Category Archives: Finance

Is it merely a need to know?

It is more than just an opinion piece, when we saw the week begin with a piece from George Clooney (yes, that one) and John Prendergast, both responsible for the start of the NGO ‘Not On Our Watch‘, the people might took notice (at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/20/dirty-money-africa-atrocities-uk-banks), the title ‘British banks are go-betweens in global conflict. This can be stopped‘ was even more alluring, but then we see the quote “It is time to act against the kind of corruption that enables governments and armed groups especially in east and central Africa – the deadliest interlinked zone of conflict in the world – to prosecute wars and carry out mass atrocities“, everyone decided to take another nap. Actually, I cannot blame them. It sounds so intense and essential, but if there is one part the population at large does not care about, than it is another corruption article from a place the bulk of the people never cared about it in the first place. Now, this is the plain reality that the people seem to have. Can I blame them? Is it a valid point of view?

This becomes part of the centre that we lose when we see that implied levels of corruption are impeding our quality of life in Europe. I discussed part of it in ‘When a Newspaper gets it wrong‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/02/16/when-a-newspaper-gets-it-wrong/). The article linked here implies a lot, especially when you realise that we are faced with British Champagne stories in an age where any member of the EU mentioning it should not even be allowed to be a member of the EU parliament. Then we get “The National Crime Agency judges that billions of pounds of suspected proceeds of corruption are laundered through the UK each year“, which might be true, might not be true, but most important, when we realise that there is also the quote “the international community has failed to fully deploy the anti-money laundering measures“, I would like to see a comparison on a national level, you see, comparing the UK numbers (where possible) with the numbers of Europe’s largest Transit harbour on the planet (read: Rotterdam) and as such the container laundering schemes where it goes on for more iterations of laundering as the bitcoin is used. So how can we see how much is laundered per nation? Is the UK the big player here? How does the UK compare to the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy and Poland? Can we see those numbers please? You see, as we read “These kinds of financial-pressure measures can help save lives“, the bulk of the readers seem to ignore, or remain ignorant on how the pharmaceutical industry funnels billions, all perfectly legal and as such taxation is avoided. Yes, it makes perfect sense to focus on millions and not address the billions missed. Oh, and perhaps can we see the expected, or predicted time table from the quote “Our team is gathering the evidence needed“, now, let’s be honest, that such a given is next to impossible, but a few changes fought for at present might restore the essential need of legal overhauls, a side that does not seem to make the press that often and more important, the more Clooney stories we get, the less gets overhauled or clearly illuminated that an overhaul is essential. Now the quote we see at the end “a real difference can be made in ending wars in Africa and the mass atrocities that accompany them if we target those that are benefiting financially from the mayhem and suffering“, we can only agree with the principle need. I will not oppose that as such. Yet, it has only been a month since the article at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jan/26/nigerian-oil-pollution-shell-uk-corporations  and as such, when we hear ‘Nigerian oil pollution claims against Shell cannot be heard in UK, court rules‘ and the issues of pollution against the Royal Dutch Shell, we need to take a moment to consider whether the futility that team Clooney and Prendergast (Team CP) is bringing to the media. The given subtitle ‘Campaigners hoped case would pave way for lawsuits to be brought against corporations for actions abroad‘ is another part in that the issues cannot be properly examined. This we see in “Shell has denied liability and argued last November that the challenge involves “fundamentally Nigerian issues” that should be heard in a Nigerian court“, now it is important to know that I did not study the court notes. So, if we can accept that the court did do a proper hearing and accepted the relevant issues, than no matter what Team CP brings us, the simple truth is that the dangers of any Nigerian court would properly stop the issues correctly seemingly would become almost pointless (if we accept the corruption part that team CP claims. In addition, when we read the accusation ‘A man collecting polluted water at an illegal oil refinery site‘ gives us even more, especially when we concentrate on the word ‘illegal‘, so is Royal Dutch Shell connected to the illegal refinery site? What evidence is there? So now we get the case that team CP is concentrating on a few numbskulls with the limited possibility to stop millions, whilst the players they need to go for is walking away with billions. In that regard their actions are implied to be ‘doomed to fail’ and that is in the most likely positive version, a more negative version is that massive amounts of times are wasted and nothing gets to be achieved. It is in addition likely that the Royal Dutch Shell would assist team CP with other meaningless cases whilst the Royal Dutch Shell remains out of reach. So how is that for justice?

This we see confirmed in the quote “Joe Westby, campaigner on business and human rights at Amnesty International, said: “This ruling could mean that the communities will never receive meaningful compensation, and that the oil spills will be not be properly cleaned up”“, which supports the view I am having and I got to the conclusion as fast as I was reading the article, only to see that other experts agree with me. The final quote “The company says the Bille and Ogale communities’ problems with oil spills are due to sabotage, theft from pipelines, and illegal refining“, which if proven shows the innocence of Shell to some degree, and it shows to the larger degree that team CP have very little chance of success to the degree they need it as change in Nigerian environmental legislation would be essential to force initial change. Apart from that view, there is still the illegal refining, that takes equipment, which beckons the question how much has the Nigerian government confiscated? How many people got prosecuted in all this? There is no clear answer of success and there likely will not ever be one as illegal refiners are in the same category as illegal poachers, as the need or ivory continues, the number of elephants will decrease in Africa until the animal is extinct, then what?

Unless the Nigerian government starts hunting down these transgressors with success and extreme prejudice, they end up not having any level of success. Greed is the ultimate equaliser, the need of the one outweigh the ability of many. A reality that has continued on a near global scale since the early 1900’s. Change is too slow and without harsh levels of success, the opinion piece on and from team CP is not going anywhere but into the circular storage and archiving solution (read: trashcan).

In this Shell has no consideration to assist, the government has no place to start and as the wrong parties are more and more likely blamed we get a situation that until the proper papers are filed, the people involved have no option left to move in any direction, which works great for the facilitators of these events. Someone is making a bundle and as these parties cannot be correctly and accurately identified, the actions against them remain empty, unresolved and hollow.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Law, Media, Politics, Science

Pimping the United States

I initially expected the USA to do stupid things, but this has got to be the most stupid of them all. As the talks are now increasing regarding the acts of dismantling the Dodd-Frank Act, we see the greedy banks walking out into the open making claims he will break the moment the ears of the listeners are out of range. Marcus Stanley from the Americans for Financial Reform stated: “We had experience with Wall Street self-regulation prior to the financial crisis, and it did not work out well,” Stanley said. “When you let industry determine its own rules, it’s going to create more risks. The downside of those risks is going to be pushed to taxpayers and working families”, (at https://www.publicintegrity.org/2017/02/01/20645/trump-wall-street-and-banking-caucus-ready-rip-apart-dodd-frank). The problem is that like the journalists in the Leveson trial, these two groups who proclaimed that they could self-regulate, have never been able to do so, greed gets in the way every single time.

If there is an upside, then it will be that the next financial event will have one enormous difference, the moment the US people see that their quality of life returns to a 2009 state, there will be 170-205 million people unanimously agreeing that the President of the United States is to be assassinated, moreover, when that angry mob runs to Washington, the army will not intervene as they will have been hit just as hard as well as their family members. So at that point the Secret Service will need to protect an idiot, whilst they have less than 1% of the ammunition required to stop that angry mob. Good luck to them I say!

qnbIn addition, the bankers who are behind the next collapse will end up being the most wanted man by the American people in history. They will flee to whatever nation they can afford, whilst channeling their wealth to places where the US treasury cannot get at it, so Riyadh might end up being the place of choice for American wealth. American bankers who did not oppose the Travel ban of 7 Muslim nations will be totally dependent on the goodness of another Muslim nation to keep their ill-gotten gains safe, the Irony is just staggering!

But is my prediction over the top? Let’s take a look!

 

 

The financial times (at https://www.ft.com/content/dd4a6698-efe7-11e6-930f-061b01e23655) gives us “Loan growth remains robust,” said Marianne Lake, his counterpart at JPMorgan Chase, while presenting record annual net income of $24.7bn last month. Beyond the headlines, there are signs that certain segments have been squeezed. In products such as credit cards and personal loans, for example, analysts say activity has been damped by fear of censure by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau“, so as certain people see and feel the fear of prosecution through ‘fear of censure by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’ we see that this group of financial people have the inherent need for growth and the need for unadulterated bonuses. I will not be able to tell whether this is due to unreasonable revenue per deadline, or just the need to get to the revenue any way possible, unreasonable or not. That is what happened before and messing with Dodd-Frank makes that danger very realistic. In addition, with the US in 20 trillion debt, the next meltdown cannot be covered by the US and in addition, it is my firm believe that the IMF should not be allowed to intervene or hand any bail outs when this happens.

The second part of that is seen in: “In residential mortgages, too, banks and lobby groups complain about the new requirement to determine that the consumer has a “reasonable ability” to repay the loan, based on credit history, income, obligations, debt-to-income ratio, employment status and other information. That has caused a pile-up of paperwork“, The fact that banks are now ‘bitching‘ regarding ‘paperwork‘ to ‘reasonable assure the ability to repay the loan‘ gives rise to even more questions, especially as the need for these answers are needed on a global scale, the fact that we see complaints that seems to indicate that banks just want to hand out cash without clear setting of accountability. In that same article, when we read the part from Laurie Goodman “warranties they need to make to Fannie Mae, the government-sponsored mortgage buyer, and the high cost of servicing delinquent loans, among other factors. None of that was in Dodd-Frank“, so if that was not in Dodd-Frank, then why is it an issue?

