Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Awesome Research Guides for Entrepreneurs and International Businesses

New and improved research guides for international business and Entrepreneur/Start-Up resources (AKA Management 3360)

Too many library guides are simply lists of resources - I've organized these guides according to your need (statistics, how to find monetary data, Texas law, etc...) and included tutorials.

Mucho better. Save some future time and click on the links.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Investor's Business Daily


I've recently gotten some inquiries about accessing Investor's Business Daily. We don't have a paper subscription anymore, but we do have good electronic access here. You can pick your database from that link, but I will steer you towards the Business Source Complete option.

I find that most users want to browse Investor's Business Daily, not search by article. If you follow the link above, and choose Business Source Complete, you will be able to browse by date.

If you would rather search by keywords, be sure to select "browse within this publication" once you are taken to the database.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Book Review: Boomerang:Travels in the New Third World

Michael Lewis's Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World (another copy available here) is a collection of elegant, wickedly insightful essays about the just-burst debt bubble and different countries' attempt to come to terms with what just happened - and, more ominously, - what is ABOUT to happen.

In the aftermath of the initial financial meltdown of 2007-8, Lewis visits several European countries and the United States and writes about national character turned loose "in the dark" with unlimited free money.

The best chapters are the Greek and Irish ones - masterpieces of cynicism, theft and tragedy.

Highly recommended for giving a flavor of the madness of our times. The abandoning of common sense, the incompetence and complacency and corruption in high places, and the cultural acceptance of what is basically debt peonage. Future generations will read this book and shudder.

It's important to read these things so you can rise above your present surroundings and make critical judgements.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Nassim Taleb's Black Swan of Cairo Essay

Here's a link to Nassim Taleb's essay in Foreign Affairs entitled The Black Swan of Cairo.

Taleb writes that governments and institutions, in attempting to flatten natural volatility, instead creates economic and social bottlenecks that will ultimately erupt beyond the artificially "normal" parameters of the last few decades.

Check it out - it's a fascinating essay.

Link to my earlier book review of Taleb's famous book The Black Swan.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Business Plan Ideas Inside the S-1 Form

Summary: Read S-1 forms for your business plan ideas.

When a company sells stock for the first time, it must file a s-1 form with the SEC. This form explains how the company will make money - its business plan!

Companies can cite anything from identifying a competitive edge in their field, a market inefficiency they will exploit, an opportunity to reduce costs in an industry where this is a problem (like Amazon and storeless internet retailing!), or otherwise explain their plan.

Quickest way to do this:

Go to EDGAR (the SEC database) and

1. Search Most Recent Filings
2. Limit to S-1 Form
3. Avoid the S-1/A (amendment forms) and read S-1s all day.

Now, one thing you can also do is go to the advanced search screen and type in a keyword (insurance, computers, etc.) and s-1. This should get you closer to browsing S-1 plans in your field.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What is Fair Trade and Does it Work?

Here's an introduction to the concept of "fair trade" - the icon you've seen (most likely) on coffee bags. It usually refers to handicrafts and agricultural products from the developing world.

What is it? Among other things, a way for individual producers to remain individually employed and earn higher wages (good or bad? effective or not? read up and make up your own mind).

Quick and dirty link to our holdings on "fair trade" books
.

The relevant subject heading is Consumption (Economics)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

MERS and Clear Title to Property

For centuries, county clerks have recorded land sales and deeds so as to create an objective record of ownership. The rule of law makes commerce and credit (loans against title) possible.

MERS is a new-ish system of electronically recording transfers of titles that bypasses this old system. It is not controlled by the government - it is entirely a private system. The bottom line is that chain of title is no longer entirely clear under this system.

Make up your own mind by reading this in-depth article from the Austin American Statesman
.

A very wonky article that critiques some of the legal reasoning behind MERS.

Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto discussing the importance of law in making capitalism possible.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Financial "Pro" Loses House

Here's a New York Times article making the rounds.

A financial "pro" - who answered an ad for "securities" thinking it was for a security guard (yes, really) - gets caught up in the consumer lifestyle in Las Vegas and has to walk away from his house.

