Tag Archives: Deloitte

Working with Germany again?

This is the direct sentiment that came to mind. When I see ‘Boris Johnson should be jailed over Brexit claims, says ex-David Davis aide‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/aug/09/brexit-political-party-james-chapman-david-davis) my initial thought was that someone did not like Boris Johnson. Now, that is fair enough. We all have loads of issues with one politician or another. The do not always serve our cup of tea and some politicians never will. It is merely the nature of things. So I started to read, as I was interested who had a go at the only politician in Britain who has a worse hairstyle than President Trump. So here we are looking at James Chapman and what this is about. The quote: “The former chief of staff to David Davis has said Brexit is a catastrophe“. My first question becomes ‘How so?

Let’s take a simple look.

So far Brexit has not even started, the Pro-EU cabinet members have often too much personal issues in this and there is no evidence at all that it is a catastrophe. We knew there would be hard times for all was never in doubt. Yet at present we are being downed by ‘fake news’, false reports drowning in fearmongering that usually have disaster headlines with the included word ‘could’.

When we look deeper into these articles we get emotions and the clear indications that they just don’t know. In my view James Chapman would be the kind of Englishman who would see in 1939 if ‘mutual coexistence‘ would be an option between Germany and England. Do you remember how that ended?

Now consider the top 10 headlines when I search for ‘Brexit’:

  1. Britain’s Brexit negotiators denied water by Brussels during divorce talks, civil servant claims
  2. No agreement in latest Scots-UK Brexit powers talks
  3. There are whispers in Whitehall about a ‘soft landing’ Brexit
  4. BREXIT BOOM: Surge in UK investment after EU exit as firms to spend less on European staff
  5. Courts will STILL be ruled by EU even AFTER Brexit, warns senior Tory MP
  6. Britain told to WAKE UP by ex-Irish minister who says fury over Brexit could BOIL OVER
  7. Brexit fears lead to hike in UK foreign currency accounts
  8. Bank of England warns Brexit will put strain on regulatory resources
  9. The Bank of England is reviewing more than 400 firms’ Brexit plans and there are ‘significant issues’
  10. Employers struggle to recruit staff as applications drop due to Brexit

So the reds are all what I would regard as utter (read: mostly) BS issues, dripped in what we should call stupefied emotions. And they are on both the pro and anti Brexit sides mind you. One of them is about ‘whispers‘, which is basically the jump to gossip as there are no facts, there are no resolutions and the people in Whitehall seem to be utterly clueless on what is happening. Part of that is shown even better when we consider Sky News with ‘Deloitte feels Whitehall thaw after Brexit memo sparked fury‘ (at http://news.sky.com/story/deloitte-feels-whitehall-thaw-after-brexit-memo-sparked-fury-10968774). So when we see “Sky News has learnt that Deloitte has in recent weeks begun participating in at least one central Government tender process“, in this the part ‘begun participating‘ implies that they were awaiting some sort of resolution, so they stopped participating, waiting for the dust to settle and now they feel a thaw? With: “The crisis in Deloitte’s relationship with the Government was sparked last November by a consultant working for the firm. His memo had not been commissioned by ministers or civil servants. It referred to a lack of Government preparation and “divisions with the Cabinet” over the Government’s Brexit priorities – ironically, both criticisms which have been levelled at Mrs May’s administration with increasing frequency in recent weeks.“, as well as “Deloitte’s memo prompted an apology from the global accountancy firm, saying: “This was a note intended primarily for internal audiences“, which as I personally see it was a blooper of the first rate and someone was upset with Deloitte. So it seems that someone’s memo, not the Brexit part was to blame in all this. The news is littered with these fearmongering acts all over the media.

Now the Orange headlines are basically emotional parts. First the Irish Prime Minister, you might remember how Ireland started to defend Apple regarding taxation not paid. So as we see its prime minister with the quote “Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar has signalled he is prepared to delay the ongoing Brexit talks unless he is satisfied with any post-Brexit agreement over the issue of the Irish border” that he is very willing to be an Irish pain in the ass on issues that have several unknowns, which means that there is no given answer. I am going with the part that someone elected as Prime Minister should be aware of that, or easier stated ‘he ain’t that stupid!‘, by the way, how is that €15 billion being spend? We can consider that the statement “I think it’s time that there’s an outbreak of common sense in London and that people who decide that solutions have to be looked at, all solutions have to be looked at and it’s particularly sensitive given the context on the island of Ireland“, is pretty valid, there is no denying it, yet when Ireland decided to set its nation up as a tax haven, how much consideration and information was given to the UK? The spring goes both ways Mr Roche, I admit that he is not wrong, yet he is playing a political game (one he is allowed to do mind you), and we need to acknowledge that the political game is about personal gain for Ireland (also a valid tactic), so let’s not blame Brexit for unknown quantities at present. There is one exception, with item number 7 we see that the media fears have moved people to shifted their accounts with currencies. The fact that we see spikes of 23% is one indication. You see, in the end the people will lose there, the banks will win no matter how it all goes. It takes one emotional article for the people to shift to the German Mark or the American Dollar, yet in this, unless you keep your eye on the ball 24:7 you basically end up losing in the end, the amount might be small, yet with the transfer fees and administration you will still take a hit. So as people shift to the Euro, whilst we saw 2 days ago in the Business Times “high debt burdens and aggressive valuations will conspire to crimp capital gains on European bonds this late in the global credit cycle” In addition there is the fact that several senior economic voices are now worried on the bond bubble and that it might burst, so as we realise that Mario Draghi has €2 trillion in junk bonds, what do you expect to happen to the Euro? Those who moved to the Euro face the risk (again, I state the risk) of losing 5%-10%, when you have a £2000 in your account, you basically withdrew £100-£200 and flushed it through the toilet. How will you feel when you face that? I believe that those not used to the currency market, shifting left to right face a few risks, yet the chance of actual gain tends to be too small for the effort. As i see it, the juice ain’t worth the squeeze.

The greens are partially (read: mostly) valid, they are news and as such we should not object, yet it is a mere 30% of a 90% trashed value of media, parts all are ignoring and too many people are getting dragged in the emotional tsunami of exploitative media. It is the Business Insider Australia article that is on point, and the only article in blue (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/sam-woods-update-on-brexit-2017-8), filled with decent news and actual information. With “Woods said a cliff-edge Brexit would pose a risk to financial stability, and proposed a transition period” we see the need for some level of soft Brexit, which is fair enough. My question becomes on the term ‘risk to financial stability‘, just how much of a risk and what the impact could be, both the best and worst case scenario’s. If there was a speculated percentage to some degree (with clear warnings of speculation), that might not be too bad either. We see partially the obvious with “Brexit places “an extra burden” on the regulator’s resources“, which was always a given, yet not mentioning it is also folly. I particularly liked “And financial centres across the EU — including Frankfurt, Paris, Dublin, and Luxembourg — are battling to attract financial services work moving out of London as a result of Brexit as a result of expected legal changes that will make operating in the EU out of London tricky“. I like it because it is part of some sales cycle. They are preparing to move in on opportunity, which in the follow up gives rise to the emotional Irish article mentioned earlier. In this Ireland slices and cuts with both sides of the knife they wield. All valid and business like, yet it puts the emotional Irish outrage a little over the top, does it not? In the end, we do not know if it will even be an option, because there are litigation settings that the European Community ignored and never set in procedures and policies. Is that not equally dim, folly and stupid?

Consider the given, you as a person, when you go to the bank, when you go to the realtor or the gym around the corner. How often have you seen in the ‘contract‘ you signed on the costs and responsibility you faced when you stopped being a member. They all have clauses you had to sign, equally so for your mobile, which tends to be the most expensive part to leave. Yet the high 6 figure income legal minds of the EU in Brussels, none of them had anything in play. All like some jurisprudential catholic marriage of eternity, all with the additional option to screw small boys and girls (read: individual tax payers), how interesting that none had the escape policies in place. We saw it as early as Greece and the EU and the media just emotionally babbled to us all. Now that Brexit is becoming a reality, now it is suddenly all mayhem and chaos wherever you try to get any news.

So we have 4 out of 10, with one exceptional part. That was me googling today. So as we are all drowned in emotion, we need to see two additional parts. Both ‘green’ articles with the subtitle ‘New study shows a the number of people available for new jobs is dwindling, leading to a push in pay for those already in work‘ we see two sides, one that employment is up and pay rise might not feel great (unless you receive it), yet that too constitutes the dangers of rising costs. I advocated even before the referendum that the UK should look at their Commonwealth brothers and sisters. It would have been easy for two years to have an open Commonwealth VISA, one that allows any Commonwealth citizen up to a year into the UK, with optional setting to enhance it, so whilst with that one employer you have a year, that can be extended to 2 years and then to 4 years after which you could automatically become a permanent resident and after that if desired citizen. As employment is essential, you have a taxpayer, not a drain. For job hoppers, there could be the option of residency if they have been with at least 3 employers for at least 2 years, so in the end they get the option after 9 years. The simplest solution and both the political and civil services just drained on some merit that was not even valid in the most virtual of situations. In this the entire NHS mess would never have been any valid emotional media on those so called 86,000 open vacancies. A solution thought of 4 years ago by me. Yet the MP’s are all about some outdated policy whilst trying to push the need for the one market EU link to not be cut, whilst even in those days enough evidence had been submitted that large corporations are the only actual winners in that one market facade. In addition the green articles have mentions like: “Last year’s Brexit vote has made it more difficult for employers to fill jobs with some EU nationals leaving the UK“, the fact might be true, but most of those people were scared away by exploitative media whilst that media knew that there was no given answers at that time? Several issues on immigration and the media, clearly given by .GOV.UK were ignored as setting the minds of the people at peace was not a given option for the exploitative media. So when we see the quotes from Kevin Green, chief executive of REC. We could consider that equally see that with “We can’t ignore the importance of our relationship with the EU to employers“, which gives us that he makes no mention of any Commonwealth options either. If you truly have problems finding people, you look to other places too. When the pond is not giving fish, you can try and try again, or look around to see where the next nearest pond is, or is that version of simplicity just too muddy for the chief executive of the REC?

