Thursday, June 21, 2007

Link Dump

It's been a while, so I thought I'd do a short Link Dump to clean out my Bloglines account:

  • CXO Advisory Group has don w number of interesting pieces. Here they highlight on research showing that institutional investors aren't really all that good at hiring and firing money managers. In This piece, they review research on the value of Return on Invested Capital (ROIC) as a factor that explains stock returns
  • Both DealBook and Going Private discuss an op-ed piece by Steven Rattner on a likely bad ending to the private equity boom
  • Want to know more about cognitive biases? Barry Ritholtz points to a Wikipedia piece that lists the 26 most studied and widely accepted cognitive biases.
  • Need to send a large file (and you or the person you're sending it to uses an email service that can't handle it)? Use DropSend or YouSendIt. The first service requires a small bit of personal info, but also offers some storage.
That's enough for know - the June cleaning is now done.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Becoming a More Productive Writer

Like most faculty I know, I could stand to be more disciplined in my writing. There are times when I'm really productive, and stretches that I don't do anything. One tactic that has been extremely helpful (at least when I use it) has been keeping a writing log. Although I've mentioned this before, it bears repeating. Robert Boice (the acknowledged master of research on faculty productivity) did quite a few workshops on faculty productivity. He did a study where participants were put into three groups
  • The first group (the "control") continued as they normally did, and continued to write occasionally in large blocks of time (what I call "binge writing"). In a year's time, they produced an average of 17 pages of output
  • The second group wrote daily and kept log of their time spent writing and their approximate output. In a year's time, they produced an average of 64 pages of output.
  • The third group wrote daily, kept a daily log, and showed it to someone else weekly. They produced an average of 157 pages in a year!
I'm sure that there are some other issues that would effect this experiment, like self-selection. But the differences across groups are pretty striking.

So this time, to tweak things a bit, I set up a spreadsheet on Google Spreadsheets with a current student, a former student, and a regular coauthor of mine. We've all committed to record out writing time and output daily. It should be interesting--there's already been one day that I put in a half hour at 11:00 p.m. just to avoid having to show a goose egg for the day.

Ya gotta love accountability. I'll let y'all know how it turns out.

update: In case you're interested, two books by Boice that are well worth picking up are Advice For New Faculty Members (the title is misleading - I got a lot out of it even 6 years out of grad school) and Professors as Writers.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

There's No Free Lunch

And as a corporate person would say, reorganizations are extremely costly...

Compliments of

So far, seventeen years and no "reorganizations" in the Unknown Household.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

On The Road Again...

I'll be out of town for a few days (in Washington) meeting with some coauthors to work on a number of projects. They'll probably work me pretty hard, so blogging will likely be light until Saturday.

But it's not like I'm getting paid for this, so I don't feel too bad.

Now I have to suck up to (er, that is, er "meet") with the head of the alumni board and the VP of advancement (the university's fund raising area). We're trying to get more money out of them for our student managed investment fund. We're hoping that we can convince the alumni to let us "charge" a management fee that we can then use to fund some finance-related student activities (like scholarships for CFA study materials, sending a couple of student each year to the RISE Forum at the U. of Dayton, and so on).

update: The meeting went pretty well. Looks like our students might be getting some money. Woo Hoo!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Connections, Networks, and Investment Managers' Performance

One argument for going to a top school is that you get to tap into the alumni network and make connections with classmates that will help you in future years. Here's some interesting evidence that it's true in the investment world. Cohen, Frazzini, and Malloy examined how school ties affected the investment patterns of mutual fund managers in a paper, titled "The Small World of Investing: Board Connections and Mutual Fund Returns." They examined whether mutual fund managers invested differently in a company when someone from their school sat on the board. They found that:
  • When the manager and the board member went to the same school, the manager took a significantly bigger stake in the company
  • These "connected" investments gave significantly higher returns (a portfolio of connected investments outperformed non-connected ones by over 8% per year)
  • The abnormal returns on connected investments were concentrated around corporate events such as earnings announcements.
Here's a copy of the paper.

It's a pretty interesting piece - it appears that they superior returns weren't merely a reflection of the managers knowing more about the ability of the board member. The most telling finding was that the returns were concentrated around specific news events. Hence, they were more likely to be driven by "inside" information.

All in all a paper worth reading (or at least, discussing in class).

Friday, June 08, 2007

What Do Entry-Level Investment Banking Jobs Pay?

Many of my readers (all three of them) are finance majors and at least somewhat interested in what the $$$ is like working on Wall street. Just how much can you make on Wall Street?

Luckily, a former classmate from grad school (and one of my three regular readers) just sent me this quick look (from at the bonus side of the Wall Street Cheddar for Investment Banking analysts. These are median figures, by the way:

And this piece on gives the typical first year salary for analysts as being in the $55-70K range, with a signing bonus of about $10k. So, adding it all up. total first year compensation (not counting signing bonus) ends up around $145-$180K.

These are for analyst positions, which are the likely spot that an undergrad would start (the associates are usually MBAs).

This seems like a lot of money for a first job (and it is). But when you consider that the typical analyst regularly puts in 80-100 hours (or more) a week, it's like having two full time jobs (in fact, based on the emails I've gotten, 100+ hours isn't uncommon, and an 80 hour week would be considered a vacation by most bankers). That's too much like work for my tastes (which is why I'm an academic). But not surprisingly, thes jobs are highly sought after. If I was 22 again and wired that way, I'd' probably try to go that way too. But I'd end up burning out after a couple of years, even if I made it that far.

If anyone has similar figures for Venture Capital and Private Equity, let me know.

update: Here's another link to salaries and bonuses for traders (compliments of Jim Mahar at

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Not a Smart Move

For those of you who are A) writing a thesis, B) married, and C) want to stay that way, here's a good tip for your dissertation:

Compliments of

Monday, June 04, 2007

Best Baseball Meltdown Ever

This video of Mississippi Braves' (the Atlanta Braves' AA minor league team) manager Phillipp Wellman completely losing it shows just how much fun minor league baseball can be. At a minor league game, you see some pretty good players, but also a lot of bat-crazy antics. Even better, you're so close to the action you can just about see a losing-it manager foaming at the mouth. This reminds me - I have to buy some tickets to our local minor league team. It's time for the Unknown kids to see what a day at the ballpark is all about.

Friday, June 01, 2007

No, You Can't

I'm not teaching this summer - time for research (and getting in shape). But I wish I'd had this last semester around, oh, May or so.

In case you're interested, there are plenty more good education-related cartoons at "Teachable Moments" (a regular feature at Inside Higher Education).


In a previous life, I taught a pretty large class on personal finance. Among other things, this sparked my interest in scams and scamsters, and impressed on me the benefits of being able to negotiate well. So, I always spent a week or so on negotiating. But I never covered this one: