Thursday, December 31, 2009

Out With The Old Year, and In WIth The New

Well, it's the last finally the day of the year. So, here's wishing you all a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year.

It's been a pretty eventful one in the Unknown Household - we had one son pass away from cancer, and had another one join the family. So, I can pretty much guarantee that 2010 will be less eventful for us than 2009 (at least I hope so).

We finished out the old year yesterday by taking the Unknown Daughter up to Boston to see the Science Museum's Harry Potter Exhibit. Total Cost:
  • Three Tickets - $93
  • Parking - $9
  • Various Junk from the Museum Store - $35
  • Overcooked and dried food from the Museum Food Court - $20
  • Hearing the Unknown Daughter say (wide-eyed) "This is Fantastic" - Priceless
Luckily, our two nieces were home from college., They drove down the night before to baby-sit Wonder Boy for the day, so we got to go without munchkin in tow. But Boston traffic still sucked - it took us 45 minuted to go about 3 miles on Rte 93 (and this was not even rush hour traffic). Ah well, that's the price of being in a city.

Remember - there will be a lot of alcohol-impaired folks out there tonight, so be safe, and see you next year. Being old fogeys with a couple of young kids, we'll be home, warm, and in bed by 10 or so.

Yeah, we're boring. But I'm O.K. with that - I'm in touch with my inner old fogey.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

As The Semester Winds Down

Since Unknown University starts (and ends) their fall semester a bit late, I'm just putting the finishing touches on my grades - two classes down and one (the smallest, luckily) to go.

It's been a tough semester - three preps (for the non academics among you, a prep is a unique class - so three preps means I taught three different classes), and one was a brand new one (Fixed Income) for me. I took it because the senior faculty who regularly teaches it took a sabbatical, and it's required of all our students. The new prep took far more time than I'd thought, so I didn't get as much research done as I'd hoped.

The winter break will be dedicated first to getting two papers completed and submitted to journals. I let things slide a bit these last few years due to the Unknown Son's illness, so I'm glad to be finally working on things that have the potential to go to decent journals - these two will likely be sent to Financial Management and Journal of Banking and Finance (two very solid journals). As for the other things I'm working on, one should go to to a solid accounting journal (JAAF), another to Journal of Futures or Journal of Derivatives, and another will be targeted to the Financial Analyst's Journal. I'm also working on a piece with a PhD student that will hopefully be finished in time to submit to the FMA annual meetings.

Somewhere in there, I'll also make some minor changes to my class (it's the same class I taught for the first time this past semester, so it's in pretty good shape). It shouldn't take more than a day or two to make the changes, since I prepped pretty thoroughly for it last time.

It's an ambitious schedule, but three of the pieces use the same data set, and a fourth is mostly done. With a bit of hard work, I should have a very productive Winter break. So, to all of my coauthors who read the blog: take heart - things will be done soon enough.

On a more somber note, please keep Mark Bertus and his family in your prayers. He's a fairly young faculty member at Auburn, with several young children. He's in the final stages of colon cancer, and is a remarkable guy. He'll leave an amazing legacy of memories to those of us who've had the privilege of knowing him. You can read the blog his wife has been maintaining to keep everyone informed about the illness here.

Mark's journey reminds me of something Steve Brown (a radio preacher) once said. It's something to the extent of "Whenever a pagan gets cancer, God allows a Christian to get cancer
so that the world will see the difference in how Christians deal with it." Depending on your beliefs, that might or might not sit all that well with you. But as you read his blog, you'll see that it definitely applies here.

To all who're reading this - Have a Merry Christmas (or whatever holiday you choose to celebrate).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lots of This White Stuff

I love living in the NorthEast - it's where I grew up, and there's just something about real winter that feels right. But I can do without 3-foot snowdifts in my driveway. Luckily I have neighbors with plows and snowblowers.

The Unknown Daughter was at a friend's house for a birthday party/sleepover. No school for her tomorrow, so we get to see if we can get the neighborhoods to build a huge snowman.

Good stuff.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Information Traders Must Be Compensated

I'm still in the thick of exams week (one to give today, one Friday, and one Saturday), and they're not all written yet. But this piece from Burton Malkiel in was worth highlighting. The best part was the last paragraph:
As de facto market makers, high-frequency traders can exploit pricing anomalies and pick up pennies at the expense of other traders. Such activities are not sinister. The paradox of the efficient market hypothesis is that the people whose trades help make the market efficient must be compensated for their efforts. As former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt has written: “We should not set a speed limit to slow everyone down to the pace set by those unwilling or unable to compete.” High-frequency trading networks let large and small investors enjoy a more efficient and less costly trading environment.
Read the whole thing here.

HT: Abnormal Returns

Sunday, December 13, 2009

R.I.P. Paul Samuelson

Paul Samuelson (the first American Nobel Laureate in Economics, and arguably the most influential economist of the 20th century) died today at home at age 94. He was largely responsible for the transformation of economics from a largely descriptive and discursive discipline to a highly mathematical and rigorous one.

He was responsible for turning MIT into a world-class economics center - over the years, he played a role in bringing in Solow, Engle, Klein, Krugman, Modigliani, Merton, and Stiglitz.

In addition, he wrote perhaps the single most popular and widely used economics text in history - "Economics", published in 1948. I read it in my undergraduate years in the late 1970s, and it was still selling 50,000 copies a year in the late 1980s.

A giant has passed.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Backing off on Blogging For A While

I need to focus on research for the next couple of months, so blogging will likely be much less frequent for a while. I'm not closing down, but I am scaling back - probably only a post a week or so. In the meanwhile, here's a picture of the Billboard for Anders Bookstore, which is just at the edge of the Auburn campus. Smart marketing.

For any students reading - good luck with finals - if you're at Auburn, consider a longer rental term. For all the faculty - good luck writing (and grading) them and wrapping up the semester.