Set 6 (2013)  Foliage Photographs Featuring Ben Plummer's Visit
to New Hampshire (2009) and Zimbabwe (2013)


Tidbits on October 15, 2013
Bob Jensen

For earlier editions of Tidbits go to
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to 

Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at

Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures ---   

Bob Jensen's Threads ---

Bob Jensen's Home Page is at

Facebook is perhaps the ultimate example of the old, wise saying: If you aren’t paying for a product, then you ARE the product
Comparisons of Antivirus Software ---

Based upon this analysis I chose F-Secure

The Cult of Statistical Significance: How Standard Error Costs Us Jobs, Justice, and Lives ---

How Accountics Scientists Should Change: 
"Frankly, Scarlett, after I get a hit for my resume in The Accounting Review I just don't give a damn"
One more mission in what's left of my life will be to try to change this 

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ---

More of Bob Jensen's Pictures and Stories

Online Video, Slide Shows, and Audio
In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---

Richard Dawkins and Jon Stewart Debate Whether Science or Religion Will Destroy Civilization --- Click Here
Why not politicians?

Watch World War II Rage Across Europe in a 7 Minute Time-Lapse Film: Every Day From 1939 to 1945 ---

Actually sort of boring
Watch Ten of the Greatest Silent Films of All Time (All Free Online) ---

Not Boring
Juggler Alexander Koblikov ---

The Nutcracker ---

Free music downloads ---

R. Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country Features 114 Illustrations of the Artist’s Favorite Musicians ---

Statistics Explained Through Modern Dance: A New Way of Teaching a Tough Subject ---

Debussy’s Clair de lune: The Classical Music Visualization with 21 Million Views ---

Watch Lovebirds Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman Sing “Makin’ Whoopee!” Live ---

Violinist Nigel Kennedy Joins Young Palestinian Musicians for an Exotic Version of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons ---

94-Year-Old Pete Seeger Sings “This Land is Your Land” at Farm Aid ---

Willie Nelson, Pete Seeger, and Arlo Guthrie at Occupy Wall Street

House of Earth: Hear Woody Guthrie’s Lost Novel, Published by Johnny Depp, as an Audio Book

17-Year-Old Joan Baez Performs at Famous “Club 47″ in Cambridge, MA (1958)

Woody Guthrie’s Fan Letter To John Cage and Alan Hovhaness (1947)

Alan Lomax’s Music Archive Houses Over 17,400 Folk Recordings From 1946 to the 1990s

Web outfits like Pandora, Foneshow, Stitcher, and Slacker broadcast portable and mobile content that makes Sirius look overpriced and stodgy ---

Pandora (my favorite online music station) ---
(online music site) ---
Slacker (my second-favorite commercial-free online music site) ---

Gerald Trites likes this international radio site ---
Songza:  Search for a song or band and play the selection ---
Also try Jango ---
Sometimes this old guy prefers the jukebox era (just let it play through) ---
And I listen quite often to Soldiers Radio Live ---
Also note
U.S. Army Band recordings ---

Bob Jensen's threads on nearly all types of free music selections online ---

Photographs and Art

Print by Print: Series from Dürer to Lichtenstein (Printmaking History) ---

Multiple Interpretations: Contemporary Prints in Portfolio at The New York Public Library ---

The Secret Museum: Van Gogh’s Never-Before-Seen Sketchbooks ---

Pennell Photography Collection (6,000 photos from the 1920s)---

The Hindenburg Unseen Photos ---

40 Gorgeous Pictures Of Brooklyn In 1974 ---

45 Vintage Photos Of Manhattan In The 1940s ---

New York in Black and White (1800s and early 1900s) ---

1940s NYC in Color ---

Ford's Assembly Line Turns 100 Today — Here's What It Looked Like In 1913 ---

Iron Range Research Center Archival Collections (Minnesota) ---

20 Surprisingly Beautiful Tiny Homes ---

Blanche Payne Regional Costume Photograph and Drawing Collection ---

From the University of Washington
Fashion Plate Collection (women's fashions in history) ---

Texas Fashion Collection ---

Worth & Mainbocher (fashion design) ---

Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations (fashion and costumes) ---

AIA Chicago (architecture) ---

Canadian Pacific Railway Collection (Photographs) ---

Bob Jensen's threads on history, literature and art ---

Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---

The Complete Wizard of Oz Series, Available as Free eBooks and Free Audio Books ---

Pride and Prejudice Translated into Academiotics (and More Fun with Scholarly Jargon) ---
Jensen Comment
I find little difference between academiotics and lawyer language.

Abraham Lincoln, Slavery, and the Civil War: A Collection of Digitized Books ---,%20Slavery,%20and%20the%20Civil%20War:%20A%20Collection%20of%20Digitized%20Books

Crash Course on Literature: Watch John Green’s Fun Introductions to Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye & Other Classics --- Click Here

The Odd Habits and Curious Customs of Famous Writers ---

Honoré de Balzac Writes About “The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee,” and His Epic Coffee Addiction ---
10 Nasty Things Drinking Too Much Coffee Does To You ---

Virginia Woolf Writes About Joyce’s Ulysses, “Never Did Any Book So Bore Me,” and Quits at Page 200 ---

The James Merrill Digital Archive Lets You Explore the Creative Life of a Great American Poet ---

Jean Genet, France’s Outlaw Poet, Revealed in a Rare 1981 Interview ---

Read 12 Short Stories From Nobel Prize-Winning Writer Alice Munro Free Online ---

Free Electronic Literature ---
Free Online Textbooks, Videos, and Tutorials ---
Free Tutorials in Various Disciplines ---
Edutainment and Learning Games ---
Open Sharing Courses ---

Now in Another Tidbits Document
Political Quotations on October 15, 2013      

The booked National Debt in September 2013 actually went over $18.8 trillion although it may be shown lower below--- 
U.S. National Debt Clock ---
Also see

Peter G. Peterson Website on Deficit/Debt Solutions ---

Bob Jensen's health care messaging updates ---

"CONVERSATION WITH BOB JENSEN," by Joe Hoyle, Teaching Blog, October 8, 2013 ---

Related Links:

Bob Jensen's threads on education technology and learning theory --- 
Bob Jensen's threads on listservs, blogs, and social networking ---


Bob Jensen's Threads on Shared Open Courseware (OCW) from Around the World: OKI, MIT, Rice, Berkeley, Yale, and
Other Sharing Universities (OKI. MOOCs, SMOCs, etc.)-


Bob Jensen's threads on Higher Education Controversies ---


Bob Jensen's Home Page ---

From Hapless to Helped
"autodidacts disadvantaged by distance" (Don't you love love alliteration as a memory aid?)  In the quotations below, contrast and compare the impact of the interactive Internet and ebullient email on evolving education from 1858 versus 2001.  

The Year 1858

When the University of London instituted correspondence courses in 1858, the first university to do so, its students (typically expatriates in what were then the colonies of Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, and South Africa), discovered the programme by word of mouth and wrote the university to enrol.  the university then despatched, by post-and-boat, what today we would call the course outline, a set of previous examination papers and a list of places around the world where examinations were conducted.  It left any "learning" to the hapless student, who sat the examination whenever he or she felt ready:  a truly "flexible" schedule!  this was the first generation of distance education (Tabsall and Ryan, 1999):  "independent" learning for highly motivated and resourceful autodidacts disadvantaged by distance. (Page 71)
Yoni Ryan who wrote Chapter 5 of
The Changing Faces of Virtual Education --- 
Dr. Glen Farrell, Study Team Leader and Editor
The Commonwealth of Learning

"Desire2Learn Enters MOOC Market as It Updates Its Platform," by Hannah Winston, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 8, 2013 ---

Bob Jensen's Threads on Shared Open Courseware (OCW) from Around the World: OKI, MIT, Rice, Berkeley, Yale, and
Other Sharing Universities (OKI. MOOCs, SMOCs, etc.)---

"How to Recover Files From a Dead Computer," by Chris Hoffman, How-to Geek, September 2013 ---

"Beginner Geek: Everything You Need to Know About Disabling Startup Programs on Windows," How-to Geek, October 4, 2013 ---

Jensen Comment
Eliminating startup programs that come with a new computer is different than deleting malware that starts up unwanted programs later on. Generally I do not like to tinker with the Registry on my computer such that when eliminating malware I generally defer to tech pros. Fortunately, my F-Secure protection software pops up a window asking me if I really want to open a potentially dangerous bit of software that I did not ask for in the first place. I always say no I don't want to execute software I did not ask for in the first place.

"How Can I Download an Entire Web Site?" by Jason Fitzpatrick, How-to Geek, October 3, 2013 ---

"10 Things Most People Forget To Write Off On Their Taxes," by Kay Bell, Business Insider, October 2, 2013 ---
Hit the slide show arrows.

Renewed Accusations of Plagiarism by Arianna Huffington
"Blast from the Past," by Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, October 14, 2013 ---

Arianna Huffington is set to appear at the University of Virginia this week to meditate on its famed “lawn” with spiritualist Deepak Chopra. But a petition started by a former graduate student there calls for Huffington’s invitation to be rescinded, citing allegations that she once plagiarized a revered professor’s work.

“We are outraged that Ms. Huffington would come to very university that employed an esteemed professor of art history, the late Dr. Lydia Csató Gasman, whose original and groundbreaking scholarship on Picasso was plagiarized by Huffington,” the petition reads. “We hereby request that in deference to the legacy and memory of Professor Gasman who taught in the McIntire Department of Art and Art History for over 20 years, and in light of the fact that Ms. Huffington's actions were in breach of the Honor Code, Ms. Huffington be informed of this error in judgment, and therefore uninvited.”

Kimberlee Cloutier-Blazzard, a Boston-area writer and adjunct professor of art history who last taught at Simmons College, and who is A.B.D. from Virginia, started the petition late last week. She hopes to garner 1,000 signatures by Tuesday, when Huffington is set to visit.

In an e-mail, Cloutier-Blazzard said: “There are many former students, colleagues, and friends of Professor Gasman who remember the plagiarism incident when it occurred, and its effects on Professor Gasman, and are astounded that U.Va. would bring Ms. Huffington to grounds.”

Along with petition, the former student and others involved in the matter sent formal letters to President Teresa Sullivan and various faculty leaders.

The plagiarism allegations date back to 1988, and the publication of Huffington’s Picasso: Creator and Destroyer. Gasman, who had all but published a four-volume thesis on Picasso, already available on file in typescript, accused Huffington of stealing many of her ideas.

The incident is detailed in a 1994 profile on Huffington and her then-husband, Michael Huffington, in Vanity Fair: It alleges that Huffington heavily borrowed from Gasman's then-novel ideas about Picasso's relationships with women and other matters.

"On the eve of publication of Arianna’s Picasso biography, according to Gasman and her husband, Daniel, Arianna started calling them,” the article says. “She also sent Gasman a letter saying that she had quoted her and that ‘each quote is fully attributed in the Source Notes in the back of the book.’ When Gasman received the book, she was in Israel tending her sick mother, and she gave it only a cursory once-over. She sent Arianna a note. Later, however, after Gasman had given Picasso a more careful reading — it cites her only twice in the source notes, and not at all in the acknowledgments — she was horrified. ‘What she did was steal 20 years of my work.’”

In the piece, Picasso biographer John Richardson says that Huffington used Gasman’s thesis like a “kind of dictionary,” “systematically cannibalizing” her thesis.

Lyn Bolen Warren, a former student of Gasman's to whom she left her manuscripts, co-founded a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and publishing the professor's work, the Lydia Csato Gasman Archives for Picasso and Modernist Studies. She said the incident occurred during her time at Virginia.

"I clearly remember how incensed Professor Gasman was because she had spent decades gathering the information and discoveries in her thesis and [Huffington] just 'lifted' the whole parts, and yet she used what she stole in an abhorrent way emphasizing not what Gasman had found to be true about Picasso but instead played up an evil side of Picasso," Warren said via e-mail. "So she not only stole, she manipulated the material in ways opposite from Gasman's for dramatic effect."

Gasman, who died in 2010, is quoted as having told Huffington she was an “intellectual kleptomaniac,” who allegedly asked to settle the matter with her financially -- which Huffington denies.

Huffington was not quoted in the Vanity Fair article. She denied the allegations in a 2008 New Yorker profile.

Chopra and Huffington are guests of the university’s new Contemplative Sciences Center. In a news release about the appearance, David Germano, the center’s director, said the event was scheduled for a reading day so that students can benefit from the positive effects of meditation.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on celebrities who plagiarized ---


"Kindle Fire HDX: A More Helpful Tablet (The 7-Inch Model Has a Mayday Button, but Isn't as Versatile as Rivals) ---
by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2013 ---

What if you could summon a tech-support person to pop up in seconds in a live video on your digital device? And what if that person could draw on the screen or even take over the device to solve a problem?

Well, starting Oct. 18, you can do just that with the latest in Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet line, the Kindle Fire HDX. This help system, called the Mayday button, is the most unusual feature of what is otherwise a mainly evolutionary new model of the company's color tablets.

A better help system isn't exactly the prime reason to buy a new tablet. After all, tablets are supposed to be simple and easy to figure out. But Mayday is consistent with Amazon's long, well-earned reputation for customer support.

I've been testing the Fire HDX, and it's a good, basic color tablet. This latest model, which starts at $229 for the 7-inch-screen version I used, is a definite improvement on last year's Fire HD, which started at $199 for the 7-inch version. (There's also a costlier, larger HDX version, with an 8.9-inch screen.)

Like earlier Fire models, it's best thought of as a hardware gateway to buying digital content from Amazon. The base model blasts ads at you from the home screen, but you can buy one without ads for $15 more.

However, the 7-inch Fire HDX, like its predecessor, still isn't as versatile or full-featured as rival tablets, like Apple's AAPL +0.63% iPad Mini or Google's GOOG +1.45% Nexus 7. It offers only a fraction of the third-party apps available from the Apple or Google app stores. Among the missing are such popular offerings as Instagram, Dropbox, Google Maps, YouTube and Netflix (Amazon says a Netflix app is coming soon).

Unlike the Mini or the Nexus, the 7-inch Fire HDX lacks a rear camera, so you can't easily show your surroundings to others during a video chat (the bigger model has a rear camera).

And the HDX has no equivalent to its rivals' voice-controlled, artificial intelligence features, Apple's Siri and Google Now.

And the Fire HDX turned in a so-so battery life of 7½ hours that, while better than the 6 hours of the latest Nexus 7, paled before the iPad Mini's 10 hours and 27 minutes. (I used my standard test where I set the screen to 75% brightness, keep the Wi-Fi on and play videos stored on the tablet until the battery dies.)

So, what makes the new Kindle HDX better than the last model? Well, it has a gorgeous, high-resolution screen that displays 323 pixels per inch, the same as the latest, $229 Nexus 7, but much higher than the $329 iPad Mini's 163 ppi (though the Mini's screen is significantly larger, at 7.9 inches). The screen also was a bit more readable in sunlight than the iPad's. The Fire HDX has a faster processor that has eliminated the latency I encountered when testing last year's model.

The Fire HDX has a new operating system and some cool new features. The home screen still has a carousel to show recently used apps, songs, books and videos, but below that there's now a standard grid of icons for favorite apps and you can hide the carousel if you find it distracting. There's also a new sidebar for quickly switching among running apps. This appears when you swipe from the edge of the screen.

Perhaps my favorite new feature is called X-Ray for Music, which shows synchronized lyrics to the song you're playing. So far, it's only available on "tens of thousands" of Amazon's 25 million songs, starting with the newest and most popular. But I found scattered cases in songs going back to the 1970s and enjoyed using it.

The Fire HDX is slimmer and lighter than last year's model, and has tapered edges. But there's a downside to this design. Because the tapered edges are narrow, the volume and power buttons have been moved to the back of the tablet. I found them clumsy and slow to use.

Like its predecessors, the Fire HDX is technically an Android tablet that buries Android so it's invisible. The HDX lacks any hint of Google's Android interface, the standard Google apps that come on most Android devices and the standard Android app store, Google Play. Instead it uses an Amazon operating system now called Fire OS 3.0.

Amazon has its own app store for the Fire HDX and it contains 85,000 apps, compared with roughly a million each in the Google and Apple app stores.

The Mayday help button worked mostly as advertised, though I got little useful help, partly because Amazon is training a large number of support people and few have much experience yet with the new HDX.

Continued in article

Should Joe and Susan get their house back free and clear or be forced out in anticipation of a million dollar settlement after defaulting on their mortgage?
The Complicated Chaos of Measuring Impairment Losses on Tens of Millions of Poisoned Mortgage Loans "Maybe" Backed by Real Estate Collateral

"Accounting Scholarship that Advances Professional Knowledge and Practice," by Robert Kaplan, The Accounting Review, March 2011, Volume 86, Issue 2) Page 377
(the Presidential Scholar Plenary Speech given by Harvard's Bob Kaplan at the 2009 American Accounting Association Annual Meetings):

. . .

Let us explore the state of the art today on determining fair values for financial instruments, which are, by far, the simplest applications for fair value measurements. The traditional accounting approach of using contemporary market prices works well for assets that trade continually in thick markets. For assets that are not actively traded, banks advocate and accounting educators teach the discounted cash flow approach, using the interest rate at the time the financial asset was issued. While current accounting standards require that impairments in these assets get recognized, most banks argue against recognizing impairments as long as debtors continue to make payments. This leads to nontraded or thinly traded financial assets being carried at historical cost or terminal value . Wachovia, and other banks, resisted fair value reporting of their financial assets by classifying them into their “held-to-maturity” portfolios, a classification that defies economic substance except in a highly restricted case. Wachovia in July 2008, reported $75 billion in share- holders’ equity, even after taking “modest” impairments of more than $10 billion during the previous 12 months in its more than $300 billion loan portfolio valued at historical cost . Yet less than three months later, the bank had failed, and its acquirer, Wells Fargo, wrote down Wachovia’s asset loan position by an additional $74 billion. This incident, and many others at the time, reveals a major shortcoming in the contemporary financial reporting framework. The deterministic is counted cash flow model is not adequate for estimating the fair values of risky financial assets. And, sadly, the ability to estimate fair values of thinly traded financial assets has existed for decades.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
CPA auditors failed us by allowing massive overstatements of bank assets and earnings of over a thousand failing banks in 2008, including Wachovia mentioned above by Bob Kaplan.
The audit firms' clients failed to realistically estimate investment losses while the loan and collateral markets were so thin or even nonexistent for poisoned mortgages (loans to home owners that were certain to default on homes that soon would only sell for pennies on the dollar far below what they cost) that computing financial investment impairment losses became fantasy estimates. For a time some homes could not be given away because they were not worth, at least temporarily,  the multiple-year property taxes and maintenance that must be paid before a buyer could be found.When banks like Wachovia declared such fraudulent (poisoned) investments would be held-to-maturity (HTM) this was a big lie since default ownership (or so it was thought) the collateral and resale was inevitable.

I agree with Bob Kaplan that the poisoned mortgages should have been written down with massive impairment losses recognized before the banks failed. Investors should have been warned in financial statements about these losses before they read the banks' bankruptcy notices in the local papers.

But the issue is not whether the impairment losses are recognized as bad debt writeoffs as amortized historical cost bites (as in HTM financial instruments) or adjustment bites to fair value carrying amounts (as in AFS financial instruments that at times were worthless). In either of these two impairment loss calculation approaches the fair values of the loan collateral had to be estimated --- which meant trying to appraise housing values in situations where there was no longer a poisoned mortgage market or a collateral real estate market following the bursting of the real estate bubble in 2007. At the bottom of the real estate market these formerly expensive homes were not worth what it would cost to pay their property taxes and maintenance. The problem was that CPA auditors of banks did not insist on such massive impairment charges however computed before the mortgage holders failed.

Example of a Worthless AFS Mortgage Investment
The problem was not write downs in fair values versus historical cost loan loss setting up of contra loan loss amounts with the loan losses being charged to bad debt expense. The problem was that the auditors allowed their clients to understate loan loss estimates computed by whatever means in the burst real estate market. Any type of impairment loss in this case boiled down to estimation of what the real estate collateral was worth of failed loans in a miserable real estate market with no recovery in sight.


Marvene Halterman, an unemployed elderly Arizona woman with a long history of creditors, welfare, and food stamps, took out a $103,000 mortgage on her above 576 square-foot shack in early 2007. Within a year she stopped making payments and drove off in her new $60,000 truck purchased with her loan proceeds. After she moved out neighbors bought the shack for $10,000 and tore it down. The hapless bank that purchased her mortgage from the criminal mortgage broker (Michael T. Asher from Integrity Funding LLC) eventually ate the loss of over $90,000 that was primarily caused by a fraudulent Mr. Asher who issued the mortgage to Marvene and then sold  the mortgage to that sucker bank for cash ---


But the story gets worse.
The initiators of those fraudulent poisoned mortgages were criminal mortgage lenders like Countrywide, Washington Mutual, Ameriquest and thousands of lesser-known mortgage brokers who sold this poisoned paper up the sales chain to Wachovia, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Bros., Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mack, etc. who, in turn, tried to lace CDO bonds with portions of this poisoned paper.  But the CDO attempt failed because most of the CDO bonds were sold with recourse such that the junk simply was returned to the investment banks Merrill Lynch who begged for the U.S. Government to pay off the buyers of those hopeless CDO bonds. And the government did so to the tune of over a $1 trillion swindle:

Greatest Swindle in the History of the World ---

PBS Frontline:  Why don't some of biggest fraudsters in history go to prison?
"The Untouchables," Frontline, January 22, 2013 ---

Then when Wachovia, Merrill Lynch, and the like failed the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, Hank Paulsen,  forced the prosperous larger banks like Bank of America and Wells Fargo to acquire some of the failed investment banks like Merrill Lynch and criminal lenders like Countrywide, e.g., Paulsen made hard threats, actually extortion, to a reluctant Bank of America to acquire Merrill Lynch and thereby Paulsen dumped billions upon billions of dollars of poisoned mortgages on Bank of America that really did not previously own poisoned mortgages until the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury forced all those poisoned mortgages onto Bank of America's books.

