Washington State Magazine

Washington State Magazine :: Spring 2013

Spring 2013

Matters of taste

In This Issue...


How Washington Tastes—The Apple meets Cougar Gold :: One need not be an expert taster to appreciate the chemistry between the apple and Cougar Gold. by Tim Steury

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Guide: Heirloom apples in Washington }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Infographic: The Cheddar cheese lexicon }

Passing the Smell Test :: Throughout the living world, the nose leads the way, pioneering a course through the environment with the ability to spot virtually invisible perils and prizes. by Eric Sorensen

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Video: Simple scents in retail }

Patrick Rothfuss ’02—World builder :: Life’s a fantasy for best-selling author Patrick Rothfuss. He invites us into his worlds, one real and one of his own invention. by Hannelore Sudermann

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Story: Tribble Trouble :: WSU professor emeritus Paul Brians and a look at the Icons of Science Fiction at Seattle’s Experience Music Project}

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Story: Literary Taste :: Experts' takes on the seminal works in literary genres}

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Gallery: The art of Nate Taylor ’02 }


Taste, an Accounting in Three Scenes :: I’d be lying if I claimed not to prefer the golf swings of Bobby Jones or Sam Snead to that of Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey. So I guess I’m a snob. by Bill Morelock ’77


{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Video: Replays, multiple views, and info in iStadium A look at the 3D-4U Solutions technology }


:: First Words: Tastes like Beethoven

:: Posts

:: In Season: The essential egg

:: Sports: Down Under to Pullman

:: Sports Extra: One happy ending

:: Last Words: Fruitful history

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Story: Training for Good Eggs The Shoups and the Puyallup poultry course }


{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Gallery: Labels and branding from No-Li Brewhouse }

New media

:: Treasure, Treason and the Tower: El Dorado and the Murder of Sir Walter Raleigh by Paul Sellin ’52

:: Montana Before History: 11,000 Years of Hunter-Gatherers in the Rockies and Plains by Douglas H. MacDonald ’94

:: Academic Motherhood: How Faculty Manage Work and Family by Kelly Ward and Lisa Wolf-Wendel

:: That One Spooky Night by Dan Bar-El, illustrated by David Huyck

On the cover: “Snow White” by Jung Von Matt for Ed. Wüsthof Dreizackwerk KG.

New York Stock Exchange. iStockphoto/staff

New York Stock Exchange. iStockphoto/staff

WSU Vancouver faculty Brian McTier. Photo Laura Evancich


WSU Vancouver faculty Brian McTier. Laura Evancich

Sick stocks

by | © Washington State University

It’s cold and flu season. And no one is immune, not even Wall Street.

That’s the notion Brian McTier, a WSU Vancouver-based business school faculty member, and his colleagues explored when examining the impact of influenza on the U.S. stock market. McTier has been examining external events that might affect the stock market that weren’t normally modeled. Those effects include class action suits in securities, electronic funds transfer errors driven by sentiment, and the flu.

For the study, which is being published in the Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, the authors started with the hypothesis that high rates of influenza could affect trading as key people could be out sick or on family sick leave. Those people could be the New York-based analysts at firms like J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs. These are the experts who are reviewing companies and reporting the news that could drive a stock up or down, and cause trading activity to increase.

McTier mined data on the New York Stock Exchange as well as reports of flu from the Centers for Disease Control. What he found was the greater the incidence of flu in the area of New York City, the lower the number of trades, the lower the realized volatility. But he and his co-authors also found that a higher incidence of flu nationally has an effect on the bid-ask spread, or the difference between the highest price a buyer will pay and the lowest price a seller will sell. That means that things don’t move as smoothly if you want to sell your stock during a time when there’s a national incidence of flu, says McTier. “It’s harder for you to sell because there are fewer people to sell to.”

McTier also explored whether an outbreak in the community where a company is headquartered had an impact on the stocks. It would be as if Columbia, the sportswear manufacturer headquartered in Portland, suffered lower stock prices if there was a flu outbreak in Portland. “We did expect a more local influence,” says McTier, “but didn’t really find it.”

Finally, he and his cohorts looked at how a pandemic, like the 1957-1958 outbreak known as the Asian flu, a category 2 pandemic flu that originated in China and spread to the United States by 1957, would affect equity returns. “It is reasonable to conclude that a large outbreak would take a large amount of participants out of trading and would strongly affect the liquidity of the market,” he says.

The take-away from this study is that flu costs money. If you’re trying to sell a stock, for example, you might not get as good a price because there’s simply less activity in the market and fewer buyers may be willing to meet your price. But by the time you know it’s happening, the effect is already in. “Flu impacts trading and impacts returns during that period [of outbreak],” says McTier. But if you are making trades, what the flu might cost you is so small, “I don’t know that it should stop you from doing what you’re doing.”

Categories: Business | Tags: Stock market, Influenza, Infectious diseases

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