Great cultural history of American nonchalance. Much like the New York Times guy who lost HIS house.

But here's how this won't happen to YOU - read these books about investing.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Greatest Hits of Investing Books

I want to keep this short and sweet, so here is a very abbreviated list of some of the best books I have ever read about investing.

1. Clifford Pistolese. Using Technical Analysis.

If you could just read one book about investing this would be it - reading stock charts isn't as hard as you think. Mr. Pistolese unlocks the meaning of charts - in just a couple of days you'll see meaning in charts that is beautifully logical.

2. Any book about candlestick charts. This is another useful addition to reading stock charts based on centuries old Japanese rice futures.

3. Michael Perino. The Hellhound of Wall Street: how Ferdinand Pecora's investigation of the Great Crash forever changed American finance. This book gives you a sense of history so you won't be the turnip that fell off the truck. Learn Wall Street accounting gimmicks and old stock pump tricks. I wrote earlier about this book here.

4. John Kenneth Galbraith. The Great Crash. A great book for investigating normalcy bias. Does that stock price look strong? What if you knew it was trading for the same amount fifty years ago? How people are slow to react to crises because there is not a crisis at this very second.

5. Active Value Investing by Vitaliy Katsenelson. Easy to read book about determining value in a stock. Good sections about appropriate P/E levels for a company, determining a company's resistance to competition, basic primer on discounted cash flow analysis and more. Sort of an updated version of Benjamin Graham's classic book about value investing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

International Business and Exporting

Despite the depression, still a lot to come in the future in emerging economies.

Maybe you have a competitive advantage in a field, or maybe there's a growing middle class in a developing country that wants/needs to buy your product. Could be both.

The best country profiles are in Europa or Marketline Advantage.

Our subject headings are sort of scattered, but they include globalization, international business, international business enterprises and competition, international. Don't forget keywords either!

If you're looking for each country's laws governing you as a foreigner doing business, you'll need the print version of international commercial laws or the Country Commerce section of the EIU.com (choose reports on the right side of the screen.)

And don't forget the research guide I made on this subject. It gives you the right databases to use.

Finally, check out these good sites:

Export.gov
(a good guide to how to export)

Tradestats Express (pretty detailed guide to what we are exporting. State by state too).

Monday, November 7, 2011

Book Review: Money and Man


Elgin Groseclose's Money and Man is a great summary of humanity's experience with money over the centuries
.

It's a good read for monetary newbies to understand how the physics of money affects the real world.

This book starts with Greek and Roman use of silver and copper as money - which are dependent on natural supply rather than issuance. This static supply affects credit and economic growth in a society.

In Europe, the use of paper money only really came about after the Middle Ages and it's interesting to see the move away from barter and precious metals to a fiat currency (although often backed by precious metals).

Fiat currency can be quite advantageous, provided its issuance is governed by restraint and wisdom. Unfortunately, it rarely turns out that way, and ultimately the history of the world is littered with defunct and now worthless paper bank notes. Groseclose delves into the reasons why different paper currencies failed.

It's worthwhile for an American to familiarize yourself with these concepts, because we're relatively unscathed by monetary devaluation. In other words, we take relatively stable money for granted.

That could change.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Quality of Life

Here are some sources that measure things like income, business climate, individual health, outdoors activity, educational degree, water quality, pollution, crime, and other neat marketing items.

Know your surroundings if you are doing a start-up or trying marketing or advertising.

Databases:

Simply Map and Simply Map tutorial

Books:

America's Top Rated Cities also contains typical prices for office space and consumer products

America's Top Rated Smaller Cities (no San Marcos, what the heck?) also contains typical prices for office space and consumer products

State Rankings

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Psychology of Marketing

Marketers need to know a lot about human psychology, anthropology, communication and other disciplines.

Here's a cool subject heading called Marketing - Psychological Aspects.

Delve into the existential reasons people buy products. Desire, fear, greed, contempt, lust, group belonging, nostalgia, group rejection and sundry other mysteries of the human psyche are explored here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Simply Map Tutorial

Simply Map just changed its look, and is more awesome than ever.

