Bloomberg – A Teaching Innovation

becomes increasingly important. Class discussions
become more meaningful as students analyze data,
discuss their observations and relate their findings to the
underlying theory.
Bloomberg –
A Teaching
Finding the proper balance between theory and
application is a challenge faced in many university
disciplines. Although the task to locate timely and
meaningful datasets that allow students to apply the
theory to real world problems can be an ominous and
time-consuming task, practical application in conjunction
with theory is essential in preparing students to meet the
demands of today’s labor market.
While the internet provides numerous data sites with
varying degrees of credibility, the challenge is often
sorting through the myriad of sites, deciphering which
are credible, then extracting the relevant information
needed to conduct the analysis. The goal is to find the
relevant data necessary for students to gain knowledge,
understanding, and ultimately wisdom.
As many traditional teaching pedagogies give way to
innovative, case-based teaching methods, the need for
relevant, readily available data for students to analyze
Founded more than 30 years ago, Bloomberg employs
more than 15,000 people in 192 locations around the
world, and is a leader in global business and financial
news, data, and analytics. The goal of Bloomberg is to
provide business and financial professionals with reliable
news and needed data at a single location. Just as the sun
never set on the British Empire, Bloomberg is gathering
news and information around the world, producing over
5,000 stories a day from 150 bureaus in 73 countries1.
The University currently has nine Bloomberg terminals
available to students in the Economics Lab in Smith 123
and in the Student Technology Center in the McKay
Library room 140A during the labs’ open times. Each
student is required to create a log-in which allows for the
personalization of settings on the terminal.
The Bloomberg Essentials Online Training (BESS)
function provides online video tutorials to help students
quickly become familiar with the basic Bloomberg
functions and system operations. In addition to the core
training, Bloomberg offers training videos in the market
segments of equities, fixed income, foreign exchange,
and commodities. After viewing the training videos and
successfully completing the core and market sector exams
(with a score of 75% or better), students can become
Bloomberg certified in that market sector. Certification
in Bloomberg is just one more way students are able to
differentiate themselves in the job market indicating they
are familiar with functions and capabilities of Bloomberg.
Another way students are able to differentiate
themselves is by taking the Bloomberg Aptitude Test
(BAT). This two-hour proctored test allows students to
demonstrate their competency and compare themselves
with other students around the world. The exam covers
news analysis, economics, math, analytical reasoning,
financial statement analysis, investment banking, global
markets, and chart and graph analysis. The Bloomberg
Talent Search (BTS) function displays the student’s
overall performance on the BAT in each of the sectors
along with the student’s education, career
interests, past work experience, and
leadership/awards. A student’s name and
other personal information is not initially
disclosed. Employers who are interested
in a student can request more information,
whereupon the student has the choice to
disclose additional information, including
a resume. Currently there are over 2,475
institutions in 60 countries involved in the
Bloomberg Aptitude Test.
educational applications
Figure 1. Bloomberg Industries, Industry Outlook for
Computer Hardware. Source: Bloomberg
Figure 2. Bloomberg Quote Screen of Hewlett-Packard
Co. Source: Bloomberg
Fenton Broadhead, BYU-Idaho Academic
Vice President, said, “Teaching without
reflection, repetition, and application
is only entertainment.” Bloomberg is
a tool to facilitate the active learning
students require to understand the
principles. Confucius reminds us, “I hear
and I forget. I see and I remember. I do
and I understand.” As students struggle
with the complexities of the data and the
significance of the situations, then analyze
and make recommendations, they become
problem solvers and decisions makers.
There are many uses of Bloomberg
ranging from business, finance, and
economics to law and government. The
following example demonstrates some of
the basic functionality and information
Bloomberg provides to students who
are assigned a project to analyze a
company. The example focuses on the
resources available for an equity, but
similar resources are available for bond
markets, money markets, foreign exchange,
commodities and derivatives. Information
of all types can easily be accessed using
Bloomberg, from the macroeconomic
data of countries throughout the world
to the microeconomic data of individual
companies and commodities.
industry analysis
Figure 3. Supply Chain Analysis Screen of HewlettPackard Co. Source: Bloomberg
Starting from a macroeconomic perspective, Bloomberg’s
World Economic Statistics (ECST) function gives national
income accounts, price levels, labor market data, interest
rates, and other macroeconomic numbers broken down
by sector. Students are able to assess the overall economic
health of the countries in which their company operates or
does business. The Economic Calendars (ECO) function
lists the release dates of macroeconomic measures along
with the median estimate of surveyed economists. As
students track these numbers throughout the semester,
they are able to see the impact on the company as the
macroeconomic numbers are released and either meet
or differ from expectations. Clicking on a particular
macroeconomic measure allows a student to drill down
and get additional details. The Economists’ Estimates
(ECOS) and Economic Forecasts (ECFC) provide further
details about economic estimates by various economists.
Once students have a sense of the overall
economy, their focus narrows to the
particular industry of the company they
are analyzing. The Bloomberg Industries –
Industry Research (BI) function provides
key industry data, interactive charts, and
written analysis from industry experts
for every major sector of the economy.
Measurements of key drivers and metrics
for the sector are given along with an
industry outlook and outline of critical
themes. Students are able to quickly
obtain the essential information needed to
understand an industry, the firms in that
industry and the market outlook.
