Thursday, June 25, 2009

When Data is the Asset: DemandBase

Information is a big business. Hoovers, BuyerZone, and, to name a few companies in the data space, are firms that make their money by compiling and selling names and phone numbers. They slice the data a number of ways, enabling marketers to generate qualified leads with targeted lists for direct marketing campaigns. DemandBase, headquartered in San Francisco, is different.

While the company offers traditional list services similar to some of its peers in the B2B lead generation space, DemandBase provides something more innovative. They have created a way of identifying people who visit a company’s website and then enable that company’s sales team to follow up with these website visitors by providing their names, phone numbers, and other key information. In their own words, DemandBase “enables you to identify, reach and convert website visitors in your target market, including those who do not submit their contact information — the 95+ percent of all Web traffic we call ‘the silent majority.’” Essentially the company is using its existing data and mashing it up with IP addresses to attempt to identify a website visitor and then displays relevant contact information. I think of DemandBase like Google on steroids, as it actually delivers potential leads, not just traffic. DemandBase shows that the value of data is enhanced by relevancy, and they’re come up with an innovative way of making it relevant.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Fed Speaks: "The pace of economic contraction is slowing"

The Fed announcement this afternoon was largely uneventful and the committe reiterated its use of existing policy tools. The only real surprise was that the FOMC didn't introduce any hints of an exit strategy given the risk of the massive growth of the monetary base. An exit strategy with the goal of soaking up excess liquidity will be crucial in the coming 18 months or so as inflation dangers become a reality. While the Fed didn't introduce any plans to reduce it's role in the private debt markets, it has laid the groundwork for an eventual reversal of its position and slimming down of its bloated balance sheet.

Let's take a look at the first two sentences of the FOMC statements from the last three meetings. These sentences are very similar with minor differences in language, reflecting the thinking of the FOMC. You can get the complete press releases here.

March 18, 2009:
Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in January indicates that the economy continues to contract. Job losses, declining equity and housing wealth, and tight credit conditions have weighed on consumer sentiment and spending.
April 29, 2009:
Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in March indicates that the economy has continued to contract, though the pace of contraction appears to be somewhat slower. Household spending has shown signs of stabilizing but remains constrained by ongoing job losses, lower housing wealth, and tight credit.
June 24, 2009:
Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in April suggests that the pace of economic contraction is slowing. Conditions in financial markets have generally improved in recent months.

Comparing the statements shows that the Fed firmly believes that the economy is on the mend and that we are near the bottom. Take a look at the language the Fed is using: Press releases from March and April are void of any positive words or hopeful indicators. The first two sentences of these statements contain the words, "contract," "losses," and "declining." Only in the June statment does the Fed use a positive word, "improved," in it's opening sentences. While the statements reflect the current state of the economy as the Fed sees it, the changes in tone are notable as the Fed lays the groundwork for eventually unwinding its recent purchases and working to stave off impending inflationary pressure. Expect to see more obvious references to an exit strategy in August and September as the FOMC seeks to brace markets.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The U.S. Current Account Deficit: Domestic and International Effects

Below you will find a writing sample on a provocative and highly relevant subject in international finance known as the "global imbalances." This analysis of global trade begins with an explanation of the current state of the imbalances, followed by an examination of each major region of the world and an assessment of the impacts felt in the United States. While I wrote this paper in early 2007, my analysis of the imbalance between savings and investment in East Asia is even more relevant when viewed through the lens of a the current subprime meltdown.

If you are unable to view or access the writing sample that I have hosted on the Scribd web service, please let me know.
Will Hambly Writing Sample--Global Imbalances