on March 10, 2005
Bob Jensen at Trinity University
For earlier editions of New
s go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm
Archives of Tidits: Tidbits Directory --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search
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 http://www.searchedu.com/.
Bob Jensen's home page is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/
It is dangerous to be right when the
established authorities are wrong
My Snow Bird
After 18 inches of new snow on March 8 and enormous winds, the drifts in our driveway were ten feet or higher. Ed Clough had to plow three times each day to keep up with it. The snow subsided on March 9, but Erika was in a lonely whiteout due to the winds on I-93 when she went down to Manchester on March 9. She took off on March 10 and should be in San Antonio by noon. Here's a March 9, 2005 weather summary from Mt. Washington where most of the snow blows off the summit --- http://www.mountwashington.org/weather/today.html
|Conditions at 5:00 a.m. on March 9|
|Weather: Light snow with blowing snow and freezing fog|
|Temperature: -20°||Visibility: 25 feet|
|Wind Chill Index: -60°F||Relative Humidity: 100%|
|Wind: Northwest at 94 gusting to 105 MPH||Station Pressure: 22.57" and rising|
|Ground Conditions: 13" of snow and ice|
Since he lives in a humble home (without running water when he was a
child) within walking distance of our retirement
home, I just had to brag about Bode
Winning races or crashing through fences, charming the hordes of kids in Europe who adore him or peevishly dismissing the ski journalists who annoy him, astounding veteran skiers with his otherworldly skills or infuriating his coaches with his bullheadedness, Bode Miller has arrived on top of the skiing world.
David Leon Moore, "Brash American poised to win skiing crown: Bode Miller's style wows fans, puts elusive title in reach," USA Today, March 9, 2005 Page 1A --- http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20050309/1a_cover09.art.htm
Also see "Breaking down the points race," USA Today, March 9, 2005 --- http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20050309/pointsbox.art.htm
American Bode Miller and Austrian Benjamin Raich are battling to win the men's World Cup overall title. Entering Thursday's downhill, Miller has a 52-point lead over his archrival:
Bode Miller Place Points Overall 1st 1,348 Downhill 2nd 538 Slalom 19th 100 Giant slalom 3rd 340 Super-G 2nd 370 Benjamin Raich Overall 2nd 1,296 Downhill 28th 93 Slalom 1st 502 Giant slalom 1st 363 Super-G 5th 238
Forget Ward Churchill: An A- term paper topic can get you kicked out
of graduate school
Supporting corporal punishment is one thing; advocating it is another, as Mr. McConnell recently learned. Studying for a graduate teaching degree at Le Moyne College, he wrote in a paper last fall that "corporal punishment has a place in the classroom." His teacher gave the paper an A-minus and wrote, "Interesting ideas - I've shared these with Dr. Leogrande," referring to Cathy Leogrande, who oversaw the college's graduate program. Unknown to Mr. McConnell, his view of discipline became a subject of discussion among Le Moyne officials. Five days before the spring semester began in January, Mr. McConnell learned that he had been dismissed from Le Moyne, a Jesuit college.
Patrick E. Healy, "College Expels Student Who Advocated Corporal Punishment," The New York Times, March 10, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/10/nyregion/10paddle.html
How not to raise kids in the modern age
Flagstaff, Ariz., is a clean and safe mountain town where most people partake in mentally and physically healthy activities far from the glaring fluorescent lights of Wal-Mart. The behavior illustrated in your page-one article "Attention, Shoppers: Bored College Kids Competing in Aisle 6" (Feb. 23) isn't representative of the values of most residents of Flagstaff or my generation. Concerned elders write about the problem with kids and cynicism these days. When my kid says, "Mom, I'm bored! What should I do?" I won't reply, "Well, honey, why don't you and your friends go play in Wal-Mart." Children need something more to live for, something beautiful to believe in. Is there anything left in this society to value besides production and consumption?
"Don't Mall Children's Need for the Beautiful," The Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2005; Page A17 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111042348170375543,00.html?mod=todays_us_opinion
My Answer: Take away the computer/television and make them sit alone or together at home or in the yard until they get so bored they have to use their own imaginations. What's wrong with having to overcome boredom on your own?
The USA's children live in an increasingly heavy
stew of media, spending about 6˝ hours a day mostly watching TV, using
computers and enjoying other electronic activities. And they are spending
relatively little time reading or doing homework, a Kaiser Family Foundation
survey reported Wednesday.
Marilyn Elias, "Electronic world swallows up kids' time, study finds Children plugged in about 6˝ hours a day," USA Today, page 1A --- http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20050310/1a_bottomstrip10.art.htm
Maybe this is the result of the Wal-Mart Kid Generation:
What are the odds a ninth grader will graduate from college on schedule?
Other countries are doing a better job, the report says. Fifteen countries have higher graduation rates from high school than does the United States, where the rate is 73 percent. At the higher education level, countries like China and India are making significant progress in educating thousands of scientists and engineers at a time that many programs at American colleges struggle to find qualified applicants. The report identifies other key problems: 4 of 10 college students fail to graduate within six years. One-fourth of low-income students in the top quartile of academic ability and preparation fail to enroll in college within two years of their graduation from high school. While the percentages of minority and low-income students who enroll in higher education is increasing, a majority of minority students fail to graduate.
"A Nation's Colleges at Risk," Inside Higher Ed, March 10, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/insider/a_nation_s_colleges_at_risk
In a graphic called "Our Leaky Educational Pipeline," the report notes that for every 100 9th graders:
- 68 graduate from high school on time.
- 40 enroll immediately in college after graduation.
- 27 are still enrolled for their sophomore year.
- 18 graduate from college on time.
“Opt-Out” Disclosures in Pre-Screened Credit Card Offers
I had a couple of inquiries about "The Effectiveness of “Opt-Out” Disclosures in Pre-Screened Credit Card Offers." You will find these at various sites (do a Google search on Opt-Out Disclosures). So I went to the FTC site, a site that I implicitly trust on issues of deception and fraud, and found a report at http://www.ftc.gov/reports/prescreen/040927optoutdiscprecreenrpt.pdf
The bottom line is that these opt-out alternatives are far from being perfectly effective and the layered notice approach is probably the most effective. I would not give out privacy information to any sites that I do not know are legitimate in this era of ID theft.
