St. Petersburg, Day 2: White nights, Big City

Russia White Nights

Photo from my iPhone - 10:45 p.m.

One of the more interesting things about St. Petersburg is that during the months of June and July, the days are so long that it appears that the sun doesn’t even set!  The picture to the right was taken at 10:45 p.m. as I headed out to meet up with some classmates who were watching the World Cup match at the Tinkoff Brew Pub.

The 10:45 picture doesn’t even really do the scene justice; even though the foreground is pretty dark, I purposely left the picture as-is to give the feel of the skyline.  Around the Philadelphia area of the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., I would estimate that an 8- 8:30 p.m. sky would be equivalent.

As the game progressed around me (I couldn’t care less about soccer!), it was extremely difficult to keep track of time.  The brew pub was relatively dark  due to having the windows blocked off.  It wasn’t quite a movie theater level of darkness… when you looked at the windows, you could still see small cracks of the light filtering through.  Imagine my surprise when the crew decided to leave at 1:30 and it still wasn’t dark outside!

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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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