In equal measure I question the part of “a study by Deloitte suggested 38 per cent of lower-skilled EU nationals are considering relocating away from UK businesses“, I question it as I wonder on the failing of the questionnaire as well as the data and the weights applied, the foundations of the weights and how the data was interpreted. For those doubting that they did anything wrong, questionable or set to the intent of not being clearly informative. Evidence can be found with ‘How to Lie with Statistics‘ by Darrell Huff. Also consider the first political application of results: ‘If the data does not match the needs, simply alter the question‘. So there are several considerations and solutions for the politicians actually trying to work a solution and not whatever personal angle they need to work by exposing emotional sides that were never part of anything. In the second there was the mention of the EU courts. So when we see “SENIOR TORY MP Dominic Grieve said the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will remain a “dominant presence” in UK courts after Brexit despite pledges to break free from its influence made by David Davis“, there is a truth in that. As Brexit is completed, there will remains legal links, yet, is that a bad part? There will be shifts, yet before the EU was ratified, there were legal parts that were already in agreement on both sides. Yet I question to some extent “The European Court of Justice is, in fact, going to continue to be a really dominant presence in our lives even though we no longer have any ability to appear in it“, if we are not an party of appearance, we have no connection to it. The UK will still be ruled by UK Common Law, there can be no question on that. We still have certain allegiances and also legal responsibilities as well as rights. So I question part of this article.

And the truth is seen with “What’s happened is when we leave the EU, the Government decided existing EU law would be incorporated into our own law. The legislation to be laid out in the autumn will lay out guidelines as to how this will operate“, which is part of the debate as it is not a given, or in finality. In addition, as Germany, the Netherlands and France have Civil Law, whilst the UK has Common Law, there will be an issue making things fit. In addition there is “He said it is “unclear” whether judges will be able to apply UK principles when interpreting legislation derived from European Union regulation“, so there is non-clarity, which makes this almost more an Orange than a Green article. Still, valid non emotional questions are asked, which was the foundation I employed towards the use of colours. The issues are actually stated in the Lisbon treaty. Yet, when we see certain parts, we see Article 249c, which gives us at [1] ‘Member States shall adopt all measures of national law necessary to implement legally binding Union acts‘, so this is to binding union acts, and as the UK would no longer be part of the union, it falls away. Yet the Lisbon treaty also gives Article 188J and at [2] we see ‘Humanitarian aid operations shall be conducted in compliance with the principles of international law and with the principles of impartiality, neutrality and non-discrimination‘, which is what UK law was already compliant with, so there are a few legal issues where it is specifically to the adherence of national law, yet which are the issue when the UK is no longer an EU member? The article does not bring that to light, does it?

We see loads of emotional sides, yet lacking the clarity to the degree that it should have had. In all this, the former political editor of the Daily mail is the person who wants to throw someone into jail? so when we revisit the Daily Mail with ‘Google, the terrorists friend‘, I wonder who should be in jail, and as for ‘a terror manual on how to use a car for mass murder‘, I wonder if they looked at the fact that every year 85,000 people in the UK are convicted of drink driving offences. With the toll of 940 killed and 3690 seriously wounded, whilst the UK has a ‘mere’ 90 killed by terrorists, so were terrorists the actual issue, or is exploitation of the terrorist word just better for circulation? I think that there isn’t any person who after being a Daily Mail employee has any business slinging mud after they were the facilitating bucket of mud themselves. That is merely my view on his matter and the fact that the bulk of these pro EU are still crying on the presented setting of £350 million, if that was the only issue, Brexit would NEVER ever have won, the EU has massive issues and it is time for people to stop burying their heads in the sand. I have exposed in several blogs the fact that several issues have never been dealt with whilst the people have been wealthily refunded for decades. The EU gravy train is one that no government can afford and those who enjoy the ride don’t want it to change. The media has equally been too silent on that matter for too long too.

In the end, the people want to return to some quality of life, a path the EU has not offered, has not achieved and will be unlikely to give (read: hand out) any day soon. In equal measure consider the writings of Neville Henderson, British Ambassador in Germany in 1938, so when he wrote “I suppose the chances of Hitler coming out at Nuremberg with what will amount to peace or what will amount to war (thunder there is sure to be) are about 50-50. I opt for the former. If I am right I do wish it might be possible to get at any rate the Times, Camrose, Beaverbrook Press etc. to write up Hitler as an apostle of Peace.“, can anyone remember how Hitler, the apostle of peace solved matters? In addition he wrote “We make a great mistake when our Press persists in abusing him. Let it abuse his evil advisers but give him a chance of being a good boy“, so how good was this ‘good boy‘, so how facilitating was the Press?

Daily Mail 1938Perhaps some remember the Daily Mail in 1938, as they warned the UK of aliens entering through the back door. With “The way stateless Jews from Germany are pouring in from every port is becoming an outrage” the Daily Mail decided to give verdict, yet in the end those who took that backdoor road were pretty much the only Jews left alive after Hitler’s European Tour 1939-1945. So as we see the driving need of revenue through circulation of emotion, we have to wonder what else we should former Daily Mail people stop from doing. We are being attacked on emotional levels from media that should have known better for decades.

So the plain truth is that the UK will get out of the valley of bad quality of life, they will in addition grow faster when they left the EU and I believe that the EU will have to deal with multiple trillions of Euros in junk bonds, it will slow the EU economy down for a much longer time. It will not make it an easy push for the UK, that was never going to be the case, yet in the end, I feel certain that the £ will be the strongest of currencies once more. It is when are showing to win, how many papers will become the ‘turncoats’ shielding certain MP’s from the political emotional games they played together by relying on misinformation? Or will they show us how they used the writings of Darrell Huff to get their personal view across?

 

I personally hope that we get to ask them those questions sooner rather than later!

 

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Matt Damon’s Quote

You could wonder what Matt Damon has been up to, there will always be reason to do this, not because he is an exceptional actor, even a celebrity on Mars. No, the reason here is his connection to documentaries. He was the narrator on ‘Inside Job‘, which got a well-deserved Oscar in 2011. I personally feel that this is the best documentary on the financial crises ever created. So let’s get started. Today, we see a number of news items reach the twilight of dawn.

The first one (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/08/panama-papers-22-people-face-tax-evasion-investigations-in-uk), gives us ‘Panama Papers: 22 people face tax evasion investigations in UK‘, with the added text “Philip Hammond also said a further 43 wealthy individuals were under review while their links to the offshore files were investigated further. He made the comments in a written answer to the House of Commons explaining what had happened since the offshore tax files emerged“. Now we might go all huffy and puffy on these tax evaders, yet when you consider the news from August (at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-31/ex-tesco-finance-chief-mcilwee-probe-closed-by-u-k-regulator), where we see “The U.K. accounting regulator closed an investigation into Tesco Plc’s former Chief Financial Officer, Laurie McIlwee, saying there wasn’t a “realistic prospect” that misconduct would be found in the case“, with the added “The Financial Reporting Council closed its case into McIlwee Wednesday, according to a statement from the regulator. It is still investigating the grocer’s auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and other individuals involved in Tesco’s accounts“.

This has been going on since 2014, they have not been able to find anything after two years and now you are going after ‘simple’ tax evaders?

My initial message (with all due respect) to the Chancellor of the Exchequer is “Mr Philip Hammond, are you out of your bloody mind?” You are still trying to get anything real on PwC, or were you ordered to let it die down?

When a company suddenly loses billions in value (also due to their own stupidity) and you cannot find anyone to prosecute and go to jail for overstating profits by £263 million ($345 million), whilst we also know that for that year PwC gave Tesco a 10 million pound invoice for auditing (annual) with an additional 3 million pounds for consultancy that year (Source: the Guardian). You cannot find anything and now you are going after people, where you cannot state whether they broke the law and you will rely on illegally obtained papers. How stupid is this?

How about you making the following change as per immediate!

a. Until the Tesco case has been satisfied, PwC and its senior employees cannot undersign any accountancy venue, or corporate balance for any UK corporation for 2016, 2017 and 2018 until the matter is solved.
b. In case wrongdoing by PwC employees is proven beyond reasonable doubt, PwC will not be allowed to operate within the UK.

How about them apples?

So far we have seen massive leeway by the press and the SFO has not achieved anything at all regarding Tesco. So it is time to adjust regulations and legal premises, until that point comes PwC will have to operate on non-British companies. Now, we can all understand that when we see the quote “McIlwee resigned as Tesco’s CFO in April 2014, prior to the discovery of the accounting errors, amid reports of disagreements with then-Chief Executive Officer Philip Clarke” seems to imply that McIlwee was not privy to, and not guilty of any wrongdoings, yet the fact that the SFO got nowhere in two years means that there is something massively wrong. When we know that so many millions were overstated, we seem to have a decently clear case of fraud, yet no one goes to jail. In addition, we also know that PwC was in on it (at least to some degree) and in addition, the subsequent Deloitte investigation showed more than initially was found means that there is no scenario where PwC can be absent from guilt in the first or second degree.

