David Kirkpatrick

January 8, 2010

Get a free online education with Khan Academy

Filed under: Arts, Business, Media, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:00 pm

I came across this post at Metamodern discussing a very interesting, and utile, online resource — Khan Academy. If you’re looking for short, to-the-point online lessons (more than 1000) on mathematics ranging from basic arithmetic and algebra to differential equations, physics, chemistry, biology and finance, this is a great resource.

From the first link:

I got a pointer to a free, online educational resource today.

It deserves more attention.

The eyeballs of a few million students might be a good start. Students in elementary school, grad school, rural Africa… places like that.

It consists of 1000+ brief lectures on YouTube.

It centers on math, but goes beyond.

November 24, 2009

Is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act on its last legs?

Looks like it. In this topsy-turvy political world Sarbox was ushered in by a GOP-controlled Congress and is being systematically gutted by a Democratic Congress. Of course one the unintended consequences of Sarbox was an untenable burden on small business. Wall Street was going to motor along, accounting firms were going to bank and Main Street was going to take it on the chin once again.

From the link:

The House Financial Services Committee has approved an amendment to the Investor Protection Act of 2009 to allow most companies to never comply with the law, and mandating a study to see whether it would be a good idea to exempt additional companies as well.

Some veterans of past reform efforts were left sputtering with rage. “That the Democratic Party is the vehicle for overturning the most pro-investor legislation in the past 25 years is deeply disturbing,” said Arthur Levitt, a Democrat who was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission under former President Clinton. “Anyone who votes for this will bear the investors’ mark of Cain.”

Those who favored the amendment saw it differently. They were simply out to help small businesses, which would be burdened by having to report on whether they maintained acceptable financial controls, and to have auditors check on whether those controls worked.

There are other threats to Sarbanes-Oxley as well.

November 20, 2009

The T-bill collapse is troubling

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:58 pm

Very troubling, actually …

From the link:

IT’S THE CRASH YOU DIDN’T HEAR. Not in the price of any security market, but in short-term U.S. Treasury yields.

Treasury bills once again were trading at negative interest rates Thursday, a mind-boggling state of affairs that hasn’t existed since the panic late last year. That followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the assorted knock-on effects, notably the run on money-market funds after the Reserve Fund “broke the buck.”

More significantly, the yield on the two-year Treasury note — the most actively traded security on the planet — fell to 0.669% Thursday, within a hair of the low of 0.657% set in the dark days of last December, according to data on Barrons.com’s Market Data Center.

But now, the economy is supposed to be well on the way to recovery, in contrast to late last year when it seemed we stood on the precipice of a second Great Depression. The Dow is back above 10,000 and bulls claim all’s right with the world. Why, then, would any rational investor be willing to lock up money for two years for the paltry return of less than two-thirds of 1%?

November 7, 2009

Do exchange-traded funds create investment bubbles?

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:30 pm

More specifically, bubbles in emerging markets — short answer, no.

From the link, a bit more behind the short answer:

So what does all this mean for investors? ETFs probably haven’t caused a bubble, and they might even help a bit to prevent one from forming. But many will remain superconcentrated bets on very risky markets. If you invest in an ETF with most of its assets in a few stocks and think you have made a diversified bet, the real bubble is the one between your own ears.

December 16, 2008

GASB Issues Concepts Statement No. 5

The release:

GASB Issues Concepts Statement No. 5, Service Efforts and Accomplishments Reporting (an amendment of GASB Concepts Statement No. 2)
Business Wire via NewsEdge :

Business Editors

NORWALK, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–December 15, 2008–The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) today issued Concepts Statement No. 5, Service Efforts and Accomplishments Reporting (an amendment of GASB Concepts Statement No. 2). Concepts Statement 5 updates provisions in Concepts Statement 2 in order to reflect developments that have occurred since Concepts Statement 2 was issued in 1994. The proposed changes are based on the findings of extensive research by the GASB and others and the results of the GASB’s monitoring of state and local governments that have been using and reporting service efforts and accomplishments (SEA) performance information.

