Thursday, May 29, 2008

Market Research Written by Computer

Harry Gee told me about an interesting story that appeared recently in the New York Times (April 14, 2008). "He wrote 200,000 books (but computers did some of the work)" is about Philip Parker, a professor at INSEAD and the founder of the ICON Group International, who produces books on demand using artificial intelligence that gathers publicly available information from the internet. If you don't recognize the ICON Group they are contributors to the database. Their reports cover many industries in many countries (ususally not covered by other market research firms) and focus on forecasting demand or benchmarking industry data.
Here is part of the description of a recent ICON report: "This report does not discuss the specific players in the market serving the latent demand, nor specific details at the product level. The study also does not consider short-term cyclicalities that might affect realized sales. The study, therefore, is strategic in nature, taking an aggregate and long-run view, irrespective of the players or products involved.This study does not report actual sales data (which are simply unavailable, in a comparable or consistent manner in virtually all of the cities in the United States). This study gives, however, my estimates for the latent demand..."
It's worth reading the article if you are going to demonstrate to a class.

Collapse of Bear Stearns

Shareholders will vote today on the purchase of Bear Stearns by JPMorgan Chase. The Wall Street Journal today finishes a three part series on the collapse. Written by Kate Kelly, "The Fall of Bear Stearns" offers almost an hour-by-hour chronology and interesting profiles of Bear's management team. Interesting reading.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Two new databases available

Two databases will soon be added to the alphabetical list of databases.

Here are the details:

Zephyr, from Bureau van Dijk, offers details on mergers & acquisitions, initial public offerings (IPOs), joint ventures and private equity deals, completed, announced or rumored, worldwide. No minimum deal value permits detailed analysis of all deals. Includes about 80,000 new deals per year; historic coverage extends back to some pre-2000 deals. Has 5 years of global coverage; includes deals involving European or American companies. All information translated into English. Trial through Dec. 31, 2008.

Zephyr is available through a special arrangement with the vendor and the accounting department. Until it is listed separately on the list of databases, you may access it through clicking on another Bureau van Dijk database, Bankscope, and then click change database.

RiskMetrics is the new name for IRRC, which was available through WRDS.

RiskMetrics (through ISS Governance Services) provides corporate governance data. RiskMetrics changed its name in 2008 when it became publicly-traded. It was formerly known as Investor Responsibility Research Center (IRRC). Through WRDS two datasets are available: RiskMetrics Group Historical Governance (1990-2006) and Historical Directors data (1996-2006).

Friday, May 23, 2008

Baruch Student Laser Printing Update

The Baruch College Student Technology Fee Committee voted to increase the charge for b&w laser prints against student printing allocations. Effective June 2, each print will result in a deduction of $0.12 from a student printing account. The deduction for a color print will remain $1.00. These charges only apply to Baruch student printing accounts, not copicard laser printing.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

learning about XBRL via Edgar Online I-Metrix

Our database Edgar Online I-Metrix now has a tab "File in XBRL." If you click on it, the link goes to information from Edgar Online, including "Learn about XBRL."

As Louise reported last week, the SEC voted last week to issue a proposed rule, that if finalized this fall, will mean that SEC filings using XBRL will be phased in over the next three years. If the rule is finalized, the phase in will start in December 2008.

I watched a free information/training session via the web sponsored by XBRL-US today. When the slides and other information are emailed, I will share them with everyone.

ACRL Member of the Week

The ACRL Insider blog regularly features a "Member of the Week." Newman Library's Stephen Francoeur is this week's member.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Medline from ISI

After the last week's training it was suggested that we break up Medline from the Web of Science. I have just done that. The database page now shows Medline (ISI) which will take you to the Web of Knowledge.

Electric pencil sharpener not working

Over the past two days have seen the pencil sharpener in the copy room, I've noticed the pencil sharpener sometimes working, sometimes not. It may be on its last legs. There are two manual pencil sharpeners in the drawers of the reference desk that students may use.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Trial: Global Road Warrior

We have a trial to the Global Road Warrior. This database covers 175 countries and addresses 22 categories of interest to travelers, including business culture, communications, demographics, money and banking, points of interest, security, society and culture, tips for businesswomen, transportation, and travel essentials. It also includes maps and photographs. It runs until June 30.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Webcpa article on growth of proprietary tax research sources despite free Internet resources

WebCPA has an article which discusses the growth in proprietary tax research (RIA, CCH and BNA) by practitioners despite the numerous free sites that are available.

