paelinck spoke to various MU business classes Tuesday.

Although Jean-Pierre Paelinck is a guest professor of international business at the University of Bergamo in Bergamo, Italy, he made a visit to MU on Tuesday. He is an authority on European and international finance for individual investors.

“I work with a team of MU professors in Italy,” he said. “While I work from Bergamo, I teach a program called international business which is repeated in the Fall Term in the business school at MU.”

Currently, Paelinck is the president and general secretary of the World Federation of Investors Corporations, an international body that tries to further the cause of shareholders by exchanging investment and economic knowledge.

“I am interested in investor protection and furthering the cause of shareholders in Europe and other 37 countries that are members of WFIC,” he said. “When you are a trans-national investor and are unable to access information from a company because it isn’t being transparent enough, we offer to help.”

Paelinck is in Columbia to give lectures to business school students on courses such as International Finance, International Economics, Strategy and Exploring the Digital Globe.

He spoke to MBA students Tuesday evening about the economic crisis unfolding in Europe.

“We need to understand that each European nation is unique,” he said. “The problem arose years ago, when banks embarked into opaque, structured financial instruments. Many financial institutions were not aware of what they were getting into."

Paelinck said the problem spread to almost all of Europe -- all but Italy.

"In the last few years many countries have had to bail out their banks, but Italy is the only country among all 17 Eurozone members that didn’t bailout their banks or corporations," he said. "Italian banks were wiser. They avoided these instruments.”

Paelinck has helped expand the role of WFIC toward educating and protecting rights of individual investors. His federation now works with individual investors in 37 countries.

“You cannot avoid traveling,” he said. “What you read is not necessarily what you feel when you visit people and cities. I always advocate (that) visiting a company is the best option to learn about them. In Bergamo, we have both American and Italian students, we visit companies that are involved in international trade.”

When asked if it was possible to unify 17 countries toward having a single budget policy, Paelinck said, “It is needed. It may be a disincentive for other countries from joining the Eurozone but it is for the better interest of all Eurozone members and the Euro.”

Many MU students appreciated Paelinck's presentation.

“He provided very valuable and detailed insight into Europe,” said Abhinav Airy, an international MBA student who attended Paelinck’s lecture. “MBA students need to stay more up-to-date on global affairs. It was really good having him over."

Airy hopes Paelinck's lecture is a sign of things to come.

"If more departments at MU can bring in professors like him, we would have a greater insight into the world," Airy said. "This would help give the MBA program a much needed international outlook.”

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