Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Paris - London - Moskwa - DC
City History
Braune Glasscheiben
Es soll keiner unter 7,50 arbeiten
Die Wahrheit braucht Mutige die sie aussprechen
Kill all trade unionists
Where Friedrich crosses
Unter den Linden

Peterson dies

One of the last big ones from the early days of modern jazz has died at the age of 82 - Oscar Peterson. he played with Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington. He was born in Canada in 1925. Not one of my favourites but still a household name in jazz.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Free book

You can find the book Structural Analysis of Discrete Data and Econometric Applications by Manski and McFadden here. It contains articles by the two editors, Jim Heckman, and Jerry Hausman

Sunday, December 09, 2007

New nonlinear model

Dueker, Sola, and Spagnolo propose a new nonlinear model, the C-TAR in "Contemporaneous Threshold Autoregressive Models: Estimation, Testing and Forecasting". It seems the regime threshold is continually updated. Is Hamilton's MC regime switching model able to do that?


The Journal of Econometrics has a full free issue for January 2008. Authors include Pesaran, Andrews and Linton.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Every econometric subject can be divided into the following parts:

  • Model
  • Data
  • Estimation of the model
  • Diagnostics, Selection
  • Interpretation
Step 1 and 2 are interchangable. I personally find the specification of a model and estimation most interesting. These two processes are what can be called modelling whereas the others are either too much or too little theoretic .

Monday, November 26, 2007


This graph about drinking patterns tells an interesting story. On the x axis we have frequency of drinking and on the y axis getting drunk during the last 30 days among European and American 15- and 16-year-olds in 2003. While Denmark, UK and Ireland have a lot of drunkenness, they don't consume most alcohol. The Dutch do drink most, or most often, but do not get drunk that often. The Nordic countries have all very low freqeuncy of drinking but average probability of getting drunk, which seems to be the effect of expensive alcohol. There probably wouldn't be a straight relationship between the two variables.

Friday, November 23, 2007


My blog has had 2000 visitors, the 2000th was someone working for the Royal Bank of Canada in the UK.

Monday, November 19, 2007

DWP sickness test

Today's DWP press release claims a new sickness test decreases worklessness. It says.

The new test, published today for the first time, is more robust, accurate and fairer. Fifty per cent of those who take the assessment will not pass it, meaning that 20,000 fewer people a year will enter ‘sickness’ benefits as a result, and will instead be given the support and skills they need to get a job.
What's the point of 50% not passing the test? Does that mean by default 50% are not sick? So the test knows before you probability to be sick or not. Magic.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Calamity Clegg

The LibDem leadership contest just got a bit interesting. Huhne was presented with a brief from his office Calamity Clegg, which he claims he doesn't know about. Clegg obviously took offence, while Huhne wouldn't apologise. They fight a bit like husband and wife. It certainly wasn't staged. Still I have the impression that people's perception about the two won't change.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Miliband's proposal

... is stupid, he suggests to expand the EU beyond Europe. Who in this country of EU skepticism will support this? British people cannot even accept the EU as it is, why should they accept an even larger EU.


The Spectator has just published the politics awards. I think they are a bit biased, just one Labour politician in the list, I don't count Blair's resignation of the year. George Osborne is politician of the year, however what has he achieved this year??

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Conference in Cergy

The Third German French Austrian Conference on Quantitative Marketing in Cergy took place in September. There is an extensive list of abstracts (only), but some papers sound really interesting.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Model blaming

There has been some criticism of automatic trading, VaR, and quant funds. They are blamed for the upsurge in volatility. However, I think it's wrong to blame the models, surely it's still people creating and running these programs. If the trend resulting from the collective application of these models were predictable one could hedge against them.

Friday, October 12, 2007


DAX and FTSE are reaching new highs which the last reached seven years ago. The chart clearly shows that the German market is much more volatile than Britain.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Where is the vision?

