Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A List of Data Miners

Who are the big data mining companies on the internet? This news article profiles the major internet data collectors, how they do it, what they use it for, and how much they know about you.

Pretty crazy what they can piece together about you, especially using tricks like finding your aliases, etc...

The article includes opt out information but it seems a little quixotic.

Our database ABI Inform is a good place to read more on this topic from journals, newspapers and magazines.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Groupon Article

Have you ever turned down $6 billion? Groupon did when Google offered to buy the company.

Groupon will print you for a coupon for a local business - if enough people online show interest as well.

Groupon incorporates some of the key lessons of internet business: long tail marketing, greater efficiency in uniting sellers and buyers and social networking. I want you to think about that if you're starting an Internet company.

Here's a nice Analysis of Groupon in The New Yorker.

The article criticizes Groupon a bit for not being truly unique (there are already competitor sites) and for that greatest of sins in today's world: employing thousands of ad salespeople (hey, there's a job for you after graduation).

However, they do praise Groupon a bit for clever organization, adcopy and name recognition.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mergent Manuals Online

The Alkek Library has purchased online access to multidecade runs of Mergent Manuals. This includes Industrial, Unlisted, Public Utility, International, Transportation, Over the Counter and Bank and Finance.

Mergent Industrial manuals cover most of the 20th century through today and list a corporation's financials, stock splits and dividends. Also included is a corporation's subsidiaries, acquistions and a brief corporate history.

The other categories are also as detailed with the information appropriate to their field.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Book Review: Freakonomics

Somewhere there are a few people who haven't heard of this book. It was a mega hit with thought exercises that culminated in unexpected connections and comparisons.

For example, the authors postulate that legalized abortion reduces crime (less unwanted babies), that the KKK model of information control resembles real estate agents' behavior, how wrestlers' cheat in sumo matches, the difference between white and black parents' naming of their children, and the economics of being a crack dealer.

You may have noticed that few of these chapters have anything to do with economics.

This reviewer puts it the best:

The drawback with such a freewheeling approach is that particular data may be consistent with a range of hypotheses. Picking a hypothesis to suit the data rather than testing
previously-formulated hypotheses may happen regularly in the academy, but written up so breezily, it smacks of ex post rationalisation.

I have hesitated putting this book on the blog because I don't think the authors really prove any of it. At best, there are some correlations that may or may not mean anything. If you want to shock and make flip arguments based on a few cherry picked correlations, read the book.

I suppose I can say two good things about this book: 1) it will teach you to rap persuasively about nothing and 2) irreverent breaking out of thought patterns is always to be encouraged.

By the way, did you know that crime may have declined due to making gasoline unleaded? Concentrations of lead make you homicidal....

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tracking Inflation Online

Hey this is cool.

Track inflation (for multiple countries) based on online prices of anything you can sell at the Billion Prices Project from MIT.

I think this contains only aggregate inflation figures based on those products at this point...but still worth a look. Different gathering method than Consumer Price Index official figures.

By the way, here's the link (pun intended) to the infamous phone complaint to Jimmy Dean Sausage complaining about value deflation in his morning breakfast.

My Ivory Soap and oatmeal have already shrunk.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Evaluating A Website

Here's FYI, Mister Rogers was not a sniper.


* Identify the author and the author's expertise on the topic.

* Verify the facts, statistics, or quotes on the web page in another source.

* Identify the agenda of the page: are they selling something or promoting a point-of-view that benefits them?

* Check to see when the page was last updated. If you can't find a date, consider using a different source.


* Most people don't know what they are talking about.

* Many people will make up facts, misrepresent facts, or leave out facts in order to support their position.

* People will tell you anything if money or power is somehow involved.


* Learn to think for yourself and do not rely on gathering other people's opinions posted on the internet.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Book Review: David Ogilvy's Confessions of An Advertising Man

Here's one of the real Mad Men.

Ogilvy was a smooth, masterful advertising avatar of post-war consumerism. He successfully advertised shirts, tourism (notably Puerto Rico), Rolls-Royce and many other famous products.

In Confessions of An Advertising Man, Ogilvy (who's a gifted raconteur) stays mostly away from his colorful past and instead discusses his insights on the craft of advertising.

Confessions is full of surprising advice: for example, don't take an account from a company with declining sales (you'll fail) and sans serif is the easiest font to read.

Ogilvy, famous as a copywriter, also lays out some how-to in the art of copywriting.

If you're entrepreneurial, pay attention to how Ogilvy creates and runs his own advertising agency.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Where's My Mortgage?

