From the monthly archives:

November 2009

Overcharting: airfare edition

November 28, 2009

Nate Silver writes about the dropping cost of air fares - yes, you read that correctly - over at Five Thirty Eight. His writing, as always, is excellent - I only want to point out a chart he uses and how it can be dangerous to draw conclusions at a glance (or, if you prefer, […]

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Another day, another article demonizing CDS

November 28, 2009

Bloomberg has a new article up about how the CDS market is starting to crumble - the sort of piece that looks like it's been sitting on a back burner waiting for an excuse to stoke the flames of derivative fear (thanks, Dubai!). One of the article's chief arguments is that "credit-default swaps tied to Thomson […]

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It's American as sweet potatoes (but not sweet potato pie)

November 27, 2009

The NYT has published an infographic showing the top recipe searches on Allrecipes.com. Searches are broken out by state, allowing some interesting comparisons. (Local dialects and preferences are an interest of mine, and when combined with maps I can't resist... see also various words for soda.) Here's the chart for "apple pie", the 5th most […]

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Great expectations

November 27, 2009

I've previously covered the danger of attributing meaning to a forecast which is obviously based on little or no information. In that case, it was the manufacturing survey, which one might dismiss as a more obscure measure. Recently, however, Ken Houghton has written a pair of posts on inflation forecasts that bring me back to […]

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Pie chart fail

November 27, 2009

Via FlowingData, I found this amusing pie chart from a local Fox News broadcast: The survey plainly allowed people to give more than one answer, resulting in responses that were not mutually exclusive. It's tiresome but bears repeating: pie charts are only suited to data which adds up to 100% (and then, only if there […]

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The Greener Room

November 25, 2009

I'm pleased to present the new TGR: now with more green! I've spent some time over the past few weeks learning a little CSS, PHP and Java (and I apologize for being so late to that party). I've been experimenting behind the scenes with TGR and tonight I'm excited to make those changes official. So, what's […]

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Ernie and Birch

November 23, 2009

I'm a big fan of illustrator Christoph Niemann, and have featured photoessays from his NYT blog Abstract City on TGR before. His latest post features leaves and is excellent; I found this panel particularly appropriate for Sesame Street's 40th birthday:

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We don't want no interest-free loans!

November 18, 2009

A long time ago, when I was first learning to manage my finances, my dad instructed me to prepay my credit card. This effectively transformed the credit card into a debit card by running a positive balance on the account. It was a great learning mechanism because it still required me to make monthly payments, […]

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Philosophies of risk management, briefly

November 18, 2009

My last post made me think of a common question in risk management: "what is risk?" A lot of time is spent deciding the various metrics, exposures, values, sensitivities, etc. that are considered "risks." In the previous post, a simple change of perspective - is risk defined by dollars invested or shares controlled? - resulted […]

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Stock is more efficient than options are more efficient than stock

November 18, 2009

Investment decisions can hinge on how risk and exposure are defined. Here, the choice determines whether an insider should trade in stock or options.

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He clearly didn't give it 110%

November 17, 2009

Silicon Alley Insider is running a series of posts called "15 _______ questions that will make you feel stupid." The blank has been filled twice with "Google interview" and most recently with "management consultant interview."  I particularly enjoyed one of the Google questions: If the probability of observing a car in 30 minutes on a […]

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More derivative witch hunts

November 17, 2009

Going through the FT's original post on exchange traded currency notes, I saw a couple of sentences that really bothered me. One thing we do not need right now are witch hunt statements without basis (a point especially compounded by the fact that the FT completely misunderstood how these products worked, even as they wrote […]

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Stepping back from the ETC confusion

November 17, 2009

Following the lead of an FT article last week, FT Alphaville went exploring ETC's (exchange traded currencies) and noted (emphasis mine): As for the investor... it means a potential upside scenario of receiving all of the performance of a currency index, for relatively low management fees, but without any interest or dividend (no carry trade here […]

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Choropleths galore

November 16, 2009

For a while, I've been following development of Indiemapper, a forthcoming web tool from the folks at Axis Maps. It should allow for easy map creation, including - yes - choropleths galore. However, the data analytics that will be available remain to be seen.

