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UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 9 | Oct. 7, 2004

In the News

Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in September 2004

Compiled by Brian Lin

Is Stock Chat all Talk?

In a recently published paper entitled “Is All That Talk Just Noise?” UBC financial economists Werner Antweiler and Murray Frank examined the stock message board phenomenon and found that the characteristics of messages helped predict volume and volatility, reports The New York Times.

Published in the June 2004 issue of The Journal of Finance, the paper also shows the number of messages on one day helped predict returns the next day, even though the degree of predictability was week and reversed itself the next trading day.

Antweiler and Frank collected more than 1.5 million messages from two online boards, Yahoo Finance and Raging Bull, and analyzed them using methods of computational linguistics and econometrics.

Cherry-Picking Immigrants Discouraged

Many researchers attending the recent United States Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City annual conference disagree with the popular belief that rich countries could ease the strains of ageing by accepting younger immigrants.

“For the rich countries to cherry-pick skilled international migrants to finance their own retirement ... seems almost unbelievably shortsighted and self-serving,” UBC economist John Helliwell told the Australian Financial Review.

Helliwell said that outsourcing may achieve the same economic benefits of immigration but with far more social harmony. It spreads know-how and wealth in the poor country and minimizes immigration-related strains in the developed country.

Nobel Winner’s Dream Lab Opened

The Michael Smith Laboratories opened at UBC’s Vancouver campus last month. Smith, a Nobel Prize winner, had recruited a collection of brilliant young scientists to UBC before his death in 2000. Now his dream of creating a cross-disciplinary biomedical centre finally came true.

Brett Finlay, one of Smith’s recruits who has been doing pioneering work on microbial pathogens, told The Globe and Mail he rejected a career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to join Smith’s team.

“[The concept of creating an interdisciplinary team] was a brainchild of his . . . that we would mix engineers with biologists, with botanists. This was long before interdisciplinary [research] was trendy,” said Finlay.

Terrance Snutch left the California Institute of Technology to join Smith at UBC. With the new building, “our students and postdocs can actually get together and brainstorm, that’s never been there,” said Snutch, who has produced breakthrough work on calcium channels in the brain.

Wilf Jefferies, who left a leading research institute in Sweden, said it’s exciting that the new building is finally ready. “The space is fantastic. It’s a marvelous building. Mike, I think, would have been proud,” said Jefferies, who studies how pathogens are broken down and heads a team that is testing the first curative vaccine for cancer.

Psychopaths Good at Climbing Corporate Ladder

“Corporate psychopaths” are ruthless, manipulative, superficially charming and impulsive, UBC psychopathy expert Robert Hare told CNN.com. And these traits are landing them high-powered managerial roles.

“Psychopaths are social predators and like all predators they are looking for feeding grounds,” he said. “Wherever you get power, prestige and money you will find them.”

Hare estimates that as much as one per cent of the British and North American population are clinically psychopathic.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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