Tag Archives: Olympus

Good thoughts and less so

It all started so nice, the morning was nice and sunny (its winter and my laptop was fixed), so as I was enjoying a laptop with a good space bar, my youth came calling through a knocker like a sledgehammer. After 84 years Olympus is stopping. My second camera was an Olympus, an OM-10, which was followed 2 years later with the OM-2, a camera I never stopped worshipping. Olympus was on the tip of all tongues, on the edge of what was possible and they were giving Nikon a fight, Cannon was not that big (but in an impressive stage) and Minolta was there as well. It is in that age that photography started to become affordable. And in this age they have faltered. It is a shame, but there were indicators that they were lagging more and more and the mobile phones with their less is merely one factor. Age is there to distinguish of what is in the now and what will no longer be, a playing field the forever in turmoil. 

And it is that turmoil that matters, even as Olympus went under in an honourable way, some competitors in other fields were not that lucky. That can be said of Wirecard, a company that had apparently $2,000,000,000 on the books that did not exist and is now in a state where they owe $4,000,000,000 and have no way to pay it, alas Wirecard, out you go! So can anyone explain to me how one person did this? 

I believe it a lot more and as we see Reuters giving us “Wirecard is the first member of Germany’s prestigious DAX stock index to go bust, barely two years after winning a spot among the country’s biggest 30 listed companies with a market valuation of $28 billion.” I wonder how the $28,000,000,000 was achieved, in a stage where 7% did not exist, there is every chance that the damage is larger and spread in a larger stage, and we merely see on what was NOT signed off on. Is that such a weird consideration? Whilst some make calls for reforms, which is a call for change, yet the need to identify the things not being OK will also be less likely to be found, that is the nature of things. You se, I see more, it is seen in the quote “once one of the hottest financial technology companies in Europe, dwarfs other German corporate failures. It has shaken the country’s financial establishment”, if it was the hottest Financial technology company, the technology is still there, the question was was it abused and more important, how can something this so called hot, be this flawed? How do you show $2,000,000,000 you do not have?

Then there is “German law firm Schirp & Partner said that with Wirecard now effectively sidelined, it would file class actions against EY on behalf of both shareholders and bondholders”, so EY does not sign off on the books and they get to be in the dock? Questions rise to the sirface, do they not? I would reckon that in that stage the UK would need a much better setting towards the economy, especially as the banking sector will be in the rough until the end of the year, so the UJK gets to be lucky as we see ‘China’s Huawei to build $1.2 billion research facility in England’, it gives the light towards a growth inn 5G options for the UK as Huawei is trying to be nice to the EU (they need to) and as the US is in a stage of collapse, it makes sense for Huawei to set the stage to a larger field. The step makes sense win a few levels, even as some will state that the mainland of the EU would be better, appeasing the UK will also have its influence in Australia and Canada. Two much larger players and as such Huawei is going to be moving forward. It is therefor weird that 6 minutes later everyone’s favourite Labour puppet Tony Blair gives us ‘Britain should side with U.S. over Huawei, former PM Blair says’, Well one could argue that he is deep in American pockets, can we not? So when we mull over ““I think we do need to make a call and I think it has got to be pro-U.S. in the end,” Blair said when asked about Huawei at a Reuters Newsmaker event. “It is very hard for us not to be with the U.S. on anything that touches U.S. security.””, so why? America has not now, not ever produced any evidence that gives rise to the imaginative danger of China via Huawei. In addition, where was the US when Wirecard had created the imaginative $2,000,000,000, none had seemingly a clue and now that the pied piper is piping they have no issues making a move on EY being the optional culprit in this. 

We need to change the way we do business and as we see how valid makers like Olympics go under without doing anything wrong, we need to set much larger question marks on evidence and demanding it sooner from people on every level of government administration, even former elected officials making claims and especially when they are willing to to rely on evidence, so when we look at Wirecard, take in mind that we need to demand the clear setting on how $2,000,000,000 could be created out of thin air (my bank account needs a bit of that too).

