Considering its only been about 7 months since I talked about the prospects of engineering degrees becomes more popular in this country, I’m surprised to see such a quick uptick in Computer Science Degrees in only a semester’s difference. According to the NY Times, the amount of individuals pursuing a CS degree have increased for the first time in 6 years! That’s great news, however, I’m inclined to know the breakdown of international vs. American students within these programs…there will be a later blog post as to why I would like to know. On a further note, a study from these individuals on why they are pursuing the degree would also be great.
So I’ll be honest, until earlier today I had no clue who Peter Schiff was. However, after watching the video below, I can easily make the decision that if I needed an economic/financial opinion, he would be the first one I would go to.
Arthur Laffer and Ben Stein would probably not be those guys. And as for Ben Stein, this video although not a full indicator of his intelligence or knowledge, does make him look a bit bad in hindsight.
Easily the best historical finance related video I have seen thus far.
I finally got around to watching a few of the recently posted TED videos and on the first one I thought this was most relevant during our current political process.
Jonathan Haidt is a psychology professor at UVA. He has been studying positive psychology and moral foundations of politics. This video below shows the results that he has brought forth regarding the difference between Liberals and Conservatives. He lists 5 moral foundations that differ between the two parties:
Its a great video, please tell me what you think!
I have been to my fair share of concerts in my short life. I had the privilege of attending in my mind what was not only a concert, but a fantastical evening of entertainment by Michael Bublé. If you have not heard of him, go out there and check out his music. I can best describe it as a young Frank Sinatra. Check out this video:
Or other videos here.
I spent my Saturday evening as most of my friends do. We went to a buddies place, watched some fights on TV (Kimbo sucks) and decided to head out on the town. We went to a local lounge, had a couple drinks and decided to split. On our way of walking around McKinney Ave. we found what we thought to be an interesting new Greek cafe on one of the streets. I got excited about it because for some time now we had been looking for some cool cafes to be opened late (this was around midnight) in the area where you could sit, have a beer/coffee and enjoy the night.
And so the adventure began…. When we sat down outside we were greeted by a fairly upbeat waiter. Looking around we noticed about 6-8 other people sitting at tables, probably a glaringly good reason we shouldn’t have stayed (that’s not a lot of patrons). When we were given the menus, we decided to order some hummus for the two of us to split. The hummus was listed at $7 for an appetizer, probably the highest single amount I have ever seen for hummus, but nevertheless we figured eh, its late and its just something to munch on. The order came with pita as well…well sort of.
About 10 minutes later our order of hummus and pita finally arrived. Lets start with the hummus. It was a small plate, with a very small portion of hummus. Its consistency was shockingly poor. The hummus was dripping! Have you ever had hummus that dripped? That’s not hummus!! Hummus consistency should be in between solid and liquid, with a much closer swing to solid, not liquid! You’re probably thinking that at least they had pita to dip into this ‘hummus’. Wrong! We were given one tortilla! You may be wondering why a tortilla, we did as well, considering this was a Greek cafe, although you probably couldn’t tell with all the Latin music blaring. Besides the one tortilla we were given two crackers on top of that. Have you ever in your life tried picking up runny hummus with a cracker? Good luck!
Laughing to ourselves we finished the first round of tortilla and crackers and decided to ask our waiter for additional pieces of ‘pita’. To think it could not get any worse, would be a sucker’s bet. About 6-8 minutes later our waiter was handed by the chef/owner our additional piece of ‘pita’. Now this was one for the ages (I tried taking pictures, but my phone didn’t do it justice). We were brought a fully burned, crisp, black tortilla! No, it wasn’t toasted, it was BURNED to a CRISP!
Somewhere before the burned tortilla and runny hummus I had already decided not to ever come back to this cafe. BUT just in case I had any doubt, the waiter helped my decision along. Not 5 minutes after bringing us the tortilla, he took a few random pictures of the patrons sitting around and ANNOUNCED that he was off to Aura (a club a couple blocks away) and would be back in a bit! Are you kidding?! Its one thing to leave and have someone else pick up your slack, but to announce you’re going to a club and will come back? Sadly we did not stay long enough to see this putz stumble back drunk from the club. We paid our bill and left. I believe the name of the place was Villa N, but we had a hard time finding the name written anywhere.
Look, whenever you open a new business, restaurant, grocery store, dry cleaners, etc. Make some sort of effort to actually have business coming in and coming back. To have a complete disregard of all common sense only shows that you have no respect for your ideas or the individuals trying to help you achieve your ideas and goals. Honestly, EFFORT EFFORT EFFORT!
[updated numbers below]Read a post this morning regarding European banks getting too large to rescue. They talked about the leverage in some of the banks in Europe as compared to the US banks and how in some cases the banks liabilities were close to the size of the entire GDP of the country they were HQ’ed in.
