Friday, December 19, 2008

New Subject Guide

Dear Colleagues:

Thanks to the assistance of Aisha, Louise and the web master, Rasun, the new suject guide, "Biology and Envioronmental Studies," is now published on our web site for future student use.

Please refer our readers to the guide as you feel appropriate.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

TI-89 Calculators

Students are beginning to return their TI-89 calculators they borrowed for the semester. Please have them return these calculators to the Circulation Desk, not the Laptop counter.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Besso Lab as Study Room during the Finals

The Besso Lab (Room 320) is open as a temporary study room to students during the finals until 6:00pm. - From Arthur

Robert Shiller on Financial Markets

Yale Open Courses just released several new courses from the spring 2008 semester. One of the courses that might interest our students is Robert Shiller, author of Irrational Exuberance and The New Financial Order: Risk in the Twenty-First Century, teaching Financial Markets (ECO 252). Carl Icahn and Stephen Schwartzman are guest lecturers and Lawrence Summers lectures in two class sessions on “Learning from and Responding to the Financial Crisis.”

All courses are free and include video and audio clips of each lecture as well as the syllabus and class transcripts.

If you don't know Shiller, you can read a profile of him and his work in the December issue of the IMF's magazine, Finance and Development.


Group Study Rooms During Finals

During the final exam period when the library is open 24 hours, students can use group study rooms until midnight. Keys that normally would be due at the closing time of the circulation desk will be due at midnight. Keys should be returned to the secure drop box located at the security desk on the 2nd floor of the library. Keys that are not returned by midnight will accrue late fees.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Seventh Generation's Corporate Consciousness Report

I was alerted to Seventh Generation's Corporate Consciousness Report and thought I would mention it as a special "corporate/social responsibility report." They are trying to be as transparent as possible and discuss what they could have done better with openness. It is an interesting read. The graphics and images used may also be subject for some discussion. (In an attempt to be transparent, I have been purchasing Seventh Generation products for the last year, mainly to wash my clothes and do my dishes.)

iPhones used as clickers

The Chronicle reports on its Wired Campus blog that Abilene Christian University has developed an application to turn iPhones and iPod Touch into clickers (they also hand one to each new student!). In addition to the advantages of using clickers during classroom for such things as true or false questions, the application lets students answer open-ended questions which appear in a cloud formation on the screen. But the main advantage seems to be that students don't forget to bring the phones to class since they depend on them for so many other things.

Sources for Global Economics Time Series Data

Recent student queries at the desk have included requests for inflation index data for Japan, cash reserve ratios (CRR) for various countries, and the effective exchange rates for Euro zone countries. While the electronic databases (Reuters, Datastream, Bloomberg) are generally the most complete sources for economic data at monthly or quarterly periodicities, using them requires commitment and instruction. In addition to the databases the library subscribes to, web-based sources include:

Central Banks

Collins Dictionary of Business defines a Central Bank as “a country's leading bank generally responsible for overseeing the banking system, acting as a ‘clearing’ banker for the commercial banks and for implementing monetary policy”. In addition, many central banks are responsible for handling the government's budgetary accounts and for managing the country's external monetary affairs, in particular the exchange rate.

Examples of central banks include the US's Federal Reserve, Germany's Deutsche Bundesbank, France's Banque de France and the European Union's European Central Banks. (Source: Credo, accessed 12/16)

Their websites often provide access to data related to their country’s currency, rate of exchange, price data, discount rates, and balances of payment. A comprehensive list of central bank websites can be found at the Bank for International Settlements Central Banks Listing

It should be noted that there is no standardization of what is reported directly by central banks.


Government Offices

Many countries also release economics statistics through a central agency. For example, the Japan Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications provides a comprehensive selection of time series, including CPI.

Russia does the same through Russian's Federal State Statistics Service

Obviously, names of agencies and their URL’s are not intuitive. I have found the best way to search for them is to type the name of the statistic you are looking for, as well as the country suffix in the source parameter in Google. For example, entering CONSUMER PRICE INDEX: .AU returns the Australian Bureau of Statistics in search results.

Global Organizations

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) acts as a central bank for central banks. It was established in 1930 to manage the reparation payments imposed on Germany and has evolved to act as an agent/trustee for cross-national transactions, as a counterparty for central banks, and a publisher of global monetary research. (Timothy Geithner, Obama’s nominee for Treasury Secretary and president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, has chaired the BIS since 2005.)

The BIS produces a comprehensive time series of exchange rates, as well as banking, debt, payment, and balance of payments statistics through their statistics page The BIS is also a sponsor of the Statistical Data and Metadata Exchange (SDMX) initiative, the goal of which is to develop a standard set of metadata for the transmission of global statistical data. Central banks, Eurostat, IMF, OECD, World Bank and the UN are also actively involved in the SDMX.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) was founded in 1944 to oversee the international monetary system post-WWII and has continuously worked to ensure global economic stability through oil crises, and now the current global recession. It is now an organization of 185 member countries and engages in economic surveillance, technical assistance, and lending to countries which cannot find affordable financing. “The IMF publishes a range of time series data on lending, exchange rates and other economic and financial indicators. Manuals, guides, and other material on statistical practices at the IMF, in member countries, and of the statistical community at large are also available.”

The United Nations is a good source for national accounts and trade time series statistics. The UN database portal contains listings of economic data.

The World Bank was established in 1944 to manage the financing of post-war reconstruction. It has evolved to having the primary mission of working with developing countries to reduce poverty. Noteworthy statistics available on the WB website include world development indicators, such as debt of the 135 low and middle income countries, and GDP.

