Saturday, May 31, 2008
Rest in peace, Mr. Korman - you made many of us laugh so hard we cried.
"I'm so glad we had this time together
Just to have a laugh and sing a song
Seems we just got started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say, 'So long"
...Prince of Wall Street is a regularly updated finance blog featuring original finance news, gossip, trades, and commentary. The commentary predominately focuses on M&A, private equity, hedge funds, and investment banking.
Now some basic personal information about The Prince. He is a senior at a prestigious college awaiting the start of his first full-time job as an investment banking analyst at a bulge bracket bank. He did three summer analyst stints at a prestigious bulge-bracket investment bank and then signed on to work full-time in the Financial Sponsors Group. He worked in prime brokerage sales for two summers. It is fitting that The Prince would study Philosophy and Economics as an undergraduate. The Prince also spent a term at University College in Oxford (god save the queen, and The Prince).
This blog was started when The Prince realized he spent way too much time reading finance blogs and newspapers. He hopes to also share some of the humor that goes along with working in banking and give some perspective to prospective investment bankers on what life is really like as an analyst. Even if his readers decide his commentary and analysis is wrong, he hopes they at least find it thought-provoking. That is all my loyal subjects.
He's got a nice touch - he writes mostly in the third-person, has a good sense of humor, and uses a lot of references to Machiavelli (hence the title). My limited reading gives me a sense that while the blog covers a pretty good range of IB-related topics, it would be particularly interesting to students (both grad and undergrad) hoping to break into the IB field. So, I'll be adding it to my blogroll.
Check out the blog here.
Enough bloggery - back to CFA review.
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Friday, May 30, 2008
John Marshall (retired finance professor at St. Johns University) and Alan Tucker (currently on faculty at Pace University) were recently accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission in March of passing along and trading on inside information about the takeover of The International Securities Exchange by Eurex. According to the S.E.C.'s allegations, Tucker, made more than $1 million trading on the tips he received from Marshall in 2007.
Read the whole thing here.
What's surprising is not that this happened, but that it doesn't happen even more often. Although the inside info didn't come from either of their finance classes (it came as a result of Marshall sitting on the board of a takeover candidate), finance professors (and particularly those in schools in the NYC area) get a lot of info.
Either we're smart (or ethical) enough to trade on that information, or smart enough not to get caught.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Here's the abstract:
RTWT here.Jensen (2005) argues that overvaluation changes the behavior of managers in ways that increase agency costs, but suggests that overvaluation is difficult to identify. We show that observable characteristics of changes in managers' accounting, operating, investing and financing decisions can be used to predict two likely consequences of overvalued equity: future stock price declines and overstatement of accounting earnings. In particular, we show that an overvaluation score (O-Score) that combines proxies for earnings overstatement, prior merger activity, excessive stock issuance, and the manipulation of real operating activities identifies firms with one-year-ahead abnormal price declines averaging -27%. We also estimate a model that integrates these various attributes to predict accounting restatements associated with fraud. In light of the costs associated with overvalued equity, the findings that firm characteristics can be used to identify overvalued equity should interest researchers who study overvaluation and professionals who oversee management on behalf of investors.
It's an interesting paper, because it uses publicly available information to identify firms with high probabilities of negative returns. While it's probably not that applicable to individual investors, I can see their approach being of use to short-sellers (or those running long-short funds).
- Don't expect to work on a high-profile things. There's big money involved and high stakes, so they're not going to put it in your hands. So don't ask to do an LBO model right away. Expect to do a lot of grunt work - in any event, if you get a job offer, you'll be doing a lot of this anyway.
- Don't screw up. Ask questions if you're not sure. But don't ask the higher-ups. That's what (1) your peers, and (2) your "Analyst Master" are for. Never go higher up the food chain (like a Managing Director). Just. Don't.
- On a related note, Always check your work - multiple times. Get a reputation for doing sloppy work and you won't get an offer.
- Don't bad-mouth the competition. Word gets around, and there's a lot of shop-hopping. The person you bad-mouth the competition to this month might end up there next month.
- Even if you are working long hours (and you will be), stay cheerful and upbeat. Even if they know it's fake, it still scores points.
- Don't try to suck up to anyone above your analyst.
- When in doubt, keep your mouth shut, and don't brag. Chances are, the company folks around you will know far more than you. If they do, you'll get exposed as a poser or a jerk. If they don't, they won't appreciate your "superior" knowledge. So keep your yap shut - you almost never get in trouble for keeping quiet.