Let’s compare, these are the leveraged ratios:
US Investment Banks:
Goldman Sachs: 25x
Morgan Stanley: 32x
Merrill Lynch: 27x
US Commercial Banks:
Bank of America: 10x
Wells Fargo: 12x
JP Morgan: 12x
Credit Suisse: 32x
Maybe someone with a better financial background could please explain to me and readers of this blog as to how the European banks will be able to get through this financial situation unscathed. To me its not looking its pretty, especially considering the liabilities of some of those banks comes close to the entire GDP of a country if not outweighing it.
This is going to be a bit long, I have a lot built up in my head.
What happened over this past weekend is nothing new. It occurred at the end of the 1980′s. It occurred to a much lesser degree at the end of 1990′s. In general its happened a few times and made these recessions. The problem is that moving forward, we as a society and country won’t learn from our mistakes. We will repeat them again and again. What’s crazy is that I don’t think there is a single person out there that can tell us the ultimate consequence of all of these bubbles and crashes. We seem to bounce back every time and find a new place to invest dollars and create economic ‘stability’ for the short term. So in other words this is just another cycle. Sure, this is a simplification, telling someone in banking who has lost their job over this is not going to make them feel all warm and gooey inside.
We are also in another cycle of United States economics. The US over the course of its existence has on six occassions pushed into moves of nationalization or privatization. As it started with airport security in 2001 and followed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in recent weeks, we are in a point of our cycle where our government will nationalize a few of the major businesses thus creating a more socialist view from an outside perspective. Considering we already have a Democratic House and Senate, expect a potential for more moves in this direction with higher taxes. But again, just like previous times its simply a cycle. We will recover, our balance sheets will stabilize, regulations will be put in place and privatization will occur again in the coming years (maybe a decade or two).
If additional regulation is created in Congress, then a tremendous amount of oversight for the financial industry will occur. This for starters will mean less wiggle room, which means less creativity, which in turn allows for less risk. There is going to be a lot of layoffs and downsizing in the financial securities industry to start with. Take a look at the following graph and notice the trend of the annual securities employment in this country:
[courtesy of Paul]
The increase in this field alone in the last 16 years is pushing over 40%. You can see the decrease show in 2003 from the 2000 bubble burst. How far down will it go this time around and for how long? This is also just the securities market, the entire financial industry has become too large of a part of our GDP. To date about 8.3% of our GDP is brought together by finance, this is all-time high, almost a full percentage point about the 1990 levels. Lets for a second imagine that we return to the 1990 levels of finance in our economy, that is essentially suggesting that $120B needs to be redistributed from finance in form of wages and profits into other industries. The gentlemen who wrote the article that I got this information from believes that engineering may be on the rise again. It is well known that hedge funds employ lots of PhDs. Take for example James Simmon’s Renaissance Hedge Fund that has 200 employees over a third of whom are PhDs. These guys write the software programs to figure out the best times to buy into companies so they maximize their profit. Its a complex system of algorithms and quantitative mathematics that is put together by individuals with PhDs in Math and Computer Science. Do we really believe that these individuals are going to turn around and get back into basic engineering work.. I have a hard time seeing that. What you will see in the future is young graduates from MIT, CalTech, and GaTech (had to throw the plug) that will not be moved by financial engineering and find work in other facets of industry.
The article misses the point that most of the individuals that have their experience in finance (not to mention their paydays), will not get back into engineering just because thats what their degree is in. Realisitcally we can hope that moving forward more students around the country will pursue engineering as an college major and move the US back into the direction of positive growth of bachelors in engineering, since we have been on a downward slide for a few years now. This in turn will allow us to have a breadth of future IP in this country that is ready to create new technology (hopefully in the CleanTech space!).
I’m going to finish this post off with a quick recap. Finance party is over. Government regulation is back. Expect engineering degrees awarded to rise. Most important though, we are just riding another part of this crazy economic cycle, history will repeat itself in the future
Here’s a problem that I have entailed often and maybe some of you can sympathize with me.
I’ll be sitting around one day and think of what I believe to be a good business idea. Lets just pretend its B2C. I will then spend the next few hours or days trying to poke holes in it and massage it into something that I would be a customer of.
Therein lies the problem. I am a really bad customer. I ignore as many advertisements as I can (unless they are humorous!). I tend to do extensive research before making a purchase I am interested in or consult close friends who have expertise in the area, say cars or certain tech products. I have rarely, if ever, clicked on one of those Google advertisement links and will generally comb the internet to find exactly what I am looking for. I have used eBay all of two maybe three times in my life. I am, however, a loyal customer. Believe me, once I have used your services and you were exceptional in the service that you provided, you better believe that I will do what I can in my power to make sure people around me all know about you/your company.
So I tend to end up in one of two holes, either the idea or business is great and I may not use it myself or I will change it up so much to what I think will work and no one else will use it! I guess the question of the day is how in love with your product or idea do you have to be to go after it? Full blown blinding passion? Or more logical execution with a great understanding of the market?
I am going to be messing with the look of this blog for a few days to find one that I like, so bear with me if it bothers you. Also, any comments about the look would be appreciated