Systemic risk in the financial sector: what can we learn from option markets? : [version 12 july 2013]
- In this paper, we propose a novel approach on how to estimate systemic risk and identify its key determinants. For all US financial companies with publicly traded equity options, we extract their option-implied value-at-risks (VaRs) and measure the spillover effects between individual company VaRs and the option-implied VaR of an US financial index. First, we study the spillover effect of increasing company risks on the financial sector. Second, we analyze which companies are most affected if the tail risk of the financial sector increases. We find that key accounting and market valuation metrics such as size, leverage, balance sheet composition, market-to-book ratio and earnings have a significant influence on the systemic risk profile of a financial institution. In contrast to earlier studies, the employed panel vector autoregression (PVAR) estimator allows for a causal interpretation of the results.
Taxation in times of austerity: a question of political economy
- Even though fiscal sovereignty still counts as a fundamental principle of government, global and regional economic integration as well as increasing levels of sovereign debt severely limit governments’ tax policy choices. In particular the redistributive function of taxation has suffered in the pursuit of economic competitiveness. As inequality rises and attention is directed again at taxation as a means for redistribution, international cooperation appears as an avenue to enable redistribution through taxation. Yet, one of the predominant international institutions dealing with tax matters – the OECD – with its focus on economic growth and competitiveness and resulting tax policy advice prevents rather than promotes national and international debates on taxation as a question of social justice. The paper argues that questions of taxation need to be perceived as questions of social justice and thus as questions of politics, and not merely of economics. Only if taxation is not considered a mere economic instrument can a ‘political economy’ be maintained. The paper addresses the three objectives of taxation – revenue generation, redistribution and regulation -- and how they are affected as governments aim for fiscal consolidation to conclude that governments’ power to freely pursue and calibrate these objectives has come to appear rather as a myth than the core of sovereignty. It then demonstrates how the OECD’s tax policy advice and cooperation in tax matters react to the constraints on governmental taxation powers; how they aim at economic growth and competitiveness to the detriment of (other) ideas of social justice. The paper concludes with a call for (re)integrating social and global justice concerns into debates on taxation.
The School of Salamanca: a digital collection of sources and a dictionary of its juridical-political language : the basic objectives and structure of a research project
- The article introduces a research project financed by the Academy of Sciences and Literature Mainz began in 2013 and will extend over an 18-year period. It aims at producing a historical-semantic dictionary elucidating central terms of the School of Salamanca's discourses and their significance for modern political theory and jurisprudence. The project's fundament will be a digital corpus of important texts from the School of Salamanca which will be linked up with the dictionary's online version. By making the source corpus accessible in searchable full text (as well as in high quality digital images), the project is creating a new research tool with exciting possibilities for further investigations. The dictionary will be a valuable source of information for the interdisciplinary research carried out in this field.
Nitrogen feedbacks increase future terrestrial ecosystem carbon uptake in an individual-based dynamic vegetation model
- Recently a considerable amount of effort has been put into quantifying how interactions of the carbon and nitrogen cycle affect future terrestrial carbon sinks. Dynamic vegetation models, representing the nitrogen cycle with varying degree of complexity, have shown diverging constraints of nitrogen dynamics on future carbon sequestration. In this study, we use the dynamic vegetation model LPJ-GUESS to evaluate how population dynamics and resource competition between plant functional types, combined with nitrogen dynamics, have influenced the terrestrial carbon storage in the past and to investigate how terrestrial carbon and nitrogen dynamics might change in the future (1850 to 2100; one exemplary "business-as-usual" climate scenario). Single factor model experiments of CO2 fertilisation and climate change show generally similar directions of the responses of C–N interactions, compared to the C-only version of the model, as documented in previous studies. Under a RCP 8.5 scenario, nitrogen limitation suppresses potential CO2 fertilisation, reducing the cumulative net ecosystem carbon uptake between 1850 and 2100 by 61%, and soil warming-induced increase in nitrogen mineralisation reduces terrestrial carbon loss by 31%. When environmental changes are considered conjointly, carbon sequestration is limited by nitrogen dynamics until present. However, during the 21st century nitrogen dynamics induce a net increase in carbon sequestration, resulting in an overall larger carbon uptake of 17% over the full period. This contradicts earlier model results that showed an 8 to 37% decrease in carbon uptake, questioning the often stated assumption that projections of future terrestrial C dynamics from C-only models are too optimistic.
