< The Finance Professionals' Post: April 2015

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6 posts from April 2015

04/23/2015

Museum Launches Book and Website Tracing the “Family Trees” of the 50 Largest US Banks

GoAF jacket_final_line_webThe Museum of American Finance and Columbia Business School Publishing today announced their collaboration on a new book featuring the genealogical “family trees” of the nation’s 50 largest banks alongside beautifully illustrated narrative histories of each bank. The book will officially be released on March 10, 2015.

Authored by renowned financial historians Dr. Robert E. Wright and Dr. Richard Sylla, Genealogy of American Finance explores how 50 financial companies came to dominate the US banking system and their impact on the nation’s political, social and economic growth. A story that spans more than two centuries of war, crisis and opportunity, it reminds readers that American banking was never a fixed enterprise but has evolved in tandem with the country.

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04/22/2015

The Seven Challenges That Hold Back Great Stock Picking

By James Valentine, CFA

Imagine picking up your car after it’s been supposedly repaired and discovering it’s still not fixed. Then, after a second trip to the shop the problem is still not resolved. What if this issue was an industry-wide phenomena? How would you feel about auto mechanics?

According to the most recent SPIVA report, 60% of large-cap managers and 73% of small-cap managers in the U.S. under-performed their respective benchmarks for the prior 12 months. Furthermore, over 70% of domestic equity managers, across all capitalizations, failed to beat their benchmarks over a five-year period. 

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Four Ways to Follow up without Being a Nag!

No matter who you are and what you do, your success relies on your ability to effectively follow up with people. Do you dread having to follow up and make up excuses to avoid doing it? It’s time to stop!

If you are a salesperson in the midst of a deal – you have to follow up in order to close the deal. 

If you are looking for a new job you have to follow up to stay relevant and top of mind to the potential employers.

If your work requires you to collaborate with others in or outside your team – follow up is just part of the game.

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Should We Outlaw Advertising?

Megan McArdle, a libertarian-oriented commentator on economics, recently recalled her reaction to a proposed class-action suit of the early-2000s dealing with fast-food companies’ impact on public health.[1] McArdle challenged an author involved in the anti-obesity cause to point to any research demonstrating that the restaurant chains’ advertising induced children to increase their consumption of fast food. 

The question confused the author, who simply assumed that corporations would not spend millions of dollars on advertising unless it increased sales.  McDonald’s does not, however, advertise with an eye toward convincing kids to eat more fast food.   The goal is rather to persuade them to eat it at McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) instead of Burger King or some other chain.  In general, advertising is better at stimulating specific demand (brand selection) as opposed to primary demand (the decision to consume).

This point was emphasized in the mid-20th century by critics of advertising, which at that time was mired in political controversy, much as the financial industry is today.  It became an article of faith among many economists that because advertising did nothing to increase overall consumption, it represented a waste of resources. 

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04/01/2015

Book Review: Inside the Crystal Ball

Crystal-Bal

This book is an invaluable resource for anyone striving for a command of the inner workings of the economy. The author details his impressively rigorous forecasting process, which draws on all major schools of macroeconomic thought. He also dives deep into the data to explain some of his expectations.

Beware of economic forecasters who achieve better-than-average accuracy in predicting extreme outcomes. They are less accurate than the average forecaster in predicting run-of-the-mill outcomes. Furthermore, it may not be by chance that certain prognosticators issue extreme forecasts with greater frequency than their peers. Those whose firms bear their own names depart from the consensus more often than other forecasters. Making a splash by “calling” a major setback can expand a forecaster’s following (and revenue base), even if the feat is achieved by acting as a “broken clock”—that is, predicting an economic decline year in and year out until it inevitably comes to pass as a function of the business cycle.

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How Finance Can Help Save Our Planet

The following post was adapted from a chapter I wrote for John G. Taft’s new book, A Force for Good,  published just this past week by Palgrave Macmillan.  John is the CEO of RBC Wealth Management, and I am proud to be in the illustrious company of individuals like Mary Schapiro, Robert Shiller, Sheila Bair, Roger Martin, and Dominic Barton, who were invited by John to contribute to this book.  I think you will find A Force for Good a fascinating read as it explores, from a variety of experienced perspectives, how the financial industry can marshall, for the long-term public good, the creative energies and brainpower it has deployed in the past to develop derivatives, high-frequency-trading technologies, and other engineering complexities.  

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