Category Archives: economics

Sociologist is one of best jobs according to Wall Street Journal

According to the venerable WSJ, being a  sociologist is one of teh top ten jobs in the US using a multiple criteria evaluation that includes salary, level of stress, workplace conditions and other commonsensical metrics.

Mathematician is #1.  Lumberjack is #200.

I wonder if they break out other academics… if so, the 200 careers is going to be tilted heavily towards academics!

The Best and Worst Jobs

Of 200 Jobs studied, these came out on top — and at the bottom:

The Best The Worst
1. Mathematician 200. Lumberjack
2. Actuary 199. Dairy Farmer
3. Statistician 198. Taxi Driver
4. Biologist 197. Seaman
5. Software Engineer 196. EMT
6. Computer Systems Analyst 195. Garbage Collector
7. Historian 194. Welder
8. Sociologist 193. Roustabout
9. Industrial Designer 192. Ironworker
10. Accountant 191. Construction Worker

Leave a comment

Filed under economics, life

Da** you, Krugman!!!!! Scooped me again.

A friend from Dads night  can attest to the fact that on Wednesday I told him I think that Madoff’s Ponzi scheme and so-called “normal” investing in high finance, speculative vehicles is probably very similar in terms of how investors act and gather information.

Paul Krugman’s column in today’s NY Times starts off:

The revelation that Bernard Madoff — brilliant investor (or so almost everyone thought), philanthropist, pillar of the community — was a phony has shocked the world, and understandably so. The scale of his alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme is hard to comprehend.

Yet surely I’m not the only person to ask the obvious question: How different, really, is Mr. Madoff’s tale from the story of the investment industry as a whole?

Sigh.  I guess there are worse people to be scooped by.

Leave a comment

Filed under economics, writing

Through the looking glass: Putting a Value on a C.E.O.

January 28- Update:

Maureen Dowd Agrees with me:

“If you don’t pay your best people, you will destroy your franchise” and they’ll go elsewhere, he said.

Hello? They destroyed the franchise. Let’s call their bluff. Let’s see what a great job market it is for the geniuses of capitalism who lost $15 billion in three months and helped usher in socialism.”

My father in law sent me this article from two weeks ago int the NY Times.

Dealbook – Putting a Value on a C.E.O. – NYTimes.com
“By itself, more share and retention-based compensation is not the magic bullet, because it certainly didn’t stop us from running up very large losses,” Mr. Bischoff said.

This ranks up there with all time statements lacking any humility or self-awareness.  If you look at the explosion in financial sector profitability (much of it inflated) and bonuses and other stock-based payments, and then at the continued pay out of bonuses even as the financial sector sank, then the premise of this statement by the Chairman of Citigroup, which is that more of the same compensation schemes _may_, (may!) not help avoid large losses is weirdly up-is-down through-the-looking-glass logic that can only make sense to the world of Wall Street and high finance.  If you are the CEO, of, say, I don’t know, a car manufacturer, and your firm looses more than half of its value in one year, than you d not get a bonus.  You probably lose your job.

The article goes on to repeat the logic of more of these compensation ideologues several times that if firms do not continue to pay out huge bonuses tied to stock options, than they will lose the top management talent they need to compete.  ha ha, ho ho!  I am drying my eyes.

Let’s list some accomplishments of this great management talent (all are sarcastic, BTW)

Because they have done such a great job so far.

Because they did not create the conditions for this financial mess by advocating deregulation and obfuscation of financial systems under the guise of free market theory.

Because they designed and staunchly defend as in the general interest stock option compensation that creates clear and perverse incentives to smooth earnings, game financial accounting, and other malfeasance (whether deliberate or convenient).

Because they have not hijacked the very governance mechanisms meant to curb the abuses of greed in a free market- corporate boards and regulatory agencies.

Finally, is there a labor economist in the house?