"Bank Chief Tells of U.S. Pressure to Buy Merrill Lynch," by Louise Story and Jo Becker, The New York Times, June 11. 2009 ---

. . .

Bank of America announced its deal with Merrill in September, as financial markets were seizing up and Lehman Brothers fell to its knees. But Mr. Lewis grew less certain once the bank discovered that Merrill’s finances were worse than imagined, and considered pulling out of the deal.

On Thursday, Mr. Lewis maintained that federal officials pressured him to keep the merger alive, and acknowledged that his job had been at risk if he did not. But he resisted lawmakers’ efforts to characterize the situation as a threat. And he backed away from earlier statements in which he suggested that Mr. Bernanke and Mr. Paulson had urged him not to reveal Merrill’s troubling state before the merger was sealed, calling them “two honorable people” who had “good intentions.”

“It’s important to remember that we have heard only one side of the story today,” said Edolphus Towns, a Democrat from New York who heads the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which held the hearing. But, he said, “the regulators and financial institutions seemed to be making up the rules as they went along.”

For a merger once hailed as the way forward for Wall Street, the backstory keeps getting messier. The bank’s executives, including Mr. Lewis, face continued scrutiny from regulators and pressure from shareholders.

And Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke, who thought preserving a deal would keep markets calm in the thick of the financial crisis, are being questioned on whether they pressured a company’s executives into ignoring their duty to their shareholders.

According to notes taken by Bank of America executives to record their conversations with regulators at the time, Timothy F. Geithner, now the secretary of the Treasury, and Lawrence H. Summers, currently the president’s lead economics adviser, were also aware of the effort to seal a merger as the Bush administration prepared a transition to the incoming administration of Barack Obama.

Mr. Lewis, for instance, typed up notes from a phone call he had on Dec. 31 with Mr. Bernanke on the subject of the merger. According to the notes, which were provided to the Congressional committee by Bank of America, Mr. Bernanke told him: “Geithner, Summers and Paulson up to date. Geithner would like to see what is done as a template for the industry.”

Continued in article

Although a few investment banks like Lehman Bros. were not saved by Hank Paulsen, most like Merrill Lynch were saved by forced buyouts by banks who did not realize that the poisoned mortgages that they bought may not even be owned after the purchase (see below). Wachovia was sucked up by Wells Fargo along with its billions in poisoned mortgage investments.


But the story gets even worse.
Along with all this shuffling of hundreds of billions in fraudulent poisoned mortgages from Main Street to Wall Street and the accounting coverups along the way, much of the original paper signed by hopeless (could-never-pay) homeowners was also lost. In other words, when Joe and Susan Smith signed a $500,000 subprime mortgage in 2004 intending to flip their house for a profit in four years (with no hope on their income of $70,000 per year of paying off that mortgage) the piece of paper they signed got lost by Countrywide or Merrill Lynch or Bank of America or whomever. Nobody can belatedly find the original mortgage signed by Joe and Susan Smith!

When the real estate market crashed in 2007 Joe and Susan Smith had no hope flipping their 2004 home for anywhere close to what they owed on their subprime mortgage. Instead they would have to sell for pennies on the dollar if they could even sell for pennies to reluctant potential buyers who did not want to take on their property taxes. Instead they decided to simply become squatters in their own home and make no more payments of their mortgage as it worked its way up from Countrywide to Merrill Lynch to Bank of America. They did not even pay the property taxes that were paid by whatever bank thought it owned their mortgage.

It gets even better for the Smiths because the banks who thought they owned the Smith mortgage continued to pay the Smith home property taxes.

Eventually, Bank of America or Wells Fargo or whomever "owned" the Smith' mortgage wanted to send the local sheriff to Joe and Susan and their kids out of their house because they were no longer making any mortgage payments. This proved difficult, however, without a copy of the original signed mortgage. When the eviction case wound up in court, the lawyer for Joe and Susan Smith demanded to see the original loan that they signed. Sadly for the banks, much of the original paper got incinerated (unintentionally) or shredded when the offices of Countrywide and the other fraudsters were hurriedly emptied out for that failed company.

It's currently estimated that about 50% of the foreclosed homes are still occupied by the borrowers who are squatting in those homes and making no loan payments or property tax payments because the banks cannot find their original mortgage papers.
The banks are still paying the property taxes while hoping the courts will resolve this enormous problem.

The net results include the following:

Is it ethical for Joe and Susan Smith to receive an enormous settlement just because the banking system let their original mortgage papers accidentally go up in smoke or be shredded? It's up to the courts to decide, and until then CPA auditors will have an enormous problem valuing financial instruments (mortgage investments) that the banks may or may not own depending upon contingency court decisions on tens of millions of non-paying squatters now living in their own homes and former squatters who are trying to cash in the the legal lottery for damages, pain, and suffering.

From an accounting standpoint in some banks, especially JP Morgan, these issues become even more complicated by probes into criminal activities regarding manipulation of the mortgage markets.

From the CFO Journal's Morning Ledger on September 26, 2013

J.P. Morgan discussing $11 billion settlement
J.P. Morgan
is in discussions to settle probes related to mortgage-backed securities for $11 billion, the WSJ reports. The amount being discussed would include $7 billion in cash and $4 billion in relief to consumers. As large as the potential settlement may be, two people familiar with the matter cautioned that even if a deal is reached, it may not resolve one of the biggest dangers for the bank: the potential for criminal charges stemming from the mortgage-backed securities probe

As far as the  consumer tort lawyers are concerned no settlements will be enough for defaulting homeowners who were tossed out on the street and defaulting squatters awaiting ownership resolutions.

Meanwhile Joe and Susan Smith may squat out most of their lives without making mortgage payments or property taxes while awaiting a million dollar settlement.

CPA auditors face an enormous problem of booking loan loss impairments on these foreclosed properties. The markets for these properties and their mortgages are nonexistent until ownership issues are resolved by the courts. The magnitudes of the potential loan losses are so enormous that the lives of some of the biggest banks in the USA are hanging by a thread.

Accounting Controversy
I don't agree with Bob Kaplan that companies should not be allowed in general to declare financial instruments as held-to-maturity (HTM). Many companies do indeed plan to carry some of their financial instrument assets and liabilities to maturity for various reasons, usually because of transactions costs of not carrying them to maturity. Fair value adjustments of such HTM securities become fictional gains and losses in interim periods that adds misleading noise to interim financial statements prior to maturity. Nor do I think that unrealized market value gains and losses of available-for-sale (AFS) securities should be combined with legally revenues in the calculations of net earnings. I do think that separate columns should be provided for legally realized revenue transactions versus unrealized value change transactions of AFS securities. Unrealized value changes on HTM securities should be disclosed but not combined with unrealized value changes of AFS financial instruments.

The point of this tidbit is to stress that the loss impairment calculation problem is much more complicated when there are hundreds of billions of dollars in mortgage investments for which there are no financial instruments markets and the "values" must be determined by estimates of the collateral (homes) values. It is even more complicated when the original signed mortgage notes cannot be found, thereby complicating the issue of who owns the homes.

What are befuddled auditors and clients supposed to book in these circumstances? The simple answer is full disclosure. But full disclosure might require paper trails that would reach to the moon.

"Welcome, Freshmen. You Don't Deserve to Be Here," by Kevin Carey, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 14, 2013 ---

Innovation Hub (innovations in our past and present) ---

National Science Foundation: Science of Innovation ---

City of Ideas: Reinventing Boston's Innovation Economy ---

Pride and Prejudice Translated into Academiotics (and More Fun with Scholarly Jargon) ---
Jensen Comment
I find little difference between academiotics and lawyer language.

Crash Course on Literature: Watch John Green’s Fun Introductions to Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye & Other Classics --- Click Here

Using Website Pages In Place of Powerpoint Slides
"Presenting Without PowerPoint?" by Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Education, October 7, 2013 ---

Jensen Comment
Of course many powerful speakers, like evangelical preachers, make presentations without any visual aids, including PowerPoint, Videos, White Boards, or Chalk Boards.

For those that want live Websites, there's a bit of a risk since Webservers can fail when you need them the most or access to the Internet may be very expensive as is sometimes the case in a hotel ballroom. Also the presentation may be made in a room without an Internet connection (including wireless) such as a presentation in a developing country.

The trick I used to use is to make a Camtasia video of live Website pages and then make my own live presentation using the Camtasia video complete with the Pause button and a laser pointer.

When anti-PowerPoint professors rant it's usually about those boring PowerPoints that have too much text or are simply bullet points. But those same professors fail to mention how wonderful PowerPoint can be to point, with a laser pen, to a parts of a complicated graph or columns of numbers in a table.

It's not that PowerPoint is bad. Like any tool it can be used effectively or be badly misused.

Bob Jensen's threads on how to use PowerPoint more effectively ---

How Animated Cartoons are Made: Watch a Short Primer from 1919 ---

The Center for Cartoon Studies ---

"The 10 Most Useless Graduate Degrees," by Peter Jacobs, Business Insider, October 3, 2013 ---

Jensen Comment
Readers must be warned about the definition of "useless." In this case the definition concerns the extra compensation one can earn by getting pursuing graduate studies in a discipline. For example, chemical engineering is generally at or near the top in both demand for undergraduate students and highest compensation for graduates. However, Peter Jacobs thinks that the added compensation for graduate studies in chemical engineering does not justify the cost of the degree on average.

In other words, these "Top 10" degrees are not necessarily "useless" degrees in terms of finding good jobs. Peter North thinks they are on average "useless" graduate degrees that do not incrementally benefit the new undergraduates in those disciplines.

In my opinion, Peter North needs to be more explicit regarding types of jobs. Graduate degrees may not incrementally pay a lot more incrementally for new masters or doctoral graduates in a given discipline, but graduate degrees may open doors to careers that are not available to undergraduate degree holders, e.g., academic careers and research careers in business firms and government.

Also Peter North needs to be more explicit about future performance raises based upon what he calls "small" compensation benefits of a graduate degree. For example, a differential of $20,000 starting salary may not look like a great deal in Year 1 but if performance raises average 5% per year for the next 40 years then that added $20,000 differential exponentially amounts to a great deal of added compensation across four decades.

Peter North may be correct in particular instances.
I'm very familiar with a case in which a student is borrowing over $200,000 to get a six-year pharmacy Ph.D. from a very small private university that I consider marginal at best. A pharmacy Ph.D. from this particular university will likely not open new doors to alternative careers such as a faculty career in academe. Chances are that she will be a pharmacist working alongside other pharmacists who only completed four-year or five-year pharmacy programs.

In her case, I don't think the financial benefits of the added two years for a Ph.D. at a very costly and marginal pharmacy school justify the costs of those added two years. If she were getting her pharmacy Ph.D. from a flagship university it would be quite another matter, because she could then consider other careers such as a career in academe.

Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH) ---

A Nobel Prize for an Elegant Myth
"A Nobel for the Random Walk of Stock Prices:  The latest winners of the economics prize taught us about market efficiency in pricing assets," by David R. Henderson The Wall Street Journal, October 14, 2013 ---

Sometimes the Nobel committee seems to make a partly political statement in choosing winners of the prize in economics. Not this year. On Monday, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the 2013 Nobel to three deserving American economists: Eugene Fama and Lars Peter Hansen at the University of Chicago and Robert Shiller of Yale University. The prizes were based on the importance of their work, which "laid the foundation for the current understanding of asset prices."

Mr. Fama's major contribution, notably with the 1965 paper "Random Walks in Stock Market Prices," has been to show that stock markets are very efficient. The term "efficient" here does not mean what it normally means in economics—namely, that benefits minus costs are maximized. Instead, it means that prices of stocks rapidly incorporate information that is publicly available.

That happens because markets are so competitive. Prices now move on earnings news not just within seconds, but within milliseconds—which is why you're already too late if you decide to buy Apple AAPL +0.65% stock after hearing about an unexpectedly high earnings report. There are quicker trigger fingers acting instantly on new information. But even before supercomputers got into the game, markets were reacting very efficiently.

One implication of market efficiency is that trading rules, such as "buy when the price fell yesterday," don't work. The insight has had big implications for large and small investors: Don't waste your money on professional financial managers who actively try to pick individual stocks.

One high-profile beneficiary of Mr. Fama's insight was John Bogle, who started the Vanguard 500 Index Fund in the 1970s. His idea was to have a fund indexed to the overall market and save the costs of hiring experts to predict stock prices. He shared Mr. Fama's skepticism about golden stock-pickers. The result is that over the past four decades millions of investors who buy index funds from Vanguard and its competitors have saved hundreds of billions of dollars by not paying for dubious investment advice.

Mr. Fama, 74, is also skeptical of the word "bubble," which suggests market inefficiency by letting stock prices rise higher than justified by market fundamentals. In 2010, he told the New Yorker magazine: "It's easy to say prices went down, it must have been a bubble, after the fact. I think most bubbles are twenty-twenty hindsight. . . . People are always saying that prices are too high. When they turn out to be right, we anoint them. When they turn out to be wrong we ignore them."

In the Milton Friedman University of Chicago tradition, Mr. Fama believes that free markets are better than government at allocating resources. He strongly opposed the 2008 selective bailout of Wall Street firms, arguing that, without it, financial markets would have sorted themselves out within "a week or two."

Robert Shiller's contribution to our understanding of asset prices has included this insight: that stock prices fluctuate more than can be explained by fluctuations in dividends. The 67-year-old Mr. Shiller's finding in the 1980s set off a revolution in finance. It is now accepted that high prices relative to earnings signal low subsequent returns and vice-versa. This means, as George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen has noted, that (contra Mr. Fama) a very patient investor should be able to beat the market by betting against short-term market movements. So, for example, if the price has fallen more than can be explained by relatively steady dividends, you should buy and hold.

Mr. Shiller's work has been particularly notable for two reasons: his contribution to the Case-Shiller home price index, which has been invaluable for those who want good data on home prices both nationally and regionally; and his proposal that government pensions and entitlements be "indexed to some indicator of taxpayer ability to pay, such as GDP." Thus government payments for pensions and entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare would be tethered to the relative health of the nation's economy, and the government wouldn't, as it does now, continue to spend itself ruinously into debt. Mr. Shiller's young students—given that they're of the generation likely to be surrendering more and more of their income to the government to support its payments—should consider building a statue of him.

The third recipient of the Nobel economics prize, Lars Peter Hansen, 60, earned it for the mathematical techniques he developed that apply to stock prices and other economic models. Here's how John H. Cochrane, a University of Chicago colleague of Mr. Hansen's, put it to me in an interview: "Hansen managed to boil all the complex statistical techniques used in understanding economic models to just taking averages. His techniques allowed economists to study the economy one piece at a time, and to focus on the robust, important predictions of a model without being distracted by irrelevant sideshows."

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads about the dubious Efficient Market Hyothesis (EMH) ---

A Great Example of What's Wrong in Plato's Cave Where Inconvenient Facts are Simply Assumed Away With an Academic Wand
"Just How Efficient Is The Market?" Seeking Alpha, February 3, 2012 ---

For much of the last 25 years, most of the investment management world has promoted the idea that individual investors can't beat the market. To beat the market, stock pickers of course have to discover mispricings in stocks, but the Nobel-acclaimed Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH) claims that the market is a ruthless mechanism acting instantly to arbitrage away any such opportunities, claiming that the current price of a stock is always the most accurate estimate of its value (known as "informational efficiency"). If this is true, what hope can there be for motivated stock pickers, no matter how much they sweat and toil, vs. low-cost index funds that simply mechanically track the market? As it turns out, there's plenty!

The (absurd) rise of the Efficient Market Hypothesis

First proposed in University of Chicago professor Eugene Fama’s 1970 paper Efficient Capital Markets: A Review of Theory and Empirical Work, EMH has evolved into a concept that a stock price reflects all available information in the market, making it impossible to have an edge. There are no undervalued stocks, it is argued, because there are smart security analysts who utilize all available information to ensure unfailingly appropriate prices. Investors who seem to beat the market year after year are just lucky.

However, despite still being widely taught in business schools, it is increasingly clear that the efficient market hypothesis is "one of the most remarkable errors in the history of economic thought" (Shiller). As Warren Buffett famously quipped, "I'd be a bum on the street with a tin cup if the market was always efficient."

Similarly, ex-Fidelity fund manager and investment legend Peter Lynch said in a 1995 interview with Fortune magazine: “Efficient markets? That’s a bunch of junk, crazy stuff.”

So what's so bogus about EMH?

Firstly, EMH is based on a set of absurd assumptions about the behaviour of market participants that goes something like this:

  1. Investors can trade stocks freely in any size, with no transaction costs;
  2. Everyone has access to the same information;
  3. Investors always behave rationally;
  4. All investors share the same goals and the same understanding of intrinsic value.

All of these assumptions are clearly nonsensical the more you think about them but, in particular, studies in behavioural finance initiated by Kahneman, Tversky and Thaler has shown that the premise of shared investor rationality is a seriously flawed and misleading one.

Secondly, EMH makes predictions that do not accord with the reality. Both the Tech Bubble and the Credit Bubble/Crunch show that that the market is subject to fads, whims and periods of irrational exuberance (and despair) which can not be explained away as rational. Furthermore, contrary to the predictions of EMH, there have been plenty of individuals who have managed to outperform the market consistently over the decades.

Continued in article

 October 28, 2009 reply from Paul Williams [Paul_Williams@NCSU.EDU]

Bob, et al,
I never cease to marvel at the powers of rationalization defenders of sacred institutions can muster. The above characterization of EMH was certainly not the version pedaled by its accounting disciples (notably Bill Beaver) back in the late 60s and early 70s. An accounting research industry was created based on a version of EMH that was decidedly more certain that securities were "properly priced." [Why else do studies to debunk the Briloff effect?].

Given the interpretation offered above, "Information Content Studies" make no sense. The whole idea of this methodology was that accounting data that correlated with prices implied market participants found it useful for setting prices based on publicly available data, which implied such prices were the ones that would exist in an idealized world of perfectly informed investors. Thus, this data met the test of being information and was to be preferred to other "non-information" to which the market did not react.

But now we are told that this latest version of EMH does not justify such sanguinity because "...the prices in the market are mostly wrong...", thus prices are not an indicator of the value of data, i.e., just because there is a price effect we still don't know if that data is truly "information." Think of the millions and millions of taxpayer dollars that have been wasted over the last forty years subsidizing people to search for something that is indeterminate given the methodology they are employing.

And for this the AAA awarded Seminal Contributions. Jim Boatsman had an ingenious little paper in Abacus eons ago titled, "Why Are There Tigers and Things," that cast serious doubts on the whole enterprise of "testing" market efficiency. It addressed the issue Carl Devine harped on about needing an independent definition of "information." And this is related to the logical slight of hand EMH required of surmising there is a way to know what the "true" price is since we glibly talk about over and under and mis-priced securities.

But there is no way to know this, since security prices are CREATED by the institution of the securities market. There does not exist a natural process against which market performance can be compared. "Market value," which is what a price is, is a value established by the market. The market is all there is. To paraphrase NC's current governor's favorite expression, "The price is what it is."

It isn't over or under or mis or proper or anything else, other than what a particular institution created by us at one moment in time determines it is. If we lived in a society in which mob rule settled issues of justice, it would make little sense to argue that someone the mob hung was "not guilty." Of course he was guilty, because the mob hung him!!

Paul Williams 

A Fundamentals Approach to Valuing a Business

In the great book Dear Mr. Buffett, Janet Tavakoli shows how Warren Buffet learned value (fundamentals) investing while taking Benjamin Graham's value investing course while earning a masters degree in economics from Columbia University. Buffet also worked for Professor Graham.

The following book supposedly takes the Graham approach to a new level (although I've not yet read the book). Certainly the book will be controversial among the efficient markets proponents like Professors Fama and French.

"Warren Buffett Investing Quotes" by Barry Ritholtz, May 5, 2013

Given that its the Berkshire annual meeting this weekend, now is as good a time to roll out these quotes from Warren himself:


“To invest successfully, you need not understand beta, efficient markets, modern portfolio theory, option pricing or emerging markets. You may, in fact, be better off knowing nothing of these. That, of course, is not the prevailing view at most business schools, whose finance curriculum tends to be dominated by such subjects. In our view, though, investment students need only two well-taught courses
-How to Value a Business, and How to Think About Market Prices.”
Source: Chairman’s Letter, 1996


“The best thing that happens to us is when a great company gets into temporary trouble…We want to buy them when they’re on the operating table.”
Source: Businessweek, 1999


“None of this means, however, that a business or stock is an intelligent purchase simply because it is unpopular; a contrarian approach is just as foolish as a follow-the-crowd strategy. What’s required is thinking rather than polling. Unfortunately, Bertrand Russell’s observation about life in general applies with unusual force in the financial world: “Most men would rather die than think. Many do.”
Source: Chairman’s Letter, 1990


“Over the long term, the stock market news will be good. In the 20th century, the United States endured two world wars and other traumatic and expensive military conflicts; the Depression; a dozen or so recessions and financial panics; oil shocks; a flu epidemic; and the resignation of a disgraced president. Yet the Dow rose from 66 to 11,497.”
Source: The New York Times, October 16, 2008


“The line separating investment and speculation, which is never bright and clear, becomes blurred still further when most market participants have recently enjoyed triumphs. Nothing sedates rationality like large doses of effortless money. After a heady experience of that kind, normally sensible people drift into behavior akin to that of Cinderella at the ball. They know that overstaying the festivities ¾ that is, continuing to speculate in companies that have gigantic valuations relative to the cash they are likely to generate in the future ¾ will eventually bring on pumpkins and mice. But they nevertheless hate to miss a single minute of what is one helluva party. Therefore, the giddy participants all plan to leave just seconds before midnight. There’s a problem, though: They are dancing in a room in which the clocks have no hands.”
Source: Letter to shareholders, 2000


“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist. Investing is not a game where the guy with the 160 IQ beats the guy with 130 IQ.”
Source: Warren Buffet Speaks, via msnbc.msn

Fundamentals Approach to Valuing a Business

In the great book Dear Mr. Buffett, Janet Tavakoli shows how Warren Buffet learned value (fundamentals) investing while taking Benjamin Graham's value investing course while earning a masters degree in economics from Columbia University. Buffet also worked for Professor Graham.