The PBR was a disappointment, even more so than the recall of the election. If Brown wanted to give the country his vision of a better Britain, why did he let his Chancellor copy Tory policies. From a strategic point that might be understandable, but how does paying less inheritance tax make us a better Britain? They should have instead given more money to poor children in this country. The government is still committed to halve child poverty by 2010, but is nowhere near to reach this by 2010. They might opt for a last minute (if they are still in power) rescue in 2009 but what’s the point of doing too little for 13 years and then doing everything in one day. One generation of poor children will thank Brown for that.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

No UK election

Brown has called the election off. Did he get cold feet after recent polls? The Tories wouldn't have won, but Brown could have lost votes. It's a good day for Britain, because the business of continues. Tuesday will see the CSR, which will outline important spending plans for the needy in this country.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The French are best at geography

On Facebook you can see the average IQ in the Traveler Challenge Game. I have used that data and filtered those countries out with less than 100 recipients. I have also reweighted the IQ so that the average IQ is actually 100. This table proves Americans are only average in geography. English people are actually below average. French people are best, Germans come in at 12.

Country Average IQ
France 107.5282
Slovenia 107.2587
Switzerland 106.5947
Belgium 105.8536
Serbia 105.7477
Antarctica 105.6515
Austria 105.5072
Czech Republic 105.4879
Morocco 105.2666
Finland 105.1029
Netherlands 104.872
Germany 104.5351
Italy 104.5063
Cayman Islands 104.3427
Lithuania 104.0443
Luxembourg 104.0251
Bosnia and Herzegovina 104.0154
Croatia 103.8518
Cote d'Ivoire 103.8133
Azerbaijan 103.8037
Sweden 103.4188
Slovakia 103.3514
Spain 103.3321
Hungary 103.13
Estonia 103.1012
Poland 103.0049
Denmark 102.7643
Brazil 102.6296
Mauritius 102.5911
Costa Rica 102.4467
Bulgaria 102.4371
Portugal 102.0137
Japan 101.8597
Greece 101.8308
Israel 101.7923
Romania 101.7538
Russia 101.7057
Chile 101.5998
Vietnam 101.571
Scotland 101.5325
Kenya 101.5132
Argentina 101.3977
Ireland 101.2053
Norway 101.2053
Peru 101.1956
Thailand 101.1668
Zimbabwe 101.1475
New Zealand 101.0032
Bermuda 100.8107
Tanzania 100.7529
Ukraine 100.7048
Colombia 100.6567
South Korea 100.6278
Cyprus 100.6086
Iceland 100.5508
United States 100.4835
Guatemala 100.3776
Ecuador 100.368
Northern Ireland 100.2814
Kazakhstan 100.0985
El Salvador 99.76166
China 99.6943
Qatar 99.68467
Turkey 99.61731
Australia 99.57881
Honduras 99.43445
Isle Of Man 99.29009
Venezuela 99.18423
Mexico 99.011
England 98.65491
Canada 98.54905
Channel Islands 98.53943
Palestine 98.44319
Bahrain 98.2892
Syria 98.21221
United Arab Emirates 98.17372
Lebanon 97.81763
Wales 97.46155
Bolivia 97.11508
Taiwan 97.10546
Malta 97.01884
Indonesia 96.98035
Trinidad and Tobago 96.83599
Panama 96.73975
Malaysia 96.58577
Kuwait 96.49915
India 96.45103
Singapore 96.41254
South Africa 96.34517
Sri Lanka 96.28743
Dominican Republic 95.8736
Philippines 95.53676
Bangladesh 95.47902
Hong Kong 95.40202
Jordan 94.35302
Egypt 94.34339
Saudi Arabia 93.69859
Pakistan 93.00567
Nigeria 92.15876

Fifa ranking

Eight out of the top 10 football nations are European. England has jumped up three places. Favourite for the Euro 2008 Germany is fourth.

Sep 07
+/- Ranking
Aug 07
+/- Pts
Aug 07
Italy Italy14882Up58
Argentina Argentina14510Equal-40
Brazil Brazil1444-2Down-64
Germany Germany13301Up-7
Netherlands Netherlands12462Up35
France France1220-2Down-160
Spain Spain11781Up13
Portugal Portugal11692Up12
England England11653Up74
Croatia Croatia1151-4Down-72

Friday, September 28, 2007

Data mining

The illustrious journal Computational Statistics & Data Analysis has a whole issue devoted to data mining. The 48 articles cover almost anything you could like, from clustering to genetic alogorithms.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Risk models

Christian Gourieroux & Joann Jasiak and have published a new baook called The Econometrics of Individual Risk: Credit, Insurance, and Marketing. It deals with a class of discrete models, unfortunately marketing doesn't really appear in the contents.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


The majority of the visitors of my blog are US Americans, followed by Germans. British visitors are in decline, unfortunately.

