Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Introduction to This Blog

A library is a thing of wonder and extremely powerful - if you know how to use it and where to find information.

Periodically, I like to remind readers what this blog is about and how to use it. The Chockablog blog is here to walk you through business reference questions, answer FAQ's about your business questions, and show you some ideas and sources you might not have known about.

We use text, links and video to get all these points across.

Scroll down on the main page and use the subject tags to read blog entries on your topic. The blogging format makes the posts appear in chronological order, but all the entries are up to date and are revised from time to time.

A lot of our databases are wonderful, but not intuitive - so use this blog. We have tons of books on subjects you might not think exist - so use this blog! I've already found the correct web addresses for those government economic statistics. So check that out too.

Welcome to Texas State and the Alkek Library....

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Reference Online

I read somewhere that the number one college students use Wikipedia is to get background information. Sometimes it is hard to find our reference resources on the library webpage.

We have reference sources electronically and in dead tree format. It is really important to get the most out of what you are reading instead of scratching your head or feeling a big hollow void of noncomprehension swirl up in your mind. That's where reference - and not just for business - comes in handy. They will provide context and the big picture.

First of all, check out our Credo Reference Collection. Another good idea is Gale reference, which includes business and management encyclopedias. We also have Oxford Reference Online which has some economics and business titles.

Here is our print reference collection. This link just shows you what titles are on the shelves - it's like walking up and down the bookcases.

I think this will make your academic life a lot more rewarding!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Commodities Information

Here, I mean commodities as being agricultural and some gold. Information on oil and energy is in a different post.

Here's our commodities links page from our delicious account.

A good database is FAOSTAT. It has world wide agricultural price and production stats.

Finally, here is the Commodities Yearbook, which has extensive current and historical information about production and price of commodities.

Energy and Oil Statistics

A great collection of authoritative energy web sites from U.S. government, American and international organizations.

Oil and Gas Journal Databook. (This is a deep one - it has current and potential production numbers for different oil and natural gas fields.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Good DVDs and Videos on Advertising

The Alkek library has a done of great videos and DVDs on advertising. This may be something you wouldn't have expected. Here's the link. There are some more videos specifically devoted to television advertising.

While I was looking around, I found this good set of videos about brands.

I don't know why this cool video about cachaca - the Brazilian rum - isn't in those categories, but here it is.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

We Have Tutorials On YouTube

We have many tutorials on YouTube that walk you through the process of using our databases.

The screenshots do zoom in, so you'll be able to see the screen. I made a bunch for the business related majors.

So quit smashing your head against the wall or feeling lost. If you watch the tutorials and still feel that way, consult a psychologist or put a crystal on your forehead.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Start-Ups and Entrepreneur

This is a popular research topic. I really hope you kill out there, because a country can't get enough of cool small businesses. Our broad book and DVD categories include entrepreneurship and new business enterprises.

More specifically, we have this great book How To Start a Business in Texas (we have other states too). It tells you all the legal procedures and ways to get help.

In addition, we have a ton of great books that specifically address how to run specific businesses. You can always do a keyword search in our catalog, but we also have a pretty good series from Entrepreneur Magazine. Those books are great because they give you a lot of specific information about profit per square feet, numbers of employees you must hire, equipment purchases, taxes, location, and utility bills, among other information.

Of course, you can always type in key words and see what you get.

I should also recommend ABI Inform and InfoTrac Small Business Collection. These are full of real life articles about nuts and bolts issues affecting small businesses.

Don't forget to research your market! Another good link for that is Local Market Analyst, which breaks down consumer demographics and psychographics by region.

Finally, the Small Business Administration has a useful site.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Is Inflation Understated?

Many people believe that the government systematically understates unemployment and inflation, to give two of the most popular examples. To give one famous example, the consumer price index (CPI) famously excludes such items as food, energy, healthcare, and education. This is because they are "volatile."

Basically, numbers are never collected raw, they are interpreted in relation to theoretical models. These models contain some pretty questionable logic but they produce what critics charge is the point: "official" government data that either misses important events (such as the run up in house prices) or deliberately makes the world rosier than it is.

It's a theory versus real life smackdown!

There is a working paper from the Philadelphia Fed that discusses the shortcomings of the current CPI. Recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics defended its methodology.

Here's our subject heading for the consumer price index (ignore the Cost of Living Index from ACCRA - it doesn't measure inflation. If you mess with the link, you'll see what I mean).

I'll also throw in this e-book link at no extra charge!

Another great way to read up on this is by using our Factiva business news database.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dude, Where's the Books on My Topic?

I bet you have entered in a few key words into our catalog and wondered why nothing comes up. Very often, the answer is that we have material on your topic but it's been classified with some arcane, uncommon words. To wit:

If you're interested in selling your product on the internet, the correct subject heading is electronic commerce. 'Cos computers use the 'lectricity? Hmmm..... Nafta is another one with a bizarre official subject heading....

In real life, you can get around this problem by starting out with your keyword search, finding something that seems relevant, and then clicking on the title. Now you can see what their subject headings are....

Economic Indicators

Economic indicators collect data on significant or revealing economic activities and use that data to predict where the economy was, is or is going.

Those statistics that predict the future are called leading indicators. Those statistics that help us understand the past are called lagging indicators. It's important to remember that lagging indicators might help us understand the present and future. Or maybe not. Nothing is ever certain and anything can happen!

There are more economic indicators than you can shake a stick at! Most of them come from the government and have to do with what you'd expect: unemployment, housing sales, retail sales, inflation, etc...

Here is the quick guide to government collected economic indicators. You can also use our database Economagic.

A more detailed collection of indicators is from the National Bureau of Economic Analysis.

In another post we'll talk about some privately collected economic indicators and some weird ones!

The Housing Meltdown

For years, I couldn't figure out how everybody was paying for their houses. I just thought I didn't get it. Last time I mistrust my intuition. So now my intuition tells me that we'll have a train in the Austin metro area, get reality shows off the air, and I'll finally become an English rock star.

Here are the official government numbers about housing starts.

You've heard of the famous Case-Schiller index about housing prices? It's a standard measure of house value.

And that's not all!

There are a number of great, interactive maps that show the differing magnitude of declining house sales and deflating house values.

The New York Fed has a map that shows how your zip code is faring with foreclosures.

Do you know Zillow? Zillow is a website that shows you what homeowners are asking - and getting - for their homes.

A company called Realty Trac has an interactive map of foreclosures.

Monday, January 28, 2008

What Does Texas Export?

We've all read the news - growth in America is anemic, while "emerging markets" are (or, until recently, were) soaring. American companies that sell abroad can continue to grow their earnings while others languish.

So naturally, the question is: What Does Texas Export? There's an excellent study by the Dallas Federal Reserve branch discussing this. According to the author, we need to step it up with Canada, India and Brazil. Also: check this link that breaks down state exports to different countries.
Texas actually seems to export high tech stuff more than agriculture. Makes sense, between Austin, Dell, and Texas Instruments.

Hey, I also found this nifty SEPTEMBER 2008 report from the Department of Commerce that discusses Texas and exports. Here's how many jobs in different states are tied to exports.

Also check out our database USA TRADEONLINE.