Archive for the "Economy" Category

Time Value of Money – Excel PMT in JavaScript and PHP

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

PMTI’m currently working on a project that happens to need a JavaScript and a PHP implementation of the Excel PMT function.  I won’t bore you with the details (but ask if you’re intrigued), but it has to do with Loan Modifications that are all the rage nowadays thanks to Obama Administration initiatives that will hopefully help Americans save their mortgages, prevent foreclosures, support real estate prices and generally speaking save the world from sure doom.

So after being handed an Excel spreadsheet that made heavy use of the PMT Excel function (and never having used said function), I proceeded to research this beast.  Let me tell you, there are lots of very confused people searching for solutions on how to implement it in various languages, trying to figure out how the function works, etc, etc, etc. I even came across some folks that think Excel / Microsoft is behind a sinister plot to undermine the world’s economy via a wrong implementation of the function.  Rest assured, I think Microsoft understands the Time Value of Money – TMV for those who still remember anything from their Finance class in college.  So I figured I’d do a little writeup of what I figured out to save somebody else the headache.


Talk to Chuck

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

charles_schwabJust read an article on AdAge about Charles Schwab putting their accounts on review.  Omnicom Group’s PHD is who has the business now.  Nice folks over there, I worked on their “perspectives.” corporate blog a couple years ago, which included a couple trips to their office.  I hope they manage to keep the contract. The “Talk to  Chuck” campaign is definitely pretty good, and take a look at this quote:

A number of media agencies are going to get the chance to “Talk to Chuck” about his $100 million media-planning and -buying account in the next few weeks. Charles Schwab, one of the only financial-services companies not to take any federal bailout money, has put its traditional and digital media business up for review.

How about that, here I go and talk about AIG like they’re the devil.  And now there’s some contrast for you - one of the only financial-services companies not to take any federal bailout money – excellent.  So there IS a way to run a financial-services company without needing handouts from the government!  That’s what they should be talking about in their advertising campaigns (unless they also have humility listed as a corporate virtue, in which case they’re pretty much saints).


Monday, March 2nd, 2009

200px-aig_wordmarksvgI know if AIG goes out of business in one way or another (bankruptcy, getting burned to the ground by rioters, etc) – there will be tremendous repercussions for the US and possibly world economy.  But seriously, their stock market cap is $1.24 billion dollars (and this is after today’s jump in price after it was announced that they’re getting another $30 billion in Government aid).  I must be missing something about the structure of AIG’s stock – this market cap number has got to be missing a big chunk of whatever it is that makes up AIG’s mass.  I mean, their total loss for 2009 is somewhere in the ballpark of $90 billion dollars.  Even at their 52 week high of $51.47 a share – their market cap is somewhere in the ballpark of $138 billion.  And guess what, so far the government aid package has totalled $150 billion to them.

I know, I know – a trillion dollars in assets and almost that much in liabilities.  A big number minus another big number plus a stream of drops in the bucket in government aid equals a really bizzare stock valuation.  Thats why I titled this one AIG WTF!

Astronomers – if you’re tired of looking for dark matter in space, take a look over at AIG – they’ve got something that apparently has mass but cannot be seen or detected in any way whatsoever.  Bizzare, this is one of the reasons I am glad I’m an engineer.  Sometimes finance is less intuitive than quantum physics.

Iceland’s government topples amid financial mess

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Looks like the current Global Recession has now added Iceland to its “wall of shame”.  Iceland’s government topples amid financial mess – at least that’s how the Associated Press describes it.  Public dissent has caused the government to disband itself.

Iceland has been mired in crisis since October, when the country’s banks collapsed under the weight of debts amassed during years of rapid expansion.

The value of the country’s krona currency has plummeted, hitting many Icelanders who took out special loans denoted in foreign currencies for new homes and cars during the boom years. In addition, Iceland must repay billions of dollars to Europeans who held accounts with subsidiaries of collapsed Icelandic banks.

Haarde’s government has nationalized banks and negotiated about $10 billion in bailout loans from the International Monetary Fund and individual countries.

Wow, quite a stark picture of what happens when too much debt is amassed during “expansion years”.  Sounds familiar?  Yep, lets hope it doesn’t happen here.

Carnegie Mellon effected by the recession

Monday, January 26th, 2009

lvl_carnegiemellon_logoAccording to a story by the Associated Press, Carnegie Mellon is feeling the recession. CMU’s endowment investments dropped in value about 30 percent, and preparing for the long-term effects of this drop, the University froze salaries and hiring, and put capital projects on hold.

This is definitely troubling.  I suppose we’re just starting to see the long-reaching effects of the recession, but I didn’t think it would be this devastating for educational institutions.  I’m not sure if other educational institutions are feeling this – I’m sure some without gigantic endowments will be feeling it quite a bit.  I wonder how institutions like MIT, Harvard, Columbia and NYU are faring?  There’s typically an increase in NIH funding for education and research under a Democratic presidency, but Barack Obama has some tough choices to make if he’s going to get the economy back in shape, and hopefully keeping the NIH budget won’t suffer because of that.

I suppose we’ll see.  Hopefully we won’t see any educational institutions going out of business without getting the bailout treatment the industrial and financial sectors are getting.