A guide to bryological hotspots in Europe. Part 1: The Azores
- The Azores are of bryological interest in many respects: They are young volcanic islands with an age between 4 mio and 40.000 years, are situated in an hyperoceanic environment favouring bryophyte growth, the bryophyte flora is composed of European, Neotropical, African and subantarctic elements, there are about as many bryophyte species as flowering plants, the islands have a comparably high rate of endemic species (on single Azorean islands, all Azorean islands or the Macaronesian islands), and the bryophyte flora gives an impression of the bryophyte flora of continental Europe during Tertiary, since many species such as Echinodium spp. or Andoa berthelotiana, known as fossils from the Tertiary of continental Europe, survived here the glaciation periods and got extinct in Europe.
A guide to bryologically interesting regions in Germany
- The present guide to bryologically interesting regions in Germany was prepared for a bryological fieldtrip during the XIV Botanical Congress, Berlin 1987 and deals with the following regions: Fichtel Mountains (Fichtelgebirge), Black Forest (Schwarzwald), the Alps and the Allgäu (Alpen und Allgäu), and the Wettersteingebirge (Bavarian Alps).
A general approach to recovering market expectations from futures Prices with an application to crude oil : [Version 13 September 2014]
- Futures markets are a potentially valuable source of information about market expectations. Exploiting this information has proved difficult in practice, because the presence of a time-varying risk premium often renders the futures price a poor measure of the market expectation of the price of the underlying asset. Even though the expectation in principle may be recovered by adjusting the futures price by the estimated risk premium, a common problem in applied work is that there are as many measures of market expectations as there are estimates of the risk premium. We propose a general solution to this problem that allows us to uniquely pin down the best possible estimate of the market expectation for any set of risk premium estimates. We illustrate this approach by solving the long-standing problem of how to recover the market expectation of the price of crude oil. We provide a new measure of oil price expectations that is considerably more accurate than the alternatives and more economically plausible. We discuss implications of our analysis for the estimation of economic models of energy-intensive durables, for the debate on speculation in oil markets, and for oil price forecasting.
International (investment) law and distribution conflicts over natural resources
- While distribution conflicts over natural resources were central to the debates on a New International Economic Order, during the last decades the specific distribution conflicts surrounding natural resource exploitation no longer have been at the core of international law. In this paper I trace the developments in the relationship between international law and resource distribution conflicts. I first argue that the New International Economic Order favored the political resolution of distribution conflicts over natural resources and envisaged international distribution conflicts to be addressed by the political organs of international institutions within legal procedures Second, I show how the NIEO was surpassed by a different order that relied largely on the market as a distribution mechanism for raw materials and how international institutions and international law played a crucial role in the establishment of this order by promoting the privatization of natural resource exploitation and protecting foreign direct investment and trade. With reference to the copper industry in Zambia I thirdly illustrate how international investment law, and more broadly international economic law, is shaping (and affecting the resolution of) not only distribution conflicts between, but also within States. I conclude with a call for a renewed focus on an international law of resource conflicts to allow for their political resolution given the countermoves we can observe with respect to international investment law and the persistence of (violent) conflicts over natural resource exploitation within States.
On the value of influence activities for capital budgeting
- This paper shows that a capital budgeting process in which the division manager is required to engage in personally costly influence activities prior to a project approval has beneficial incentive effects: It provides the manager with incentives to acquire costly information about project prospects and helps to elicit the revelation of the acquired information. As a consequence, imposing influence costs on the manager can lead to improved capital allocations. The optimal level of influence costs, chosen by the firm, trades off ex ante incentives for information acquisition against efficient use of the acquired information ex post.
Board committees, CEO compensation, and earnings management
- We analyze the effect of committee formation on how corporate boards perform two main functions: setting CEO pay and overseeing the financial reporting process. The use of performance-based pay schemes induces the CEO to manipulate earnings, which leads to an increased need for board oversight. If the whole board is responsible for both functions, it is inclined to provide the CEO with a compensation scheme that is relatively insensitive to performance in order to reduce the burden of subsequent monitoring. When the functions are separated through the formation of committees, the compensation committee is willing to choose a higher pay-performance sensitivity as the increased cost of oversight is borne by the audit committee. Our model generates predictions relating the board committee structure to the pay-performance sensitivity of CEO compensation, the quality of board oversight, and the level of earnings management.
Collateral, default risk, and relationship lending : an empirical study on financial contracting
Jan Pieter Krahnen
- This paper provides further insights into the nature of relationship lending by analyzing the link between relationship lending, borrower quality and collateral as a key variable in loan contract design. We used a unique data set based on the examination of credit files of five leading German banks, thus relying on information actually used in the process of bank credit decision-making and contract design. In particular, bank internal borrower ratings serve to evaluate borrower quality, and the bank's own assessment of its housebank status serves to identify information-intensive relationships. Additionally, we used data on workout activities for borrowers facing financial distress. We found no significant correlation between ex ante borrower quality and the incidence or degree of collateralization. Our results indicate that the use of collateral in loan contract design is mainly driven by aspects of relationship lending and renegotiations. We found that relationship lenders or housebanks do require more collateral from their debtors, thereby increasing the borrower's lock-in and strengthening the banks' bargaining power in future renegotiation situations. This result is strongly supported by our analysis of the correlation between ex post risk, collateral and relationship lending since housebanks do more frequently engage in workout activities for distressed borrowers, and collateralization increases workout probability.