The SFO gave that Carl Rogberg, Christopher Bush and John Scouler were charged (source: BBC), they pleaded not guilty and at present the court dates are set for September 2017. It is my opinion that until all that is settled, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has no business whatsoever to dig into cases based on illegally obtained papers, whilst his branch as well as the SFO has no flipping ability at present to close a 2 year old case for at least another year (if ever). And as reported by the Times in September (at http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/tesco-auditor-slips-back-into-retailers-aisles-0gm9xt8md) that “Tesco has appointed PwC as an independent adviser, despite replacing it as auditor with Deloitte“, which gives my emotional and slightly inappropriate response “Are you fucking kidding me?

So, whilst the PwC issues were kept very low key by nearly all the press, whilst there is no condemnation on a daily basis by the press and even less success by the SFO, we should agree that PwC has no business being in the UK to begin with, especially as “Last week the FRC cleared Laurie McIlwee, Tesco’s former chief financial officer, of wrongdoing over the scandal, but added that its investigation into PwC and other unnamed individuals continued“, we could go by once bitten twice shy, or we could go by the fact that as the SFO is either unable or unwilling to prosecute PwC, why would we even consider their presence? In case some are considering a specific rebuttal, to them I would respond with the April article (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/apr/14/brexit-could-lead-to-loss-of-100000-financial-services-jobs-report-warns), where they stated ‘PwC report estimates 70,000-100,000 fewer jobs in 2020 compared with estimated number if Britain stays in EU‘, so let’s start with theirs and let smaller accountancy firms continue and allow for growth. In addition, when we accept the news by the BBC in Feb 2015 (at http://www.bbc.com/news/business-31147276), where we see “We believe that PricewaterhouseCoopers’s activities represent nothing short of the promotion of tax avoidance on an industrial scale,” said Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)“, so in that light, we could just send PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) packing, giving light that the facilitator of tax evasion have been dismissed from the country and as such the UK will see a decline in Tax evasion, no need for illegally held papers, no long and expensive investigation and the thorn in the UK economies side is equally removed. It will not mean that tax evasion is a thing of the past, but if PwC is send packing now, the other three might do a 180 degree on that clientele, which would at that point make the tax evasion issue moot, or at least deprive it from many options, which would amount to the same in the end.

So, you like apples?

If I am accused from persecuting PwC, then I would plead that I am not entirely innocent in that regard. I would bring the defence that the SFO has not gotten anywhere in 2 years and they are supposed to have the ability to find those culprits. Yet, as John Crace pointed out in the Guardian on April 5th that “Only last year, the public accounts committee reported that the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was promoting tax avoidance on an industrial scale. To make things worse, it was first in the frame to benefit from administering the windup of Tata’s steel operations in the UK. So where was David Cameron? At PwC’s offices in Birmingham. Some might call it a brave choice“, in that light, there is an additional reason to give PwC their walking papers.

In all this the exchequer has one final issue to deal with, you see, accountant at large, including (read: especially) those at PwC are really clever with what they do, meaning that there could be no broken laws to begin with, making the actions from certain parties from 2014 until 2018 even more questionable, with a strong need to truly scrutinise the rules that accountancy firms applied and how they were applied. As I see it, there is nothing worse than to paint a lovely target on a person only to learn that the laws fell short and none were ever broken. If you question that, then consider the following two options.

  1. The SFO has, as it embraced corruption onto a new level decided not to dig into PwC on the levels needed to secure evidence for the prosecution regarding Tesco.
  2. The SFO has found that even as it is clear that PwC assisted in these levels of Fraud and Misreporting, yet when the books and memos were investigated for these transgressions, there was more than a reasonable doubt that PwC was not fully aware, in addition, there are no papers filed by PwC to implicate them in any way in fraud or misrepresentation. As well as the established fact that no laws were broken at present.

When you look at the two options, which one is more likely than not the situation regarding PwC?

In my book, the fact that a person is not guilty, does not mean that they are innocent. I remain of mind that shutting PwC down in the UK is not the worst idea at present, yet is that point of view valid when we consider premise 2, which is actually the most likely scenario? When we consider that the spirit of the law has been violated by PricewaterhouseCoopers, at that point we still have the issue that no literal laws were broken. Here we could set forth that the government (read: parliament) created the foundations and the setting where industrialised tax evasion and fraud became legalised options. Even as we saw that there was a clear case for fraud, the law has been altered to the degree that the facilitators cannot be held accountable, as such, an issue was created and until that is resolved, and PwC cannot be prosecuted (which is wrong in many ways from the point of a simple taxpaying labourer).

So, we now have the issue of the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law, which should be seen as grammatical opposites, not just in grammar, it is that they are also opposites of the soul (read: soul of the law). When one obeys the letter of the law but not the spirit, one is obeying the literal interpretation of the words (the “letter”) of the law, but not necessarily the intent of those who wrote the law. Which is what black letter lawyers (and accountants) tend to do, because a nation of laws is about a nation with rules of playing the game. In our case, in Common Law, until a case is set as a precedent in law, there will be no adjustment and this can go on ‘ad infinitum’ and Intentionally following the letter of the law but not the spirit may be accomplished through exploiting technicalities, loopholes, and ambiguous language (at times a mere comma does the trick too).

Yet, when one obeys the spirit of the law but not the letter, one is doing what the authors of the law intended, though not necessarily adhering to the literal wording, which could get them automatically prosecuted if the District Attorney woke up on a Monday morning with a really foul mood.

So, whilst we might agree with Margaret Hodge, stating “We believe that PricewaterhouseCoopers’s activities represent nothing short of the promotion of tax avoidance on an industrial scale“, the fact that they are not breaking the law, implies that no corrections to the law have been made to correct for this. As such, you only have yourself to blame and admittance of this failure to the public at large is an essential second step. As I see it, making a lot of noise going after people who might have done something like this, whilst papers are absent and whilst all parties know that this is because of illegally obtained papers from the law firm Mossack Fonseca is even less intelligent, as the people behind this have leaked these papers for their own personal interest and ‘late taxation’ was not their goal, so to adhere to the promotion of such crimes is not the best way to get results.

Now that we see claims rising towards Tesco for misrepresentation from their investors for the amount of £100 million, which comes on top of the diminished value, so I feel that no matter what, there should be a negative impact on PwC one way or another, yet within the confines of the law of course. This takes us to ‘The letter versus the spirit of the law: A lay perspective on culpability‘ by Stephen M. Garcia, Patricia Chen and Matthew T. Gordon (paper here). The part that gives us the cakes are found in study 5 on page 486. “Study 5 sought to examine another instance in which the letter of the law is not broken but the spirit of the law may have been violated“, which is where I for the most stand with PwC in the Tesco matter as stated “We also wanted to control for various counter-explanations that underlie culpability such as violations of social and moral norms“, with references to Bicchieri & Chavez, 2010 as well as Mazar, Amir, & Ariely, 2008. Yet in the first there is Tonry, 2010, where he argues that “the foundations for disparity causing policy choices lie in the cultural and social forces that combined historically to shape U.S. society“, which is interesting as this implies that the policymaker and not PwC is the actual culprit and my rage was misguided. Yet, is that actually true? The spirit of the law is not equipped, or better stated should not be equipped to manage the input of self-interest, because the spirit of the will assume the setting for all people and as such will force the text and derail the letter of the law (as I see it). Tonry goes on into the racial destabilising side, yet in my view the racial part is not the real instance, I believe that the division is that we see two groups One is the (white) social enabled group who is set to the game with preparation (read: legal advice) to break the spirit of the law and not the letter of the law as long as self-interests are served. This setting will at that same time destabilise the (black) group, a group that is suffocating on the lack and lapse of social options and opportunities, where without proper and affordable advice the letter and the spirit of the law will be adhered to, yet at a massive cost through loss of opportunity. This now makes PwC a facilitator for the wealthy to avoid breaking the letter of the law and to optionally, when unavoidable adhere to the spirit of the law. From one point, can the facilitator be held to account? I believe so, yet the area is slightly too grey for my comfort. It is the policymaker that requires to shift the grey area, so that breaking the law is a more clear setting and as such the SFO could actually create a situation where conviction (let alone prosecution) becomes a reality.

I still believe that PwC has done great wrongs, yet as far as we can establish, not in the letter of the law. I find them guilty of knowingly set the stage for managed ‘breaking’ of the law. The spirit is as much a factor as the letter, either should be seen as breaking the law. Yet there is diminishment as the policymaker is seemingly also guilty, yet the reasoning for that flaw can never be easily determined, so we can tell it was wrong, yet to what degree is not a given, but an essential issue to address. When we look at the policymakers, we need to ascertain the application that the paper discusses. “This framework broaches a new language to understand complex situations such as those that are not technically illegal but seem wrong“, we can see that this applies to multiple incidents. In those cases it needs to be clear that these levels of protection do not make the cake edible. It makes for a sour venue where those with legal advice can abort too many payments whilst the underprivileged groups end up without support, protection and options. I am speculating here that this is the (read: speculated intentional) creation of the haves and have not, which is a policy drip down effect when you implement a prismatic system, which policymakers from business and sociological fields seemed to have resorted to as they (tried to) implement laws, on the premise of a non-legal mind. Which is what is pushing the issues. The political field needed the business view of opportunity and the resulting laws are toothless against larger corporations who end up getting a free pass here with PwC as the facilitating office.