Click this link to find out who owns your mortgage - and if they can produce the note. It's always helpful to live in a society that requires documents and proof rather than just having strangers show up and tell you to get out of your house.

Please see the book review about Hernando de Soto's: The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else about why the rule of law and equal protection before the law is critical to capitalism's success.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Texas Wine

This is a cool article about vineyards and winemakers in Texas. You get an idea of the business and there's an interactive map of where the vineyards are in Texas.

Don't forget the post about Reference USA to locate businesses by area.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Somali Pirate Business Model

The United Nations has released this report about the Somali pirate business model.

Here's a quick summary (see annex 4.3 in the link for the good part):

A basic piracy operation requires a minimum eight to twelve militia prepared to stay at sea for extended periods of time, in the hopes of hijacking a passing vessel. Each team requires a minimum of two attack skiffs, weapons, equipment, provisions, fuel and preferably a supply boat. The costs of the operation are usually borne by investors, some of whom may also be pirates.

To be eligible for employment as a pirate, a volunteer should already possess a firearm for use in the operation. For this ‘contribution’, he receives a ‘class A’ share of any profit. Pirates who provide a skiff or a heavier firearm, like an RPG or a general purpose machine gun, may be entitled to an additional A-share. The first pirate to board a vessel may also be entitled to an extra A-share.

At least 12 other volunteers are recruited as militiamen to provide protection on land of a ship is hijacked, In addition, each member of the pirate team may bring a partner or relative to be part of this land-based force. Militiamen must possess their own weapon, and receive a ‘class B’ share — usually a fixed amount equivalent to approximately US$15,000.

If a ship is successfully hijacked and brought to anchor, the pirates and the militiamen require food, drink, qaad, fresh clothes, cell phones, air time, etc. The captured crew must also be cared for. In most cases, these services are provided by one or more suppliers, who advance the costs in anticipation of reimbursement, with a significant margin of profit, when ransom is eventually paid.

When ransom is received, fixed costs are the first to be paid out. These are typically:

• Reimbursement of supplier(s)

• Financier(s) and/or investor(s): 30% of the ransom

• Local elders: 5 to 10 %of the ransom (anchoring rights)

• Class B shares (approx. $15,000 each): militiamen, interpreters etc.

The remaining sum — the profit — is divided between class-A shareholders.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Book Review: Brewing Up A Business

Beer entrepreneur Sam Calagione shares his story of creating one of the most successful microbreweries out there - Dogfish.

Yeah, there's lot of fun anecdotes about getting Dogfish off the ground - he's a free spirit to say the least.

But the real value here is a case study of watching a small business grow from incubation to being an established success story. In fact, the book is organized more about business principles than beer per se.

You're going to learn a lot about managing growth, product diversification, bouncing back from mistakes (not all of his competitors do so), identity as a brand, listening to customers, and a lot more.

Another cool thing about this book is that it addresses a basic reality in our economy: forget about taking on the big boys and find that long tail of the niche market.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Working In A Foreign Country

If you have an adventuresome spirit, you might want to check this out:

Guides to working abroad in the database Business Source Complete

1) Hit country reports (kinda on the right side)
2) Choose your country
3) Career guides will be mixed in your results.

Once you get past some boilerplate text in the guides, there's some good specific information here.

Music Industry Books

Hey, here's some stuff about the business side of music.

The books can be found under music trade and sound recording industry.

Oh yes, there's music marketing.

Be sure to read this sobering article from The Root about the artist's portion of sales....

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tracking the Most Popular Viral Ads (and More)

Here's something interesting - a website that tracks the most popular viral ads, movie trailers, and webisodes....

Also interesting: a big viral hit does not necessarily translate into bigger sales....

Update: Despite a few naysayers, it appears that Old Spice sales (one of the most popular viral ads) have spiked recently. Of course, it's correlation not causation, but highly likely to be related to the campaign's popularity.

Still, popular ad campaigns don't always increase sales.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Book Review: The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else

Here's an argument for individual rights, openness and equality before the law:

Hernando de Soto: The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else

De Soto is a Peruvian economist that tackles one of the oldest mysteries: how can societies unlock their human potential? The answer, as he argues, lies in individual rights and a predictable, open legal system. Which the third world poor lack.

But how do you establish such a thing? De Soto's central idea is that the poor need titles for their often informally owned land and property. If you have legal title, you can get loans, and grow economically with that capital. But obtaining titles to some of these holdings would be fraught with controversy and entanglement....