So, if you have your own young bibliovore in the house, here's a great list of children's books from Theresa Fagan. She also writes:
The most serious battle going on in this country is over the souls of our children. It is impossible to exaggerate the power of the image to form or deform the way they think. It is crucial to arm them with heroes that make virtue attractive. This will entail exercising your God-given authority, but that’s what it’s for.
For starters, get the TVs and computers out of their bedrooms, and drastically curtail their use. Cut the plugs if you have to. Then, stock the house with good books.
When they’re bored, they will read.
A lady after my own heart.
HT: Craig Newmark, who finds a lot of stuff I can steal.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
Please, take a minute to thank a current or past service member for their service.
Since this makes it the third year in a row, I guess it's now officially a Financial Rounds tradition that I put up a link to Ronald Reagan's classic "The Boys of Pointe du Hoc" speech. He gave it to commemorate the 40th anniversary of D-Day (compliments of American Rhetoric).
Sunday, May 25, 2008
The last two days the Unknown Kids and I have been biking, watching cartoons, and eating ice cream. Tomorrow, it's the annual Memorial Day parade and the zoo, followed by a quick trip to the airport to pick up Mom.
Somewhere in there, I even got some CFA studying done.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
HT: Marginal Revolution
And in case you want more, here's the same fan's compilation of Jackie Chan's top ten stunts:
Enough goofing off - back to work.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
If you want to improve your presentation skills, here's a very good collection of advice on how to give an academic presentation from Jonathan Shewchuck, a Computer Science professor at Berkeley. Even if you're not a CS guy, read it anyway - most of what he discusses is relevent to almost any presentation. He breaks down just about everything you need to know:
- How to make sure your slides are clean and crisp (less is more)
- How to organize the presentation (more time on motivation and less on technical details)
- Helpful advice on actually giving the talk (be aware of nonverbal communication).
So read Shewchuck's list here before your next presentation.
I have less and less of a problem with it as time goes on, because I give very detailed guidelines as to what should go in each section of the project. So the likelihood that they'll be able to plagiarize something that matches up with the assignment's requirements is somewhere between slim and none. But still, it happens.
Here's a cautionary tale for those of you who have to do do group projects from Jacqueline Passey, who's now back to blogging (and with a new, improved title for her blog to boot). One of her group members plagiarized a good portion of her "contribution" to a group project in an accounting class. Luckily, Jacqueline caught it before handing it in and redid the work herself.
It's important to remember - if a member of your group plagiarizes on a joint project and the instructor catches it, you're equally screwed. So choose your group carefully, and check their work. If it has your name on it, you're responsible.
HT: Newmarks Door.
update 5/23: The link was to the wrong piece. It's been updated.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
...a developmental molecular biologist focused on the genes involved in human brain development and the genetics of psychiatric disorders. He has spent most of his professional life as a private research consultant, working primarily in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries on research related to mental health. Medina holds joint affiliate faculty appointments at the University of Washington School of Medicine, in its Department of Bioengineering, and at Seattle Pacific University, where he is the director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research.
The book seems to have a great deal of info that's relevent to teachers and presenters, and if he writes anything like he talks, it should be a fun read. You can see a video of him talking at Google here, and see his website here.
I'm putting the book at the top of my post-CFA reading list
HT: Presentation Zen
Here's the abstract:
This paper develops a taxonomy of research examining the role of financial analysts in capital markets. The paper builds on the perspectives provided by Schipper [Schipper, K. (1991). Analysts' forecasts. Accounting Horizons, 5, 105-131] and Brown [Brown, L. (1993). Earnings forecasting research: Its implications for capital markets research. International Journal of Forecasting, 9, 295-320]. We categorize papers published since 1992, describe the research questions addressed, and suggest avenues for further research in seven broad areas: (1) analysts' decision processes; (2) the nature of analyst expertise and the distributions of earnings forecasts; (3) the information content of analyst research; (4) analyst and market efficiency; (5) analysts' incentives and behavioral biases; (6) the effects of the institutional and regulatory environment (including cross-country comparisons); and (7) research design issues.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Unfortunately, the university also had an unofficial policy that 70% of their students would get passing grades. So, they ended up crucifying the guy for holding the students to the very standard that the university itself had officially set.
RTWT here, and also read the comments that follow.