Taiwan is the growth leader of the past 55 years

According to the Maddison growth data at Groningen, Taiwan's GDP per capita has grown by 1973% from 1950 to 2005 in real terms. The only non-Asian countries in the top 10 are Malta and Spain. We can discount Malta because of its small population size (currently 400,000; a third more than in 1950). The first American contry is Puerto Rico in postion 14. The first African Tunisia in 24.

country growth
Taiwan 1973%
South Korea 1921%
Malta 1366%
China 1171%
Hong Kong 1149%
Oman 1122%
Japan 1052%
Singapore 1007%
Thailand 863%
Spain 730%

Thursday, September 20, 2007


There is a lot of concern about mortgages at the moment, I would opt for a Flexible Mortgage, to avoid the high rates, resulting from adjusted risk premia.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Welcome to the stone age with BT. I asked them to supply me with broadband and they denied I even had a phone line with them. Here is the result, a box I have no need for.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Marketing meeting

Greek fire

I flew to Greece yesterday, with Boy "Chamaleon" George on board, only to find myself in a Athens smelling of burned trees. The extent of the fires is truly mindblowing and looking at it from the skies makes you understand that the consequences of this disaster will take a long time to overcome. There are obviously not only environmental consequences but political and judicial as well, with the hunt of the arsonists in procedure. I bet the Greek elections next month will be postponed.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Rutherford tb

Paul Rutherford died yesterday at the age of 67. He was one of the foremost free improvising trombonists. Although not my personal favourite I did like to listen to his music. He will be greatly missed by the quickly ageing improv community.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Two new marketing papers

Kirthi Kalyanam, Sharad Borle, Peter Boatwright in Deconstructing Each Item’s Category Contribution analyse the impact of assortment on the category. Bigger brands basically benefit from more choice, or more SKUs.

Raj Echambadi, James D. Hess in Mean-Centering Does Not Alleviate Collinearity Problems in Moderated Multiple Regression Models show exactly that, basically that mean-centering the variables doesn't change anything.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Don't vote for Boris

Although Boris Johnson seems more fresh than many professional politicians there is nothing genuine about this man. It would be a disgrace for London. His Etonian wit (?) might be entertaining at dinners, but is nothing for a city as important as London. We don't need any clowns.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Iraqi football

Today I read about the high hopes which Iraqis put into their football team when playing in the Asia cup. It is such a pity that this country has to suffer such an enduring misery, and that only a win in sports is able to unify the country is a sad and hopeful picture at the same time.


Ulrich Mühe who recently won awards for his depiction of an East German Stasi officer in Das Leben der Anderen died two days ago. The 54 year old was suffering from cancer. Mühe was one of Gemany’s best actors who didn’t shine through acting brilliance but through his steady and calm manner appealing to East and West Germans alike.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Three years ago I asked a professor at Essex about a reference and he told me how dry he finds places like Cambridge. Now he is professor at Cambridge himself. Seems he's run out of bubbles.

Friday, July 06, 2007

GMDH in Prague

The 2nd International Workshop on Inductive Modeling (IWIM07) will be held in Prague on September 23-26, 2007. It will feature Ivakhnenko’s Group Method of Data Handling (GMDH) as a typical inductive modeling method.

The Band of England website has a list of voting intentions of the MPC (1997 till now). I have analysed this data set and after some cleaning (of people with short record) I have derived the defections from the ultimate voting decision. I have neglected maintain rate defections as the intention is not totally clear. Stephen Nickel has accounted for most defections, 13 of which are to decrease rates, which makes him very lax on monetary policy. Willem Buiter disagreed in 47% of cases, so a real … Sir Edward George although being there in 74 meetings did never defect. The governor has accounted for most increase defections and thus proves to be a cautious central banker.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Brown effect

Only a few days after Gordon Brown there is an increase in ratings. polling Report states

Two new polls in Saturday’s papers show Labour back in the lead as the “Brown boost” takes effect. A YouGov poll in the Telegraph has headline figures, with changes from the last YouGov poll, of CON 35% (-2), LAB 38% (+3), LDEM 15% (+1). An ICM poll in the Guardian has CON 35% (-2), LAB 39% (+7), LDEM 18% (-3).