Bob Jensen's threads on consumer fraud are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm
The best site on consumer fraud is the FTC site at http://www.ftc.gov
I'm generally not in favor of long-term care insurance, but you should
make up your own mind independently of the pitch you get from a financial
planner or salesperson who make a lot of money selling you the contract.
Depending on where you live, it can be more. (See state rankings here.) Compute the cost of a nursing-home stay -- the average is about 2.4 years -- with the help of calculators at Web sites such as Smartmoney.com (smartmoney.com/insurance/longtermcare/) and Long Term Care Quote (ltcq.net). If your assets won't cover bills, or could leave a spouse struggling financially, long-term insurance may be the right choice for you.
"Buying Long-Term-Care Insurance," The Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2005; Page D1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111042232368775507,00.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal
Jensen Comment: The first move should be to carefully read http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/services/apact/apact05.htm
Then seriously think about setting aside your own fund for this purpose and leave out the middle person fees.
It's probably too soon to tell about effectiveness of identity theft
Last year, Allstate Corp. began offering identity-theft insurance in Texas and a few other states as a $30 rider on its homeowner and renter policies. The spadework is contracted out to Kroll Inc., a risk-consulting company. "We take a lot of the work of identity restoration off the shoulders of victims," says Troy Allen, vice president for fraud solutions at Kroll. "It's very time-consuming and difficult and frustrating."
"ID stolen? Call a privacy gumshoe," The Christian Science Monitor, March 9, 2005 --- http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0309/p12s01-stin.html
Jensen Comment: First read the document at http://www.ftc.gov/os/2004/11/041104coninfosysprivimpassess.pdf
Then take a look at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#IdentityTheft
Now is the time to think about a new kind of computer mouse
As you can see, the PRO acts as a base for your keyboard with the rollerbar and buttons about an inch from the space bar. Since the bottom of the keyboard is intended to be flush with the docking station, you'll need to have the common, straight-edged keyboard to fit snugly. Fancy, curved keyboards need not apply here, since you'd have to stretch your thumbs an extra distance, which defeats the purpose. With your keyboard docked, you can rest your hands on the PRO's rubber wrist pads while controlling your cursor with the rollerbar that spins up and down, and slides left and right. The rollerbar can also act as a left click when pressed down gently. Below the rollerbar are your buttons and a scrolling wheel.
Jeremy Atkinson, "The Ergonomic-Friendly RollerMousePRO," Extreme Tech, March 7, 2005 --- http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1558,1772699,00.asp
Jensen Comment: The second page of this review has some good pictures.
Newer treatments for epilepsy
Science has dispelled many myths about epilepsy -- most importantly the myth that people with epilepsy will always suffer seizures. In fact, with treatment, between 70% and 80% of people with epilepsy are seizure free for at least two years.
WebMDHealth --- http://my.webmd.com/content/article/98/104690.htm?z=1728_81000_4259_qp_06
Think About It: They worked hard to get to America, and they worked hard once they got here
About 41% of Arab residents have a college degree, compared with 24% of other US residents, the Census Bureau said in its first detailed socio-economic report on the nation's Arab population.
"Census finds Arabs integrated in US," Aljazeera, March 9, 2005 --- http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/E7CF4D8B-C5AE-4555-9460-082846467131.htm
Jensen Comment: Some Arab residents are our leading university teachers and researchers. Others are probably not give a chance to perform at they're very best. If they apply for work, let's try to look beyond their long and sometimes strange sounding names.
I didn't want to "forget" this one
In the medical journal Neurology, Bennett and colleagues describe 180 elderly Catholic clergy, participants in the Religious Orders Study of ageing and dementia who agreed to annual mental tests beginning in 1993 and brain autopsy when they died. At the time of death, 37 had mild cognitive impairment, 83 had dementia, and 60 had no cognitive difficulties. Of the 37 with mild cognitive impairment, 23 showed brain pathology consistent with probable or definite Alzheimer's disease, and 12 had areas of brain tissue due to loss of blood supply, the investigators report. Moreover, even among the 60 individuals without cognitive impairment, 28 showed evidence of probable or definite Alzheimer's disease.
"Mental decline linked to Alzheimer's," Aljazeera, March 9, 2005 --- http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/E9079052-FFAD-480D-AE48-661887A88699.htm
Mount Holyoke Dumps the SAT
Mount Holyoke College, which decided in 2001 to make the SAT optional, is finding very little difference in academic performance between students who provided their test scores and those who didn't. The women's liberal arts college is in the midst of one of the most extensive studies to date about the impact of dropping the SAT -- a research project financed with $290,000 from the Mellon Foundation. While the study isn't complete, the college is releasing some preliminary results. So far, Mount Holyoke has found that there is a difference of 0.1 point in the grade-point average of those who do and do not submit SAT scores. That is equivalent to approximately one letter grade in one course over a year of study. Those results are encouraging to Mount Holyoke officials about their decision in 2001.
Scott Jaschik, "Not Missing the SAT," Inside Higher Ed March 9, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/insider/not_missing_the_sat
These results differ from the experiences of the University of Texas system where grades and test scores differ greatly between secondary schools. Perhaps Mount Holyoke is not getting applications from students in the poorer school districts. See http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/book04q4.htm#60Minutes
For a more general discussion of a "Fair Test" see http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm#AdmissionTesting
It can be expensive to tease about
After years of legal fights, a former administrator at New York University has won a $2 million jury award in a case in which he charged the institution with anti-gay bias. Mark A. Taylor was director of external affairs at NYU's medical school in 1994, when a biography of Leonard Bernstein, by Humphrey Burton, identified Taylor as the last love in the late composer's life. According to Taylor, the book was passed around the office, with passages about him marked. He also said that Peter Ferrara, a colleague, called him a "pansy" and made jokes about his sexuality. Subsequently, Ferrara was promoted to become Taylor's boss and in 1997, Taylor's job was eliminated. The university attributed the elimination to a reorganization. Taylor sued for job discrimination. Prior to losing his job, Taylor was "repeatedly humiliated with malicious and petty gossip and no one at NYU stepped in to do anything," said Michael G. O'Neil, his lawyer. "My client went from being well regarded and respected to being a laughingstock." The jury that heard the case awarded Taylor $300,000 in back pay, $700,000 for lost future pay, and $1 million for his pain and suffering. O'Neil said that Taylor needed the money after finding it difficult to obtain good jobs after he lost his post at NYU.