This issue as you might expect it goes far beyond the Financial Times. There we read from Jonathan Westin the quote “Trump rolled out an executive order to cut Dodd-Frank, and to get rid of regulation that would protect against a financial crisis like the last time“, which gives the first clear indicator that I am stating could be the start for the first Presidential man hunt in American history. The fact that we see (at http://nypost.com/2017/02/12/battle-looms-as-trump-regime-looks-to-gut-dodd-frank/) “a 22,000-page document, could see the abolition of the ban on proprietary trading at Wall Street banks and on predatory lending” gives a clear indication that banks like Sleaze, Succumb & Snatch will be able to get back into business using Tele Marketing schemes to get people to sign up, they only have to be willing to grab those customers by the pony. Is that what America will amount to? I think that the world would be better of having Wall Street regulated by Mosseck Fonseca, who were only out to captivate the rich, because in both cases the IRS will lose out and they will lose out by a lot.

As far as I personally see it, there is a danger with some of this. One of them involve proprietary trading. The dangers is that with proprietary trading, desks were often considered internal hedge funds within the bank, performing in isolation away from client-flow traders. Yet, the danger comes when third party ‘assistants‘ runs between other ‘assistants‘. The first article gave us that with “It also would repeal Dodd-Frank’s Volcker Rule, which now prohibits banks with access to the Federal Deposit Insurance Fund from making certain risky investments“, where we see the part where Volcker also wanted to stop banks using privileged access to ‘cheap’ central bank financing offering PhD models to play the markets for personal gain. Now that model could change through the deployment of ‘disrupters‘ and ‘spark plugs‘ who will set their own circles getting people to stem the revolting tide or support waves of exploitation. Rings within rings, a chosen few to be the supporting role of the market players. It will unhinge the markets and the people at present would have no defence being in any market whilst they are around. It is like playing against the bank, who is the active gambler. Smaller players would have no chance at all, a market that would become less and less stable in a time where the US has absolutely no way of stemming the losses when they hit.

So like Adolf Hitler, Trump promised prosperity, but prosperity for whom? More important, at what expense? When the former German ruler did it, those people all got jobs, in the military industry. Trump has decided to open the financial industry sluices, yet that direction tends to only open the bowels for financial people which comprises less than 1% of the population there. In addition those profits do not make it to the US treasury, so what game is President Trump playing?

These changes have no ability to correct the economy and the 20 trillion debt is not taken care of, nor will it as things evolve the way they are now. In all this we face tough times and if the Trump administration succeeds in dropping the Dodd-Frank Act the dangers of the collapse of the Dollar is close to a certainty. The dollar going, just to set the need for greed to a previous stage unacceptable need, which will also topple the Euro to an untold low value. There is no way to stop it unless part of the Republican Party realises that undoing certain levels of protection will leave everyone in a dangerous place. This is not just me, there are several newspapers coming to the same conclusion, they just didn’t add the risk assessment of the assassination of President Trump yet (they’ll do that after the act). In that, is my prediction that off? There is a precedent. You see, the Scotsman in March 2009 reported ‘Abused in the streets, their homes under attack, will Edinburgh’s bankers ever be forgiven?‘, where we see “A group calling itself Bank Bosses Are Criminals claimed responsibility for the attack on Goodwin’s home and in a statement to the Edinburgh Evening News said: “This is just the beginning … We are angry that rich people, like him, are paying themselves a huge amount of money and living in luxury, while ordinary people are made unemployed, destitute and homeless” Scotland has a population of 5.2 million. When things went south, well over 55,000 ended up being homeless. That is over 1% of the Scottish population, there was never no homeless people, but that number went through the roof when the 2008 crash landed on the front doors of nearly every bank. So is my prophecy out of bounds, or does it make sense that the next event in the US, could give rise to millions becoming homeless. Where will at that rage be aimed at? I can tell you that it will be a bad day to be a police officer in the New York financial district at that point, not to mention wherever that Trump tower is at. Look at it from the bright side, with every banker executed a new job openings and new housing becomes available. In the end, the aggregated statistics will balance themselves. That event when it happens will also start the selling off of American infrastructure and State assets. The Russian or Chinese could end up buying these services, just like it was done in Greece. In that case, I’m willing to buy the Pentagon Cray Mainframe for $29.95. I’ll pay $50 if they throw in a functional Bell UH-1Y Venom or a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey.

The things you can get when a financial system gets pimped, life has its upsides for all except the victims of such rash undertakings!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Media, Politics

Healthy or Smart?

Earlier (16.4 hours ago roughly) I talked about the NHS, more important about an article in the Guardian about the NHS. An article that I considered to be a sales pitch, and not a very good one. Today I am taking a look at the ‘Smarter Health: boosting analytical capacity at NHS‘ pdf. First we need to take a look at the players, you see when we read a story we need to know what the story is about, the first step here is to take a look at who is telling us the story, because that matters, especially in the world we see today. The front page gives us the people involved:

Beth Simone Noveck – a Professor at NYU, director and co-founder.
Stefaan Verhulst – Chief Research and Development Officer of the Governance Laboratory at New York University.
Andrew Young – Associate Director of Research at The GovLab, and in addition, he is NOT the Managing Director of APY Consulting Ltd, who has the same name, but looks a few decades older.
Maria Hermosilla and Anirudh Dinesh are also directly linked to Govlab and it is Juliet McMurren who is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps she is merely a minion in that digital publishing machine, but her name pops up in a few papers, but only at the introduction, perhaps she is the one putting the reports together.

You see, if the story is everything, we need to see the storytellers in their environment, because they are setting the stage on how we should see the information given to us. This is given to us from the very beginning as the headline in the executive summary tells us: “It would be impractical and prohibitively expensive to fulfill all of NHS’s analytical needs through more hiring“, which is exactly what I raised yesterday, in addition, I did mention that part as well, just the pathway that follows is not the pathway I trust. I believe that some skills should be managed inside the NHS. I do not trust the outsider telling me how it is, especially after consultants walked off with a large slice of £11.2 billion whilst the NHS has nothing to show for it. In addition, having outsiders access to NHS data is even scarier to me than losing those billions. You see, once the data is out there, the people whose data is out there get to be the victims of dangers they never signed up for. As I see it, once copied the NHS becomes useless to them and whomever walks away with that ends up diminishing the value of the NHS and those people even more. That is in my view a big no-no! (I am not accusing Govlab of having done anything immoral or questionable), I am merely raising the issue.

I notice that part of the paper is what we read yesterday in the Guardian. It makes it easier for me as I had already crossed off several issues on my list and I stand by these elements. Yet, the report is not all bad, it is illustrative in parts, but also suggestive and that lack of clarity is never part of a good paper.  The reader tends to go from assumptions and that goes to either too positive or too negative, there is never ever a balanced in-between there.

When they give us: “The NHS should also create a variety of online knowledge networks of those inside and outside of NHS, especially in UK universities, who possess the skills and willingness to help the NHS with their data analytical questions. For example, last week the Rockefeller Foundation launched the Zilient platform to connect resilience practitioners, and the GovLab and Justice Management Institute launched DataJustice. Both are designed to connect networks of professionals for mutual learning“, which could be novel, were it not that I actually gave a similar (less eloquent) idea on June 29th 2014 in my article ‘What’s in a health system?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/06/29/whats-in-a-health-system/), where I state: “What if we take the next generation in solutions and take away 30% of that workload? When people ask which company will do this, the answer should be ‘None!’. The UK is filled with universities, some of them regarded as the most prestigious and brightest on the planet. Consider that most IT people, might claim experience, yet their drama skills are the only ones that improved for the most, is it not up to the Universities, those who are introduced to the newest ideas, design a solution that would make the work of the doctors and nurses at the NHS better, slightly more efficient and a truckload of less hassle! Is that such a tall order? We will get to the solutions if we are willing to navigate other options. We have seen that the current path is not a success; new methods might not be a failure. It is a road that politicians should be willing to go, if only to make sure that a possible solution was not overlooked“, I admit, not as eloquent, but pretty much the same story and it came whilst the NHS was 2.5 years further away from the ‘Abyss of non-existence’ it finds itself in front of at present.

So let’s take a look at the recommendations, and the first one gives us: “The NHS should build a Project Marketplace like the environmental protection agency’s one EPA Skills Marketplace and help supply find the demand“, so how do these outside talents not cost the NHS? Even as it hides behind ‘help with specific assignments, the skills marketplace helps to match talent to those opportunities to use it‘, you see, the more specific a need is, the more expensive such an expertise tends to get. The more generic and shallow, the less need for such a marketplace, more important, as a little more is asked on what needs to be done, the costs of these people will rise substantially and it tends to rise fast.