EMBO molecular medicine: fast forward
- These are exciting times for translational medicine as the convergence between fundamental and clinical research comes of age. The new EMBO Press publishing platform reinforces the standing of EMBO Molecular Medicine as the journal that matches high quality, novel research with rigorous editorial and ethical standards. It will also cement the journal's global reach and relevance - whether in highly active fields or explorative forays into emerging areas.
Critical assessment of meteorological conditions and airflow connectivity during HCCT-2010
Dominik van Pinxteren
- This study presents a comprehensive and critical assessment of the meteorological conditions and atmospheric flow during the Lagrangian-type "Hill Cap Cloud Thuringia 2010" experiment (HCCT-2010). HCCT-2010 was performed in September and October 2010 at Mt. Schmücke in the Thuringian forest, Germany, applying three measurements sites (upwind, in-cloud, downwind) to study physical and chemical aerosol-cloud-interactions. A Lagrangian-type hill cap cloud experiment requires suitable cloud and particularly connected airflow conditions, i.e. representative air masses at the different measurement sites. Therefore, the present study aimed at the identification of time periods during the 6-weeks duration of the campaign, where such conditions were fulfilled and which can be used in further data examinations.
The following topics were studied in detail: (i) the general synoptic weather situations including the mesoscale flow conditions by means of a classification of advected air masses and calculation of non-dimensional flow parameters (e.g. Froude number), (ii) local meteorological conditions, including synoptic front passages, the presence of orographic or frontal cloudiness, cloud base heights and vertical stratification, and (iii) local flow conditions by means of statistical analyses using the quasi-inert trace gas ozone and selected size bins of particle number size distributions as well as SF6 tracer experiments in the campaign area. A comprehensive analyses using statistical measures such as the COD (Coefficient Of Divergence) and cross-correlation have been carried out for the first time in the context of a Lagrangian-type hill cap cloud experiment. Suitable criteria for the aimed statistical analyses were thus developed and applied in the present study to characterise the local flow connectivity in detail.
The comprehensive examination resulted in a total of 14 so-called "Full Cloud Events" (FCE), which are shown to conform to the Lagrange-type experimental philosophy of HCCT-2010. In addition, 15 so-called "Non-Cloud Events" (NCEs) could be established, which can be used as reference cases as they provide similarly suitable flow conditions but no cloud at the summit site. Orographic cloudiness was identified for approx. one third of the FCE periods, while about two thirds were associated to synoptic fronts. The statistical flow analyses indicate the existence of a strong link between the sites during the events, particularly under constant south-westerly flow conditions, high wind speeds and slightly stable stratification. The COD analyses using continuously measured concentrations of ozone and the 49 nm diameter particle bin revealed particularly for COD values below 0.1 very consistent time series, i.e. closely linked air masses between the different sites. The cross-correlation analysis revealed under connected flow conditions typical overflow times of about 15 to 30 min between the two valley sites. Additionally, the performed SF6 tracer experiments during the campaign clearly demonstrate that under appropriate meteorological conditions a Lagrangian-type approach is valid and that the connected flow validation procedure developed in this work is suitable for identifying such conditions. Finally, an overall evaluation of the identified FCEs is presented, which provides the basis for subsequent investigations of the measured chemical and physical data during HCCT-2010.
Müller glia cells regulate Notch signaling and retinal angiogenesis via the generation of 19,20-dihydroxydocosapentaenoic acid
Ralf H. Adams
- Cytochrome P450 (CYP) epoxygenases generate bioactive lipid epoxides which can be further metabolized to supposedly less active diols by the soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH). As the role of epoxides and diols in angiogenesis is unclear, we compared retinal vasculature development in wild-type and sEH−/− mice. Deletion of the sEH significantly delayed angiogenesis, tip cell, and filopodia formation, a phenomenon associated with activation of the Notch signaling pathway. In the retina, sEH was localized in Müller glia cells, and Müller cell–specific sEH deletion reproduced the sEH−/− retinal phenotype. Lipid profiling revealed that sEH deletion decreased retinal and Müller cell levels of 19,20–dihydroxydocosapentaenoic acid (DHDP), a diol of docosahexenoic acid (DHA). 19,20-DHDP suppressed endothelial Notch signaling in vitro via inhibition of the γ-secretase and the redistribution of presenilin 1 from lipid rafts. Moreover, 19,20-DHDP, but not the parent epoxide, was able to rescue the defective angiogenesis in sEH−/− mice as well as in animals lacking the Fbxw7 ubiquitin ligase, which demonstrate strong basal activity of the Notch signaling cascade. These studies demonstrate that retinal angiogenesis is regulated by a novel form of neuroretina–vascular interaction involving the sEH-dependent generation of a diol of DHA in Müller cells.