Scott Jaschik, "$2 Million in Anti-Gay Bias Case," Inside Higher Ed, March 9, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/insider/2_million_in_anti_gay_bias_case
Summers time in the American
The American Sociological Association has become the latest group to take on Harvard's president -- releasing a statement Tuesday stating that there "is substantial research that provides clear and compelling evidence that women, like men, flourish in science, just as in other occupational pursuits, when they are given the opportunity and a supportive environment." . . . "For example, objectively assessed math and scientific ability differences between males and females have changed substantially over the past three decades. In the United States they have become non-significant and in some other countries, the United Kingdom, for example, girls' performance exceeds that of boys at all levels of schooling," the sociologists said. "That gender differences in these abilities have shifted so substantially over such a short period of time makes it impossible for biological changes to have been influential. This period, however, was one in which girls' access to school courses, counselor encouragement, career opportunities, and role models changed (and improved) significantly -- but not their biology."
Scott Jaschik, "Sociology Lecture for Summers," Inside Higher Ed, March 9, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/insider/sociology_lecture_for_summers
March 10, 2005 message from Paul
Mostly on the subject of hacking into the Harvard Business School's admission records to check on admission status, but a bit more on Lawrence of Absurdia.
Not so long as there are 57 credits whose content teaches that ethical considerations are for the weak-minded. Harvard is being a bit hypocritical. It certainly hasn't resisted the creation of a culture of success where the pressure to get into the "best" schools is so intense that hacking into the records to find out what your status is is probably the least of the sins being committed by people frantic to get into an elite school. Duke University, to its eternal credit, forgave one of its more famous students for breaking into the office of the dean of the law school (the old fashioned way of hacking) to get an early read on the results of final exams. He later went on to become president of the United States. Think what might have happened had Duke kicked him out of the law school (said with tongue firmly in cheek).
Not to resurrect the Larry Summers debate, but Boston Magazine has just published an article, "Lawrence of Absurdia" available at http://www.bostonmagazine.com/ArticleDisplay.php?id=517 that speculates from Summers past behavior that he might suffer from Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism.
Why Women Leave I.T.
Women represent nearly half the workers in the U.S. -- 46.6 percent. However, they always have been underrepresented in I.T. Even more discouraging is the fact that the percentage of women working in I.T. jobs is not growing but dropping. That is bad news indeed for employers seeking hard-to-find technical candidates and the women who might otherwise fill those well-paying jobs. "Skill obsolescence is the number one issue for I.T. workers," Professor Deb Armstrong of the University of Arkansas told NewsFactor. And it turns out, according to a study by Armstrong and her colleagues, that certain facts of women's lives make staying ahead of the game harder than it is for men.
Kimberly Hill, "Why Women Leave I.T.," NewsFactor Network, March 9, 2005 --- http://www.newsfactor.com/story.xhtml?story_title=Why-Women-Leave-I-T-&story_id=31000
Have you run out of ideas for
gifts? Here's the possible answer to your dilemma.
Sure, a computing purse and scarf set may seem like the stuff of science fiction. But these devices, part of next generation of wearable computers, could become commonplace within a few years. Unit shipments of such wearable computers -- purses, watches, shirts -- should rise from 261,000 last year to 1.39 million in 2008, according to the tech research firm IDC.
Olga Kharif, "Wearable Computers You Can Slip Into The latest generation of these ever-smarter garments look like ordinary clothes, not something only a cyborg would don," Business Week, March 8, 2005 --- http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/mar2005/tc2005038_5955_tc119.htm
Bob Jensen's threads on ubiquitous computing are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ubiquit.htm
Takes more than getting rid of pets: This is especially troublesome
in inner cities up north like NYC and Chicago
"These data confirm that cockroach allergen is the primary contributor to childhood asthma in inner-city home environments," added Kenneth Olden, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, which helped fund the study. "However, general cleaning practices, proven extermination techniques and consistent maintenance methods can bring these allergen levels under control."Cockroaches produce allergic reactions from their saliva, fecal material, secretions and cast off skin.
"Allergy study: Roaches worse than furry pets," CNN, March 9, 2005 --- http://www.cnn.com/2005/HEALTH/conditions/03/09/roaches.allergens.reut/index.html
Researchers identify a protein critical for
achieving pregnancy. As the first such discovery, the finding could lead to
non-hormonal contraception or male infertility treatments.
Kristen Philipkoski, "Sperm Protein Seals the Deal," Wired News, March 9, 2005 --- http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,66837,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_6
In some academic performance
evaluations, service now receives a small weighting of less than 10% when
compared to what the university considers the big drivers of success:
Research and Teaching.
Pursuing academic engagement necessitates radically rethinking "service" and "knowledge," finding innovative mechanisms to organize and leverage academe's intellectual capital to transform lives for the benefit of society. It requires us to acknowledge that a university's collective wisdom is among its most precious assets -- anchored to, but not in competition with, basic research and disciplinary knowledge -- and that part of the significance of such wisdom is tied to its use. While redefining and implementing more robust notions of service and knowledge will be arduous, the payoff could be enormous. Fortunately, there is a movement afoot at many public research institutions across the nation, a movement to bring higher education out of the 19th into the 21st century. With rising tuition, limited access to the nation's best universities, and increasingly complex social problems, many recognize that the need for public institutions to find meaningful ways to serve the citizens of their states is more important than ever. Universities must fulfill a social compact with their states. At my own institution, the University of Texas at Austin, a critical mass of faculty embrace this compact: academics best described as "intellectual entrepreneurs," citizen-scholars supplying more than narrow, theoretical disciplinary knowledge. They exemplify academic engagement, taking to heart the ethical obligation to contribute to society, to both discover and put to work knowledge that makes a difference.
Richard A. Cherwitz, "Intellectual Entrepreneurship: The New Social Compact By," Inside Higher Ed, March 9, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/intellectual_entrepreneurship_the_new_social_compact
Scholastic Notes on Your
Computer: Have you thought about speaking out while you are studying or
For some doctors, the prospect of trading in their paper-based patient files for electronic-medical-record systems means big changes in their work, and they and their staffs can't afford the initial slowdown as they learn to enter and deal with digitized patient information. But what if speech-recognition technology was good enough to actually understand and digitize not just a doctor's words to include in medical records, but the medical lingo held in them? A startup tech vendor led by George Newstrom, the former secretary of technology for Virginia under Gov. Mark Warner, is making plans for such technology to be one of the many tools for getting more doctors using electronic records.