For those new to Simply Map, it features 3,000 data series on zip codes, counties, states, cities and census tracts that measure economic activity, local brand shares, product use profiles, demographics and attitudes toward products and activities.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Economics of Water

A growing population in some of the world's driest areas is leading many people to study the economics of water. Why is a diamond expensive and water free? It's a famous question posed in economics.

Actually that may not persist much longer.

Here is the main category for the economics of water.

To get an idea of how much renewable water a country has, go to Worldbank/World Development Indicators database.

Type freshwater as a search term.

Or check p.142 of the paper copy of World Development Indicators.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Legendary Investor Explains The Financial Crisis and Aftermath

Michael Burry ran a relatively nondescript hedge fund - until he realized that the US housing market was about to collapse and set about to profit from that.

(Remember, the market was overvalued, corrupt and unbalanced, and there is no ethical problem with benefiting from its implosion. Correction from corruption is part of the ecosystem. You don't want wasteful and unjust imbalances - like abnormally high housing prices - to persist.)

Made about $700 million that way.

Burry - one of the central characters of Michael Lewis's book The Big Short - has written a very interesting article here.

Read his take on what caused the crisis, how no-one noticed, what's next, and his view that our society still has not come to terms with an unresponsive elite class.

Monday, October 24, 2011

How To Compete in Business

In order to compete in business, you need a strategy.

Don't reinvent the wheel. Let Michael Porter's Competitive Strategy show the way.

Is your industry fragmented, emerging or declining? What is the appropriate strategy for competition and profitability in each?

Interesting ideas abound. Some examples: if you work in a fragmented industry, understand why your industry is fragmented (many businesses with no clear advantage over each other). If no clear advantage can be had - learn to focus on profitability over market share.

Or this: price wars differ in implementation depending on the industry.

Porter also explains how to read hidden signals that reveal what your competition is doing.

In short, this book will help you:

Explain to backers what your business brings to the table and what opportunities it is hoping to exploit.

Be able to explain how you will respond to challenges from other businesses in the field.

Here's a list to other Michael Porter analysis books.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Copywriting Books


Here are our books on copywriting
. Well, we call it advertising copy, but they're copywriting books.

Copywriting is the art of writing the text in advertisements.

Learn from the masters what makes a good tagline, how to appeal to a customer, and the absolute don'ts of the business.

And don't forget to read Hall of Fame advertising guru David Ogilvy's book on his experiences in the trade.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Books on Steve Jobs and Apple

To me, the legacy of Steve Jobs is bringing design, creativity and intellectualism to the corporate world and mass production.

Big business done (mostly) right.

Here are a couple of books on Steve Jobs

Books on Apple Computer.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Beware of Get Rich Schemes: The Death of Don Lapre

You may have heard of Don Lapre (video here), the manic TV spokesperson, promising riches to anyone that would follow his system.

Well, he died/committed suicide in prison, awaiting trial on charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy.

True, Mr. Lapre had not gone to trial, but authorities felt something was wrong enough to charge him with several serious crimes.

It's a jungle out there, and without knowledge you are toast.

Link to my previous post about American Greed, the most excellent television series about real life financial frauds. There is some wild stuff on that show (you can watch it online).

Friday, September 30, 2011

Identifying the Authenticity of Statistics

This is an interesting article about the science of identifying inauthentic statistics.

From Enron to the government of Greece, people with something to hide give themselves away with recurring number patterns that might be detectable. Interesting stuff.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Book Review: Moneyball

Coming soon to a theater near you. Starring Brad Pitt.

Moneyball is about an unlikely success: how the cash strapped Oakland A's baseball team found ways to win without the ability to afford highly priced skills. One simply must find players with unusual and overlooked talents. One does this by identifying talents that no-one else can see - a tough business in a 100-year old game that few thought held any more secrets.

Those people were wrong. Baseball did have secrets. And these were ferreted out by Bill James, an eccentric and charming former night watchman from Kansas. Famed business writer Michael Lewis (Liar's Poker) tackles the subject of how the Oakland A's turned baseball shibboleths on their head by using these unconventional insights gleaned from reams of statistical data.