This book is more of a thought piece and critics have noted De Soto's lack of empirical data in his work. But it's an interesting idea and ideas have to start somewhere.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Examples of Texas Law Forms and Find a Texas Law

We've got two books in the reference section that will help with Texas laws.... There's Texas Transaction Guide, which contains sample forms of contracts, custody, etc... and a few restatements of law.

Then there's Texas Law Finder. This book refers you to the laws you'll need given your problem.

Then you can check the actual Texas Code to read the law.

I would also suggest Lexis Nexis to find the actual text of the law.....

Friday, July 2, 2010

Outsourcing Statistics

Looking for outsourcing statistics? The official data is located at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and called Extended Mass Layoffs Associated with Domestic and Overseas Relocations

Or rather, it used to be. The above link is from 2004. Its passing as a data collection point was duly noted by many.
More recent data is mentioned in passing in this report.

Search the document for the phrase: 60,950 workers lost their jobs

Some newer information is given here, but much less prominence is given to outsourcing in these new figures and often it is not mentioned at all.

Here you have arrived at the end of the sidewalk so to speak. I suggest you search wonky news articles from ABI Inform to read other people's takes and context for these numbers.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

How Not To Be Defrauded

American Greed is a highly entertaining series that profiles famous cases of investor defrauding, from publicly listed giant companies like Enron to small entrepreneurs claiming to have invented the next big thing.

Four things I noticed about the defrauded victims:

  1. Naivete about the process of investing
  2. Greed
  3. Lack of risk control (put all their eggs in one basket)
  4. Vulnerable to affinity fraud.

Affinity fraud is one of my favorite examples of how people get taken down. Affinity fraud means that the fraudster plays up similarities in ethnicity, politics, or religion in order to gain the trust of the investor. IMO, Bernie Madoff and Bernie Ebbers (of Worldcom infamy) both engaged in this strategy.

Or.....maybe don't invest with people named Bernie!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Professions Most At Risk From Outsourcing

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a take on which U.S. professions are most vulnerable to outsourcing in the future.

They come up with some surprising nominations. Read this and ponder.....Incorporate this into your career choices....

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Book Review: The Best Way To Rob A Bank Is To Own One

The savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s and 1990s has now passed into history but seems a precursor to today's crisis of financialization. Investigator William Black is a favorite of many observers for his tough, common sense insights and refusal to kowtow to conventional wisdom and platitudes.

The savings and loan crisis features many of the familiar culprits behind today's bank problems: banks being allowed to invest capital in risky areas, low requirements for reserves, overextension, and understaffed government regulatory agencies (among other). This crisis particularly affected the Southwest and you need to read this if you plan to be a businessperson here (it's part of our history).

William Black's book is an interesting read for banking junkies and accounting students and includes copious nitty gritty details.

This could be your introduction to the concept of control fraud: where the company executives knowingly misstate numbers and mislead investors (see Enron).

I prefer to think of control fraud as creating conceptual frameworks that make the reckless seem viable and logical. Spotting control fraud is very hard because of the accompanying social acceptance and official approval. It pays to think for yourself.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Book Review: Busted: Life inside the Great Mortgage Meltdown

You may know business, but do you know personal finance? It's actually a whole different skill set.

So today we're going to read a book that shows you what NOT to do.

Busted: Life Inside The Great Mortgage Meltdown is a sad and in hindsight predictable tale of the consumer real estate excesses of 2000s America. The land where credit was inexhaustible and enormous home mortgages just didn't matter. In fact, critics of this debt-doesn't-matter mentality were widely derided. It goes to show you that a culture can develop temporary insanity.

This is the story of a New York Times business (!) reporter who attempted to keep up with the Joneses. He bought a house with a disastrous adjustable rate mortgage, continued to pile up huge credit card debts (with the assistance of his materialistic second wife), all while paying out punishing amounts of alimony and child support to his first wife and children.

Eventually reality came a- knockin'.

No, this is not a book with abstract theories but rather a personal history of America's experience with debt.

Read it to absorb the cultural milieu of the time and also to remind yourself that a culture can be very, very wrong.

Keep your eyes open out there!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Breakdown of Income Taxes By Income

This one is for the people interested in who pays INCOME taxes and how much and what their contribution is to the national tax receipts.

The IRS breaks down income tax stats by income group. If you follow this link, you'll have to negotiate a rather busy page of links to various tables.