The argument is that if not, as a group, paid super premiums over all other types of organizational leaders, from medicine, higher education, the frickin’ president, manufacturing, and every other sector of American economic activity, then oh no! there will be a mass exodus of CEO and top management.  Really?  And where in the hell where they go work?  Boeing?  Chrysler?  Schering Plough? Best Buy?  Given the vast pool of educated and experienced mangers and even financial managers in the world, you don’t think we could possibly find people willing to work for $2,$4,$6 million in total compensation? Especially if that is twice what they ear now (or more) and not any better than what they could get elsewhere.

The notion somehow massive bonuses and total compensation are the only way to keep people performing as the CEOs and top leaders of banks, brokerages, investment banks, and so on just seems laughable.

Leave a comment

Filed under Banking, economics, management

Research ideas for Six Degrees Students

Research Ideas for My Students

Hello folks. This is by no means a comprehensive set of resources. It more reflects sources that seemed to be of interest to two or more of you AND that I thought might not jump out at you as pertinent. It is a mix of search terms, blogs, alternative media, as well as books and scholars.

For a few of you, I had specific ideas and those are at the end.  So read through to the end. If I did not comment on your specifically all it means is that your topics are either covered below, or, I don’t have any special suggestions.

General Ideas

The FIRST place for everyone to start if they are basing their paper on a topic in Six Degrees or Tipping point is to look at the references in the back of each book.  Watts provides a guide to different topics, and Gladwell has notes with references.

Also, you can get a one on one appointment with BU librarian once you have your topic.

EVERYONE should make an appointment with a Bucknell research librarian.

You are welcome to search my blog.  You can search or simply use the tag cloud to clickt hough to a set of posts.

Also, I use a social bookmarking service called del.icio.us.com. Basically it is like a big scrapbook of links I collect.  You are welcome to look there for any tags that match your research keywords.

http://delicious.com/jordisunshine

Click on “all tags” on the left to see my tag taxonomy.  For example, Jen mentioned technology and the presidential election in her topics.  I have a politics tag, and when you click on that, you can see what are “related” tags to narrow it down.  Politics+ technology has three links. One of those, to a book called “Netroots Rising” might be useful.

How to use blogs I recommend: browse them.  Use them to identify key ideas.  Use them to look for book, or article suggestions from more reliable sources (scholarly journals, mainstream press).

How context shapes roles

Stanford Prison Experiment

□ Look for social psychology on the impact of groups or roles

How social network affects a company

□ Work by Rob Cross

David Krackhardt

David Obstfeld

How breakthroughs happen…

Mob Mentality or “Wisdom of Crowds”

□ See Swarm intelligence as a search term. Also this book and tool.

□ See Smart Mobs as a search term. Also, this site and book.

Internet and Society

Pew Research Center on Internet and American life

Financial Bubbles…

Bill Moyers with Kuttner

Interviews with Greenspan

Greenspan debate Naomi Klein, a critic (bubbles and feds role comes up)

□   Planet Money Blog

□   Big picture blog

□   Brad DeLong Blog

Fanatic communities

MeetUp

Org theory post

Size of communities (Rule of 150)

□    Gore-Tex maker

□   More on Gore

□   Another article.

□   Leaderless organization

Advertising and Marketing

Changes that the internet has brought about

Viral garden blog

□   Any search on word of mouth or viral marketing

□   Paradox of Choice.

General blogs on organizations, networks, and sociology: Search them for your topics.

Orgtheory http://orgtheory.wordpress.com/

Complexity

Connectedness

Visiblepath

Jen:

About politics and technology.  The Dean campaign of 2004, and also the Bush Campaign of 2004, started the use of web 2.0 technologies as political organizing tools.  I think this book could be useful.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1594514852

Will:

It would be interesting to look at the distribution of hit records over time.  In other words, what proportion of records sold are just a few?  Were the Beatles bigger superstars than a recent “big act” measured as % of all record sales?  How has shift to consuming songs as downloads changed that perception?  Are there fewer superstars now?  What does that mean for music as a business and as a cultural activity?

Charlie:

About diseases: it would be interesting to compare biological and social factors in contagiousness of diseases.

