Posts filed under “Data Analysis”

Does the CPI Reflect Reality?

I almost missed this earlier this week, and its on point to our prior discussion: The WSJ asked its readers: "Does the government’s consumer-price index accurately reflect the inflation rate you face?"

Not surprisingly, 75% said CPI understates inflation:

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Wsj_cpi_poll


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Source:

WSJ Poll
Mar-20 5:30 pm
http://tinyurl.com/hklfr

Category: Data Analysis, Federal Reserve, Inflation

Historical Fed Fund Ranges

Category: Data Analysis, Federal Reserve, Inflation

CEO Options: Luck — or something else?

The WSJ streak of taking very interesting columns and hiding them on Saturday continues.

Yesterday, they asked: Are some CEOs reaping millions by landing stock options when they are most valuable amatter of dumb luck — or something else?

Excerpt:

"On a summer day in 2002, shares of
Affiliated Computer Services Inc. sank to their lowest level in a year.
Oddly, that was good news for Chief Executive Jeffrey Rich.

His
annual grant of stock options was dated that day, entitling him to buy
stock at that price for years. Had they been dated a week later, when
the stock was 27% higher, they’d have been far less rewarding. It was
the same through much of Mr. Rich’s tenure: In a striking pattern, all
six of his stock-option grants from 1995 to 2002 were dated just before
a rise in the stock price, often at the bottom of a steep drop.

Just
lucky? A Wall Street Journal analysis suggests the odds of this
happening by chance are extraordinarily remote — around one in 300
billion. The odds of winning the multistate Powerball lottery with a $1
ticket are one in 146 million.

Suspecting such patterns aren’t
due to chance, the Securities and Exchange Commission is examining
whether some option grants carry favorable grant dates for a different
reason: They were backdated. The SEC is understood to be looking at
about a dozen companies’ option grants with this in mind.

The
Journal’s analysis of grant dates and stock movements suggests the
problem may be broader. It identified several companies with wildly
improbable option-grant patterns. While this doesn’t prove chicanery,
it shows something very odd: Year after year, some companies’ top
executives received options on unusually propitious dates.

The
analysis bolsters recent academic work suggesting that backdating was
widespread, particularly from the start of the tech-stock boom in the
1990s through the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate reform act of 2002. If so,
it was another way some executives enriched themselves during the boom
at shareholders’ expense. And because options grants are long-lived,
some executives holding backdated grants from the late 1990s could
still profit from them today."

The chart below implies that the odds against these being random are quite high. (I guess Sarbanes Oxley didn’t root out all the corporate corruption after all).

Last week it was the mortgage resets, and this week its CEO Options. Great stories, buried on the front page — of the Saturday edition . . .

Source:
The Perfect Payday
CHARLES FORELLE and JAMES BANDLER
WSJ, March 18, 2006; Page A1
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114265075068802118.html

How the Journal Analyzed Stock-Option Grants
CHARLES FORELLE
WSJ, March 18, 2006; Page A5
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114265125895502125.html

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Category: Corporate Management, Data Analysis

February CPI Tame

Category: Data Analysis, Federal Reserve, Inflation, Investing

How Have Economic Reports Been Running?

Category: Data Analysis, Economy

NFP: Final thoughts

Category: Data Analysis, Employment

Why do we overweight NFP ?

Category: Data Analysis, Employment

Can M3 be Saved?

Category: Data Analysis, Federal Reserve, Politics

A Healthy Dose of Skepticism

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Data Analysis, Psychology

The Backward Business of Short Selling

If you haven’t already, I strongly admonish you to go read Jesse Eisinger’s column today:

It’s a Tough Job, So Why Do They Do It?  The Backward Business of Short Selling

Here’s the money quote:

Short_interest
"The shorting life is nasty and brutish. It’s a wonder anyone does
it at all.

Shorts make a bet that a stock will sink, and nobody else wants
that: Not company executives, employees, investment banks nor most investors.
That’s why most manipulation is on the other side; fewer people object when
share prices are being pumped up. For most on Wall Street, the debate is whether
shorts are anti-American or merely un-American.

Yet in all the paranoia about evil short-sellers badmouthing
companies, what is lost is how agonizingly difficult their business is. They
borrow stock and sell it, hoping to replace the borrowed shares with cheaper
ones bought later so they can pocket the price difference as profit. It’s a
chronologically backward version of the typical long trade: sell high and then
buy low."

Go forth and read . . .

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Source:
It’s a Tough Job, So Why Do They Do It?
The Backward Business of Short
Selling

Jesse Eisinger
WSJ, March 1, 2006; Page C1
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114118313441386192.html

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UPDATE March 2, 2006 10:32am: 

See below for more text

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Category: Data Analysis, Financial Press, Trading