Gotham Gazette article re: NYPL improvements

Today's Gotham Gazette has an article, "Going Online, Digital and Interactive in the Library," which discusses changes and improvements in The New York Public Library.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

New Reference Titles

Manhattan Block by Block: A Street Atlas (At Reference Desk)
A small pocket atlas but the most detailed map of Manhattan I’ve seen. Not only transportation routes but house numbers and places of interest, schools, hospitals and apartments (named).

Statistical Abstract of the United States (Reference Desk and REF HA202 .A4 2008)
The list of “New Tables” added this year is three pages long. Some additions are grandparents living with children, cosmetic surgery procedures, workplace violence, tribal gaming revenues, wildland fires, revenues of internet service providers, charitable contributions by state, and carbon dioxide emissions

Ibbotson SBBI Yearbook (REF HG4501 .S7949 2008)
SBBI stands for stocks, bonds bills and inflation and this yearbook is a compilation of historical data measuring return on investments. Ibbotson was recently bought by Morningstar but the yearbook remains the same. New additions this year include retirement savings guidelines based on age, current income level and current savings in the chapter on “Wealth Forecasting with Monte Carlo Simulation.” A new table (on page 106) summarizes the major indices of the U.S. equity markets.

Commodity Market Review (REF HD1401 .F63a 2007/2008)
This biennial from the FAO is a collection of in-depth articles on current issues. This edition covers the Brazilian orange juice sector, the coffee and cocoa sectors, foreign direct investment and agri-food value chains, technical regulations for food exports and imperfect competition and agriculture.

are zoo animals subject to depreciation--sources of information to answer this question

Lisa said that this has been an email and reference desk question.

We have two subscription databases to help students answer this question:
CCH Accounting Research Manager and RIA Checkpoint, in which you search the Accounting, Corporate Finance and Auditing information.

In either database, you can select GASB, the government accounting standards board.
I tried a keyword search zoo and animal and depreciation.

If the students scroll down through the information, they will find the answer.

If you do a simple keyword search in CCH Accounting Research Manager, there is also interpretative information (Miller GASB Guide) available. The beige background indicates interpretative information.

I also did a Google search and realized that there are different types of zoos. The GASB standards would be applicable to nonprofit zoos, such as those operated by cities. Zoos operated as private commercial enterprises, for a profit, might raise other questions, and the FASB guidelines should then be consulted. (The Google answer by a CPA for a petting zoo operated as a commercial business distinguished between animals born at the zoo and those purchased for the zoo and perhaps later sold.) So, students might need to do some more research. A number of zoos post their annual reports on their web sites.

I hope this information is helpful.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Web of Science Training

If you were not able to attend the Web of Science training session this morning, you might want to watch one of the free training videos Thomson Reuters makes available on their website.

The videos are between four and eight minutes long and include Powerpoint slides that can be downloaded or printed. The videos cover these topics:

Introduction to the New ISI Web of Knowledge

Search Tips for the Web of Science

Cited Reference Searching

Citation Report and H-index

Citation Alerting

Managing Search Results

Saving Search Histories and Creating alerts

Exporting and Using Citation Report Data.

Copies of the Web of Science Quick Reference Guide will be available at the reference desk or can be printed from this page.

JCR Web, the Journal Citation Reports module that measures journal impact is not included in our subscription to Web of Science. At CUNY the Hunter College Library has these modules for the Sciences and the Social Sciences.

SEC Recommends XBRL for Financial Statements

The SEC met today at 10 am and recommended that companies file their financial statement information in interactive data format using XBRL.

The SEC recommended a three-year phase in for XBRL reporting that would start with the large accelerated fliers using GAAP who have a worldwide market cap of greater than $ 5 billion. This is estimated to be about 500 companies. The SEC anticipates that the final rule will be in effect this fall and will apply to filings made after Dec. 15, 2008. Both annual and quarterly filings and also information kept on corporate web sites will be affected.

In the 2nd year, all other accelerated filers will be required to use XBRL and in the 3rd year, all other companies will join the program. First time filers will have a 30 day grace period for filing.

The SEC also proposed requiring that a new exhibit with all footnotes tagged in interactive data be part of every company's filings.

The XBRL proposal of the SEC will be put out for public comment for a 60 day period.

A webcast of today's meeting should be available soon on the Commission's Open Meetings page.

CUNY+ is down (again) until 4pm

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mortgage Foreclosures and Delinquencies

A graduate student asked for historical data on mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures. The definitive source for this data is the Mortgage Bankers Association. They publish a quarterly National Delinquency Survey. SIBL has copies.

