View upcoming events at Boston College
Books by alumni, faculty, and staff
Order books noted in Boston College Magazine
Join the online community of alumni
View the current BCM in original format
Recent faculty writings
In October 2008, Congress passed the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), authorizing $700 billion to purchase equity in financial institutions—primarily banks—and buy illiquid assets from them, in an effort to stabilize the economy and stimulate lending. Among the terms for banks’ participation were strict regulations on how much they could compensate their CEOs and other executives, including limits on year-end bonuses, stock options, retention payments, and golden parachutes. Some in the industry predicted a “talent drain” of valuable executives, or corporate rejections of needed help. In the September/October 2012 issue of the Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Mary Ellen Carter, associate professor of accounting at the Carroll School of Management, and colleagues from the universities of Utah and Virginia consider whether restricting executive compensation diminished TARP’s “full benefit” to the economy.
They examined 228 firms that participated in the program and 35 firms that declined; and they found that many of the firms accepting TARP funds in fact experienced higher executive turnover—with 14.48 percent of their executive officers leaving for other jobs, mostly at non-TARP firms, compared with 9.63 percent at firms that did not participate.
Firms that paid their CEOs exceptionally well—in the 75th percentile of companies surveyed—were twice as likely to decline TARP involvement from the outset, the authors report; and 39 of the “better performing” participating firms repaid their TARP obligations prior to December 31, 2009, thereby avoiding the restrictions on year-end bonuses.
Did self-interest in the corner office limit TARP’s effectiveness? “We find no evidence that firms rejecting funds provide less lending than firms that accept the funds,” write Carter et al. “Rather,” they say, “the pay restrictions may have helped the government allocate funds more effectively, as firms that ultimately were just as viable without the funds chose not to participate.”
Although girls are generally considered better at managing friendships, research has shown boys are “just as satisfied” with their relationships. Boys are “no more lonely than girls, and their friendships are just as stable.” So write Julie Paquette MacEvoy, assistant professor of counseling psychology at the Lynch School of Education, and a colleague, Steven R. Asher of Duke University. They explored childhood friendship in the January/February 2013 issue of Child Development.
The researchers surveyed fourth- and fifth-graders (133 girls, 134 boys) at two elementary schools, one in the rural South and the other in a midsize northeastern city. They presented the children with four hypothetical situations in which a friend of the same gender betrays their trust (e.g., by telling classmates a shared secret), shows a lack of emotional support, fails to provide help at a critical moment, or proves to be unreliable (e.g., by shirking work on a group project).
The students were asked to rate how angry, sad, or “okay” each scenario would make them feel, on a scale from one (“not at all”) to five (“a lot”). MacEvoy and Asher found that the girls were “more bothered” by wrongs than were the boys. Significantly, girls recorded a higher sadness score (a median of 3.65) than did the boys (2.73), and were more likely to say that their hypothetical friend “devalued them and was trying to control them.”
Both girls and boys who responded sadly were more likely to endorse what the authors call “relationship maintenance” after an offense—working through their problems with the errant friend. The sadness these children reported, say the researchers, may somehow be “part of the ‘social glue’ that helps hold friendships together.”
The official journals of the 1787 Constitutional Convention that produced the U.S. Constitution—three large volumes and assorted loose papers kept by the convention’s secretary, William Jackson, a former military aide to General Washington—have long been unfairly “dismissed by scholars,” writes Boston College Law School professor Mary Sarah Bilder in the November 2012 issue of the George Washington Law Review. Bilder traces the snub to historian Max Farrand, who in 1911 published The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, a reorganized and annotated version of the journals. Farrand criticized Jackson’s records as “carelessly kept,” and historians, says Bilder, have preferred to rely on the more ample, if designing, notes of James Madison and other attendees.
Bilder, who studied microfilm copies of the original pages (at www.fold3.com), argues Farrand and others have misunderstood the documents’ purpose. She cites a late 18th-century treatise on parliamentary procedure that guided American politicians. Upholding a tradition of legislative secrecy (the U.S. Senate would meet behind closed doors until 1795), the treatise states that the clerk should not “make minutes of particular men’s speeches,” but should “confine himself” to the “orders and proceedings.” Consequently, says Bilder, Jackson would have omitted any failed motions, rejected measures, arguments, discussions, or other statements from the floor.
Jackson’s records are “not perfect,” Bilder says, with vote tallies scattered out of order and sometimes (especially with unanimous votes) omitted entirely. But there is no sign they were intended for publication; their purpose may have been limited to consultation during session. When the convention ended on September 17, 1787, Jackson delivered the “journals and other papers” to George Washington, after burning “all the loose scraps,” he wrote. Jackson’s records offer a “detached angle on the Convention,” observes Bilder, who tracks their influence on debates during the 1790s over the presidential treaty power and creation of a national bank. They were “sufficiently accurate,” she says, “to have caused problems for everyone.”
David Levin is a Boston-based writer.
Read more by David Levin