The Scout Report for Business & Economics - December 17, 1998

The Scout Report for Business & Economics

December 17, 1998

A Publication of the Internet Scout Project
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The target audience of the new Scout Report for Business & Economics is faculty, students, staff, and librarians in business and economics. Each biweekly issue offers a selective collection of Internet resources covering topics in the field that have been chosen by librarians and content specialists in the given area of study.

The Scout Report for Business & Economics is also provided via email once every two weeks. Subscription information is included at the bottom of each issue.

In This Issue


Learning Resources

General Interest

Current Awareness

New Data

In The News


Harvard Institute for International Development [.pdf]
Founded in 1974, the Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID) is an interdisciplinary center at Harvard University whose mission is to assist the economic growth of developing nations. Publications on-site include an extensive compilation of Development Discussion Papers (1974-present) with selected full text on agricultural and food policy, education, taxation, economic reform, and environmental issues (1995-present), as well as research stemming from the Consulting Assistance on Economic Reform project (CAER) and International Tax Program. Recent HIID book reviews are also available, and interested parties may examine compilations on the East Asian Financial Crisis and the External Debt Problem in Central America at the Research page. [MW]
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Economy and Environment Working Papers Inventory
With the goal to provide a "convenient location for almost immediate publication of new working papers," this new database from the US Environmental Protection Agency Economy and Environment Division (discussed in the February 26, 1998 Scout Report for Business & Economics) is organized with the reader in mind. A variety of search tools query over 100 papers on environmental economics, and authors may submit their research and professional profiles on-site. [MW]
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Business Information Service for the Newly Independent States (BISNIS)
The US Department of Commerce provides information on economic developments in Russia and the other states of the former Soviet Union at the Business Information Service for the Newly Independent States (BISNIS) site. News reports as specific as the sale of cosmetics plants in Moldova or as general as regional economic trends can be searched from an archive of US Embassy Reports (1995-present). Indexed market reports on industries such as consumer goods, computers, and agribusiness are also available from the BISNIS Industry Reports database (1994-present), and a variety of Country Reports include background information, commercial overviews, and organizational contacts for further research. [MW]
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First Monday: Internet Economics [.pdf]
The peer-reviewed Internet journal First Monday (discussed in the August 23, 1996 Scout Report) presents views on Internet economics by Hal R. Varian, Mark Bernkopf, and over twenty others at this subject page. Collected articles span topics including network systems, digital currency, and consumer trust, and links to referenced articles and author information are provided when available. [MW]
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Principles of Forecasting Project [.pdf]
Directed by J. Scott Armstrong at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the Principles of Forecasting Project seeks to "develop a comprehensive and structured review of the state of knowledge in the field of forecasting" in order to aid future research. The project will lead to a book entitled Principles of Forecasting: A Handbook for Researchers and Practitioners, and sample chapters, contact information, updates, and links to forecasting resources add value to this expanding compilation. [MW]
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Learning Resources

Statistical Abstract of the United States 1998 -- US Census Bureau [.pdf, 1020 p.]
The US Census Bureau has released the online version of the 118th edition of the Statistical Abstract of the United States, an annual compendium of statistics profiling the social, demographic, and economic conditions in the US. The 1998 edition contains almost 1,700 tables and graphs, which present summaries of local, state, regional, national, and selected international data, including "93 new tables covering topics such as women's health, school violence, home-based businesses, and bank fees and services." Data are organized into 31 statistical sections to facilitate access to the numerous tables, graphs, and figures. The 1995 through 1997 editions of the Statistical Abstract are also provided at the site, alongside the 1998 edition in a tabular format. [AO]
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From Morality to Moscow -- FRB Minneapolis
The Region, December 1998
Seven views on the meaning of economic literacy are presented in From Morality to Moscow, a special section of the December 1998 issue of The Region, a publication of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. The section give perspectives on economic comprehension in a variety of arenas -- daily life, K-12 classrooms, universities, and post-Soviet countries -- in addition to recommendations for change. The complete collection of these and other articles such as Kristeen Bullwinkle's guide, Textbooks on the Net, is accessible at The Region's main page. [MW]
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Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism
Created by Richard H. Robbins, State University of New York at Plattsburgh, this expansive site is a gateway to Internet resources on the social, cultural, political, and economic implications of capitalism around the world. Links are organized according to chapters from Robbins' book Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, and current news of interest is gathered at the Global Updates page. Also present are materials for the courses Anthropological Perspectives on Global Problems, Utopian Alternatives, and Capitalist Legacies -- an exploration of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) policy. [MW]
[Note: Site title has changed since the original Scout Report review. Site formerly referred to in the Scout Report as "Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism."]
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Dynamic Document Creator
The Dynamic Document Creator by Strategis (described in the December 4, 1998 Scout Report for Business & Economics) assembles international market research reports according to user-defined specifications. Each report draws on US Department of Commerce data and any number of regions, countries, industry sectors, and keywords are available for selection. [MW]
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ECON 307: History of Economic Thought [.pdf]
Instructor M. Rutherford provides course material on the history of economic thought as well "useful information for economists" at this University of Victoria, Canada site. A well-organized metapage of history of economics bibliographies, thematic discussions, biographies, and organizations is a highlight, and a course outline lists traditional readings on topics from the Pre-Classical to the Post-Marshallian. [MW]
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A Functional Housing Market
High school teacher Susan Boone asks students to complete mathematical problems on housing prices using the Internet at the Functional Housing Market lesson site. Detailed instructions are provided, and a collection of real estate links from Houston, TX and beyond gives students a sense of real estate information on the Web. [MW]
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General Interest

