Thursday, September 07, 2006

Catching up on the news and some blogs

Catching up on mailbox and some articles I have been meaning to mention:

* Add ETNs to your list of "need to know acronyms". ETN: Exchange Traded Note. From the SmartMoney:
"MAKING DIFFICULT-TO-ACCESS asset classes such as oil and currencies easier to invest in has been one of the biggest developments this year for exchange-traded funds. Barclays, already the leading provider of ETFs thanks to its iShares offerings, is taking the evolution one step further with the rollout of exchange-traded notes, or ETNs, that track various commodities.

While ETNs might seem on the surface to be the same as ETFs, especially considering the similar-sounding names and a common issuer, the two are very different animals. Both trade daily on an exchange and can be shorted like stocks, but unlike ETFs, which are typically collateralized by underlying securities, ETNs are unsecured debt issued by Barclays. That means the notes are only good as long as the issuer stays solvent"
*FreeMoney Finance looks at the never ending question of how much money is needed to retire. A look-in:
"Middle-income households tend to need a [income] replacement rate of 70% to 75% instead of 100% mostly because only part of Social Security is taxed and because saving for retirement usually ends once a person enters retirement."
* Cyberlibris points to an absolutely great series of videos from the AFA! They are interviews with the founders of finance--"edited versions of interviews with Harry Markowitz, William Sharpe, Paul Samuelson and Robert Merton " In a word, GREAT! I learned a lot. Go watch!

* Continuing on the history path, Google's News archive now goes back 200 years! Really quite amazing. Yes you have to pay for many of the old articles (ex. Washington Post etc), but if you like history, want to get a different perspective, or are doing research going back into pre WW II, this is going to be a big help! BTW for more on this see the (Speaking of Google, the company was incorporated on this day in 1998. So happy birthday to Google!)

* Need another example of why safety and the economy are so inter related? Locally our news has been totally dominated by Bucky Philips an escaped convict who has been on the lam for about 5 months. Last week he shot two troopers killing one. On Tuesday it was reported he might be in the area. With roadblocks, troopers everywhere, and warnings to stay inside etc, the streets seemed deserted. That was caused by one person who may or may not be near by. Consider the risks associated with being on the streets in Baghdad and you begin to appreciate the troubles the economy in Iraq is facing.

* HS asked me, and I will ask you, the following: "Is there any good site to get historic option and futures prices?" My suggestion was to contact the market where they trade, but if anyone has a better idea, please let me know.

*The governance crisis that is HP has degraded into a comedy of errors. Where to start? A board member leaks news so the firm spies on board members. Like I said about Enron, I want movie rights! Stay tuned. I am sure we will be hearing more about it.

* I am teaching a MBA math review. In preparation I have been watching Change and Motion: Calculus Made Clear. It is a series of lectures by Michael Starbird of the University of Texas produced and sold by The Teaching Company (which is a great idea!). While a tad slower than I would like, it is very well done and easy to understand. And an added benefit is that the history of the science is fascinating. In hindsight the groundwork for Newton and Leibniz was laid for nearly two thousand years!

* The day after I taught about the various US markets, the NASDAQ makes my notes outdated by saying they will get into option trading by 2007. The CBOE can't be thrilled with that news flash.

* As a free market believer, I was saddened to see the chairman of Sportingbet "detained". Not sure why governments (via lotteries, OTB), Native Americans, and casinos should get special treatment.)
Time to get ready for class!

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