Tuesday, July 7, 2015

"Sea of Simulation"

Thankfully, today’s morning went a lot smoother than yesterday’s morning, not counting forgetting about our short meet-up with Ms. Thrift and then rushing to it once Mark sent out a group text a few minutes before the designated time. Aside from that, I had breakfast. I was early to class. I took a nice shower. I even had a (cold) coffee to accompany me on my morning adventures.

Professor Mesznik commenced the day with a somewhat impromptu warning on plagiarism and its serious consequences. While I’ve always known about these consequences, I’ve never given them a second thought because I didn’t feel the need to. Perhaps it’s just because I feel like it has been talked about so often that the value and weight it once carried slowly started to lessen just because of the number of times we heard about it. In a similar way, I watched a lot of videos and presentations against drugs and bullying in elementary and middle school. And while I did take the repercussions and cautions seriously, I never felt that it applied to me enough to really think about it. The thing is, over the years, I have noticed that it is a real problem. But it isn’t like one of those videos from the 80’s where some kid with the coke bottle glasses and braces gets pushed around in the locker room by some jock in a windbreaker. It’s a lot more subtle than highschoolers like me know it to be.

Anyways, he moved on to demonstrating how to use Excel spreadsheets to solve quadratic equations and utilize interest formulas with the “GoalSeek” tool. Without my computer, I was able to retain only some of the things he had gone through, but I figured that it wasn’t worth lugging around my luggage to class. Maybe I’ll give that decision some more thought in the next few days, because as it turns out, I don’t know very much about Excel’s capabilities.

Once we had had enough spreadsheet goodness in us, Professor Mesznik talked to us about the origins of our money and where it actually came from. After a couple of suspiciously accurate responses, he went into talking about bartering and its inevitable decline due to a lack of inefficiency. This, in turn, led to the creation of paper money in around six or seven hundred A.D.. Eventually, we were faced with the question “What actually backs our money?” And while many – including myself - assumed that gold stored in some highly secure place like Fort Knox did, Professor Mesznik informed us that in actuality it was nothing more than a mutual acceptance of a currency or “good faith in government contracts” that backed our money. This idea came as a surprise to me. How could such a vast and confusing network and economy consist solely on the idea of “mutual acceptance” or “good faith?” Didn’t that go against everything (stereo-typically) known to be true about businesses and monetary matters?

I ate lunch with Tiara who hadn’t had breakfast and was therefore blown away by how amazing a cold Five Guys burger tasted.

The afternoon session was much better today. Just like the second day of class, we each chose an article we found was important and presented it to the class with a short summary on the article and opinions about it. Then Ms. Santos established definitions and some details on financial risk and derivatives. There were quite a few things I didn’t understand about derivatives, chiefly because of my predisposed notions to associate derivatives with math. However, my favorite part of the class was the very end where we got to pick partners and use our Excel knowledge to invest in stocks for well-known companies. Each pair was given a million dollars and the prices for shares in companies like Starbucks, Suncor Energy Inc., and Twitter, as well as information about the average annual low and high for each share price. Once we had chosen how we wanted to arrange our initial investments, we were given new share prices for the next day and repeated to process until a virtual week had passed by. And although it was just a simulation, the energy in the room changed; people wanted to make money, however virtual it was. There was an electric buzz as people hurriedly discussed decisions on their shares. (We were given time constraints.) All in all, I found it to be a successful simulation: fun, slightly stressful, and comprehensive. (By the way, I figured I'd continue the soundtrack song titles theme, today's is from Tron Legacy. I also just couldn't think of a better title.)
Yes, all the photos are from the baseball game and might not have anything to do with the text directly next to them.
In the evening, I left campus to see a Yankees game with none other than Izabel, Mark, and Alyanna. It was sweltering and sticky but the game was fun, better than I remembered baseball games to be. I also made funny faces at a little boy who reminded me of my 5 year old brother and was sitting directly in front of me. We left when the Yankees and the A's were tied which I found convenient since I didn't know who to root for anymore. And after a complicated metro ride back to campus, I plopped down onto my bed and turned up the A.C.. There would be no swelter in my room tonight, no sirree. 

1 comment:

  1. I find this idea of money being completely based on trust and goodwill incredible, too, but it is so true. I remember hearing a radio show where economists had to rebuild the monetary system in a South American country--the biggest problem was to get the population to have faith in the currency again.