Georgian Spiders - Systematics, Ecology and Zoogeographic Analysis
- This is the first English edition of Tamara Mcheidze's monograph on the spiders of Georgia (Mcheidze 1997; in alternative transliteration: Mkheidze 1997), containing taxonomic, faunistic and ecological information on 362 spider species recorded by T. Mcheidze in Georgia between the 1920s and 1992. The English edition resembles the original text, with a preface, taxonomic comments and a part with supplementary information on the locations, a location map and an index provided by the editor.
Certolizumab pegol in rheumatoid arthritis patients with low to moderate activity: the CERTAIN double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial
Josef S. Smolen
Owen R. Davies
- This 52-week, randomised, double-blind phase IIIb study assessed efficacy and safety of certolizumab pegol (CZP) as add-on therapy to non-biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients with low to moderate disease activity, and stopping therapy in patients in sustained remission.
METHODS:Patients were randomised 1:1 to CZP (400 mg at weeks 0, 2 and 4, then 200 mg every 2 weeks) or placebo (every 2 weeks) plus current non-biologic DMARDs. At week 24, patients who achieved the primary endpoint of Clinical Disease Activity Index (CDAI) remission at both weeks 20 and 24 stopped study treatment and continued in the study until week 52.
RESULTS: Of 194 patients (CZP=96; placebo=98), >90% had moderate disease activity at baseline. Significantly more CZP patients met the primary endpoint than placebo patients (week 20 and 24 CDAI remission rates: 18.8% vs 6.1%; p≤0.05). At week 24, 63.0% vs 29.7% of CZP versus placebo patients (p<0.001) achieved LDA. Disease activity score (ESR) based on 28-joint count and Simplified Disease Activity Index remission rates were also significantly higher with CZP versus placebo (19.8% vs 3.1%; p≤0.01 and 14.6% vs 4.1%; p≤0.05). CZP patients reported improvements in physical function versus placebo (mean Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability-Index change from baseline: CZP, -0.25 vs placebo, -0.03; p≤0.01). During the period following withdrawal of CZP or placebo, only 3/17 prior CZP patients and 2/6 prior placebo patients maintained CDAI remission until week 52, but CZP reinstitution allowed renewed improvement. Adverse and serious adverse event rates were comparable between CZP and placebo groups.
CONCLUSIONS: Addition of CZP to non-biologic DMARDs is an effective treatment in RA patients with predominantly moderate disease activity, allowing low-disease activity or remission to be reached in a majority of the patients. However, the data suggest that CZP cannot be withdrawn in patients achieving remission.
Investigation of the biosynthesis of bacterial natural products
- Natural products (NPs) have been a rich source for pharmaceutically used anti-infectives and other drugs. However, the application of anti-infectives inevitably causes the development of resistant and multiresistant pathogens, which have to be treated with novel anti-infectives. The industrial research for novel anti-infectives has been concentrating on members of the bacterial Actinomycetales for a long time. Due to several reasons, e.g. the rediscovery of already known NPs, pharmaceutical companies abandoned their NP-research and focused on drug development based on combinatorial chemistry. However, the limited structural diversity of merely synthetic compound libraries has not been a fruitful source for bioactive compounds. Hence the discovery of novel bioactive NPs as a source for anti-infectives is still of economical and humanitarian interest and will remain to be an important branch of research in the future. One strategy to circumvent the rediscovery of bioactive NPs is the analysis of yet unexplored bacterial taxa. Based on this assumption, this work aimed at the discovery of novel NPs from the entomopathogenic bacterial genera Xenorhabdus and Photorhabdus and other promising taxa, as well as the investigation of their biosynthesis. ...