"Voice-Technology Startup Aims To Get Doctors Using E-Records," Information Week, March 8, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/SpeakUp
Virus threat to mobile phones
A new mobile phone software virus started spreading this week via messages containing photos and sounds, the first of its kind and a threat to cellphones globally, data security firms said Tuesday. The Commwarrior. A virus tries to replicate itself by sending multimedia messages to people on the phone's contacts list, and also tries to do the same via Bluetooth wireless connections with other devices, eventually draining the battery.
"New virus found in phone messaging," CNN, March 8, 2005 --- http://money.cnn.com/2005/03/08/technology/personaltech/mobile_virus.reut/index.htm
Little Red Riding Hood doesn't know it's the really big bad wolf
As the Social Security debate heats up, it pays to watch the political sleight-of-hand. The latest gimmick to emerge, cleverly marketed as a potential bipartisan compromise and "victory" for the White House, is the notion of "add-on" personal investment accounts. Under President Bush's proposal, individuals would be able to divert part of their payroll taxes into personal accounts that they would own. That idea is apparently too shocking for many in Congress and the AARP, however, so instead they're proposing new accounts that would be financed by other tax revenue -- that is, by other taxpayers. In short, they want to create a new entitlement to "add" to all the old ones. If this is what is going to count as Social Security "reform," count us out.
" 'Adding-On' Entitlements," The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2005; Page A20 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111033447404774285,00.html?mod=todays_us_opinion
Imagine a government that has stopped providing national defense, halted criminal prosecutions, canceled mail delivery and abandoned its highways and parklands. This government, in fact, does nothing but write benefit checks and pay interest on its debts — and still runs an annual deficit. Sound farfetched? Actually, that prospect is just three decades off if U.S. government benefit programs grow at current rates and the size of government relative to the economy stays constant. Social Security is partly to blame for this dire outlook. Without changes, its costs will rise from about 20% of federal spending to 30% in the next 25 years. But by far the biggest culprit is the exploding cost of health care, particularly Medicare, the government's insurance program for seniors. Medicare has grown 23-fold in the past three decades, from $13 billion in 1975 to $295 billion this year. It is on a trajectory that will soon rocket it past Social Security to the upper stratosphere of unaffordability. In 25 years, it will rise from 13% of federal spending to almost 40%. As a problem for the U.S. economy and future retirees, exploding health care costs dwarf Social Security. By focusing exclusively on the latter, President Bush is overlooking the bigger problem. This is akin to getting a car tuned up when its transmission is shot and its engine has locked up.
"Medicare's mounting troubles dwarf Social Security's woes: Washington ignores bigger problem of exploding health care costs," USA Today, March 9, 2005, Page 10A --- http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20050309/edit09.art.htm
My unfinished essay on the "Pending Collapse of the United States" --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/entitlements.htm
Tired of teaching? Write and
essay and fire it off to the Board of Trustees
The University of Colorado's review of Ward Churchill's scholarship has been delayed, perhaps until Monday, partly to allow lawyers time to craft a buyout offer, according to a person close to the process. The original March 3 deadline for the Churchill review has been pushed back twice now as a three-member committee of CU administrators wrestles with his writings, including an essay comparing some 9/11 victims to Nazi Adolf Eichmann. Tuesday, Churchill's attorney, David Lane, said he is "not at liberty" to discuss any talks he might have had with the university on a buyout proposal. He said again, however,...
Dave Curtin, "CU delays Churchill review," Denver Post, March 9, 2005 --- http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36~53~2751963,00.html
Bob Jensen's threads on Ward Churchill are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/hypocrisyChurchill.htm
Claims of Indian heritage aren't rare these days, particularly in the South, where laws and attitudes stigmatizing nonwhites have waned. In polls, more than 40% of Southerners now say they have an Indian ancestor. In fact, says John Shelton Reed, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina, white Southerners are likelier to claim an Indian than a Confederate forebear. But the Apalachee stand out because of their hidden epic of survival -- and because of the modest couple who have brought them to light.
Tony Horwitz, "Apalachee Tribe, Missing for Centuries, Comes Out of Hiding: The Indians' Tragic History Is Documented by Chief; A Push for Recognition," The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2005 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111032889711474126,00.html?mod=todays_us_page_one
Doctors have the millennia-old Hippocratic Oath. Pharmacists,
mathematicians and even football coaches all have codes of ethics. Not
Investment banking is a vexing area to police. Bankers sit in the crucible of the economy: doling out loans; hammering out contracts; and counseling companies on the sensitive topics of mergers and acquisitions, among other things. It is in these areas that ethical lapses can occur, with bankers using confidential information from one client to benefit another, or failing to fully outline the drawbacks of a particular transaction to guarantee a big payday. Many on Wall Street say the vast majority of bankers are ethical ones, but nearly all will admit they can lose or win fees based on how far they are willing to go. Given the million of dollars in profits that also can be personally earned from one or two banking transactions, the "pressure on behavior is sometimes too great to bear," writes Gerald Rosenfeld, chief executive officer of investment bank Rothschild North America, in the book. Instead of trying to create a rule for every ethical permutation, a potential code "should have basic principles with respect to who you're accountable to, and what your priorities are between yourself, your client and your regulators," says Mr. Rohatyn, the former managing director of investment bank Lazard who now heads his own firm, Rohatyn Associates. "It's really something that has to be embedded in an organization all the way up and down," he says. "Ultimately, it has to be instinctive." When asked, some of Wall Street's leading investment banks say they welcome the idea of a code. For now, the list of supporters includes Citigroup, Credit Suisse Group's Credit Suisse First Boston, Goldman Sachs Group, J.P. Morgan Chase, Lehman Brothers Holdings, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. Since it is now simply a vague recommendation, exactly what it would contain remains to be seen. But a code could include principles for handling conflicts of interest, behavioral guidelines for dealing with clients and competitors, and some recognition of a banker's duty to society at large. Writing such a code could face an uphill fight. Deep in the trenches, some Wall Street bankers displayed an instinctive skepticism.
