Childhood Memories and Being on the Brink

Our editors choose their favourite stories and reading recommendations from the past week.

Our contributing editors have picked another interesting selection of their favourite stories which featured in the press this week, covering a variety of topics which they share in this edition of “What We Are Reading”.

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We kick off with Sylwester Majewski’s cringe-worthy memories of chalkboards….

Chalkboards Best Forgotten

I recently came across an article that reminds me of some old studies on still unsolved mysteries from our childhood. This is probably one of those shared memories that is universal across all geographical zones.

Sylwester Majewski Chief Analyst
Sylwester Majewski
Chief Analyst

All of us had to complete primary school at the very least. That means that we all remember chalkboards. However, many of us also remember the awful sound of fingernails scraping across the blackboard, the sound which even today gives us the shivers when we recall it.

As it happens, there are scientific studies which try to explain why this experience gives us an unpleasant sensation.

According to one of studies, two of the most hated sounds are fingernails scratching on a chalkboard and a piece of chalk running against slate. These sounds were then modified in an experiment by altering frequency and removing harmonic portions.

As Michael Oehler, a professor of media and music management at Macromedia University of Applied Sciences in Germany found out, the human ear is most sensitive to sounds that fall in the frequency range 2,000 and 4,000 Hertz.

Mr Oehler believes that the shape of the human ear canal may have evolved to amplify some frequencies that are important for our communication and survival.

However, the most surprising finding took place in 1986 when scientists discovered that the warning cry of a chimpanzee is actually similar to the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard…

On The Brink

Now that the constitutional reform referendum in Italy is behind us, we are going to see another bout of political uncertainty from the home country of the President of the ECB, Mario Draghi.

Victor Golovtchenko Senior Editor
Victor Golovtchenko
Senior Editor

The central bank acted yesterday to stem the unwelcome euro strength that has crept through the markets in the aftermath of the Italian referendum. With all eyes in Europe focused on monetary policy makers, the President of the ECB has called once again for governments in the EU to deploy fiscal policy tools.

Yet, the fiscal policy stimulus is nowhere to be seen and the Trump rally across the Atlantic is slowly spreading to top exporting nations in the EU.

The Italian stock market continues to remain unhampered by the referendum results, as hopes are pinned on a decent transition government, but the big picture now points towards a new bout of uncertainty.

With youth unemployment at 37 percent, the country’s political situation is only going to become more complicated.

“Phone Tapping”

It’s not what you say, but how you say it, especially if you want to get hired as a trader, according to an article in Bloomberg this week.

How traders interact, and what they say, has continued to make the headlines as European Union antitrust regulators fined a trio of banks $524 million this week, citing “vulgar language” used by traders during their alleged interactions.

Rosemary Barnes Editor
Rosemary Barnes

A London-based firm called Amplify Trading which provides training services to banks and asset managers is introducing voice analysis technology aimed at identifying behaviour associated with a successful career as a trader.

Amplify’s methods differ from the traditional tools used by the financial industry, such as numerical and verbal reasoning tests, to grade potential hires.

Amplify says its voice analysis techniques will help banks identify the recruits most prone to mishaps and sharp practice.

“Simulation candidates very often make mistakes, by for example, quoting bids and offers incorrectly,” says Will De Luc, Amplify’s MD and co-founder. “We record which candidates take advantage of these mistakes and which do the right thing and ask for re-quotes.”

The software also flags language that could indicate a break of compliance protocol. Traders persistently using words like “guarantee” could reflect a trader who often commits to outcomes that the firm can’t be sure of.

So next time the phone rings, better watch what you say!

We conclude another week of stories that our editors are reading. Feel free to share your views in the comment section and any recommendations of your own. We look forward to hearing your opinions!

Check out our previous posts here:

Wallets are Overrated and Norway’s Final Nail in the Coffin

The Digital Underground Lives On….and The Universe Just Got Bigger

Assange’s Confession…a Sign of Our Times

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