Showing posts from September, 2012


I talk below about my first test of the current semester.   If you teach Financial Accounting and would like to see a copy of that test, drop me an email at . *** I think the most important time during any semester is immediately after the first test. Until that time, the students have done what they thought you wanted them to do (or what they thought they could get away with). The first test gives them a chance to judge how well their class strategy has worked. If they need to make corrections in that strategy, this is the time to do it. You have their undivided attention, especially if they did not do as well as they would have liked.   They are young -- believe it or not, they usually appreciate some serious guidance. You need to understand that most students are very used to doing X amount of work and getting Y grade. Many are well satisfied with that approach and that result. Others are not satisfied but have no clue what adjustments they need to make. Our scho

The Losers and Losers of the NFL’s Referee Strike

  In past weeks, the replacement refs in the NFL have been a popular topic of jokes and Facebook memes. Some fans think these refs are so bad that they don’t even want to watch football anymore because they are destroying the integrity and spirit of a good, old-fashioned game of football. Monday night’s Packers vs. Seahawks game was the epitome of all that is wrong with the replacement refs. Missed penalties, conflicting calls, and terrible spots have been seen throughout the last three weeks and especially in this last game. The last hail-mary play in that game has sparked so much controversy throughout the sports world; this might give the NFL the push they need to re-negotiate the terms of their deal with referees. For those of you who don’t know what has been going on with the NFL referee situation, let me recap. About a month ago, the NFL wanted to change how NFL referees received retirement benefits. They wanted to switch from a defined pension plan, which is a fixed, stable sour

Economic side effects of Senkaku Island dispute

Japan’s claim of Senkaku Island property right has brought itself an enormous wave of anti-Japanese protests in China. The Senkaku dispute not only brings about political conflicts and military tension, but also, most importantly economic downtown, as China is Japan’s top two-way trade partner since its two-way tradegrows to $266.4 billion dollar in 2008. Japanese automobiles, electronic products, animated cartoons and video games are all popular Chinese imports. Japanese economy has always been relying on Chinese markets and the number one victim of the Senkaku dispute would be Japanese exporters. Major Japanese exporters such as Honda, Toyota, Sharp, Sony, and Panasonic are all facing dramatic sales and revenues decrease, and huge decline in stock price. Sony and Panasonic are even considering industrial transition and selling its LCD business to the Chinese and Korean producers. Losing its biggest importing country, Japanese export industry devastates in long-term even though Japane

QE3- Its Mechanisms & Effectiveness

Quantative Easing is always a hot topic in the news.  How much do you know about the recent QE3 announced by the Federal Reserve?  This blog aims at discussing the operations of quantitative easing and the impacts of QE3 on various aspects. The Fed launched a new bond-buying program on September 13.  The image below by Wall Street Journal gives a very clear illustration on how the Fed expects to boost the economy by buying more mortgage-backed securities and Treasurys. What's Distinguishes QE3 from the previous QE1 and QE2? The biggest differentiation would be the "open-endedness" that the Fed has promised.  Under the QE3 program, the Fed would buy $40 billion mortgage-backed securities each month in an open-ended effort until there is a sustained improvement in the job market.  Therefore, on top of the $45 billion a month the Fed is already spending on Operation Twist through the rest of this year, the Fed is spending $85 billion per month to boost the economy.  Moreover


If you have read this blog for long, you must know that I put considerable stress on communicating with my students, often by email. I believe open and honest communication is a key for all successful relationships. These communications give you a chance to guide your students toward the outcomes that you want. They allow you to motivate the students, to keep pushing them forward (“I know this seems hard but you are smart enough to do these problems with a bit of work”). They provide a chance for positive feedback – “the class was especially good today” is never a bad acknowledgement – one that students often never hear. They enable you to correct actions that you don’t like (“not very many of you had worked problem 5 for today; I’ll expect a better effort at the next class”). Communications help the teacher to prepare the students for upcoming material – “we are really going to stress the computation of interest expense at our next class so make absolutely sure you’ve studied pages 45

GM Invests in China

Already a large player China, the world'd largest auto market, GM made another leap to secure their leading market share. Along with its joint venture partners SAIC Motors, GM spent $252.5 million to build the largest proving ground in the country. Essentially a large test track for new cars, the proving ground will make introducing and improving vehicles made for the Chinese market that much easier. Without having to ship cars to South Korea, the United States, or any other tracks, GM will save both time and money when it comes to the creation, inspection, and final sale of the car. GM China President Kevin Wale stated, "When we look forward, our volumes are going to increase significantly and to win in the market place you have to introduce more products and introduce them quicker and better than the competition". This investment will allow them to continue building on the leading 14% market share they held last year. This move clearly shows that GM wants to contro

A bad bite of Apple?

