The Investor Who Bet on Greece to Launch Sovereign Risk Initiative at Columbia


The Charles & Agnes Kazarian Foundation (the Kazarian Foundation) is collaborating with Columbia Business School in New York to launch a new Sovereign Risk Initiative.

“One of the case studies will be about Greece and the pioneering lesson we got from investing in the country,” notes Japonica CEO Paul Kazarian whose firm invested heavily in Greece.

The theme of the case study about Greece is “a simple investment grade quest.”

“That’s what it was, it was an investment grade crisis sitting in plain sight, which highlighted the sovereign risk analysis that should have been done.”

Kazarian, who often enters university auditoriums, says that teaching this subject, which will take place in 2018, is about helping the next generations.

“Democracy is fragile, you see populist governments coming to the forefront, Public financial management crosses all political spectrums and is necessary for democracy to survive.”

In 2013, when credit agencies were burying Greece and the Greek bonds were rated junk, Kazarian saw a great opportunity and bought billions of dollars in Greek bonds.

Studying the Greek debt numbers for four years, his firm, Japonica, came to the conclusion that Greece does not face a debt crisis but a management problem. Since then, Paul Kazarian has become a champion of strengthening government financial transparency and accountability in Greece.

“We are honored to team up with Columbia Business School in a visionary initiative that will change the landscape of assessing sovereign risk by smartly integrating select tools of value investing and public financial management,” Kazarian stated.

The Sovereign Risk Initiative will offer solutions to radically improve the analysis of sovereign risk and public financial management.

It has has four pillars:
1. Development of business school case studies related to sovereign risk course content;
2. Creation of multi-disciplinary professional publications;
3. Launch of MBA coursework focused on understanding sovereign risk by analyzing government financial statements; and,
4. Convening of a public symposium comprised of thought leaders in the area of sovereign risk and public financial management.

Shivaram Rajgopal, Professor of Accounting and Auditing at Columbia will oversee the Initiative.

“Columbia Business School is excited to be the pioneer in this new field of assessing sovereign risk using financial statements and to extend our core competency as an international leader in the sectors of accounting and value investing,” said the professor.

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