Archive for September 25th, 2002

Quote in The Financial Times

September 25, 2002

Quite cool to be quoted in The Financial Times for my opinion on where the Caracas Stock Market is going:

“We’ve had a brutal devaluation, so steep that no one was looking at the stock market, but now we are seeing some catching up as investors look for value,” said Miguel Octavio, director at local investment bank BBO Servicios Financieros. “In what’s left of the year, these companies will continue marking up their prices.”

Hope I am right so that my friend Andy Webb-Vidal who reads this blog keeps thinking that I know what I am talking about and quotes me again in the future. This is not the conventional view locally due to political unrest, but everytime a big devaluation takes place stocks rise as real assets of good companies like plants and production facilities keep most of ther dollar value.

Venezuela; What does the wishy-washiness of the Government mean?

September 25, 2002

Well, tomorrow’s showdown between the demonstrators and the Chavez Governemnt may have been averted or postponed but it is unclear at this time what is happening or why.

Basically, the opposition had challenged the Governemnt by scheduling a demonstartion in an area designated last week by the Governmnet as “special area”. Today the Mayor of the municipality where the demosntration is to take place gave a permit to it. The Minister of Defense wrote to the Mayor telling him that the President had “graciously” approved the demosntartion from 4 to 6 PM. (It was scheduled to last longer). Later the Vice-Minister for Internal Security said the demonstration is from 4 to 10PM and there will be security.

The Government clearly appears to have backtracked but it is not clear why. Some say the military forced the President to allow the demonstartion. Others say it is a trap (I doubt it). The Mayor of Chacao where the demosntration is to take place will go tomorrow to the Supreme Court to hand in a copy of the letter as proof of the unconstitutionality of the decree given that the Constitution gives no power to the President to give permits for marches or demosntration. Furthermore, the decision violates municipal autonomy.

I will certainly be there with my gas mask and camera……..

Bell Labs fires scientist for fraudulent data

September 25, 2002

As reported earlier here and in, Bell Labs had formed a committe to determine whether data in some senational results published by its scientists had been falsified. Today the commitee delivered its findings and for the for the first time in its lengthy history Bell Labs has fired a scientist. The committee concludes than one of the scientist engaged in faking and falsying data, calling it scientific misconduct. The collaborators were all exonerated from these charges.

This paragraph from the press release says it all:

“The evidence that manipulation and misrepresentation of data occurred is compelling,” the committee wrote, linking all misconduct to one researcher, who committed falsification or fabrication of data on at least 16 occasions, some interrelated. According to the committee’s report, the researcher “did this intentionally or recklessly and without the knowledge of any of his co-authors.”

The full committee’s report may be found here.

Other quotes from the full 127 page report (19 pages plus Appendices) are quite damaging:

“Proper laboratory records were not properly mantained by Dr. Heindrick Schon…”

“virtually all primary electronic data were deleted…..”

“No working devices with which one might confirm claimed results are presently available…”

“it is not possible to confirm or refute….”

“the evidence that manipulation and misrepresentation of data took place is compelling….”

The committee further concludes that the coauthors while not being part of the fraud may have some scientific responsability, but defining this was quite difficult to do. They also found 16 of 24 instances in which data was misplaced, substitude or manipulated and does not correspond to the claimed material.

All in all, a sad chapter for science which I hope will make it better. Several news organizations such as the NYT, the Financial Times and have already reported on the issue.