finance – St. Thomas Libraries Blog
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Business & Economics, News & Events, Political Science

Happy 100th Birthday Mr. Taxman

With April 15th rapidly approaching I was wondering when and how the U.S. Federal Income Tax came into being. Well it turns out that the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the one authorizing the Federal Government to levy taxes, was ratified in 1913. Here’s the text:

Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever sources  derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration” 

Prior to this amendment’s passage the Federal Government had levied taxes (ex. the Lincoln Administration during the Civil War) but it was the 16th that laid the foundation for the tax code we all know and love. If you would like to learn more about this topic just follow this link to the Library of Congress’ History of U.S. Income Tax guide. If you’d like to see what the 1913 Form 1040 looked like just click here.  


Business & Economics, Libraries, News & Events, Uncategorized

It’s baaaack: The PNC Christmas Price Index!


Did you know?  Each holiday season, your favorite UST business librarians anxiously await the release of one of our favorite traditions:the PNC “Christmas Price Index!”

The PNC CPI tracks how much it would cost to buy each of the 78 gifts in “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”  PNC has been doing this every year since 1984, so they really know their stuff.   For those of you who aren’t some of my amazing Finance students, this CPI is a play on the “Consumer Price Index,” which tracks the changes in price of goods and services like housing, clothing, food, and transportation that reflect American consumers’ spending habits.

PNC makes a fun website every year depicting their CPI and allowing us to discover the costs of each individual gift; this year we get to hop aboard the “Index Express” railway.  As we travel through “Fluctuation Farm,” “Inflation Station,” “Index Falls,” and “Percentage Peak” to hear how the golden rings, partridges in pear trees, ladies dancing, and more are faring in the markets.

CPI Express

And the results? The 2011 CPI increased by 3.5% over last year – to (drummers drumming please):


The largest increases were for the poultry this year: the Two Turtle Doves (25%) the Partridge in the Pear Tree (14.2%), the Swans-a-Swimming (12.5%), and Geese-a-Laying (8%).  The Four Calling Birds were left out of this trend, with a 13.3% decrease. Four French Hens remained constant at $150, as did the price of Ladies Dancing ($6,294.03) and Lords-a-Leaping ($4766.70), although the dancers did get a large salary increase last year.  And, as some of you who follow the markets might predict, the cost of everyone’s perennial favorite, Five Golden Rings, is at $645 – a decrease of 0.8% from last year.


If you do a Summon search on the Twelve Days of Christmas, there are nearly 73,000 items – which is an increase of over 325% from last year!  Included are thousands of books, videos, music, and more to help get you in a holiday spirit (and perhaps help you out of finals doldrums?) from some our favorite authors and artists.  Check them out!

Happy Holidays!

Business & Economics, Database Highlights & Trials

New Mergent Interface

If you’re accessing Mergent Online on July 6th or later, you’re in for a surprise.  The UST Libraries’ best tool for getting public company financials, SEC documents, and more has changed its look.

company lookup

You’ll find a better company lookup tool and more options for finding company information more quickly.  Getting ratio reports and historical pricing for the company is easier, too.

Click here quick tips for using the new Mergent Online.  All of the old features of Mergent Online are still available.  Getting to them has been made easier.

quick tip sheet

Business & Economics, Charles J. Keffer Library, Libraries, O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library, Subjects/Topics

What Is An Asset-Backed Security?

Ever wondered?  Below is a sample of UST Libraries resources you can use to answer this question.

Here’s an answer from Oxford Handbook of International Financial Terms, one of our most useful resources for usable definitions of financial terms:Oxford Handbook of International Financial Terms

asset-backed.   Generic term for securities or financing methods where the underlying obligation and the source of interest and principal repayment is the cash flow from a particular financial asset or a portfolio (pool) of financial assets. Examples of asset-backed securities include receivables from commercial loans, credit cards, auto loans, real estate, inventory financing, and other securities (cf. mortgage-backed). The key factor in putting together such securities is the ability to differentiate or pool specific income producing assets so as to establish a legitimate legal claim or lien thereon.

How did I get here?  Follow these steps.

  1. Reference resources search for “finance”  (without quotes) in All of St Thomas/electronic only
  2. Scroll through results to Oxford Handbook of International Financial Terms
  3. Search for “asset-backed” (without quotes)
  4. Scroll through results, which include asset-backed, asset-backed security, asset-backed finance, asset-backed commercial paper, mortgage-backed, and other related terms.asset backed search results

What if these definitions aren’t enough?

  1. Chapters of The Handbook of Fixed Income Securities are available in the reference section of the Keffer Library, offer some great explanation and insight.
  2. Can’t get to the Keffer Library?  Try this e-book, The Handbook of Financial Instruments.  Chapters 14 to 20 explain simple, direct language about collateralized debt obligations, agency and non-agency mortgage-backed securities, and more in clear and understandable terms.

Well, what’s happening with asset-backed finance in the world right now?

  1. Good question!  Here’s a great Financial Times article from April 21 about how investors are re-evaluating the US mortgage market.
  2. Want some more articles like this?  Go to Factiva and follow these steps: factiva search
    1. In the Free Text box, type “asset-backed” (without quotes)
    2. In the Subject section below the Free Text box, click on “subject”
    3. Click the + beside Corporate/Industrial News
    4. Scroll to Funding/Capital and click the word so that it shows up in pink above the selection field
    5. Click the Run Search button
    6. You’ll get a lot of results.  Look for articles with titles like “Why REITs Could Lead Mortgage-Backed Comeback” or “ECB Moves to Restore Confidence in Securitisation” to get a good overview of what investment banks, investors, and even regulatory agencies are doing in asset-backed financing.