 

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Decoupling Draghi is hard to do

Like a bad disengaging train, we see more and more how the Euro has become a dangerous place to be. I have pointed the finger at Mario Draghi more than once. He is not the only reason mind you, but he is a massive one. As I see it, a facilitator towards the Status Quo of a coin no one wants. Europeans see how their retirement is devaluating itself, others see a coin they do not trust, they do not like it, and to be honest they do not know why, but the numbers do not add up. Wall Street loves it, as they can leverage iteration after iteration of floating values as they can reset the currency seesaw, but over a dozen nations in Europe cannot, their hands are tied. It gets even worse in the near future if Japan is any indication to go by. Min Jeong Lee and Yuko Takeo from Bloomberg (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-27/escape-route-eludes-japan-stocks-still-hostage-to-u-s-sentiment) are showing you the prelude to the disaster that Europeans could possibly face within 24 months. The first statement is already showing u the issues that Europe will face soon enough: “Japan’s stock market is again showing itself handcuffed to U.S. growth prospects and its own currency“, In that same sense Europe will soon enough be depending on US growth prospects and the massive debt that Mario Draghi is pushing onto the Euro nations. Now, we need to realise two elemental parts:

  1. Europe is not that deep in debt, but the holes that Mario Draghi is creating is already having an impact. “Big bond funds are becoming increasingly reluctant to lend to the euro zone’s weakest members, looking past a crowded electoral calendar to an eventual winding down of the European Central Bank’s ultra-loose monetary policy” (source: Reuters), with the personal change, setting ‘European Central Bank’s ultra-loose monetary policy‘ into ‘irresponsible spending‘. As the time frame goes, Brexit and Frexit might be just in time to avoid a noose for the United Kingdom and France, but for many smaller EU nations it is too late, they have lost economic control and they are now the mere vassals (read: unchained into slavery) to do the bidding of the ECB. Is that what Euro nations signed up for?
  2. Japan has its own way of dealing with the debt and economy and many fear it was never a good plan, but as they skated the edge of the abyss for over a decade people have become insensitive to the impending doom, that is not a good thing, it is merely a Japanese thing.

FXStreet (at https://www.fxstreet.com/analysis/catalyst-for-chaos-201703271520) gives us the two elements. “The BOJ has an inflation target of 2%. If Mr. Kuroda ever has the temerity to end his bond-buying scheme, borrowing costs in this bankrupt nation, which has a total debt to GDP ratio of around 600%, would have to abruptly surge over 200 basis points just to keep even with the central bank’s inflation target” as well as “If the ECB were to seriously commit to ending its QE program, fixed income investors and speculators would panic to get ahead of the removal of Draghi’s bids; and Bund yields could surge well above the rate of inflation in a very short period of time“, which shows the removal of control and the implied fact (read: implied) that Mario Draghi has no intentions of ending his QE plan. Because the devastation that the surge of Bund yields would come with a hefty invoice, one that none of the EU nations can pay, this includes the big 4. Isn’t it nice that FXStreet and other trader and broker sites are actually starting to realise that what I have been warning people against for well over 2 years? I am not the ‘prognosticator of prognosticators‘ (Punxsutawney Phil has that title), mine was merely the conservative approach to the use of a modern abacus (read: Excel) with the application of common sense. Those who were claiming me to be wrong, (a fair amount of them) are now facing their own ridicule as they hide behind slogans like ‘changes in the economy‘, ‘a mere miscommunication‘ and my favourite ‘as we trusted the analysts‘, that is my favourite as it is based on the governmental forecast numbers that have not been anywhere near correct for well over a decade in well over a dozen European nations.