In the end I am more correct than even I thought I was, yet this should not digress from handing out the penalties that are needed to give a clear signal that the party is over. We have learned the hard way from 2004 onwards that unless we make a massive shift, this will continue a few more decades, as such stronger language and harsher penalties are required, because continuing on this path is far too rewarding for all the players that can afford to play this game, which gave me the idea to give PwC their marching orders out of the UK. I don’t believe it is too harsh, especially as they made 35 billion last year alone. So the question to you becomes, do you have any idea how much taxation they paid? I have no idea how much exactly, but we do know that PwC was elemental in avoiding Lehman Brothers to pay an addition £1.2 billion in taxation, due to inconsistencies, we see the quote by Mr Justice Hildyard: “It is of real importance, both in terms of good governance and a fair market, that HMRC should make every effort to ensure that this sort of thing does not happen again“, (at http://www.theweek.co.uk/lehman-brothers/77510/lehman-brothers-creditors-to-avoid-12bn-tax-bill) giving rise that larger changes are needed to bring back fairness to all tax paying people, who have not seen a whole lot of fairness in that regard these last 12 years.

Judges will soon have to science the shit out of these tax laws, making them actually fair to all, not just large corporations, who seem to be judged on ‘the Principle of least accountability’.

 

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The risk of androgynous automation

Today we see another message, another prediction and another approach to make people nervous. This time it is a combined effort from the fields of Oxford University and Deloitte, they find that ‘77% probability of ‘repetitive and predictable’ roles being automated‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/25/850000-public-sector-jobs-automated-2030-oxford-university-deloitte-study).

So how true is this?

Actually, there is a lot of truth in it. The truth is not just a given, it is an essential need. Yet the headline ‘Study says 850,000 UK public sector jobs could be automated by 2030‘ is a problem, not one of disaster, but one of opportunity possibly missed. The article gives us a few things, including links to the full report (indirect), which is a good thing and let’s be honest, Deloitte is no PwC; they stand miles above that group of Excel users. My first issue is with page 2. Not because it is incorrect, but the difference from my view is as I see it more than semantics. You see, they state “eliminating the budget deficit – into an era of parallel challenges as it moves towards Brexit“. I believe that Brexit will enable over time a speedier recovery of the deficit, it will be no picnic, but it will happen. Which is why I in earlier writing opposed the view the independent had. They wrote “Britain’s largest banks are planning to move business overseas due to uncertainty over the Brexit process, the head of the British Bankers’ Association has warned“, where my response in a decently diplomatic tone was “So, let them fuck off! The moment they feel the initial 2018 collapse of the Euro and the US Dollar, which will be voiced as ‘our currency will face a temporary contraction of value’, then they will see the cost they face and the revenue they are now missing out of. So, feel free to consider to return after learning that mistake under conditions of massive administrative fees for consideration of inclusion into the UK economy“. This is not an empty view, when the UK returns to strength, those moved away will see contracting economies in Germany, where the Deutsche Bank will be desperate to retain business out of fear of the damage of ‘written off’ collapsing corporations. France will be in a similar state, but there Crédit Agricole and Natixis are the Powerbrokers and neither will consider some ‘grocery bank’ that is relocating to ‘new shores’, so these moving banks will not be too welcome there. And several other nations are in a similar setting. So what is left? Italy? Greece? Good luck with that idea!

So as the UK is facing new issues and new challenges, Deloitte is showing that it is not all roses. The report shows on page 12 “The OECD and IMF views are backed up by OBR analysis that suggests spending on investment, public services and benefits are the interventions most likely to provide rapid economic boosts while providing a platform for medium and longer term growth“, this illuminates an earlier issue that has been mentioned by yours truly (aka: me) more than once. It isn’t just the £11.2 NHS IT failure the UK Labour party gave its citizens. The bigger issue is that governments at large have had a failing grade in managing such projects. Over micro-managing made these projects too massive and in the end no longer feasible or realistic. If this is the path, than it needs to precede an altered adjustment in procedures on how to manage and set these projects. The issue we see that still is required for the NHS, also clearly shows that the political interference tends to be a hindrance rarely a solution. However, the political part cannot be removed, but the entire setup can be altered in another way. A clear definition of what is required, that would after this point be scrutinised by proper IT specialists working for the government (to keep that part of the costing down), only then when that part has been dealt with, can the project move into a new field. If this was the Law and Mental Health, it might be best phrased that the government needs an IT version of a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Such a manual would need a data requirement part, and application part, a data networking part and a security part. Until such an approach is made, the need that we see, will end up being a massive expenditure towards the Exchequers chest, with the risk of no result and no alternative. These paths make sense in two ways. In the first there will be a lot more clarity on what is requested, required and delivered. There will be less contractual mud and as such whomever took the project will be responsible for the delivered bad boy and it would show a clear path of adjustment and repairs (where needed).

There is even a new side in this, it will shape the required need of technical universities. Because as they become involved, delivering the hours and manpower towards these projects, the costing will be reduced, the Universities will also gain an income and their students would end up with a partial career and years of work and subsequent income. You see, the need to move away from these ‘conceptual consultants’ and selling concepts not products is an essential need to make it all work. There is even an additional benefit that larger IT corporations will lose their grip on governmental budgets and it will serve a wider audience, a change that has been overdue for at least 10 years.

The report gives on page 20 the public’s attitude. My issue is number 2. “More people expect public services to get worse because of Brexit“, I am not sure if that is complete. It is not incorrect, but the point of focus would reset really quickly when we consider the Guardian where we read “Deloitte’s previous work has shown that all sectors will be affected by automation in the next two decades, with 74% of jobs in transportation and storage, 59% in wholesale and retail trades and 56% in manufacturing having a high chance of being automated“, any automation where we see the change from personal towards an automated androgynous system, tends to cause waves of rejection and stress. Even today, we still have an automated irritation when we hear ‘press 1 for sales‘. Until we can upgrade these systems into a much better evolved system, automation will fluctuate into people seeking other avenues in acquiring that what they need. In addition, there is still an aversion to automated sales in some areas as distribution misses the quality marks the recipient demands in some cases. Now, we can all agree that there is plenty of evolution in this field and the evolution is growing in many directions and in long before 2030 we will have systems that are vastly superior to the systems we have today, that is the way the beast tends to work. There is also a given that we cannot yet predict how that will be in 5 years, yet all this requires a solid foundation between sales, services and facilitation/distribution and that part is currently still missing.

Now we get to the part that is a little bit of an issue with the report. We see that the top issue is ‘Better public transport‘, but better how? We see it on page 21 of the full report, so when we see ‘What things would you say would most improve public services in your area?’ Here, I miss a part where we see what the audience now feels is missing or failing. Is it prices, the amounts of times the public transport comes in, how busy it is (no sitting options), you see, they all come with extra costs. More busses means more costs. The solution that seemingly addresses all three mentioned, but is that the failure, the flaw or is it something else? I think that this issue remains subserving to the public’s personal issues ‘Poverty, inequality and low pay‘ as well as ‘Housing‘, which is all about the quality of life for most people. How to address that part is also an issue and automation does not address these policies in any way. Which is respectively 20% and 18% of an asked population of 1099 adults, which in my view is a population way too small to set this ‘State of the State‘ to. For a decent level of reliability, especially as the UK is a mere 65 million people, having a response quota 5,000-10,000 on a national level would have been an essential first. If the results were weighted towards the UK demographics, than it is likely that this report will have additional ‘flaws’, making me wonder who signed off on the requested paper?

There is another side the Guardian gives “However, in contrast to the doomsayers who predict mass unemployment, the firm has argued that over the last 140 years automation has created more work than it destroyed“, I am on the side of Deloitte here. In addition to creating more work, from the issues I raised earlier when considering that 10%-20% is moving towards retirement, the new jobs that are brought will be largely long term jobs and as the setting from tertiary IT education focusses on the governmental automation needs it already has as well as those we will likely see over the next 5 years, the overall quality of the workers in this field could rise almost exponentially when set this against the prepared workforce in the last 10 years. The result of better and more focussed workers will also increase the curve of automation as well as the quality of it. Part of the new data world is discussed on page 34 of that report. the quote “A police and crime commissioner compared data security challenges in the public sector to those in banking, concluding that banks “have secure information and have got away with it”” reads a little weird, yet the foundation of it is a requirement factor that will grow immensely. That field will grow in two ways. The first is the growing field of non-repudiation, a clear register that a certain person accessed certain data and only that person could have done it. This field especially if a cause for concern because there is a gap in technology here and especially in the case of NHS data, that gap needs to be filled (as well as several other fields). Should you doubt that, or prefer to trivialise this, then look towards Ashley Madison, the Office of Personnel Management, Anthem, Hacking Team and Premera. In effect totalling the endangered personal details of up to 150 million people. And this is only the hacks of 2015. When we see the upcoming move towards domotics, the overall danger of personal data getting out has the option of growing the number of people exposed by 1000%, basically a lot more than the complete UK population, at that stage even the sheep, sheepdogs and pony’s on Shetland could find their personal details online. This industry will grow, with a large club of international career opportunities in IT and the growing niche of Data Security.

In the end, we can agree with the numbers, or we can disagree. No matter how the meat is sliced, the recommendation on page 49 are in the end what matters. That part reads a little too diplomatic, but in all fairness they are points that count. Yet, as I personally see this, especially when set against page 2, I am missing something. You see, in my view, there is an item 6. I would state “This state will need to grow into a different dynamic (Government, Non-Profit and Commercial), it requires to grow its government policies by actively engaging and hiring the final year students into its governmental workplace and make them part of the IT evolution“.

It is my view that corporate needs will always exist, yet by preparing these students, graduating them and for them to adhere to corporate policies as they sell their innovations to government is all good for those corporations and I am not against that, because they will get a massive dose of that throughout their careers. There is nothing wrong by having these places of education create part of the engines of solution for the UK government. It falls directly in line with the thoughts in recommendations 2, 3 and 4.

