January 15, 2009
Economist Kevin Nguyen useful popular culture analogy to illustrate a real conversation with his teenage sibling about the US financial crisis, resonates with Bill Watterson’s lemonade stand financing illustrated through his characters, Calvin and Hobbes. This comic strip was produced from c. 1985-1995 showing Watterson’s incredible foresight as noted by tasgall. /
Nguyen, Kevin. 2008-10-01. “The Financial Crisis, as Explained to My Fourteen-Year-Old Sister.” >> The Bygone Bureau: a Journal of Modern Thought.
Watterson, Bill. 1985-1995. Calvin and Hobbes. http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/2008/12/08 Requires login. http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes
Note: I am unsure of the copyright issues here. Bill Watterson has been producing the popular comic strip Calvin and Hobbes since 1985. Calvin and Hobbes, his stuffed Tiger rarely discuss childish matters. Through their imaginary adventures they provide a fresh outlook on the world as it unfolds. The lemonade stand has been a brilliant vehicle for examining the world of finance. I am looking for a web 2.0 outlet for using this image while respecting Watterson’s copyrights.
January 2, 2009
The credit crisis erased $14 trillion (McKeef 2008-12-31) from world stock markets in 2008. Where does $14 trillion in world stock markets go? How can that much capital disappear from the market? The infamous year 2008 will be known in the future as the year that fundamental concepts in the moral mathematics of the market were forever changed. This credit crisis was the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s but its ramifications may be even deeper.
How can we visualize a billion dollars? How much more difficult is it to imagine a trillion dollars?
The most recent wiki entry (2009-01-01) describes how any attempt to visualize numbers higher than a million is complicated because there are too systems of numeric names and the difference between the two scales grows as numbers get larger. Million is the same in both scales, but the long-scale billion is a thousand times larger than the short-scale billion, the long-scale trillion is a million times larger than the short-scale trillion. The short scale system is used in the US and a long scale system is used in the UK. The short scale system of numeric names means every new term greater than million is 1,000 times the previous term: “billion” means “a thousand millions” (109), “trillion” means “a thousand billions” (1012), and so on. Long scale refers to a system of numeric names in which every new term greater than million is 1,000,000 times the previous term: “billion” means “a million millions” (1012), “trillion” means “a million billions” (1018). (wiki).”
6 zeros = 1 million, a thousand thousands or (106)1, 000, 000
8 zeros = a hundred million (108) 100, 000, 000 this image
9 zeros = 1 billion in the short scale system used in the US = a thousand millions or (109) or 1,000,000,000
12 zeros = 1 trillion in the short scale system used in the US = “a thousand billions (1012) or 1,000,000,000,000
12 zeros = 1 billion in the long scale system used in the UK: 1,000,000,000,000
18 zeros = 1 trillion in the long scale system used in the UK is a million billions (1018) or 1,000,000,000,000,000,00
1,000,000 6 zeros = 1 million, a thousand thousands or (106)1, 000, 000
“World stock markets ended on an uptick for the year on Wednesday, after some bourses registered their worst annual losses in history. Global stocks as measured by the MSCI world index ended up 0.76 percent for the day and posted their first monthly gain in seven months, but lost 43.36 percent for the year. About $14 trillion (9.6 trillion pounds) in market capitalisation was erased from world stock markets in 2008 in the wake of the worst credit crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. “It has been a shocking year, hardly anything was spared in the carnage,” said Michael Heffernan, strategist at Austock Group in Australia. U.S. stocks edged up on Wednesday and saw their first monthly gain in five months, but the year has been the worst for Wall Street stocks since the Great Depression (McKeef 2008-12-31).”
December 31, 2008
Deborah Yedlin (2008-12-30) of the Calgary Herald’s Business section succinctly summarized the economic nightmare of 2008 in which the investment banking industry collapsed, Chicago school economics theories were debunked and their heroes dethroned, trusted risk management managers were vilified, and the axis of financial power shifted from the West to the East.
“The consequences of the lack of regulation in the shadowy subprime housing market, and the ability of banks to get loans off their balance sheets and have investment banks repackage them as rated securities, allowed for the spreading risk. It was a practice that was supposed to ensure if something went bad, the damage would be contained because the exposure would be spread out. It was an axiom that was lent an even greater reliability because U. S. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greens-pan was a believer in it. As many are now painfully aware, the dominos began to fall when two hedge funds at Bear Stearns collapsed in late 2007. This started the clock ticking on the 84-year-old investment bank, which proceeded to lose the confidence of investors and counterparties and was sold post-haste to JP Morgan Chase in March for $10 a share with the “help” of the U. S. Federal Reserve and its investment banking veteran, Hank Paulson (Yedlin 2008-12-30).”
“Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, in opining on the multi-billion fraud perpetrated by Bernard Madoff, suggested one of the reasons he was not discovered was because of society’s worship of the wealthy. Too many, he said, have drawn the conclusion that people who have made huge sums of money must be very smart and to question these individuals would be to insult them (Yedlin 2008-12-30).”
Webliography and Bibliography
Yedlin, Deborah. 2008-12-30. “Storybook year ends in economic nightmare.” Calgary Herald.
December 25, 2008
US Circumlocution Offices : Federal Reserve approved General Motors (GMAC) Financial Services’ application to become a bank-holding company which will let them benefit from government bailout dollars. New York University sued Merkin GMAC chairman for feeding money to Madoff and concealing involvement from investors like NYU.
1. Charles Dickens invented the term Circumlocution Offices to describe governmental and bureaucratic indolence and incompetence. By passing work through many hands of the Circumlocution Offices, it is easy to avoid doing anything. Dickens’ character in Little Dorrit, Mr. Merdle, who embarked on a fraudulent scheme is now being compared to Madoff and institutions such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), etc are being compared to Circumlocution Offices.
“The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday approved GMAC Financial Services’ application to become a bank-holding company, a status that would give the auto-financing arm of General Motors Corp. access to government bailout dollars and the Fed’s discount window. The move complements a $17.4 billion emergency loan package the government extended to GM and (Wall Street Journal 2008-12-24)…
“Merkin, who is chairman of GMAC LLC, is named in the lawsuit brought by NYU, along with his Gabriel Capital LP fund and Ariel Fund Ltd. GMAC is the finance business owned by General Motors Corp and private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP. The Funds ‘feeding’ money to Madoff, including Ariel, made a conscious effort to conceal Madoff’s involvement from their own investors,” the NYU lawsuit said. “This concealment was a requirement dictated by Madoff, which was agreed to by Merkin and other ‘feeder’ funds (McCool Reuters 2008-12-24).”
October 18, 2008
October 12, 2008
Economic principles applied to publication systems for biomedical research reveal a publication bias, a winner’s curse. Elite high-impact scholarly journals continue to raise artificial publication barriers by underusing open access, neglecting negative data and publishing unrepresentative results of repeated samplings of real world. Access to our communal knowledge and memory through archives is essential to the democratic process.
Currently publicly-funded peer-reviewed academic research published in exclusive journals largely informs public policies on biomedicine, the economy, environment, education, justice, housing, etc. These journals now make articles available on-line at exorbitant prices. Contributors to these journals earn tremendous academic capital crucial to professional advancement. Password protection and high costs prevent the public from accessing the most recent relevant and accurate research. The number of publicly accessible sites are growing as search engines dig deeper in the Deep Web and the open access movement grows among some academics and scientists [2, 3].
In this concise, fact-filled, informative article published by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) (2003-05-04) the authors described how even five years ago librarians were concerned by the mergers in scholarly publishing which reduced the number of players and by rising journal subscription rates that severely eroded the purchasing power of libraries, universities, and scholars requiring crucial publications for teaching, learning and research.
In February 2009 Jennifer McLennan, SPARC’s Director of Communications encouraged all supporters of public access to taxpayer-funded research – researchers, libraries, campus administrators, patient advocates, publishers, and others to oppose H.R. 801: the “Fair Copyright in Research Works Act which was re-introduced in February 11, 2009 by Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee (Rep. John Conyers, D-MI). This bill would reverse the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy and make it impossible for other federal agencies to put similar policies into place.”The bill goes further than prohibiting open access requirements, however, as the bill also prohibits government agencies from obtaining a license to publicly distribute, perform, or display such work by, for example, placing it on the Internet, and would repeal the longstanding ‘federal purpose’ doctrine, under which all federal agencies that fund the creation of a copyrighted work reserve the ‘royalty-free, nonexclusive right to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the work’ for any federal purpose. The National Institutes of Health require NIH-funded research to be published in open-access repositories (Doctorwo 2009).” HR801 would benefit for-profit science publishers and increase challenges for making the Deep Web more accessible. See also Doctorwo, Cory. 2009-02-16. “Scientific publishers get a law introduced to end free publication of govt-funded research.”
In 2000 The Open Archives Initiative (OAI)  focused on increased access to scientific research (Van de Sompel & Lagoze, 2000). Since then it has reached deeper into the Deep Web with is OAI-Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). See Cole et al (2002).
1. In early 2002, Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Office of Scholarly Communication task force recommended that the Association promote “open access to quality information in support of learning and scholarship.” Society benefits from the open exchange of ideas. Access to information is essential in a democratic society. Public health, the economy, public policy all depend on access to and use of information, including copyrighted works.