Saving rates and portfolio choice with subsistence consumption : [Version January 16, 2010]
- We analytically show that a common across rich/poor individuals Stone-Geary utility function with subsistence consumption in the context of a simple two-asset portfolio-choice model is capable of qualitatively explaining: (i) the higher saving rates of the rich, (ii) the higher fraction of personal wealth held in stocks by the rich, and (iii) the higher volatility of consumption of the wealthier. On the contrary, time-variant "keeping-up with the Joneses" weighted average consumption playing the role of moving benchmark subsistence consumption gives the same portfolio composition and saving rates across the rich and the poor, failing to reconcile the model with what micro data say.
The Autism Simplex Collection: an international, expertly phenotyped autism sample for genetic and phenotypic analyses
Joseph D. Buxbaum
Jessica M. Brownfeld
Richard J. L. Anney
Edwin H. Cook,
Christine M. Freitag
Sabine M. Klauck
John I. Nurnberger
Stephen W. Scherer
James S. Sutcliffe
Astrid M. Vicente
- Background: There is an urgent need for expanding and enhancing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) samples, in order to better understand causes of ASD.
Methods: In a unique public-private partnership, 13 sites with extensive experience in both the assessment and diagnosis of ASD embarked on an ambitious, 2-year program to collect samples for genetic and phenotypic research and begin analyses on these samples. The program was called The Autism Simplex Collection (TASC). TASC sample collection began in 2008 and was completed in 2010, and included nine sites from North America and four sites from Western Europe, as well as a centralized Data Coordinating Center.
Results: Over 1,700 trios are part of this collection, with DNA from transformed cells now available through the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-Generic (ADOS-G) measures are available for all probands, as are standardized IQ measures, Vineland Adaptive Behavioral Scales (VABS), the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS), Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), and physical measures (height, weight, and head circumference). At almost every site, additional phenotypic measures were collected, including the Broad Autism Phenotype Questionnaire (BAPQ) and Repetitive Behavior Scale-Revised (RBS-R), as well as the non-word repetition scale, Communication Checklist (Children?s or Adult), and Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC). Moreover, for nearly 1,000 trios, the Autism Genome Project Consortium (AGP) has carried out Illumina 1?M SNP genotyping and called copy number variation (CNV) in the samples, with data being made available through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Whole exome sequencing (WES) has been carried out in over 500 probands, together with ancestry matched controls, and this data is also available through the NIH. Additional WES is being carried out by the Autism Sequencing Consortium (ASC), where the focus is on sequencing complete trios. ASC sequencing for the first 1,000 samples (all from whole-blood DNA) is complete and data will be released in 2014. Data is being made available through NIH databases (database of Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP) and National Database for Autism Research (NDAR)) with DNA released in Dist 11.0. Primary funding for the collection, genotyping, sequencing and distribution of TASC samples was provided by Autism Speaks and the NIH, including the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Human Genetics Research Institute (NHGRI).
Conclusions: TASC represents an important sample set that leverages expert sites. Similar approaches, leveraging expert sites and ongoing studies, represent an important path towards further enhancing available ASD samples.
Microplastics in freshwater ecosystems: what we know and what we need to know
A. Dick Vethaak
- BackgroundWhile the use of plastic materials has generated huge societal benefits, the `plastic age? comes with downsides: One issue of emerging concern is the accumulation of plastics in the aquatic environment. Here, so-called microplastics (MP), fragments smaller than 5?mm, are of special concern because they can be ingested throughout the food web more readily than larger particles. Focusing on freshwater MP, we briefly review the state of the science to identify gaps of knowledge and deduce research needs.State of the scienceEnvironmental scientists started investigating marine (micro)plastics in the early 2000s. Today, a wealth of studies demonstrates that MP have ubiquitously permeated the marine ecosystem, including the polar regions and the deep sea. MP ingestion has been documented for an increasing number of marine species. However, to date, only few studies investigate their biological effects.The majority of marine plastics are considered to originate from land-based sources, including surface waters. Although they may be important transport pathways of MP, data from freshwater ecosystems is scarce. So far, only few studies provide evidence for the presence of MP in rivers and lakes. Data on MP uptake by freshwater invertebrates and fish is very limited.Knowledge gapsWhile the research on marine MP is more advanced, there are immense gaps of knowledge regarding freshwater MP. Data on their abundance is fragmentary for large and absent for small surface waters. Likewise, relevant sources and the environmental fate remain to be investigated. Data on the biological effects of MP in freshwater species is completely lacking. The accumulation of other freshwater contaminants on MP is of special interest because ingestion might increase the chemical exposure. Again, data is unavailable on this important issue.ConclusionsMP represent freshwater contaminants of emerging concern. However, to assess the environmental risk associated with MP, comprehensive data on their abundance, fate, sources, and biological effects in freshwater ecosystems are needed. Establishing such data critically depends on a collaborative effort by environmental scientists from diverse disciplines (chemistry, hydrology, ecotoxicology, etc.) and, unsurprisingly, on the allocation of sufficient public funding.