23 April 2007

Monday Miscellany: Profit and Loss

In February my Economics students began a stock simulation provided free of charge by the good people at Virtual Stock Exchange. Students are given virtual dollars (I gave them all $100,000) and then invest it in real stocks that follow the prices, rules, and trends of the real stock market. I announced a series of prizes including bonus points on the final exam for first, second, and third places.

The real problem with the simulation is that the limited time scale encourages short-term trading as opposed to long-term investing. While the simulation is limited (or maybe because of its limitations), students have been instantly and almost universally engaged. They have popped into the media center between classes to check stock prices, they constantly beg me to check the stocks on the class computer, and a few have developed Dow Syndrome (a sudden illness, usually brought on by the surreptitious checking of stocks on cell phones) and have had to rush to the bathroom in an emergency only to find themselves feverishly sell Google in the computer lab. Many of my students haven't talked this much to their fathers since they were in elementary school. A couple of students bought Playboy and Anheuser-Busch shares on the first day. I had to make them sell the shares and add new rules to the game, but the incident led to a good discussion of ethical investing (the consensus of the students: if it makes money, it's ethical).

True, some of those that fell behind early abandoned the game. Even so, most of the students continue to make at least an occasional transaction. To encourage those who seem to have quit, I told them that whoever places in the 31st position will win a cookie (the 31st position is the first position on the second page of rankings--what we call President of the 2nd Page Club). Fighting has become fierce for third place (first and second seem locked up) and for the cookie position. The game will conclude in eight days. Here are the top players as of the closing bell today:
1. Hayden

2. iwantcandy07

3. sasquash

4. MoneyLoseingMackinleymehhhhh

5. The Woobie

Your eyes do not deceive you. One of my students has made almost 200% since February! I guess I am just that good of a teacher. I should say that I am that good of an Economics teacher since they clearly can't spell.

Anything could happen at this point. Up until last week, we all thought sasquash or MoneyLoseing... would win but Hayden and iwantcandy07 both went way out on margin and bought a bunch of a pharmaceutical stock at $1.07 that went to over $4.00 in one day. MoneyLoseing... made most of his money by typing in funny words or IM messages into the symbol finder. He put in "HA" and bought $200,000 of Hawaiian Airlines. He made about $30,000 on that deal. Sasquash wants a cookie instead of the bonus points.

All-in-all, I have never seen so many second semester seniors so excited about something at school.

When I first started my blog, I promised myself that I would never apologize to my readers if I went too long between postings. I had read too many other bloggers who seemed to start off every post with "Sorry it has been so long, but life has been so busy" or something to that effect. The blogs usually died soon after. The last posts of many a blog in the blograveyard begin, "Sorry, but." I vowed to never let that happen. I thought it would be far too easy to let my writing go for a while and then pull out the "life's been busy" excuse every time I needed it. It would encourage my lazy side too much.

Last month was the first month for which I will not have an archive because I did not post. I do not offer an apology, but I do feel that I owe an explanation: I have been looking for a new job since February and have either focused my energies or seen my energies drained by that effort. In addition, March is research paper season at my current school, and it takes an intensive effort by the teachers to make it a successful project. The good news is that I have found a new teaching job and the research papers are done so I shall be posting more regularly in the near future. Instead of an apology, I offer my thanks for continuing to drop by during my drought.

Speaking of droughts, I took my son camping for his first time over Spring Break. The Georgia DNR knows that in times of extreme drought, all they have to do is call the Chintzibobs family and ask them to go camping and the state will be assured of a copious, all-day, all-night rainfall. The DNR rarely makes this call because they know that invariably, with that rainfall comes severe weather, possible tornados, and disaster proclamations by the governor. This trip was no exception. I see that this Miscellany has become much too long so I will save the full story for another day.



1 comment:

4BoyDad said...

Hey! Grats on the new job (wherever it is), and grats on keeping the free market spirit alive in young people today.

I love the stock game. In High School, I had a friend who did this game and bought Delta stock a week or so before Eastern Airlines went under. She won.