Thursday, June 28, 2007

New DWP secretary

Peter Hain is the new Work and Pensions minister. This is quite surprising, but then not many were tipped for this position anyway. Hain dropped out second in the leadership race. His new role is certainly a bigger task than his previous one, with visionary pension and welfare reform under way. It will be interesting how DWP will position itself vis-à-vis the Treasury.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

TV consumption

Here is a chart of TV watching hours over the years. Unsurprisingly, during summer people watch less. But what happened in winter 2002 when hours dropped? The spike during summer 2002 must be the football championship.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Robert Fogel writes in Capitalism and Democracy in 2040: Forecasts and Speculations

While the economies of the fifteen countries that were in the European Union (EU15) in 2000 will continue to grow from now until 2040, they will not be able to match the surges in growth that will occur in South and East Asia. In 2040, the Chinese economy will reach $123 trillion, or nearly three times the output of the entire globe in the year 2000, despite the influence of several potential political and economic constraints. India's economy will also continue to grow, although significant constraints (both political and economic) will keep it from reaching China's levels. The projected decline of the EU15's global share of GDP means that Asia will be poised to take up the role of promoting liberal democracy across the globe.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

FT raises price

The FT raises its daily sale price by 30p to GBP1.30. This is quite surprising given the surge in internet news and advertising. But apparently FT believes they can put off the competition because of their selective readership. A lot of FTs are obviously bought by businesses. In addition there is no direct competitor on business news.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Dillow on Food

Chris Dillow claims that Ricardo's forecast that higher food prices will slow down growth is right.

It might be that food inflation has picked up, but Dillow neglects the fact that the food products we buy are processed and cary profit margings. Think also of the increase in whole/organic foods.

Monday, June 11, 2007


The philosopher Richard Rorty died Friday in Palo Alto. He was 75. In Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979), Rorty argues that epistemology rests on the view that the main function of the mind is to faithfully represent a mind-independent external reality.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Conference list

On goingtomeet you find a dynamic list of econometrics conferences. Here you find a program to the North American Summer Meeting of the Econometrics Society in June.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Whole Foods

There probably has never been so much buzz about the opening of a supermarket.

We went to the new Whole Foods, the natural and organic supermarket, store in Kensington on its opening day. It is quite nice. As you expect it was totally overcrowded. Interestingly all the staff are American, and hence much even more polite than English staff.

Apparently Whole Foods is competing with Waitrose and M&S on the same street.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Left and right

I recently left the public sector to work in the private sector and I have noticed a strange shift in my political interest. When I was a civil servant I was mightily interested in politics because I could understand the background to it. I could see how an economic fact was turned into a political story. Now that I have to work more - good old lazy days - I seem to care less. I would probably read the headlines and believe that that was the truth. What is a political truth anyway?

Only few weeks are between public and private sector and already Westminster appears as an ivory tower far from everyday man's concerns. Maybe that was always the case, I just didn't realise it.

I am confused.


It's a bit ironic that on the same day New Labour has reissued the debate about a new Britishness day, the London olympic committee has published the new un-British 2012 logo. Nothing really makes the logo stand out, or proclaim London. It took almost everyone to figure out what those paperclips actually mean. My bet is they will change it, they still have time.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Attack in Heiligendamm

Four days early G8 adversaries are already fighting on the street. After a long debate how far away the fence should be it seems reasonable that it's not too close, given the unpredictability of the protestors.

But what are they protesting against? .. Capitalism? Wake up. We live in a much more complex world than that.

How can they protest against the heads of states from the very countries the protestors come from. They have a vote, so why they don't propose change in a democratic way?

Interestingly Attac doesn't exist in the UK*, despite it being at the neoliberal forefront.

* only on Jersey

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Björk volta

Björk has published her new album Volta. She remains loyal to her unique style. One of the most popular tracks Earth Intruders is produced by Timbaland. An album which doesn't disappoint.

25 days left

No that's not the title of a new film, but how many days till Tony will step down. It seems like an awfully long time away. I guess every one is getting tired already of the deputy leader competition which stands for ... nothing. About time that things change for ... better.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


Are you currently studying at university or planning to do so, please answer this survey

Only 10 questions, real quick. Thanks a lot.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My carbon foot print

Why did they kill Litvinenko?

The who seems to be firm for many with the CPS ordering Lugovoi's prosecution. But why did they kill Litvinenko? If it was Lugovoi why did he do it? Who did he do it for?