The following book supposedly takes the Graham approach to a new level (although I've not yet read the book). Certainly the book will be controversial among the efficient markets proponents like Professors Fama and French.

Purportedly a Great, Great Book on Value Investing
From Simoleon Sense, November 16, 2009 ---

OMG Did I Die & Go to heaven?
Just Read, Applied Value Investing, My Favorite Book of the Past 5 Years!!
Listen To This Interview!

I have a confession, I might have read the best value investing book published in the past 5 years!

The book is called Applied Value Investing By Joseph Calandro Jr. In the book Mr. Calandro applies the tenets of value investing via (real) case studies. Buffett, was once asked how he would teach a class on security analysis, he replied, “case studies”.  Unlike other books which are theoretical this book provides you with the actual steps for valuing businesses.

Without a doubt, this book ranks amongst the best value investing books (with SA, Margin of Safety, Buffett’s letters to corporate America, and Greenwald’s book) & you dont have to take my word for it. Seth Klarman, Mario Gabelli and many top investors have given the book a plug!

Here is an interview with the author of the book, Applied Value Investing ( I recommend listening to this). Who knows perhaps yours truly will interview him soon.



A fellow blogger and friend will soon post a review of this book (hint: Street Capitalist!).

Video:  Warren Buffett's Secrets To Success ---

Bob Jensen's threads on valuation are at

Bob Jensen's threads on the economic crisis are at



Purportedly a Great, Great Book on Value Investing
From Simoleon Sense, November 16, 2009 ---

OMG Did I Die & Go to heaven?
Just Read, Applied Value Investing, My Favorite Book of the Past 5 Years!!
Listen To This Interview!

I have a confession, I might have read the best value investing book published in the past 5 years!

The book is called Applied Value Investing By Joseph Calandro Jr. In the book Mr. Calandro applies the tenets of value investing via (real) case studies. Buffett, was once asked how he would teach a class on security analysis, he replied, “case studies”.  Unlike other books which are theoretical this book provides you with the actual steps for valuing businesses.

Without a doubt, this book ranks amongst the best value investing books (with SA, Margin of Safety, Buffett’s letters to corporate America, and Greenwald’s book) & you dont have to take my word for it. Seth Klarman, Mario Gabelli and many top investors have given the book a plug!

Here is an interview with the author of the book, Applied Value Investing ( I recommend listening to this). Who knows perhaps yours truly will interview him soon.



A fellow blogger and friend will soon post a review of this book (hint: Street Capitalist!).

Video:  Warren Buffett's Secrets To Success ---

Bob Jensen's threads on valuation are at

Bob Jensen's threads on the economic crisis are at

Leading Accountics researchers like Bill Beaver and Steve Penman have a hard time owning up to CAPM's discovered limitations that trace back to their own research built on CAPM. Steve Penman owns up to this somewhat in his own latest book Accounting for Value that seems to run counter to his earlier book Financial Statement Analysis and Security Valuation.

Bill Beaver's review of Accounting for Value makes an interesting proposition:
 Since Accounting for Value admits to limitations of CAPM and lack of capital market efficiency it should be of interest to investors, security analysts, and practicing accountants consulting on valuation. However, Penman's Accounting for Value is not of much interest to accounting professors and students who, at least according to Bill, should continue to dance in the fantasyland of assumed efficient markets and relevance of CAPM in accountics research.

Accounting for Value
by Stephan Penman
(New York, NY: Columbia Business School Publishing, 2011, ISBN 978-0-231-15118-4, pp. xviii, 244).
Reviewed by William H. Beaver
The Accounting Review, March 2012, pp. 706-709
Jensen Note:  Since TAR book reviews are free to the public, I quoted Bill's entire review

When I was asked by Steve Zeff to review Accounting for Value, my initial reaction was that I was not sure I was the appropriate reviewer, given my priors on market efficiency. As I shall discuss below, a central premise of the book is that there are substantial inefficiencies in the pricing of common stock securities with respect to published financial statement information. At one point, the book suggests that most, if not all, of the motivation for reading the book disappears if one believes that markets are efficient with respect to financial statement information (page 3). I disagree with this statement and found the book to be of value even if one assumes market efficiency is a reasonable approximation of the behavior of security prices.

It is unclear who is the intended audience—academic or nonacademic. This is an important issue, because it determines the basis against which the book should be judged. For an academic audience, the book would be good as a supplemental text for an investments or financial statement analysis course. However, for an academic audience, it is not a replacement for his previous, impressive text, Financial Statement Analysis and Security Valuation (2009). The earlier text goes into much more detail, both in terms of how to proceed and what the evidence or research basis is for the security valuation proposed. The previous book is excellent as the prime source for a course, and the current effort is not a substitute for the earlier text.

However, as clearly stated, the primary audience is not academic and is certainly not the passive investor. The book was written for investors, and for those to whom they trust their savings (page 1). Moreover, as stated on pages 3–4, the intended audience is the investor who is skeptical of the efficient market, who is one of Graham's “defensive investors,” who thinks they can beat the market, and who perceives they can gain by trading at “irrational” prices.1 For this reason, the book can be compared with the plethora of “how to beat the market” books that fill the “Investments” section of most popular bookstores. By this standard, Accounting for Value is well above the competition. It is much more conceptually based and includes references to the research that underlies the basic philosophy. By this standard, the book is a clear winner.

Another standard is to judge the effort, not by the average quality of the competition, but by one of the best, Benjamin Graham's The Intelligent Investor (1949). This, indeed, is a high standard. The Intelligent Investor is the text I was assigned in my first investments course. My son is currently in an M.B.A. program, taking an investments course, so for his birthday I gave him a copy of Graham's book. However, markets and our knowledge of how markets work have changed enormously since Graham's book was written.

The comparison with The Intelligent Investor is natural in part because the text itself explicitly invites such comparisons with the many references to Graham and by suggesting that it follows the heritage of Graham's book. It also invites comparisons because, like Graham's book, it is essentially about investing based on fundamentals and tackles the subject at a conceptual level with simple examples, without getting bogged down in extreme details of a “how to” book. I conclude that Accounting for Value measures up very well against this high standard and is one of the best efforts written on fundamental investing that incorporates what we have learned in the intervening years since the first publication of The Intelligent Investor in 1949. I have reached this conclusion for several reasons.

One of the major points eloquently made is that modern finance theory (e.g., CAPM and option pricing models) consists of models of the relationship among endogenous variables (prices or returns). These models derive certain relative relationships among securities traded in a market that must be preserved in order to avoid arbitrage opportunities. However, as the text points out, these models are devoid of what exogenous informational variables (i.e., fundamentals) cause the model parameters to be what they are. For example, in the context of the CAPM, beta is a driving force that produces differential expected returns among securities. However, the CAPM is silent on what fundamental variables would cause one company's beta to be different from another's. One of major themes developed in the text is that accounting data can be viewed as a primary set of variables through which one can gain an understanding of the underlying fundamentals of the value of a firm and its securities.2 This is extremely important to understand, regardless of one's priors about market efficiency. A central issue is the identification of informational variables that aid in our understanding of security prices and returns. As accounting scholars, we have an interest in the “macro” (or equilibrium) role of accounting data beyond or independent of the “micro” role of determining whether it is helpful to an individual in identifying “mispriced” securities.

Another major contribution is the development of a valuation model of fundamentals through the lens of accounting data based on accrual accounting. In doing so, the text makes another important point—namely the role of accrual accounting in bringing the future forward into the present (e.g., revenue recognition).3 In other words, accrual accounting contains implicit (or explicit) predictions of the future. It is argued that, since the future is difficult to predict, accrual accounting permits the investor to make judgments over a shorter time horizon and to base those judgments on “what we know.” The text develops the position that, in general, forecasts and hence valuation analysis based on accrual accounting numbers will be “better” than cash flow-based valuations. It is important to understand that the predictive role is a basic feature of accrual accounting, even if one disagrees about how well accrual accounting performs that role. Penman believes it performs that function very well and dominates explicit future cash flow prediction, based on the intuitive assumption that the investor does not have to forecast accrual accounting numbers as far into the future as would be required by cash flow forecasting. The implicit assumption is that the prediction embedded in accrual numbers is at least as good, if not better, than attempts to forecast future cash flows explicitly.

A third major point is that book-value-only or earnings-only models are inherently underspecified and fundamentally incomplete, except in special cases. Instead, a more complete valuation approach contains both a book value and a (residual) earnings term. A point effectively made is that measurement of one term can be compensated for by the inclusion of the other variable by virtue of the over-time compensating mechanism of accrual accounting.

A major implication of the model is the myopic nature of two of the most popular methods for selecting securities: market-to-book ratios and price-to-earnings ratios. Stocks may appear to be over- or underpriced when partitioning on only one these two variables. Using a double partitioning can help alleviate this myopia.

The book is positioned almost exclusively from the perspective of the purchaser of securities. For example, one of the ten principles of fundamental analysis (page 6) is “Beware of paying too much for growth.” Presumably, a fundamental investor of an existing portfolio is a potential seller as well as a buyer. As a potential seller, the investor has an analogous interest in selling overpriced securities, but this is not the perspective explicitly taken. In spite of the apparent asymmetry of perspective, the concepts of the valuation model would appear to have important implications for the evaluation of existing securities held.

In the basic valuation model, value is equal to current book value, residual earnings for the next two years, and a terminal value term based on the present value of residual earnings stream beyond two years.4 The model bears some resemblance to the modeling of Feltham and Ohlson (1995) but adds context of its own. A central feature of the approach is to understand what you know and separate it from speculation.5 In this context, book value is “what you know,” and everything else involves some degree of speculation. The degree of speculation increases as the time horizon increases (e.g., long-term growth estimates).

A key feature is that it is residual earnings growth, not simply earnings growth, that is the driver in valuation. Price-earnings-only models are incomplete because of a failure to make this distinction. The nature of the long-term residual earnings growth is highly speculative, which leads to one of the investment principles—beware of paying too much for growth. The text provides some benchmarks in terms of the empirical behavior of long-term residual growth rates and reasons why abnormal earnings might be expected to decay rapidly. A higher expected residual growth is also likely to be associated with higher risk and hence a higher discount rate. All of these factors mitigate against long-term growth playing a large role in the fundamental value (i.e., do not pay too much for growth). A similar point is made with respect to the effect of leverage upon growth rates (Chapter 4).

A remarkable feature of the book is how far it is able to develop its basic perspective without specifying the nature of the accounting system upon which it is anchoring valuation other than to say that it is based on accrual accounting. Chapter 5 begins to address the nature of the accrual accounting system. A central point is that accounting treatments that lower current book value (e.g., write-offs and the expensing of intangible assets) will increase future residual earnings (Accounting Principle 4). In particular, conservative accounting with investment growth induces growth in residual income (Accounting Principle 5). However, conservatism does not increase value. Hence, valuations that focus only on earnings to the exclusion of book value can lead to erroneous valuation conclusions. An investor must consider both (Valuation Principle 6).

Chapter 6 addresses the estimation of the discount rate. A central theme is how little we know about estimating the discount rate (cost of capital), and we can provide, at best, very imprecise estimates. The proposed solution is to “reverse engineer” the discount rate implied by the current market price and ask yourself if you consider this to be a rate of return at which you are willing to invest, which is viewed as a personal attribute. Several examples and sensitivity analyses are provided.

Chapter 7 synthesizes points made in earlier chapters about how the investor can gain insights into distinguishing growth that does not add to value from growth that does, through a joint analysis of market-to-book and price-to-earnings partitions. The joint analysis is clever and is likely to be informative to an investor familiar with these popular partitioning variables, but is perhaps not yet ready to use the explicit accounting-based valuation models recommended.

Chapter 8 addresses the attributes of fair value and historical cost accounting and is the chapter that is the most surprising. The chapter is essentially an attack on fair value accounting. Up until this point, the text has been free of policy recommendations. The strength lies in taking the accounting rules as you find them, which is a very practical suggestion and has great potential readership appeal. The flexibility of the framework to accommodate a variety of accounting systems is one of its strengths. As a result, the conceptual framework is relatively simple. It does not attempt to tediously examine accounting standards in detail, nor does it attempt to adjust accounting earnings or assets to conform to a concept of “better” earnings or assets, in contrast to other valuation approaches. I found the one-sided treatment of fair value accounting to be disruptive of the overall theme of taking accounting rules as you find them.

The text provides an important caveat. The framework is a starting point rather than the final answer. A number of issues are not explicitly addressed. It can also be important to understand the specific effects of complex accounting standards on the numbers they produce. Further, there is ample evidence that the market does price disclosures supplemental to the accounting numbers. Discretionary use of accounting numbers also can raise a number of important issues.

In sum, the text provides an excellent framework for investors to think about the role that accounting numbers can play in valuation. In doing so, it provides a number of important insights that make it worthwhile for a wide readership, including those who may have stronger priors in favor of market efficiency.

"AOL and the Case Against Efficient Market Theory," by Roben Farzad, Business Week, April 11, 2012 --- 

This time last week, I, like nine out of every 10 investors, believed AOL (AOL) was a dead-end investment. How could it not be? This is no longer a 56k, dial-up world, when those ubiquitous AOL disks inundated mailboxes. AOL botched the chance to morph into a broadband player with its spectacularly bad marriage to Time Warner (TWX). AOL is behind on social media, and is struggling to compete for ad dollars with Google (GOOG) and Facebook. Its sales declined in each quarter last year.

How many chances does a legacy company get? (Remember this reinvention?)

Then, on April 9, as if out of nowhere, Microsoft (MSFT)dropped in to buy $1 billion of AOL’s patents, sending the latter’s shares up 43 percent in a single day. In the two years leading up to the deal, the stock was down 37 percent.

How could a supposedly omniscient market get this story so wrong? One explanation was offered by MDB, an intellectual property-focused investment bank. MDB says the AOL patents had more relevance to Microsoft and that company was uniquely well-studied on them, especially in light of AOL’s ancient acquisition of Netscape, that Microsoft nemesis in the age of Windows 95. MDB found that Microsoft cited AOL patents as related intellectual property 1,331 times in its own patent filings, vs. AOL citing its own patents 1,267 times.

Even so, it’s surprising that this play remained largely the province of tech-geek attorneys. After all, about 15 Wall Street analysts cover AOL—nine of them rating it either a hold or sell. Hedge funds and bloggers are constantly on it. The Microsoft deal shot AOL shares up two and a half times where they traded in August, when the company owned the same patents.

I was similarly puzzled last summer when Google paid big (63 percent-premium-to-close big) for remnants of Motorola—placing major emphasis on the legacy tech company’s patents. Motorola Mobility (MMI) shares popped 57 percent in a matter of hours. I also scratched my head in September 2010, when Hewlett-Packard (HPQ)emerged victorious from a bidding war for a tiny data storage company called 3Par—by paying $33 a share for a stock that traded below $10 just three weeks earlier. How did everyone completely whiff on 3Par’s desirability and valuation?

These disconnects have me thinking back to the words of my friend, Justin Fox of the Harvard Business Review Group, whose book The Myth of the Rational Market excoriated the idea that “the decisions of millions of investors, all digging for information and striving for an edge, inevitably add up to rational, perfect markets.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on valuation are at



"Senate report finds (massive) disability benefits fraud," by Erik Wasson, The Hill, October 7, 2013 --- 

A Senate committee on Monday wrapped up a two-year investigation into the nearly insolvent Social Security Disability Insurance program and alleged weak systemic oversight allowed massive fraud to perpetrated by a Kentucky lawyer.

The investigation, spearheaded by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), found evidence that lawyer Eric Conn collaborated with Administrative Law Judge David B. Daugherty, to wrongly award potentially billions in benefits.

The revelations of fraud and inability of bureaucrats to address weak oversight comes as the disability fund is set to run out of money to pay full benefits by 2016. It also comes as the federal government is partially shutdown and because of that officials from the Social Security Administration were not available to testify before the Senate on Monday about the fraud allegations. 


“A two-year investigation of his actions representing claimants applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits uncovered a raft of improper practices by the Conn law firm to obtain disability benefits, inappropriate collusion between Mr. Conn and a Social Security Administrative Law Judge, and inept agency oversight which enabled the misconduct to continue for years,” the report concludes.


Coburn said that the fraud was hurting the truly disabled and the report lists a series of steps the government can take to prevent fraud. 

“Every bogus claim made on behalf of someone who is not truly disabled robs taxpayers and denies or delays benefits for someone who is truly disabled.   This is an enormous and urgent problem that should demand our immediate attention,” Coburn said in a release.

The report found that Daugherty, who was sanctioned and allowed to retire, had awarded an unusually large $2.5 billion in benefits and had received unexplained cash payments. The judge had provided the Conn law firm with assistance through lists in obtaining medical opinions for Conn clients. 

The investigation found questionable benefit awards by Daugherty based on evidence by doctors who had suspect medical credentials, and determined that Conn had destroyed a massive amount of evidence once he came under congressional investigation. 

The Democratic chairman of the panel said the investigation was troubling.

“While we don't have any evidence that this is more than an isolated case, one example of inappropriate actions of this nature is one too many,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said. “ I am encouraged that the Social Security Administration has already acknowledged many of the issues raised by the investigation, and I understand that it has begun to implement stronger reviews and other solutions.”

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U.S. Census Report:  Only a small percentage of impoverished adults actually say it's because they can't find employment.
"Why The Poor Don't Work, According To The Poor," by Jordan Weissmann, The Atlantic, September 23, 2013 ---

Conservative Republicans have officially made it their mission to end food stamps as we know them. Such was evident last week, when the House GOP
voted to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as food stamps are now known, by $39 billion over a decade and begin bulking up its work requirements, along the lines of welfare reform in the 1990s.

Whether you believe this a good or humane idea probably boils down to your take on a single question: why don't the poor, who make up the overwhelming majority of food stamp recipients (nearly 50 million of them), go to work? In 2012, more than 26 million 18-to-64-year-old adults lived under the poverty line; about 15 million of them didn't have a job during the year. Is the economy to blame? Or are personal choices at fault?

If you're a liberal, your answer is probably pretty cut and dry, and these days likely involves the word "recession." But conservatives tend to take a different view. They argue that whereas unemployment among middle class families rises and falls with the health of the job market, poverty is shaped and fueled mostly by cultural forces, that the poor could work if they wanted, and that the safety net lulls them into indolence. One of their key data points on this front comes from the Census. Each year, the bureau asks jobless Americans why it is they've been out of work. And traditionally, a only a small percentage of impoverished adults actually say it's because they can't find employment, a point that New York University professor Lawrence Mead, one of the intellectual architects of welfare reform, made to Congress in recent testimony.

In 2007, for instance, 6.4 percent of adults who lived under the poverty line and didn't work in the past year said it was because they couldn't find a job. As of 2012, it had more than doubled, leaving it at a still-small 13.5 percent. By comparison, more than a quarter said they stayed home for family reasons and more than 30 percent cited a disability. 

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
What the article overlooks is that millions of people who are described as "not working" really are working in the underground economy where cash wages are tax free to maids, farm workers, construction workers, care providers, pool cleaners, roofers, etc.

It's also hard to determine underground compensation relative to the minimum wage because so many such workers contract by the job rather than by the hour for housekeeping, lawn services, etc. For example, my  lawn worker in New Hampshire (one person only) that charges me $100 per job has expenses for equipment, fuel, travel, etc. but usually does the job in less than 2.5  hours. I do that part myself with my tractor and hand mower. In the winter he has a very profitable ski and sportswear shop.

He only does the front part of my lawn but is not interested in the back lawn where the ground is not a smooth
Up here the "cash only" housekeepers generally get paid by the job that nets out to over $35 per hour. One woman wanted over $50 per hour.

Estimates according to USA Today run as high as $2 trillion in the underground economy ---

USA Today also attributes much of the economic recovery to the $2-trillion underground economy.
Unemployment is not what it seems.


Bob Jensen's threads on entitlements disasters ---

One Piece at a Time by Johnny Cash

She entered like Twiggy and exited like Dolly:  The "loss should have been spotted sooner"

Nobody Questioned Why Her Bras Were Twice as Big as She Could Justify
"Accountant suspected of embezzling school lunch money in Rialto:  Judith Oakes faces the prospect of embezzlement and grand theft charges. As much as $3.16 million might be missing," by Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, October 4, 2013 ---,0,3922960.story

Usually it's the school bully who steals lunch money from the kids.

But in Rialto, it's allegedly the accountant hired to keep an eye on the lunch money.

When accountant Judith Oakes was arrested on suspicion of embezzling from the school district's nutrition services department this summer — allegedly caught on surveillance tape stuffing cash in her bra — officials said they were staggered when they were told that as much as $3.16 million might be missing.

Oakes faces the prospect of embezzlement and grand theft charges, but the fallout from the lunch money episode could continue as law enforcement agencies and the state Department of Education investigate why the loss was not spotted sooner. FOR THE RECORD: Rialto accountant: An article in the Oct. 5 LATExtra edition about the arrest of accountant Judith Oakes on suspicion of embezzling from the Rialto school district's nutrition services department said her late husband had been a school principal in Rialto. He was a principal in San Bernardino. —

An investigative firm hired by the Rialto Unified School District has so far found a "documented" loss of at least $1.8 million but warned it could reach as high as $3.16 million, including discrepancies that could not be documented. School records go back only to 2005.

The district's superintendent and his deputy have been placed on leave by the school board.

"That is money that should have been going to students," said school board Vice President Edgar Montes. "That this betrayal may have been going on for approximately 14 years is disturbing and disgusting."

Oakes, 49, resigned the day after her arrest Aug. 7 on suspicion of embezzlement and grand theft. A mother of three, Oakes earned $60,000 in her accounting job. Her late husband was a well-respected school principal in Rialto San Bernadino.

Rialto police Capt. Randy De Anda said Oakes, who had worked for the district 16 years, kept tabs on lunch money for 29 district schools.

"The lunch money can really add up," he said. "She had unfettered access to enormous sums of money over the years — much of it in cash."

