Monday, August 27, 2012

The Big Mac Index

When the September 1986 The Economist hit newsstands, it contained a new form of measuring purchasing power parity, which is a way of calculating the effectiveness of currency exchange rates.

The standard they used to measure this purchasing power parity? A McDonalds Big Mac. That’s right. Thanks to a woman named Pam Woodall and her semi-humorous take on world economics, financial minds across the world have referred to the Big Mac Index as a reasonable real-world measure of inflation and exchange rates.

So much so, in fact, that after being pointed out for a huge gap between its burger inflation and the country’s official rate, McDonalds chains all over Argentina were asked to sell Big Macs at a lower price to manipulate the country’s performance on the index.

The Economist now varies their items from time to time, using a Starbucks tall latte, for example, but the phrase “burgernomics” is still going strong!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Another Big Week For Car Companies

Before it was phased out in 2004, Oldsmobile produced over 35 million cars in its 107-year history. A staple of the Detroit Motor City industrial scene, over 14 million Oldsmobiles were built in their Lansing, Michigan factory. Opened on August 21, 1897, General Motors closed the division on April 29, 2004, presaging a decline into a 2009 bankruptcy for the iconic car company. Not to worry, though! GM bounced back and last year they were the world’s number one car manufacturer.

Another General Motors division, Cadillac Motor Company, was founded 5 years and 1 day after Oldsmobile on August 22, 1902. Named after the founder of the city of Detroit, Cadillac laid the foundation for mass automobile production by creating interchangeable parts for its cars. Just ten years later, they launched the first production automobile with an electric self-starter – a “car with no crank.” Faring much better than its older sister, Oldsmobile, Cadillac is still breaking new ground in the automotive industry and continues to be the “Standard of the World.”

Except of course, in New York, where every savvy urbanite knows that your feet are really your best vehicle for getting around town. The city is packed with so much energy and there is always something new to discover, even if you’ve lived in Manhattan your entire life. There’s so much to encounter, experience and learn from just from wandering these magical streets of ours.

The next time you’re downtown, check out one of our Wall Street Walks tours and let us show you what we’ve discovered then share with us some discoveries of your own! 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Computers and Finance and Vegetable Shortening … Oh My!

What a week this is for history in all of these industries. Let’s start off with the “yummiest” … Crisco.

Prior to 1911, kitchens across America relied on animal lard for all of their frying and cooking needs. That is until August 15 of that year when Proctor & Gamble unveiled its all-vegetable solution to lard – Crisco – changing the way housewives cooked and baked for years to come.

Also this week, we’ve got more financial milestones to report, but unlike last week, they’re all good news! August 17 marks the first time the Dow Jones Industrial average closed above 2,700, which happened back in 1987. That was just five short years after the New York Stock Exchange set a record of 132,690,000 shares traded on August 18, 1992. By the early 90s, the Dow had set another record … a high of 3612.13 on August 19, 1993 – over 10,000 points shy of its current all-time high of 14,164.53 that was set 14 years later in 2007.

Our other fun history facts this week revolve around the world of computers, starting with the launch of the very first artificial intelligence software. IBM introduced its product on August 16, 1988, and set the world on fire. By August 14, 1984, they were releasing their PC DOS version 3.0 and twelve short years later on August 13, 1996, Microsoft gave us Internet Explorer 3.0. And as you well know, our world, communication and access to information has never been the same.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Downtown Ghost Tours beginning in October- get ready for Halloween!

Get yourself in a spooky mood for Halloween by taking one of our downtown Ghost Tours in October! Experience New York City’s most haunted neighborhood with your very own guide to the underworld of the Financial District. 

Get ghoulish by exploring cemeteries, haunted sites like the Fraunces Tavern, and the dark back alleys of the oldest neighborhood in New York. Walk with the restless spirits of those driven to madness after the Great Stock Market crash. Don’t lose your head as you try to spot the famous horseman of Kipp’s Bay. Finally, to prove you “ain’t afraid of no ghosts,” drop into one of the filming sites of Ghostbusters 2.

The Wall Street Walks Ghost Tours take place Fridays and Saturdays in October at 5:30pm and 7:30pm. We're also giving tours at the same times on Halloween (October 31), the spookiest night of the year! Join us! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

With a Little Bit of Effort, We Can All Get Along

You’ve seen the commercials. The young, hip guy says, “I’m a Mac,” then the other, not as hip, not as young guy says, “I’m a PC.” It’s a great example of the ongoing battle that’s ruled the computer world for decades, but did you know that Microsoft (creators of the PC) actually invested in Apple Computers one time? It’s true.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates got together via satellite to announce the investment at the Macworld Expo on August 6, 1997. The money was used to develop and ship Mac versions of Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer and other development tools.

Another interesting corporate story also happened this week, way back in 1981, when Coca-Cola pledged to invest $34 million dollars into black-owned businesses, and promised to put an African-American on its board of directors, on August 10. Coca-Cola president, Donald Keough and Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder and head of People United to Save Humanity (PUSH), made the announcement, which ended the organization’s 1-month nationwide call to boycott Coke products.

So what is the moral of our two corporate stories? Apparently, with a little bit of effort, we can all get along – at least for a little while.