Sunday, February 26, 2006

Weird World of Economics

I've been doing a great deal of reading on forecasting of economic and financial data over the last few weeks. This field of study is relatively new to me, but is quite interesting nonetheless. There are a lot of books that focus on the topic of business, economics, and how weird the two are, including and The Undercover Economist. I've read the first and thought it was great -- the latter is sitting on my desk, waiting for me.

As I've been researching, I've come across my own interesting facts and tidbits... There are three that stand out.

First, CWJ Granger's Forecasting in Business and Economics talks about a "blueprint indicator" -- apparently, some economists believe that by monitoring the amount of sales of blueprints, you can predict investment in the future. Why? Because companies need blueprints to draw up investment plans, and so the two are correlated.

Secondly, the Conference Board's Help Wanted Advertising Index -- the group scans help wanted ads in newspapers to predict how unemployment will be doing in the future. This one is much more sensible than the blueprint one -- I personally like the idea.

And finally, a historical fact in Macroeconomics: Canadian Edition one can learn about Germany's and Britain's "paper weapon". It appears as though both countries planned to print each others' currency and drop bombs filled with this currency onto their streets. Doing so would lead to inflation, causing economic problems.

Welcome to the weird world of economics. Everything makes sense, in its own way.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Reviving I2R

It is unfortunate, but within the last few months, I have lost track of I2R. This isn't because I lost interest (the research is still going strong!), but because of a lack of time. I am currently working on three research projects, and all are going well. I'm going to revive this blog to post my thoughts and fun things I run into as I research.

To give you an idea of what I'm working on, here are the three projects:
  • Social Network Analysis: I originally learned about this while writing about the Al Qaeda network and how it may be targeted (articles at I'm continuing this work, albeit in a much more civilian setting, in Toronto, at the University of Toronto's NetLab.
  • Neural Networks and Stock Market Prediction: an exploration of how two types of neural networks may be used to predict stock market conditions in the consumer staple and consumer retail industries.
  • Open Source Software for Developing Media: a much more applied technical project that focuses on using open source software to help make newspapers, websites, and other forms of media in the developing world, called the Article 13 Initiative (A13I).
That's what I'm working on. Come back often to learn more.