The reporting of SEA performance information is an important method of demonstrating accountability for the resources raised by a government. SEA reporting provides more decision-useful information about a government’s efficiency and effectiveness in providing services to its citizens than can be provided by traditional financial statements. One objective of this updated Concepts Statement is to provide a framework that can inform the GASB as it considers proposed suggested guidelines for voluntary reporting of SEA performance information by state and local governmental entities.

The revisions to Concepts Statement 2 clarify that it is beyond the scope of the GASB to establish the goals and objectives of state and local government services, to develop specific nonfinancial measures or indicators of service performance, or to set benchmarks for service performance. To emphasize this point, Concepts Statement 5 removes an entire section of Concepts Statement 2, titled, “Developing Reporting Standards for SEA Information.” Concepts Statement 2 also was amended to update terminology and to modify certain provisions to reflect what has taken place over the past 14 years.

About the Governmental Accounting Standards Board

The GASB is the independent, not-for-profit organization formed in 1984 that establishes and improves financial accounting and reporting standards for state and local governments. Its seven members are drawn from the Board’s diverse constituency, including preparers and auditors of government financial statements, users of those statements, and members of the academic community. More information about the GASB can be found at its website http://www.gasb.org.

Governmental Accounting Standards Board

State Keywords: Connecticut

Industry Keywords: Public Policy/Government; State/Local; Professional Services; Accounting; Finance

Source: Governmental Accounting Standards Board

<<Business Wire — 12/16/08>>

October 14, 2008

Winners and losers in the bailout

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:44 pm

If you’re looking for a quick, dirty and dense breakdown on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 — the “bailout” — check out this article from CFO.com. Keep in mind the details are pretty dense and probably require some understanding of the underlying finance and tax principles.

From the link:

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, popularly known as the bailout legislation, contains tax provisions that will benefit some taxpayers and penalize others. Among the widely-reported authorities the new law grants, the $700-billion government bailout legislation allows the Treasury Department to buy troubled mortgage assets from banks and other financial institutions, and invest directly in sputtering banks to bolster their liquidity position. But the new law changes some of the tax rules, too.

Here’s a rundown of those provisions and the affected tax law.

July 23, 2008

Sarbox is a joke

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:07 pm

Can’t we all agree the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is a complete failure?

From the link:

As if business needed one more reason to dislike the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, here’s a doozy: It may actually worsen the impact of financial statement fraud, the very problem it was created to address.

A new report from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners found that companies that had the controls mandated by Sarbanes-Oxley actually suffered greater losses from financial statement fraud than those that did not have the controls. What’s more, the study found, companies whose management certified financial statements and had independent audit committees actually took longer to detect financial misstatements than companies without those controls.

July 17, 2008

C-level finance execs not optimistic

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:19 am

The Duke University/CFO magazine Global Business Outlook Survey finds finance executives looking for a prolonged downturn.

Here’s some of the numbers from the survey:

The fact that 53 percent of finance executives responding to this quarter’s Duke University/CFO magazine Global Business Outlook Survey are less optimistic than they were three months ago can be seen as good news only when compared with the whopping 72 percent who said last quarter that they were less optimistic than they were at the start of the year. But even though CFOs are not quite as down as they were in April, they’re hardly thrilled with the economic picture. In fact, many are taking significant steps to control costs as they prepare for a lengthy downturn.

Seventy-one percent of finance executives say the U.S. economy will not begin to recover until 2009 or later, and 30 percent say they don’t expect a rebound until at least the second half of next year. CFOs are forecasting minimal growth in earnings and capital spending over the next 12 months. About 40 percent of them plan to delay or cancel expansion plans, and roughly the same number have initiated cost-cutting programs.

And here’s a link to a one-page PDF charting the results.