2. UC-Berkeley Biologist Michael Eisen, Nobel Laureate Harold Varmus and Stanford biochemist Patrick Brown helped start the Public Library of Science, PLoS in 2000, a “nonprofit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world’s scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource” by encouraging scientists to insist on open-access publishing models rather than being forced to sign over their (often publicly-funded research) to expensive scientific journals. Wright (2004) cited Eisen, Varmus and Brown as examples of scientists who are making making some areas of the Deep Web more accessible to the public.
3. Alex Steffen (2003 [2008-09-04]) open source (OS) movement
4. The Open Archives Initiative (OAI) “develops and promotes interoperability standards that aim to facilitate the efficient dissemination of content. The OAI Metadata Harvesting Protocol allows third-party services to gather standardized metadata from distributed repositories and conduct searches against the assembled metadata to identify and ultimately retrieve documents. While many proponents of OAI advocate open access, i.e., the free availability of works on the Internet, the fundamental technological framework and standards of the OAI are independent of the both the type of content offered and the economic models surrounding that content (ARL).”
5. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, (SPARC) launched in June 1998, is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system.
5. SciDev.Net (Science and Development Network) “is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing reliable and authoritative information about science and technology for the developing world. Through our website www.scidev.net we give policymakers, researchers, the media and civil society information and a platform to explore how science and technology can reduce poverty, improve health and raise standards of living around the world. We also build developing countries’ capacity for communicating science and technology through our regional networks of committed individuals and organisations, practical guidance and specialist workshops.” SciDev.Net “originated from a project set up by news staff at the journal Nature (with financial assistance from the Wellcome Trust, United Kingdom) to report on the World Conference on Science, held in Budapest in 1999. This was warmly received, leading to discussions about creating a permanent website devoted to reporting on, and analysing the role of, science and technology in development. The initiative was endorsed at a meeting held at the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) in Trieste, Italy, in October 2000. Immediately following the Trieste meeting, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) agreed to finance a six-month planning stage, starting in November 2000. At the end of this planning stage, sufficient funding had been raised from international aid agencies and foundations for a full-time staff and an independent office in London. The SciDev.Net website was officially launched on 3 December 2001. The website has expanded continuously since its launch. We regularly add dossiers, spotlights, ‘quick guides’ and ‘news focuses’ on specific subjects, in addition to a growing amount of regular news coverage. An enhanced and redesigned version of the website was launched in January 2008. Regional networks were launched in Sub-Saharan Africa (2002), in Latin America (2003), in South Asia (2004) and in China (2005), each bringing together individuals and organisations that share our goals and objectives. There are plans for future networks in the Middle East and North Africa, West Africa and South-East Asia. SciDev.Net held its first workshop, in collaboration with the InterAcademy Panel, on science in the media in Tobago in February 2001. Since then we have collaborated with partners to deliver numerous specialist science communication workshops for journalists and other professional communicators across the world (SciDev.Net History).”
6. “Expenditures for serials by research libraries increased 210% between 1986-2001 while the CPI increased 62%. The typical library spent 3 times as much but purchased 5% fewer titles. Book purchases declined by 9% between 1986-2001 as libraries sought to sustain journals collections. Based on 1986 purchasing levels, the typical research library has foregone purchasing 90,000 monographs over the past 15 years. In the electronic environment, the model has changed from the purchase of physical copies to the licensing of access. In general, libraries do not own copies of electronic resources and must negotiate licenses (rather than depend on copyright law) to determine access and use. Large bundles of electronic journals offered by major commercial publishers will force smaller publishers out of business. Multiple-year licenses to large bundles of content that preclude cancellations will force libraries to cancel titles from smaller publishers to cover price increases of the bundles. This diminishes competition and increases the market control of the large publishers. Lack of corrective market forces has permitted large companies to reap high profits from publishing science journals. In 2001 Reed Elsevier’s STM division’s operating profit was 34% while its legal division’s operating profit was 20%, its business division’s 15%, and education 23%. Mergers and acquisitions increase prices and eliminate competition. Research has shown that mergers exacerbate the already significant price increases of journals owned by the merging companies. While there were 13 major STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publishers in 1998, only seven remained by the end of 2002 (ARL 2003-05-04:2).”
Webliography and Bibliography
Cole, Timothy W.; Kaczmarek, Joanne; Marty, Paul F.; Prom, Christopher J.; Sandore, Beth; Shreeves, Sarah. 2002-04-18. “Now That We’ve Found the ‘Hidden Web,’ What Can We Do With It?” The Illinois Open Archives Initiative Metadata Harvesting Experience. Museums and the Web (MW) Conference. Archives and Museums Informatics. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. April 18-20.
Smith, Richard. 2008-10-07. “More evidence on why we need radical reform of science publishing.”
Young, N.S,; Ioannidis, J.P.A; Al-Ubaydli, O. 2008. “Why Current Publication Practices May Distort Science.” PLoS Medicine. 5:10.