Sustainability I

theMarketSoul ©1999 - 2015:

An opinion piece we published in 2010 on Sustainability we believe to be as relevant as ever today…

Originally posted on theMarketSoul ©1999 - 2015:

The focus on sustainability and sustainable practices is a self defeating objective.  Sustainability means that business leaders take their eye off the equity holder’s value creation ideal, as it flies in the face of self-interest as promoted by Adam Smith some 234 years ago (The Wealth of Nations , 1776).

Self-interest and the pursuit therefore is being clouded by a multitude of other non value adding factors that is diluting the message and contributing to more uncertainty and risk and therefore capital flight and volatility in the financial and capital markets as we have experienced over the last 2 years.

This process and Zeitgeist will not disappear or be properly understood, unless we develop a deeper understanding and familiarity with uncertainty as a driver of the innovative spirit of human endeavour.

Risk management per se is not the answer and panacea it is held out to be, and if…

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Capricious Markets

theMarketSoul ©1999 - 2015:

Some thoughts on #Markets and #Risk from our archive (2010). Still relevant today?

Originally posted on theMarketSoul ©1999 - 2015:

The market is capricious.  We are paraphrasing a line from one of Bernard Cornwell’s series of historic novels on 9th century England, where he referred to the ‘old gods’ (pagan gods) of the Danes and Vikings as capricious.

So if the impulsive nature of markets is to be appreciated for what they are, then why are we trying so hard to manage risk completely out of existence?

We will focus on two specific factors today in what we refer to as the ‘dumbing down of risk’.

A strict or narrow definition (old financial language) of risk is possibly that it is a quantifiable number with a probability ranking and we can therefore attach a statistical inference to the occurrence of the risk event.

Yet in The Health & Safety Executives language a risk and “Risk management involves you, the employer, looking at the risks that arise in the…

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Moral Hazard PLUS – Part 2

Part 2 – Revelations
 Moral Hazard symbol utilized by theMarketSoul
In part 1 of this article we focused on the economic cycles and the underlying drivers for future Moral Hazard risks.
In today’s edition we will dwell a little on the revelations 2014 brought about in a series of disclosures and financial regulatory deals concluded.  As Tony Robinson put is so eloquently in a recent Twitter feed:  “In 2014 £1.4bn in financial penalties were paid by UK financial institutions. whenever has a legitimate industry acted so lawlessly?

 

Image used to convey the idea of currency conv...
Image credit: Wikipedia

 

What we notice is that only the financial institutions (and consequently their customers) bore the fines, no individual has yet been brought to justice and account for the near fatal financial collapse he 2008/9 Financial Crunch brought about.  Yes, individual traders who acted recklessly and outside of the bounds of their remits within financial organisations have been brought to account, however, the scale and ferocity of the collusion by Forex traders, the Libor scandal, PPI mis-selling, etc., etc., has yet to yield individuals sanctioned and barred for ever acting as officers and employees of these large financial institutions.  Do the regulators and law enforcers and criminal justice system believe that the market will be protected by not taking appropriate action?  The longer we leave punishment and sanctions off the agenda, the more urgent the growing threat for Moral Hazard PLUS will be.
Therefore, we have now had and will no doubt continue to have revelations drip fed to the consumer masses, but more importantly will we take the necessary steps to mitigate individual Moral Hazard risk, as a lot has already been done to tighten and improve regulation at the institutional level?
This is the biggest and most burning question we believe drives Moral Hazard PLUS today and not the near term future.
In the concluding part of this article we will wrap things up by concentrating on large scale corruption and unpunished collusion that fester and provide fertile soil for Moral Hazard PLUS to continue to grow and exist.
© theMarketSoul 2015

Thoughts on 2014 – Moral Hazard PLUS – Part 1

Reflections on 2014

As a behaviourally focused economics publication we have been very quiet and inactive during 2014. A year of reflection and introspection, however, we are ready to resume service, with vigour. And what better way to start than with a reflective piece and thoughts on the biggest risk we believe are developing under the surface without warning. Our concluding theme of 2014 is that of moral hazard.

As Margaret Thatcher once said: “There is no society”; we state today that there is ‘No Moral Hazard'; in fact there is only Moral Hazard PLUS.

