Evolution of leaf warbler songs (Aves: Phylloscopidae)
Dieter Thomas Tietze
Balduin S. Fischer
- Songs in passerine birds are important for territory defense and mating. Speciation rates in oscine passerines are so high, due to cultural evolution, that this bird lineage makes up half of the extant bird species. Leaf warblers are a speciose Old-World passerine family of limited morphological differentiation, so that songs are even more important for species delimitation. We took 16 sonographic traits from song recordings of 80 leaf warbler taxa and correlated them with 15 potentially explanatory variables, pairwise, and in linear models. Based on a well-resolved molecular phylogeny of the same taxa, all pairwise correlations were corrected for relatedness with phylogenetically independent contrasts and phylogenetic generalized linear models were used. We found a phylogenetic signal for most song traits, but a strong one only for the duration of the longest and of the shortest element, which are presumably inherited instead of learned. Body size of a leaf warbler species is a constraint on song frequencies independent of phylogeny. At least in this study, habitat density had only marginal impact on song features, which even disappeared through phylogenetic correction. Maybe most leaf warblers avoid the deterioration through sound propagation in dense vegetation by singing from exposed perches. Latitudinal (and longitudinal) extension of the breeding ranges was correlated with most song features, especially verse duration (longer polewards and westwards) and complexity (lower polewards). Climate niche or expansion history might explain these correlations. The number of different element types per verse decreases with elevation, possibly due to fewer resources and congeneric species at higher elevations.
Enhancement of Intratumoral Chemotherapy with Cisplatin with or without Microwave Ablation and Lipiodol. Future Concept for Local Treatment in Lung Cancer
Thomas J. Vogl
J. Francis Turner
- Novel therapies for lung cancer are being explored nowadays with local therapies being the tip of the arrow. Intratumoral chemotherapy administration and local microwave ablation have been investigated in several studies. It has been previously proposed that lipiodol has the ability to modify the microenvironment matrix. In our current study we investigated this theory in BALBC mice. In total 160 BALBC mice were divided in eight groups: a) control, b) cisplatin, c) microwave, d) microwave and lipiodol, e) cisplatin and lipiodol, f) microwave and cisplatin, g) lipiodol and h) lipiodol, cisplatin and microwave. Lewis lung carcinoma cell lines (106) were injected into the right back leg of each mouse. After the 8th day, when the tumor volume was about 100mm3 the therapy application was initiated, once per week for four weeks. Magnetic resonance imaging was performed for each tumor when a mouse died or when sacrificed if they were still alive by the end of the experiment (8-Canal multifunctional spool; NORAS MRI products, Gmbh, Germany). Imaging and survival revealed efficient tumor apoptosis for the groups b,c,d,e and f. However; severe toxicity was observed in group h and no follow up was available for this group after the second week of therapy administration. Lipiodol in its current form does assist in a more efficient way the distribution of cisplatin, as the microwave apoptotic effect. Future modification of lipiodol might provide a more efficient method of therapy enhancement. Combination of drug and microwave ablation is possible and has an efficient apoptotic effect.
Resolution planning and structural bank reform within the banking union
- In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, both resolution planning, i.e. contingency planning by both regulated institutions and public authorities in order to prepare their actions in financial crisis, and concepts for structural bank reform have been identified as possible solutions to ending “Too Big To Fail” and foster market discipline among bank owners, bank managers and investors in bank debt. Both concepts thus complement the global quest for reliable procedures and tools for bank resolution that would minimise systemic implications once large and complex financial institutions have reached the stage of insolvency. Given the complex task of orchestrating swift and effective resolution actions, especially with regard to cross-border banking groups and financial conglomerates, planning ahead in good times has since been widely recognised as crucial for enhancing resolvability. At least part of the impediments to resolution will be found in organisational, financial and legal complexity that has evolved in banks and groups over time. To remove these impediments, interference with existing corporate and group structures is all but inevitable. However, in both international standard setting and at the European Union level, issues related to resolution planning (within the context of bank resolution reform) and structural banking reforms to date have been discussed rather separately. This lack of consistency is questionable, given the obvious need to reconcile both approaches in order to facilitate effective implementation and enforcement especially with regard to large, complex banking groups. Based on an analysis both of the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive and the SRM Regulation, this paper explores how these problems could be dealt with within the context of the European Banking Union.
