He had me at “corporate raiders”

Speaking of economics (see previous post), the dismal science came within a whisker of consuming me in college. Econ 101 was the largest course I took in terms of the number of students – it was a capacious lecture hall, several hundred seats. Roger Waud was the professor. (He also wrote the textbook – now there’s a scam I’d like to get in on.) Two 90-minute lectures each week. Dr. Waud spent three solid class sessions using the overhead projector to go over the basics, and I mean the very basics, of supply and demand. “Dismal” barely begins to capture the experience. (Less supply, more demand, higher price. WE GET IT.) 

Toward the end of the third such lecture, someone there in the Vasty Hall of Death* asked a question and Dr. Waud started talking about corporate raiders. This was 1986ish, so it was presumably the adventures of Icahn, Boesky and Pickens, their motivations, their detractors, their mega-money gambits. Chess on the big screen. Piracy on the high seas of industry. Utterly captivating. I sat bolt upright in my seat for about three minutes, spellbound.

And then Dr. Waud paused, said “But I don’t want to bore you with that, let’s get back to supply and demand,” and turned back to the overhead projector.

And I majored in Linguistics.

* First person to identify the 70s scifi classic reference gets a gold star.


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