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates since 2002 ---

"A Cure for Urban GPS: a 3-D Antenna:  GPS readings in cities and indoors can be terrible. One startup has found a novel solution," by Tom Simonite, MIT's Technology Review, October 8, 2013 --- Click Here

"What Gets Measured in Education," by Alan Kantrow, Harvard Business Review Blog, October 8, 2013 --- Click Here 

Bob Jensen's threads on assessment ---

Performance Evaluation and Vegetables ---

"Harvard Business School Will Venture Into Online Teaching," by Steve Kolowich, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 10. 2013 ---

Jensen Comment
Since the HBS is the poster child for case method teaching this either spells two things for pedagogy at the HBS. It may be that if online courses are relatively small, the distance education pedagogy can accommodate the case method as effectively as in a classroom of roughly 90 students (common on campus at the HBS). However, it could also mean that the the HBS online program will be a departure for its beloved case method. It's probably a combination of both changes across a variety of courses.

It should be noted that the HBS venture is intended to earn "profits" unlike the MOOC programs at prestigious universities, including Harvard's MOOC courses. To be a MOOC the course has to be free by definition. However, fees may be charged to students who also want transcript credits.

Bob Jensen's threads on MOOCs (free), SMOCs (not free), and OKIs (free) ---

Bob Jensen's threads on case method teaching and research ---

"NYU (Law School) to Offer Online Masters in Tax for Non-Lawyers," by Paul Caron, TaxProf Blog, October 7, 2013 ---

Teachers Versus Quarterbacks

How to mislead with statistics and rankings
NFL Quarterback Rankings ---

Jensen Comment
When I grew up a popular song was entitled "No Man is an Island" ---
Don Cornell (1955) ---

One has to wonder how quarterbacks can be ranked apart from their protective linemen and the quality of their receivers. In addition, the running game can make or break a passing game, at least in terms of statistical performance of the quarterback. And a weak defense can leave the world's greatest quarterback sitting on the bench for most of the game while the opposing team chews up the clock with 3.5 yards at a time.

In a private message regarding, Joe Hoyle questioned how the Top 25 college teachers can be ranked apart from statistics like grading easiness. He made his point, and I might add that Joe gets stellar ratings while being hammered for grading toughness --- a remarkable accomplishment in my opinion.

This prompted me to look at the 2013 top ranked teachers on ---

So how is the ranking of teachers (sort of islands) like ranking of quarterbacks (never islands)?
I don't really think teachers are islands. Their performance depends a great deal upon others, notably the abilities and motivations of the students that their colleges provide them in the classroom. In this age there is also the factor of facilities. Do they teach in electronic classrooms? There also is a factor of resources. Does their college provide them with money for field trips?

There is, however, one key difference between comparing quarterbacks versus comparing of teachers. The statistics tracked for quarterbacks are well defined. In comparison the overall ratings of teachers and the easiness of teachers are not well defined in terms of the subjective response of each and every respondent.

"How To Be a Nonconformist: 22 Irreverent Illustrated Steps to Counterculture Cred from 1968,"  by Maria Popova, Brain Pickings, September 30, 2013 ---

Jensen Comment
We might think of a few ways to be nonconformist on a college campus in the 21st Century

  1. Grade on a normal curve where a C is both the median and the mode.
  2. Men Should Dress like a 1950s CPA:  Wear black socks held up by little garters, shined black shoes, a very dark three-piece suit, a white shirt, and a black bowler hat.
  3. Women Should Dress like a 1940s school teacher:  Wear seamed stockings held up by long girdles, laced dress shoes, a frilly dress, a broach, and a Cloche hat.
  4. Smoke unfiltered cigarettes (cigarette holders optional, cigars, and smoking pipes optional)
  5. Display Norman Rockwell paintings, crosses, and USA flags on office walls.
  6. Speak highly of Republicans in spite of recent displays of stupidity.
  7. Grade on a normal curve where a C is both the median and the mode.
  8. Drive no car manufactured after 1955.
  9. Have hamburgers, French fries, and tall malted milks for lunch.
  10. Play some Elvis sacred music softly as background music in your faculty office.
  11. Grade on a normal curve where a C is both the median and the mode.


"A Charger Powers Your Smartphone, Sniffs for Malware:  Kaprica’s malware-scanning charger does its job without actually residing on your phone," by Rachel Metz, MIT's Technology Review, October 4, 2013 --- Click Here

"Translation Apps and Traveling Abroad," by Anastasia Salter, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 30, 2013 ---

During my last week of being mostly disconnected at a conference in France, I ran into one big challenge: my knowledge of French is limited, and usually involves dictionary-heavy translation of text, not everyday conversation or quickly reading for comprehension and navigation. I relied heavily on phrases picked up from travel guides before my trip. Most street signs were immediately comprehensible: other documents, like menus, descriptions on products at the pharmacy, or signs on art, took much more work.

Throughout the trip, I found myself wishing for better technical solutions to the problem of translation. I started relying on a few apps to make the daily information processing easier.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on languages ---

"Why 'Hummingbird' – Google's First New Search Algorithm Since 2001 – Is A Huge Deal," by Gerry Brown, Business Insider, October 3, 2013 ---

Google's new Hummingbird algorithm could create a more even playing field for ‘the long tail’ of website publishers, and help Google to rival Apple Siri in voice search, says Ovum analyst Gerry Brown.

Last week, Google announced a brand new algorithm for its search engine, called Hummingbird. Although Google often produces updates and enhancements (such as the “Caffeine Update” in 2010, and “Penguin” and “Panda” since), the last time Google introduced a brand new algorithm was 2001, so it is a big change.

Although Google has not given away many details, it said that Hummingbird is focused on ranking information based on a more intelligent understanding of search requests. As Internet data volumes explode we increasingly have to type more and more words into Google Search to gain greater accuracy of results. Often we need to conduct multiple searches to find the information we are looking for, which is frustrating and time consuming.

This is because the Search results we currently receive reflect the matching combination of key words that a search phrase contains, rather than the true meaning of the sentence itself. Search results produced by Hummingbird will reflect the full semantic meaning of longer search phrases, and should in theory produce more accurate results.

For example Hummingbird will more greatly consider question words like “how” “why”, “where” and “when” in search phrases, in addition to content keywords. Hence Hummingbird moves the emphasis of search from “results” to “answers”.

Google also has acknowledged that the number of mobile and voice-based searches is increasing. Such voice searches are in natural language, and may not therefore contain the keywords we might finesse on a computer keyboard. These ‘on the fly’ searches are likely to return poor results using a keyword search system.

The semantic search capabilities of Hummingbird aim to address this need. It should be noted however that the most-used medium for mobile voice-based search is Apple iPhone’s Siri, which uses Yelp and WolframAlpha rather than Google for semantic search. WolframAlpha has had a semantic search capability since 2012, so there is undoubtedly a competitive response angle to the Hummingbird move.

The future is therefore “conversational search” or “hot wording” as Google refers to it. By this Google means that a user can simply voice prompt the Google search engine by saying "OK, Google". The latter is also the voice catch-phrase used to operate the wearable Google Glass spectacles.

In a separate move announced by Google in September 2013, the company will seek to accelerate the movement from Google keyword search to Google semantic search. Google will encrypt all future Search results, which means that keywords used by publishers will increasingly produce ‘not provided’ results in Google Analytics.

This means that publishers will have less idea where the web traffic to their website comes from. An underlying commercial motivation maybe that Google’s premium products will continue to provide some keyword detail, hence encouraging upgrades from free to paid-for Google products.

Continued in article

Hummingbird:  Google's Knowledge Graph
Now You Can Ask Google Search To Compare, Filter And Play

Bob Jensen's search helpers are at

"We Tested Standing Desks—Here's Proof They Make You More Productive," ReadWriteWeb, September 26, 2013 ---

Who Wrote at Standing Desks? Kierkegaard, Dickens and Ernest Hemingway Too ---

Harvey M. Wagner ---

One of the first Business School Deans to work at a standing desk was Harvey Wagner when he became Dean of the business school at the University of North Carolina back in the 1970s. Prior to that Harvey was a Stanford University professor and author of one of the first books in Operations Research in the early days of OR. Harvey was one of my OR professors. He was a good teacher with a great technical brain, but I cannot imagine that he was a very good dean. He eventually wrote five books and over 60 technical articles in OR and management science.

While Harvey stood at his own desk as a Dean at UNC his office visitors also had to stand. It was rumored that Harvey liked this because meetings were shorter when people were not comfortably seated.

Bob Jensen's threads on Tricks and Tools of the Trade ---

Tate George ---

Jury Convicts Former NBA Player Of $2 Million Ponzi Scheme ---

From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on October 4, 2013

Accountant Linked to Madoff Is Indicted
by: Reed Albergotti
Sep 27, 2013
Click here to view the full article on

TOPICS: Code of Ethics, Code of Professional Conduct, Ethics, Fraud, Ponzi Schemes

SUMMARY: "Nearly five years after the Madoff Ponzi scheme was first discovered, agents from the FBI arrested Paul Konigsberg, 77 years old. He was the accountant to whom Bernard Madoff directed "many of his clients-including some of his most important customers, in whose accounts Madoff executed the most glaringly fraudulent transactions..." Mr. Konisgerber is accused of conspiracy and falsifying records but not of having knowledge of the Ponzi scheme.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: The article may be used in any class discussing accountants' professional responsibilities, including an ethics class.

1. (Advanced) What is a Ponzi scheme?

2. (Advanced) Summarize what you know about Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, including the length of time and extent of Mr. Madoff's fraud. (Hint: access the indictment linked to the article or search the WSJ site for information if you are unfamiliar with the Madoff fraud.)

3. (Introductory) According to the article, why is this indictment being made almost 5 years after the Madoff fraud came to light?

4. (Advanced) Madoff's accountant, Paul Konigsberg, has been indicted on charges of conspiracy and falsifying records, but not of having knowledge of the Ponzi scheme. How do you think this is possible? (Hint: consider the responsibility of a CPA under the code of ethics as well as the responsibility not to knowlingly or recklessly contribute to violations of the ethics code.)

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island


Teaching Case
"Accountant Linked to Madoff Is Indicted," by Reed Albergotti, The Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2013 ---

Paul Konigsberg, a long-time former accountant to Bernard Madoff, was indicted Thursday for allegedly keeping false books that helped the convicted Ponzi-scheme operator cover up the fraud for decades.

Mr. Konigsberg, 77 years old, was arrested at 6 a.m. by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, nearly five years after the Madoff Ponzi scheme was first discovered. Mr. Konigsberg pleaded not guilty and was released on bail Thursday.

Mr. Konigsberg's attorney, Reed Brodsky, said his client "is an innocent victim of Bernie Madoff."

"He looks forward to clearing his good name at trial," Mr. Brodsky said. "In their witch hunt arising out of the largest Ponzi scheme in history, the government conveniently ignores that the sociopath Bernie Madoff deceived everyone around him—from the most sophisticated investors to the SEC itself."

In a five-count criminal indictment, prosecutors accused Mr. Konigsberg of conspiracy and of falsifying records. They didn't accuse him of having knowledge of Mr. Madoff's Ponzi scheme.

"In order to keep his scheme hidden for so long, Madoff needed the assistance of certain willing outsiders that could be trusted to handle otherwise suspicious activity," the indictment said.

"In particular, Madoff directed many of his clients—including some of his most important customers, in whose accounts Madoff executed the most glaringly fraudulent transactions—to use Paul J. Konigsberg, the defendant, as their accountant."

The charges come just weeks before a criminal trial of five former Madoff employees is slated to begin. Five back-office employees, including two computer programmers and a secretary, are accused of a host of crimes, including conspiracy, securities fraud and falsifying records. The former employees have denied wrongdoing

According to a person briefed on the investigation, prosecutors believe they have less than a year to bring cases against people they suspect of having played a role in the Ponzi scheme, given the five-year statute of limitations on securities-fraud cases.

Mr. Madoff, 75 years old, admitted in March 2009 that he carried out a decades-long Ponzi scheme, and is serving a 150-year sentence in federal prison in North Carolina. He has always insisted he acted alone.

So far, prosecutors have focused their investigation on easier-to-prove charges like making false statements to investors and government agencies. Nine people, including Mr. Madoff, have pleaded guilty to criminal charges in connection with the probe but none other than Mr. Madoff have admitted to knowing about the fraud. Last year, Mr. Madoff's brother, Peter, pleaded guilty to filing false documents as chief compliance officer at the firm, but denied knowing about the Ponzi scheme. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Mr. Konigsberg, a partner at accounting firm Konigsberg Wolf & Co., is the second former accountant to come under scrutiny in the criminal investigation. David Friehling, Mr. Madoff's former outside accountant, has previously pleaded guilty to criminal charges.

According to a person familiar with the matter, federal criminal investigators also are looking into whether J.P. Morgan Chase JPM -0.29% & Co. or its employees funneled money into the Madoff scheme while ignoring warning signs about the fraud. J.P. Morgan didn't respond to a request for comment.

J.P. Morgan is one of a number of banks that faced civil lawsuits in recent years filed by court-appointed trustee Irving Picard, who is tasked with recovering funds for victims. Mr. Picard's lawsuit alleges that J.P. Morgan was "at the very center" of Mr. Madoff's fraud, and "thoroughly complicit in it."

However, in June, 2013, Mr. Picard's lawsuit against J.P. Morgan and other banks was blocked from going forward because an appeals court ruled that the lawsuit didn't comply with bankruptcy laws. The appeals court didn't address the validity of Mr. Picard's allegations against J.P. Morgan and other banks. Mr. Picard is weighing his options.

Last year, investigators focused on Shana Madoff, Peter Madoff's daughter, who served as in-house counsel and compliance director. It is unclear whether prosecutors are considering any action against her. She hasn't been accused of wrongdoing. A lawyer for Shana Madoff said he is no longer representing her. She couldn't be reached for comment.

Prosecutors also continue to investigate Andrew Madoff, Bernie Madoff's son, according to people familiar with the matter. A lawyer for Andrew Madoff didn't respond to a request for comment.

The coming trial of the five ex-employees could offer further insight into Mr. Madoff's operation, which went undetected for decades by regulators and investors. At a pretrial hearing on Wednesday, prosecutors were told by the judge that they couldn't introduce evidence of the defendants' lavish lifestyle while employed with Mr. Madoff, including purchases of expensive cars and vacation homes, lest that unfairly colors jurors' perceptions. However, prosecutors would be allowed to share evidence of other purchases funded directly by the Madoff enterprise, including a Caribbean vacation.

Continued in article

Madoff Book's 9 Juiciest Bits --- Click Here

Bob Jensen's threads on Ponzi schemes ---

From the CPA Newsletter on October 2, 2013

Rate of student loan default rises
The rate of borrower defaults on student loans for the first three years that payments are required rose to 14.7% as of Sept. 30, 2012, up from 13.4% the year before, the U.S. Education Department reported. Another measure shows that defaults are at their highest since 1995.
Bloomberg Businessweek (9/30)

Percentage Calculator ---

Bob Jensen's neglected threads on online calculators ---

A Great Idea for Correcting Wikipedia
"Med Students Earn Credit by Editing Wikipedia Articles," Inside Higher Ed, September 30, 2013 ---

Medical students can earn academic credit at the University of California at San Francisco for editing content on Wikipedia. Fourth-year medical students in a new class will be editing articles, adding images, reviewing edits and adding citations to support unreferenced text. They will focus on editing 80 frequently used articles that have low levels of quality. Wikipedia is a widely used reference for health topics, but medical entries can lack sources and have gaps in content.

“We’re recognizing the impact Wikipedia can have to educate patients and health care providers across the globe, and want users to receive the most accurate publicly available, sound medical information,” said Amin Azzam, association clinical professor and instructor for the new class, in a news release. The class will also teach students how to communicate with consumers about health topics.

The class is a collaboration between the UCSF School of Medicine and the Wiki Project Med Foundation.

Jensen Comment
I don't see why schools of accounting cannot do something like this for student assignments. However, since accounting is so poorly posted, relative to economics, finance, and medicine, to Wikipedia accounting students would probably have to start new modules.

Bob Jensen's threads on Tools and Tricks of the Trade ---

"NYU (Law School) to Offer Online Masters in Tax for Non-Lawyers," by Paul Caron, TaxProf Blog, October 7, 2013 ---

NYU MLS Homepage ---

Jensen Question
Will this new graduate degree from a law school meet the relatively 150-hour requirement (for taking the CPA examination) in New York State?

In my opinion much will depend on the background of the MLS graduate. If that graduate was a former accounting major with sufficient accounting credits then maybe this will meet the 150-hour constraint in New York. I have my doubts whether this would be possible in some more restrictive states like Texas that protect accountancy programs with CPA State Board pit bulls.

I don't think the Stern School of Business offers any masters degrees other than the MBA where I think it would be difficult to sit for the CPA examination without additional courses in accounting (possibly undergraduate courses). Hence, the NYU Law School Master of Tax program will not be competing with a masters of accounting or a masters of tax program in the NYU Stern School.

"‘Revenge Porn' Bill Signed in California: Another Sign of Declining Civility in Society," by Steven Mintz, Ethics Sage, October 7, 2013 ---

Jensen Comment
I doubt that the $1,000 fine is much of a deterrent since porn sites might pay much more for really juicy stuff, especially stair steps to the stars.

The six-month jail threat is more serious, and certainly civil suits can be deterrents except when the perpetrators are poor.

I often wondered if somebody would start a site where students submit illicit videos taken with clandestine cameras in class. No porn here, but the videos might be embarrassing.


Khan Academy ---

"Khan Academy Adds Automated Tutoring Service," by Dian Schaffhause, T.H.E. Journal,  September 26, 2013 ---

Khan Academy, the site that features free educational videos and resources for use by anybody, has just added a personal tutor capability that helps students figure out where to start their lessons and to know when they truly understand the concepts.

The "learning flow," as it's referred to by Founder Sal Khan in a video about the new functionality, is currently available for math; additional subjects will be added "soon."

Khan Academy, the site that features free educational videos and resources for use by anybody, has just added a personal tutor capability that helps students figure out where to start their lessons and to know when they truly understand the concepts.

The "learning flow," as it's referred to by Founder Sal Khan in a video about the new functionality, is currently available for math; additional subjects will be added "soon."

Khan Academy, the site that features free educational videos and resources for use by anybody, has just added a personal tutor capability that helps students figure out where to start their lessons and to know when they truly understand the concepts.

The "learning flow," as it's referred to by Founder Sal Khan in a video about the new functionality, is currently available for math; additional subjects will be added "soon."

Khan Academy, the site that features free educational videos and resources for use by anybody, has just added a personal tutor capability that helps students figure out where to start their lessons and to know when they truly understand the concepts.

The "learning flow," as it's referred to by Founder Sal Khan in a video about the new functionality, is currently available for math; additional subjects will be added "soon."

Khan Academy, the site that features free educational videos and resources for use by anybody, has just added a personal tutor capability that helps students figure out where to start their lessons and to know when they truly understand the concepts.

The "learning flow," as it's referred to by Founder Sal Khan in a video about the new functionality, is currently available for math; additional subjects will be added "soon."


Khan Academy, the site that features free educational videos and resources for use by anybody, has just added a personal tutor capability that helps students figure out where to start their lessons and to know when they truly understand the concepts.

"Khan Academy Tracks Users’ Mastery of Math," by Steve Kolowich, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 2, 2013 --- Click Here

Khan Academy Releases New App for iPhone & iPod Touch, Giving You Mobile Access to 3600 Videos ---

Introducing KA Lite: An Offline Version of the Khan Academy That Runs on Almost Anything --- Click Here

Bob Jensen's threads on the Khan Academy ---

GeoGebra (resources, including software, for teaching and learning mathematics) ---

Flipped Teaching ----

"Inside the Flipped Classroom," by Katherine Mangan, The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 30, 2013 ---

Sara Infante listens intently and scribbles notes as her chemistry professor describes how to identify the masses and atomic numbers of two isotopes of carbon. When it's time to fill in a table showing that she understands the lecture so far, she clicks her mouse, and the lecture, which is being delivered online, freezes on the computer screen.

The questions that Ms. Infante and her classmates at Southwestern University ask their professor, Maha Zewail-Foote, will help shape the next day's session in the classroom. There, moving on to more-complex topics, she'll help them tackle the kinds of problems that used to be given as homework.

It's Ms. Infante's first experience with the flipped classroom, where traditional classwork is done at home and homework is done in class.

"I like this because when you're listening to the lecture at home and you don't get something, you can rewind and replay it as many times as you need to," says Ms. Infante, 19, a sophomore majoring in animal behavior who hopes to become a marine-mammal trainer.

"And when you're working through problems," she adds, "you aren't sitting in your room pulling your hair out because you didn't retain the information from the lecture."

The video for the semester's first flipped class, with its accompanying tables and diagrams, lasted just under 10 minutes. They're usually five to seven minutes, which Ms. Zewail-Foote describes as the attention span of most students. But in her opinion, a well-crafted, concise, 10-minute video that students can pause and replay as many times as they want packs more teaching in than a 20-minute lecture.

The course Web site include outlines that students fill in while they're listening to her recorded lessons, each of which ends with a short quiz.

"Between the lecture outline and video, they should come to class ready," Ms. Zewail-Foote says. "They understand how to calculate average atomic mass, so we can jump right in."

At colleges nationwide, more and more professors are inverting homework and classwork this way, using technology to give students a head start on classroom sessions where they can be active participants and not just listeners.

The flipped classroom is not for everyone. Many students feel lost without a traditional lecture to get them started, and some instructors are reluctant to give up the podium for a role on the sidelines, says Carol A. Twigg, president of the National Center for Academic Transformation.

Since 1999 the center has helped redesign about 300 courses on 159 campuses, often in a flipped format, using technology to cut costs and improve learning. (Southwestern did not work with the center on the revamped chemistry course, but it did consult with other proponents of the technique, as part of a project, supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, aimed at making Southwestern's science curriculum more hands-on.)

Many of the national center's course redesigns have been in remedial math, financed by $2.2-million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The center has also helped flip courses in subjects as diverse as Spanish, psychology, nutrition, and anatomy.

"The traditional classroom typically consists of a lecture of some kind where students are listening or watching the professor," Ms. Twigg says. "Then they do the hard work, solving problems, on their own. The notion is, flip that experience so the professor can help students when they need the help."