But it's worth it to see how the economy is doing (less wages=less taxes) or if you want to wade into the waters of tax politics. Just remember, this represents INCOME taxes - not payroll taxes, sales taxes, property taxes or which socio-economic groups serve in the military ;)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Business Source Complete Database has Videos

The database Business Source Complete has a limited number of videos that are filmed lectures of Harvard B-School people.

Access the database
then choose videos on the right side of the screen. Then search by keywords.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Body Language

Here's another important subject for the businessperson - and especially salesperson - to manage.

Books on body language.

Fun quiz on spot the fake smile

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Future of Work

"How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America"

This is a thoughtful article from The Atlantic that seems unhappily prescient about how rootless, disconnected part-time work will become the norm and how that will affect our society.

I'll let the magazine summarize the content:

"...The Great Recession may be over, but this era of high joblessness is probably just beginning. Before it ends, it will likely change the life course and character of a generation of young adults. It will leave an indelible imprint on many blue-collar men. It could cripple marriage as an institution in many communities. It may already be plunging many inner cities into a despair not seen for decades. Ultimately, it is likely to warp our politics, our culture, and the character of our society for years to come."

No-one has a crystal ball, but sometimes these things turn out to be remarkably on-target. This stuff will affect the life course of a nation. See: Russia.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Let's get you up to speed on what gold is - money.

Understanding this stuff is key to deciphering how gold fits into the big picture of the global monetary system. So I'm going to lay a little knowledge on you.

Peter Bernstein's A Primer on Money, Banking and Gold is still one of the best books about this subject.

Here are some books about Bretton Woods, which was the international monetary conventions that lasted from World War II until the early 1970s and is still often referenced today.

Finally, Peter Bernstein's (again) delightful book is an overview of the history of gold in human affairs.

Hopefully this information will get you beyond the day to day of the market and into a deeper understanding.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Liber8 Website Is A Great Data Source

The St. Louis Fed has a great collection of data called LIBER8. Search a panoply of stats including money supply, sales of consumer products, unemployment rate, money in circulation, any economic indicator you can think of - and more.

Business Etiquette Books

Business etiquette is an interesting topic. This is a hidden dimension of business success because it involves human psychology - something we don't always take into account.

Good human relationships are essential to making the difference in your success.

These books cover when to take calls, write an email, conduct a meeting, maintain social business relationships and so on.

Monday, April 26, 2010


The subject heading persuasion
is one of the deep arts of advertising, selling, public speaking and marketing. Spend some time with these books if you want to stand out from the crowd.

Forbes's 100 Most Trustworthy Companies

Here's an interesting list: Forbes's annual ranking of the 100 Most Trustworthy Companies.

To make this list, the company had to meet standards of accounting openness and adherence to conservative (i.e. reality-based) accounting standards.

In an ethically and reality-challenged world where companies' financial statements are often, er,'s good to know.

Yup, Bed Bath and Beyond topped the list of large cap companies.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Electrical Grid in Texas

Slate's Big Money writes about Texas's resilient economy. The writer cites the abundance of land, state regulations that curtail home equity loans, Texas's strength as an exporter and - most interestingly - Texas's independent electrical grid that allows the economic use of wind energy.

An excerpt:

"...The state has its own electricity grid, which is not connected to neighboring states. That has allowed it to move swiftly and decisively in deregulating power markets, building new transmission lines, and pursuing alternative sources. "We can build transmission lines without federal jurisdiction and without consulting other states," said Paul Sadler, executive director of the Austin-based Wind Coalition. Ramping up wind power nationally would require connecting energy fields—the windswept, sparsely populated plains—to population centers on the coasts and in the Midwest. Texas' grid already connects the plains of West Texas with consumers in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fastest Growing Occupations

Here's a list of the fastest growing occupations according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Annual Reports Can Be A SWOT Source

What if your company doesn't have a prepackaged SWOT?  You can use your own noggin and create one yourself (get used to doing this).


The companies themselves will address these concerns in their annual report. This is usually done in their 10-K section 1A (Risk Factors). There is no uniform presentation; the company will list potential adverse scenarios to its profitability (threats and weaknesses), as well as its market strategy and assumptions (strengths and opportunities). They will continue to address these points throughout the rest of the 10-K.

So, if your company is publicly traded check out their annual report. Annual reports are available on the company's internet site, through Mergent or the SEC's Edgar database.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

How Texas Avoided the Real Estate Meltdown

Less than 6% of Texas mortgages are in foreclosure: the national average is 10%. 19% of Texas subprime loans were bust - almost the lowest rate in the country (numbers taken from the article linked below)

True, Texas is relatively unscathed by the recent economic troubles. But what's really interesting is the WHY of how most mortgage holders stayed solvent.

