Detroit's Troubled Waters: Race, Politics, Bankruptcy & Regionalism Net Present Value (NPV) / MBA Resources

Introduction to Net Present Value (NPV) - What is Net Present Value (NPV) ? How it impacts financial decisions regarding project management?

NPV solution for Detroit's Troubled Waters: Race, Politics, Bankruptcy & Regionalism case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Detroit's Troubled Waters: Race, Politics, Bankruptcy & Regionalism case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Pamela Varley, Quinton Mayne. The Detroit's Troubled Waters: Race, Politics, Bankruptcy & Regionalism (referred as “Detroit's Detroit” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Global Business. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, International business, Negotiations, Policy.

The net present value (NPV) of an investment proposal is the present value of the proposal’s net cash flows less the proposal’s initial cash outflow. If a project’s NPV is greater than or equal to zero, the project should be accepted.

NPV = Present Value of Future Cash Flows LESS Project’s Initial Investment

Case Description of Detroit's Troubled Waters: Race, Politics, Bankruptcy & Regionalism Case Study

Regional governance, by contrast to municipal or state control, is the best level of government to tackle certain public functions-or at least, so it seems to most urban planners. Yet in many parts of the United States, it is all but impossible to build the political will to shift from local to regional governance. This decision-forcing case (which includes a video supplement, HKS Case 2093.0) places students in Detroit during the city's financial crisis and bankruptcy, events that set the stage for the controversial 2013-2014 negotiation to create a regional water system in greater Detroit. Set after an initial round of negotiations has collapsed, and a second effort is about to begin, the case challenges students to step into the shoes of the negotiating team, including the City of Detroit, three suburban counties, and the state of Michigan. It describes how Detroit's 2014 financial crisis and bankruptcy created an opportunity for regional governance, and also created conditions that made regionalization difficult. The case explores the history of distrust in city-suburban relationships, tensions over Detroit's management of the water department, the role of an outside emergency manager in setting negotiations in motion, and the reasons the first round of negotiations collapsed acrimoniously. A video supplement provides critical background on the reasons for Detroit's evolution as a majority-black city and the deterioration of its relationships with its majority-white suburbs, including racial discrimination, white flight, economic disinvestment and the controversial mayoralty of Coleman Young in the 1970s and 1980s. Case number 2114.0

Case Authors : Pamela Varley, Quinton Mayne

Topic : Global Business

Related Areas : International business, Negotiations, Policy

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Detroit's Troubled Waters: Race, Politics, Bankruptcy & Regionalism Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10016850) -10016850 - -
Year 1 3458268 -6558582 3458268 0.9434 3262517
Year 2 3970837 -2587745 7429105 0.89 3534031
Year 3 3975864 1388119 11404969 0.8396 3338212
Year 4 3223555 4611674 14628524 0.7921 2553357
TOTAL 14628524 12688117

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2671267

In isolation the NPV number doesn't mean much but put in right context then it is one of the best method to evaluate project returns. In this article we will cover -

Different methods of capital budgeting

What is NPV & Formula of NPV,
How it is calculated,
How to use NPV number for project evaluation, and
Scenario Planning given risks and management priorities.

Capital Budgeting Approaches

Methods of Capital Budgeting

There are four types of capital budgeting techniques that are widely used in the corporate world –

1. Profitability Index
2. Net Present Value
3. Internal Rate of Return
4. Payback Period

Apart from the Payback period method which is an additive method, rest of the methods are based on Discounted Cash Flow technique. Even though cash flow can be calculated based on the nature of the project, for the simplicity of the article we are assuming that all the expected cash flows are realized at the end of the year.

Discounted Cash Flow approaches provide a more objective basis for evaluating and selecting investment projects. They take into consideration both –

1. Timing of the expected cash flows – stockholders of Detroit's Detroit have higher preference for cash returns over 4-5 years rather than 10-15 years given the nature of the volatility in the industry.
2. Magnitude of both incoming and outgoing cash flows – Projects can be capital intensive, time intensive, or both. Detroit's Detroit shareholders have preference for diversified projects investment rather than prospective high income from a single capital intensive project.