Bloomberg includes much of this data in downloadable form. Type in MBAI for a list of all the Mortgage Bankers Association indexes. Choose from the list; for forclosure data, type FORL ; for total mortgage volume, type MBAV .

For other mortgage statistics in Bloomberg, type HSST to go to their "Housing and Construction" data page. On this page, option 6 covers "Mortgage Statistics."

New FederaL Reserve Bank of NY report on the price of land in the NY metro area

In the Federal Reserve Bank of NY reports released today this one caught my eye:

“The Price of Land in the New York Metropolitan Area,” by Andrew Haughwout, James Orr, and David Bedoll

The price of vacant land in an urban area is a fundamental indicator of an area’s attractiveness. However, because the value of vacant land is hard to measure, indirect methods are typically used to gauge prices. A more direct approach to measuring land prices, using a unique data set, reveals that the price of unimproved land in the New York area is high, and rose sharply from 1999 to 2006. The rising trend suggests the underlying strength of the area’s economy and the increasing value of the area’s productivity and amenities.

New database available: The Corporate Library

The following database, The Corporate Library, was requested by numerous accountancy faculty. It is a leading source for corporate governance and executive compensation information and data, so it can be helpful for students and faculty in a number of disciplines. Data from The Corporate Library is frequently cited in news articles and research studies.

Thanks to Mike Waldman for working with The Corporate Library and CUNY to make it happen.

Here's what's posted on the Newman Library website:

The Corporate Library, an independent investment research firm, provides data and risk assessment tools to analyze, model and assess corporate governance, compensation and performance practices of 3,200 U.S. and Canadian publicly-traded companies and about 40,000 executives and directors. Historical data from 2001-2007 accessible through WRDS.

The Corporate Library also has a web site, We do not have a subscription to the reports and analysis available on their web site, Our subscription is for only the data available through WRDS. (The faculty requests were for the historical data, and there was only so much money available.)

Send and receive faxes without a fax machine

At the desk today, I got a question about where students might be able to send and receive faxes. Since we don't have any fax machines on campus that students can use, we usually refer students to nearby copy shops to fax services. With the student today, I showed her a new free web service called that allows you to send and receive faxes.

Roughly, the service works like this:
  1. You create a user name that uses to build a unique, personalized URL for you. I entered sfrancoeur to create mine.
  2. You upload the files you want to fax.
  3. You decide if you want to password protect your site
  4. Once you've created the site and uploaded a file (or files), you go to your personalized page and click the "Send" link under the file you want to fax. From the list of send options (fax, email, etc.) you select fax, enter the fax number, and click send.
Receiving faxes looks like it is a bit more complex. Instructions can be found here.

If you don't password protect your page, then anyone can download your files, which might be a good thing if you are a student working on a document for a group assignment. Students could also use this service to save things like papers they are working on. If they don't have a flash drive to save their work, they could upload it to so they can retrieve it later.

International Imports/Exports

A student came in looking for import and export information for the textile industry in Bangladesh. Brian and I were able to use USA Trade Online to get the information she needed. In order to generate the report the student wanted, you have to go through a number of steps.

First, click 'access trade data.' From the next page, you have to choose imports or exports and the type of report you want (annual, monthly, cumulative, or by commodity). From the menu on the left, you have to choose country, commodities (this is a large list of items), measures (value, quantity and unit price), and time frame. You will then choose 'view table' from the top of the page, and the database generates the report. The help icon will guide you through the steps, and explains a lot of the features of the database.

Monday, May 12, 2008

FASB issues Statement No. 162 the Hierarchy of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles

Here's some important news:

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued FASB Statement No. 162, The Hierarchy of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, on May 9, 2008.

The new standard is intended to improve financial reporting by identifying a consistent framework, or hierarchy, for selecting accounting principles to be used in preparing financial statements that are presented in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for nongovernmental entities.

Statement 162 is effective 60 days following the Securities and Exchanges Commission's approval of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board Auditing amendments to AU Section 411, The Meaning of Present Fairly in Conformity with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. It is only effective for nongovernmental entities; therefore, the GAAP hierarchy will remain in AICPA Statement on Auditing Standards (SAS) No. 69, The Meaning of Present Fairly in Conformity with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, for state and local governmental entities and federal governmental entities.