We believe that there is a strong correlation between QE (Quantitative Easing) and economic moral hazard developing a new strain, mutating like an unseen virus.

QE might have saved the financial system of the developed world, but it it only provided a shot in the arm and acted as a stimulus for sustaining moral hazard.

Economics follow a flow and cyclical pattern, as discussed in our article entitled ‘Information Age Irony‘. These patterns and flows weave themselves into the fabric of our lives and affect individual economies in different ways.

It is important to understand where and how economic cycles develop and flow and how much influence they have on our general economic activities on a day to day basis, but we should not become overly obsessed by them, as they can be short-circuited from time to time by policy and policy-maker’s actions, wherever individually or collectively.

In part 2 of this article we will focus on the revelations of QE and the underlying threat of moral hazard returning on a grander and more catastrophic scale, if it goes unchecked and misunderstood.

© theMarketSoul 2014

Immediacy – Analysing the Behavioural Dimensions

theMarketSoul ©1999 - 2015:

Revisiting some posts from 2013…

Originally posted on theMarketSoul ©1999 - 2015:

The problem of getting too distracted by constantly fire-fighting in business settings

Français : Logo de Connecting Emotional Intell...

We might have heard it referred to as phrases such as “blinkered vision, short-term thinking”, possibly even “tunnel vision” or something similar; however the challenges of Immediacy is (1) the hidden cost and (2) damage it does to our organisations and culture within those organisations.

This is a behavioural consequence of a much more deep rooted problem.  It could possibly be insecurity or ‘over’ control, mistrust or some other behavioural issue.

However, we would like to make a bold statement that the problem is one of an over commented emotional connection to what we do. Too much passion and care in other words. This is not a bad thing in itself, but it must be tempered and balanced by its opposite twin, namely logic and deliberation.

Too often we let the Emotional Intelligence (EI) side of our…

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The Market Burden

theMarketSoul ©1999 - 2015:

Thoughts on regulation and a skewed market:

Originally posted on theMarketSoul ©1999 - 2015:

Today’s post is actually only a short sound bite for further conversations to be developed in the future:

The real burden of the open and free market is the fact that it does not always behave and act in the way the market participants anticipated. [In other words, the market might be open and free but not perceived as fair – a real challenge when the clearance mechanism experiences the odd bottleneck moment, because in the long run, the market should and will always clear and achieve equilibrium].
The burden the market then bears is in the form of interference and regulation…
Counter argument always very welcome.
theMarketSoul  ©2013

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Funky New Job Titles

theMarketSoul ©1999 - 2015:

A reminder to be creative everyday…

Originally posted on theMarketSoul ©1999 - 2015:

Below is an extract from a posting we made back in 2008.  Maybe still relevant today:

In this new, new world of work

What titles are there yet to lurk?

The new MD

He or she or it could be:

Maverick Director;

Not your average reflector!

The IM is the person

Where intuition is the key

Or are they the Ideas Merchants

or just another fee?

IT stands for Interesting Thing

Technology drives the process

And we are told that knowledge

Must definitely be better than porridge!

The SD drives the sales

Or Sets Deception

Yet revenue collection

their fortunate projection

The HR director,

You’d better respect ‘er

Yet Human Potential

Sounds much more consequential?

Or politically correct,

You OLD cynical fool!

Now even that word

We must reject!

Where am I heading?

With this you ask

Must there be an end?

Or just another bend?

Charisma, inspiration

Or just…

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Do you think it should be compulsory to pay into a pension?

theMarketSoul ©1999 - 2015:

Some thought provoking issues raised as part of the ‘long-term savings gap’ challenge, perceived by think tanks and government advisors…

Originally posted on Steve J Bicknell:

Pension Scheme

A government think thank, Policy Exchange, have urged the government to make it compulsory that people save for their retirement. Their proposal the ‘Help to Save’ Scheme is aimed at avoiding 11 million people ending up in ‘Pension Poverty’. In a BBC article….

James Barty, author of the report, said the lack of people saving for their retirement was putting an “intolerable burden on the state” which “needs to be addressed sooner rather than later”.

He said: “With an ageing population, putting money aside for later life should be seen in the same context as National Insurance contributions, taxes and even education – an obligation that falls on everyone in society.

