Barcodes of Finance 4

7.      Will blockchain technology affect the drive toward barcodes? It most definitely should—and in a positive way. The maintenance of a distributed database of identifiers, both for participants and products traded throughout the global financial supply chain is the easiest global blockchain infrastructure application to be developed. A global database of all the world’s participant and product identifiers, maybe a half billion records, is limited in scale, both as to data recorded in its distributed ledger and in its limits of processing speed—seconds required, at the most. Both parameters of speed and scale are well within the boundaries of current […]

Barcodes of Finance 3

5.      Great, the G20 set up the Financial Stability Board to set things straight. So, what’s the problem? It was thought by all that “regulatory compulsion” at such a global level, overseen by the world’s most prominent collection of leaders of the largest economies, would finally solve the collective action problem that stymied the industry from doing this on their own.  Industry members could not justify stepping aside from each firm’s own self-interest in maintaining the status quo. It would be costly to re-engineer legacy systems built in convoluted increments over the previous six decades. Everyone without exception wanted to […]

Barcodes of Finance 2

3.      What allowed non-standard transaction date to persist and what was your response? I had spent my whole career in various sectors of finance and as an advisor to many financial institutions as a consulting Partner with PwC, responsible for the Financial Services sector. I saw the same sets of transaction data described differently in each firm, even though they would need to match perfectly between firms in order to confirm the transaction with the counterparty and either receive payment or pay for it.  This disorder was managed by delaying the payment until all the details were reconciled, first by […]

Barcodes of Finance 1

After the holidays, Morty was bragging he’d been out to a new, very swanky seafood restaurant. “The maître d’ said they’re planning to bring in seafood barcodes.” I immediately pictured a slab of fish on Styrofoam with the price barcode sticker on it—straight from my local supermarket. “And this is at a high-end place?” I said skeptically. “Yeah, but it’s an identifier code, not a price sticker. It’s so the customer can verify they’re getting what they’re paying for,” he said. “Apparently there’s a big push to identify species, and make the information available.” Talking about fish barcodes reminded me […]

Weatherproofing Bonds

When it comes to managing climate risk, what is the wise investor to do?  Low-carbon investing is one possibility. We recently interviewed Marielle de Jong, head of fixed -income quant research at Amundi Asset Management.  She said, “The purpose of low-carbon investing is not to penalize companies that produce a lot of CO2. The question is whether the production line is carbon efficient, whether there is no unnecessary spoilage. That is why the selection criterion is the intensity, the tonnage of CO2 per added value, and not the tonnage itself.” She cautioned, “It is a complex task to measure CO2  […]

Weatherproofing Equities

Risks in finance are many and varied. How can a forward-looking researcher choose which areas need the most attention? We recently interviewed Patrick Bolton, professor of business at Columbia University and asked what led to his interest in hedging climate risk. “I am interested in long-term investing, especially how large long-term institutional investors should think about the risk-return trade-offs they face,” he said. “Long-term investors have to think harder about risks that do not yet appear material to short-term investors. One category of such risks is what is now commonly referred to as environmental, social and governance factors, or in […]

Pain of Payment for … the First Date

This concludes the interview with Professor Avni Shah regarding consumer behaviour and the connection we feel to the stuff we buy. And, possibly, to the people we buy it for. Click here to read the first half of the interview. Q: Did you look at other aspects of the connection? I said, let’s see how long this effect persists. I got data for the years 2004 to 2013 from an alumni association. What I was interested in is how alums make donations: by cheque versus card. Cheque feels more painful because you have to write out that amount. I wondered […]

Pain of Payment for … Coffee

“Me? Why do I have to pay for the falafels? I barely have two dollars to rub together,” said Morty. Tuesday is the two-for-one special at our local take-out Mediterranean shop. “Take it from me—you’ll enjoy them more!” I said, tapping the article I had just been reading in the New York Times. In a nutshell, it reported on new research in the Journal of Consumer Research that said having some difficulty in payment increased the consumer’s connection with the item purchased. He grabbed the section to read while we wolfed down our falafels.  “You’ve gotta interview these people,” he […]

Conference Call Tones. Part 2

Click here to visit Part 1. Interview with S. McKay Price, continued. Q: In the introduction to your paper on textual analysis of conference call tones, you describe a 2012 conference call in which David Einhorn grilled the management team of Herbalife, thereby causing the shares to fall 20 percent in price. Did you run the transcript of this conference call through your call tone algorithm, and if so, was it the most negative sample in the set?  2012 was not in our sample period so we did not specifically create tone measures for that Herbalife call.  Although I suppose […]

Conference Call Tones. Part 1

“Spin,” said Morty. “It’s all about spin.” He pointed to the web interface where he was listening to a certain equipment manufacturing company try to explain anomalies in their reported expenses. Like hyenas, the analysts were picking apart the footnotes. Turning to me, Morty said, “These scoundrels are masters of Orwellian doublespeak,” and then he exited the call. About a year later, I chanced upon research that looks into actual word usage during earnings conference calls. Three authors, Paul Brockman, Xu Li, and S. McKay Price, examined transcripts from nearly three thousand such calls. One of the authors is interviewed […]