Dennis K. Berman, "Does Wall Street Finally Need An Ethics Code?," The Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2005 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111040943044975189,00.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing
Jensen Comment: Lawyers have codes of ethics; Just goes to prove that it takes more than a codification.
January 9, 2005 --- Nasdaq Composite Index = 1525 (and rolling much slower)
Top 10 Corporate Hate Sites
To honor these quixotic champions, we spent hours trawling the Web looking for the very best corporate hate sites. After checking out more than 100 sites with names like dontflycontinentalairlines.com and fordlemon.com, we rated the best of them on a scale from one to five in six different categories: ease of use, frequency of updates, number of posts, hostility level (angrier is better), relevance, and entertainment value (Hey! Angry and funny!).
Charles Wolrich, "Top Corporate Hate Web Sites," Forbes, March 8, 2005 --- http://www.forbes.com/technology/2005/03/07/cx_cw_0308hate.html
And the best of the worst is built on a cracked foundation
KB Homes KBhomesucks.com --- http://www.kbhomesucks.com/
(Complete with videos)
No pay is our way
PayPal Sucks, aka No PayPal, is an anti paypal site to expose the nightmare of doing business "the paypal way."
PayPal (part of eBay) Paypalsucks.com --- http://www.paypalsucks.com/
I wouldn't shake these hands
Allstate Insurance Allstateinsurancesucks.com --- http://www.allstateinsurancesucks.com/
DOI data helps rank Allstate as # 2 Bad Faith Insurer
Under the new name of Microsuck
After four years of being known primarly as [ahem]Microsoft.com, the flagship site of the Microsoft Eradication Society now sports a new, slightly more family-friendly name: Microsuck. And if you've come here expecting the old Microsuck website, we regret to inform you that it is no more. After laying dormant for a while, the previous owners offered it for sale to us. We couldn't resist.
Microsoft MS-Eradication.org --- http://www.ms-eradication.org/
Microsuck --- http://www.ms-eradication.org/newsite.shtml
Bad ingredients in your financial happy meal
You'll also learn why the posters refer to American Express's (known as Threadneedle in Europe, United Kingdom (UK)) financial plans as a financial plan Happy Meal. Just like McDonald's Happy Meal, AEFA's financial plan happy meal always consists of the same items: Annuity, VUL, AXP Funds, and disability insurance.
American Express Amexsux.com --- http://www.amexsux.com/
This is really a complaint forum with links to complaint forums for other large chains of stores
Wal-Mart WalMart-Blows.com --- http://walmart-blows.com/
Among the claims: 50% of the bills are incorrect (I've got some myself so I believe it)
Verizon Verizonpathetic.com --- http://www.verizonpathetic.com/
October 20, 1998 to the present: Complaints = 4,911; Replies = 66
UAL (parent of United Airlines) Untied.com --- http://www.untied.com/
Ever wondered why your packages arrive at your door step crunched, smashed, broken, snapped and crushed? You've probably never been inside a UPS facility and witnessed the package smashing first-hand. You've probably never watched a truck get unloaded, where the packages are thrown out the back door onto the conveyor belts and then thrown into the back door of another truck. But I have.
United Parcel Service UnitedPackageSmashers.com --- http://www.unitedpackagesmashers.com/
Jensen Comment: We have a lot of package shipments, and I’ve had more damaged parcels from the USPO.
There was a tenth site that went dark about the time this article was published
It's called the CNN Gag Order, but
somebody's not listening
Tuesday morning's editorial meeting included a warning to employees not to leak complaints about the network. TVNewser has obtained an excerpt from the editorial meeting notes, as they are sent by Sue Bunda: "Jon [Klein] started the meeting by reminding everyone that the editorial meeting is sacrosanct....what is said in this meeting should not be leaked outside the company. He reminded everyone that leaking will get a person fired if they are caught...Jon has an open door and called the idea of leaking complaints foolish when any employee can approach him in person, on the phone, via email. He is...
"TVNewser Post Provokes Warning To CNN Employees: 'What Is Said In This Meeting Should Not Be Leaked Outside The Co.'," MidiaBistro, March 9, 2005 --- http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/
It's called the former Rutgers Gag
Amid a barrage of criticism, Rutgers University on Tuesday reversed an earlier decision restricting students in an investigative journalism course from exploring topics at the university. John Pavlik, chairman of the journalism and media studies department, had mandated in January that students in the Investigative and In Depth Reporting class at Rutgers limit their work to off-campus subjects. He had made that decision, in part, because of complaints from colleagues and officials in other departments about some of the articles students in the course had written, including one on alleged special treatment of athletes that The Daily Targum, Rutgers's student newspaper, had declined to publish. Inside Higher Ed's article last week on the Rutgers controversy prompted a barrage of criticism of the department's decision. One local newspaper columnist blasted the decision in a column called "The Sting of Rutgers Censorship." Officials at Temple and Columbia Universities challenged Pavlik's contention that Rutgers was following their lead in barring journalism students from writing about on-campus issues. And the Society of Professional Journalists said last week that it would set up a fact finding panel to explore the issue.
Doug Lederman, "Reversing Course at Rutgers," Inside Higher Ed, March 9, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/insider/reversing_course_at_rutgers
Customer vs. Bank of America
According to a report in The Register, Joe Lopez, a small businessman from Florida, alleges that Bank of America was negligent because it failed to protect his account from compromise through known risks. He regularly used the bank's online services to send and receive money from the U.S. and Latin America, but last April he discovered an unauthorized wire transfer for $90,348 sent to a bank in Latvia. When he became aware of the fraud, he notified the police, and when the Secret Service performed a forensic examination of his PCs, they uncovered an infection by a Trojan called Coreflood.
Donald Smith, "Customer vs. Bank of America: Who's to blame?" Search Security, February 25, 2005 --- http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/columnItem/0,294698,sid14_gci1062440,00.html
What are the best foods to serve a burglar?
Police say thieves often cannot resist tucking into a snack after breaking into a home, and traces of saliva on the food remains can yield a telltale signature of the criminal's DNA. A handful of hungry crooks have been caught and jailed this way over the past decade, a phenomenon that has prompted curious scientists to wonder which foods may yield the best saliva sample. Forensic researchers Heather Zarsky and Ismail Sebetan of the National University in La Jolla, California, organised a dinner party for 13 people, the British weekly New Scientist reports.