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If you're watching this, it's not the future yet

November 12, 2009

It's been a while since I posted a video for the futurist set, so here we go: (This one is a commercial production for Freeband, heavy on the infographics and benefits of smart networking with a pinch of cheesiness. Sign me up.) (via Datavisualization.ch)

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Choropleths in R (yes, "choropleths")

November 12, 2009

Using R to recreate color-indexed maps of US unemployment data.

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HDR comes to the NYT

November 12, 2009

Well, almost.

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Math is hard!

November 11, 2009

Via Spontaneous Symmetry, it appears that some people are a bit rusty on their math. The town of Truro, MA recently voted on a proposed zoning measure which required a two-thirds approval to pass. Out of 206 people, 136 voted in favor - just shy of the required two-thirds. Or was it? The exact count […]

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Moral hazard and the NFL

November 11, 2009

The WSJ asks, "Is It Time to Retire the Football Helmet?" With the debate about football head injuries and CTE swirling, some are wondering if wearing helmets is actually exposing players to greater danger than if their heads were exposed. Though seemingly counter-intuitive, the argument follows well-established moral hazard reasoning that some have perceived in, […]

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Ten statisticians every psychologist should know

November 11, 2009

Psychologist Daniel Wright has published a list of ten statisticians every psychologist should know. The list is comprised of The Founding Fathers: 1. Karl Pearson - who established statistics as an academic discipline 2. Ronald Fisher - who developed much of statistics' mathematical foundation, including ANOVA and maximum likelihood, and the importance of p-values 3. […]

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Unnecessary summary

November 11, 2009

Has Mashable implemented a word count quota? In a post about Google's new search product codenamed Caffeine, they published a brief four-sentence note from the Caffeine development team... and then went on to summarize the note's "key takeaways" with two bullet points: Since the launch of the developer preview however, we haven’t heard much about […]

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QOTD: asset allocation edition

November 10, 2009

After finding former Bear Stearns hedge fund managers Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin not guilty of misleading investors, one juror revealed just how convincing the defense had been: [Juror] Hong said that if she had money, she would invest it with Cioffi and Tannin.

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A major international airport deals in derivatives...

November 10, 2009

Contrary to what you might expect, the WSJ reports that San Francisco International has had great success in their adventures with interest rate swaps, providing a breath of fresh air amidst the media's usual "swaps ruin the economy" fare.  SFO has taken on interest rate exposure in 2005 and 2008 has two more contracts that […]

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The regulation bubble

November 10, 2009

Breaking down Senator Dodd's financial reform bill.

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For everything else, there's MasterCard. Except taxis.

November 9, 2009

In a report that should surprise no one, the NYTimes finds that convenience yields higher revenues for NYC taxis. Indeed, the credit card machines which are now mandatory for every cab have coincided with revenues rising 13% from last year, bucking a national trend of -15%. Tips have risen from 10% of the fare pre-cards […]

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How to market your eReader

November 9, 2009

This is so much nicer than this, especially because they provide this. Looks like B&N took a page from the Apple playbook; Amazon borrowed from Microsoft.

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Unemployment: 10.2%

November 6, 2009

This chart from the stimulus brochure is looking worse and worse:

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Breaking news

November 4, 2009

Apologies in advance for the absolutely terrible/fantastic title. The winner of the 2009 contest for the Best Visual Illusion of 2009 is particularly appropriate tonight as the Yankees strive to hand the Phillies their second championship in as many years. The prize was won by a team that has identified the core difficulty in hitting […]

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364 days ago?

November 4, 2009

In a cab last night, I heard a radio station broadcast a medly of "Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States" calls, followed by a heavily caffeinated announcing repeatedly that it has been one year since Obama was elected and soliciting comments from his audience. Yesterday was November 3. Obama was elected on […]

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Limbaugh totally would have said that

November 4, 2009

As much as I agree with Maureen Dowd's latest opinion (shocking, yes), this drives me crazy: If W. had gone to Dover in the middle of the night to salute the war dead, Limbaugh and Liz Cheney would have been gushing about his patriotism. But since it’s Obama who at last showed up there to […]

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