Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Book Review: Liar's Poker

Liar's Poker is an account of the high pressure deals on Wall Street during the 1980s. The author, Michael Lewis, was a bright and very young recent college graduate who suddenly found himself making insane amounts of money trading bonds on the floor of Salomon Brothers.

Lewis recounts his adventures in learning to trade the market, the profane culture of the brokerage, and playing Machiavellian office politics. It's pretty dramatic, with lots of high stakes deals, backbiting and secret alliances, and the stench of greed. It's also how the financial world operates.

Read this book if you want to understand the mentality of trading, the culture of Wall Street, and learn about how money flows in the financial world.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Quickly Identify a Country's Imports

The Database Europa allows you to quickly identify a country's general imports and exports.

The Steps:

1. Go To Europa. 2. Select Country 3. Country Statistics 4. External Trade

Far greater detail and up-to-the-minute data is available in Faostat and Usa Trade Online (UTO is unfortunately accessible only on the 4th floor of the library). I'll post on those another time.

But Europa is a quick way to find general numbers.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Municipal Code for Small Business/Entrepreneurs

The nitty gritty regulations that cover your small business are found in the municipal code for a city.

These are regulations like how many parking spaces per resident your apartment complex must have, keeping animals, and environmental regulations.

San Marcos Municipal Code LINK

Or, search for the code of your preferred city.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Beige Book is Out

The Fed Reserve has released its current edition of the Beige Book. Editions come out eight times a year. The actual title is Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions.

This is the book that summarizes current economic conditions in different areas of the country. It's a little general in content, but it's often referred to by economic commentators.

The Baby-Sitting Co-Op Economics Article

Heard about the baby sitting article yet?

Like the book reviews, I will sometimes include thought pieces here that give you context, meaning, and fodder for your imagination.

So today's food-for-thought piece is a famous academic journal article about a group of young families in need of a babysitter. They made coupons that could be redeemed for one night of baby sitting, and....then something unexpected happened.

Nobody wanted to go out (because they wanted to save up the scarce coupons) and therefore people weren't earning coupons for spending. Without coupons, they couldn't go out. What's the solution? In other words, this problem is about demand, money supply, and deflation. Sound familiar?

And this is what people are talking about when they mention "the baby-sitting article."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Book Review of The Black Swan

From this book review:

Taleb is concerned with black swans, i.e., unpredictable and improbable events that have great impact. Among the examples of these he cites are the rapid spread of the Internet and the 9/11 attacks.

People endeavor to explain black swans after they occur, but they cannot do so in advance. Despite the crucial effects of these events, economists and other supposed experts in prediction fail to allow for them; indeed, their theories often deny their possibility.

Because of this failure, Taleb maintains that much business forecasting is useless. To him, only a few economists, e.g., Friedrich Hayek, grasp the vital importance of uncertainty and escape condemnation. Taleb extends his indictment of conventional approaches to risk, contending that the bell curve, a key tool of many standard theories, often fails to fit the actual world. He further posits that people tend not to cope with a black swan properly, tailoring their response to specific details of the incident rather than generalizing their response.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wake Up Everyday to the Wall Street Journal or Other Business News

Want to automatically receive daily news from the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Barron's or many, many other business titles? You can create an RSS feed that sends you a link to the daily news to your email, Google account, or other RSS readers.

Go to ABI Inform and click on publications. Browse or find the exact title you want. If there's a RSS icon next to the publication title, you can create a RSS feed for that title.

After the RSS is created, click on the URL and you will see several options for receiving the feed.

FYI: A lotta other databases allow you to create alerts or RSS feeds. Look for the option.

Update: Hmmm....there might be a one day delay on the Wall Street Journal RSS feed....but it's still cool.