“‘Help to Save’ will prevent the state from having to pick up the tab for people who haven’t put aside enough money for later life.”

Under the plans, the opt-out in the Government’s auto-enrolment scheme would be removed…

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The Bread-ish Difference Between Capitalism and Socialism

theMarketSoul ©1999 - 2015:

…keeping economic concepts simple or just plain being conceptually simple…

Dan Mitchell has a knack in this re-blogged post to get the concept of socialism versus capitalism across very succinctly.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

If you ask an economist about the difference between capitalism and socialism, you’ll probably get a boring answer about the size of government, the impact on incentives, and the power of the state.

Or maybe you’ll get a nit-picking answer, sort of like when I explained that Obama technically isn’t a socialist.

That’s why it’s sometimes best to use simple, common-sense analogies.

Two years ago, I used two cows to explain the differences between various economic systems.

But this image may be an ever more succinct way to showing the difference between capitalism and socialism.

Socialism capitalism bread

Or, if you prefer stories, this updated version of the fable of the ant and the grasshopper makes the same point.

And here’s the PC version of the Little Red Hen.

View original

If only we could…

…[take] the human being out of the market entirely, then we should have a proper, effective and efficient market…?
So might go the refrain of Neo-liberal economics, or at least a slightly different take on the Neo-liberal ideal of ‘every interaction should be a market transaction‘.

inspiration

That Neo-liberal economic refrain is part of the inspiration behind the creation of the ‘Soul of the Market’ or rather theMarketSoul and this site.
With this last post of 2013, we thought a bit of reflection and a reminder of our inspiration and founding philosophy might be in order.
In order for a market to be effective, there has to be a few ripples in the ebbs and flows of the transactions and interactions making up the market processes.  Therefore, we have to be able to tolerate human frailties and flaws, or else the market becomes too mechanistic and dare we say it preordained.  This can naturally not be an effective outcome for any market.  Human failings and market failure are two sides of the same coin.  However, we should work together in order to limit the inevitable damage and negative consequences of both human and market failure.  This does not necessarily translate into more regulation, might we add at this juncture.
Let us never forget this and celebrate process frailty, failure, learn to develop and embrace tolerance, persistence and perseverance; basic elements of human nature
We should never forget our inspiration, put it to aspiration and strive to achieve our own unique and specific dreams.
Human Nature / Logo
Human Nature / Logo (Photo credit: Ars Electronica)
Go, Inspire, Aspire and Achieve…
theMarketSoul ©2013
Our final word of 2013 is:

CONSOLIDATION

Technical Default Options – US Government Shutdown Analysis (Part2)

Seal of the United States Department of the Tr...
Seal of the United States Department of the Treasury (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The real challenge and issue:

The US Debt default that is looming ever larger with each passing day that the US Congress, Senate and White House seem to treat as a brinkmanship fatigue challenge will have a specific default structure or process attached to it, that the rest of the world needs to get to grips with very quickly.

Breakdown of political party representation in...
Breakdown of political party representation in the United States Senate during the 112th Congress. Blue: Democrat Red: Republican Light Blue: Independent (caucused with Democrats) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What are the consequences:

Because, if Americans are willing to engage in quasi-negotiations with each other on this acrimonious level; then world beware, they will treat you with even more disdain and petulance than they have been treating each other.

And yet, no Creditor Nation of the USA seem in the least bit prepared for the hard bargaining the USA Treasury officials will engage in when the technical default moves into a more serious phase.

This is commercial war on a scale we have not experienced for quite some time.

And the most disparaging part of this process or potential risk is that no commentator has yet stood up and called time on this challenge or at the very least attempted to pull the veil from the threat and fall-out the rest of the world will experience.

The western front of the United States Capitol...
The western front of the United States Capitol. The Capitol serves as the seat of government for the United States Congress, the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. It is located in Washington, D.C., on top of Capitol Hill at the east end of the National Mall. The building is marked by its central dome above a rotunda and two wings. It is an exemplar of the Neoclassical architecture style. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What next?

