A Lesson in Arbitrage
Casey Dougal might look younger than some of his students, but looks can be deceiving. Dougal first learned the importance of arbitrage — yes, arbitrage — not in academia, but on the rough and tumble playground during recess in his hometown of Caldwell, Idaho. Basketball cards were his racket. And if there is one thing you need to know about Casey Dougal, it’s that he wastes no time when he knows what he wants.
“I really didn’t care for basketball,” Dougal remembers. “Soccer was my sport. However, I had a notion that the cards had value. A lot of the kids at my school would bring their collections and trade cards at recess. So I started collecting. My favorite strategy was to find kids who were sentimentally attached to players who also had low card valuations. I’d take advantage of their sentimentality and trade them their favorite player’s card for one that was valued higher.”
Dougal’s most coveted find was a Charles Barkley rookie card, which peeked at about $30 in the early 90’s. If he only knew then that he’d wind up in the city Sir Charles called home for so long.
A Scholar Finds a Home in Philadelphia
Since his early card trading days, Dougal — a soft-spoken guy with a borderline photographic memory — has traversed the country earning his academic stripes. He received a B.S. in mathematics from Brigham Young University, an M.A. in Economics from the University of Chicago, a Ph.D. in finance from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and he even served a stint as a visiting scholar at the University of California, San Diego. It was there that he met his wife, Zaida. Their courtship was fast. They married within a year.
While Dougal loved living in San Diego (“Everything about it is beautiful, the weather is perfect and you are just blocks from the beach”), he and Zaida are easily adjusting to life in Philadelphia.
“I enjoy walking around the city,” Dougal says. “Currently I live in City Center, so I try and take a different route each day on my way to work. It’s a great city. Very walkable, with plenty to see. If San Diego had any shortcoming I would say it was the food. Another reason I like Philadelphia is that there are so many great places to eat.”
Starting this winter term, Dougal will be teaching entrepreneurial finance — a subject that is right up his alley. On the home front, he’ll be sampling local food trucks and frying up some homemade concoctions for himself and Zaida.
“I’m excited to be at LeBow,” he says. “Teaching-wise, I think I lucked out. Entrepreneurial finance is a very interesting subject that’s also extremely practical. From what I have heard, it’s also a student favorite.”
As for research, Dougal has written papers on subjects ranging from the media’s influence on stock market prices to behavioral biases in the syndicated loan market to local entrepreneurship’s effect on neighboring corporations. He currently has three working papers and plans to begin new research this winter.
Now, if only he could get his hands on that Charles Barkley rookie card again. It’s currently fetching well over three times its mid-90’s value today on eBay. He just might be sentimentally inclined to make a deal.
There’s a lesson in arbitrage.
Favorite music: Pink Floyd, Cat Stevens and Johnny Cash
Favorite Film: Fiddler on the Roof
End Quote: “I really like Indian food, but few things beat a really good pizza.”