Switching from the role of "sage on the stage" to "guide on the side" requires a professional and cultural shift that many faculty members resist, she says. "It's easier to stand up and give the same lecture you've been giving for 20 years than it is to rethink your course, come up with new activities, and really engage your students."

The problem-solving and personalized interaction that take place face-to-face sets these classes apart from massive open online courses, or MOOCs, which too often consist mainly of recorded talks, she says, explaining that flipping the classroom requires more than simply moving lectures online.

Teaching to the masses is tempting, but it's not the same as offering a flipped course, she says. "Let's say I am the most brilliant lecturer of intelligent design, and now I'll have an audience of 200,000 instead of 200.

"The problem is, the success rates are awful," she adds, in a not-so-subtle jab at Sebastian Thrun, the former Stanford University professor who co-founded the MOOC platform Udacity last year, after his online "Introduction to Artificial Intelligence" course attracted more than 160,000 students worldwide. About 23,000 of those students completed the course.

While MOOCs can be effective at delivering content, flipped classrooms make students active participants in their education, says Southwestern's new president, Edward B. Burger. The former mathematics professor at Williams College has created more than 3,000 instructional CD-ROMS and videos in math that are used in classrooms from kindergarten through college. Instead of having students struggle to figure out problems in their dorm rooms at 2 a.m., he says, "I want to be there when students hit those roadblocks."

Although he didn't call it a flipped classroom at the time, Mr. Burger cultivated the technique of "inverting the roles of homework and classwork," an approach that contributed to his winning a national teaching award in 2010.

Back in the common room of her dormitory suite at Southwestern, Ms. Infante has finished listening to the online lecture and asks her roommate, who's curled up in an armchair across the room, for a scientific calculator so she can take the quiz.

Her roommate's own chemistry professor, Emily Niemeyer, offers the format once a week, on what she calls "flipped Fridays."

Ms. Infante aces the quiz and doesn't have any questions for her professor. Other students were stumped by a few questions, Ms. Zewail-Foote notes the following morning as she prepares for class. One student asked: "Will there ever be a time when an atom is not neutral and the number of protons and electrons don't balance each other out?"

The explanation would normally come up in Chapter 4, but Ms. Zewail-Foote decides to work the answer into today's classroom problem-solving session. Reviewing the quiz results, she can tell that students generally understand the material, so she is comfortable accelerating the pace a bit.

There's little danger that students are going to nod off in her class, because she peppers it with questions that they must answer using their hand-held clickers. If 29 students have clicked their answers, she pauses before moving on until all 30 have weighed in.

Shortly after the class begins, students cluster their desks into groups of three or four to work on problems as she walks around, occasionally crouching next to those who seem stuck.

When the semester's first flipped-classroom session is over, at least one student isn't yet sold. "I'm going to fail this class," says Alex Petrucci, a 20-year-old sophomore. The pre-class video didn't adequately prepare her for the problems she was asked to solve in class, she complains, and even with a cluster of classmates to confer with, she felt lost.

That kind of reaction isn't uncommon when classes are flipped.

An aeronautics-engineering professor at Mississippi State University who taught a course in statics, in a flipped format, encountered similar resistance from some students who couldn't get used to online lectures.

Masoud Rais-Rohani, who worked with the National Center for Academic Transformation to revamp the statics course, says having students watch videos, take quizzes, and reflect on what they learned before each class session made it possible to spend class time doing hands-on projects that the course had never before had room for, like working with physical models of bridges and calculating the loads they can carry.

Continued in article

"Report: The 4 Pillars of the Flipped Classroom," by David Nagel, T.H.E. Magazine, June 18, 2013 ---

Though all classrooms are different, there are four critical elements that successful flipped classrooms have in common, according to a new report developed by the Flipped Learning Network, George Mason University, and Pearson's Center for Educator Effectiveness.

The report, "A Review of Flipped Learning," is designed to guide teachers and administrators through the concepts of flipped classrooms and provide definitions and examples of flipped learning in action. Among those concepts are four "pillars" that are required to support effective flipped learning.

  1. Flexible environments: Teachers must expect that class time will be "somewhat chaotic and noisy" and that timelines and expectations for learning assessments will have to be flexible as well.
  2. Culture shift: The classroom becomes student-centered. According to the guide: "Students move from being the product of teaching to the center of learning, where they are actively involved in knowledge formation through opportunities to participate in and evaluate their learning in a manner that is personally meaningful."
  3. Intentional content: Teachers are required to evaluate what they need to teach directly so that classroom time can be used for other methods of teaching, such as "active learning strategies, peer instruction, problem-based learning, or mastery or Socratic methods, depending on grade level and subject matter."
  4. Professional educators: The instructional videos used for flipped classrooms cannot replace trained, professional teachers.

The report also identified challenges and concerns about flipped classrooms, including:

The guide provides references to research supporting the teaching methods used in flipped classrooms and includes three case studies focusing on flipped classrooms in action at the high school and college level. The complete report can be downloaded in PDF form on the Flipped Learning Network site.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on learning and education technology ---

Bob Jensen's threads on Tricks and Tools of the Trade ---


"U. of Florida Online Bachelor’s Programs Win State Approval," by Lawrence Biemiller, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 29, 2013 ---

'Honor Roll' From 'U.S. News' of Online Graduate Programs in Business

Institution Teaching Practices and Student Engagement Student Services and Technology Faculty Credentials and Training Admissions Selectivity
Arizona State U., W.P. Carey School of Business 24 32 37 11
Arkansas State U. 9 21 1 36
Brandman U. (Part of the Chapman U. system) 40 24 29 n/a
Central Michigan U. 11 3 56 9
Clarkson U. 4 24 2 23
Florida Institute of Technology 43 16 23 n/a
Gardner-Webb U. 27 1 15 n/a
George Washington U. 20 9 7 n/a
Indiana U. at Bloomington, Kelley School of Business 29 19 40 3
Marist College 67 23 6 5
Quinnipiac U. 6 4 13 16
Temple U., Fox School of Business 39 8 17 34
U. of Houston-Clear Lake 8 21 18 n/a
U. of Mississippi 37 44 20 n/a

Source: U.S. News & World Report

US News Comparisons of Top Online Graduate MBA (Business) Programs ---

Bob Jensen's threads for respected online training and education (not MOOCs) ---

2U Distance Education Course Provider ---
2U (The Anti-MOOC Provider) ---

"3 Universities (Baylor, Southern Methodist, and Temple Universities) Will Grant Credit for 2U’s Online Courses," by Steve Kolowich, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 30, 2013 ---

Bob Jensen's Threads on Pricey Online Courses and Degrees ---
These do not help global low income students other than by allowing students  to learn at home and accumulate transcript credits toward degrees. Sometimes the credits are accepted only by the college or university providing distance education courses. Some universities like the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee that offer both onsite and online sections of the same course will charge higher fees for the online sections. Distance education for come colleges and universities are cash cows.

Bob Jensen's Threads on Free Online Courses, Videos, Tutorials, and Course Materials ---
These help low income students by providing totally free courses and learning materials, often from the best professors in the world at prestigious universities. However, if students want transcript credit there will be fees to take competency-based examinations. And those credits are not always accepted by other colleges and universities. The free alternatives are mainly for students who just want to learn.

"The Future of Higher Education:  Shaking Up the Status Quo:  Chronicle of Higher Education, October 4, 2013 ---

. . .

3 Big Ideas on Campuses

The Student 'Swirl'

Today's students often attend multiple institutions and mix learning experiences. But is academe ready for them?

Reinventing the Academic Calendar

Colleges are offering many new options to encourage flexibility.

Competency-Based Degrees in the Mainstream

The University of Wisconsin's new flexible-degree option is being watched closely.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education hopes and horrors ---


"Vive la Révolution MOOC," by Steve Kolowich, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 4, 2013 ---

France is encouraging its universities to build massive open online courses—in French, naturally—with edX’s open-source platform, the nonprofit organization announced on Thursday.

The move is part of a push by France’s Ministry of Higher Education and Research to increase the country’s online offerings. This year the ministry opened a “digital university,” called France Université Numerique, which it hopes will serve as an online clearinghouse for MOOCs offered by various French universities. The first courses will begin early next year.

EdX, which was founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recently made the source code for its popular MOOC platform available free. Stanford University, for example, has begun using the OpenEdX platform to power some of its online courses.

France is the first country to adopt OpenEdX at a ministerial level, said Anant Agarwal, president of edX. The French digital university will be independent of edX, but the French government might pay edX for support services, he said.

European universities have recently been scrambling to board the MOOC bandwagon. Some, including France’s École Normale Supérieure, have signed on with Coursera, a MOOC company based in Silicon Valley that this year has put an emphasis on translating its courses into other languages.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on MOOCs, SMOCs, and OKIs ---

"Rutgers Graduate Faculty Opposes Pearson eCollege Deal," by Lawrence Biemiller, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 9, 2013 ---

Laureate International Universities ---

What are the for-profit Laureate International Universities and where are their 800,000 paying students?
Why did key alumni of Thunderbird University resign from the Board because of the sale of campus to Laureate?

"Going Global," by Elizabeth Redden and Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed, October 10, 2013 ---

Laureate Education is big. Like 800,000 students attending 78 institutions in 30 countries big. Yet the privately held for-profit university system has largely remained out of the public eye.

That may be changing, however, as the company appears ready for its coming out party after 14 years of quiet growth.

Laureate has spent heavily to solidify its head start on other globally minded American education providers. In addition to its rapid growth abroad, the company has courted publicity by investing in the much-hyped Coursera, a massive open online course provider. And Laureate recently made news when the International Finance Corporation, a World Bank subsidiary, invested $150 million in the company -- its largest-ever investment in education.

The company has also kicked up controversy over its affiliation with the struggling Thunderbird School of Global Management, a freestanding, nonprofit business school based in Arizona.

The backlash among Thunderbird alumni, many of whom aren’t keen on a takeover by a for-profit, has dragged the company into the ongoing fight over the role of for-profits in American higher education, which Laureate had largely managed to avoid until now.

In fact, Laureate likes to distinguish itself from other for-profit education companies. It is a strange (and substantial) beast to get one’s arms around.

Laureate is a U.S.-based entity whose primary operations are outside the U.S. It is a private, for-profit company that operates campuses even in countries, like Chile, where universities must be not-for-profit by law.

It is unabashed in its pursuit of prestige: Laureate boasts of partnerships with globally ranked public research universities like Monash University and the University of Liverpool as indicators of quality. It also aggressively promotes the connection to its honorary chancellor, former U.S. President Bill Clinton. When Laureate secured approval to build a new for-profit university in Australia (where for-profits are called “private” institutions), the headline in a national newspaper read: “First private uni in 24 years led by Clinton.”

Laureate likes to use the tagline “here for good.” The company has moved into parts of the world where there are insufficient opportunities to pursue a higher education, investing heavily in developing nations. It's based on this track record that the IFC invested in the company with the stated aim of helping Laureate expand access to career-oriented education in "emerging markets": Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.

The strategy of expanding student access in the developing world has won Laureate many fans. And for a for-profit, it gets unexpectedly little criticism.

Until recently, at least. With Thunderbird, Laureate has done what it has done in many countries around the world -- purchasing or in this case partnering with a struggling institution with a good brand, offering an infusion of capital, and promising to help develop new programs and grow enrollments and revenues. This time around, however, widespread skepticism about for-profit education has bedeviled the deal.

The Bird's-Eye View

Laureate’s footprint outside the United States tops that of any American higher education institution. The company brought in approximately $3.4 billion in total revenue during the 2012 fiscal year, more than 80 percent of which came from overseas.

For comparison, the Apollo Group -- which owns the University of Phoenix and is the largest publicly traded for-profit chain -- brought in about $4.3 billion in revenue last year. However, Apollo Global, which is an internationally focused subsidiary, only accounted for $295 million of that.

Indeed, in the late 1990s, when most other for-profit education companies were focused on the potential of the U.S. market, Laureate looked abroad. The Baltimore-based company, at that point a K-12 tutoring outfit known as Sylvan Learning Systems, purchased its first campus, Spain’s Universidad Europea de Madrid, in 1999, and has since affiliated with or acquired a total of 78 higher education institutions on six continents, ranging from art and design institutes to hotel management and culinary schools to technical and vocational colleges to full-fledged universities with medical schools

Laureate operates the largest private university in Mexico, the 37-campus Universidad del Valle de México, and owns or controls 22 higher education institutions in South America (including 11 in Brazil), 10 in Asia, and 19 in continental Europe. It manages online programs in cooperation with the Universities of Liverpool and Roehampton, both in the United Kingdom. It has a new partnership with Australia’s Monash University to help manage its campus in South Africa and it runs seven vocational institutions in Saudi Arabia in cooperation with the Saudi government.

In contrast, Laureate’s largest and most recognizable brand in the U.S. is the online-only, predominantly graduate-level Walden University, which enrolls 50,000 students. And even Walden is global, with students in 145 countries.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on global education and training alternatives on line ---

What are two early adopters of competency-based education in distance education courses?

Undergraduate Program Answer:  Western Governors University (WGU)
Graduate Program Answer:  Chartered Accountancy School of Business (CASB) in Western Canada

How do the University of Chicago (in the 1900s), and the 21st Century University of Wisconsin, University of Akron, and Southern New Hampshire University competency-based differ from the WGU and CASB programs?

The WGU and CASB only administer competency-based testing for students enrolled in distance education courses.
The other universities mentioned provide(d) transcript credits without enrolling in courses.

"Competency-Based Education Goes Mainstream in Wisconsin," by Scott Carlson, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 30, 2013 ---

Twenty years ago, Aaron Apel headed off to the University of Wisconsin at Platteville, where he spent too little time studying and too much time goofing off. He left the university, eventually earning an associate degree in information technology at a community college.

Now, as a longtime staff member in the registrar's office at Wisconsin's Madison campus, he has advanced as far as his education will let him. "I have aspirations to climb the ladder in administration, but the opportunity isn't there without a four-year degree," he says.

Spending months in a classroom is out of the question: In addition to his full-time job, he helps his wife run an accounting business, shuttles three kids to activities, and oversees an amateur volleyball league. Now he may have another option. Later this year Wisconsin's extension system will start a competency-based learning program, called the Flexible Option, in which students with professional experience and training in certain skills might be able to test out of whole courses on their way to getting a degree.

Competency-based learning is already famously used by private institutions like Southern New Hampshire University and Western Governors University, but Wisconsin will be one of the first major public universities to take on this new, controversial form of granting degrees. Among the system's campuses, Milwaukee was first to announce bachelor's degrees in nursing, diagnostic imaging, and information science and technology, along with a certificate in professional and business communication. UW Colleges, made up of the system's two-year institutions, is developing liberal-arts-oriented associate degrees. The Flex Option, as it's often called, may cost the Wisconsin system $35-million over the next few years, with half of that recovered through tuition. The system is starting with a three-month, all-you-can-learn term for $2,250.

If done right, the Flex Option could help a significant number of adults acquire marketable skills and cross the college finish line—an important goal in Wisconsin, which lags behind neighboring states in percentage of adults with college diplomas. There are some 800,000 people in the state who have some college credits but no degree—among them Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who dropped out of Marquette University. He had pushed the university system to set up the Flex Option early last year, when he was considering inviting Western Governors to the state to close a statewide skills gap in high-demand fields like health care, information technology, and advanced manufacturing.

"Students in general are learning in very different ways," the governor, a Republican, says in an interview. The state's population of adults with some college but no degree constitutes "a target-rich environment for us to find the new engineers, health-care professionals, and IT experts that we need to fill these jobs, so we don't have to recruit them from elsewhere and we don't have to wait for years for undergraduates."

But if it's designed poorly, the program will confirm perceptions held by some faculty members, who already thought that the governor's policies were hostile to higher education. They worry that the Flex Option will turn the University of Wisconsin into a kind of diploma mill or suck resources from a system that is already financially pressured. Faculty at the Green Bay campus passed a resolution to express "doubts that the Flexible degree program will meet the academic standards of a university education."

"It's an intriguing idea, but I think the questions that need to be asked are what are the serious limitations of it," says Eric Kraemer, a philosophy professor at the La Crosse campus, where faculty members were also highly skeptical of the Flex Option. Mr. Kraemer wonders whether there actually is a significant group of Wisconsin adults who have the initiative and ability to test out of big portions of degree programs. And, particularly in a squishier subject area like the humanities, he wonders whether testing can adequately evaluate what a traditional student would glean through time and effort spent in a course. "I have serious doubts about the effectiveness of simply doing a competency test to determine whether someone can actually think on their feet."

Certainly, there are a lot of details to be worked out, even as the Flexible Option prepares to enroll its first students. Some of the challenges are technical or logistical: Wisconsin's extension program will have to spend millions to create a student-information system flexible enough to work in a new environment, where student progress is tracked not by course time but competencies, and where instruction and assessment are decoupled.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on competency-based testing ---

SAT College Admissions Test ---

ACT College Admissions Test ---

Only 43% of SAT test takers are prepared to start college ---

Jensen Comment
And those who are the least prepared resist taking the SAT test. They intead opt for the ACT test having easier questions.

"Why Do Would-Be Business Majors Bomb on the SAT?" by Louis Lavell, Bloomvberg Businessweek, September 27, 2013 ---

According to the latest College Board report (PDF) on SAT scores, college-bound seniors who intend to major in business had some of the lowest scores around.

Among a dozen prospective majors accounting for the most test-takers, only three scored lower on writing and critical reasoning: health professions, education, and security and protective services. Would-be business majors fared well on math, but even there they got creamed by biology, engineering, and computer science. Ten years ago, the picture wasn’t all that different.

There are any number of reasons why college applicants with less-than-great SAT scores would gravitate toward business—including assumptions that business programs are less selective than other majors, easier than other programs, or more likely to result in gainful employment.

But it may be far simpler than that.
Steve Schneider, a school counselor for 17 years who works at Sheboygan South High School in Sheboygan, Wis., says he believes the problem may be that many would-be business majors don’t know why they’re going to college and probably don’t belong there. They choose business mainly to satisfy parents and others who are pressuring them about their college plans.

“I think ‘business’ is a default answer,” Schneider says. “It’s the answer of least resistance.”

Many students who end up in business programs in four-year colleges, where about 40 percent of all students ultimately drop out, are probably better-suited to community colleges, career programs at technical schools, and certification programs, Schneider says. The low SAT scores, he says, are the result of too many kids starting down the wrong path. “Is it an indicator that kids aren’t as smart as they should be?” he asks. “I think it’s an indicator that there are more kids taking that test than need to be.”

Ruth Lohmeyer, a counselor at Lincoln Northeast High School in Lincoln, Neb., for the past 11 years, agrees. While most of the students at Northeast take the ACT, not the SAT, she says many of them graduate intending to major in business, which they view as “a good major to have if you don’t know what you want to do.”

“Students that I’ve worked with perceive it as a degree they can complete,” says Lohmeyer, who counsels many students in poverty who will be the first in their families to attend college. “It’s a degree that is [seen as] generic—they can have a business degree and use it in many different career fields.”

If that’s the case, it might help explain some of the shortcomings of business programs themselves.

According to the National Survey of Student Engagement, 42 percent of senior business majors spend fewer than 11 hours a week studying, a greater percentage than in any other major.


Jensen Comment
Except for accounting and finance concentrations, undergraduate business graduates from college do ;poorly in terms of unemployment and expected salary levels ---
"From College Major to Career" --- 
Poor career placement immediately after graduation mostly likely due in part to having worse average SAT scores about business students. Of course there is much variation between universities and geography and tracking into graduate schools. I suspect that students with low SAT scores also tend to eventually have low LSAT, GMAT, and GRE scores later on when applying for graduate studies.  Business management has the highest "Popularity" in terms of numbers of undergraduate majors. The table below ignores the length of time it takes a graduate to finally get career job other than part-time non-career McJobs. Timing varies a great deal by major and graduate studies.

Averages are hurt by lower gpa graduates relative top graduates' unemployment and earnings.
Major Field (2010 Census Data)
Unemployment Percent
25th % Earnings
Median % Earnings
75th % Earnings

Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

Bob Jensen's threads on careers are at


"Corruption in Higher Education Appears to Be on the Rise Globally, Report Says," by Aisha Labi, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 1, 2013 ---

Corruption in higher education is nothing new, probably existing since the first college opened its doors. But as more people around the world seek college degrees, there's evidence that bribes for grades, admissions fraud, and other corrupt practices are on the rise.

"We're certainly discovering more of it," said Stephen P. Heyneman, a professor of international-education policy at Vanderbilt University and a former education official with the World Bank. "Whether that's because we're paying more attention to it or because it's worsening, I don't know."

In a report released on Tuesday by Transparency International, a nongovernmental organization, Mr. Heyneman and other experts examine trends and examples of corruption in education, from primary schools to public university systems. The publication, "Global Corruption Report: Education," is one in a series of reports the group produces annually on corruption around the world, but it's the first to focus on education.

Corruption in higher education very likely has been exacerbated by the rapid expansion of the sector in recent decades, transforming what were once elite systems to mass higher-education systems, the report says. That transformation, coupled with the growing internationalization of higher education, has triggered significant problems.

"In some instances, corruption has invaded whole systems of higher education and threatens the reputation of research products and graduates, regardless of their guilt or innocence," Mr. Heyneman writes in the report.

'Denuded and Corrupted'

The most corrupt regions include Southeast Asia and many of the Central Asian republics, where Mr. Heyneman describes entire systems as "denuded and corrupted from within." One instructor in Kazakhstan told him how her dean had asked to borrow her grade book before she administered final examinations. When he returned it to her, the grades for half of her students were already filled in.

In another instance, a Ph.D. student Mr. Heyneman had gotten to know over several visits explained why she had not yet received her degree even though she had defended her dissertation long before: She didn't have enough money to pay the chairman of her dissertation committee the bribe he was demanding.

Often students are required not only to read the costly textbook a professor has written and assigned to all his students, but also to prove that they actually had purchased the book by presenting receipts.

The different kinds of corruption he has encountered led Mr. Heyneman to conclude that "the problem of corruption is endemic but is not identical in different parts of the world."

