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Prominent Businessman Robert Mylod Speaks on Faith, Financial Crisis


Mylod is a former member of the University's board of trustees.

Posted: Friday, October 22, 2010

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STEUBENVILLE, OH—"Unbeknownst to me, I was going to have to deal with abortion, euthanasia, pornography, and a host of other ethical issues I hadn't hoped to deal with," said prominent businessman Robert J. Mylod, who spoke on the "Pursuit of Christ in the Business World" at Franciscan University of Steubenville on Wednesday, September 22.

Mylod's career as a business executive included positions with several prominent private and governmental organizations, including former chair of Michigan National Corporation and former president of Fannie Mae.

"When something happens in an organization, it travels at warp speed. Everyone is watching you, and that's why you have to take a stand."

He answered the question posed by University Chancellor Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, at the beginning of the evening: "What is the right approach for a faithful Catholic in the business world?"

Mylod laid out several key techniques for Catholics in business, telling his audience not to back down from a fight, but not to seek one out; be willing to get advice from the bishops on ethical dilemmas; recognize that to be an agent of change, you'll need to seek out positions of influence; soak up all the education in business you can "at this faithfully Catholic university"; and do good, solid business—which is as much a public service as any amount of charity work. But also work within your local community.

"You should be very active in your communities trying to articulate the culture of life," said Mylod, a member of the advisory board to the Christus Medicus Foundation and co-chairman of the National Advisory Board of the Cardinal Newman Society. "You should be very close to the Lord. Be aware of what's being put in the heads of your children and what they have access to.

"We know how this all ends in our Catholic faith," Mylod concluded, pointing to Christ's ultimate triumph as the source and guarantee of Christian hope. Standing up for the culture of life is "just a little harder to do than it was when I was involved."

The life issues "have encroached even further today. The culture of death is embedded in this health care bill. It's basically a tax" on those who are pro-life, said Mylod, former board member for Henry Ford Health System, Detroit.

"We've been unsuccessful in combating the culture of death. The only way we can combat this is to fast and pray before the next election."

He also gave a summary response to a question about the current financial crisis, saying, "It's going to take at least five years before American consumers save enough to pay off the loans and right the economy."

Referring to Fannie Mae, the government chartered company that offers the most funds for home mortgages, Mylod said, "It was a very different organization in my time there."

He'd been brought on board to help resolve issues for the company caused by the Federal Reserve's strong anti-inflation measures in the 1980s. "We started issuing mortgage backed securities," said Mylod.

Unlike the behavior that helped cause the mortgage crisis, Mylod said the release of the securities took place only after very rigorous underwriting.

The business environment changed for Fannie Mae when "Congress began to push Fannie Mae to make riskier loans. I could show you a YouTube video where a congressman is defending Fannie Mae giving 'these innovative type loans—zero percent down and no-doc[umentation]."

Now, Mylod declared, "Both of those organizations [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] are totally insolvent. They are now being used by the federal government as an organ of fiscal and economic policy."

Mylod also served as the chief operating officer of Federal National Mortgage Association and a former member of the Franciscan University Board of Trustees.

Mylod believes it is critical that business executives have a strong liberal arts education—ideally, in an authentically Catholic environment like Franciscan University. There, he says, they can learn proper Catholic ethical behavior, how to articulate these ethics orally and in writing, and how to think critically in the pursuit of the truth.

Mylod’s talk was sponsored by Franciscan University's Student Government, Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), and the Advancement Office as part of its Distinguished Speaker Series, which features leaders recognized for exemplary service to the Church and society. The next Distinguished Speaker event will be a November 15 screening of the film Nine Days That Changed the World, introduced by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista. For more information, see www.franciscan.edu/distinguishedspeakersseries/.

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