The Securities Litigation Expert Blog

A.O. Hirschman Dead at 97

Posted by Jack Duval

Dec 24, 2012 3:07:29 AM

The New York Times has an obituary on economist A.O. Hirschman. (NYT)  Hirschman's Exit, Voice, and Loyalty was a classic that I read in graduate school.  The book dwelled at the intersection of politics and economics.

Hirschman's work is an anachronism now, a relic of an age when economists still asked big questions and answered them with words instead of numbers.

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Topics: economics, A.O. Hirschman, New York Times, economists, education

The Ghost of Enron Past? or FERC Comes a Calling

Posted by Jack Duval

Nov 2, 2012 2:26:17 AM

Dealbook, at the New York Times, reports that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") has launched investigations into many Wall Street firms for manipulating energy markets. (NYT)

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the government watchdog overseeing the oil, natural gas and electricity business, has lately taken aim at three major banks suspected of manipulating energy prices. After taking action against JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank, the agency on Wednesday threatened to impose its largest fine ever against Barclays.

The agency — building on a 2005 law, additional resources and a string of personnel moves — is increasingly exercising its new enforcement muscle to pursue not only energy companies but some of the nation’s biggest banks. Indeed, the case against Barclays, which could cost the British bank $470 million, stems from a broad crackdown on questionable trading that has prompted 19 actions in the last two years.

You may be wondering where FERC came from and the answer is the ashes of the Enron energy market manipulation:
The agency’s effort is rooted in a 2005 law passed in the aftermath of the Enron fraud. The law created an enforcement unit at the agency and gave it the authority to assess hefty fines.

Under the Obama administration, the enforcement unit expanded its ranks and received a nearly 50 percent budget increase.

The unit, which this year created a specialized group to analyze arcane data and detect manipulation, also hired seasoned criminal investigators. The enforcement team is led by Norman C. Bay, the former United States attorney for New Mexico. One of his top deputies is a former general counsel of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

With fines that large, Compliance can no longer be considered a cost center.


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Topics: energy markets, FERC, New York Times, enforcement, investments, Enron, Compliance, market manipulation, regulation.

The Need for Speed in Analytic Hardware

Posted by Jack Duval

Sep 16, 2012 2:52:22 AM

Steve Lohr had a typically good piece in The New York Times on how database hardware is catching up to analytics software and how the results will be powerful.  You can read the article here.

Some think this represents a one of those discontinuous leaps in computing equilibrium.  Here's the money quote:

Advances in such underlying technologies are fueling the current excitement in fields like artificial intelligence, robotics and data analysis and prediction. “All parts of the technology pipeline are gearing up at the same time, and that’s how you get this explosion of new applications and uses,” says Jon Kleinberg, a computer scientist at Cornell University.

Behind the seeming explosion, experts say, is a process of technology evolution. Paul Saffo, a technology forecaster, compares the process to the evolutionary biology concept known as “punctuated equilibria” formulated by the paleontologists Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge. The idea is that species often evolve in periodic spurts.

Essentially, these super fast databases enable real time analytics and that opens the door for many new applications.  Think high frequency trading for the rest of us.

Two startups are already in the space, VoltDB and Paradigm4.

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Topics: hardware, punctuated equilibria, Statistics, Data Analysis, New York Times, VoltDB, Paradigm4, Steve Lohr, Predictive Analytics

The U.S. Government is getting in on Big Data

Posted by Jack Duval

Mar 29, 2012 4:16:58 AM

The New York Times has an article on how the government is going to spend $200 million going after big data.

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Topics: big data, Data Analysis, New York Times, U.S. Government

The Age of Big Data

Posted by Jack Duval

Feb 12, 2012 4:40:56 AM

Fantastic article from the NYT's about the world and opportunities of big data here.

It's a revolution, says Gary King, director of Harvard's Institute for Quantitative Social Science.  We're really just getting under way.  But the march of quantification, made possible by enormous new sources of data, will sweep through academia, business and government.  There is no area that is going to be untouched.

Also, the McKinsey Global Institute report: "Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity" is available here.  It is available in PDF, Kindle and eBook formats, and well worth the read.
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Topics: big data, Data Analysis, McKinsey Global Institute, New York Times, Harvard

Big Data Startup Having Big Success

Posted by Jack Duval

Dec 25, 2011 5:30:12 PM

NYT's profiles Splunk, a startup mining big data for half the Fortune 100.

Money quote: "Take the SH out of IT."

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Topics: big data, Data Analysis, Splunk, New York Times, Startup

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