In the former Soviet states, bribes and other forms of monetary corruption are the norm. In sub-Saharan Africa, sexual exploitation of students by faculty members and administrators is pervasive. In other countries, personal corruption is more prevalent, with family members pressing an instructor to award a grade or pass a student as a favor.

The report describes plagiarism by students, a pressing concern for many American colleges, as a kind of personal corruption.

'The Elephant in the Room'

While the specific nature of the corruption is idiosyncratic to individual regions, the effects of corruption often cross national borders. The large numbers of Chinese graduate students in the United States, for example, have made corruption in China a pressing issue for many American institutions. The students routinely submit personal statements of purpose with their applications that they have not written, Mr. Heyneman said, and they have cheated on the Toefl and other language-proficiency tests as well.

"This is a major diplomatic issue for both China and the U.S," said Mr. Heyneman. "China depends for its economy on having well-educated people, and it spends hundreds of millions of dollars on subsidizing students who study abroad. The problem is, many come unprepared."

The Real Scandal Concerns the Academics in the USA Who Buy This Phony Research for Tenure and Promotions and Pay Raises
"Looks good on paper A flawed system for judging research is leading to academic fraud," The Economist, September 28, 2013 ---|a
Thank you Richard Sansing for the heads up.

DISGUISED as employees of a gas company, a team of policemen burst into a flat in Beijing on September 1st. Two suspects inside panicked and tossed a plastic bag full of money out of a 15th-floor window. Red hundred-yuan notes worth as much as $50,000 fluttered to the pavement below.

Money raining down on pedestrians was not as bizarre, however, as the racket behind it. China is known for its pirated DVDs and fake designer gear, but these criminals were producing something more intellectual: fake scholarly articles which they sold to academics, and counterfeit versions of existing medical journals in which they sold publication slots.

As China tries to take its seat at the top table of global academia, the criminal underworld has seized on a feature in its research system: the fact that research grants and promotions are awarded on the basis of the number of articles published, not on the quality of the original research. This has fostered an industry of plagiarism, invented research and fake journals that Wuhan University estimated in 2009 was worth $150m, a fivefold increase on just two years earlier.

Chinese scientists are still rewarded for doing good research, and the number of high-quality researchers is increasing. Scientists all round the world also commit fraud. But the Chinese evaluation system is particularly susceptible to it.

By volume the output of Chinese science is impressive. Mainland Chinese researchers have published a steadily increasing share of scientific papers in journals included in the prestigious Science Citation Index (SCI—maintained by Thomson Reuters, a publisher). The number grew from a negligible share in 2001 to 9.5% in 2011, second in the world to America, according to a report published by the Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China. From 2002 to 2012, more than 1m Chinese papers were published in SCI journals; they ranked sixth for the number of times cited by others. Nature, a science journal, reported that in 2012 the number of papers from China in the journal’s 18 affiliated research publications rose by 35% from 2011. The journal said this “adds to the growing body of evidence that China is fast becoming a global leader in scientific publishing and scientific research”.

In 2010, however, Nature had also noted rising concerns about fraud in Chinese research, reporting that in one Chinese government survey, a third of more than 6,000 scientific researchers at six leading institutions admitted to plagiarism, falsification or fabrication. The details of the survey have not been publicly released, making it difficult to compare the results fairly with Western surveys, which have also found that one-third of scientists admit to dishonesty under the broadest definition, but that a far smaller percentage (2% on average) admit to having fabricated or falsified research results.

In 2012 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an American journal, published a study of retractions accounting for nation of origin. In it a team of authors wrote that in medical journal articles in PubMed, an American database maintained by the National Institutes of Health, there were more retractions due to plagiarism from China and India together than from America (which produced the most papers by far, and so the most cheating overall). The study also found that papers from China led the world in retractions due to duplication—the same papers being published in multiple journals. On retractions due to fraud, China ranked fourth, behind America, Germany and Japan.

“Stupid Chinese Idea”

Chinese scientists have urged their comrades to live up to the nation’s great history. “Academic corruption is gradually eroding the marvellous and well-established culture that our ancestors left for us 5,000 years ago,” wrote Lin Songqing of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in an article this year in Learned Publishing, a British-based journal.

In the 1980s, when China was only beginning to reinvest in science, amassing publishing credits seemed a good way to use non-political criteria for evaluating researchers. But today the statistics-driven standards for promotion (even when they are not handed out merely on the basis of personal connections) are as problematic as in the rest of the bureaucracy. Xiong Bingqi of the 21st Century Education Research Institute calls it the “GDPism of education”. Local government officials stand out with good statistics, says Mr Xiong. “It is the same with universities.”

The most valuable statistic a scientist can tally up is SCI journal credits, especially in journals with higher "impact factors"—ones that are cited more frequently in other scholars’ papers. SCI credits and impact factors are used to judge candidates for doctorates, promotions, research grants and pay bonuses. Some ambitious professors amass SCI credits at an astounding pace. Mr Lin writes that a professor at Ningbo university, in south-east China, published 82 such papers in a three-year span. A hint of the relative weakness of these papers is found in the fact that China ranks just 14th in average citations per SCI paper, suggesting that many Chinese papers are rarely quoted by other scholars.

The quality of research is not always an issue for those evaluating promotions and grants. Some administrators are unqualified to evaluate research, Chinese scientists say, either because they are bureaucrats or because they were promoted using the same criteria themselves. In addition, the administrators’ institutions are evaluated on their publication rankings, so university presidents and department heads place a priority on publishing, especially for SCI credits. This dynamic has led some in science circles to joke that SCI stands for “Stupid Chinese Idea”.

Crystal unclear

The warped incentive system has created some big embarrassments. In 2009 Acta Crystallographica Section E, a British journal on crystallography, was forced to retract 70 papers co-authored by two researchers at Jinggangshan university in southern China, because they had fabricated evidence described in the papers. After the retractions the Lancet, a British journal, published a broadside urging China to take more action to prevent fraud. But many cases are covered up when detected to protect the institutions involved.

The pirated medical-journal racket broken up in Beijing shows that there is a well-developed market for publication beyond the authentic SCI journals. The cost of placing an article in one of the counterfeit journals was up to $650, police said. Purchasing a fake article cost up to $250. Police said the racket had earned several million yuan ($500,000 or more) since 2009. Customers were typically medical researchers angling for promotion.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on professors who cheat ---

The (purportedly) Highest Yielding Dividends That are Safe to Hold --- Click Here

Twitter is a classic case of a company shifting the focus to revenues when it cannot earn a profit ---
The Controversy Over Revenue Reporting and HFV 

From the CFO Journal's Morning Ledger on October 4, 2013

Twitter’s IPO is set to be one of the biggest tests of the JOBS Act
The company revealed plans to raise up to $1 billion yesterday after previously using a portion of the law to file confidentially with regulators. So potential buyers just got their first glimpse of
Twitter’s financials, which showed the social network’s revenue more than doubled to $254 million in the first six months of this year, the WSJ reports. But there were also some red flags. Its net loss grew by 40% to $69 million in the period as expenses ballooned. And its user growth is slowing, at the same time prices for ads, which make up the bulk of the company’s revenue, are falling. “They certainly have a lot of work ahead of them to get mainstream America to understand” how Twitter works, said Brian Solis, an analyst at the Altimeter Group.

. . .

Absent from Twitter’s big reveal were the pay packages for its current and former chief financial officers
CFOJ’s Emily Chasan reports
. The company is taking advantage of JOBS Act rules that let it disclose compensation for only its top three named executive officers, rather than five, which is required for a larger company. Twitter CEO Richard Costolo received a compensation package valued at $11.5 million last year. Christopher Fry, senior vice president of engineering, was paid $10.3 million and Adam Bain, president of global revenue, received compensation worth $6.7 million, according to the filing. But the pay packages for CFO Mike Gupta and former CFO Ali Rowghani, who now serves as chief operating officer of the company, weren’t included.


A Great Illustration of Big Data Analysis
IBM uses big data to predict outbreaks of dengue fever and malaria ---
Thank you Scott Bonacker for the heads up.


Statistics Explained Through Modern Dance: A New Way of Teaching a Tough Subject ---

Bob Jensen's threads on free online mathematics tutorials are at

Customers tend to be more turned off by long lines relative to shorter lines that move slowly
 Measuring the Effect of Queues on Customer Purchases ---

We conduct an empirical study to analyze how waiting in queue in the context of a retail store affects customers’ purchasing behavior. Our methodology combines a novel dataset with periodic information about the queuing system (collected via video recognition technology) with point-of-sales data. We find that waiting in queue has a non-linear impact on purchase incidence and that customers appear to focus mostly on the length of the queue, without adjusting enough for the speed at which the line moves. An implication of this finding is that pooling multiple queues into a single queue may increase the length of the queue observed by customers and thereby lead to lower revenues. We also find that customers' sensitivity to waiting is heterogeneous and negatively correlated with price sensitivity, which has important implications for pricing in a multi-product category subject to congestion effects.

Jensen Comment
I typically pay much more for an item that I purchase from Franconia Hardware where there's seldom any line and the owner cheerfully helps me find what what I came to purchase. I usually go to Walmart when I don't think Mike carries an item on my shopping list. Even then I sometimes go to Franconia Hardware before driving on to Walmart.

But Walmart provides better exercise.
I typically have to walk for a half mile on ice and slush getting to and from where I have to park my car amidst all the parked cars from Vermont in the Walmart parking lot. I think there would be some benefits if New Hampshire enacted a sales tax.

The sad thing in all of this is the vast amount of accountics science research over the past three decades that relied upon a CAPM Model that worked. We will probably never learn about how this weakened much of many of the findings in accountics science capital markets research.

An Older Paper from Nobel Laureate Bill Sharpe (Stanford)

"The Arithmetic of Active Management,"  William F. Sharpe, The Financial Analysts' Journal, Vol. 47, No. 1, January/February 1991 ---

"Today's fad is index funds that track the Standard and Poor's 500. True, the average soundly beat most stock funds over the past decade. But is this an eternal truth or a transitory one?"

"In small stocks, especially, you're probably better off with an active manager than buying the market."

"The case for passive management rests only on complex and unrealistic theories of equilibrium in capital markets."

"Any graduate of the ___ Business School should be able to beat an index fund over the course of a market cycle."

Statements such as these are made with alarming frequency by investment professionals1. In some cases, subtle and sophisticated reasoning may be involved. More often (alas), the conclusions can only be justified by assuming that the laws of arithmetic have been suspended for the convenience of those who choose to pursue careers as active managers.

If "active" and "passive" management styles are defined in sensible ways, it must be the case that

(1) before costs, the return on the average actively managed dollar will equal the return on the average passively managed dollar and

(2) after costs, the return on the average actively managed dollar will be less than the return on the average passively managed dollar

These assertions will hold for any time period. Moreover, they depend only on the laws of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Nothing else is required.

Of course, certain definitions of the key terms are necessary. First a market must be selected -- the stocks in the S&P 500, for example, or a set of "small" stocks. Then each investor who holds securities from the market must be classified as either active or passive.

Over any specified time period, the market return will be a weighted average of the returns on the securities within the market, using beginning market values as weights3. Each passive manager will obtain precisely the market return, before costs4. From this, it follows (as the night from the day) that the return on the average actively managed dollar must equal the market return. Why? Because the market return must equal a weighted average of the returns on the passive and active segments of the market. If the first two returns are the same, the third must be also.

This proves assertion number 1. Note that only simple principles of arithmetic were used in the process. To be sure, we have seriously belabored the obvious, but the ubiquity of statements such as those quoted earlier suggests that such labor is not in vain.

To prove assertion number 2, we need only rely on the fact that the costs of actively managing a given number of dollars will exceed those of passive management. Active managers must pay for more research and must pay more for trading. Security analysis (e.g. the graduates of prestigious business schools) must eat, and so must brokers, traders, specialists and other market-makers.

Because active and passive returns are equal before cost, and because active managers bear greater costs, it follows that the after-cost return from active management must be lower than that from passive management.

This proves assertion number 2. Once again, the proof is embarrassingly simple and uses only the most rudimentary notions of simple arithmetic.

Enough (lower) mathematics. Let's turn to the practical issues.

Why do sensible investment professionals continue to make statements that seemingly fly in the face of the simple and obvious relations we have described? How can presented evidence show active managers beating "the market" or "the index" or "passive managers"? Three reasons stand out5.

To repeat: Properly measured, the average actively managed dollar must underperform the average passively managed dollar, net of costs. Empirical analyses that appear to refute this principle are guilty of improper measurement.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on the efficient capital market or lack thereof as evidenced by so much research since 1991 ---
Bill shared the Nobel Prize for invention of the CAPM Model which in recent years has been shown not to work.

"The CAPM Debate and the Logic and Philosophy of Finance," by David Johnstone, Abacus, Volume 49, Issue Supplement S1, pages 1–6, January 2013 ---
Although most Abacus articles not free, this is a free editorial download.

Finance, and particularly financial decision making, has much in common with the discipline of statistics and statistical decision theory. Both fields involve conceptual models and related methods by which to make numerical assessments that are meant to assist users to draw inferences about future states and to make choices between possible actions. In both fields, inferences and decisions are reached by implementing quantitative methods, and in both fields those methods require either empirical or subjective inputs (e.g., sample estimates of relevant input parameters or human estimates of the same sorts of variables).1

This is not merely saying that finance theory makes use of statistical theory. That is incidental, as is the fact that statistics now adopts the language and ideas of finance in some of its important applications. Rather, the point is that the two disciplines are fundamentally analogous in their purposes and construction. They differ markedly, however, in their states of philosophical introspection, as is natural given that finance arose as a field only in the 1960s or later, and has therefore had much less time to mature and look back at itself and its development in a critical philosophical way.

A stark difference between the two fields is that in statistics there exists a formalized branch of enquiry called ‘the logic, methodology and philosophy of statistical inference and decision theory’, whereas in finance there is as yet no equivalent well-defined or orchestrated subfield. The philosophy of statistics is a highly developed discipline, built upon hundreds of papers and books, written by statisticians, logicians, philosophers of science and practitioners in applied fields (e.g., psychology, medicine, economics) since the early 1900s. All of the great names in statistical theory, including Karl Pearson, R. A. Fisher, Neyman, Savage, von Neumann and de Finetti, have contributed philosophically as well as technically to the field we know as statistics, and indeed virtually all of the empirical work that is done in finance today is licensed by one or other of these philosophers. Similarly, very influential modern statistical theorists such as Lindley, Kadane, Bernardo, Seidenfeld and Berger have contributed numerous papers and books to the big-picture philosophical issues in statistics.

By comparison, the philosophy, logic and methodology of finance are yet to expressly emerge, or to obtain the overarching respect and influence that such work has in statistics. This of itself is something for explanation from positivist and sociological perspectives. In the early years of finance, there was a great deal of such work published, but in later years the majority of published research in finance has been predominantly descriptive or empirical (data driven) rather than conceptual or philosophical. There are some obvious practical reasons for this, such as for example the modern availability of excellent unexplored data bases and fast inexpensive computing. More fundamentally, however, there has been a cultural shift away from critical philosophical analysis of financial logic and financial methods within finance.

As one simple example, early generations of students in finance spent much time trying to understand the NPV versus IRR debate, and the mathematical explanations of how these techniques can coincide or clash. Theoretical papers were written on this topic, not just in finance but also in economics and engineering. By comparison, current finance students are not asked to think about the logical foundations of DCF analysis, and are mostly unaware of the related debate and mathematical enquiry that once took centre stage. The most that a modern finance student can be expected to know of the issue is that undergraduate textbooks list some important problems of IRR and conclude that NPV does not have the same troubles, and that essentially the case is closed. Generally this superficial appreciation comes from pre-scripted lecture slides rather than from any individual research or thought on the issue. Most textbooks give no academic references to the related historical literature and no inkling of how subtle matters of interpretation of NPV and IRR can be.

Research students might once have discovered such issues for themselves, through curiosity and unstructured background reading, but the modern way of PhD research is much narrower and usually involves a substantial commitment of time and thought to learning statistical techniques, and how to implement them using different software packages, and to cleaning, merging and reconstructing large data files. There is obviously less time and appetite for philosophical critique, out of which potential research outcomes are no doubt less ‘safe’ than those from a well-conceived empirical investigation.

. . .

The issue nearly 50 years after its invention is where finance stands on the CAPM. The papers published in this issue contain the unedited positions on the CAPM of well-known finance researchers. They are reactions to the main paper of Dempsey, who adopts a critical and therefore provocative standpoint. Consistent with the sentiments expressed above, it is my belief that the free and frank academic discussion provoked by Dempsey's paper is not only essential to a mature field but is also of great academic and communal enjoyment. Those who have provided comments on Dempsey's paper did so willingly and apparently with the thought that it would be worthwhile to put in print some ideas and opinions that are usually reserved for informal or unguarded tearoom conversations.

By chance, this issue of Abacus on the status of the CAPM coincides with the publication of a wonderful book on the same subject, written by one of the founders of the field. This book by Haim Levy (2012) titled The Capital Asset Pricing Model in the 21st Century covers much of the history and debate over the CAPM and its theoretical, empirical and practical validity. Readers will likely be interested in how the arguments advanced by Dempsey and others in this issue of Abacus compare with the position taken by Levy. There is in fact a great deal of reinforcement between Levy and some of the commentators. Levy's essential conclusion is that the CAPM stands, in his words, ‘alive and well’. This is for philosophical reasons, including particularly that the CAPM is a model of ex ante decision making and hence does not need to be, and cannot be expected to be, mirrored neatly by historical data. Levy's faith in the CAPM is also for practical reasons, particularly for the close approximation with which it mimics ex ante optimal investment, and the returns thereof, over a wide class of utility functions.

I conclude this introduction to Dempsey and others on the topic of the CAPM in the twenty-first century with the spur that only when we openly discuss what is inadequate or questionable with our own theories can we lay claim to scientific ‘objectivity’. Technical or empirical positions adopted routinely, untempered by philosophical scepticism or appreciation, can prove greatly inadequate, misleading and ultimately costly to users and to the scientific reputation of the field, even when used for strictly practical purposes (such as choosing investments).

Finance as a field embodies more than sufficient theoretical substance to warrant its own subfield in philosophy—the logic and philosophy of finance. By nature, philosophical critique is normative, so any aversion in principle to normative research needs to be overcome. I began this introduction with the claim that finance and statistics are like twins. Note, however, that published research in statistics is predominantly normative (e.g., Bayes versus non-Bayes, etc.) whereas most finance research is largely empirical. If we look more closely, however, empirical finance, which is sometimes championed as ‘positive’ and ‘anti-normative’, is replete with normative discussion about matters such as how to construct an experiment or a statistical test, or how to define a key measure such as the cost of capital. There should therefore be no in-principle resistance to the reinvigoration of normative or philosophical thought concerning finance theory proper.

1 For example, applications in finance of portfolio theory and the CAPM require an ex ante joint probability distribution of the future returns on all firms in the market. That distribution is usually estimated empirically but is in principle a subjective probability distribution.

2 ‘There is no inevitable connection between the validity of the expected utility maxim and the validity of portfolio analysis based on, say, expected return and variance’ (Markowitz, 1959, p. 209).


The CAPM Debate and the Logic and Philosophy of Finance
D. J. Johnstone

Original article

The Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM): The History of a Failed Revolutionary Idea in Finance?
Mike Dempsey


Karen Benson and Robert Faff

The Capital Asset Pricing Model: A Revolutionary Idea in Finance!
Hendrick Berkman

The Failure of the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM): An Update and Discussion
Graham Bornholt

The CAPM: Theoretical Validity, Empirical Intractability and Practical Applications
Philip Brown and Terry Walter

Consequences of the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM)—a Critical and Broad Perspective
Charlie X. Cai, Iain Clacher and Kevin Keasey

The Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM): The History of a Failed Revolutionary Idea in Finance? Comments and Extensions
Imad A. Moosa

Death Where is Thy Sting? A Response to Dempsey’s Despatching of the CAPM
Graham Partington

Why the CAPM is Half-Right and Everything Else is Wrong
Tom Smith and Kathleen Walsh

Comments and Perspectives on ‘The Capital Asset Pricing Model’
Avanidhar Subrahmanyam

The CAPM: A Case of Elegance is for Tailors?
Mike Dempsey



The CAPM is prolific, but doesn’t appear to work!
Kenneth French (see below in this message)

Problems of CAPM

Alternative to CAPM: Dual-Beta

Dual-beta model differentiates downside beta from upside beta. The difference between CAPM and dual-beta model is that the CAPM assumes that upside and downside betas are the same while the dual-beta model does not. Since this assumption is rarely accurate, the dual-beta model is considered to provide better information for investors.[2]

Jensen Comment
My own threads on how the CAPM has been misleading for much of accountics research are at
Be patient, this document is very slow to load at the second stage (#AccentTheObvious)due to the immense size of the document.

You have to scroll down quite a ways for the CAPM tidbits.

Two tidbits of particular interest are as follows:

This is a Must Read
Dartmouth Professor Ken French comes in for the rescue of CAPM!
"How to use the Fama French Model," Empirical Finance Blog, August 1, 2011 ---

The CAPM is prolific, but doesn’t appear to work!

For example, in the figures below I’ve plotted the Fama-French 25 (portfolios ranked on size and book-to-market) against beta.

In the first figure, I plot the average excess return to the FF 25 against the average excess return one would expect, given beta.

If you’d like to see how I calculated the charts above, please reference the excel file here.

Given such a poor track record, is anyone still using the CAPM?

Lot’s of people, apparently…

Welch (2008) finds that ~75% of professors recommend the use of the model when estimating the cost of capital, and Graham and Harvey (2001) find that ~74% of CFOs use the CAPM in their work.

A few quotes from Graham and Harvey 2001 sum up common sentiment regarding the CAPM:

“While the CAPM is popular, we show later that it is not clear that the model is applied properly in practice. Of course, even if it is applied properly, it is not clear that the CAPM is a very good model [see Fama and French (1992)].

“…practitioners might not apply the CAPM or NPV rule correctly. It is also interesting that CFOs pay very little attentionto risk factors based on momentum and book-to-market-value.”