Formula and Steps to Calculate Net Present Value (NPV) of Detroit's Troubled Waters: Race, Politics, Bankruptcy & Regionalism

NPV = Net Cash In Flowt1 / (1+r)t1 + Net Cash In Flowt2 / (1+r)t2 + … Net Cash In Flowtn / (1+r)tn
Less Net Cash Out Flowt0 / (1+r)t0

Where t = time period, in this case year 1, year 2 and so on.
r = discount rate or return that could be earned using other safe proposition such as fixed deposit or treasury bond rate. Net Cash In Flow – What the firm will get each year.
Net Cash Out Flow – What the firm needs to invest initially in the project.

Step 1 – Understand the nature of the project and calculate cash flow for each year.
Step 2 – Discount those cash flow based on the discount rate.
Step 3 – Add all the discounted cash flow.
Step 4 – Selection of the project

Why Global Business Managers need to know Financial Tools such as Net Present Value (NPV)?

In our daily workplace we often come across people and colleagues who are just focused on their core competency and targets they have to deliver. For example marketing managers at Detroit's Detroit often design programs whose objective is to drive brand awareness and customer reach. But how that 30 point increase in brand awareness or 10 point increase in customer touch points will result into shareholders’ value is not specified.

To overcome such scenarios managers at Detroit's Detroit needs to not only know the financial aspect of project management but also needs to have tools to integrate them into part of the project development and monitoring plan.

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 15%

After working through various assumptions we reached a conclusion that risk is far higher than 6%. In a reasonably stable industry with weak competition - 15% discount rate can be a good benchmark.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 15 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10016850) -10016850 - -
Year 1 3458268 -6558582 3458268 0.8696 3007190
Year 2 3970837 -2587745 7429105 0.7561 3002523
Year 3 3975864 1388119 11404969 0.6575 2614195
Year 4 3223555 4611674 14628524 0.5718 1843078
TOTAL 10466986

The Net NPV after 4 years is 450136

(10466986 - 10016850 )

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 20%

If the risk component is high in the industry then we should go for a higher hurdle rate / discount rate of 20%.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 20 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10016850) -10016850 - -
Year 1 3458268 -6558582 3458268 0.8333 2881890
Year 2 3970837 -2587745 7429105 0.6944 2757526
Year 3 3975864 1388119 11404969 0.5787 2300847
Year 4 3223555 4611674 14628524 0.4823 1554569
TOTAL 9494832

The Net NPV after 4 years is -522018

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9494832 - 10016850 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Detroit's Detroit to discount cash flow at lower discount rates such as 15%.

Acceptance Criteria of a Project based on NPV

Simplest Approach – If the investment project of Detroit's Detroit has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Detroit's Detroit can ACCEPT the project, otherwise they can reject the project. This means that project will deliver higher returns over the period of time than any alternate investment strategy.

In theory if the required rate of return or discount rate is chosen correctly by finance managers at Detroit's Detroit, then the stock price of the Detroit's Detroit should change by same amount of the NPV. In real world we know that share price also reflects various other factors that can be related to both macro and micro environment.

In the same vein – accepting the project with zero NPV should result in stagnant share price. Finance managers use discount rates as a measure of risk components in the project execution process.

Sensitivity Analysis

Project selection is often a far more complex decision than just choosing it based on the NPV number. Finance managers at Detroit's Detroit should conduct a sensitivity analysis to better understand not only the inherent risk of the projects but also how those risks can be either factored in or mitigated during the project execution. Sensitivity analysis helps in –

Understanding of risks involved in the project.

What are the key aspects of the projects that need to be monitored, refined, and retuned for continuous delivery of projected cash flows.

What will be a multi year spillover effect of various taxation regulations.

What are the uncertainties surrounding the project Initial Cash Outlay (ICO’s). ICO’s often have several different components such as land, machinery, building, and other equipment.

What can impact the cash flow of the project.

Some of the assumptions while using the Discounted Cash Flow Methods –

Projects are assumed to be Mutually Exclusive – This is seldom the came in modern day giant organizations where projects are often inter-related and rejecting a project solely based on NPV can result in sunk cost from a related project.

Independent projects have independent cash flows – As explained in the marketing project – though the project may look independent but in reality it is not as the brand awareness project can be closely associated with the spending on sales promotions and product specific advertising.

References & Further Readings

Pamela Varley, Quinton Mayne (2018), "Detroit's Troubled Waters: Race, Politics, Bankruptcy & Regionalism Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.