"A bite can bait a burglar," Aljazeera, March 10, 2005 --- http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/9030541B-1315-4C3D-A9E9-FFA489043776.htm
On the menu were pizza, corn on the cob, chicken wings, ribs, chocolates, cheese, apples and carrots.
Just another day on the Merrill Lynch fraud beat
Merrill Lynch & Co. was fined a total of $13.5 million by regulators for failing to supervise four brokers in New Jersey who helped a hedge fund rapidly trade in and out of mutual funds and variable annuity investment accounts to the detriment of other investors. Three brokers in Merrill's Fort Lee office and one with lesser responsibility in another New Jersey branch allegedly helped hedge fund Millennium Partners LP rapidly trade in and out of 521 mutual funds and 40 variable annuity accounts despite policies at Merrill and some of the funds to discourage such trading, known as market timing, the regulators said. Merrill fired three of the brokers in October 2003.
Jed Horowitz, "Merrill Fined In Market-Timing Case: Firm to Pay $13.5 Million; 4 Accused of Rapid Trading To Aid Millennium Partners," The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2005; Page C15 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111029865794273529,00.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing
spate of previous rulings favorable to the securities industry, arbitrators
Lynch & Co. to pay a Florida couple more than $1 million for failing to
disclose that its analysts had conflicts of interest in recommending stocks.
Jed Horowitz, "Merrill Ordered to Pay 2 Clients Over Analyst Conflicts on Stocks," The Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2005; Page C3 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB110962110354266151,00.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing
Jensen Comment: Merrill Lynch has one of the worst fraud records on Wall Street. Eliot Spitzer once claimed he had enough smoking guns to bring down Merrill Lynch if he chose to do so. You can read more by searching for "Merrill" at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraudrotten.htm
Hacking Harvard: No fair peeking
Harvard Business School will reject 119 applicants who followed a hacker's instructions and peeked into the school's admission site to see if they had been accepted, the school's dean said. "This behavior is unethical at best -- a serious breach of trust that cannot be countered by rationalization," Kim Clark said in a statement Monday. "Any applicant found to have done so will not be admitted to this school."
"Harvard Rejects Applicants Who Peeked into Admissions Computer," MIT's Technology Review, March 8, 2005 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/03/ap/ap_030805.asp?trk=nl
It started out as just a
few malcontents in third world countries, but now the threat has hit the big
time. Phishing joins numbers running, drug smuggling and currency fraud as yet
another tool of organized crime.
Phishing, which first appeared more than 10 years ago, has grown from humble roots to become the international electronic crime of choice for amateurs and professionals alike. In its simplest form, phishing involves sending out fake e-mail messages that ask recipients to enter personal information, such as bank account numbers, PINs or credit card numbers, into forms on Web sites that are designed to mimic bank or e-commerce sites.
Dennis Fisher, "Phishing Is Big Business," eWeek, March 7, 2005 --- http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1772523,00.asp
Bob Jensen's threads on phishing are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/000start.htm#Phishing
"What can be done to prevent, postpone, or correct the vision loss at early stages of cataracts?"
For otherwise healthy people, limiting sun exposure, wearing UV blocking eyewear, and consuming a balanced diet rich in antioxidants are probably the wisest ways to help prevent or delay cataracts.
"Dr. Lloyds Guide to Better Eye Care," WebMDHealth --- http://my.webmd.com/content/pages/15/96152.htm?z=1728_00000_1000_td_01
Take the power from the
Supreme Court and give it back to the House of Commons
Mother of Slain RCMP Officer: “It’s Time to take our Liberal Attitude to Task” RED DEER, Alberta, March 7, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The mother of one of the four Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers who were shot dead during a drug bust in Alberta Thursday, spoke to the media Saturday with a powerful message for Prime Minister Paul Martin. “It is time that our government take a stand on evil,” Colleen Myrol said Friday from in front of her home in Red Deer, Alberta. “The man who murdered our son and brother was a person who was deeply disturbed and...“Prime Minister Paul Martin, we depend on you and we expect you to change the laws and give the courts real power,” she said. “Give the power back to the police. Take the power from the Supreme Court and give it back to the House of Commons. We are a good country. Brock knew that. He loved the RCMP and all it stood for.”
"Mother of Slain RCMP Officer: 'It’s Time to take our Liberal Attitude to Task'," Life Site, March 7, 2005 --- http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/mar/05030703.html
may not be the best way to save money
A new Gartner Study shows that Outsourcing may not be the best way to save money. In fact, 80% of the companies that outsource to save money will fail to do so. Of course, there might be other valid efficiency based reasons to outsource. Gartner: Outsourcing costs more than in-house | CNET News.com
From Jerry Trites' blog on March 9, 2005 --- http://www.zorba.ca/blog.html
The following add appealing to spring break students appeared in Business Week's MBA Express, March 9, 2005
South Padre Island, Texas. Located in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast south of San Antonio, the island offers great fishing, windsurfing, and sun-bathing. Throw out your line in the Gulf, and you just might reel in an 800-pound marlin or wahoo.
Jensen Comment: I don't think spring breakers are casting out for fish.
Possible new assurance service clients for CPA firms
A number of major international charities are opening their doors for the first time to outside inspectors, allowing them to certify that donations are spent as advertised. The charities say they hope thorough inspections and a new industry seal of approval will assuage public fears of donations being misused. The nonprofits are also trying to keep ahead of a movement in Congress to impose regulations on the fast-growing but largely unsupervised world of nongovernmental organizations.
Michael M. Phillips, "Big Charities Pursue Certification To Quell Fears of Funding Abuses," The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2005; Page A1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111033202546074217,00.html?mod=todays_us_page_one
Bob Jensen's threads on charity frauds are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#CharityFrauds
You can read more about assurance services at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/000start.htm#AssuranceServices
Brother really is watching you
The man marched down the street in daylight, armed with a paintball rifle that had been converted to shoot with lethal force. He then blasted a newly installed camera in hopes of freeing the drug-ridden neighborhood from police surveillance. But the shooter's image was saved on the camera's hard drive. "All it did was get him arrested," chuckled New Orleans' chief technology officer, Greg Meffert. "The camera immediately notified the police and tracked him until he was caught." And when they got him, they found he was wanted on a murder arrant.