Of course, there are lots of arguments to consider before throwing out the CAPM. Here are a few:

Regardless, being that this blog is dedicated to empirical data and evidence, and not about ‘mentally masturbating about theoretical finance models,’ we’ll operate under the assumption that the CAPM is dead until new data comes available.

The Fama French Alternative?

Given the CAPM doesn’t work that well in practice, perhaps we should look into the Fama French model (which isn’t perfect or cutting edge, but a solid workhorse nonetheless). And while the FF model inputs are highly controversial, one thing is clear: the FF 3-factor model does a great job explaining the variability of returns. For example, according to Fama French 1993, the 3-factor model explains over 90% of the variability in returns, whereas the CAPM can only explain ~70%!

The 3-factor model is great, but how the heck does one estimate the FF factors?

Dartmouth Professor Ken French comes in for the rescue!

Continued in article

Ken French's Link

"The Impact of Asymmetry on Expected Stock Returns: An Investigation of Alternative Risk Measures," by Stephen P. Huffman and Cliff Moll, SSRM, September 7, 2011 ---

We investigate the relation between various alternative risk measures and future daily returns using a sample of firms over the 1988-2009 time period. Previous research indicates that returns are not normally distributed and that investors seem to care more about downside risk than total risk. Motivated by these findings and the lack of research on upside risk, we model the relation between future returns and risk measures and investigate the following questions: Are investors compensated for total risk? Is the compensation for downside risk different than the compensation for upside risk? and which measure of risk (i.e., upside, downside, or total) is most important to investors? We find that, although investors seem to be compensated for total risk, measures of downside risk, such as the lower partial moment, better explain future returns. Further, when downside and upside risk are modeled simultaneously, investors seem to care only about downside risk. Our findings are robust to the addition of control variables, including prior returns, size, book-to-market ratio of equity (B/M), and leverage. We also find evidence of short-run mean reversals in daily returns. Our findings are important because we document a positive risk-return relationship, using both total and downside risk measures; however, we find that investors are concerned more with downside risk than total risk.


An alternative to CAPM theory is Arbitrage Pricing Theory. My long critique of APT was rejected by the Journal of Finance. The Editor said if he did not understand it nobody else would probably understand it. In retrospect is should have been rejected because it was poorly written ---

The sad thing in all of this is the vast amount of accountics science research over the past three decades that relied upon a CAPM Model that worked. We will probably never learn about how this weakened much of many of the findings in accountics science capital markets research.

This is the latest post from Dr. Emelee, a former Big 4 employee who is in process of obtaining his PhD. Read the rest of his posts here.

"What You Need to Know About Getting Into an Accounting PhD Program," Going Concern, October 9, 2013 ---

Now that you know what getting a PhD in accounting is really all about (hint: not teaching), you're probably wondering what it takes to get in. 
There are around 90 accounting PhD granting universities in the U.S. Some admit every other year, and some have annual admissions of only two or three people. Of course, some programs admit many more. Schools get many more applications than they have spots for so this does two things: 1) makes it hard to get in and 2) makes the job pay well when you get out. 
Some Basics
Applicants normally have to apply to both the graduate school AND the accounting program. Often, the application deadlines for these two groups are different, so make sure you check on that. Also, I found that half of the schools I applied to lost something I sent to them. I called to follow up with a few schools, was told I hadn’t sent in something or other, responded with the date I sent the item, was put on hold for five minutes, and the person would come back on and tell me that they just found the thing and my application was now complete. I don’t know if they would have tracked the item down if I hadn’t called and insisted that it was sent. 
I’ve heard of a few schools that prefer people with professional accounting experience, but from the inside it looks to me like a shiny GMAT will beat out someone with a few years of public almost every time. If you are a public accounting person, I think it’s a good idea to try and get one recommendation letter from a senior manager or a partner. The other two recommendation letters should definitely be from professors, and make these profs with the highest number of quality publications and not necessarily the ones you liked the best. Name recognition can go a long way here. 
Cs Don't Get PhDs and Overachieve
The admissions committee usually sorts people based on GMAT score and undergraduate GPA. Some schools require master’s coursework but most don’t. Even schools that require a master’s degree will weigh the undergrad GPA more heavily since there is more variation in undergrad GPA’s compared to master’s GPA’s. I got the sense when talking to admissions people that they think B’s are handed out in grad school but had to actually be earned at the undergraduate level. 
If you’re reading this and you’re still an undergraduate, take some extra math classes. A lot of schools say that having enough calculus to understand integration and differentiation is a prerequisite for admission to the program. Some schools additionally require both linear algebra and multivariate calculus. 
If you already have a bachelor’s degree, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to take an MBA statistics course before you apply to a program. This will give you a small taste of what you’re getting into and will also show some initiative. This is no substitute for a shiny GMAT score, but it can help if you’re on the margin. 
Remember That This Is About Research
Get a sense of what type of research you want to do (analytical vs. experimental/behavioral vs. archival, etc.) before you apply to a school. Read some academic research to see if anything speaks to you. Some schools are almost exclusively one area or the other and you don’t want to get into a PhD program that trains you to do research in an area you don’t like. 
Connected to the above, read a few papers from each professor at schools you will apply to. See if you would want to study the same types of things as anyone there. If not, then working on your dissertation for two or three years will be extremely painful even if you get accepted. 
I didn’t do this when I applied, but I know someone that actually mentioned specific profs he wanted to work with in his statement of purpose (this is the letter you write with your admissions packet). I can see it being a good thing because it at least shows that you know what people at the school work on and it’s not a blanket letter. But I can see it being a bad thing if none of those profs are on the admissions committee. Maybe department admins would even tell you who is on the committee if you call, but I’m not sure if they would give that info out or even know. 
Up next: I will give a few tips for navigating the first year in the program.
Good luck!  

Bob Jensen's threads on the sad state of accounting doctoral programs ---


To Make Sense of Your Data You Need a Good Story
"Story-driven Data Analysis," by Judy Bayer and Marie Taillard, Harvard Business Review Blog, September 27, 2013 --- Click Here

Great analysts tell great stories based on the results of their analyses.  Stories, after all, make results user-friendly, more conducive to decision-making, and more persuasive.

But that is not the only reason to use stories.  Time and time again in our experience, stories have been more than an afterthought; they have actually enabled a more rigorous analysis of data in the first place.  Stories allow the analysts to construct a set of hypotheses and provide a map for investigating the data.

We recently worked with a department store retailer and a team of analysts looking for creative insights into customer loyalty.  Based on our work with a department store expert, we started out with a storyline, a narrative hypothesis, according to which a customer experiences different journeys through the department store over time and rewards the retailer with a certain level of loyalty.

How will these journeys unfold? Does the customer start in cosmetics and then move into clothing?  Does she go from the second floor to the first floor to buy a handbag to match a new outfit?  Does she have shopping days where she takes a lunch break in the restaurant before continuing her shopping?  Do less loyal customers make different journeys from more loyal ones?

In other words, we were interested not just in what customers were buying, but in the mechanics of how they make their purchases and how this may make them loyal.  After the analysis, the true story of a customer’s path to loyalty is in fact revealed.

Where do these stories come from?  In our experience, they can come either from the experience of an expert in the sector or brand, as was the case in the previous example, or from qualitative research using observation or in-depth interviews.

We recently advised a telco client in developing the “jobs to be done” for a range of new products and services.  We interviewed consumers and heard their own stories of how they go about using their mobile devices throughout the day.  The general narrative hypothesis we drew from listening to these stories is that consumers cobble together mobile solutions to suit their lifestyles.

One consumer revealed that he actually owns two SIM cards for the same smartphone and told us in what context he changes from one to the other.   Another customer told us about the parental control and other relevant apps and browsing that she has discovered and collected and which facilitate her lifestyle as a mother.

What we are seeing here is a multi-usage context (characterized by two SIM cards) and a “Mobile Mommy” context, each of which calls for a distinct analysis and possibly different products/services to be developed subsequently.  In other words, we found that the customers’ homemade solutions could be used by brand managers to identify what kind of data to gather and what kind of analysis to perform.

The analyses will in their turn enrich the initial stories and lead to deeper insights.  What is important here is that the storyline, told before the analyses, enables an authentic human element to surface that would be more difficult to extract from the data alone

In order for a story to truly enable analytics, the story development process needs to be rigorous.   We use the framework of Grounded Theory to ensure that the data and overarching storyline inform each other and are coherent with each other.  The idea is for the analyst to navigate back and forth between the data and the developing story to ensure a good balance between the creative narrative and the analytics that reveal the facts and details of the story.

Continued in article

Would Nate Silver Touch This Probability Estimate With a 10-Foot Baysian Pole?
"Calculating the Probabilities of a U.S. Default." by Justin Fox, Harvard Business Review Article, October 10, 2013 --- Click Here

An argument has been making the rounds that there’s really no danger of default if the U.S. runs up against the debt ceiling — the president could simply make sure that all debt payments are made on time, even as other government bills go unpaid. I’ve heard it from economist Thomas Sowell, investor and big-time political donor Foster Friess, and pundit George Will. It’s even been made right here on by Tufts University accounting professor Lawrence Weiss.

The Treasury Department has been saying all along that it can’t do this; it makes 80 million payments a month, and it’s simply not technically capable of sorting out which ones to make on time and which ones to hold off on. I don’t know if this is true, and there may be an element of political posturing in such statements. On the other hand, it is the Treasury Department that has to pay the bills. If they say they’re worried, I can’t help but worry too. When Tony Fratto, who worked in the Treasury Department in the Bush Administration, seconds this concern, I worry even more. Not to mention that this has happened before, in the mini-default of 1979, when Treasury systems went on the fritz in the wake of a brief Congressional standoff over  —  you guessed it — raising the debt ceiling.

Then there’s the question of legality. The second the President or the Treasury Secretary starts choosing which bills to pay, he usurps the spending authority that the U.S. Constitution grants Congress. The Constitution states, in the 14th Amendment, that the U.S. will pay its debts. But there is no clear path to honoring this commitment in the face of a breached debt ceiling. Writing in the Columbia Law Review last year, Neil H. Buchanan of George Washington University Law School and Michael C. Dorf of Cornell University Law School concluded that as every realistic option faced by the president violated the Constitution in some way, the “least unconstitutional” thing to do would not be to stop making some payments but to ignore the debt ceiling. That’s because, in comparison with unilaterally raising taxes or cutting spending to enable the U.S. to continue making its debt payments under the current ceiling, ignoring the debt limit would “minimize the unconstitutional assumption of power, minimize sub-constitutional harm, and preserve, to the extent possible, the ability of other actors to undo or remedy constitutional violations.” And even this option, Buchanan and Dorf acknowledge, is fraught with risk: financial markets might shun the new bonds issued under presidential fiat as “radioactive.”

So assigning a 0% probability to the possibility that running into the debt ceiling will lead to some kind of default doesn’t sound reasonable. What is reasonable? Let’s say 25%, although really that’s just a guess. The likelihood that hitting the ceiling will result in sustained higher interest rates for the U.S. is higher (maybe  50%?) and the likelihood that it will temporarily raise short-term rates is something like 99.99%, since those rates have already been rising.

It’s the kind of thing that makes you wish Nate Silver weren’t too busy hiring people for the new, Disneyfied to focus on. At this point even Silver would have to resort to guesswork — this is a mostly unprecedented situation we’re dealing with here.  But the updating of his predictions as new information came in would be fascinating to watch, and might even add some calm sanity to the discussion.

Updating is what the Bayesian approach to statistics that Silver swears by is all about. Reasonable people can start out with differing opinions about the likelihood that something will happen, but as new information comes in they should all be using the same formula (Bayes’ formula) to update their predictions, and in the process their views should move closer together. “The role of statistics is not to discover truth,” the late, great Bayesian Leonard “Jimmie” Savage used to say. “The role of statistics is to resolve disagreements among people.” (At least, that’s how his friend Milton Friedman remembered it; the quote is from the book Two Lucky People.)

I tread lightly here, because I’m one of those idiots who never took a statistics class in college, so don’t expect me to be any help on Bayesian methods. But as a philosophy, I think it can be expressed something like this: You’re entitled to your opinion. You’re even entitled to your opinion as to how much weight to give new information as it comes in.  But you need to be explicit about your predictions and weightings, and willing to change your opinion if Bayes theorem tells you to. A political environment where that was the dominant approach would be pretty swell, no?

Not that it would resolve everything. Some Republicans have been making the very Bayesian argument that, after dire predictions about the consequences of the sequester and the government shutdown failed to come true, the argument that a debt ceiling breach would be disastrous has become less credible. As a matter of politics, they have a point: the White House clearly oversold the potential economic consequences of both sequester and shutdown. But I never took those dire claims about the sequester and shutdown seriously, so my views on the dangers associated with hitting the debt ceiling haven’t changed much at all. And while I’m confident that my view is more reasonable than that of the debt-ceiling Pollyannas, I don’t see how I can use Bayesian statistics to convince them of that, or how they can use it to sway me. Until we hit the debt limit.

Nate Silver ---

Jensen Comment
David Johnstone's romance with Bayesian probability, in his scholarly messages to the AECM, prompted me once again in my old age to delve into the Second Edition of Causality by Judea Pearl (Cambridge University press).

I like this book and can study various points raised by David. But estimating the probability of default in the context of the above posting by Justin Fox raises many doubts in my mind.

A Database on Each Previous Performance Outcome of a Baseball Player
The current Bayesian hero Nate Silver generally predicts from two types of databases. His favorite database is the history of baseball statistics of individual players when estimating the probability of performance of a current player, especially pitching and batting performance. Fielding performances are more difficult to predict because is such a variance of challenges for each fielded ball. His Pecota system is based upon the statistical history of each player.

A Sequence of  Changing Databases of Election Poll Outcomes
Election polls emerge at frequent points in time (e.g., monthly). These are not usually recorded data points of each potential voter (like data points over time of a baseball player). But they are indicative of the aggregate outcome of all voters who will eventually make a voting choice on election day.

The important point to note in this type of database is that the respondent is predicting his or her own act of voting. The task is not to predict how an act of Congress over which the respondent has no direct control and no inside information about the decision process of individual members of Congress (who could just be bluffing for the media).

The problem Nate has is in the chance that a significant number of voters will change their minds back and forth write up to pulling the lever in a voting booth. This is why Nate has some monumental prediction errors for political voting relative to baseball player performance. One of those errors concerned in predictions regarding the winner of the Senate Seat in Massachusetts after the death of Ted Kennedy. Many voters seemingly changed their minds just before or during election day.

There are no such databases for estimating the probability of USA debt default in October of 2013.
Without a suitable database I don't think Nate Silver would estimate the probability of USA loan default in October of 2013. This begs the question of what Nate might do if a trustworthy poll sampled voters on their estimates of the probability of default. I don't think Nate would trust this database, however, because the random respondents across the USA do not have inside information or expertise for making such probability analysis and are most likely inconsistently informed with respect to which TV networks they watch or newspapers they read.

I do realize that databases of economic predictions of expert economists or expert weather forecasters have some modicum of success. But the key word here is the adjective "expert." I'm not sure there are any experts of the probabilities of one particular and highly circumstantial USA debt default in October of 2013 even though there are experts on forecasting the 2013 GDP.

Bayesian probability is a formalized derivation of a person's belief.
But if there is no justification for for having some confidence in that person's belief then there really is not much use of deriving that person's subjective probability estimate. For example, if you asked me about my belief in regarding the point spread in a football game next Friday night between two high schools in Nevada my belief on the matter is totally useless because I've never even heard of any particular high schools in Nevada let alone their football teams.

I honestly think that what outsiders believe about the debt default issue for October 2013 is totally useless. It might be interesting to compute Bayesian probabilities of such default from Congressional insiders, but most persons in Congress cannot be trusted to be truthful about their responses, and their responses vary greatly in terms of expertise because the degree of inside information varies so among members of Congress. This is mostly a game of political posturing and not a game of statistics.

October 12, 2013 reply from David Johnstone

Dear Bob, I think you are on the Bayesian hook, many Bayesians say how they started off as sceptics or without any wish for a new creed, but then got drawn in when they saw the insights and tools that Bayes had in it. Dennis Lindley says that he set out in his 20s to prove that something was wrong with Bayesian thinking, but discovered the opposite. Don’t be fooled by the fact that most business school PhD programs have in general rejected or never discovered Bayesian methods, they similarly hold onto all sorts of vested theoretical positions for as long as possible.

The thing about Bayes, that makes resistance amusing, is that if you accept the laws of probability, which merely show how one probability relates logically to another, then you have to be “Bayesian” because the theorem is just a law of probability. Basically, you either accept Bayes and the probability calculus, or you go into a no man’s land.

That does not mean that Bayes theorem gives answers by formal calculations all the time. Many probabilities are just seat of the pants subjective assessments. But (i) these are more sensible if they happen to be consistent with other probabilities that we have assessed or hold, and (ii) they may be very inaccurate, since  such judgements are often very hard, even for supposed experts. The Dutch Book argument that is widely used for Bayes is that if you hold two probabilities that are mutually inconsistent by the laws of probability, you can have bets set against you by which you will necessarily lose, whatever the events are. This is the same way by which bookmakers set up arbitrages against their total of bettors, so that they win net whatever horse wins the race. The Bayesian creed is “coherence”, not correctness. Correctness is asking too much, coherence is just asking for consistency between beliefs.

Bayes theorem is not a religion or a pop song, it’s just a law of probability, so romance is out of the question. And if we do conventional “frequentist” statistics (significance tests etc.) we often break these laws in our reasoning, which is remarkable given that we hold ourselves out as so scientific, logical and sophisticated. It is also a cognitive dissonance since at the same time we often start with a theoretical model of behaviour that assumes only Bayesian agents. This is pretty hilarious really, for what it says about people and intellectual behavior, and about how forgiving “nature” is of us, by indulging our cognitive proclivities without stinging us fatally for any inconsistencies.

Bayes theorem recognises that much opinion is worthless, and that shows up in the likelihood function. For example, the probability of a head given rain is the same as the probability of a head given fine, so a coin toss (or equivalent “expert”) gives no help whatsoever in predicting rain. Bayes theorem is only logic, it’s not a forecasting method of itself. While on weather, those people are seriously good forecasters, despite their appearance in many jokes, and leave economic forecasters for dead. Their problems might be “easier” than forecasting markets, but they have made genuine theoretical and practical progress. I have suggested to weather forecasters in Australia that they should run an on-line betting site on “rain events” and let people take them on, there would be very few who don’t get skinned quickly.

I won’t go on more, but if I did it would be to say that it is the principles of logic implicit in Bayes theorem that are so  insightful and helpful about it. These should have been taught to us all at school, when we were learning deductive logic (e.g. sums). I think it is often argued that probability was associated with gambling and uncertainty, offending many religious and social beliefs, and hence was a bit of an underworld historically. Funny that Thomas Bayes was a Rev.

October 12, 2013 reply from Jagdish Gangolly


I agree that Bayesian methods have gained substantial acceptance in the sciences. However, after reading the HBR blog, I am pessimistic about their adoption in the business schools except in Finance, Management Science, and Marketing. There is a good reason why they have become accepted in these three areas: Bayesian analysis is necessary if the decisions are to reflect the decision maker's worldview. In accounting, on the other hand, our positivist fetish and our aversion for anything subjective (Physics envy) preclude their use.

HBS was probably the first business school (apart from Wharton) where Bayesian statistics was popularised starting the early sixties. When I was in Grad school, the books of Pratt/Raiffa/Schleiffer/schlaiffer/, all from HBS and Luce (then at Penn) were our staples. In fact Raiffa's "Advanced Statistical Decision Theory" was an absolute required reading (I still have the book right next to Feller's probability on my shelf even today).  I am not sure that these days they teach much of it at either place, except probably in the above three areas.


There is plenty of software, almost all free for doing excellent Bayesian analysis of data. In R alone, at my last count, there were 96 Bayesian packages (see in addition to 11 links to various sampling engines. SPSS, SAS, Stata, Statistica,... too I am sure have such software. The problem with us is not shortage of software but shortage of curiosity and willingness to consider alternative modes of analysis. Accountants tend to be far too conservative and risk averse in research.


The last paragraph in your message gets to the heart of the matters:


a. lot of “significant” results are really not significant in even a statistical (evidence) perspective, and

b. Bayesian methods are very big on formally allowing for “model risk”, and averaging results over different possible models, rather than simply assuming a given model and hoping it’s right enough.


The greatest advantage of Bayesian analysis is in model selection. Bayes factor and BIC (Bayesian Information Criterion) provide a basis for model comparison/selection. While there is a criterion for model selection in frequentist statistics, the Akaike Information Criterion (AIC), it has been shown that model comparisons using AIC are asymptotically equivalent to those of BIC

(Kass and Raftery, "Bayes factors and model uncertainty". Technical Report 254, University of Washington, 1993.

Isn't it strange that there is no model selection in most accountics work? If I were a referee on any accountics paper I would insist on it if only to show that the author was curious enough to try different models. Comparison of equations based on R^2 or p values is NOT model selection.


Because of the superior model selection capabilities of Bayesian analysis, even frequentists in the sciences (who tend to be in general frequentists) are using Bayesian methods (especially in the statistics of neuro-imaging, see

In practice, most accounticians use some sort of supervised learning, usually in cross-validation. But the choice of the size of  training and test sets are totally arbitrary, a problem that Bayesian analysis does not face.

5. There is no question that Bayesian probabilities are subjective. But then so is the Fisherian rule of thumb of .005 or .001 for p values, or Pearson's idea of balancing significance and power in the choice of alpha. But then Bayesian analysis imposes consistency requirements for preferences as well as judgement. No such things in the frequentist's world.


Jagdish S. Gangolly
Department of Informatics
College of Computing & Information
State University of New York at Albany
1400 Washington Ave Albany, NY 12222

518-956-8251, Fax: 518-956-8247


October 12, 2013 reply from David Johnstone

Thank you Jagdish for once again adding all this great depth and detail.


