St. Petersburg, Day 1 (Part 2): Cultural Tour of St. Petersburg

When I was an undergrad in the late 90′s/early 2000′s, my college roommate (and later, best man in my wedding) worked for the student newspaper.  The newspaper used to receive tons of promotional CD’s from major labels to review, of which a stack of various albums would usually land on our kitchen table.  Being a music fan and musician, I used to thumb through the CD’s to see if there was anything of interest, which was extremely rare (I suspect I wasn’t near the first to pick through the leftovers).  However, in late summer 2001 after looking at quite a bit of garbage, I found a promotional copy of Room for Squares by John Mayer, which finally made the trash picking worthwhile.

Listening to this album, I was mesmerized; around that time, I was playing in a shitty blues band for $30/night, wanting to do something that was a little more unique than playing blues classics too loud and fast in smoky bars.  Two songs specifically made me want to become more proficient at acoustic guitar:  Neon, which is a jazzy song that has this crazy playing technique, and 3×5, a song about the experience of seeing a sunrise too beautiful too describe and not taking a picture of it.  The funny thing about encountering this album by accident (and before the first single was released) was that I later found out that earlier in the same year, John Mayer had played the same bar at the University of Delaware that this band performed at semi-regularly.  Had the schedule been slightly different, this story would’ve ended that John Mayer opened for the band I was in (the shows were only two days apart).  But he didn’t, and that’s why I graduated from UD with two degrees and am now at Fuqua instead of a professional musician.  Well, that and I can’t sing very well…

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St. Petersburg, Day 1 (Part 1): Orientation and Academe

The residency started off as always: an orientation to start, a few hours of class and tons of catching up to do.  To help us ease back into the swing of things, yesterday was an unusually short day; orientation started at 9 a.m. (as opposed to the 8 a.m. usual start), had Global Markets and Institutions class for two hours, then we were done with the academic part of the day at 11:30 a.m.  Even though we were free from the classroom to do whatever we wanted, there was still an assignment to do:  the purchasing comparison exercise.

I’m not sure I’ve ever talked about the purchasing comparison exercise, but the basic premise is that you go around each city and record the prices of various goods such as chocolate, coffee, toothbrush, the buy/sell local currency-to-$USD exchange rate (local rate, not WSJ rate), etc.  The purpose of this exercise is to prove/disprove the concept of purchasing power parity (PPP), which dictates that the price of a good should be the same everywhere, otherwise you could purchase/import the good from the lower price area and sell in the higher price area and have unbounded profit.

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