The paper is a lot more than just about IT, even though IT takes the forefront here. When we look at the Guardian quotes “Interactive roles, which require “a high degree of personal interaction, including jobs such as teachers, social workers and police officers”, face a 23% chance of automation“, “senior staff in “cognitive roles that mostly require strategic thinking and complex reasoning, including finance directors and chief executives”, 14% have a chance of being automated” as well as “but the number of health service staff in this “interactive” job is expected to fall to 266,000 by 2030“. This grows another side in the IT business. Over the next 10 years we will see evolution and change as we see CRM systems and the interpretation of ‘What is a CRM system?’

The interpretation of ‘manage and analyse customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle‘ has gone through massive change due to places like Google and systems like Facebook. This is an ongoing path and the inclusion of 5G and domotics over the next 5 years will create even more waves. It is starting to be almost essential that governments at large (not just the UK) are grabbing these changes by the proverbial balls before we see another iteration of lagging adapted technology. It is not the requirement to be ahead, but to be ‘inclusively ready’ will turn the tables on many issues. To be ready to include within the current technological iteration would give an additional decade of data and opportunities, whilst not adhering to these large changes could become increasingly costly over time. In an age where we move towards automation the need to be ahead is not the most essential one, it is staying behind where the danger lies. In that regard, you end up having to adhere towards whatever the commercial technologist brings, instead of shaping technology in ways where it is most useful for you.

A lesson most have learned the expensive way in this generation.

If there is one part I have to disagree with, than it is “Our wider research on automation also shows that while jobs are displaced by automation, new, higher-skilled and better paying jobs are created as a result“, the issue is not the need for these people, but as governments are no longer able to afford certain pricing plans (as those commercial managers hope they could price them at), it becomes a market where the cheapest provider is willing to offer it on, meaning that junior staff gets to be under higher scrutiny for less money, in a place where unemployment is relatively high, these hiring managers will get away with it. I reckon that the market will positively adjust by 2021, but that is still 5 years away. Unless you are a niche specialist, it will be your fate, but overall the quality of life would start to go up by 2019 (due to rising cost of living, aka rent), that is if you have the right degrees.

A slightly gloomy picture that is absent of doom and still a lot better than the issues the EU population overall is facing over the next 3 years.

 

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A bit in the stream

Something alerted me towards events this morning in LinkedIn of all places. There was a reference towards an article titled ‘New Accenture boss Bob Easton throws down gauntlet to big four on digital’ (at http://www.afr.com/business/accounting/new-accenture-boss-bob-easton-lays-down-gauntlet-to-big-four-on-digital-20160829-gr3huj ).

The initial quote is “The trouble is there is a lot of people running around talking about digital“, which is true. Bob Easton is right that there is a lot of talk about digital. Yet, when we look at the definitions, I wonder how many have a true grasp of digital. Even I myself wonder when the use ‘digital’ is warranted. You see, when it is media, my photography is digital, so is my filming. Advertisement is digital as it goes through AdWords and not trough the newspapers. Here is the issue. When is something digital? Bob Easton states in the article “they are confusing the market by misunderstanding digital strategy and lacking the global capabilities of his firm“, the fact that IBM took a massive hit is not a surprise because they are confused on the best of times. They still present the 14 managers and 2 technicians approach. I cannot speak for either PricewaterhouseCoopers in this instance, or for EY, but my last encounter with Deloitte gave a much better view on them and they seem to know it (to some extent). So where does this leave Accenture?

The term “moving to aggressively compete for work in the consulting, digital and business transformation space” is only a concern if they do not meet customers’ expectations. So where should they be?

So where should you be? You see Dave Aron from Gartner (at that time) gives me: “A digital strategy is a form of strategic management and a business answer or response to a digital question, often best addressed as part of an overall business strategy“, what I liked was “Every business and public sector agency needs both an IT Strategy and a Digital Business Strategy. They must be highly aligned with each other, but they are not the same thing“, which gives part of the goods, yet when we consider his claim “All aspects of the business strategy should be informed by digital considerations“, we tend to get confused here, because different elements have the same word (read: digital), but in that the setting is not the same.

We can see it as advancements in digital technologies such as computers, data, telecommunications and Internet, which is still true, but how to go about it?

A digital media manager looks at how to get the solutions towards their ROI, which in many turns means to get it all electronically solved, whilst keeping costs to a minimum. Here we see the first failing from IBM as they are about revenue and about getting the business onto their solutions. Even in a step by step solution it is about getting one foot into the door and upsell from there. That is not a solution for the client, it is merely a solution for the sales person’s target.

And in some cases there is no digital path, but to a lot of people that does not exist so they will feign a solution. As an example I have my old dentist, he had a card system so perfect that no IT solution could bring the goods. I saw yuppies in all sizes try to sell him a solution between 1983 and 1995, one failure after another. The mere realisation that not all solutions fit and that some solutions will drive down the ROI in unacceptable ways is why several of these players will never succeed. Because what the client truly needs is never addressed. If we take the approach from Macala Wright (at http://mashable.com/2012/09/05/how-to-digital-strategy/#oc3qMBqfF8qC)

We see a decently clear path. I can quote all the steps again, but the article has them down to a nice clean size, so reading it is a recommendation.

I am downgrading it to these four steps for comfort (read: mine).

  1. Identifying the opportunities and challenges in a business where online assets can provide a solution or a difference.
  2. Identifying the unmet needs and goals of the external stakeholders that most closely align with those key business opportunities and challenges, and especially if there are threats there.
  3. Developing a vision around how the online assets will fulfil those business and external stakeholder needs, goals, opportunities, challenges and threats.
  4. Prioritizing a set of online initiatives which can deliver on this vision.

These steps also include the views Cisco had in step 3, yet it is a watered down list. I am emphasising this as the entire ‘going digital’ is larger and more complex than most realise. When I look at what can be done and what can be achieved we need to realise that this all needs the decision makers to be aligned and in that both IT and business needs must be addressed. Most people going digital seem that it is a cheaper solution towards a better ROI. Yes, it is a path towards a better ROI, which will not make it cheaper. It requires serious investments and not tinkering around with half a dozen people working from home, sending in some finished element. Whilst the Australian Financial Review gives us a chart with Revenue versus margin and adds a little hype by adding AirBnB and Uber in the new business models, we see a forgotten element. You see, these new business models come with a little hook, one was highlighted by Bell Partners, where we see “Some critics argue that Uber drivers are not subject to the same premiums for compulsory third-party (CTP) insurance as taxis, as it is harder to identify an Uber car in an accident“. Is that so? So how does this impact the passenger? Until you are in an accident you might not care, but when the hospital bills come and the Uber player does not have the coverage, you will soon learn that hospitals are very expensive.

There is a lot of truth in the article and it is well worth reading, yet the lack of threats discussed is equally unsettling. The fact that Expenses in the digital world are up and very much so with Accenture is an element, and also a threat. You see, we all understand that there are a lot more expenses coming over (nearly all tax deductable), the matter of a shifting ROI remains and until the model is used to fuel growth the benefit will not be easily seen. For this path requires a globalising mindset. If you want to remain the big cheese in Darlinghurst and that is all you want, you need to consider what sides need the digital approach and what you want to grow. This for the mere reason that costs will come in the early days and if you are ready it is not an issue, if not, your ROI went straight into the basement, good luck enjoying that view!

Depending on your market, it will be about your customers and their experience, if that is not upgraded, then why byte into the digital apple? I truly worry about the bit you do not end up with, as you would limit your position and enable your competitor overnight. This is the part that is not addressed in many places, because everyone is in a sales hat thinking bonus and saying, we can get you onto the digital path! You see, the presentation in the AFR, regarding the digital disruption framework is aptly drawn as a spear point and it points towards you! The better the comprehension and implementation, the more it becomes a weapon of offense instead of a solution to suicide. In that regard, towards the offense we see that the spear could be the stepping stone that upgrades the customer experience and as such truly grow your business, which is exactly what it is, but it is not a cheap solution or an overnight solution, it is merely a new solution to grow towards places you never grew before, so you grow the options in getting a grown customer base, which is what many want.

The only question is how correctly the path has been drawn out and here we see the elements that Bob Easton sells on. Accenture seems to know this path through and through. We have seen how IBM scuttled their knowledge and for the most, the other players (read: self-proclaimed players) are not up to scrap, but their level of failure is not clearly shown, Bob Easton points at it, but there is clear doubt if that is a given, especially in the case of Deloitte.

Finally we see the mention of government contracts, which is of course fun to read. Especially as 20 years have shown me that the bulk of government is relatively clueless on any digital path, with Defence on a whole being close to the sole exception.

In all this I find one part slightly debatable, even as the chart makes perfect sense. The quote “Digitising the experience for your customers, digitising your internal operations and the creation of the capabilities to recognise and exploit new business models” is true, yet recognising new business models is always a non-given, because that requires the altered mindset of a board of directors, which tends to focus on the golf game and less on the balls they slice, which gives weight to the debate, not the issue with the model as shown. In that for Taxi’s the model makes perfect sense, because Uber is now forcing a different mindset on the taxi corporations. Yet consider the year before Uber started, how many Taxi companies were actively looking into new business models? That list is hugely close to zero!

I say that competitors and threats, the second more than the first is driving that element, which is why even in the digital move, a SWOT analyses tends to have more decisive impact on the decisions. When we know the elements strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, we can start to look at the options we have, and they do include the two Bob Easton axis scales namely Revenue and Margin. As stated, his view is not incorrect, I personally find it a little incomplete in this instance.