Stripped by a Mechanical Shovel! - video powered by Metacafe
This is the sort of thing that would have ended up on the old Home Improvement series. Just do NOT let Tim the Toolman operate the equipment - it could get ugly.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
It seems like Merrill Lynch is trying to change its ways. They have a new standard for their analysts - Beginning in June, they will require that its analysts assign “underperform” ratings to 20% of all stocks they cover (currently, only 12% of covered stocks fall into that category). Their hope is that the new standard will make their recommendations more credible, since a "buy" will no longer be the default evaluation.
A similar movement is going on in academia. A number of schools (the Unknown Alma Mater among them) have put limitations on grade distributions (i.e. there's a maximum percentage of A's and B's that an instructor can assign). It's not as much of a problem in the Finance and Accounting areas, since we're generally tougher graders than those in the Liberal Arts areas. I'm not aware of how things are done in other areas, but Business Schools have been moving in this direction for a couple of years now. It may be one of the few cases where academia has actually moved faster than the business world. I guess even a stopped clock shows the right time a couple times a day.
Read the whole thing here.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
You can read the news story and see a video segment that ran on the news here. It highlights John Maris, who may be the country's (and possibly the world's) most prolific Neuroblastoma researcher. Since he spearheaded Unknown Son's treatment at while we were at CHOP, we were glad to see him mentioned.
It's too early to see how this discovery will change Neuroblastoma diagnosis or treatment, but learning more about the genetic basis of the disease can only help. And it's pretty cool.
Friday, May 16, 2008
This one's a keeper, and will probably end up being discussed in a lot of investment and markets classes. It does a pretty good job of laying out some of their research. Here are a smattering of things these three have found that are discussed in the article:
- Major innovations (or big changes) like the rise of the Internet in the mid/late 1990s and the recent credit innovations cause large disagreements between investors about fundamental valuations. Difficulties and costs associated with shorting overvalued stocks allows the most bullish investors to drive prices.
- In markets with fewer shares available (like China's A/B shares markets), optimists can really push the prices up
- Skeptics that might drive prices back down won't move in a booming market until they're pretty sure other skeptics will also be on board. So, when the "pessimists" finally start moving, prices can drop much more quickly than they rose.
Gotta go - classes are done, grades have been handed in, and I have CFA to study for and my own research to work on. It may not be focused on bubbles, but I still like it...
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
- The obviously extremely bright student who doesn't take proper care on his assignments and does them at the last minute. This results in a low score on 20% of the total grade, which along with his poor attendance (class participation is another 20% of the grade) makes it difficult to do well in the class. Then on the exam he gets one of the highest grades in the class (Final Grade: "B", when he was clearly capable of an "A").
- The not-so bright kid who is more passionate about finance than any student I've seen in the last five years. He ends up getting one of the highest grades in the class on the exam (Final Grade: "A", when I thought at the start that he'd probably be lucky to get a "B-").
- The charming one who tries to be my buddy, but doesn't do the hard work necessary to grasp the material on more than a surface level (Final Grade: "C"). Then he can't understand why he got such a poor grade (I guess math is also not his strong point).
- The student who failed the class last semester and retakes it this semester. She "Gets Religion" and works her tail off this time around (Final Grade: "B-"
- The student who failed the class last semester and retakes it this semester. He learns nothing from the experience and approaches it the same way he did last time, with the same results (Final Grade: "D+").
Now, all I have to do is get out of town before the emails and calls start coming in. I need to figure out how to put an autoresponse on my email that says "Dr. XXX is currently out of the office. He is recuperating from the stress of grading your papers on a dry (no alcohol permitted) campus. He will be back in a couple of weeks after recuperating and getting all the sand out of his swim trunks."
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Mergers & Inquisitions was launched after the author realized the web lacked good, free resources on investment banking, finance jobs and career advice in general for college students and recent graduates.
Most existing guides such as the Vault Guide To Finance Interviews or the Wet Feet guide are dry and don’t have much in the way of frank, practical advice with concrete examples. They’re also so boring that you may want to poke out your eyes after reading them (just kidding :). There are some high-quality finance-related sites and blogs out there, like Leveraged Sellout, Wall Street Oasis, and several others, but these have a different focus from what we’re doing here.
Since the author would like to keep his job (at least for now), he will have to remain anonymous. Feel free to email him. For resume review services, please refer to the resume review page.