For Moneyball is a story about how insight into statistics can uncover hidden patterns and exploit the holes in conventional wisdom. The A's used new data that redefined critical aspects of the game and what made a good player effective. And then they found these stealth players whose contributions to the game had been hidden in history.

Even if you're not a baseball fan, it's very important to realize that things are not always what they seem. It's also a great way for people to learn to think about the behavior of numbers and stats - even if they're not about baseball.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Business Information Security

Just a reminder that you're not paranoid if they really are out to get you.

Many a business has given away its trade secrets, strategic plans, and sensitive numbers by not understanding the reality of industrial espionage.

And they're not just huge corporations. This can happen to small local businesses as well.

Business professional risk book or general introduction to computer security to remind yourself of the dangers of e-mail, wireless devices, and using the internet.

Plus, some links to some really great books (getting past the typically strange subject headings)

industrial espionage.

trade secrets

commercial crimes

computer crimes

Monday, September 12, 2011

Debt Load for College Students

The Atlantic writes about the huge problem of debt for today's college students.

National investment and savings are getting hurt from people having to pay down debt.

College is overpriced, but far from worthless. But since the elite are now financiers (who derive their fortunes from debt), don't look for any change soon.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Books on Pricing


What should you charge? What is the most you can charge for your product? Are you charging enough?

Also: innovative ways to come up with pricing packages that move customers and maximize your profits.

Here are some cool books on pricing.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fastest Growing Small Companies


Fastest growing private companies from Inc.


If you need ideas about what is growing and happening in the economy today.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Implications Of A Post Middle-Class America


Can the middle class be saved?


Well, author Don Peck has done it again in The Atlantic. The America of the future will look very different as our middle class loses ground economically and culturally.

This article discusses the likely types of jobs that will dominate post-crash America

Read this article to understand what jobs might work for you and how to get and keep a good job in today's economy.

Hint: Education helps.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Neuro-Linguistic Programming

This might be interesting: books on neuro-linguistic programming. Bascially it amounts to programming yourself through positive thinking and goal articulation. There is also some application towards your relations with people. Speech and thoughts are very powerful!

Recommended for job-seekers or people wanting to make life/career changes.

Mall Maps on Bing


Attention retail science people, marketers and others.

You can get maps on Bing that show the insides of malls in America: current tenants, layouts, etc...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Book Review: The Hellhound of Wall Street

Book review: The Hellhound of Wall Street : How Ferdinand Pecora's Investigation of the Great Crash Forever Changed American Finance

The Stock Market crash of 1929 woke investors up to the necessity of getting reliable info about the stocks they were buying. Companies often hid debt, investment banks flipped bad or mispriced securities to the public and otherwise leveraged information to their advantage.

Ferdinand Pecora was an unlikely government inquisitor - one of the few Italian-American lawyers at the time in New York. The book focuses on the testimony of investment bankers, financiers and other witnesses as Pecora exposes the inner workings of Wall Street. It's very easy to cheat people when you possess more information than they.

Bottom line: if you invest money, this is the book that shows how opaque risk is offloaded from Wall Street to you.

P.S. Know what the word opaque means before you start investing your own money.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Small Business Statistics

Some tough stats about small business from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These stats show that basically there are fewer and fewer small businesses and that their share of national income is smaller than you think.

The bright side: you get to learn business in a tough environment, giving you mad business skills.

Monday, July 11, 2011

How to Cite Business Sources

Citing your work got you crazy? We have your guides to citing databases, annual reports, articles, books and more here....

Our LibGuides to Citations - includes APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, you name it....

A great guide to business citations from Harvard University
.

Let Boston University's Guide to Doing Business Citations help out (with examples)

Or this guide about citing business sources in APA

RefWorks allows you to save and format citations according to any citation format. I think it's generally wonderful but it can be hard to use, so you can use these tutorials.

Be aware that the final works cited is about 90% accurate, but be sure to check your work against the official APA/MLA/etc... guide.