The more I think about it less sense does it make. Did the Russians kill Litvinenko in order to get to Berezovsky? Or did the latter kill him to raise his own profile? Why would they kill him in such a stupid way, leaving lots of traces?

Does is matter that Litvinenko had Chechen friends?

Did Litvinenko know more than he already revealed?

Monday, May 28, 2007


The last days we stayed in Vienna, where we enjoyed beautifully warm weather, much different to the sudden outbreak of autumn in London.

Vienna, although at times provincial and overly expensive, is a nice town with a certain quietness and beauty.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Chinese acquire central European hub

The Chinese company LinkGlobal Logistics has bought an airport in NW Germany for €100mn. This is the first time such a deal happens. They will use the airport for freight and passengers.

US net advertising revenue

Recently I reported on UK internet advertising. Here are some US figures:

The Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers released figures for the full year of 2006. Internet advertising revenues in the US continued upward totaling $16.9 billion in 2006, a new annual record exceeding 2005 by 35%.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Immigration impacts

There is a lot of talk in the UK and US blogosphere on immigration. In 2005 Portes published a DWP paper assessing the impact of Eastern European immigrants on the UK labour market. The results
suggest that the primary impact of A8 migration has been to increase output and total employment, with minimal impact on native workers, although higher levels of accession-worker migration do appear to be associated with small increases in the claimant unemployment count.

I think this should silence some of the critics.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Surge in UK internet advertising

Figures published by the Advertising Association reveal that internet advertising has surpassed 2bn pounds in 2006. This is an increase of 48%. The only other medium which has seen an increase is outdoor advertising. Radio has seen the largest drop with 8%. Overall advertising revenue has stayed constant.

Rufus' new album

Rufus Wrainwright has published his new album. He is hailed by many as the best singer-songwriter of his time. I have to say he sounds very much like Radiohead to me. Still an excellent album.

Wanted: Human machines

Did you ever want to do the work of a computer. On MTurk you can. It is a site which pays you cents for answering queries a computer is too stupid to do.

Nonlinear time series model

Galvao of Queen Mary has proposed a new nonlinear model, combining MIDAS and STAR. MIDAS stands for mixed data sampling and was first proposed by Ghysels. It is a model where the regressors appear at a higher frequency than the regressand. STAR stands for smooth transition AR model, which is a basic switching model.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tribute to greatest Cellist of 20th century

Slava Rostropovich

World's biggest banks

It is quite hard to find recent data on the size of the largest banks in the world. Below is a table I could find, unfortunately it is a bit outdated. Only four of the top 10 banks are non-European. The recent acquisition of UniCredit in Italy will surely bring it into the top 10. The new UniCredit is estimated to have €960bn in assets. A combined Barclays and ABN Amro bank would create another global giant.

Rank Name Country Fiscal Year Total Assets in $B

1 Mizuho Financial Group Japan 3/2004 1,285.7

2 Citigroup United States 12/2003 1,264.0

3 UBS Switzerland 3/2004 1,120.6

4 HSBC United Kingdom 12/2003 1,034.2

5 Deutsche Bank Germany 3/2004 1,014.8

6 Crédit Agricole France 12/2003 992.7

7= BNP Paribas France 12/2003 988.9

7= Mitsubishi Tokyo Japan 3/2004 988.9

9 ING Groep Netherlands 3/2004 983.5

10 Sumitomo Mitsui Japan 3/2004 950.5

Austrian new Siemens CEO

Austrian Peter Löscher who works for Merck will become new Siemens CEO. This decision comes after weeks of speculation after the corruption scandal at Siemens. The appointment of an external manager reveals a new start for the global electronics giant.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

See my items on eBay


One to watch

On 20 June five top private equity executives will appear before the Treasury Committee. This will be a first for such reclusive investors to be questioned by elected officials.

New World Bank Chief

The Times analyses the odds for the new World Bank Chief, Blair comes in at 25-1. I think even if he wanted - which he doesn't - he wouldn't qualify.

Friday, May 18, 2007

SAS conference

The SAS SUGI series has moved to SASGlobalForum. Here you can see the winning papers from the Orlando conference in April. You can download them here.


Today's Economist also features a graph which depicts patents per capita, according to that graph Japan is the most innovative economy, followed by Switzerland, the Scandinavians and Germany. That is all very well, but I doubt that those patents always feed forward into economic growth. I couldn't find Britain in that table though.