I've added it to the sidebar, and also to my list of regular reads. Enjoy.
Monday, May 12, 2008
But that would be wrong. Funny, maybe. Satisfying, definitely. But definitely wrong.
HT: Marginal Revolution.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
- give advice that matters in one sentence (#1)
- show respect without being a suck-up (#12)
- throw a punch (#13)
- approach a woman out of his league (#19)
- be loyal (#23)
- jump-start a car (without drama) (#35)
- step into a job no-one wants to do (#52)
- shake hands (#70)
- iron a shirt (#71)
- sometimes, kick some ass (#53)
HT: Neal Boortz
Thursday, May 8, 2008
There's other stuff on the site you might also find useful or interesting. Check it out.
Ed Boyden, assistant professor at MIT thinks he can:
When I applied for my faculty job at the MIT Media Lab, I had to write a teaching statement. One of the things I proposed was to teach a class called "How to Think," which would focus on how to be creative, thoughtful, and powerful in a world where problems are extremely complex, targets are continuously moving, and our brains often seem like nodes of enormous networks that constantly reconfigure. In the process of thinking about this, I composed 10 rules, which I sometimes share with students. I've listed them here, followed by some practical advice on implementation.
HT: Newmark's Door.
So, in the next three hours, I get to grade my other final exam, do some reviewing for CFA, and empty out my cache of unblogged items.
All hail the open-book exam. Of course, the cost is that I can't do multiple choice or simple definitional -type questions, so it takes longer to make up an exam. But since they're seniors, they shouldn't be seeing those types of exams in any case (that doesn't meant that some of my colleagues don't give multiple choice exams, but that's another story).
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Now I have a new one: "EBITDAGSAC", or "Earnings before Depreciation, Amortization, General , Sales, and Administrative, and Cost of goods sold". It's got a nice ring to it.
Or, as we used to call it, Sales (or Revenue).
HT: Long or Short Capital.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Often it seems as though American higher education exists only to provide gag material for the outside world. The latest spectacle is an Ivy League professor threatening to sue her students because, she claims, their "anti-intellectualism" violated her civil rights.
Priya Venkatesan taught English at Dartmouth College. She maintains that some of her students were so unreceptive of "French narrative theory" that it amounted to a hostile working environment. She is also readying lawsuits against her superiors, who she says papered over the harassment, as well as a confessional exposé, which she promises will "name names."
The trauma was so intense that in March Ms. Venkatesan quit Dartmouth and decamped for Northwestern. She declined to comment for this piece, pointing instead to the multiple interviews she conducted with the campus press.
Ms. Venkatesan lectured in freshman composition, intended to introduce undergraduates to the rigors of expository argument. "My students were very bully-ish, very aggressive, and very disrespectful," she told Tyler Brace of the Dartmouth Review. "They'd argue with your ideas." This caused "subversiveness," a principle English professors usually favor.
Ms. Venkatesan's scholarly specialty is "science studies," which, as she wrote in a journal article last year, "teaches that scientific knowledge has suspect access to truth." She continues: "Scientific facts do not correspond to a natural reality but conform to a social construct."
I think Professor Venkatesan would like my students - they tend not to challenge ideas much (or participate in class much at all).
But seriously - this lady is destined to end up as the punchline on a bad joke. Can you imagine a professor being upset because students actually challenged his/her teachings in class? That's a perfect opportunity to get them engaged, discussing, and thinking critically. That's the stuff we work for.
I get the impression that that's not what she had in mind. I guess it's not just students who are "Snowflakes" (i.e. each special, unique in their own way, and deserving of kudos for every little accomplishment).
I'll leave it to my readers to come up with the "appropriate" responses.
Sorry - gotta go before I start ranting. Must. Drink. Coffee.
update: Mike Munger provides a nifty link to a treasure trove of info on this case from Ivygate. I really should get back to work, but this is like watching a train wreck, but with PoMo nonsence trown in as a bonus.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
In this case, here's one that's both: Finance Clippings, run by Richard Warr, a finance professor at North Carolina State University.
I've read Richard's work (and enjojed it) for years, and have even crossed paths with him at conferences on a number of occasions. He seems to have both the academic chops and personal characteristics necessary to make for a good blog. Based on his first few posts, he seems to be off to a good start, and is focusing on material that he'll use in his classes.
So welcome to the Blogosphere, Richard.
Now everyone go check out his blog -- it's been added to the blogroll.