And to finalise this, the problem he states is on many levels, I am not even sure if America is the largest waster of options and resources here, yet when we see politicians go with (read: Donald Trump on CBS today) “you know cyber is becoming so big today. It’s becoming something that a number of years ago, short number of years ago, wasn’t even a word. And now the cyber is so big“, in this case Donald Trump for his elections. The fact that Cyber threats have been on the FBI agenda even before October 6th 1999, stating that the damage from those threats had surpassed 7 billion in Q1 and Q2 of 1999 gives us worry that Cyber and Digital are more than words and those who are aiming to be in a seat of power have not grasped it. The entire educational system is not ready for these changes, which is not their fault. The market that Bob Easton described has grown nearly exponentially and the next generation is not aware of what is what, that whilst the current generation is not up to scrap as to what the definitions are, how they should be seen and how they apply in a real time environment and the people in charge are not getting educated either, most they get is from trade shows dying for you to buy their solution, which is not much of an education and finally the previous generation that is hoping to make it to retirement before they have to learn it all.

That is the issue as it evolves. So we are all bits in the stream, bits of what? I am not sure if anyone can tell at present, but good luck trying to figure out where you are placed and where you stand, because resolving that will place you in a much stronger position than you were in this morning.

 

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Fine, Finer, Fined

My mother always told me (when I was young) that I was allowed to swear, as long as I did it grammatically correct. Little did I know that mommy made me paint myself into a corner! Ah well, the innocence of youth!

So when the board of directors of the Royal Bank of Scotland learned their usage of adjectives, comparatives and superlative was only correct in theory. First the bank was doing fine, then its position was much finer, only to get fined in the end. Did they realise that the year 10 student in the corner, the one who did not get it, was the one person making an accurate prediction? I’ll bet you tuppence that they never realised that Mr Dunsel was an actual fortune teller.

So, why am I going in this direction?

Well, consider the article ‘RBS share sale explainer: why has Osborne started selling taxpayer’s stake at a loss?‘ (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/rbs-share-sale-explainer-why-has-osborne-started-selling-the-taxpayers-stake-at-a-loss-10437095.html), whilst we heard that the taxpayer lost another billion, due to, I reckon you know what comes after this uncomfortable break: “RBS shares are still trading 33 per cent lower than the Labour government paid for them, which means selling them has incurred a loss for the government of around £1 billion on the first sale of 600m shares“.

As the Guardian reported last week that ‘RBS expects further fines with no let-up from regulators‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jul/30/royal-bank-of-scotland-expects-further-fines-dividend-delay), we see that not only is the selling of shares costing the taxpayers a billion, the £1.3bn of charges to cover fines and compensation payouts seem to sting a little more than we bargained for. A few of the reasons why the buyback of shares will not happen until 2017, with a decent chance that more hardship will be burdened upon them payers of taxation. So when I see a quote from Sir Philip Hampton stating “The industry as a whole has got a poor track record in predicting these [provisions]. We’ve consistently under-called them”. Can anyone explain to me why the people at RBS are allowed to nag? Consider the quote “the long list of mistakes from the past continued to catch up with the bank” and compare it to the BBC article (at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8392147.stm), which was from 2009 which gave us ‘RBS board could quit if government limits staff bonuses‘ with the quote “they say they have to remain competitive in the market in recruiting senior executives“, which is nice when it deals with the bonuses that go into the millions, but when we see that it is linked to years of inadequacy, mistakes, fines and prosecutions, we need to tailor a solution where some of these bankers need to be barred for life from entering the financial sector. So when we learned in February 2014 that ‘RBS pays out £588m in bonuses despite suffering £8.24bn loss‘, we need to ask a few really serious questions, now that the shares are sold at a massive loss and the total sale could result in total loss of  £15bn. I feel certain that I could do a better job, whilst not having any economic degree.

So as a large portion of the UK is in a state of hardship, the failing RBS constituency still makes over half a billion in bonuses. The aftertaste is far beyond bitter, so why get back to all these matters, which in some case is a repetition of events that had passed?

In the first, as I see it, these board members failed, the value of the company is down and as such, in sight of “We’ve consistently under-called them“, they are not due any bonuses until December 2016 and only if the value of the bank is back on par with the share value at which the government bought them. In addition, the news ‘Hedge funds make quick buck after getting wind of RBS stake sale’ from the Financial Times only adds to the bitterness of the taste of shares with pepper and salt. In my view another reason why the bonus of board members and RBS bankers should be set to £0. In addition, as Sir Philip has been around since 2009, whilst getting a not too uncomfortable £750,000. The need for not letting up on allowing the bankers any extras should be considered. So if they would like to retry their bluff of December 2009, where they stated “threatening to resign“, let them. Why does the RBS have any need for employees “consistently under-called them“, whilst at the same time fines for ‘rigging’ are banging the corporate coffers of the RBS, leading to damages that total into billions.

So when did you have a job where the company needs 45 billion from the taxpayer, they have not returned into a state of grace and they still get a 7 figure Christmas present? I never had a job like that. To change my luck, could Sir Philip kindly give me one? I need £8m over the next 3 years (for reasons of retirement). I am willing to do anything legal, including working my bud off to return the RBS to profit. From my point of view, I offer something more than the RBS board ever delivered (well, since 2009), so we can agree that my value is better than their value, ain’t it?

But this is not about me, this is also to a lesser extent not about the board members. This is about the engine behind it and the changes they are about to face. You see the sounds have been there, the rumours have almost forever been there and on the sidelines the links have been there, but what is this linking?

I am referring to the following events ‘Auditors go high-tech to win new business‘ (at http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/183cb13c-2557-11e5-bd83-71cb60e8f08c.html), where we see “Auditors have a newfound zest. Rapid developments in digital technology and new rules requiring large companies to invite bids for auditing work at least once a decade have forced accounting firms to refocus on winning new business” and ‘Accountants warn on audit market reforms‘ from last November where we see “Within the “big four” accountancy firms, market share has been shifting. EY has overtaken Deloitte as the third biggest auditor to FTSE 100 clients, behind PwC and KPMG in first and second place, respectively. This month Royal Bank of Scotland announced it had appointed EY as its auditor from 2016, ending a 14-year contract with Deloitte” (at http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/f22383ca-6410-11e4-bac8-00144feabdc0.html). This is actually more than just the shaking of the trees and the stirring of the gravy bowl. You see this is a shifting picture where the big four are now pushing for data analytics, the Wall Street Journal have been slowly filling the spaces in that regard. The headline ‘Accountants Increasingly Use Data Analysis to Catch Fraud‘ states it, but what do they state? At http://www.wsj.com/articles/accountants-increasingly-use-data-analysis-to-catch-fraud-1417804886, we see “When a team of forensic accountants began sifting through refunds issued by a national call center, something didn’t add up: There were too many fours in the data. And it was up to the accountants to figure out why“. Yes on the night of St. Nicholas the presents are handed out to all and especially the bankers, because analytics are here, the secret sauce of the needy to quench those who want to solve and hide those in the shadows. You see Benford’s Law is here and everything will be OK now! Is that so? Let’s take a look at ‘The Irrelevance of Benford’s Law for Detecting Fraud in Elections‘ (at http://www.vote.caltech.edu/sites/default/files/benford_pdf_4b97cc5b5b.pdf), where we see: “Detecting and measuring fraud is much like any criminal investigation and requires a careful gathering of all available data and evidence in conjunction with a “theory of the crime” that takes into account substantive knowledge of the election being considered, including the socio-economic and geographic correlates of voting“. This is about voting, so how does this apply? Consider the quote on page 23 “The operant clause here, though, is “in otherwise homogeneous data” since this indicator is intended to detect the heterogeneity introduced by a specific form of fraud“, now we get to those two parts, when we see “In statistics, homogeneity and its opposite, heterogeneity, arise in describing the properties of a dataset, or several datasets. They relate to the validity of the often convenient assumption that the statistical properties of any one part of an overall dataset are the same as any other part” (quick Wiki reference). So as we contemplate “the statistical properties of any one part of an overall dataset are the same as any other part“, ehhh, when has that ever been the case in keeping financial books? It is a balancing act, which means half on one side, means half on the other side (does that not prove the point?) No, because they are two sides of the same coin, double elements so to speak, so what to include, what not, the formula becomes unbalanced even further. Consider that banking is all about specifics, I will stay away from that element for a while, because the element of specifics is the issue, consider the graphs below.

Benford

 

I can tell you now that I violated loads of rules. It comes from a list of 400 movies, their revenue. So, it spans several year, 400 numbers and those are the most visible reasons why Benford does not apply. The books of Tesco have similar issues. Dozens of accounts, interactions, loads of numbers spanning a time zone, but at times those numbers are also of a small count. Could this work with a ‘grocery’ store? Consider the amount of articles at 99c and £1.99. The amount of special offers going on, day to day (Tesco example), from that, if we use EVERY transaction, we will see skewing, giving us the problem, banks have similar issues, but now more often with seriously large numbers. If we ‘Benford’ the hell out of all the commissions, will they stand the ‘fraud’ test? If not, will the bank see that cash returned, or will we suddenly see a ‘rationalisation’ of non-valid application?

 

 

This is at the heart “in otherwise homogeneous data“, which gave the Call-centre a ‘ding-dong’, yet I feel that overall numbers could have shown the issue as well. Too many issues do not hold water here, yet the end of the article gives us what matters “Benford’s Law isn’t a magic bullet. It’s only one approach. It isn’t appropriate for all data sets. And when it is a good tool for the job, it simply identifies anomalies in data, which must be explained with further investigation“, ah the common sense. That did not take long did it?