Inside the crystal ball: new approaches to predicting the gasoline price at the pump
Thomas K. Lee
- Although there is much interest in the future retail price of gasoline among consumers, industry analysts, and policymakers, it is widely believed that changes in the price of gasoline are essentially unforecastable given publicly available information. We explore a range of new forecasting approaches for the retail price of gasoline and compare their accuracy with the no-change forecast. Our key finding is that substantial reductions in the mean-squared prediction error (MSPE) of gasoline price forecasts are feasible in real time at horizons up to two years, as are substantial increases in directional accuracy. The most accurate individual model is a VAR(1) model for real retail gasoline and Brent crude oil prices. Even greater reductions in MSPEs are possible by constructing a pooled forecast that assigns equal weight to five of the most successful forecasting models. Pooled forecasts have lower MSPE than the EIA gasoline price forecasts and the gasoline price expectations in the Michigan Survey of Consumers. We also show that as much as 39% of the decline in gas prices between June and December 2014 was predictable.
Contra malos divites et usurarios (1512) by Stanisław Zaborowski:
the problem of usury and renaissance thought
- The treatise "Contra malos divites et usurarios" (Cracovie, 1512) was the first of the renowned Polish anti-usurious texts which was not written by a university professor but by an official of the royal administration. Stanisław Zaborowski focuses, especially, on the problem of land of the royal domain given by kings to great landlords as a pledge, with harm to res publica. He applies the late medieval conciliarist notions to the issue of royal power. Nevertheless, the text diverges from the medieval thought. Zaborowski’ discourse does not focus on demonstrating the rightness of the anti-usurious principles but rather on convincing the readers to follow them in life. The argumentation is ‘addressed’ more to the will than to the reason; it focuses on the vice of avarice, more than on the Seventh Commandment; the author emphasizes the virtue of charity, more than on the virtue of justice. Anti-usurious Zaborowski’s thought made a part of his political vision. His discussed treatise is closely related with his more renowned Tractatus de natura iurium et bonorum regis. In Contra malos divites et usurarios, the problems of public debt and forced loan are of crucial importance. At present Marcin Bukała is preparing the critical edition of the treatise.
Peace is more than the absence of hacks
- Part V of our series on cyberpeace "Cyberpeace: Dimensionen eines Gegenentwurfs".
With everybody focusing on cyberwar, our blog has decided to discuss cyberpeace instead. So far we have seen musings on war and peace, the meaning of the term “cyberpeace” itself and how we construct it discursively and calls to end cyberwar by focusing on the technical aspects again. All of these points are valid. But I feel that they are limited in their scope, because they focus too much on the adversarial: The hacks, the malware, the evil hackers from North Korea. But peace is more than the absence of war – and, in our case, more than the absence of hacks. If we want to be serious about cyberpeace as a societal goal, we have to pay more attention to how we handle our data because this data has a huge impact on the peace within our society....
Aging and pension reform: extending the retirement age and human capital formation
- Projected demographic changes in industrialized and developing countries vary in extent and timing but will reduce the share of the population in working age everywhere. Conventional wisdom suggests that this will increase capital intensity with falling rates of return to capital and increasing wages. This decreases welfare for middle aged asset rich households. This paper takes the perspective of the three demographically oldest European nations — France, Germany and Italy — to address three important adjustment channels to dampen these detrimental effects of aging in these countries: investing abroad, endogenous human capital formation and increasing the retirement age. Our quantitative finding is that endogenous human capital formation in combination with an increase in the retirement age has strong implications for economic aggregates and welfare, in particular in the open economy. These adjustments reduce the maximum welfare losses of demographic change for households alive in 2010 by about 2.2 percentage points in terms of a consumption equivalent variation.
International endogenous growth, macro anomalies, and asset prices
- This paper studies a two-country production economy with complete and frictionless financial markets and international trade of final goods in which competition in R&D leads to endogenous new firm creation and economic growth. Current monopolists ("incumbents") and potential new firms ("entrants") compete in developing patents domestically. I find that this induces negative spillover in consumption, i.e. home country's consumption decreases in response to positive productivity shocks in the foreign country. Second, there is positive spillover in R&D expenditures, i.e. home country's R&D expenditures increase in response to positive foreign productivity shocks, which is consistent with empirical evidence on international technology diffusion. Furthermore, the stylized fact in international macroeconomics that the cross-country correlation of consumption growth is significantly lower than the one of output growth is explained by the model. Fourth, net exports are negatively correlated with output as in the data. Fifth, the model matches the high comovement of the risk-free rates and stock returns across countries. Finally, the model produces a positive value premium.
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.