While you can enter or import data into Refworks yourself (see the tutorial above), some databases allow you to export directly into RefWorks (see below):

Blow the video up for best view

video

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Books on Interpersonal Communication

This is a good subject heading: interpersonal communication. Contains books on people skills, negotiations, arguing, and group interaction.

Good for marketers, advertisers, or just being a businessperson.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Why MySpace Failed

Here's a good BusinessWeek article about why MySpace lost to Facebook. Lotsa of interesting rules that apply to social sites: perception that the wrong crowd had taken over, lack of crowd sourcing applications, and nervous advertisers.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Verified: Internet Articles Badly Written


This is a fascinating article about an AOL writer and his daily routine
. Which involved writing unbelievable amounts of print over subjects unfamiliar to the writer.

It is, I suspect, largely how most internet content gets created. As information, it is worthless - it exists only to generate clicks and therefore ad content.

This is the stuff you are reading if you haven't put in the five minutes to learning the library website.

Might I suggest you also read the classic Lippman book Liberty and the News. The problem of low-paid non-expert writers working under deadline is a reason to learn to think for yourself.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Conversation Analysis

Interpersonal skills are everything so read these books about conversation analysis.

You will learn how to draw people out, use humor in conversation, pick up hidden messages, and listen to people. And they will remember you.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Scholarly VS NonScholarly

What is the difference between scholarly and nonscholarly articles? Watch this video to find out.

The librarian also explains how to use scholarly articles more effectively.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Government not Happy with Competing Virtual Currency Bitcoin

A few days ago I posted about Bitcoin, the virtual currency, and wondered if it might catch on in an age of fiat currency instability and inflation.

And...just like that....Bitcoin has attracted the displeased attention of the government.

The government is concerned about Bitcoin being used by drug dealers. Whether or not that is only reason, I will leave for you to decide.

Interesting times.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Memory Training Books


Our books on improving your memory skills
.

Not only good for studying, but also good for your business skills. Remembering people's names is very important.

The instant you meet someone, associate their name with a word starting with the same letter.

Bronco Brian. Laughing Laura. Etc. Be nice (!). It's OK to ask someone for their last name again, in my opinion.

Note: you don't tell the person the memory word in front of their name! Be positive though.

It works!

Book Review: Kitchen Confidential

Do not attempt to open a restaurant without reading Kitchen Confidential.

You know Anthony Bourdain as the host of No Reservations, but before that TV gig, he was a multidecade veteran of the restaurant biz.

This book focuses on his initiation into the restaurant industry - both as a worker and later as an owner. It is invaluable reading for anyone thinking - like some of my entrepreneur students - of opening a restaurant or bar.

This is how it goes down - the rhythm of work, your inevitably dysfunctional staff, how the kitchen is run, how to pay for food and secure supplies, etc...

A lot of hilarious and insightful information.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Avatars Explain Ups and Downs of Googling

Private Forms of Currency: The Bitcoin

One of the hallmarks of the future will be currency uncertainty. Whether that takes the form of inflation, deflation, devaluation, revaluation or a combination of these is unclear.

However, people are experimenting with new forms of currency (and they aren't state issued/fiat).

Take the example of Bitcoin
.This is an e-commerce currency that is privately created and supposedly designed to guard against the shenanigans that befall fiat currency (inflation, etc...).

As this article points out, freeware Linux was thought to be unworkable as well.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Research Process Explained in Xtranormal




Been experimenting with Xtranormal. This program allows you to type in text for animated characters to say.

In this example, a librarian explains to a patron how to narrow a research focus.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Future Advertising Will Tilt Toward the Wealthy

In this AdAge white paper, the authors point out that almost half of consumer spending now comes from the upper echelon of American incomes. This contrasts with previous patterns of American consumption in which the middle class dominated consumer spending.

In other words, classic American advertising used to reflect the mentality of the the middle class.

Now get ready for ads that appeal to the upper class.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Book Review: Broke, USA

Broke USA: How the Working Poor Became Big Business chronicles the recent rise of predatory lending institutions such as payday loan stores, check cashing outfits and the misleading mortgage. Downwardly mobile people using these product find themselves trapped with unpayable debt and the sudden loss of equity in their homes.