I do anticipate however that Bayesian methods will get to Accounting, even if only because at some point their “newness” and their increasing adoption in finance will attract interest and acceptance. More and more people I meet are telling me that in their work with larger samples (as data bases get older and larger) “all their results are significant”, which of itself is arousing question marks. Also, like Bob knows, many people, once they are shown Bayesian logic, become zealots, and why should the personality of accounting be immune to this, quite the opposite in many ways.


We have to remember that when frequentist methods took hold, there was not a fair contest. Bayesian methods were in their infancy and there was no software for them. Also, Berkeley Prof Jerzy Neyman, who was the father of statistics departments in the USA, was dead against them at a personal level, and to push them required bravery. L.J. Savage, who was a great Bayesian, and President of American Statistical Association (among all his famous economics work), died too early to gather the supporters who would have followed. The black-and-whiteness of empiricism (“let the data decide”) became the positivist creed, and people went for it and the clout it gave them, in droves.


BTW it is not possible “to let the data decide”, and Bayesians recognize this explicitly. First, data does not say much without being viewed through a model, and second, you can’t interpret data without starting beliefs. Nor might there be enough data to swamp prior beliefs, even under one given model.


The early influence of the founding Bayesians at Harvard, who happened to be in the business school, did not last, but it did influence early accounting researchers. Sudipta Basu showed me where Beaver (1968) wrote explicitly about information and uncertainty in Bayesian logical terms, and said things that have since been contradicted in accounting theory. For example, it is common now to say that better accounting information “resolves (some) uncertainty”, necessarily. This is false, as intuition might suggest. Sometimes the best information changes our beliefs Bayesianly such that we go backwards in certainty.


October 12, 2013 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi David,
You're facing an enormous task trying to change accountics scientists who trained only to apply popular GLM statistical inference software like SAS, SPSS, Statistica, Sysstat,  and MATLAB to purchased databases like Betty Crocker follows recipes for baking desserts. Mostly they ignore the tremendous limitations and assumptions of the Cult of Statistical Inference:

The Cult of Statistical Significance: How Standard Error Costs Us Jobs, Justice, and Lives ---

Do you have any recommendations for Bayesian software such as WinBugs, Bayesian Filtering Library, JAGS, Mathematica and possibly some of the Markov chain analysis software?
Bob Jensen

October 12, 2013 reply from David Johnstone

Dear Bob, the software as you say is a driving force. There is a massive education campaign going on in the harder sciences on development, use and application of Bayesian software, and that is often the starting point for people. Many people seem to want to play with the tools hands on as a first step. I personally know empiricists who only know their methods through the output of software, no pre-reading or theoretical instruction.

I suspect this Bayesian software trend will migrate into business schools in the same way as the use of earlier statistical packages did. Finance portfolio theory has become heavily Bayesian, as its the natural way to build (i) parameter estimation risk and (ii) subjective considerations into the portfolio construction.

SAS does include some Bayesian methods now too I think, but the Bayesian software BUGS MCMC etc has its own great development. I am more interested in the principles than the data sets, as Bayes does not make getting reliable data and empirical results any easier – you still need models of economic phenomena whether these are tested Bayesianly or conventionally. Bayes methods are likely to reveal that a lot of “significant” results are really not significant in even a statistical (evidence) perspective, let alone an economic perspective (again within the context of an assumed model). BTW Bayesian methods are very big on formally allowing for “model risk”, and averaging results over different possible models, rather than simply assuming a given model and hoping it’s right enough.


"Where Wal-Mart Isn't: Four Countries the Retailer Can't Conquer," by Susan Berfield, B;oomberg Businessweek, October 10, 2013 ---

Wal-Mart (WMT) is the biggest retailer in the world, with sales of $135 billion in 26 countries outside the U.S. But it doesn’t have stores in some of the world’s biggest markets. Not in Germany, not in South Korea, not in Russia. And as of this week, not in India, either.

On Oct. 9, Walmart announced that it is breaking up with its Indian partner, Bharti Enterprises, which means the American company’s ambitious plans to open hundreds of supercenters around India won’t be realized soon. In the official statement, Scott Price, head of Walmart Asia, referred obliquely to “investment conditions” as part of the problem. He had been more direct in an Associated Press interview two days earlier at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Price said that the Indian government’s requirement that foreign retailers source 30 percent of the products they sell from small and medium-sized Indian businesses is the ”critical stumbling block.” Walmart does have a wholesale business in India, which it is keeping.

Price didn’t mention that the Indian government is investigating allegations that Walmart violated rules governing foreign investment in the retail industry, or that Walmart is conducting an internal probe on possible violations of U.S. anti-corruption laws.

Walmart has not figured out a way to enter Russia, either. For nearly six years, it looked to buy a local company that could ease potential cultural and bureaucratic misunderstandings. Walmart lost a bid for a promising partner, a discount chain called Kopeyka, in 2010.  Walmart later closed its Moscow office after saying disagreements on price had thwarted its acquisition plans.

Then there’s Germany and South Korea. After opening stores in both countries, Walmart closed them in 2006. Germans didn’t like Walmart employees handling their groceries at the check-out line. Male customers thought the smiling clerks were flirting. And many Europeans prefer to shop daily at local markets. In South Korea, Walmart also stuck to its American marketing strategies, concentrating on everything from electronics to clothing and not what South Koreans go to big markets for: food and beverages.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
There are parts of the USA that ban Wal-Mart stores. Exhibit A is Boston where labor unions run the city. Exhibit B is Vermont that protects both small businesses and labor unions like a tiger even though employees in those small businesses are often not in labor unions.

Only a veto of the mayor recently blocked the banning of Wal-Mart stores in Washington DC. It's not that the mayor loves Wal-Mart. In this case, he vetoed the legislation to provide more job opportunities to the unemployed in Washington DC, including construction worker jobs for six planned new stores in his city.

Competing With the Online Course Craze
"Ivy League Institution to Offer Nude Yoga Class?" by Daniel Doherty, Townhall, September 29, 2013 --- Click Here

Jensen Comment
When I was on the Trinity University faculty Erika audited two art classes with nude models. If I was meeting her for lunch after class my orders were to always wait outside in the hallway.

America's Best Selling "Cars" ---
Only four USA brands made the list and two of them are trucks (Ford F Series is Number 1 and Chevrolet Silvarado is Number 2). Three of the USA best sellers are Fords. Think Japanese for the other six best sellers, although some of the Japanese models are assembled in the USA. All the the Japanese models have superior high mileage expectancy.

From the Scout Report on October 4, 2013

Simplenote --- 

If you write a note on one device, shouldn't you be able to find it anywhere, at anytime? Yes, you should, and Simplenote makes this possible. This application gives users the opportunity to write down their notes and organize them with tags and pins. Additionally, visitors can share the notes and publish them for the consideration of others. This version is compatible with all devices running Mac OS X 10.8 and newer.  

Rogue Amoeba --- 

Do you want to turn back time? It can be a mighty task, but Rogue Amoeba makes it possible. This tiny application affords users the opportunity to pause and rewind live audio on their computers. It's a rather fine free device, but visitors can also purchase the complete version for $15. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.7.0 and newer.

Tom Clancy, Noted Military Thriller Author, Dies
Tom Clancy, Best-Selling Master of Military Thrillers, Dies at 66

Author Tom Clancy, master of the modern day thriller, dead at 66

Tom Clancy: An appreciation,0,4350645.story

Wired for Books: Interview with Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy: Salon

Tom Clancy

From the Scout Report on October 11, 2013

Copy All Links --- 

If you are looking for a way to copy every link on a given page, this is just the app for you. It's quite easy to use and it's a nice way to get all of the web addresses one desires quickly and efficiently. It is available in Turkish and English and it is compatible with all operating systems, including Linux.

Apparcar --- 

Do you grow weary of looking for parking spots in congested urban areas? Well then, the Apparcar may be right for you. The app works by utilizing real-time spot occupancy information without using sensors. It's quite useful and visitors can learn more about the app by clicking on How It Works. The app is available in Spanish or English and it is compatible with all operating systems. Obviously, it will be most useful to those persons who own an automobile

A Trio of Scientists Awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine
U.S.-Based Trio Wins Nobel Prize for Medicine

For 3 Nobel Winners, a Molecular Mystery Solved

Randy Shekman, molecular biologist and UCLA alumnus, wins 2013 Nobel Prize

The 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

All Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine

How Cells Work


Free online textbooks, cases, and tutorials in accounting, finance, economics, and statistics ---

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EdX To Offer Expanded Course Lineup for Fall 2013

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From the Scout Report on October 11, 2013
Modeling And Simulation Tools For Education Reform --- 

Created by the Shodor Education Foundation, Inc., the Modeling And Simulation Tools for Education Reform (MASTER) provide useful educational tools that help students and teachers learn through observation and modeling activities. The Shodor Foundation worked in tandem with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, George Mason University, and other educational organizations to craft these tools and visitors can access all eight of them here. The Fractal Modeling Tools are a good place to start as visitors can download the required software or take in some instructional materials, such as the interactive fractal microscope and the snowflake fractal generator. Other notable areas here include The Pit and the Pendulum, which offers the work of Edgar Allan Poe as a way to learn about better reading through computation.

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Enrico Fermi and the Nuclear Chain Reaction ---

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Why not politicians?

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From the Scout Report on October 11, 2013

A Trio of Scientists Awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine
U.S.-Based Trio Wins Nobel Prize for Medicine

For 3 Nobel Winners, a Molecular Mystery Solved

Randy Shekman, molecular biologist and UCLA alumnus, wins 2013 Nobel Prize

The 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

All Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine

How Cells Work

Bob Jensen's threads on free online science, engineering, and medicine tutorials are at ---

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Law and Legal Studies

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From the Scout Report on October 11, 2013
Modeling And Simulation Tools For Education Reform --- 

Created by the Shodor Education Foundation, Inc., the Modeling And Simulation Tools for Education Reform (MASTER) provide useful educational tools that help students and teachers learn through observation and modeling activities. The Shodor Foundation worked in tandem with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, George Mason University, and other educational organizations to craft these tools and visitors can access all eight of them here. The Fractal Modeling Tools are a good place to start as visitors can download the required software or take in some instructional materials, such as the interactive fractal microscope and the snowflake fractal generator. Other notable areas here include The Pit and the Pendulum, which offers the work of Edgar Allan Poe as a way to learn about better reading through computation.

Bob Jensen's threads on Tools and Tricks of the Trade ---

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Statistics Explained Through Modern Dance: A New Way of Teaching a Tough Subject ---

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Vicos: A Virtual Tour (Peru) ---

From the University of Washington
Fashion Plate Collection (women's fashions in history) ---

Texas Fashion Collection ---

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Types of Hats ---

Ford's Assembly Line Turns 100 Today — Here's What It Looked Like In 1913 ---

45 Vintage Photos Of Manhattan In The 1940s ---

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Honoré de Balzac Writes About “The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee,” and His Epic Coffee Addiction ---
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Abraham Lincoln, Slavery, and the Civil War: A Collection of Digitized Books ---,%20Slavery,%20and%20the%20Civil%20War:%20A%20Collection%20of%20Digitized%20Books

The Hindenburg Unseen Photos ---

Story of the Week (about WW II history of African Americans at war) ---

Virginia Woolf Writes About Joyce’s Ulysses, “Never Did Any Book So Bore Me,” and Quits at Page 200 ---

40 Gorgeous Pictures Of Brooklyn In 1974 ---

The Ojibwe People's Dictionary ---


The Atlantic Cities ---

How Animated Cartoons are Made: Watch a Short Primer from 1919 ---

The Center for Cartoon Studies ---

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Also see  

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The Ojibwe People's Dictionary ---

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R. Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country Features 114 Illustrations of the Artist’s Favorite Musicians ---

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Writing Tutorials

The Odd Habits and Curious Customs of Famous Writers ---

Honoré de Balzac Writes About “The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee,” and His Epic Coffee Addiction ---

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Tom Clancy's Advice To Writers ---

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Updates from WebMD ---

September 30, 2013

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October 4, 2013

October 5, 2013

  • Cruise Ship Virus' Vaccine a First-Class Idea?
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    "Why Electroconvulsive Therapy Is More Popular Than Ever," by Erin Fuchs, Business Insider, October 4, 2013 --- 

    The wife of former presidential candidate Michael Dukakis has joined a growing list of people endorsing a mental health treatment once thought of as something like medieval tortureelectroconvulsive therapy.

    Katherine Dukakis, like other notable people, swears by electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to treat severe depression.

    The once-controversial treatment, formerly known as electroshock therapy, pushes electric currents through patients' brains, intentionally giving them seizures for brief periods.

    Doctors don't know exactly how it works, but they believe it "resets" the wonky parts of the brain. It is legal in the United States, though it's illegal to give it to patients younger than 16 in Texas and Colorado. In some cases, with the permission of courts, doctors can force very sick patients to get ECT.

    One of the more serious side effects of ECT is memory loss. ECT was discovered by accident, like many types of psychotherapy (many of which also have unpleasant side effects like sexual dysfunction).

    Physicians began using the treatment in the 1930s after they noticed patients with severe mental illness suddenly got better after they had seizures. In the next couple of decades, ECT got a hideous reputation. The bad rap wasn't completely unwarranted, since doctors used to use such high doses of electricity they broke people's bones. They didn't use muscle relaxers or anesthesia, either.

    The Jack Nicholson character in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" definitely didn't get knocked out when he got ECT in the iconic 1975 film about a loony bin.

    Nicholson's character Randle McMurphy is wide awake and lying on a table as a nurse dabs "conductant" on his temples and a doctor tells him he won't feel any pain. He writhes on the table after the electricity starts coursing through his brain.

    Read more:

    Jensen Comment
    Years after I moved away from home and was married with children, my mother reached such a depression state that my kindly and very loving father drove her to Mason City, Iowa and checked her into a mental health facility. After a few days her doctors recommended what was then termed "electric shock" treatments in those days.

    Soon after the treatments she returned home much less depressed. Gradually, her memory returned for almost everything except that she never could remember being checked into the mental health facility or having had electric shock treatments.

    In my opinion the electric shock treatments benefited my mother in ways that were impossible for medications available at the time. These days there are newer medications, but if I ever become depressed I will have no objections to electroconvulsive therapy if recommended by my doctors. Fortunately I did not inherit my mother's mental health conditions that became much worse after menopause. She passed on after a heart attack in 1996. She was a gifted musician who gave piano lessons for years as well as playing the organ in church and the big organ in the center of a roller skating rink in Emmetsburg, Iowa. In addition to reading music, she could listen to a tune on the radio and play it immediately afterwards without sheet music. Skaters liked her because she could play most any request without having to shuffle through sheet music.

    She just rolled her eyes when asked why she did not teach her only child how to play the piano.


    Researchers Reveal What's Really In Fast Food Chicken Nuggets (it's not appetizing) ---

    Jensen Comment
    Because there is such variability this might make an interesting managerial accounting study on cost and quality control.

    Three Juices That Can Be Bad for You --- Click Here

    10 Nasty Things Drinking Too Much Coffee Does To You ---

    A Bit of Humor

    Ricky Gervais Asked Grandparents To Share The Most Important Lesson They Ever Learned ---

    Lorne Michaels Introduces Saturday Night Live and Its Brilliant First Cast for the Very First Time (1975) ---

    A 'Poopetrator' Is Terrorizing The Campus Of Yale University ---
    Jensen Comment
    Professors are outraged. This challenges their monopoly on spreading BS across the campus.

    Voice Recognition Elevator ---

    Tidbits Archives ---

    Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
    For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at

    Online Distance Education Training and Education ---
    For-Profit Universities Operating in the Gray Zone of Fraud  (College, Inc.) ---

    Shielding Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave ---

    The Cult of Statistical Significance: How Standard Error Costs Us Jobs, Justice, and Lives ---

    How Accountics Scientists Should Change: 
    "Frankly, Scarlett, after I get a hit for my resume in The Accounting Review I just don't give a damn"
    One more mission in what's left of my life will be to try to change this 

    What went wrong in accounting/accountics research?  ---

    The Sad State of Accountancy Doctoral Programs That Do Not Appeal to Most Accountants ---


    Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory ---

    Tom Lehrer on Mathematical Models and Statistics ---

    Systemic problems of accountancy (especially the vegetable nutrition paradox) that probably will never be solved ---


    World Clock ---
    Facts about the earth in real time ---

    Interesting Online Clock and Calendar ---
    Time by Time Zones ---
    Projected Population Growth (it's out of control) ---
             Also see
    Facts about population growth (video) ---
    Projected U.S. Population Growth ---
    Real time meter of the U.S. cost of the war in Iraq --- 
    Enter you zip code to get Census Bureau comparisons ---
    Sure wish there'd be a little good news today.

    Free (updated) Basic Accounting Textbook --- search for Hoyle at

    CPA Examination ---
    Free CPA Examination Review Course Courtesy of Joe Hoyle ---

    Rick Lillie's education, learning, and technology blog is at

    Accounting News, Blogs, Listservs, and Social Networking ---

    Bob Jensen's Threads --- 
    Current and past editions of my newsletter called New Bookmarks ---
    Current and past editions of my newsletter called Tidbits ---
    Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud Updates ---

    Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
    In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available free on the Web. 
    I created a page that summarizes those various links ---

    Some of Bob Jensen's Tutorials

    Accounting program news items for colleges are posted at
    Sometimes the news items provide links to teaching resources for accounting educators.
    Any college may post a news item.

    Accounting  and Taxation News Sites ---


    For an elaboration on the reasons you should join a ListServ (usually for free) go to
    AECM (Educators)
    AECM is an email Listserv list which provides a forum for discussions of all hardware and software which can be useful in any way for accounting education at the college/university level. Hardware includes all platforms and peripherals. Software includes spreadsheets, practice sets, multimedia authoring and presentation packages, data base programs, tax packages, World Wide Web applications, etc.

    Over the years the AECM has become the worldwide forum for accounting educators on all issues of accountancy and accounting education, including debates on accounting standards, managerial accounting, careers, fraud, forensic accounting, auditing, doctoral programs, and critical debates on academic (accountics) research, publication, replication, and validity testing.


    CPAS-L (Practitioners)  (Closed Down)
    CPAS-L provides a forum for discussions of all aspects of the practice of accounting. It provides an unmoderated environment where issues, questions, comments, ideas, etc. related to accounting can be freely discussed. Members are welcome to take an active role by posting to CPAS-L or an inactive role by just monitoring the list. You qualify for a free subscription if you are either a CPA or a professional accountant in public accounting, private industry, government or education. Others will be denied access.
    Yahoo (Practitioners)
    This forum is for CPAs to discuss the activities of the AICPA. This can be anything  from the CPA2BIZ portal to the XYZ initiative or anything else that relates to the AICPA.
    This site hosts various discussion groups on such topics as accounting software, consulting, financial planning, fixed assets, payroll, human resources, profit on the Internet, and taxation.
    Business Valuation Group 
    This discussion group is headed by Randy Schostag [RSchostag@BUSVALGROUP.COM
    FEI's Financial Reporting Blog
    Smart Stops on the Web, Journal of Accountancy, March 2008 ---

    Find news highlights from the SEC, FASB and the International Accounting Standards Board on this financial reporting blog from Financial Executives International. The site, updated daily, compiles regulatory news, rulings and statements, comment letters on standards, and hot topics from the Web’s largest business and accounting publications and organizations. Look for continuing coverage of SOX requirements, fair value reporting and the Alternative Minimum Tax, plus emerging issues such as the subprime mortgage crisis, international convergence, and rules for tax return preparers.
    The CAlCPA Tax Listserv

    September 4, 2008 message from Scott Bonacker []
    Scott has been a long-time contributor to the AECM listserv (he's a techie as well as a practicing CPA)

    I found another listserve that is exceptional -

    CalCPA maintains  and they let almost anyone join it.
    Jim Counts, CPA is moderator.

    There are several highly capable people that make frequent answers to tax questions posted there, and the answers are often in depth.


    Scott forwarded the following message from Jim Counts

    Yes you may mention info on your listserve about TaxTalk. As part of what you say please say [... any CPA or attorney or a member of the Calif Society of CPAs may join. It is possible to join without having a free Yahoo account but then they will not have access to the files and other items posted.

    Once signed in on their Yahoo account go to and I believe in top right corner is Join Group. Click on it and answer the few questions and in the comment box say you are a CPA or attorney, whichever you are and I will get the request to join.

    Be aware that we run on the average 30 or move emails per day. I encourage people to set up a folder for just the emails from this listserve and then via a rule or filter send them to that folder instead of having them be in your inbox. Thus you can read them when you want and it will not fill up the inbox when you are looking for client emails etc.

    We currently have about 830 CPAs and attorneys nationwide but mainly in California.... ]

    Please encourage your members to join our listserve.

    If any questions let me know.

    Jim Counts CPA.CITP CTFA
    Hemet, CA
    Moderator TaxTalk





    Many useful accounting sites (scroll down) ---


    Bob Jensen's Sort-of Blogs ---
    Current and past editions of my newsletter called New Bookmarks ---
    Current and past editions of my newsletter called Tidbits ---
    Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud Updates ---

    Some Accounting History Sites

    Bob Jensen's Accounting History in a Nutshell and Links ---

    Accounting History Libraries at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) ---
    The above libraries include international accounting history.
    The above libraries include film and video historical collections.

    MAAW Knowledge Portal for Management and Accounting ---

    Academy of Accounting Historians and the Accounting Historians Journal ---

    Sage Accounting History ---

    A nice timeline on the development of U.S. standards and the evolution of thinking about the income statement versus the balance sheet is provided at:
    "The Evolution of U.S. GAAP: The Political Forces Behind Professional Standards (1930-1973)," by Stephen A. Zeff, CPA Journal, January 2005 ---
    Part II covering years 1974-2003 published in February 2005 --- 

    A nice timeline of accounting history ---

    From Texas A&M University
    Accounting History Outline ---

    Bob Jensen's timeline of derivative financial instruments and hedge accounting ---

    History of Fraud in America ---
    Also see

    Bob Jensen's Threads ---

    More of Bob Jensen's Pictures and Stories

    All my online pictures ---


    Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob)
    190 Sunset Hill Road
    Sugar Hill, NH 03586
    Phone:  603-823-8482