A news release details briefly the reasons for the new statement:
"SAS 69 has been criticized because it is directed to the auditor rather than the entity. Statement 162 addresses these issues by establishing that the GAAP hierarchy should be directed to entities because it is the entity (not its auditor) that is responsible for selecting accounting principles for financial statements that are presented in conformity with GAAP."

Statement No. 162 does not present any major changes, other than its direction to entities.

Here's what is included in the hierarchy in Statement No. 162:

The GAAP Hierarchy

The sources of accounting principles(1) that are generally accepted
are categorized in descending order of authority as follows:

a. FASB Statements of Financial Accounting Standards and Interpretations, FASB Statement 133 Implementation Issues, FASB Staff Positions, and American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Accounting Research Bulletins and Accounting Principles Board Opinions that are not superseded by actions of the FASB.

b. FASB Technical Bulletins and, if cleared (2) by the FASB, AICPA Industry Audit and Accounting Guides and Statements of Position

c. AICPA Accounting Standards Executive Committee Practice Bulletins that have been cleared by the FASB, consensus positions of the FASB Emerging Issues Task Force (EITF), and the Topics discussed in Appendix D of EITF Abstracts (EITF D-Topics) (3)

d. Implementation guides (Q&As) published by the FASB staff, AICPA Accounting Interpretations, AICPA Industry Audit and Accounting Guides and Statements of Position not cleared by the FASB, and practices that are widely recognized and prevalent either generally or in the industry.

If the accounting treatment for a transaction or event is not specified by a pronouncement in category (a), an entity shall consider whether the accounting treatment is specified by an accounting principle from a source in another category.

In such cases, if categories (b)–(d) contain accounting principles that specify accounting treatments for a transaction or event, then the entity shall follow the accounting treatment specified by the accounting principle from the source in the highest category—for example, follow category (b) treatment over category (c) treatment.

If the accounting treatment for a transaction or event is not specified by a
pronouncement or established in practice as described in categories (a)–(d), an entity shall first consider accounting principles for similar transactions or events within categories (a)–(d) and then other accounting literature. An entity shall not follow the accounting treatment specified in accounting principles for similar transactions or events in cases in which those accounting principles either prohibit the application of the accounting treatment to the particular transaction or event or indicate that the accounting treatment should not be applied by analogy.

Other accounting literature includes, for example, FASB Concepts Statements,
AICPA Issues Papers, International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs)
of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), (4)
pronouncements of other professional associations or regulatory
agencies, Technical Information Service Inquiries and Replies included in AICPA
Technical Practice Aids, and accounting textbooks, handbooks, and articles.

The appropriateness of other accounting literature depends on its relevance
to particular circumstances, the specificity of the guidance, and the general recognition of the issuer or author as an authority. For example, FASB Concepts Statements would normally bemore influential than other sources in this category.

1) Rules and interpretive releases of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are sources of category (a) accounting principles for SEC registrants. In addition, the SEC staff issues Staff Accounting Bulletins that represent practices followed by the staff in administering SEC disclosure requirements and utilizes EITF D-Topics and Observer comments in EITF Issues to publicly announce its views on certain accounting issues for SEC registrants.

(2) For purposes of interpreting categories (b) and (c), the word cleared means that the FASB does not object to the pronouncement’s issuance.

(3) The FASB staff has utilized EITF D-Topics to publicly announce its views on certain accounting issues. These FASB staff announcements are considered category (c) accounting principles.

(4) Paragraph 5 of International Accounting Standard (IAS) 8, Accounting Policies, Changes in Accounting Estimates and Errors, states that IFRSs are standards and interpretations adopted by the IASB, which comprise (a) IFRSs, (b) IASs, and (c) Interpretations originated by the International Financial Reporting Interpretations Committee or the former Standing Interpretations Committee.

In addition to the free FASB website, which has the new Statement, the new statement is available through subscription databases CCH Accounting Research Manager and RIA Checkpoint's Accounting, Corp Finance and Auditing. Auditing Statement No. 69 is available on RIA Checkpoint and CCH Accounting Research Manager.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Advertising rates for network and cable TV?

Can anyone advise me on how to locate advertising rates for network and cable TV? A student from Prof. Luna's MKT3520 class stopped by today with what appeared to be a photocopy of a page from an older edition of the Mediaweek Marketer's Guide to Media that listed rates. The current editions that we have of that publication no longer have the rates, though. I also looked through SRDS Media Solutions, which failed to yield the rates we needed.