The second recommendation gives us “The NHS should construct an NHS Data Lab modelled on the Ministry of Justice Data Lab to make better use of sensitive administrative data“, which also sounds nice, but data labs cost, there is hardware, there is software and hiding it all in some cloud with questionable security will not be a solution, in addition, IT gets stretched even further and there is a difference between ‘better use of sensitive administrative data‘ and ‘safe and responsible use of sensitive administrative data‘, they are not the same, not by a long shot. In addition, I already made that point effective enough in the previous blog. The third one counts “The NHS should build an employee expert network like health and human services’ HHS Profiles and help the demand find the supply across the NHS“, which is what I partially raised when I opted for ‘low level‘ people in my previous blog. Yet this issue is correctly raised and if recommendation is started on yesterday by the NHS HR, than that would be an excellent idea as well. Adding a training path where some can learn skills like Q-Software, data cleaning skills and data capture skills, that might not be the worst idea either as it allows for an IT growth path. There are plenty of NHS volunteers, who are now retired, but still desire to be engaged, not everyone is doing that holding a set of people skills, some are happy to do other tasks. In addition there is the Employer-supported volunteering path, where Market Research and Data employees could spend a few hours a week working on the NHS systems, helping and teaching to create dashboards. In that HQIP Director Dr Danny Keenan might hold his hand up as high as possible to get started on the communication issues he currently states to have. Recommendations 4, 5 and 6 are basically skill finders in another dimension, so having that crossed off with HR to set a proper visibility path should solve all these issues. Option 7 gets us “bring in more talent from outside, including from the private sector“, which is a cost and not a small one either, that is depending on the needs there are. Recommendation 8 is the one that stopped me. You see ‘Open Data Learning Hub‘ I almost like I mentioned earlier, but here we see ‘data scientists to grow its data science community‘ with the added quote “Each toolkit includes the original data and step-by-step instructions for using the data to conduct sample analyses, create visualisations from the data and connect interested data scientists“, which makes me wonder, have they considered that the cost here will increase dramatically fast? In addition, how many data scientists are there now? If there are a few, why a training growth path was not initialised a few weeks after the first data scientist was hired. Because from some of the required trivial reports, those people are really expensive to use for making the ‘basic’ reports. Now, there is a part that I am not aware of, but recommendation 8 is leaving me with questions. If there are proper data scientists, why was growth not acted on long ago, if there are no Data scientists, that open learning hub will attract experts stating that ‘it is a complex issue‘ on too many projects, making this a marketing jump to hiring people, which is not the path we want to go through. Recommendation is just dangerous. As I stated, I have no faith in certain groups and ‘exchange data to help solve public problems. These collaborations focus both on sharing data but also on sharing talent‘, yet when certain ‘assisting‘ experts in the insurance world have been accessing the data sets, once they have the aggregated data they need, they will fall from vision like snowflakes in a summer sunshine, this recommendation is one that should be rejected as soon as the rejecter has read the words. It reads like Recommendation 10 is a potpourri of some of the previous recommendations, yet again we see “a “conversational” infrastructure to a secure physical infrastructure for managing data to tap the best know-how outside NHS on an ongoing basis“, which is pretty much an introduction towards hiring external consultants, which was a bad idea from the very beginning. The entire papers is followed by a score of issues, some I blew away in the previous blog article, some are there to (as I personally see it) illustrate fortune cookie wisdom, which is always debatable and will always be used out of context. An examples is: ‘We are achieving 1% of the potential to improve people’s lives‘. When we see ‘Healthcare data in England is collected, published and used by a variety of institutions, each of which has its own cadre of statisticians, analysts, and economists‘, there is the implied part, but the actual scope who is collecting what and who is collecting it for private organisations and insurances is equally left out there. As we see the groups we also see quotes like “Among its staff are approximately 150 people who hold the title of analyst for NHS England, including those in an operational research and evaluation unit created in 2014. NHS England publishes indicators on performance and satisfaction data about patient experience, bed availability, and wait times, and administers friends and family satisfaction testing“, yet when we see the group ‘Clinical Commissioning Groups‘, we get to see “We know there is lots of information on quality out there but don’t know if all NHS staff, such as clinicians, commissioners and service managers, are equipped to access and analyse it for both operational and improvement purposes, nor do we know if it meets people’s requirements, says one of NHS England’s clinical leads“, which beckons the question, did this clinical lead not know who to ask, what to ask and when to expect an answer? This reads like a ‘let’s set the premise of ignorance‘, whilst the systems in place would (read: should) have been there to inform the participants. This is not a paper on informing, this reads like a paper on creating doubt, preferably a paper pushing towards the recommendations regarding hiring and sharing, which is I admit is a speculation form my side. Yet it is strengthened when we read the premise with NHS Digital, where the language is phrased as “NHS Digital has a statutory monopoly over the collection of certain kinds of data, and over 300 professionals work on the collection and analysis” as well as “Of this group, approximately 250 are classified as analysts, whose work is focused on this routine and statutorily-mandated data collection and the publication of statistical reports“, whilst we get the implied accusation of “NHS Digital has not made much use of predictive modelling to evaluate innovations, conduct experiments or design new models of clinical care“. It seems that at New York University, the weight of a loss of £11.2 billion has no weight at all. That from a nation that has accumulated a debt of $20 trillion, should they be regarded as the experts? So when we read “no mandate—to translate that into policy recommendations nor to do research, according to Dr John Varlow, Director of Information Analysis at NHS Digital. In total, the organisation has 2000 professional staff, most of whom focus on information technology and the maintenance of NHS websites“, I need to wonder if that was the full part of the contribution of Dr John Varlow. Especially when we consider the work that maintenance of NHS websites requires. How many pages, what hardware infrastructure, more important, what other tasks are part of their workflow. An issue (as I personally see it) intentionally set outside of proper dimensionality. So when we consider the ‘produces over 250 annual official publications on topics from GP earnings to drug use among school children. These reports are accompanied by data in formatted Excel spreadsheets and machine-readable comma separated variable (csv) text files. Anonymised population-level data is available both on the NHS Digital website and on data.gov.uk‘. The reader should realise that this adds up to a little over 20 reports a month, that needs exporting, cleaning (personal data markers) set into final data forms and uploaded to the proper places. It should come down to one person does this full time, but the reality is that 1-2 other employees need to check this, to make sure identity sensitive data is not there.  In addition we need to consider ‘NHS Digital publishes over a thousand indicators‘, which we can accept as a given, but based on whose recommendations? When is the policy to publish set through political means and requirements?

This gets me to the subtitle ‘The current emphasis on performance analytics needs to expand to predictive analytics, simulation and modelling‘, on what premise and whose budget? Whenever we see a statistician running around with a massive erection shouting  ‘predictive analytics‘ and ‘modelling‘ it is usually because the linked implication that this additional work usually comes with a not to modest pay rise. When ‘simulation‘ is thrown into the mix, it tends to link to either resource needs, budgeting or failure analyses, which now implies that hiring becomes almost essential as these people were either hired from the start, or the skill set was not deemed essential, so raising it here raises a lot more than the reader will fathom. So when the writers decide to add Tim Kelsey on page 37, they should have considered the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/sep/17/cameron-adviser-leaves-controversial-nhs-data-scheme-private-sector), where we see: “Kelsey was appointed to the Cabinet Office in 2012 as the UK’s first transparency and open data director. However a few months later he joined the NHS, where he was the driving force behind care.data. The programme was supposed to be in place in 8,000 GP practices by 2014 but has been beset by controversies since its launch last year. It was finally put on hold after a series of blunders exposed serious problems relating to the confidentiality of patient information“, there we got the issues that the Guardian headlined with ‘NHS patient data to be made available for sale to drug and insurance firms‘ and ‘Privacy experts warn there will be no way for public to work out who has their medical records or how they are using it‘, which is actually an issue I raised more than once. So is Professor Noveck soliciting for data? Because there have been more than one marker in that paper to see as a consequence and the US in general is still massively horny for the UK NHS data sets. The report goes on for a total of 82 pages. In total it is actually a good sales pitch, but with my utterly paranoid mindset of once that data is no longer just with the NHS, the people relying on it will prefer to be dead than have to live through the aggravation that insurance companies will push them through. The page 78 mention of “the NHS could use this Brain Trust to expand its expertise outside its institutional borders. A pilot deployment would make it possible to determine empirically whether technology can bring expertise in from the outside efficiently” continues that path, because Brain Trust and expertise requires data access to set into a result. In addition ‘pilot deployment would make it possible to determine‘ tends to come with data attached, or accessible. I am not convinced that juice will be worth the squeeze and until the ghosts of data loss are set to rest (which is unlikely to ever happen), the entire sales pitch, no matter how good cloaked in 78 pages is one that the NHS needs to walk away from really fast. The PDF is at http://www.thegovlab.org/static/files/publications/nhs-health.pdf, so I will let you all decide how paranoid I am. The fact that the NHS did this with NYU and no critical report from, for example the University of Cambridge or the University of Westminster is actually an issue that a few others should make (just two of a collection of worthy investigative parties).