Financing your Business
Financing your Business is an eloquently arranged business strategy guide from the UK Department of Trade and Industry. Guide contents ask business owners to define objectives, isolate a form of financing, and formulate a business plan in a step-by-step manner. Readers may also select highlighted terms and view financial definitions from a pop-up glossary as they read. [MW]
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Bookmark Central: Entrepreneurship and Small Business
Reference librarian Rod Bustos shares his "jumping off points" for entrepreneurship and small business information at this Bookmark Central page from Subject headings span online magazines, government resources, educational use, and venture capital interest, and Bustos supplies a concise annotation for each site. [MW]
[Note: Resource(s)/URL(s) mentioned above is no longer available.]
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Inc. Online: The Ethics Corner
Jeffrey Seglin explores the "moral tensions and choices faced by entrepreneurs" in Inc. Online's Ethics Corner. Column contents address individual companies as well as theoretical issues, and an archive of past issues is maintained on-site. Recommended links to academic business ethics sites of interest are also listed for researchers and students. [MW]
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The Small Business Knowledge Base
According to creator Meir Liraz, the Small Business Knowledge Base is the Internet's "largest and most comprehensive" small business guide. Ten general categories address small business management issues such as starting up, Web marketing, and personnel management in a how-to format. Links to book reviews and related sites are also included as is an Entrepreneur Quiz -- an interactive assessment of the "traits that make a successful entrepreneur." [MW]
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Edited by Michael Tchong, Iconocast is a free weekly email publication with "market intelligence for intelligent marketers." Newsletter contents consider the impact of the Internet on traditional marketing and include The Jacobyte -- an "insider column" with "whispers" on the electronic industry. Interested readers may search past editions via the Iconocast archives or subscribe to the list on-site. [MW]
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Current Awareness
(For links to additional current awareness on tables of contents, abstracts, preprints, new books, data, conferences, etc., visit the Business & Economics Current Awareness Metapage:

Working Papers

Federal Reserve Board of Governors:
1998 International Finance Discussion Papers (IFDPs)
No 631: Idiosyncratic Tastes in a Two-Country Optimizing Model
No 630: A Model of Crises in Emerging Markets

Federal Reserve System:
FRB Boston 1998 Working Papers [.pdf]
No 9808: Will Greater Disclosure and Transparency Prevent the Next Banking Crisis?
FRB Cleveland 1998 Working Papers [.pdf]
No 9819: Price-Level and Interest-Rate Targeting in a Model with Sticky Prices
No 9818: Real Indeterminacy in Monetary Models with Nominal Interest Rate Distortions
FRB Minneapolis Working Papers and Discussion Papers [.pdf]
No 592: The Suffolk Bank and the Panic of 1837: How a Private Bank Acted as a Lender-of-Last-Resort
No 127: Staggered Contracts and Business Cycle Persistence
FRB New York 1998 Staff Reports [.pdf]
No 55: The Consolidation of the Financial Services Industry: Causes, Consequences, and Implications for the Future

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Working Papers [.pdf]
No 162: The Impact of Human Capital on Growth: Evidence from West Africa
No 161: Inflation, Uncertainty, and Growth in Colombia
No 160: Determinants of Inflation, Exchange Rate, and Output in Nigeria
No 159: Capital Flows with Debt and Equity-Financed Investment-Equilibrium Structure and Efficiency Implications
No 158: Fiscal Effects of the 1993 Colombian Pension Reform
No 157: Demand for Money in Mozambique-Was There a Structural Break?
No 156: Soft Exchange Rate Bands and Speculative Attacks
No 155: Financial Market Contagion in the Asian Crisis

Wharton Financial Institutions Center Working Paper Series [.pdf]
No 9834: How Financial Firms Decide on Technology
No 9832: The Design of Private Reinsurance Contracts