Economics data

Today's Economist refers to a new research centre at the University of Groningen EU-KLEMS. The centre has published interesting research on productivity in Europe. The data is accessible for everyone and will - I am sure - inspire a lot of insightful research.

Star spotting

It's pretty amazing how many famous people I saw in London in my short time here. Yesterday I met Andrew Buchan (pic) in a pub, he played in the BBC serial Party Animals. Previously I have met Gascoigne and Lampard in restaurants. Plus I saw Trevor McDonald in the tube.

Don't get me wrong I am not stalking them.

Update: I asked Andrew then, they are not going to continue Party Animals.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Replay your visitors' route

RobotReplay has developed a new tool which lets you track the route of online visitors, just like a customer going through the shelves in a supermarket. The question is if there is added value in this. As a response webmasters might make navigation easier, but the main stats about access of certain sites seems just as useful.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The recruitment market

Demos - the British think-tank- has published a report on recruitment and its future. They find that the
traditional divide between extremely personalised recruitment for highly skilled jobs and relatively standardised recruitment processes for low-skilled jobs looks set to close in the coming years. A combination of new expectations and new opportunities, we suggest, will drive a more personalised approach across the spectrum.

Chinese bubble

This is what they are all worried about. In about a year the Shanghai Index rose from around mid-1000 to over 4000, a two-and-a-half increase. The increase is clearly explained by the large trading volumes.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Need help with econometrics in London?

Please see what I can offer.

Transition slides

The other day I found an entry to a presentation which I gave in my final year at Essex, about economic transition in Russia. The slides now went to Reading.

Brand perception and purchasing behaviour

The Marketing Week has published its most recent BrandIndex for the UK. The top UK brand is google, followed by amazon and many food brands. Earlier a retailer consultancy published its top 100 grocery brands. I wanted to see if there is actually an overlap in the brand perception and purchasing behaviour. While people’s perceptions about certain brands might change on a daily basis, they are probably unlikely to switch away from routinely purchased products.

I matched the top 100 of both series but found only 24 brands matching each other. This is suprising. It is strange that the BrandIndex misses the top grocery brand Coca-Cola, and Nescafe and Andrex which are the sixth and seventh most purchased brand. Nevertheless I derived the correlation between the sales rank, sales annual change, the BrandIndex rank, and the change in the BrandIndex. There is a strong correlation between change in sales and change in brand perception. This leads us to the conclusion that brand index rankings are less meaningful than the changes in brand perception.

However, all the correlations drop once I exclude Innocent which has seen amazing sales and brand growth.

sales rank

sales yoy change

BrandIndex rank

brand yoy change

sales rank


sales yoy change



BrandIndex rank




brand yoy change





Sunday, May 13, 2007

New 7 Wonders of the World

On this website you can vote for the New 7 Wonders of the World. Among them the pyramids in Giza, Neuschwanstein, Eiffel tower, Taj Mahal. The winners will be announced on the 7/7. I am failing to understand what is so new about these sites, especially since Stonehenge is part of it. I though we already had the UNESCO trademark to mark important sites.

Plebicism vs controlism

Gordon Brown talks about giving power back to the people and ultimately the parliament. How does this weigh up against his legacy as a control maniac? Is is it to show that he can change and will be a more accountable PM than Tony Blair? Or is the plebicist move just an illusion?

Robinson Conference attracts big names in econometrics

In late May a small conference in honour of LSE Professor Peter Robinson on time series and other topics will present speakers auch as Phillips and Andrews of Yale, and Newey of MIT.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Gordon's campaign

Gordon Brown's new campaign website lists Britain's challenges. If they are in the order of priority Brown will concentrate on inner issues such as education and health. The big question which new policies henenvisages to prusue in these areas. Green and security issues are towards the bottom of the list.

  • Britain number one for education
  • An NHS that earns the trust of patients and staff
  • More affordable housing
  • Every child the best start in life
  • Stronger, safer, more cohesive communities
  • Tackling climate change
  • Better work-life balance
  • The challenge of terrorism and security
  • Nils Wogram

    Nils Wogram is an upcoming new German jazz trombonist. The 34 year old was born in Braunschweig. You can listen to some of his tracks on his website.

    In the video on his website you see/hear him use multiphonics.