Very often, these businesses spring up near economically distressed populations: rustbelt communities with high unemployment, rural communities left behind in the global economy, and army bases (a young population in need of money).

It's part of a rather unfortunate period of American economic history where credit masks economic decline. At least temporarily.

Rivlin includes memorable portraits of the users of these financial products but also profiles the entrepreneurs that start these businesses and their take on their social utility. There's also quite a lot of information on the influence of the financial industry on state legislatures.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Intern Opportunities In the Real World

Here are some good websites to look for internships. Search by keyword intern or field....

indeed.com
jobster.com
monster.com
internships.com
internweb.com

Monday, May 16, 2011

Graduate Student Survival Video Tutorial

If you're a graduate student, or simply want to learn very advanced searching techniques:

watch this tutorial video
.

It covers the things you'll need to thrive in grad school: getting caught to speed outside your discipline (or even IN your discipline), finding the most influential articles, how to find and use other people's dissertations (read: bibliographies), using other libraries and career opportunities.

Fake Comments on the Web

The comments section of blogs critical of powerful public or private entities are regularly infiltrated by fake comments written by paid workers of those entities.

These paid commentators will attack the critical information in length comment after comment, drowning out those that disagree with the actions of the powerful entity.

Examples:

As you might expect, China engages in this. People are paid to promote the official Chinese point of view around the internet. China, in case you have forgotten, is a non-democratic communist dictatorship.

Our US government is interested in this as well. Read this actual academic paper authored by a high government official that advocates flooding blog comments sections with pro-government material.

(There are many examples of big businesses doing this too - I will try to collect some examples for you soon)

My favorite example is when celebrities actually try to anonymously comment on critical articles on themselves! Scott Adams of Dilbert fame was busted doing this.

Here's a list of other famous/rich people concealing their identities in comments sections
. Yes, it's a Wikipedia link, but they do include sources for these examples.

Solutions: 1. Stop Treating the Open Web as an authoritative source. 2. Learn to Think For Yourself, even when you perceive your own views to be unpopular.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Check Orbis for Women or Minority Owned Companies

Go to Orbis Database.

Click on directors. Select women or minority. Includes subcategories of minority (hispanic, indian, african-american, etc.)

Contains millions of companies, public and private, so you might want to set other parameters like sales, place of incorporation and so on.

Or, with the same link, you can also check the directors' characteristics like nationality....

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Book Review: The Naked Consumer

Erik Larson's The Naked Consumer captures a moment where marketers learned to combine seemingly innocuous public information into powerful, almost intrusive, insight into our personal lives.

Larson commits on the involuntary nature of much of this information gathering and wonders what we can do about it.

Whether this information marketing is improving your life by tailoring products to you or is manipulation and intrusive is probably dependent on your worldview.

But this is an interesting book that chronicles what information how our personal information sources are used and when the bar for privacy is moved so we don't even notice.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Importance of Economic Facts

Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto has written about the importance of laws and clear title in capitalism. See this review of The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else.

Now de Soto has written an article about the importance of objective facts in making capitalist decisions - who owns what, what something is worth, etc...

de Soto fears we might be getting away from that. He might be right. Good thought piece.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Organic Crops

Organic food and other crops (like cotton) is big business.

Some government prepackaged (but good) facts about organic production in us.

Do your own search for detailed percentages and totals for organic crops here (use keyword organic). note: right now I can find only data for all organic crops here (although it does break it down by county), but i will keep looking.

If you are looking for reports on organic food, Marketline Advantage industry reports are a good source.

You may have to search the internet for trade association publications, like this report on organic cotton.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

History of Correlation

Hey marketers and statisticians!

Interesting article - "Thirteen ways to Look At the Correlation Coefficient" - breaks down the nuances of correlation. Very good summary of how your choice of the construction of your correlation can mean different things in your final scatterplot graph.

Detailed but cool summary of the mysteries of correlation.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Human Fat Is Bio Diesel Ready

Great news - we have discovered a new source of renewable fuel in this country. In fact, we have some of the largest reserves on the planet.