Stockholm School of Economics (S-WoPEc) Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance
No 289: Efficiency of Labour Use in the Swedish Banking Industry: A Stochastic Frontier Approach
No 288: On the Size Distributions of Firms and Markets
No 286: Vietnam - Ready for Doi Moi II?
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Federal Reserve System:
FRB Cleveland Economic Trends [.pdf]
FRB Kansas City Economic Review
FRB Dallas Southwest Economy and Houston Business [.pdf]
FRB New York Current Issues in Economics and Finance [.pdf]
FRB San Francisco Economic Letters
The December issue of Economic Trends from FRB Cleveland covers Ohio's budget in addition to topics of monetary policy, money growth and stock market volatility, interest rates, and international unemployment rates. The fourth quarter 1998 Economic Review by FED Kansas City features "From the Plains to the Plate: Can the Beef Industry Regain Market Share?" by Russell L. Lamb and Michelle Beshear with a suggestion for consumer-driven change in the beef industry. The telecom industry in North Texas is the focus of the latest Southwest Economy by FRB Dallas and this month's Houston Business compares the Houston purchasing managers' report to its national counterpart. Current Issues in Economics and Finance from FRB New York for December 1998 focuses on the deficit's impact on US jobs in " Viewing the Current Account Deficit as a Capital Inflow," and the most recent Economic Letter from FRB San Francisco explores stock market investing and the longevity of social security with sections on "How did we get here?," "A bad investment deal," "Risk," and "Prefunding and privatization" (No 98-37). [MW]

Bank for International Settlements (BIS)
BIS Review [.pdf]
Recently released articles and speeches from the BIS Review include a speech by Deutsche Bundesbank President Hans Tietmeyer on the euro and statements on the regulatory consequences of recent financial crises by Andrew Crockett, General Manager of the Bank for International Settlements. [MW]

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
Regional Outlook [.pdf]
The fourth quarter 1998 Regional Outlook presents articles on consolidation in the banking industry from a regional perspective. A slowdown in sectors tied to US exports is reported, particularly sectors with exports to Asia. [MW]

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Focus Hot File
This month, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation details the new governmental structure of the Czech Republic, start-up businesses in Italy, and Australian commonwealth assets in the Focus Hotfile.[MW]

American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI)
Economic Outlook
The December 1998 issue of Economic Outlook by AEI resident scholar John H. Makin examines prospects for the US equity market in light of global market conditions and current US consumer demand. [MW]
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Books and Journals

Baker & Taylor
Baker & Taylor Latest Books in Business -- December 1998
Baker & Taylor Latest Books in Economics -- December 1998
Baker & Taylor lists business and economics books published in December. [MW]

Harvard Business School Publishing What's New
Recent titles from Harvard Business School publishing include: Cutting Edge Gillette's Journey to Global Leadership by Gordon McKibben, Defining Moments: When Managers Must Choose between Right and Right by Joseph L. Badaracco Jr., and The Death of Distance: How the Communications Revolution Will Change Our Lives by Frances Cairncross. [MW]

Econbase -- Elsevier
The abstracts and tables of contents for the following journals are now available online: Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization (Vol 36 No 4, Vol 31 No 1), Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control (Vol 23 No 1, Vol 23 No 2). [MW]
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Inomics Conference Calls:
Email Conference Alert
Conference Search

Applications of Physics in Financial Analysis
The interdisciplinary subject of econophysics will be discussed at the Applications of Physics in Financial Analysis conference at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, July 15-17, 1999. Economists, financial experts, physicists, and mathematicians are invited to attend, and a list of invited speakers and registration information is provided online. [MW]

Thirteenth Annual Conference of the European Society for Population Economics
A call for papers has been issued for the Thirteenth Annual Conference of the European Society for Population Economics to be held June 24-26, 1999 at the University of Turin, Italy. Papers on labor economics, household economics, public economics, demography, statistics, and economic history are sought, and the deadline for submission is February 1, 1999. [MW]
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Job Openings from The Chronicle of Higher Education
Job Openings in Economics
Job Openings in Business and Management

Job Openings for Economists (JOE)
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New Data

