Bye Bye Bulletin Board

Hot off the Dow Jones Newswires: Steps on the NASDAQ’s road to becoming a full-fledged SRO and second node in the NASDAQ-NYSE would-be world duopoly.

The Securities and Exchange Commission issued two orders Monday to help the Nasdaq Stock Market (NDAQ) move toward becoming a full-blown stock exchange.

Nasdaq, long a national securities association, was cleared to become an exchange on Jan. 13 and the formal transition is expected to occur Tuesday. To avoid having thousands of Nasdaq-listed companies file new paperwork registering their securities for sale on the exchange, the SEC agreed to have Nasdaq file a single application for all its previously-registered companies, effective July 31.

In addition, the SEC issued a second order allowing Nasdaq members, brokers and dealers to execute trades until Aug. 1, 2009, in 13 Nasdaq-listed firms that were previously exempted from SEC registrations. Nasdaq sought the relief saying an immediate registration requirement could prompt the firms – four insurance companies and nine non-U.S. firms – to withdraw from Nasdaq trading altogether.

The SEC said a three-year exemption is appropriate and should give the firms adequate time to register their securities if they decide to continue trading on Nasdaq. The registration requirement could require the non-U.S. firms to reconcile previously issued financial results to comply with U.S. accounting rules.


Boston Commons

The bad news:

Despite efforts around the country, no universal wireless network is up and running in a major American city.

The good news for chowderheads: Hub sets citywide WiFi plan.

By Robert Weisman, Boston Globe, July 31, 2006

Boston will tap a nonprofit corporation to blanket the city with “open access” wireless Internet connections, under a plan to be unveiled today by Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

The task force report in Boston anticipates that it will take up to two years to blanket the city with radio transmitters, or routers, and wireless Internet access points.

The plan, which envisions raising $16 million to $20 million from local businesses and foundations, is a striking departure from the business models used by other cities, including Philadelphia and San Francisco, which have turned over responsibility for their wireless data networks to outside companies such as Earthlink Inc. and Google Inc.

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Obrador Update

“Subcomandante Marcos, what have you to say to Obrador and the PRD”? “Talk to the finger ’cause the face don’t wanna hear it.”

WSJ passes on the wire service copy: the sore losers who says he won the Mexican elections but was defrauded takes the battle to the financial district — much as the Falun Gong does on Wall Street, or used to before the Street became a discreetly but heavily armed enclave and maximum surveillance zone.

Getting in the faces of the people whose wasted time is worth the most money is accepted as a solid bit of tactics, I guess. Makes sense.

MEXICO CITY (AP)–Hanging protest banners from sculptures and pitching tents in the middle of Mexico City’s historic Reforma boulevard, supporters of the country’s leftist presidential candidate paralyzed the city’s main financial district Monday and refused to leave until the top electoral court ruled on their demands for a recount in the disputed race.

Leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador spent the night in a tent in the city’s main Zocalo plaza, where thousands of his supporters joined his fight. Others set up makeshift camps by the dozens along the tree-lined Reforma boulevard, braving chilly, intermittent rain throughout the night and blocking most east-west traffic on one of the main arteries in this megalopolis of 20 million people.

The protest camps snarled already chaotic rush hour traffic, bringing freeways to a crawl for a kilometers and forcing millions of commuters to circle the city’s center looking for a way to work. Many parked blocks away and hiked to their glass-and-steel office buildings.

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A Brown Study in Financial Education

The History of Finance, or Why I Don’t Have a Ph.D. (Financial Engineering News): Guest essayist Aaron Brown, author of The Poker Face of Wall Street (shown above), explains how he weighed his pending Ph.D. in finance — and “all the rights and privileges appurtaining thereto” — in the balance against his life experience and common sense, and in the end found the former wanting in the value-add department.

Prehistoric humans lived in small self-sufficient groups with little calculated exchange (calculation and exchange are the two defining characteristics of finance). Barter, gift, gambling and involuntary exchange are far older than writing, and leave no tangible trace for archeologists. 8,500 years ago in Turkey lumps of copper were used as money. Herodotus credited the Lydians with inventing coins 2,700 years ago, but that happened elsewhere in Asia Minor somewhat earlier. China invented leather and later paper money. The Phoenicians, Athenians and other Mediterranean trading cultures developed forms of insurance, commodity markets and securities.

We jump to early Renaissance Italy for corporations, double-entry bookkeeping and banks. The Reformation in northern Europe spawned modern securities markets, accompanied by bubbles and crashes: Tulipomania in Holland, John Law’s Mississippi Scheme in France and the South Sea Bubble in England. When William and Mary of Orange meld Dutch economic ideas to the English industrial revolution, we get stability via the gold standard and the Bank of England. In 1792, 24 brokers signed an agreement under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street creating the New York Stock Exchange. These three institutions, and similar ones elsewhere in the world, were the basis for the modern global economy.
This was the conventional story in 1980 when I entered the University of Chicago finance Ph.D. program. Continue reading

Flexibilizing Infodensity

More Flexibility and Reality in Explaining Anonymity: The NY Times public editor breaks his silence to announce a policy shift, although once you get through the labored explanation, it seems more like they have simply moved the furniture aside to vacuum the rug, then put it back where it was.

READERS who have peppered the public editor for months with complaints about The New York Times’s “phony” and “tortured” explanations for granting anonymity to sources should be happy. The paper has shifted toward a more flexible — and more realistic — approach to how it explains to readers why it is using an anonymous source.

An ambitious push spelled out in a June 2005 staff memo from Bill Keller, the executive editor, required reporters to explain why they had granted anonymity to each unnamed source. The guidelines also called for descriptions of how unnamed sources knew what they knew and what motivated them to talk — helpful information that the paper continues to want in stories.

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Counting Cuerpos

Tercera marcha masiva en México contra el resultado electoral que dio la victoria a Calderón (El Mundo/Reuters):

Más de 100.000 mexicanos marcharon por las calles de la capital en apoyo al candidato presidencial izquierdista, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, que dice fue derrotado en los comicios del 2 de julio por Felipe Calderón con fraude, ha impugnado los resultados e insiste en un nuevo recuento voto por voto.

Reuters Latin America reports a march of “more 100,000 people” in the Zocalo in Mexico City today; the ANSA news agency and others are reporting 1,100,000. The Times spot coverage, cribbed from the Reuters wire, mentions “at least 100,000,” while the Times’ own report is blurbed:

Andrés Manuel López Obrador escalated his campaign to undo official results in the presidential election.

I’m going to write the ombudsman about that one. There have been no official results, because no results are official until certified.

Judging from the AP wire photo, above, does 100,000 seem a little on the low side — unless most of those people are Japanese tourists and Sunday strollers?

Perhaps a typographical error? Hard for me to tell, though I was in a crowd of 200,000 in Sampa a couple years ago — in the middle of a thunderstorm and flash flood, too — and the great meadow in Ibirapuera didn’t seem as vast as the Zocalo.
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