So is this ‘Smarter Health’ report healthy or smart? At present I fear it is neither!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Media, Politics, Science

Alphabet Soup

I have been away for a little while. I delivered my final paper on Friday after a 34 hour stretch, mainly because I have the unequaled ability to doubt my own work any given moment. This is weird, because when it comes to data and data systems, I can see through the fog of implied BS in ways most cannot fathom. In that same way, I am now seeing a weird transition by Microsoft that has the ability to endanger its own customer base, which might be a new low in their list of achievements. After a day of attempted rest whilst I faced 44 degrees (summer in Sydney), the Guardian treats me (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/feb/03/skills-shortage-harming-uks-ability-to-protect-itself-from-cyber-attacks). There is something either incomplete or not matching here. The article by ‘Rajeev Syal and agencies’ is actually quite good, it gives us “the role of the Cabinet Office, which is responsible for coordinating information protection across government, remains unclear“, which is in one way awesome because of the admitted issue, a little less so when you consider that his has been going on for over 6 years. You see, those people still got paid, and the admission of non-clarity for that amount of time should validate a few additional questions to those occupying postal code SW1A 2AS. So, when you are in front of that Downing Street fence, which separates the Prime Minister from the common riff raff, it will be the building on the right! One of the interesting quotes is: “The threat of cybercrime is ever-growing, yet evidence shows Britain ranks below Brazil, South Africa and China in keeping phones and laptops secure. In this context it should concern us all that the government is struggling to ensure its security profession has the skills it needs.

I would add to that is the fact that those nations tend to hold employees accountable for cyber losses, which might not be fair but it is apparently wildly effective. In the cyber industry a decent dose of paranoia tends to keep people cautious and on their toes, which does allow to explain the situation the Commonwealth at large finds itself in, not just the UK. One of the gems in the article was “The report said the Cabinet Office’s ability to make informed decisions about security is “undermined by inconsistent and chaotic processes for recording personal data breaches”“, that is just one factor. The fact that Microsoft has been uploading gigabytes of data (per person) from gaming consoles, without consent and whilst Microsoft is in denial blaming the ISP for this event, the question the press at large has not considered asking Microsoft. Why do you need 6 GB of data from a console playing a single player game? There is no way that this is about ‘enhancing‘ the experience.

newzoo-games-market-segments

This is about collecting data and in addition, there is no divulging on what exactly is being uploaded, the fact that it is done without consent is another matter and there is no record on the system. If one victim had not shown me the $60 additional fee he got for 2 weeks of unknown uploading, I would not have believed it. The fact is that this person had mobile broadband was a kink in the attempt to keep the uploads unnoticed is one that Microsoft had not considered and as such we need to consider that an Xbox User needs to realise he is facing an estimated $1400 a year in additional fees upload fees, how affordable is that console now?

So is this about money, about data or about privacy? The issue is that worldwide 15 million were sold by November 2015, whilst the US has roughly 8.5 million of them. So a sizeable chunk of the 6.5 million outstanding consoles are in the UK and whilst Microsoft is not revealing the sales numbers, likely as the humiliation against the PS4 sales is too great, we also need to wonder in light of the upcoming Scorpio (the Xbox One plus plus) edition, the light of so much uploads without consent is an issue, because in the first the people did not get a choice and the second is that there is no way to tell what was uploaded, how much privacy information. In that light, we need to look at not just what is done, but what actions need to be made against these large corporations and I am willing to bet the house that these ‘inconsistent and chaotic processes for recording personal data breaches‘ involve groups giving protection to Microsoft to some degree creating chaos. In addition, I wonder if GCHQ is aware on what Microsoft is pushing into its Azure cloud via Windows 10, what level of privacy breaches is Microsoft involved in?

That is part of all the issues because there is no issue with skill shortage, especially when cybercrimes cannot be properly monitored as everything is in a cloud environment, a US driven cloud environment I might add. Before those in Whitehall start to snicker on the premise of gaming, perhaps those are reminded that as we see in Newzoo (at https://newzoo.com/insights/articles/global-games-market-reaches-99-6-billion-2016-mobile-generating-37/), the gaming industry is a $100 billion plus field and the UK has shown its teeth in this field for the longest of times.

q2_2016_newzoo_global_games_market_revenue_growth_2015-2019

Yet the makers are now creating an unfair advantage (and without consent) on mineable data allowing US companies to take the highest road at the least cost. In all this they have the ability of selling spiked lemons, impeding the industry outside of the AAA American companies’ even further. That is all before we see the dangers of cloud intrusions and the damage organised crime can inflict. And any of those people claiming that this cannot happen, I would advise those people to take a look at the Sony track record of getting hacked. There are too many unknowns, but the fact that a lot of this is done without consent is perhaps the most damaging one and so far, it seems that skills shortage in the UK is not even the most debilitating one. When you consider this quote: “The government ignored its own advice by failing to carry out a business case for government security classifications system, which was meant to deliver £110- to £150m-a-year in benefits, MPs said“, a quote that is not in question perse, yet the fact that the games industry surpassed $100 billion, in this the UK could stand to corner up to $30 billion, I am decently certain that ‘£110- to £150m-a-year in benefits‘ won’t be getting close to covering it any day soon.

The losses and the growing loss of industries in several sectors are leaving the UK with a diminishing amount of options in an industry that will the first and almost the only one growing its production, manufacturing and development base. All items that would have the effect of spicing the coffers of her majesties treasury by a fair bit, that is of course not the bottom line, but it is the icing on the cake and those who had to live by ‘let them eat cake‘ have been doing so without any icing for nearly a decade. And that is all before Google has decided on the next step that could bring them an additional 6-13 billion (13 billion would be most advantageous forecasted model), a jump that will affect software and hardware evolutions in a few ways for the next decade as 5G gets a hold of these new devices and opens the field for even more devices and concept solution. A change few had seen coming and less of them thought the change was realistic, some hold that opinion even today, it’s a sad world, I know!

In that atmosphere the Cabinet office and MP’s are deliberating on Cyber needs and skills whilst their train is already 3 stops delayed and they have no idea what is awaiting two stops ahead, meaning they are already one train stop behind and that is just delay through inaction. So as we are looking at the last part given, where we see: “A National Cyber Security Centre spokesman said: “The government has been clear that the newly formed NCSC is the UK’s definitive authority on cyber security. In the four months since becoming operational, the NCSC has transformed how the UK deals with cyber security by offering incident management capabilities, fostering technical innovation to help prevent attacks and providing real-time cyber threat information to 3,000 organisations from over 20 different industries”“, yet in that, where is the turnaround? You see, as we see linked to all this: “New generation of ethical hackers aims to impress recruiters“, we see: “Defence experts have long warned of the growing menace of cyber-crime and now they have good reason to believe the threat is being given priority treatment“, yet we do not see: “Last year’s Cyber Security Challenge was fairly fanciful. It involved a bio-hazard attack and a threat against a minor royal. This year, the challenge is more grounded in reality. The contestants are asked to find evidence of large corporations gaining an increased advantage by uploading personal data without consent for advantageous data mining“, that no less a threat and it seems that government parties on a global scale are actively avoiding this. You see, we agree that organised crime and batches of exploiting hackers must be stopped, yet for the longest time, the party’s involved are ignoring the ‘legal‘ crimes and how it is shifting the balance of cyber power. slowly but certainly towards the 5 big players leaving the field barren for nearly all other innovative corporation hoping to grow into that field and as the field is limited to 5 players we will lose out on actual innovation and we are left with the iterative field we have had for slightly too long. By the way, this goes far beyond games, this field is now intersecting a very different field. Consider the paper ‘Big Data Framework for Analyzing Patents to Support Strategic R&D Planning‘, by Wonchul Seo, Namhyoung Kim and Sungchul Choi. In this paper they set in the abstract “In this paper, we propose a big data framework to process and analyse large-scale patent data. The proposed framework consists of four layers: an aggregator layer, a storage layer, an analysis layer, and an application layer. These layers are designed to collect patent data, store the collected data, analyse the data, and present the results. The primary objectives of the proposed framework are to provide a patent analysis service platform based on big data technologies, and to support strategic R&D planning for organizations“, now consider interfacing that with a database that has the goods on 270 million devices using Windows 10. Does it still sound so strange? The gaming industry might seem juvenile to the people in Whitehall, but even they cannot be stupid enough to ignore a $100 billion plus industry. So as Microsoft is uploading data and no one is asking questions, we have to wonder why the questions are not asked, more important, the fact that ‘without consent‘ is not addressed is even more worrying, especially with the cyber players in town and the fact that anyone actively ignoring a few billion in revenue tends to not have a career after that comes out.

So you tell me, is the water still too murky or are the players murky about the actions taken?

And when we see the marketing responses like ‘to give the players a better gaming experience‘ or ‘uploading is not with us, that responsibility lies with your ISP‘, you better be able to answer the question why the ISP is dumping all that data on the Azure cloud, because ISP’s tend to not do anything they aren’t paid for and they tend to not do anything without consent, as the retaliatory claims and penalties tend to be much too high. So when the alphabet soup gives us Avarice, Build-up & Covetousness. Is the alphabet soup about protecting against cyber-attacks or trying to minimise corporate losses?