If the company produces or consumes
a particular commodity, the Commodities
(F9) section provides an in-depth market
analysis and market overview. The Fundamentals (FDM)
function provides information about physical demand
and supply statistics of the various commodities as well
as transportation, environment, and weather information.
Drilling down in the Commodity Playbook (CPLY),
statistics on individual commodities are available including
the primary fundamental drivers of that commodity and
the related macroeconomic statistics.
Past, present, and future prices are available for various
commodities. Historical prices are available in daily to
yearly periodicities in graphical or table format using
the Historical Line Chart (GP) function. Intraday prices
range from one to 240 minutes. The function for finding
current or spot prices depends on the commodity: AGGP
for Agriculture Spot Prices, BOIL for spot oil prices and
refined products, USME for spot metal prices, and FXC
for spot rates of foreign currency along with forward and
fixing rates. Since the current price of a commodity can
vary by location based on supply and demand factors,
Bloomberg provides current prices by location for various
sites around the world.
The CTM (Exchange Contracts) function provides
the future prices of exchange traded commodities, bonds,
currency, and credit derivatives. Students are able to see
how future prices have changed during a given time period
using the Commodity Curve Analysis (CCRV) function.
The Commodity Price Forecasts (CPFC) function allows
students to compare exchange-traded future prices to the
median forecasted price of the commodity by analysts.
Figure 4. Comparable Analysis Screen of HewlettPackard Co., Source: Bloomberg
equity analysis
Information about publicly-held companies worldwide
is available with only a few keystrokes using the Equity
screen (F8), allowing students to quickly access a
company’s filings, news, and financial information and
to compare with other peer firms. The Bloomberg Quote
(BQ) function provides a snapshot of the equity including
key statistics such as earnings, dividends, and price
ratios, along with a comparison to other companies. A
list of analysts’ recommendations, price targets and price
target time periods and a consensus rating about the
company’s stock price is available using the ANR (Analyst
Recommendations) function.
The Supply Chain Analysis (SPLC) function provides a
visual of the main suppliers, competitors, and customers
of the company, and serves to aid students in assessing the
various forces faced by the company. Bloomberg currently
covers the supply chain for over 26,000 companies, and
with the given data available in Bloomberg, an industry
analysis using Porter’s Five Forces takes
on a whole new dimension. For example,
Bloomberg shows that Hewlett-Packard,
the world’s largest provider of PCs, has 476
suppliers, 278 customers, and 39 peers.
In addition to the Supply Chain
Analysis, in-depth historical and future
estimates of financial information can
be accessed using the Financial Analysis
(FA) function. Balance sheets, income
statements, and cash flow statements
along with key financial ratios allow for
a thorough analysis of the company’s
financial situation. An Ownership
Summary (OWN) provides a breakdown
of which institutions, including the
government, own shares in the company
along with a geographical breakdown of
that ownership. The Credit Rating Profile
(CRPR) function indicates the company’s
credit worthiness based on ratings by
Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, Fitch, and
others. Company research from over 2,500 providers
is located using the Research (BRC) function. These
reports from brokers, market research firms, and industry
associations are aggregated on a single screen.
The Relative Value (RV) function allows students to
benchmark the company’s performance with comparable
companies in the industry. These measurement include
financial ratios, markets, ownership, and credit ratings. In
addition, custom fields can be created as needed.
The Historical Line Chart (GP) function for an equity
is similar to that for a commodity. The graph can be
augmented by comparing the company’s price relative
to other companies or indices. Technical studies such
as the Relative Strength Index, Bollinger Bands, and
Mean Average Convergence Divergence can be added
for further analysis. In addition, major events related
Figure 5. Historical Graph Line Screen of HewlettPackard Co. Source: Bloomberg
to the company can be added to the graph such as
acquisitions, dividends, and debt offerings, as well as
major news and macroeconomic announcements. With
the use of Bloomberg students are able to find the needed
information to conduct a thorough analysis of a company
even with limited time for data gathering.
With a scarcity of time each semester to cover the desired
course topics, Bloomberg reduces the time required
to gather data, freeing up valuable time for analysis. It
offers seamless data conversion from Bloomberg to Excel
for further study. Traditionally, students would spend
80% of their time gathering data, but only 20% of their
time conducting analyses. With easy access to reliable
data, those numbers can be reversed, allowing students
more time to analyze the data and examine the results,
better preparing students to be problem solvers, not
just data gathers. As students evaluate data and analyze
results, their level of understanding deepens. Knowing
Bloomberg’s functions for finding
and retrieving data gives students an
added advantage as they go to work
for companies that use Bloomberg
terminals. Demonstrating knowledge
via the Bloomberg Aptitude Test
further helps students differentiate
themselves. In an increasingly
competitive job market, the need for
students to know, do, and become
requires students to be adept problem
solvers and decisions makers in a data
rich environment.
With such rapid advancements in
technology, the challenge is to adapt
and incorporate those changes to
improve the educational experience
for students and better prepare them
for the job market. As Abraham
Lincoln taught: “It is not ‘can any of
us imagine better?’ but, ‘can we all do
better?’ The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the
stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty,
and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so
we must think anew, and act anew.”2 y
Bloomberg Publication: Know More, Do More, Bloomberg for Education.
Lincoln, Abraham, Annual Message to Congress, Concluding Remarks, Washington, D.C., December 1, 1862.
With a scarcity of time
each semester to cover
the desired course topics,
Bloomberg reduces the
time required to gather
data, freeing up valuable
time for analysis.