    Mangelsdorff - Godfather of German jazz

    Trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff was the godfather of German jazz. Here are a few clips.

    Another clip can be seen here.

    Thursday, May 10, 2007

    Who is Gordon

    The news of Blair's departure is so old that's it's almost not worth speaking about anymore. Yet many non-Brits will ask who is Gordon Brown. Well, here is a short guide to Gordon: he is a 56 year old Scot, his sign is Pisces. According to Wikipedia:

    Individuals born under this sign are thought to be tolerant, dreamy, romantic, humorous, generous, emotional, receptive, affectionate, and have an honest character, but are also prone to exaggeration, fickleness, passiveness, hypersensitivity, and paranoia.
    Gordon is not tolerant, can be humorous but shows it only once per year, is certainly not generous - how can he be as a chancellor, keeps his emotions inside although they crop up frequently, is not receptive, can be affectionate, loves other people's honesty, is not fickle but stubborn, can be too passive, can be hypersensitive, and is most of all paranoid. He was once compared to Stalin, but that doesn't do him justice. His most portrayed feature is his constant envy for people in front of him - most notably Tony Blair.

    Gordon is the son of a preacher and has only eye one left, he has developed a suite of mannerisms which annoy many. He loves the word prudence. He likes to think that he 'runs' the economy.

    Wednesday, May 09, 2007

    M&A in the UK

    The ONS has published some new data on M&A involving the UK. There was an downward trend in Q1 of 2007. This is quite surprising given the large array of M&A in the press. My explanation is that they have to revise that figure and Q2 will show an upward trend again.

    Tuesday, May 08, 2007

    Bayesian stats

    The current issue of Statistica Sinica is devoted to Bayesian statistics. Xiao-Li Meng claims the dawn of a new Bayesian century. That might apply in China, but in the rest of the world the Bayesian revolution is underway already.

    Monday, May 07, 2007

    Family busines in Germany

    The FT Germany has published a table with the top 500 family businesses in Germany, sorted by revenue. Here you see the top 10. The top four should be known to everyone. Sal. Oppenheim is a private bank. Tengelmann is another retailer, like Lidl. Franz Haniel has a wide portfolio of pharmy, industry, logistics. Celesio is actually partly owned by Franz Haniel. INA-Schaeffler is a supplier for the car industry. Finally, Bertelsman is a media company. Together the top 500 have a revenue of €743bn and employ 3.26 million people.

    Sunday, May 06, 2007

    More people vote for Idol than for President

    135 million people voted in the recent American Idol contest. In the 2004 presidential election only 57% of the electorate, that is 122 million people voted. Probably they should run the next presidential election as a call-in, or presidential candidates should apply to Idol directly.

    Blairites succumb to Brown - Reid to go

    Major Blairites succumb to Brown before he becomes PM next week. Clarke and Reid are not going to stand for the party leadership and Reid will resign as Home Secretary, reports. It seems that Brown's strategy to shy away from confrontation has succeeded as Blairites run out of steam.

    Saturday, May 05, 2007

    Sarah Chang in the Barbican

    We heard American Korean violinsit Sarah Chang in the Barbican performing Shostakovitch. It was a truely magnificient performance. Chang played the piece with such force that the audience was in awe. Midway she had to change her bow because the first was losing its horsehair.

    My 1000th visitor

    My blog just received the 1000th hit, from someone in the Philippines, in the Mandarin hotel (provider) using Windows XP. Ironically, he might also be the first person ever from the Philippines, visiting my site.

    Everyone against Google

    Google is the new Microsoft, except it's not really selling anything. Many people nowadays argue against the google information monopoly. runs a campaign against google, obviously promoting its own search engine in Che-Guevara-style. Football leagues and media conglomerates are suing Google daughter YouTube. Ironically, Microsoft and yahoo are teaming up against google. Even Murdoch is building his own front. What do they have against google?

    On the face of it google is just a search engine, with some added features. Everyone can choose which search engine s/he uses. I use it all the time, because it gets me the best results. Yes, there are cases in which google's search engine can be manipulated, but which search engine is perfect? What does perfect mean in this sense anyway? An example, searching for my own blog wouldn't give me the result. Are they exluding blogspot, because it belongs to google? That would be true hipocrisy given their marketing campaign.

    Look at, which is a free Office program which you can use from anywhere in the world. If used properly it can save us hundreds of dollars or pounds.