They are both victims, but one does not include the other, I’ll leave it up to you to decide who remains a victim in the long run.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Gaming, IT, Media, Politics, Science

On the bridge of slavery

We have seen several steps coming, it has been in the air for a long time, yet, this is the first time where we see a clear step where we are clearly shown that the people no longer have a voice, we are no more than a collection of items in a long reign of collateral damage to MP’s and greed driven entities. The guardian gives us “MPs to push for further measures to increase parliamentary scrutiny of the Brexit process” (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jan/25/theresa-may-agrees-to-publish-brexit-white-paper). This is the show of a group of toddlers who do not want their gravy train to end and they will give any excuse with assistance from the media to prolong their train and maximise their earnings. We see this in “which MPs now want to see before they are asked to pass legislation to trigger article 50“, there was a referendum and the people wanted to get out. Now we see MP’s scurrying to delay and to even stop that what the people wanted.

And the evidence is actually getting stronger on an international level. My issues is that the only one taking this to visibility is Richard Desmond’s the Daily Express and if I have no trust in the publishing ramblings of Rupert Murdoch, I am very much in favour of giving none to Richard Desmond either. Yet, seeking through the article for any name that gives any solid ground for other sources and I got it in Reuters. You see, we now have an almost Mexican standoff, meaning that we can ask President Trump to get into action. The issue is that Mario Draghi gives the quote “Any country leaving euro zone must settle bill first: ECB’s Draghi“, which makes me wonder whether this court jester of idiocy is making the statement as he has been racking up trillions of Euro’s in debt by instigating through flooding the market with funds, that in actuality has had no impact on the economy whatsoever. There is no one to clip the wings of this irresponsible person, those people are all too happy to get the juicy support that their future needs. That is how I see it and lets support that with the following parts that Reuters had in the form of a piece by Francesco Canepa (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ecb-eurozone-idUSKBN1542KL).

When we look at the debts, we see the quote “As these payments are not generally settled, weaker economies including Italy, Spain and Greece have accumulated huge liabilities towards Target 2 while Germany stands out as the biggest creditor with net claims of 754.1 billion euros“, so as Mario Draghi keeps on going like a spending jester with a credit card that isn’t his in the first place, we would see that these nations do have debts yet local parliaments never agreed on the spending spree to this extent. So when we get the quote “In a rare admission about the strength of feeling building up against Brussels the Italian pen-pusher Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), said countries leaving the euro will face huge financial consequences“, we also need to take into mind who got the debt there. So when we see the threat from Mario Draghi, we should consider my article of June 30th 2014. A little over 2.5 years ago. (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/06/30/exit-strategies-anyone/), here I wrote “So, the dangers of additional debts from Europe would cripple the UK as well. This is as I see it part of the reason why the UKIP got such a huge success“, now we see that not only was it true, we now see Jester Draghi use it to keep France and Italy under his yoke, he is hereby hoping that the soft UK MP’s will give in, keeping the European Barge named ‘Irresponsible Spending‘ afloat. So, not only was I right, there is an additional issue that I initially proclaimed that the American Economy would drown the European one. I still believe that this is true, yet there is in equal measure now the chance that the ECB could with their irresponsible acts collapse the American one. Because when we see that three nations are shouting stronger and stronger that they want out is also a clear signal that the ECB has been, as I feared for a long time, stacking up debts to make the exit no longer possible. So in that, there is now an added need that Mario Draghi is to be halted spending ANY money at all. If he is forcing a ‘stay in until all debts are paid‘ he is also stating that he should not be allowed to spend any money that has not gone in, basically the ECB would have to go into a trillion plus euro debt and see it as an investment, which with the view of the three largest players wanting out, that step is a bad investment. So will Mario Draghi pull out, or will he hope on non-acting MP’s in several nations who are too fearful of change? Safe money is on the second one, but that in equal measure indicates that those hit by such extremes will seek more and more extreme political sides and soon thereafter, UKIP would be seen as the liberal view which holds the balanced centre of politics. How scary is that?

And we aren’t even close to the centre of blackmail. The view two weeks ago was “Intermediate Capital Group (ICG) will suspend further investment in France if National Front leader Marine Le Pen becomes president in this year’s elections“, which is fun as the scores of Financial advisors in London are looking for new eager shores that they can exploit. Even when we see the news, we see more and more ‘relabeling’ of what is, into what speculators want it to look like. When we see the title ‘Eurozone: Towards a stabilization of growth – Natixis‘, we see something positive, yet the quote “Jesus Castillo, Research Analyst at Natixis, notes that the Eurozone composite PMI remained almost stable on January 2017 at 54.3 and from the manufacturing sector side, it seems that once again Germany has driven the Eurozone expansion“, which seems nice, but from my point of view with the quotes “it means -0.1 point compared to December. The manufacturing PMI rose to 55.1 from 54.9 whereas the services sector survey has registered a small decrease by -0.1 point to 53.1” as well as “From the manufacturing sector side, it seems that once again Germany has driven the Eurozone expansion. The manufacturing index increased by 0.9 point from 55.6 to 56.5 whereas it declined in France (from 53.5 to 53.4) in January“, which means that in the Eurozone, only one nation is getting anywhere and the other 18 aren’t pulling their weight and not getting things done. Harsh, but true. It is in this collection of false relabeling scores, where we see ICG blackmail France, scores of banks blackmail the UK (question: should I use the word ‘blackmail’ or is ‘Psychic Assault’ a better word?), because that is basically what it is and the fact that these players are not named and shamed is an issue for me.

In this 10 days ago, we had the fact that the ECB is also making its choice of ignoring other voices “The European Central Bank will hold to its course at its first meeting of 2017 Thursday, analysts said, resisting clamour to tighten monetary policy from critics pointing to increasing inflation. Since December’s meeting of the ECB’s Governing Council, when it extended mass bond-buying from March to December 2017, price increases in the 19-nation single currency area have picked up. The increase to 1.1 percent from 0.6 average inflation across the Eurozone in December still leaves the indicator well short of the ECB’s target of just below 2.0“, meaning that the ECB is playing an increasing dangerous game whilst loading this debt onto a group of nations with already maximised credit cards. The fact that only Germany got any decent result is also an indication that the ECB is setting a premise that increases the overall European debt by 2 billion a day and nothing to show for it. We can accept and we need to take into consideration that some of these events are long term actions, yet in equal measure it didn’t work the first time, so the second time making it lasts longer is equally a bad idea, which is why he earned the Jester hat.

This reflects back to the EC, because as we see more and more push against Brexit, which some parties are hoping that it will in equal measure diminish the dangers of Frexit. Even as the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-38753808) gives us that ‘Brexit: Article 50 legislation to be published‘, we see in equal measure “But it is expected to face amendments from MPs and peers, while others have said they will oppose it outright“, giving the people a new fear, the fear that the freedom they had on the referendum was fake, a virtual war where the will of the people was never real. We can accept that the “Supreme Court on Tuesday, when judges ruled that Parliament must give permission to start the Brexit process“, which is acceptable, yet in equal measure we now face that in all this, as the EC began this path was never properly set, the lawmakers deceived and betrayed the people of the sovereign nation of the United Kingdom. Even as we know that article 50 is merely the informing part that the UK is leaving the EU, the Supreme Court stopped this from ‘just’ happening, and in that I have no issue, the Commonwealth has always been directed by law (as stated earlier). It does become an issue to me when I see “face amendments from MPs and peers“, the question becomes, what amendments? The people want out and this group of people is growing fast, all over Europe. The bickering, blackmail and phony posturing by those not even properly paying their share of taxation has been a blight in the eyes of the tax paying people. So as we look at John McFarlane and his spearfishing, or is that spearheading a fishing campaign? Anyway, the AFR is reporting on John trying to keep the banks where they are. I am still decently certain that as Frexit is becoming more and more a certainty, those not remaining in London, or those vastly relocating staff, will within 24 months see a sway where they have to explain to the shareholders a massive loss, due to relocations, loss of staff and loss of opportunity and revenue, due to a loss of staff, whilst in equal measure needing to show massive expenditure in France and Germany whilst the revenue never got close to the change. More important, the anger of people with every delay on Article 50 is also prompting other nations to truly spearhead a move out of the EC. So as we consider (at http://www.afr.com/news/world/europe/stay-put-for-brexit-deal-banks-urged-20170122-gtwblk) the quote “Bankers have moved from talking about a “transitional” period, instead labelling it an “implementation” or “stability” period, mirroring the language and rhetoric being used by the British government“, this whilst no one is asking how come that London was the financial centre for Europe before the Euro existed, before we got this open borders stuff. The British centre of commerce was well established, so in all this, why would it have been lost in the first place and for those moving consider that a one market place might see best, but we have shown again and again that it only profits the large corporations and there is too much showing that the next 10 years will not be in hands of large corporations, it will be the smaller ones that will actually start economies and set changes. Those people still see London as the centre of their universe (whether reasonable or not). In that article there is one part that remains cause for concern You see there is truth in “Jes Staley, the chief executive of Barclays, said he did not think that Britain or the EU would use Brexit as an excuse to roll back the global financial framework that has been implemented since the financial crisis“, yet we know better and what Jes is stating is not true. The truth is that, as Reuters gave us in September 2016 (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-basel-banks-eu-idUSKCN11W1PA), that the banks are very much in favour of rolling it back to some degree. As we see “The European Union may opt out of new global rules aimed at preventing another financial crash because officials are worried they put European banks at a disadvantage at a time when they are losing market share to U.S. rivals“, even at that point, a mere 4 months after Mossack Fonseca, more and more shifts were seen. There is more than one indication that after Mossack Fonseca got out into the open, many had to vacate places and move and interestingly enough, according to Andrew Penney, Rothschild & Co, the U.S. “is effectively the biggest tax haven in the world”, this is also how we learn that private wealth is doing just fine, it merely got as new letterhead from either (or both) an accountancy firm and a law firm.