Human fat. Yup, straight from the lipsosuction clinic to your tank.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Book Review: Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

This is a classic title, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

The crowd isn't always right. In fact, quite often, it falls prey to delusion, lack of perspective, group think and wishful thinking.

Bottom line: you gotta understand the psychology of ignorance and emotion.

First published in 1841, it analyses three great outbreaks of mass-investment psychosis: the Mississippi Scheme and the South Sea Bubble in the 18th century, and Dutch tulipmania in the 17th century, which is also the subject of Joseph de la Vega's eyewitness account, first published in 1688. All three instances provided anecdotes as scary as any stemming from the 1929 crash.

Read the full book review (excerpt above) here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Breakdown the Earnings of Giant Corporations

Let's say you want to know how much a giant conglomeration like GE earns from each type of its businesses (they do everything from television to home supplies to nuclear reactors).

They don't always get broken out in traditional financials. SO:
Go to MINT, type in your company, and select SEGMENTS as a value.

You'll get earnings (in the case of GE) by infrastructure, home solutions, entertainment, etc....

Monday, March 14, 2011

GINI Index Can Predict Social Unrest

May you live in interesting times.

Ever heard of the GINI index? Basically, it measures just how the poor are and how rich the rich are in relation to each other in any given country (full definition included on the link).

If you have allowed for differences in outcomes and ability, and your country still has an unusual disparity in wealth, that is a sign something isn't working.

Because you want to be careful investing in, exporting or importing to/from, or starting a business in a country that is about to go up in revolution.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Outsourcing Production in China Is Risky

Interesting article about the risks of outsourcing your production to China, especially if you're a small business.

Main points of article:

1. Poor Quality of Product to the point of recalls, destroyed production runs, and damaged reputation.

2. Delays in getting your product run going. Chinese factories serve a variety of clients and as a small business you have last priority.

3. High Shipping Costs

4. Theft of your intellectual property. Expect to see knockoffs of your product in the marketplace.

If there were ever an argument for capitalism being linked to democracy and rule of law, this would be it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Austin a Top Market for Personal Care Products

Austin is a huge market for personal care, gym memberships, fancy haircuts, grooming and all kinds of dandified metrosexual shennigans:

"The average household in Austin, Texas spends $143 a month on personal care, or $1,716 annually — the highest of the top 100 largest cities in the country, and more than two times the national average."

Click the link, but personal care includes gyms, drug stores, hair salons and a few other things.

Not 100% precise, but gives you an idea of a town's flavor and what else they might go for.

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Lesson in Commodity Futures

In the near future, you are going to have to understand how commodities are bought and sold. Both growing global demand and the pressure for money to go somewhere are lighting up commodities. Oil, gold, cotton, wheat and rice are just some of the commodities that are about to figure prominently in your life.

Why this is important: Many businesses - like airlines and fuel options - engage in options due to their operational needs. And inflation - and growing demands - makes this an attractive trade in the future.

Unlike equities, commodities often involve contracts to deliver the actual product at a certain price. Most of the time, no actual physical products change hands.

This is good because people sell and resell options and contracts in excess of the actual amount of physical products available. A lot of people don't really have the products to deliver at certain prices either.

Ruh-roh.

Most of the time markets engage in this 120 mph, highwire act without undue consquences. The Great Maine Potato imbroglio of 1976 is a great example of what happens when you find you need to deliver 3 million potatoes to lower Manhattan by 3 pm the next day.

Another take on the whole sordid episode here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Book Review: F'd Companies

This book chronicles the worst, silliest and least thought out ideas of the dotcom era. The writer is profane and harsh, but it makes for entertaining reading.

It also makes for very educational reading if you are starting a company or testing out business ideas. That goes double for companies doing business on the internet.

There are lots of bad ideas in these business plans to curdle the soul - lack of competitive advantage, high shipping costs (relevant for internet retailers), failure to improve on value for the consumer, and many more shortcomings so glaring you need polarized sunglasses to read this book.