According to this article in Slate, it has to do with sane state government regulation of cash-out and home equity loans. You can't borrow crazy amounts of money against your home equity.

In fact, this provision is in the state constitution.

Aw, who are we kidding. The answer is we have Chuck Norris!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Don't Pay Extra For The Harvard Business Review

Reposted from the Library Blog:

Yes you can! Harvard Business Review assigned reading

Save your pennies, students! Alkek Library has just acquired rights for you to use the Harvard Business Review in EBSCO's Business Source Complete for your course assignments and research.

Rest assured that the 'Notice of Use Restrictions' that displays at the end of the articles does NOT APPLY to Texas State University students thanks to those Library Fees collected at the beginning of each semester.

We can't do anything about that notice, but we have posted messages of our own in the Periodical List and in the Database listings to ease your mind.

Happy downloading!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Book Reviews: The Long Tail

For decades, the marketplace revolved around strong demand and limited supply. This dynamic translated into the mass experience and the big hit. The long tail - that part of the graph line after the big hit spike, was uneconomical and difficult to pursue. Due to the realities of production and distribution, keeping niche products around was uneconomical.

Well, those days are gone.

Production is much cheaper and there's more supply. New models of distribution (as in one big national Internet store) mean cheaper warehousing - which means an explosion of niche demand. And the development of mass number of differentiated products means people can buy stuff they actually love - instead of settling for the one big hit that everybody liked OK, but few actually loved.

So- capture niche sales and understand that much of the marketplace will become semi-niche.

Of course, the author Chris Anderson goes into more detail, as in more specific company strategies for distribution, structure and pricing. So read the book.

One criticism of the book is that these lessons are valid but may only apply to certain kinds of consumer goods - most obviously media, book, and music products. Whaddaya think? Drop me a line in the comments.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fashion and Clothing SWOTs in ABI Inform

ABI Inform does have SWOTs for the fashion industry. Among a galaxy of options, I've seen footwear, athletic clothing, and clothing retail patterns discussed here.

It's a little weird to find.

1. Go to ABI Inform
2. Choose the Browse tab.
3. Choose Just Series Market Research Reports.
4. Choose Just Style.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wealth in America

Here are some interesting statistics from da gummit.

These are the people with the benjamins, ducats, dough, and dinero.

The statistics measure the form the wealth takes (income or stocks for example), what states have the most wealthy people and how much money that is, and family net worth at the top.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Income Distribution in America

Here's a Census Report about the last fifty years of income distribution in America. It's called "The Changing Shape of the Nation's Income Distribution, 1947-1998." Good historical overview.

The Statistical Abstract of the United States has some information about the distribution of income by family.

Or you check it out by individual if you like.

Here are some of our books about the topic.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

2010 Beige Book Release Calendar

The Federal Reserve published the Beige Book - rather anecdotal accounts of current economic activity that is released a few times a year.

According to the Federal Reserve website:

"Each Federal Reserve Bank gathers anecdotal information on current economic conditions in its District through reports from Bank and Branch directors and interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts, and other sources."

This is the schedule to the different 2010 Beige Book releases.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Book Review: Free: The Future of A Radical Price

Here's a conundrum of the modern age: people are getting used to not paying for digital content.
You, as a businessperson, have to deal with this problem.

This is the subject of Chris Anderson's Free: Future of a Radical Price. This book discusses the various revenue models you may have to adopt.

Here's an excerpt from the New York Times review:

"More precisely, the marginal cost of digital products, or the cost of delivering one additional copy, is approaching zero. The fixed cost of producing the first copy, however, may be as high as ever. All those servers and transmission lines, as cheap as they may be per gigabyte, require large initial investments. The articles still have to be written, the songs recorded, the movies made. The crucial business question, then, is how you cover those fixed costs. As many an airline bankruptcy demonstrates, it can be extremely hard to survive in a business with high fixed costs, low marginal costs and relatively easy entry. As long as serving one new customer costs next to nothing, the competition to attract as many customers as possible will drive prices toward zero. And zero doesn't pay the bills.

The answer, Anderson argues, lies in cross-subsidies: "shifting money around from product to product, person to person, between now and later, or into nonmonetary markets and back out again." Most obviously, online advertisers can subsidize content by paying for eyeballs or, in some cases, for detailed information on potential consumers. Less familiar is the "freemium" strategy, in which a site like Flickr offers one package of services free but charges for an ad-free package with more features, allowing a small fraction of users to subsidize the rest."