Federal Reserve Board of Governors (FRB BOG)
Beige Book
According to the final 1998 Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions by Federal Reserve District, all twelve district economies continued to expand in November despite contraction in export industries. [MW]
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Census Bureau
1997 Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey [.pdf]
A national preference for sport utility vehicles is apparent from the 1997 US Census Bureau Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey (VIUS) -- a data source on truck physical attributes and use in the US. Currently, reports on Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania are posted with up-dates expected until late 1999. [MW]
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Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)
US International Transactions: Third Quarter 1998
Survey of Current Business: December 1998 [.pdf]
The December 9, 1998 US International Transactions release from the Bureau of Economic Analysis reveals third quarter increases in the current account deficit at $61.3 billion following a $56.7 billion total in the second quarter. An increase in the deficit on investment income, a decrease in the surplus on services, and an increase in net unilateral transfers accounted for the rise, and the deficit on goods in the third quarter remained virtually unchanged. The December 1998 Survey of Current Business includes the up-to-date Business Situation and specific files on Domestic Income and the Investment in New Structures and Equipment for 1992. [MW]
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Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Producer Price Indexes, November 1998
Consumer Price Index, November 1998
Real Earnings, November 1998
Following a rise of 0.2 percent in October and an advance of 0.3 percent in September, the Producer Price Index for Finished Goods decreased 0.2 percent in November (seasonally adjusted) according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) was unchanged in November, while real average weekly earnings increased by 0.1 percent from October to November. [MW]
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Rural Development Briefing Room
The Rural Development Briefing Room is new to the USDA ERS site (described in the July 2, 1998 Scout Report for Business & Economics). Easy access to non-metropolitan information is available including Rural-Urban Continuum Codes, Urban Influence Codes, Typology Codes, links to Rural Development Perspectives and Rural Conditions and Trends, and metro-nonmetro labor market indicators. A collection of country courthouse photos by Calvin Beale completes the site. [MW]
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United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
USDA Reports Calendars -- December 1998
USDA Agency Reports Calendar
ERS Calendar
NASS Calendar
USDA summarizes its report releases from various sources (the Economic Research Service, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the Foreign Agricultural Service, and the world Agricultural Outlook Board) at these three calendar sites. [MW]
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Energy Information Administration (EIA)
Annual Energy Outlook 1999
The complete Energy Outlook for 1999 is now available from the Energy Information Administration with market estimates through 2020. The outlook for world oil supplies is optimistic in 1999, although production in the Persian Gulf region remains uncertain. New discoveries in Algeria and Nigeria, as well as expanding industry capabilities in Venezuela, are cited as major factors for increased productivity . [MW]
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In The News

1998 Holiday Spending on the Internet -- Implications for the Future of Shopping?
(1) Ho, Ho, Click: Holidays May Be First Big Test for Online Stores
(2) Online Shopping: Good, Bad and Growing
(3) Department Stores Dabble Online but Stay Wary of the Web
(4) Online Orders Boosting Shippers' Holiday Take
(5) Silver Bells, Cyber Bells
(6) A Borderless World: Realising the Potential of Global Electronic Commerce
(7) High Stakes in Cyberspace: Examining Marketers' and Advertisers' Dreams for the Internet
(8) World Shopping Directory
(9) Welcome to the World of Electronic Shopping
(10) BizRate
This week's In the News examines increases in consumer spending and vendor presence on the Internet this holiday season. The above ten resources provide retail industry news for November through December 1998, background information on electronic commerce, and examples of the cybershopping experience. Even in the face of political and stock market volatility, analysts expect strong retail sales through January 1999, with an estimated $2.5 billion negotiated by Internet. Issues of security, computer equipment cost, and consumer preferences still keep many from shopping online. Nonetheless, this year retailers have made more of an effort than ever to lure buyers with innovative search screens, images, email wish lists, and chat rooms, creating an Internet presence quite different from the traditional department store floor or printed holiday catalog.

The Philadelphia Inquirer article Ho, Ho, Click: Holidays May Be First Big Test for Online Stores (1) provides a short history of electronic commerce popularity and emphasizes how "Internet shopping may be coming of age" this holiday season. Online Shopping: Good, Bad and Growing, from the New York Times (2), takes a deeper look into what makes cybershopping alluring -- particularly the convenience, speed, availability of products, and online gift recommendations. However, there are challenges when marketing to consumers through a new venue and ultimately delivering a product by mail, and these are outlined in Department Stores Dabble Online but Stay Wary of the Web (3) and Online Orders Boosting Shippers' Holiday Take (4), both from the LA Times. A poll on holiday shopping, Internet business statistics, and retail sales figures in general are provided at the CNNfn compilation Silver Bells, Cyber Bells (5). Background information on the development, politics, and possibilities for commercial transactions by Internet are available from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development conference site, A Borderless World: Realising the Potential of Global Electronic Commerce (6) and the PBS Frontline report High Stakes in Cyberspace (7), complete with a "cyberspace" bibliography and leading Web marketer profiles. The enormous expanse of Internet shopping centers from around at the World is visible at the Shopping Directory (8), and a guided tour is available from the University of Texas page Welcome to the World of Electronic Shopping (9). Finally, users may compare shopping sites according to "reliability, integrity, quality and depth" factors at (10) -- a consumer's guide to cyber purchases. [MW]
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The Scout Report for Business & Economics is published every other Thursday by the Internet Scout Project, located in the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Computer Sciences.

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