Magazine article Information Today

Getting Profitable

Magazine article Information Today

Getting Profitable

Article excerpt

If cold weather is not your idea of fun, February can seem like the longest, not the shortest, month of the year. And if you're suffering from seasonal affective disorder, you may be feeling a bit like Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day: frozen on the freeway of time with a radio station that only plays "I Got You, Babe."

But take heart. Whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow or not, spring is closer than it feels. To jump-start yourself out of the winter doldrums and get your brain revved up, here's an in-depth look at a pair of articles from CyberSkeptic's Guide and Searcher. Then, in honor of the Oscars' early arrival (the Academy Awards air Sunday, Feb. 29), grab the remote and some good munchies, kick the family pet out of the recliner, pop in a few winning movies (maybe featuring some tropical locales), and just forget about winter for a few hours.

Around the Market in 80 Clicks

So what do you know about stock markets? If it's about as much as the former star of Terminator and Kindergarten Cop knows about governing a state, here's an article for your reading pleasure: "Keeping Up-to-Date with Developments in Global Equity Markets," by Crystal Sharp (CyberSkeptic's Guide, February 2004, p. 4).

Financial markets are found in every country. To put it in monetary terms, capitalization of the worldwide stock market is approaching $35 trillion. Sharp explains, "As new technology has changed cost structures and ways of conducting business, international investing has grown, and the industry is less regulated." She focuses on some of these changes, specifically on equity markets, and gives tips on how researchers can keep up with the issues that affect regulatory, standard-setting, company, and country research.

Share-holding businesses have been around since knights were saving damsels in distress. However, share trading did not become widespread until the Industrial Revolution, when large amounts of capital were needed to build factories and infrastructures. Publicly available stocks, or equities, are seldom bought or sold but are traded over the counter through brokerage firms. When larger amounts of capital are desired in the equity market, a firm will list its shares on a stock exchange to appeal to a broader shareholder base. Got all that? While critics compare stock markets to casinos by claiming that they should be regulated, supporters argue that stock markets are the most efficient way of bringing investors and entrepreneurs together.

The use of alternative trading systems (ATS) via electronic communications networks has been rapidly increasing, largely due to the Internet. ATS participants don't have to be members of a stock exchange to trade listed securities. The listed securities can also be traded through automatic order-routing systems such as E-Trade. All major stock exchanges have a Web presence, and many foreign sites offer an English version. According to Sharp, "The single biggest issue affecting global investing is the difference in regulations, disclosure rules, and accounting standards across jurisdictions."

Anyone new to the investment industry will want to check out Sharp's in-depth list of sites that cover regulation and market information, the Federation of Exchanges, financial research, country reports, and investor education.

The Nonprofit Phenomenon

Did you know that there are currently more than 1 million nonprofit organizations (NPOs) in the U. …

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