    The case with Microsoft was different. Whenever I bought a PC, I had to pay for Windows as well. With google I don't pay for anything. I even might earn some money by joining adSense.

    Who owns the oil

    Commonly when we read about oil companies we think of Shell and BP. But the biggest oil and gas companies are actually state owned. Their reserves belittle those of listed companies. The biggest reserves are held by Saudi Aramco, followed by NIOC (Iran) and Qatar Petroleum. Russia's Gazprom makes it into sixth place. The biggest listed company is ExxonMobil.

    Good bye Lenin?

    Alberto Alesina and Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln look at the attitudes towards the state in the paper Good bye Lenin (or not?): The effect of Communism on people's preferences.

    They use the post-unification GSOEP to look at how West Germans' and East Germans' answer to state intervention can be explained by age/cohort and other variables. They find that East Germans are much more pro-state. This comes as no surprise as a simple look at votes would reveal. They also estimate that it will take two generations for opinions to converge.

    Thursday, May 03, 2007


    Recently a colleague of mine told me how he read about corporate corruption in Germany and its involvement in economic success. I asked him whether he believed any society could actually work without corruption.

    Don’t get me wrong I hate corruption. I find it extremely unfair and sometimes inefficient. But I might hold that opinion because I am not on the receiving end.

    Using CIA and transparency international data I regress log GDP per capita at PPP on a transparency score. As you can see richer countries are less corrupt, but the benefits of non-corruption at the top end are diminishing.

    The problem with over-zealous countries is that they impose bureaucracies which are highly inefficient. Also corruption depends on the size of a state. More centralist states are a priori more transparent.

    Let's face it corruption starts with the networks in which promotion depends on who you know.

    What is it about hardboiled characters and classical music?

    I am just reading another Chandler/Marlowe novel and researching on Marlowe I find that he likes classical music. Well, that's funny because Wallander in Mankell's mysteries also likes it, and so does Peter Temple's character in The Broken Shore - which I didn't finish since it's too boring. Why do crime writers imagine that detectives would like classical music? Is it to make them look more subtle and interesting? Is it because the authors like that music themselves? Even Charles Bukowsky in one of his trash novels describes his passion for Bach on the radio. Maybe these characters are all a bit outdated, maybe a hip detective today ought to listen to the Arctic Monkeys on his ipod?

    Wednesday, May 02, 2007

    Singapore has the fastest walkers

    British researchers have measured the speed of walking in the world's capitals. People in Singapore need 10.6 seconds for the 60 feet. London comes out at 12, whereas Berlin is seventh. This is suprising since London strikes me as much more hectic than Berlin, but then maybe Berliners have longer legs and are thus faster, or Londoners are constantly drunk and hence a bit slow.

    Wolfowitz memo

    Ken Rogoff published Wolfowitz memo to World Bank officials. In the memo he calls bets on his resignation insider trading. I have to say either Wolfowitz has a lot of humour or the letter is fake.

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    How could German pollsters get it so wrong?

    I have analysed UKPollingReport data for the months before the general election in Germany in 2005. According to the polls the CDU should have got around 42% of the vote whereas it actually got 35.2% just ahead of the SPD’s 34.3%.

    According to my regressions Emnid and Infratest under-estimate the projection for the CDU, which would mean that their projections are actually closer to reality. Emnid works with the ARD, whereas Infratest works with N24. This regression controls for the time trend. Forsa, which works with the conservative magazine stern overpredicted the CDU share of the vote even more.

    One reason seems to be that some people switched from CDU to FDP, which was under-predicted. Another observation is that over the months we see a declining share for other parties (except the main five) among the polls, whereas in reality this is about 4%.

    Blog stats



    Here are two pie charts of people visiting my website by country. In both months the US comes out at top. The share of UK has droped from 29 to 22%. Germany has actually increasesd. Australia has replaced China.

    Immigration impact in Britain

    NEP Unemployment, Inequality and Poverty lists three interesting papers on immigration in the UK
    • Immigrants in the British Labour Market by Christian Dustmann; Francesca Fabbri
    • The Impact of Immigration on the Structure of Male Wages: Theory and Evidence from Britain by Marco Manacorda; Alan Manning; Jonathan Wadsworth
    • Return Migration: Theory and Empirical Evidence by Christian Dustmann; Yoram Weiss