So as there are serious options for investigating Fraud, the watchers of Tesco are still not in the limelight of the press, they have been given the ‘shade’ by the press at large. In one moment we see Tesco getting replaced by DeLoitte and recently we see Santander bank replacing DeLoitte for PwC and the SFO is nowhere to be seen. So are the Elves of Statistics and the Serious ‘eff’ Ogres in a state of non-war? Perhaps the SFO is too busy and whilst those auditors give new presentations on those yummy statistics, but as I personally see it, it is basically another presentation to lull groups of people to sleep. There is a mess in front of the people and those who should look and act, seem to be too busy and many can slightly fall asleep again.

Just 6 weeks ago, the UK got the message ‘RBS, once the world’s largest bank, is using analytics technology to go back to the era of personal customer service‘, with a promise to invest £100m in data analytics technology. I personally believe in analytics, it is a great tool, but in light of many factors, unless you get the people who have been consistently under-called them a job with a competitor bank, the institution will be paying a lot by those currently not doing their job right.

That final statement can be easily proven.

In the first, if data analytics was key, those involved should have known this for well over 3 years, some in charge have been there long enough, which means that no action was taken and they should not be in a position where they remain idle.

In the second, if data analytics is not key in solving some of the matters, why are they buying it? It could be for very valid other reasons, but that does not solve the ‘under-calling’ issue, it does not solve several other issues, even though it solves some, so at best, data analytics will diminish losses, which is good, but should we not get rid of the dead weight (read significant reasons for large losses).

All this comes to blows soon enough, because if the RBS does not get its results, new articles will appear all over the place regarding ‘miscommunication’, times of deployment and infrastructure issues, in the meantime ‘managed bad news’ prevails and more waves of issues will be swept under the covers of a dark carpet. As accounts are handed over between the 4 big auditors, the sum in the end gives us that overall none of them will make any serious losses. Slightly beyond the short term it evens out for the big four, which might be the largest miscarriage of justice of all.

 

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Spelling fraud with a ‘T’

So, after we see the events in Tesco, which has taken its billions in toll from September 2014 onwards, we now learn that Japan has its own version of Tesco, which we read in ‘Toshiba boss quits over £780m accounting scandal‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/21/toshiba-boss-quits-hisao-tanaka-accounting-scandal).

Here it is not the meagre 263 million that Deloitte discovered would only be the tip of the Titanic sinker, in the case of Japan, it is three times the amount, which initially might beckon the question whether the fall out for Toshiba could be 9 times worse. Is it that simple?

The Guardian gives us the following “Tanaka and Sasaki knew about the profit overstatement and created a pressurised corporate culture that prompted business heads to manipulate figures to meet targets, the investigators found“, the other one is “Improper accounting at Toshiba included overstatements and booking profits early or pushing back the recording of losses or charges. Those actions often resulted in still higher targets being set for business divisions in the following period“.

These two are aimed at one side of a picture, but what some sales people will know is that this is already a disjointed part. Before I go into this, there is one more quote that needs to be mentioned. It is “Despite its shares losing almost a quarter of their value since the irregularities surfaced in April, it is still Japan’s 10th biggest company by market value. It was created by a merger in 1938 but its roots date back to 1875 and it was one of the companies that turned Japan into an industrial power“, so these irregularities have been part of something already for months, in addition, from an article one day earlier we get “The report said much of the improper accounting, stretching back to fiscal year 2008, was intentional and would have been difficult for auditors to detect“.

The last paragraph alone implies that like with Tesco, this system could not be done without massive ‘support’ from accountancy firms, moreover in all this, we have to wonder if anything will be achieved, especially as PwC (Pricewaterhouse Coopers) seems to have fallen off the view of journalists, and as we have seen no news from the SFO (Serious Fraud Office) since December 2014, we can ask in equal measure, whether the now sparkly news on Toshiba will go anywhere at all. Is it not interesting that PwC added 64 new partners three weeks ago, they get all the limelight as we read “Luke Sayers, chief executive of PwC Australia, congratulated the new partners on their appointment, praising their outstanding professional expertise“, whilst at the same time we get “IOOF has hired accounting giant PwC to review its regulatory breach reporting policy and procedures within the firm’s research division“, whilst in all this, PwC should still be regarded as the number one problem, as for a long time Tesco’s ‘issues of monetary matters‘ ended up getting overstated by well over a quarter of a billion, and so far it seems that either the SFO is nowhere, it is hushed or it seems to pussyfoot around PwC as the PwC marketing engine goes on like there was never a glitch in their seamless sky to begin with.

Now it is important that the entire PwC issue hits the UK, so a global company like PwC should not get hindered by one rotten basket, especially as they have dozens of baskets. Yet as one basket was regarded to have gone ‘rotten through’, the fact that there remains a system of silence, gives way to ask the question why PwC should be trusted at all and in that light, in the case of Toshiba, how intensely damaged the accounting business has become, you see Tesco and if we go by the words of Sheldon Ray of the Financial times we see “non-GAAP earnings per share that were more than 100 per cent higher than its GAAP numbers in the last quarter. Another reported 2 cents a share non-GAAP profit vs $1.41 per share loss under GAAP in one quarter” (at http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/f07720d4-c9b1-11e4-b2ef-00144feab7de.html#axzz3gWXJGSSF), so how deep goes all this? This grows in light when we consider ‘Richard Bove on Fannie Mae’s Accounting Irregularities‘ (at http://www.valuewalk.com/2015/07/fannie-mae-accounting/). Not a number one source, yet consider the quote “The result of their work is a conspiracy theory concerning the government takeover of Fannie Mae in which the public has been lied to concerning Fannie Mae’s financial condition in 2008 and in subsequent years“, this is linked to the work by Adam Spittler CPA, MS, and Mike Ciklin JD, MBA, MRE. Spittler is a Senior Associate at KPMG and Ciklin is an investor in a number of start-up digitally based companies, so we see that there is at least some Gravitas with these people, now add to that the information from the Washington Times (at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/11/fannie-mae-recklessness-risks-future-financial-cri/), where we see ‘Mortgage giant hired unqualified auditor with conflict of interest for critical position‘ and “Nearly seven years after it was bailed out from the housing market crash, mortgage giant Fannie Mae is still engaging in behaviour that could precipitate future financial crises and taxpayer losses, a government watchdog warns in a report to be released Wednesday“, which was an article from last March. Now, the fact that this is not ‘new’ news is not the issue, what is the issue is that there is an almost Global act of blatant disregard, leaving the people the feeling that accounting seems to be set to levels of intentional misrepresenting companies for the need of bonuses and the ‘Holy Dow’. The fact that the activity against such transgressions is seemingly kept of the table in these economic times will only grow stronger unrest.

Yet, is my view correct, is it not me that is in error? Let’s face it, One in the US, one in Japan and one in UK does not a conspiracy make, it does not reflect on some non-existing criminal empire based on the quill, ink and parchment (as accounting used to go in the old days). What is an issue is how on a global scale governments seem to act or not act is matter for discussion, yet in all this external forces have been at work too, let’s face it that the US in 2008 was a place of desperation, even as it is now still on the ‘to-be-regarded-as-bankrupt’ even governments will make weird leaps when they are pushed into a corner. In my view, the fact that the bulk of global accounting is pretty much in the hands of half a dozen accounting firms remains cause for alarm and PwC is in the thick of many events. Including the 40 million property scandal surrounding Xu Jiayin last march.

Yet back we go to Japan, the land of yummy Sushi and as it seems shady bookkeeping. You see, there is no way to tell how deep Toshiba will get gutted, if Tesco is any form of indication, there will be a massive backlash, If 256 million leads to a well over 3 billion drop in value, what will it do to Toshiba? More important, with Japan so deep in debt, would it push Japan over the edge of bankruptcy? Let’s not forget that Japan hung over that Abyss a few times and the US seemed to have ‘intervened’ in favour of Japan in the past, in this case, that might not ever be an option again. For those who think that I overreact, think again. Tesco lost value factor 12. Now, we all agree that this is extremely unlikely to hit Toshiba to that degree, but what happens when stockholders walk out? Now consider that Toshiba is amongst the 10 largest Japanese companies with a global reach that equals IBM, that whilst Japan has a debt of $10 trillion, the fallout will hit Japan (again). To give view to the next part, I need to revisit a part I mentioned in the past. Let us take a look at the following example:

In week 10 a salesperson makes a sale, knowing it will not be a solution, during the next week that customer gets managed all over support and after a week, they escalate and communicate with the customer on solving it, a week after that the customer gets the apology that there is no solution, but that the customer will get a full refund, case closed.

Week 10 Sale made
Week 11  Support starts
Week 12 Escalation
Week 13 No resolution
Week 15 Refund

Now the part, the sale was made, in Week 13 no resolution, now we leave one quarter and go into the new quarter, the refund will not affect the sales person’s bonus, nor will the sales target be affected due to negative sale.

This is based on actual events, now think of the impact when this is not mere sales, but 1.2 billion in sales. Did this happen? I cannot state that all of the funds were done in that way, but consider the impact of increased sales and the people who enjoyed their bonuses from that (if that happens in Japan).