Mary Foster, "N. Orleans Installing Surveillance Cameras," SFGate, March 8, 2005 --- http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2005/03/08/national/a110248S39.DTL
Protest in Pakistan
Thousands of women rallied in eastern Pakistan on Monday to demand justice and protection for a woman who said she was gang-raped at the direction of a village council, after a court ordered the release of her alleged attackers. The victim, Mukhtar Mai, also attended the rally in Multan, a major city in the eastern province of Punjab. Waving signs and chanting, the demonstrators, many of them from nearby villages, joined the rally. Organizer Farzana Bari said more than 3,000 women were at the event. "We will fight for justice for Mukhtar Mai," the women chanted during...
Kansas City Star, March 8, 2005
toot your own horn in France
But that's not the way the musicians' unions in Germany and France see it. Mr. Mertens of the Deutsche Orchestervereinigung, or German orchestra union, says people like Mr. Hartung are engaging in "unfair competition" that "jeopardizes European jobs." According to this view, orchestra directors bringing in low-wage East European musicians to play to West European crowds are exploitative profiteers who are mistreating their workers and harming their West European counterparts at the same time. In other words, putting on a tour in small towns that can't afford a French opera company and giving work to eager musicians from the east is a lose-lose proposition.
Brian M. Carney, "Show Stopper," The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2005 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111031869846473836,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep
No one will be asking "Where's Jane?" in a few weeks, when her autobiography, "My Life So Far," arrives with the kind of fiercely controlled, all-fronts media campaign politicians can only dream of. Her publisher, Random House, will not release the book to reporters or critics in advance, . . . Yet her influence on the popular culture has been so enormous that it would be foolish to dismiss her as just another actress trying for a comeback; after all, she has set a path American society has followed more than once. Her political activism, unusual for a movie star in the 70's, is now so common she seems like the template for contemporary celebrity. Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon and Arnold Schwarzenegger might have had very different careers without her. Today only the most bubble-headed pop stars are expected not to comment on world events.
Caryn James, "Where's Jane Fonda? On Yet Another Journey," The New York Times, March 8, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/08/movies/08fond.html
The Monterey Aquarium's popular great white shark is now a killer, having taken down one of its Outer Bay tank-mates two weeks ago and inflicting a 5-inch gash in the tail of another soupfin shark on Monday. But aquarium officials believe the 88-pound, well-fed white shark wasn't hunting its neighbors -- only reflexively chomping when it was startled by an accidental collision with the slower-swimming sharks. There are no plans to move the female great white, although officials may relocate two remaining soupfin sharks to avoid potential clashes in the million-gallon tank. "The white shark and the soupfins are tending...
Alan Gathright, "Aquarium attack called accident Great white shark chomped on tail of its tank-mate," San Francisco Chronicle, March 9, 2005 --- http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/03/09/BAGG1BMH9B1.DTL
donating the land to the Feds really serve their purpose?
The Mount Soledad cross must go, the San Diego City Council said yesterday. The 16-year saga of whether the cross would stay on public land in La Jolla came to an emotional conclusion last night as the council voted 5-3 to reject a last-ditch effort to keep it in place. The vote capped a six-hour public hearing that attracted 350 people, most of them Christians who urged the council to donate the cross and surrounding land to the federal government so it possibly could remain where it has stood since 1954. But the cross now must be moved to comply...
Matthew T. Hall, "No clemency for cross," The San Diego Union Tribune, March 9, 2005 --- http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20050309/news_7n9cross.html
Hissy fits and real progress
Susan Estrich is playing a dog-eared victim card and in doing so reveals herself as well behind her curves. Three-fourths of American women between 25 to 34 are in the workforce, up from half in 1975. A report by the World Future Society finds that Generation Xers and their younger counterparts in the millennial generation toil in a workplace that is all but "gender-blind." Fully 57 percent of American college students are women. The old-boy school of the entrepreneurial world has given way to the "new girl" school, with women more and more starting their own shops and companies. Life insurance companies sell more policies to women than to men. As women continue to draw on experience and education, they're accelerating their numbers in upper management, too. Top salaries for women are not yet as high as those for men, but women's salaries have been rising faster in America for 30 years. Trends suggest that the average woman's income may exceed that of the average man within a generation.
Suzanne Fields, "Hissy fits and real progress," Jewish World Review, March 10, 2005 --- http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/fields031005.asp
Forwarded by Debbie Bowling
Hackers commandeered a database owned by information
industry giant Lexis Nexis, gaining access to the personal files of as many as
32,000 people, company officials said Wednesday. Federal and company
investigators were looking into the breach at Seisint, which was recently
acquired by Lexis Nexis and includes millions of personal files for use by such
customers as police and legal professionals.
Ellen Simon, "U.S. Citizens' Data Possibly Compromised," ABC News, March 9, 2005 --- http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=565298
Eight hours in bed, seven for sleep,
one for ____________ (think of something that will help you sleep more soundly
such as reading accounting books, watching TV commercials, ?)
Seven hours of sleep is plenty for most people. Much more than that isn't good for you. In fact, people who regularly sleep more than eight hours a night tend to die sooner. A bit less won't hurt you. But less than five hours' sleep, night after night, takes a toll. Sleeping late once in a while won't hurt. Neither will getting too little sleep every so often. But don't make a habit of it. Sleeping well is as important to your health as eating well.
"What's a Good Night's Sleep?," WebMDHealth, March 9, 2005 --- http://my.webmd.com/content/article/71/81370.htm?z=1728_00000_1000_td_01
9, 2005 message from Paula
Just wanted to let you know that the new Homeland Security Bill has passed. Things will be different now and Internet surfing will be tracked by what the FBI calls a "non-intrusive method." The FBI says you will not notice anything different.
For a demonstration, click on the link below...
Homeland Security --- http://users.chartertn.net/tonytemplin/FBI_eyes/
A federal appeals court in Washington endorsed the use of federal AmeriCorps money to place young teachers in religious schools. The decision reversed a lower court judge who said the program crossed the constitutional line separating church and state. The AmeriCorps program trains participants, offers them $4,725 in financial aid and has them teach needy children in secular and religious schools. The participants fulfill a service requirement of 1,700 hours by teaching secular subjects, though they may also teach religious courses. The American Jewish Congress, which brought the case, argued that federal money was being used improperly to pay for teaching Christian values.