We just ordered our copy. It'll be here anyday. Check out is free.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Black Market

The black market shows up as the informal sector - economics in our online book catalog. Good articles on this subject can be found in our Business Source Complete or other business databases.

If you are doing a search on this topic, don't forget to search informal economy (or some derivation) as a keyword.

The "informal economy" is a fact of life for most of humanity. There are different reasons you might have a black market. The "informal" economy more accurately reflects demand (either with more expensive or cheaper goods), circumvents currency regulations, inflexible working regulations, or a number of other reasons depending on the context.

I'm just preparing Americans for a possible world that they know little of: currency controls, currency devaluation, how to negotiate the black market, etc...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Legal Treatises

Legal Treatises are great summaries of an area of law - property rights, divorce, contracts and so on. They're vital for getting an overview understanding of a legal area and all of its relevant historical legal decisions, concepts, definitions, rules and components.

This link takes you to all our treatises, but many of the treatises are about business subjects - bankruptcy, contracts and on and on.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Taxes By State

Didja know that Texas took in about $92.4 million from hunting and fishing licenses last year?

Find out how the amount of taxes collected on gasoline, estates, cigarettes, scuba suits and chocolate petit fours. Yes, it's detailed by state, so it's pretty interesting.
Oh, do I have fun with the allusions in these images.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Underwater Mortgages in Austin and Texas

Good question today: How many home mortgages in the Austin area are underwater (i.e. people owe more than the house is worth)?

The standard figures, from an organization called American CoreLogic, has come up with a report that is cited by several newspapers and business newspapers.

It includes the top 50 metropolitan areas by underwater status.

I would have put the report up in PDF form, but you must register for free beforehand, and I don't want to step on anybody's toes over at American CoreLogic.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Biographies of Noted People

Biographies in Context is a great library database for getting brief but informative biographical summaries of noted people.

The other good one is American National Biography. It only does Americans though.

Finally, all the British people are in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Sure, you could use Wikipedia for this, but sometimes non-experts DO get small details and historical events wrong. Plus, you don't have to wade through the controversies that polemical figures (such as economists) engender on the W.

I would rather get you all the facts so you can decide what it means. Especially after you read the original source material after getting this grounding.

Keynes Vs. Hayek in Economic Rap-Off

John Maynard Keynes Books Are Here

FA Hayek Books Are Here

Friday, January 22, 2010

Breakdown of Jobs by Category in America

Ever wonder how many people are doing what?

The Statistical Abstract of the United States has an incredibly detailed breakdown of number of people doing specific kinds of work. And the categories aren't general - like "service" - they go into fine detail.

We also have it in print - the 2010 edition is behind the reference desk. It's still table 605 in the print.

Schedule of Earnings Reports

Hey, this is cool. Yahoo! Finance has a schedule of earnings reports for publicly held companies.

Search by date or company to see when they're announcing.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bloomberg Has the Best Economic Calendar

Keep up with which economic reports are being released when.

Bloomberg has my favorite economic calendar. Manufacturing surveys, employment reports, inflation numbers, consumer sentiment and more are all here.

Or you could use the NASDAQ version. It's just as good really.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Negotiation Books

Recommended for everyone doing a deal, dealing with group dynamics, buying something, or just looking for insight into human psychology. My personal favorite insight so far: structuring a deal so that the parties are emotionally satisfied. It doesn't always involve the best price for the buyer or seller....

You'll learn to recognize recurring patterns, as well as the standard repetoire of shady tactics that some people use (and how to respond). Many authors include a list of these tactics.

Example: "going back for a second bite," i.e. a salesperson leaving to "check" with his/her manager and then attempting to alter the deal.

Lots of good countermeasures in these books.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Finding Sales Books

The catalogers strike again. If you're looking for books in the library about selling techniques, you want to search selling as a subject.
Also, don't miss the related topics pages located here.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Congressional Budget Office Analyzes Government Policies

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is a well regarded research arm of the legislative branch of government. Over the years, it has earned a fairly good reputation for thoughtful, non-partisan research.

I suggest you look here for some excellent analyses of pending bills and their impact on taxes, fiscal policy, money, and the larger economic picture.

Cap and trade, the stimulus package, raising or lowering taxes, trade policy, etc... all get the policy wonk treatment here.