I vaguely recall that advertising rate data is no longer available in resources that we get and that this change happened sometime in the past 5-10 years. Is this really the case? Is there any other way to get rates?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

SLA efforts to restore funding cuts proposed for the National Library of Agriculture

The Government Information Division of SLA, also known as the Special Libraries Association, today asked members to consider contacting U.S. congressional representative and senators to urge them to oppose proposed cuts to the budget of the National Library of Agriculture. Of course, any one can email their opinions to their representatives.

Why would New Yorkers be interested in this issue? Agriculture is an important part of the state's economy. Also, the library is an excellent source for nutrition information for people of all ages, as well as policy issues relating to food, food safety, food labels, and nutrition. Recent headlines and our pocket books are evidence of increased food costs. For those who qualify, food stamps, administrated through the Department of Agriculture, help prevent hunger. And, gardens are also important to New Yorkers.
Both practical and scholarly information is available from this library, and their web site is available at

I have referred a number of students to the resources of this library when they are researching food related topics, such as the costs of starting a business producing a particular food item, which is a way many entrepreneurs start out. I have also referred students to the site for energy related information on biofuels. I have also used their email reference services for my own questions and an occasional inquiry from students.

So I hope you will consider giving your opinions on this issue. Last year when the EPA libraries were threatened, public responses helped changed the situation.

(A member of SLA)

Monday, May 05, 2008

CUNY Health, Labor, and Demography Series

Details about the 3rd and final CUNY demography seminar for this semester. Unfortunately I will be unable to attend - but if anyone's interested:

Please join us next Friday afternoon, May 9, at the CUNY Graduate
Center for the third and final Demography seminar of Spring 2008 in
the Health, Labor, and Demography series sponsored by CUNY's Institute
for Demographic Research (CIDR), the Economics Department, and NBER.

Who: Myron Gutmann, ICPSR and Population Studies Center, University
of Michigan

Title: "Household and Farm Transitions in Environmental Context"

Where: CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave btw 34th and 35th Street
3rd floor, Room 3207***

(***Note the room change from Fall 2007)

When: 1:00 to 2:30 PM on Friday, May 9.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Words about editing from Prof. David O. Green

I attended the memorial service for Prof. David O. Green today. He was a distinguished accounting professor, first at the University of Chicago; then an administrator here at Baruch, and then he returned to teaching. I can't say that I knew him well--I received an occasional email and I would see him at accounting department events and say hello. I learned of his diverse talents and his generous nature today.

He helped start, and edited the Journal of Accounting Research, which is one of the top ranked accounting journals. Apparently, he was quite the editor, of both manuscripts, and students' essay answers. I thought this comment was worth sharing. It is from Roman L. Weil, today a University of Chicago professor:

"I'll never forget the lesson he taught me in 1973 or 1974, when I gave him something I'd written on consolidated statements, which he marked up so much that one could barely read the underlying typescript. I began to debate the merits of his suggestions. He responded with words equivalent to "Finding someone to read and comment on your writing is hard. When you are lucky enough to get such comments, don't argue with the critic. Go off, alone, think about it, and lick you wounds."

I've passed this along to a couple of generations of writers. David, thanks from all of us."

LC Classification Bookmarks

I got these at the last ALA midwinter. They summarize LC subject areas from a to z. I've left stacks at the reference desk, feel free to hand them out - if there are any left (they seem to be popular - it's only Sunday and they're almost gone).

Here's what they look like.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

How to send a web link that highlights text on the page

Have you ever wanted to send someone a link to a web page but wanted the recipient to take note of just one portion of the page? I've found that it comes up a lot in email and chat reference, where you send the link and then have to instruct the user to "scroll down to the part of the page where it says..." etc.

The free Awesome Highlighter service gives you an easy solution to get around this clunky way to direct a user's attention to just one part of the page. Here's how to do it:
  1. Copy the URL of the page you want to share with someone
  2. Go to the Awesome Highlighter page and paste the URL in the box in the center of the page
  3. The page will reload showing you the page at the URL you entered and turn your cursor into a yellow highlighter pen. Select the text that you want to highlight and click "Done" on the screen.
  4. You are then given a unique URL that you should send to the user.
Here's an example of such a highlighted web page that I did to direct attention to the Lippincott Library's Business FAQ project (at the University of Pennsylvania). Here is the original URL:

Here's the very much shorter URL for the highlighted version:

On the highlighted page from RUSA, you'll see at the top a grey horizontal bar from the Awesome Highlighter service that offers a link to the "original webpage."