Other statistics such as poverty levels, education, etc. must be ordered.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ellis Henican's column re the perils of bathroom reporting

Award winning journalist Ellis Henican has an interesting column today Bloggers vs. Newsrooms: the perils of bathrobe reporting that speaks to the work of "fact hunting" and "fact stealing" by others.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New Database for Municipal Bonds

The SEC announced this week that EMMA (electronic municipal market access system) will be the central depository for all muni bond-related disclosure documents. Access to EMMA will be free to all investors at the website of the Municipal Securities Rulmaking Board. The board has been running a trial version since March. Issuers will be required to file with EMMA starting July 1, 2009. EMMA will replace a voluntary system of nationally recognized municipal security information repositories called NRMSIR and data providers Standard & Poor's,Bloomberg and others that provided some muni documentation for a fee.

You can read more about the SEC rules at the SEC Website. A good article that provides backgound on the EMMA depository appeared in The Bond Buyer on December 7th under the title "SEC OKs EMMA as NRMSIR." The Bond Buyer is available through Factiva and LexisNexis.

heat conditions in the library and reply from Buildings & Grounds

I emailed Buildings and Grounds about the heat conditions in the library, after first emailing Jerry and Arthur. I just received a call from B & G that said no air is circulating because of the broken fans, a problem that B & G is aware of and is working to resolve.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

New Census Data - American Community Survey

The Census Bureau has released a new dataset today: the 2005-2007 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates. The estimates were created from the ACS sample survey for all geographies that have a population of 20,000 or more. Throughout this decade, the Census has released annual ACS estimates for areas with 65,000 or more people. They can't create annual numbers for areas smaller than 65k because the estimates are not statistically robust enough. But now that they have three years of data, they can create averages for that three year period that are statistically sound for areas with at least 20k.

From this point forward, they will continue to produce annual 65k+ numbers every year, and they will also release 20k+ numbers each year by adding the latest year and dropping the oldest one (so next year, they will release annual 65k+ numbers for 2008 and 3 year 20k+ estimates for 2006-2008).

All of the American Community Survey datasets are available through the American Factfinder.

The Census Bureau is also in the midst of preparations for the next decennial census, which is the 100% count of the population for all geographic areas. The questionnaires will be sent out on April 1, 2010.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Policy on Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

The latest issue of The Ticker runs a headline story, "Staff PC Seized by BCTC," that cautions faculty and staff about the consequences of peer-to-peer or p2p file sharing. Anyone engaging in peer-to-peer file sharing poses a security risk to the college network and faces confiscation of their computer. They could also encounter legal trouble by downloading music or video that violates copyright. To find out more about peer-to-peer file sharing and CUNY's p2p policy see the File Sharing and Copyright Infringement Advisory at the BCTC web site.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Morningstar interruptions this weekend

Morningstar is moving this weekend and it may cause some interruptions in service. They will have a technical team on hand to deal with this, but since the servers are moving too, it may be unavoidable. They do not expect the interruptions to be extensive however.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

They Represent You

A number of PUB1250 students have been looking for information related to their assembly districts. We have been alerting them to a very nice handout Prof. Peña has prepared for that class, which is available in the IS shared folder.

Having read it, you probably already know that Project Vote Smart is a great source for district information. It allows you to search by zipcode to see who your Senator and Assemblyperson is (and of course their district numbers).

However, if your zipcode happens to fall within two districts and you need to see a map showing the actual district boundaries, like I did, there is a handy little print publication behind the desk called They Represent You put out by the League of Women Voters you should know about.

It fits in the palm of your hand and contains legible and easy-to-understand district maps, as opposed to many of those available out on the web which I found to be either too small or too clunky to be of much use. The citation for it is included on the handout.

Thanks to Prof. Ellis and Prof. Yaremchuk for pointing it out on the shelf.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Trials: Points of View Reference Center and Academic Search Complete

We have a new CUNY-wide trial to 2 EBSCO products: Points of View Reference Center and Academic Search Complete. They have been included in the list of databases. Ebsco has made an offer to ERAC for us to get Points of View Reference Center and they’ll upgrade us to Academic Search Complete as well.

Points of View Reference Center is a direct competitor to the Gale product Opposing Viewpoints.

The trial runs until the end of December, so please take some time and try them out and let me know what you think of them.

I am especially interested in seeing what the feeling is between Opposing Viewpoints vs Points of View Reference Center since this would be a change from a product that is used quite a bit by our students.

Title comparison and product descriptions are available were sent via email or please email me to request them.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Audit Failure guide now in Shared Numan Resources

I have placed the Audit Failure guide in the shared Numan file under IS Instructional Materials Works in Progress. This was the guide developed for the workshop given last week to the ACC 5400 class of Prof. Cherny. The guide is rather long as it incorporates a lot of screen shots. Examples relate to the 9 audit failures the students are researching and writing on the "lessons learned." Harry, Ryan and I will report on the workshop at the next IS Division meeting.

Finding Mid-sized Companies

A student came to the desk looking for small to mid-sized consulting firms in New York. Joe and I used Hoover’s to look up a larger firm that the student knew of (Deloitte), and from there we found the NAICS code for the industry. We went into Reference USA and using the code we were able to find a large number of consulting companies. The student was able to sort through these to find the smaller ones she needed. There may be more students coming to reference looking for information about smaller or mid-sized companies (rather than the largest ones) and the NAICS codes and Reference USA are good ways to find them.