How do these elements connect? What does wealth management have to do with slavery?

These are important questions and you need to ask them! You see, the freedom of choice, to leave the EU has been undermined for some time now. I understand that it was a close call, yet the Bremainers lost, and just like American Democrats, they are very sore losers, because they aren’t getting their way. In addition, those who have no vote and also require the Bremainers to win are large corporations who require every part of an inch of margin to keep their profits as high as possible, because their bonuses depend on it. That part is no longer an option as these people need to be held tax accountable, as well as these corporations require them to pay their fair share of taxation. With the EU behind us, UK laws can finally be adapted for this to happen. We see all the flim-flam presentations, bullying and blackmail on how they walk away. Yet we can clearly see that the UK was merely the first one. And some margin from 68 million consumers is better than losing 68 million consumers, which is what the UK is steering towards. The untold part is that all these noisemakers do realise that losing the UK and its customer population is really bad, so having some profit will always be better. So when we see the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jan/26/brexit-bill-mps-will-get-five-days-to-debate-article-50-plans), with Labour MP’s stating “to guarantee the protection of workers’ rights and securing “full tariff- and impediment-free access” to the EU’s single market“, gets the response ‘who are they kidding?‘, workers’ rights is one and that has existed in the UK long before the EC, in addition and the crunch is ‘tariff-free access‘, which is just to appease large corporations and that has been the problem these last 8 years to begin with. So who is Labour copulating to? (Oops: I meant facilitating for). In addition UK Labour wants as an amendment “to oblige the government to keep all existing EU tax avoidance and evasion measures“, which seems nice, but that could have been avoided if proper legislation had been pushed to come down hard on tax evaders. Yet Labour in all their terms did absolutely nothing to get that decently sorted, so screaming for it now seems a little redundant in my humble opinion.

As we watch from that bridge, we see twists and turns, whilst from the distance we see how financial institutes are enabled more and more, our freedoms fall away. The Financial times being the voice of Bankers on how the ECB is making its predictions. “The European Central Bank has stepped up its warning that it will be difficult for the UK to hang on to its valuable euro-clearing business after Brexit, calling for EU institutions to seek more, not less, oversight of the trade in London once Britain leaves the bloc“, (at https://www.ft.com/content/51a68c6e-e094-11e6-9645-c9357a75844a), which sounds nice and threatening, yet, do the people realise that when Brexit becomes a fact, Frexit will be around the corner and that also means the end of the ECB soon thereafter. So as we see the issues brought by Benoît Coeuré, we see in addition “we’ll have to know what are the new foundations, and whether this is good enough to ensure financial stability in the Eurozone,” he said. “Is that possible? I don’t know . . . It sounds challenging,” he said, adding that the issue “is not for the ECB to judge alone. The [European] Commission will have a say, governments will have a say.”“, this is fair enough, when the UK steps out, another European EC nation could end up clearing Euro derivatives, that is to say, where is that infrastructure in place? The article brings however an interesting side. With “Theresa May, Britain’s prime minister, indicated that financial services could be one of a number of areas where the UK would like to retain “elements of current single market arrangements.” But that idea of special sector-by-sector deals encountered an immediate pushback from other EU leaders, who are wary of British attempts to cherry-pick advantages of EU membership“, this view is not incorrect, yet in equal measure, what cherries would the Amsterdam, German and French markets like to pick? The point I am trying to make is not the issue by itself, which is fair enough, the issue is surrounding the people behind the curtains. People like Mario Draghi, Benoît Coeuré and the other four. When push comes to shove, I feel that they for the most have their own needs in mind, the public at large should have seen by now that the ECB has been pushing their own game, the rising debt is only one of the games played. The other one is actually shown in an interview with Romano Prodi (at http://www.italy24.ilsole24ore.com/art/politics/2017-01-16/intervista-prodi-132036.php?uuid=AEIWmr), there Prodi states: “The euro area’s economy is however recovering, although, according to European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, the main risks come from the field of politics” on one side we see that the ‘recovery‘ is misplaced as shown earlier is  at less than one percent and Germany is the only one achieving it in the end, that is not recovery. What Mario Draghi calls ‘the main risks come from the field of politics‘ sounds nice, but in the end, most politicians have an economic knowledge that is a mere joke (slightly less than my non-economic education), they get their advice from economic people most of them connected to banks, and they don’t want Brexit to happen. In addition, as shown earlier, the banks are starting to push back against Basel because of the US advantages, meaning that the banks are becoming larger risks again. Does anyone remember how these bankers ended up in prison in 2008? They did not! Their quality of life only increased to the larger degree whilst the rest of us saw a diminished quality of life that even today has not restored itself. So the view from the bridge is not that great, it shows on how we lost too much and in all this Bremaining could spell even more disaster before the end of the year. That last one is not a given, but we always knew that there would be hard times. Now we only need to worry on when that crash does happen, on how the ECB will blame everyone except for themselves and their utter reckless spending of trillions. The bridge of slavery has no view, yet unlike the Hussaini Hanging Bridge you do not get to die if you are ‘lucky’, you get to live through the agony of cleaning up the mess others made and they end up being protected and not held accountable.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Law, Media, Politics

As the costs come

There is an issue that we see floating at Pressnet. Actually it’s an issue that started last week. I got the news from Retail Week (at https://www.retail-week.com/companies/bhs/bhs-admin-costs-spiral-as-mps-demand-answers/7017777.article), yet it came from several directions, so there is ample visibility. Yet, what is going on? This is an important part and even as there is great benefit to anyone’s soul to blame PwC for this, yet is that fair? The question becomes, is it in the books? When we look at the previous audits, was the quote “BHS administration costs have come in at £1.3m more than expected as MPs question a £35m ‘floating charge’ paid by Arcadia” a fair question? In all this, are these floating costs in the books? I actually do not know, yet I equally question why certain parties aren’t openly asking these questions at the PwC desk. Is that not equally odd?

The two quotes that matter are “If it was such a completely standard move, as Duff & Phelps claim, one wonders why it was reversed by the co-administrators as one of their first acts upon being appointed, and why the PPF seems to take a rather different view.” and “Meanwhile, Field questioned the transference of a “floating charge”, put in place at BHS by Green’s Arcadia Group. Duff & Phelps transferred the charge to Linklaters last October“, this now gives us the parts:

  1. If we accept the bankruptcy announcements of April 2016, how come that this is done in October 2016?
  2. If we accept that a floating charge is ‘a liability to a creditor which relates to the company’s assets as a whole‘, than the part that this is a credit to the Arcadia group should be in the books, and should have been in there for some time I gather, so why are there no questions asked at the address of PwC, in addition, why are MP’s not asking certain questions from Linklaters? Now, we should accept that Linklaters cannot divulge too much (read: any) information, yet when this was all set up could be seen as mere administration and that needs to be logged, which means that either Arcadia or BHS could release that information, if they choose not to do that, the question that follows should be a lot more serious and we need to wonder what else is in play.
  3. When we look at the quote “If it was such a completely standard move, as Duff & Phelps claim, one wonders why it was reversed by the co-administrators as one of their first acts upon being appointed, and why the PPF seems to take a rather different view“. In that I look at another issue, the quote found in Professional Pensions gives us “A spokesman for FRP Advisory declined to comment, adding all that needs to be said is covered in creditor reports“, yet if it is there, should it not also be in the accountancy audit? That is an assumption from my side, and I could be wrong, yet the amount of £35m moved via Linklater in April 2016, if none of the audits has this on paper, questions should be asked, if it is there, questions should still be asked, yet it seems that questions are asked in such a late stage. In all this, City A.M. gives us: “Tension has been building between the PPF and Duff & Phelps throughout the administrative process. In November, the PPF voted against Duff & Phelps’ request to increase its fee. Malcolm Weir, head of restructuring at the PPF, said BHS pension scheme members deserved “value for money”“, which sounds fair enough, yet in all this, even if Arcadia hasn’t received the funds at present, the fact that we see “The £35m was never paid to Arcadia. It was always held in an account to our order. Our legal advisers have confirmed that the floating charge is valid. However, I understand that the liquidators and their legal advisers have made comments concerning its validity, but, I nor my legal advisers, have received any evidence to support their view.” In that regard, we now see that legal advisors are on opposite sides and both sides claim their version of validity, as legal advisors would. This is not in question at present, what is interesting is that the media at large have not included PwC in any of this, as they have been seen as the auditor of BHS. Oh, and there was a reason for me mentioning: “if none of the audits has this on paper, questions should be asked”, be aware that I have no experience on corporate taxation. However, would it not make sense that a £35m invoice would impact next year’s taxation significantly and as such, should it not be mentioned?