"Appeals court reverses ruling on AmeriCorps," USA Today, March 9, 2005, Page 8A --- http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20050309/a_capcol09.art.htm
concerns a hilarious essay generating site noted by David Albrecht.
Message from Charlie Betts [cbetts@COLLEGE.DTCC.EDU]
His web site ( http://radioworldwide.gospelcom.net/essaygenerator/ ) does more than generate funny essays. Among other things it also has a proverb generator. I tried the word "accounting" several times and got the following responses (among others)
"An accounting in time saves nine."
"No use crying over spilt accounting."
"Two wrongs do not make an accounting."
"Better the accounting you know than the accounting you don't."
The last one is my favorite and can be taken several ways, but I'm not sure how original it is. I think I've heard it used before as an argument against the acceptance of International Accounting Standards and against almost any accounting change proposed by the FASB.
"America believes in education: the average professor earns more money in a year than a professional athlete does in a whole week." Evan Esar (or at least some professional athletes)
Charles M. Betts DTCC,
100 Campus Drive
Dover DE 19904 email@example.com
Forwarded by Auntie Bev
What me mudder said vs. what me fadder said --- http://txc.net.au/~mapie/memudder.htm
Cleaning Up Corporate Japan
Is Japan Inc. finally moving toward more responsible corporate governance? After last week's arrest of Yoshiaki Tsutsumi, owner of the country's major railway, hotel and resort conglomerate Seibu group, there's at least reason to believe that the government is finally demanding more accountability from its corporate leaders. Mr. Tsutsumi, former chairman of Seibu railway and its holding company, Kokudo, was arrested on Thursday on charges of insider trading and falsification of documents. While his guilt of these charges is still to be determined, the Japanese press has not held back from criticizing the politically influential Mr. Tsutsumi and his business empire, portraying them as powerful symbols of corporate Japan's lack of transparency and disregard for shareholder interests.
"Cleaning Up Corporate Japan," The Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2005 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111040748350775119,00.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep
Bob Jensen's rotten to the core threads are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraudrotten.htm
Forwarded by Don Mathis
The National Consumer Law Center placed an emphasis on divorce as a primary causal factor in their testimony before Congress in 1998: the average bankruptcy occurs “because of the convergence of consumer debt, job loss and divorce ... when a family splits up, the pressure of running a household with less total income is impossible.” They also cite downsizing, economic dislocation, income disruptions and underemployment as major factors. The President of Easton Bank and Trust Company not only emphasized the problem of divorce in his congressional testimony, but also pointed out the real reason why banks want bankruptcy reform in the first place: “The industry has long understood, and since 1997, testified before both the House and Senate that many factors such as divorce, lack of health insurance etc. all play a role in causing bankruptcy. We cannot and would not underwrite for these types of factors—can you imagine if on the credit application, we asked about such matters?”
Robert R. Usher, "Mensnewsdaily.com," March 9, 2005 --- http://www.mensnewsdaily.com/archive/u-v/usher/2005/usher030905.htm
"How Banks Pretty Up The Profit Picture: Playing with loan-loss reserves can produce deceiving earnings," Business Week, February 21, 2005 --- http://yahoo.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_08/b3921110_mz020.htm
Last year the banks had an easy way to juice their profits. All they had to do was allocate a little less money to loan-loss reserves -- the money they set aside to cover bad debt. As the economy has improved and defaults have slowed, many decided they didn't need as much in reserve as they did in 2003, and presto, their earnings per share would rise a few cents.
But investors who assume the profits are humming and decide to buy bank stocks could be in for a shock. In 2005 many banks won't have this profit source. Some have already pared loan-loss reserves as much as they reasonably can, analysts say. "A lot of banks may do this from time to time to meet estimates," says Brian Shullaw, senior research analyst at SNL Financial in Charlottesville, Va.
The trouble with whittling away the reserves is that as banks write more loans, they will have to replenish the reserves. Plus, if credit conditions worsen as economic growth slows and interest rates rise, they will need to set aside even more, eating further into profits.
Do a little digging, and the current numbers don't look so great. Detroit's Comerica Inc. (CMA ) had one of the largest drops in its loan-loss reserves relative to total assets, according to a study of large banks' fourth-quarter earnings done by SNL for BusinessWeek. Not only did Comerica fail to add money in the fourth quarter, it also extracted $21 million from the pot. That gave it an extra $98 million in income, or 57 cents a share, that it didn't have last year. The bank beat analysts' earnings estimates by 10 cents. Comerica Chief Credit Officer Dale Greene says muted loan growth, coupled with major improvement in credit quality, justify the move.
Others, such as Citigroup (C ), garnered a few extra cents from replenishing reserves by a smaller amount than before. But it was enough to help them beat analysts' earnings estimates by a penny or two. Citi Chief Financial Officer Sallie L. Krawcheck said in a Jan. 20 conference call that the reserving process was done in mid-quarter based on a mathematical formula. She noted: "We as a company work very hard to systematize the process around rigorous analytics."
Of course, banks can't just shift funds around willy-nilly. Accounting rules dictate that they have to justify decreases in loan-loss allowances, for example by citing substantial improvement in credit trends. This past quarter, a bevy of bank earnings releases cited fewer nonperforming loans, improving asset quality, and a stronger underlying global economy as reasons for smaller loan-loss provisions. Bill Lewis, leader of the U.S. banking practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers, notes that subjectivity is often involved, but "most banks, in light of heightened regulatory scrutiny, are more precise in their estimation methodologies today than they have been in the past."
Maybe so, but even if the decreases in reserves are perfectly justifiable, there are still problems with this common industry practice. Besides cutting reserves to the core, banks "are increasing the cyclicality of earnings," says Richard Bove, a banking analyst at Punk, Ziegel & Co. "When bad times come, you know they are going to be increasing the size of the reserves." Already, Citi's Krawcheck has warned analysts not to expect substantial reductions in provisions in the future.
Continued in the article
Bob Jensen's threads on banking misdeeds are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraudrotten.htm
Forwarded by Paula
For earlier editions of New
s go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm
Archives of Tidits: Tidbits Directory --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search
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 http://www.searchedu.com/.
Bob Jensen's home page is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/
Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob) http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen
Jesse H. Jones Distinguished Professor of Business Administration
Trinity University, San Antonio, TX 78212-7200
Voice: 210-999-7347 Fax: 210-999-8134 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org