Has any of your friends got a new iphone 5? Does s/he use maps on the cell phones a lot? If so, you must be hearing them complaining all days about their new babies, more specifically, about the map app. It seems that Apple's decision to replace Google Maps by its own product has now come to such an embarassment so quickly. The two Silicon Valley giants were once good alliances until Apple realized Google's android phone as a dangerous rival for iphone. From then, Apple started to cut down or even cut off their dependence on Google. Apple tried to find the alternatives for each popular Google apps in their iTunes store. They no longer see each other as a partner. But now the feedbacks from thousands of consumers proved Apple's failure. It's just too anxious to escape from Google's control. Almost all new iphone users find the new map system as a joke because mislabeled landmarks, missing roads and streets and misplacement of lots of famous constructions. In a word,

Feuding Flares in Japan and China

    The fires of a long-standing territorial dispute between Japan and China have been rekindling as multiple anti-Japanese protests have taken place recently in China.  The territory under question is a few small uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.  China claims long-standing historical ties to the territory.  However, Japan held jurisdiction over the islands starting in 1895 and lasted until 1945 when the United States took occupation of the islands.  The United States gave the islands back to Japan in 1972.  China has never been accepting of this Japanese control and still claims the islands.  Just this past month, the Japanese government decided to purchase the islands from the private Japanese citizens who owned them.  This purchase has been the direct cause of the recent anti-Japanese protests in China.      As of the writing of this article, the protests have begun to die down.  Protesters were seen destroying Japanese goods, cars, and even demanding economic sanctions on

Trimming the Fat

The New PS3 (Photo Credit: Sony) After six years on the market and one redesign, Sony has once again decided to release a new version of its Playstation 3 video game console, making the latest model half the size of the original behemoth. Sony has also decided to up the configurations to 250GB and 500GB models while also aggressively pricing the configurations at $269 and $299 in North America, respectively. This move comes in anticipation of Nintendo's Wii U console, which will have a price point of $300-$350. Will this redesign save Sony's lagging entertainment division? While sales of the PS3 remain steady, they are nowhere near the level of its predecessor, the Playstation 2. The slimming down of the PS3 will be a good thing for Sony and for consumers in general; however, it displays a glaring problem in Sony's corporate business model at large. For several years, the PS3 was sold at a loss with the hopes of eventually trimming it down to turn a profit. Only "event

Financial Fair Play

With the new Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A campaigns several weeks into their respective seasons, new trends for predicting the eventual winners of the world's biggest leagues are  becoming as popular as fantasy football tables. And all these trends point to one thing: spending brings silverware home. It took close to a $1 billion investment over the last couple years by Sheikh Mansour to bring home the Premier League trophy to Manchester City last season, and since then, clubs are retaliating. Chelsea has spent over $100 million on just two  players this pre-season, and that seems like a bargain in comparison to the skill Eden Hazard brings to the pitch. All over the world, the clubs with the richest owners are spending, and spending big. Which is why Financial Fair Play cannot come soon enough.  Already, we are seeing some effects of the rules that require teams to at least break even on spending, with the Europa League champions Atletico Madrid and over a dozen

How Staples's Failures Will Hurt Mitt Romney

A consortium of private equity firms including Bain Capital is said to be in preliminary talks to take-private struggling office supplies retailer, Staples. Though an official announcement has not been made, an offer could be announced by the end of this year. What does this mean for Mitt Romney? As the Obama campaign continues to portray Mitt Romney's role at Bain Capital in a negative light, Mitt Romney has always retaliated with a list of companies he helped become successful. In almost all of his speeches regarding the recovery of the economy, he mentions how Bain Capital invested in Staples, created jobs, and caused it to become what it is today. Based on recent news which has come out about Staples, it doesn't make sense for Mitt Romney to keep touting Staples as one of his major successes as it continues on a downward spiral. Just last month, Staples cut its profit and sales expectations citing a weak retail market. Staples shares have fallen 25% in the last six months,

The Impact of the Olympics on Local Economy

         According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of unemployment fell by 7,000 to 2.59 million in July and London contributes most to the number. We think of the Olympics as an opportunity for host country to build the country image, attract foreign visitors and boost the local economy. However, in a long-term perspective, the Olympic game brings limited economic benefits to the host country and the degree of its impact varies widely between countries.      Countries hosting the Olympics spend millions of dollars building new sports facilities and infrastructures, which, in short-term, indeed brings increasing number of tourists. They visit the newly built stadium, pools and sports facilities. However, as the game ends, people move on to the next Olympic game. Unlike other infrastructures, these sports facilities and constructions will not be rebuilt into some productive and economic effective buildings that can be used for further investment. The long-term ec

Regulators hope to make whistles echo on Wall Street

Whether its laundering money for drug cartels, manipulating benchmarks or trading insider information, we have already seen a fair share of scandals and frauds this year. Our economic condition has made it crucial to provide increased transparency, due diligence and regulations to increase investor trust and to begin repairing the finance industry’s damaged reputation. So what measures are being taken to spot and prevent such acts of fraud from occurring again? The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed into federal law by President Obama in 2010, has a section specifically dedicated to the “Whistleblower Program”. This program’s goal is to encourage employees and corporate insiders to report any fraud or wrongdoing they come across in their companies. However, this law is nothing new- Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 also had a “False Claims Act”, which provided employees financial incentives to report fraud to the SEC. However, the newer version has increas

Painful Exchange Rates

Since the start of my semester in London I’ve been experiencing something across the Atlantic that’s been difficult to deal with.  It's something I heard about before traveling to the UK, but something I had never experienced first hand.  No, it's not the adjustment I’ve had to make to the differences in culture, how classes are taught differently, or even how apparent it is, at least to me, how badly the United States & Americans in general are made fun of outside of the States.  Nope, it’s how expensive the UK's sterling pound is compared to its American counterpart, the dollar and subsequently the euro.   Last week, the sterling pound posted its best numbers against the dollar since June.  This occurred due to a variety of reasons, but simply, the world has pretty much lost faith in the ECB and the Fed.  With respect to the ECB, it has recently revealed a plan to lower borrowing costs to peripheral euro zone countries.  The UK is the Eurozone’s largest tr