In this let me take you back to the previous article, where I discussed the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/4c3965f2-3c4e-11e6-9f2c-36b487ebd80a). Here we see “The Financial Reporting Council said its investigation related to PwC’s audit of BHS accounts in the year before the retailer was sold by Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, in a deal that wrote off £215m of debts“, which is fair enough. In addition we see “At a committee session in May, PwC partner Steve Denison was asked by MPs to explain why the firm was prepared to sign off BHS as a “going concern” just days before its sale for £1“, which is fine too, yet where in all this is the £35m transfer to Linklater for the Arcadia group? If Duff & Phelps took control in April, would the accountant not have been aware of the thirty-five million, as such should PwC have been aware? (Read: not implied, yet questioned).

Let’s not forget that the Financial Times article was from June 27th, which means that the £35m should have been on many minds at that time, yet for the longest time there was little to no mention. I would think that if a firm is sold for the price of a mere Tesco Sliced Wholemeal Batch Loaf, would a question not be ‘What else needs to be paid for?‘ at that point the entire £35m transfer should be on the top of everyone’s mind, especially as there was a decadent pension gap issue many times that size? Perhaps it is just me, but that would be on my ‘media’ mind. Not just the actual newspapers, a few other publications (like TV and morning shows) would have had a field day with the mention that pensions will remain short, but the bosses will get squared for that thirty-five million. Emotions would be running high that day, let me guarantee you that emotions will run high on that topic!

In that regard, some MP’s are starting to ask additional questions as we see a fees increase £500,000 for Duff & Phelps’s. I wonder how many additional man years of work have been spent that warrants a £500K increase. The week gave the quote: “When they were appointed last April, initially at the behest of Green and then approved by the BHS board, the company estimated its costs would be around £3.5m“, now I imagine that an insolvency comes with all kinds of complications, but how much work, how many months of full day activities warrants £3.5M? I do not know, I am merely asking, especially as the pensions have been for the most unpaid for years now. The site this is money gives additional connections in the shape of Goldman Sachs, where among the top earners at the investment bank’s London office will be the former co-chief Mike Sherwood, who faced questioning from MPs last year over the bank’s role in the BHS scandal. He landed a $21 million pay and bonus package last year, worth £15 million at the time (at http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-4120336/Now-bankers-bonus-Brexit-Goldman-staff-BHS-probe-donate-pension-fund-says-MP.html).

Now a lot of this news is between 1-2 weeks old and a few items are merely days old. Yet in all this we see a massive drain to less than a dozen people, where including Arcadia a syphoning through invoicing has surpassed £50M if we include the Arcadia bound payment, yet all is not well as several sources give large payments in their report, yet the exact part of what represents BHS is not given, but implied to be a large part. As such Mike Sherwood might have ended up with 21 million dollars, yet what part is though or because of BHS is not given, in his position, with his amount of accounts, the BHS part could be less than 1%, and as there is no clarity, the Week who gives us in addition “Huge payments to bankers who worked on the BHS deal could prove particularly controversial“, only if the bulk of these payments were regarding BHS, but that is not a given, I would add, it is exceptionally unlikely. By the way, those people did not really bother reporting that when Greece got back onto the markets In April 2014. In my article ‘Are we getting played?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/05/18/are-we-getting-played/), where we saw the disastrous act of Greece getting back on the bonds field selling 5 billion in bonds. Yet the media at large was very very eager not to mention that the few bankers connected to this ended up with a total bonus of $50 million for what amounts to 3 days of work. So on one side they refuse to give the info, now we see incorrect (or at least incomplete info), with a reference of 21 million, the package of Mike Sherwood.

Yet there is more, the part I find hilarious is “Frank Field MP, chairman of the Work and Pensions Select Committee which quizzed the Goldman bankers on the deal, said: ‘This gives them an ideal opportunity to donate something to the pension funds, to make partial amends for the failure to give effective advice“, you see in that, he didn’t make any such reference to PwC. Pricewaterhouse Coopers, has been seen on the minds of a few as we see (in the Telegraph of all places) “select committees have also said that they have welcomed the Financial Reporting Council’s investigation into why PwC audited BHS’s accounts as a going concern when it was evident the high street chain was dependent on support from Arcadia Group, Sir Philip’s empire which includes Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge and Burton” in that the red flags of pension deficits we see a £571m pension deficit and kindly audited by PwC, so who else are they auditing in the Empire that is (or was) part of Philip Green?

Yet in all this, at present there is, just like with Tesco very little noise regarding the Financial Reporting Council and PwC, it seems like the press walks away when these two are mentioned in one sentence. After June 2016 there is abysmal little to see, which after Tesco and BHS that should be a little weird. Even when we look at the BHS elements now, overall the Auditor is left unseen in more serious ways, other than that Tesco is now hiring PwC again for other services, which after the shortfall and the DeLoitte results is a little bit weird to say the least.

You see, last year Aditya Chakrabortty in an opinion piece wrote: “Cameron warned of “the slow-motion moral collapse that has taken place in parts of our country these past few generations”. He was right. It’s just that it’s been led by those at the top – the ones at the boardroom tables, their expensive helpers – and their mates and supporters in politics using taxpayer money to wave them on” is not a wrong view, it comes three years after I made pretty much the same claim, so we can see that some players are a little late to the party. What is linked that when it comes to the matters as happened with BHS, crime literally does pay. It does for the auditor, the business men who own the place and sell it for £1 as well as the politicians who threaten with a £1,000,000,000 fine which will never happen (that pesky thing called the law gets in the way). You see, for many of us and for the victims it is a crime, yet from a legislation point of view that is not certain and it seems that no crime took place, because the people are not in jail, not in the dock and not in court. They are refurbishing their £10 million estates, whilst the working victims cannot make ends meet and where the auditor gets rehired by those they seemingly wronged for even more high priced consultancy.

As the costs are handed to the corporations in the shape of invoices, we see that crime seems to pay and it does so at a lower tax bracket than normal incomes. It can be stopped, you could be on the other side of the equation. You only have to be willing to do the one thing others did not anticipate and you have to be willing to be utterly ruthless. Basically you have to become a businessman like Sir Philip Nigel Ross Green and hire and firm like Pricewaterhouse Coopers to advice on your endeavour and audit it.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Law, Media, Politics

Up for grabs

Have you ever considered a deal that is almost too sweet to consider. Have you ever walked straight into a room seeing that one special item thinking that the price is off, too good to be true. Yet, you look again, as inconspicuous as possible and as you do the maths in your head three times over, you start to realise that you are there, others are there but they either missed the deal, or they were looking at something else. That is where I find myself this morning. Not unlike a day in 2001, as I walked into a small obscure bookshop where I noticed the original 7 hardcover books of Tolkien’s the Lord of the rings with his autograph, the price? £39, I felt like a thief when I paid the man, he sold it with a blank expression in his eyes. I walked out shaking like a leaf and I remained in denial for at least two more days. This is how I feel now when I look at Handelsblatt Global (at https://global.handelsblatt.com/finance/goldman-sachs-weighs-deep-london-cuts-amid-brexit-concerns-685516), where I see ‘Goldman Sachs Weighs Deep London Cuts amid Brexit Concerns‘, could they actually be this stupid? Could I get my fingers on Goldman Sachs for almost literally an apple and an egg? That is a Dutch expression for selling or purchasing something for anything massively below expected price. Like buying the Ducati 1299 Panigale for only £99.95. It’s a world gone mad, and in this case Goldman Sachs will end up doing their own devaluation. Consider the facts. They move away from the central Hub London, which has been there for a lot longer than the Euro, they are now moving to Germany where there is a civil law system and the KWG (Kreditwesengesetz) is Iron Law. Whilst at the same time, its two nephews German Solvability Directive (SolvV) and German Mindestanforderungen an das Risikomanagement (MaRisk) can rock the foundations of the Goldman Sachs board in Germany in ways they have never comprehended (or so it seems). That is the move they are ‘advertising’? That article, with a picture of Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, like he is looking out of a window wondering where the hell his retirement is at. At that same move, we see the quote “Personnel in Goldman’s trading business who develop new products as opposed to advising customers would move to the bank’s headquarters in New York, the sources said“, so those making new products will move away from the area of the people buying it, so they either fly back and forth (impacting contribution) or work remotely alienating their customer base. So is this a serious considered move?