So as we go back to the Bloomberg part we now see: “as a chorus rises among analysts who think they see sufficient improvement in Japan’s domestic economy for the nation’s equities to unlock themselves from the exchange rate. Before last week, the yen and Topix were both up about 3 percent this year“. Yet not long thereafter we see “After Monday’s drop, the Topix is within one and a half percentage points of erasing its gain for 2017“, so before Q1 of 2017 is done, we see that the prospective gain of 2017 is all wiped out. This does not mean that there is no room for improvement, ye the fact that Bloomberg sees Japan as the 7th worst return of the 24 developed markets implies that Japan could potentially end dead last in 2017, music to the ears of the Chinese I reckon. In that same trend I disagree with Soichiro Monji, general manager at Daiwa SB Investments Ltd, as he makes the observation “Investors should focus on fundamentals like the economy and corporate earnings“, perhaps he remembers that somewhat popular kitchen course ‘How to cook the books‘, the news made some reports and comments on Toshiba and Olympus attending those artsy classes. Or perhaps the honourable Soichiro Monji remembers Nikko Cordial Corp. which is now part of the Citigroup Inc. and no longer in the hands of the honourable Junichi Arimura who was never proven to be involved, the proven guilty party is set to Hajime Yamamoto. As the pressures for these corporations go up, the dangers of ‘fraud’ (read: unintentional misrepresentation of a company’s position) will remains a danger and will also increase the impact it has on the Japanese economic forecasts. And this impact is also felt by those into the retirement system as it lost $50 billion less than a year ago. If we accept the realistic return of $2.5 billion, which fuels nearly 30% of the elderly, that is a big chunk to lose, in addition, in 8 years’ time 24 percent of gross domestic product will go straight to welfare, which is a mighty chink out of a budget that they cannot even get close to now, the Japanese debts are too high and Europe is slowly yet surely steering in the same direction.

There is one more element in all this, Toshiba is now ‘demanding’ that its US Nuclear unit (Westinghouse) to file for bankruptcy within the next 24 hours. This is not just cutting losses, this is a move to set losses where they need to be before the financial year ends (so basically all of Westinghouse and some of Toshiba losses (within legal limits of course) in Westinghouse. This gives us the consideration that Toshiba is having a disastrous year and fancy bookkeeping is in order to keep the stakeholders and stockholders happy at the upcoming reporting waves and meetings. This on top of the Fraud that happened earlier, this fits with last week headline ‘Toshiba ponders asset sales as it fights to stay alive‘, the question is what will be sold in addition to Westinghouse, because shedding the losses alone will not do the trick, they need to sell something with profit too. Nikkei Asia Review reported: “If Toshiba fail to win the bourse’s confidence, Toshiba shares will be delisted“, Now, bad places are bad places, yet when a 6.5 trillion yen company gets delisted, it will have an effect and not just a few small ripples. For some of the consumers this will be a golden year, you will face an optional sale of 65” Toshiba displays with possibly 70% off (everything must go, yes really!) Yet, as I stated earlier, they are in a state of clever bookkeeping (not a crime), the question becomes will the holders of stock and stake accept this? I have no idea, but what is decently clear is that the impact will be felt in both the US and Europe, yet not to the degree Japan will feel it.

These are just a few of the elements as they are brought to light that Draghi’s irresponsible spending is becoming more and more of an anchor, one with a noose around the necks of the European governments. In all this it was not a week ago that the Irish independent reported ‘Banks grab €233bn in free ECB loans as Draghi warns on profits‘, with the added quote “Yesterday, ECB president Mario Draghi signalled time is running out for banks to get their house in order“. So, consider the quote. Basically, whilst the ECB knows that the banks do not have their shit in a row, they still got their hands on a quarter of a trillion Euros? How is that not irresponsible? And free loans? When did any person get a free loan? For banks it is even an act, rasher than ever before as they tend to not be held accountable. All this comes with the additional quote “The banking sector’s capacity to fully support the euro area’s recovery is curtailed by its low profitability“,  so we know that the profitability is low, which was not a surprise, it affects recovery and yes, Mario Draghi dumps Europe in even deeper debt. Are you still on the path to support his irresponsible spending?

I am not, but as I am no longer in Europe, there is not much I get to do, the only disaster for me is that I have worked the bulk of my life there and I have seen that my pension is down by will over 60%, 40% in devaluation and 20% due to an increased and uncorrected cost of living. So when the debt bomb blows, very likely before 2019, I will ended have worked pretty much my entire life, with no pension remaining. Perhaps the arts can intervene? Would it be an optional economic success if Joss Whedon launches ‘Betty the banker slayer’? #Justsaying

 

 

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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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