Jeff G:

In terms of channel capacity and music: this reminds me of research now on the cognitive structure of experts vs amateurs.  An expert musician can distinguish more than 7 tones, I think.   What is the evidence that we can increase channel capacity?

Kayla

I am not sure what the best search term for outside-in emotion is.

Emma:

You can do a special kind of search called a cited reference search with a database called Web of Science.  Basically, it tells you who cited a work.  You could look at original article “The Strength of Weak Ties” and see what more current research is saying.  The reference librarians can show you how to do that kind of search.  There will be thousands of articles, so you will need to use narrowing terms.

1 Comment

Filed under Business, economics, innovation, organization theory, Politics, Power, Activism, Research, Social Networks, sociology

0% almost never appears in public polls

The National Economy
No Americans say that the national economy is getting better, 13% say it is staying the same, and 82% say the national economy is getting worse.

National economy

Getting better

Staying the same

Getting worse

Undecided

Sep 2008 13% 82% 5%
Aug 2008 18% 19% 60% 3%
Jul 2008 3% 20% 76% 1%

You almost never see 0% in public polls. They must not have any BOA executives, gold stock holders, or other speculators who bet the right way in their poll.  Or maybe those folks see that their immediate gain comes with the risk of financial downturn for all?

And Bush’s approval is down to 19% among RVs in the same poll.  That has to be some kind of record?

1 Comment

Filed under economic sociology, economics, macroeconomics

No blank check for Wall Street.

No blank check for Wall Street.
This is worse than a bad deal – this isn’t a deal at all. This is a blank check to some of the richest companies in the world.

This is a blog post with a petition linked to  it.  I may not agree with all the language, but this is not the time to let the desire for the perfect trump the reality of present action.

We should express our concerns as citizens about the parameters fo this extraordianry action, even if we don’t get to write the legislation.

Krugman on “Cash for Trash.

Leave a comment

Filed under activism, Banking, economics, macroeconomics, policy, Political Economy, Politics, Power, Activism

All that is solid melts…

My thoughts exactly…

Daily Kos: State of the Nation
Now that the People own a major insurance company, it’s fair to ask how the People’s Insurance Company, along with the People’s Mortgage Companies and the People’s Investment Banks, will benefit the People who Own them. Can we expect lower premiums, equity sharing, and corporate perks for our hundreds of billions of dollars?

Leave a comment

Filed under economics, humor, macroeconomics, Political Economy, Politics, Power, Activism

FDIC does not publish its problem bank list

15 minutes of web searching for this mythical list of problme banks leads me to learn that the FDIC does not publiish the list.

Of course not.  It might cause people to worry about their deposits!  So, we have to protected from our own self-interest.

It is always the most critical information that is hidden.  One site did say I could pay for bank quality/soundness information.  Lovely, that won’t exacerbate inequality in America or anything.

Leave a comment

Filed under Banking, economics

A picture is worth a 10,000 words (inflation)

How much does this explain?

Look familiar to you?

Look familiar to you?

Leave a comment

Filed under economics, macroeconomics, Politics, Power, Activism

Indirect Social Influence

SOCIOLOGY: Indirect Social Influence — Denrell 321 (5885): 47 — Science
To learn more about these mechanisms, we need to broaden studies of social influence and belief formation to include the phases of learning and information collection that precede decision-making and judgment.

The above quotation from Science summarizes a brief yet interesting overview of how indirect influence matters.  The gist is that the exposure I have to infomration, as a result of my network connections or position, can bias my “rational” decision-making.  Its not that we are all weak-willed lemmings who do what the joneses do, it s that in the face of difficult to find information, we may rely on information gathered through netwokr ties to make decisions.  And by separating network effects into direct influence on disposition and indirect influence though information gathering, we can better analyze influence.

Fine.  Seems a bit of a round-about way to get there, but I suspect it makes network effects more palatable to economists or game-theory types.

Leave a comment

Filed under economics, Research, Social Networks, sociology