If so, than Goldman Sachs needs to realise fast that once their UK base is deflated to the size they claim, and when the Frexit vote passes, Italy and Germany will not have any options to keep it all afloat. More important, with logistical options diminished and having pissed off France and England, they would have to face conditions to move to France and they end up not getting a foothold into the UK to the degree they once had, because the competitors of Goldman Sachs, like Morgan Stanley would have gobbled up a few of the London links Goldman Sachs lost, in addition, CITIC who took a few body blows will be hungry for whatever Goldman Sachs left in the air as they moved to the mainland, lowering the value of Goldman Sachs overall. In that atmosphere Lloyd Blankfein needs to realise that the move is more than just a bad idea. Perhaps he does know, perhaps this is another shot over the bough to the UK telling them to play nice or else. This from a firm who in a 639-page report was accused of misleading investors and setting out to depress the US mortgage market, ensuring that it would win high stakes bets that the market would fall. That firm is playing footsie and chicken with the UK? Well, that is one that they will not just lose, it will be the act that any person with an apple and egg (preferably boiled hard) could walk into the board of directors offering that as payment for the firm. I wonder who in that board of directors will take the offer first. For the Macquarie group the move would be very nice, that group could grow a lot. They might resort to taking the small fish that Goldman Sachs left alone, but those 800 firms might not have stellar results, but they have remained stable for at least half a decade and even as we agree that stable is not sexy, it does make for a very nice secure foundation to grow on, good luck getting such results from Poland, France or Spain. and as France and Spain are founded on the local markets for language reasoning, the Frexit groups will see Goldman Sachs as a remnant of dire pasts, is that regard there is (a speculation by me) the chance that Goldman Sachs would, through the move facilitate the customers they had to port away as those clients are no longer represented through London, which still has a sizeable value to the clients they had whilst in London.

You might think that this is all untrue and that Goldman Sachs will continue in London in a diminished capacity. Well, consider that one of the largest greed driven entities is downsizing by 50%, do you think that this is merely a corporate downsize? the 50% moving away had its jobs to do, by doing it somewhere else, it is not doing in an additional location, it is doing it in another place, with a different set of admin laws and goals. If you had an accountant, and he is sacking 50% of its staff, do you think you get the same level of service, or is it possible that whomever remains in London needs to look at twice the amount of clients? And if we accept that, how much care will you receive at the same amount of annual contribution? With its posturing Goldman Sachs forgot the cardinal rule, it needs clients and clients in the UK remain, clients remain but their perception on begotten service will diminish and they will seek the firm giving them the service that they expect to receive, the time they expect to receive and GS will be only half its size with other offices in different time zones. So yes, there will be a consequence for Goldman Sachs. The offer that seems too good to be true. So as CITIC, Morgan Stanley start their campaigns, their visibility with advertisement like: ‘the firm that has been in London for the longest of times remains, and we will give the same amount of attention and resources, dedicated to you, your business and what you need‘. That firm could start up softening the Goldman Sachs clients and the moment the announcement of the move comes they just need to invite those clients to a nice breakfast meeting with a deal ready to be considered for signing. You see, the moment the move is announced and the moment Frexit will seriously start, the investors will realise that the UK market was a lot more important and when XNYS:GS hits (-4.62%), I’ll just walk in holding an Apple and an Egg seeing who in the board of directors will take the deal.

As HSBC and UBS are closing ranks with Goldman Sachs, you have to consider that I am wrong!

That is only fair. Let’s face it, I have no economic degree. Yet, when Brexit came, when it became something serious, these people were all ignoring it, they were all claiming that it would never go this far. I was proven correct and now the Financial Gravy Train is changing gears as it’s not as profitable as some expected it to remain, those people are trying to restore their Status Quo and their amount of gravy per pay check. Yet, the unfounded move, the emotional outcry of these people making no less than 50 times the average income, those people are trying to force open a dialogue and a new place of exploitation. The quote: “UBS chairman Axel Weber said that about 1000 of the Swiss bank’s 5,000 employees in London could be affected by Brexit, while HSBC Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver said his bank will relocate staff responsible for generating around a fifth of its UK-based trading revenue to Paris” is actually a lot more funny than even he realised (at http://www.afr.com/business/banking-and-finance/goldman-sachs-hsbc-ubs-all-warn-of-moving-jobs-from-london-on-brexit-20170118-gtu8cj). You see, Frexit is still growing and it is slowly becoming a realistic prospect. So when the Wall Street Journal stated 15 hours ago “A “Frexit” would likely unleash chaos across the currency union and undermine the broader EU in a way Britain’s departure wouldn’t“, we now see that those 20% revenue generating people from UBS will be on the shores of a Civil Law country  whilst the confusion is only increasing. As for the other part of me being correct, we’ll have to make this small sidestep. On May 15th 2013 (yes 3.5 years ago), I forecasted in ‘A noun of non-profit‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2013/05/15/a-noun-of-non-profit) “Consider a large (really large) barge, that barge was kept in place by 4 strong anchors. UK, France, Germany and Italy. Yes, we to do know that most are in shabby state, yet, overall these nations are large, stable and democratic (that matters). They keep the Barge EU afloat in a stable place on the whimsy stormy sea called economy. If the UK walks away, then we have a new situation. None of the other nations have the size and strength of the anchor required and the EU now becomes a less stable place where the barge shifts. This will have consequences, but at present, the actual damage cannot be easily foreseen“, I made the prediction of loss of stability, in addition, a quote not from me “Movements in sovereign spreads affect CDS spreads and bond yields of Italian banks, and are transmitted rapidly to firm lending rates“, this was predicted by Edda Zoli at the IMF. Do some of you remember the issues in Italy on losing the credit rating it had is now a clear marker to consider. Even as the parameters for the Italian downturn are not matching completely the elements in play include the ones I and Zoli stated, meaning that Italy will get a few more negative bumps to deal with (not major ones though).

You still think I am that wrong? I have been involved with data cleaning for decades, I have seen the ‘weighting games‘ some played and now that the party is over, they are running for the high ground, whilst making boasts of clearing away from the market like horse traders. This is all fine, yet the players that are not as big can now shore up their levels of stability growing their overall value by a massive amount, because that is where the UK now is, its economic forecast is growing and the rash statements are doing the opposite as the competitive peers of Goldman Sachs are almost volunteering their free time to help Goldman Sachs pack up and leave the UK so that they can move in on the Goldman Sachs share, because there is no way that Goldman Sachs will not lose a fair chunk of it.

So as Frexit grows (I never expected it to be this strong at present, just a really serious factor), we now see that Marine Le Pen is now leading the polls for the first time after taking advantage of Fillon’s declining popularity among France’s working class voters. I think that this is not the only part, the increased forecast of the UK is doing equal reinforcement of the end of the Euro and perhaps even the end of the European Economic Community. Not because that was the goal, but the fact that all these small nations were too deep in debt and Italy, the third anchor is in massive problems, that large barge cannot remain afloat with only the German anchor in place. My view of 2013 is now showing to be the correct one.

Is it a done deal? No it is not. Someone with actual power in Goldman Sachs could realise that these boast fests are counterproductive and that the boasts only achieved that some doors can no longer be opened by Goldman Sachs. They would have to call, make a proper appointment and they would have to sweeten whatever deal they are hoping for, impacting their dividend in the process. Goldman Sachs played a hand that held a few Trump cards (pun intended) and without those the next few hands will need to be played extra careful and cautious. You see, they lost a little more because those playing now might not have considered 2012 Amsterdam. There we see: “De bank verloor in de nasleep van de crisis veel klanten door negatieve berichtgeving over de rol van Goldman Sachs in de kredietcrisis van 2008. De bank wil deze klanten nu terugwinnen. Het nieuwe kantoor moet vooral de dienstverlening naar klanten toe verbeteren” meaning “translated: The bank lost in the aftermath of the crises many customers through negative messaging on the role of Goldman Sachs in the Credit Crises of 2008. The bank wants to regain these customers. The new office will have to increase the service levels to clients“. This part has two sides, not only regarding clients they will lose in London, in addition, the Dutch clients had a benefit in time zones regarding London, and they will not have that with Germany. So there is more than one fish on the Barbie (read: BBQ) and the impact will be felt and smelled. You see, Amsterdam was never an option for Goldman Sachs, yet as more important reasons GS frowned at the capping of bonuses in 2013 as mentioned by minister Dijsselbloem at that time. Which is rather funny as Germany in this 2017 election year is actually moving in hard on to cap executive pay. This we got from Handelsblatt Global Edition just a week ago, so the move could potentially come with a few nasty sides for those working through the move.

OK, I will admit that Goldman Sachs might not be up for grabs, but it should be clear that if they do move, they will be receiving a few body blows and those come at a price for many at Goldman Sachs. The question however is not, if that is the hard part, the hard part comes when the winner is announced in merely 16 weeks, at that point we will see how realistic Frexit has become. You see, it is not just Marine Le Pen and Front National, Independent Emmanuel Macron, former economy minister will also hold the referendum and together they represent a lot more than a mere majority of the French population, the fact that this reverberates with the populous is an issue for too many as he is not proclaimed left or right, he places himself in the middle making the Fremainers a minority with less and less people in it. Making the move of Goldman Sachs to Germany lacking wisdom as France and the UK will have to unite in whatever trade deals they can have meaning that the UK forecast will grow faster and faster, whilst the French forecast will be less and less dire. The only one who gets to look at that label will be Goldman Sachs.

What a difference a boast makes! Could be a nice future Goldman Sachs slogan, if they survive the ordeal!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Law, Media, Politics