Consider the quote “blamed on management’s overzealous pursuit of profit“, which we get from the ABC article (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-21/toshiba-top-executives-quit-over-us12-billion-scandal/6637976). Now add to that the quote “underlings could not challenge powerful bosses who were intent on boosting profits at almost any cost“, so how was the profit boosted? You see, this is not just an auditing issue, when we look at these large companies and the way that sales are arranged and forecasted, consider the events involved. To name but a few

  1. Leads
  2. Contacts (the consequence of a lead)
  3. Forecasting (the consequence of contact and the push for sale)
  4. Sales registration (Scopus, Salesforce, SAP)
  5. Accounting
  6. Reporting

Six iterations of paper and electronic trails that had to handle 1.2 billion in virtual revenue to some extent. Even if the leads cycle was avoided (by going through existing customers), there are other divisions that needed to be aware of a large non existing sale. You see, twelve hundred million dollars makes for a massive amount of monitors, laptops and other items Toshiba makes. Even over time, flags should have been raised on several levels, so when I read “The report said much of the improper accounting, which stretched back to 2008, was intentional and would have been difficult for auditors to detect“, which implies that the intentional misdirection was done over 6 iterations, which means that the group involved was a bit larger than we read in the articles at present. More important, how well did the Auditors seek in this regard? Which now takes me back to the reference I made earlier regarding “PwC added 64 new partners“, so how good are these ‘senior’ players? Making someone a partner, so that they can be misdirected by a senior partner would be equally disturbing. The fact that Toshiba falls through just like Olympus did, in a place where these events are regarded as ‘shocking’ according to investigating lawyer Koichi Ueda does not make me any less nervous. How institutionalised is overstating revenues on a global scale? You see, this is happening a lot more than many realise and even though many are not found, it does not mean it is not happening next to your own place of business. Now we get back to the issue I raised regarding Fannie Mae. The fact that it is not unrealistic that the government looked the other way here is still a fact we must consider. More important, are the two parts not mentioned in any of this. The first is linked to the issue I reported on January 30th 2013 (yes over 2 years ago at https://lawlordtobe.com/2013/01/30/time-for-another-collapse/) in my article ‘Time for another collapse‘, I questioned the way the Dow did not just recover, it did so whilst places all around us were remaining below par for a very long time after that. Now consider the following speculative theory:

What if places like Fannie Mae used the ‘leave one in’ approach. So there were mortgage packages and derivatives. So, we have four properties that are doing fine and we add one worthless one to the mix. The package deal as the salesperson states. So the buyer ends up with a ‘value’ and whilst one part is ‘given’ without value, that person has a good deal, now consider that this one place is no longer a lost place, it is no longer a write off. Over time the market would recover with less losses, so is this truly an action that is virtually impossible? Moreover, if such a thing truly happens, would it be fraud? How could an auditor ever find the event in the first place?

This now links back to Toshiba, not just in how you push up 1.2 billion, but how to get it passing the view of a ton of auditors. In the case of Tesco, I personally considered the involvement of PwC from the first moment the news came out, there it was a less murky place because as supermarket chain their product goes to Joe and Jolene Public. That is not the case with Toshiba. Not only are they global, but with a power plant division (including the one that makes you grow in the dark) as well as medical equipment (likely needed for previous mentioned division), Toshiba deals with consumers, corporations and governments, which on one side requires a lot more administration, but that administration would have the ability to go murky on an exponential level, which gives added value to the claim “difficult for auditors to detect” yet that gives option to two parts, is there a questionable level of administration, or are we confronted that the auditing partner in this case was a 28 year old recently promoted individual who now gets his/her first real large account?

Why these statements?

You see in all this, on a global scale, the law has failed. It fails because the rewards are just too good to pass up for those playing that game, the chance to get away with it and the option to keep at least a decent part of these earnings safe makes the option to do this again and again almost a certainty. The law has no bite and the corporations involved are too powerful to get smitten down, so this avenue will continue for a long time to come. In addition to this we ask what else is affected and why is there a tendency from the press to not keep these matters a lot more visible? Consider how much the Guardian and others reported in 2014, if you now Google ‘PwC Fraud SFO Tesco‘ we get nothing after December 22nd, what a Christmas present that is! What is funny that one other part showed up, which is Keith McCarthy, now director at PwC London, who was Chief Investigator with the UK Serious Fraud Office before that, so would it be mere speculation that the best way to avoid prison is to hire the police officer so you know where they will be looking? #JustAsking

I am only asking!

Anyway, with a wish for a better lifestyle, I will consider helping Toshiba to retrench their IP and Patents for a mere 0.4% of the value, now if I could only persuade my Law Professor to help me out, 0.3% for her and 0.1% for me, I should end up with enough to buy http://www.cooperbrouard.com/St-Peter-Port/Ridge-House-property/3835453 and retire in a relaxing way!

I agree that I could do better, but then I was never a greedy person, which is a failing the Toshiba executive clearly lacked.

 

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The old way?

I was about to finish my assignment last night, when this article hit me square in the face ‘Farmers feel the squeeze from supermarket deals‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/may/10/farmers-feel-squeeze-supermarket-deals), first part. I am not anti-Aldi, anti-Tesco or anything like that. I know things ‘need’ to be cheap. I am feeling the brunt just like anyone else, yet in this day and age when we need jobs and when we need commerce, why settle? When I see “At some point we’re going to be forced to retire because of the prices”, I worry. I worry because I want a decent income to live and feed the family (the family being just me in this case). So why is the supermarket requiring cheaper food? So that it can waste most of it on infrastructure?

In my view, let the supermarkets go elsewhere!

In my view, Steve from Worcestershire’s Vale needs to talk to a driver and a few people. Start the old grocery stores again. When we can get decent groceries, whilst under those conditions, places like Woolworths can brag about making a net profit of 2.45 billion, then they obviously do not need to sell groceries. Let them fall back to second rate products. Let them waste away, whilst the people return to the grocery store. It will be a challenge, but in my days we went to the markets, we went to the grocery stores. You only need one central point where these people can get their wares and the people like Steve might have a better deal here. When I read “It showed that the number of small and medium-sized businesses supplying supermarkets and in “significant” distress has doubled in a year from 728 to 1,414“, I honestly wonder why people continue on this route?

When suppliers state, 5% more or get it somewhere else, yes, the supermarkets will change supplier, but it will take one bad one to make a supermarket lose their customers. Once the groceries go somewhere else, we will see that the shop next door might be the butcher or the milk and cheese shop. I say support your local shop in all manners, and getting the smaller places to reinvent decentralisation could go a long way in raising the UK economy in a much better way. In the end, a place like Woolworths only tickles its own board of directors with 2.45 billion, over 5000 shops this amounts to half a million each. So, yes, that was only profit and the story of cost will change, but it seems to me that 5000 shops implies 15000-25000 people working, that will also do the economy a lot of good. We have been enabling larger players too much and for too long.

Consider I mentioned 5000 stores, consider that Aldi has 560 stores and Tesco has 2,614 stores. That is a little more than 3150 stores. If they all lose the butcher baker and grocer, which means that we need close to 10,000 locations. (not even including the other supermarkets), in addition transport is needed, so it seems to me that even though my calculation is extremely skewed, we must consider that the day of mega markets are over. We need to start thinking differently if we are to face the challenges ahead in a survivable and in a more humane way. I am willing to forego supermarkets as long as there is a decent alternative (not too expensive). I feel that here in Australia that has been proven with Bakers delight and Lüneburger. If the baker can do that and move me away from supermarket bread then I feel certain that a butcher, grocer and cheese and dairy shop (or just a plain milkman) can do that too.

So as I see this quote “According to Jack Ward, chief executive of the British Growers’ Association, producers will have to get used to the new supermarket landscape“, I say Nay! Especially when he adds the quote “this has racked up the pressure on the supermarkets. They are fighting for their lives and have to go somewhere to get better prices“. When I see a supermarket chain making proud of 2.45 billion, your statement Mr Ward, is widely incorrect.

In addition there is the quote “Christine Tacon, whose job is to rein in some of the methods used by retailers to apply pressure on suppliers, such as charging for display space and delaying payment. In February the adjudicator announced an investigation into Tesco over its relationship with suppliers“, really. it seems to me (and to Deloitte) that certain paths had been going on for a while, so if that is true, then Miss Tacon had been asleep at the wheel and we should seriously look at new ways of moving forward on the way consumers get their stuff. There is also the other end. Bal Padda grows strawberries in the Vale of Evesham and she has a good relationship with Asda. This I do not oppose, there are clearly issues and over 1400 under such pressure is a clear indication that things are not well. The question is how to fix it. Perhaps in the end, a shift will happen and the supermarkets will have to change their way, perhaps fresh foods is no longer a guarantee, perhaps that must go outside those places (as likely must beef). By the way, when you buy fresh at the butcher it is also extremely conceivable that Equine Burgers are a thing of the past, just saying!

Consider the following: “I was making more money per kilo of lettuce 20 years ago. A box of courgettes went for £4 to £5.20 years ago; now it’s £1.80 to £2” Yet, Tesco online shows baby Courgettes to be £7 per Kg and other courgettes around £2 per Kg and lettuce at 50p each. Even when I was young prices were higher. I am all for affordability, but is this the way we should go? At the expense of our farmers? How unjust is that? It goes beyond that, the baker, the butcher the prices at Tesco (not the cheapest one) are indecently insane.

So, what is the solution?

That is the question I fail to answer this, perhaps some of the numbers needed to see the chessboard more completely are missing. You see, I stick by what I wrote earlier, I will go to non-supermarkets in a heartbeat, but in this economy I wonder if I can afford it, the only question remains. If some places get to place this quote “The UK’s biggest supermarket chain said group trading profit fell 6% to £3.3bn, with like-for-like sales down 1.4%“, we must wonder how we can make a fairer option for the farmers. They are not alone here (so is dairy and meat) yet they all should have a decent affordable solution that gives them a slightly better deal than they get now.

I wonder if anyone else has a better solution. It is my fear that if the UK is in the old proverbial stage of ‘bread and games’, what is being kept off the radar and what can we do to better the plight of some? Once a nation can no longer grow its own food, it becomes slave to whomever feeds them, which is something we never ever want to face.

 

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