Of course 17 October 2013 is a technical default breach days only; because as most business people who experienced bankruptcy will attest to is the fact that you can continue to trade (on the goodwill of your creditors) beyond the point of being solvent, so long as those creditors continue to good-naturedly extend some further credit or payment terms to you.

theMarketSoul ©2013

 

US Treasury Yield Curve – The Shutdown Analysis (Part 1)

Seal of the United States Department of the Tr...
Seal of the United States Department of the Treasury (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today we very briefly focus on the dynamics we have observed in the US Treasury Yield Curve between two critical dates:

1. The Yield Curve at 30 September 2013 – The day before the US government shutdown officially began

2. Friday 11 October 2013, exactly 11 days into the White House, Congress and Senate stand-off

YC shutdown AnalysisWhat can clearly be observed from the Yield Curve for Treasury Bills (T-Bills) dated 30 days is that the spread between 30 September 2013 (at 0.10%) to the rate at 11 October 2013 (0.26%) has significantly increased and that the Yield Curve has become inverted.  Normally the sign of a recession or other financial calamity to come.

Our question:

Will Thursday 17 October 2013 be D-Day (for Disaster or Domino-day) when the whole lot starts tumbling down again?

Immediacy – Analysing the Behavioural Dimensions

The problem of getting too distracted by constantly fire-fighting in business settings

Français : Logo de Connecting Emotional Intell...

We might have heard it referred to as phrases such as “blinkered vision, short-term thinking”, possibly even “tunnel vision” or something similar; however the challenges of Immediacy is (1) the hidden cost and (2) damage it does to our organisations and culture within those organisations.

This is a behavioural consequence of a much more deep rooted problem.  It could possibly be insecurity or ‘over’ control, mistrust or some other behavioural issue.

However, we would like to make a bold statement that the problem is one of an over commented emotional connection to what we do. Too much passion and care in other words. This is not a bad thing in itself, but it must be tempered and balanced by its opposite twin, namely logic and deliberation.

Too often we let the Emotional Intelligence (EI) side of our personalities or just pure emotions (if we lack in the finesses of EI) rule the roost and we park logic and Business Intelligence (BI) at our peril.

What to do, in order to balance the equation:

When faced with the typical flight or flight scenario of a mini crisis at work or during a project;, stop or pause for a little while in order to achieve two very important objectives:

  1. Calm down the emotional roller coaster.
  2. Take stock in order to appraise and assess what would be the most logical course of action to take next.
English: Book Cover
English: Book Cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As an experiment in BI versus EI today and over the course of this week, just think and apply these two simple steps and monitor and evaluate the outcomes and consequences.

You might be pleasantly surprised…

Feedback most welcome.

theMarketSoul © 2013 

The Market Burden

Illustrates the intersection of supply and dem...
Illustrates the intersection of supply and demand curves as the free market equilibrium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s post is actually only a short sound bite for further conversations to be developed in the future:

The real burden of the open and free market is the fact that it does not always behave and act in the way the market participants anticipated. [In other words, the market might be open and free but not perceived as fair – a real challenge when the clearance mechanism experiences the odd bottleneck moment, because in the long run, the market should and will always clear and achieve equilibrium].
The burden the market then bears is in the form of interference and regulation…
Counter argument always very welcome.
theMarketSoul  ©2013

The BIG Sovereign Debt Structure cliff – Part 1

theMarketSoul ©1999 - 2015:

…and a year and a bit later we are exactly at the same place as far as the US Debt cliff is concerned…now only US$16.7trn and counting the continuing cost and Debt mountain…

Originally posted on theMarketSoul ©1999 - 2015:

In yesterday’s article, “Where will all the new money come from?” we concluded the brief analysis with the Sovereign Debt Maturity profiles (otherwise known as the Debt Structure) of both the USA and Italy, noting how similar the two profiles looked at first glance.

Digging a bit deeper today, we would like to compare those charts to cliff edges. We trust that the sentiment of the article is that we perceive Central Banks across the globe fretting about the ‘New Money’ we were referring to.  With general economic confidence waning and the outlook for a sustainable long-term solution to sovereign over (indulgence) spending fading, the landscape is looking very bleak at moment.

New money will have to be printed (Quantitative Easing or QE) if investors in the capital markets cannot be found to bear the burden of purchasing new Bond and Treasury issues.

Some headlines over the…

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A sigh of relief?

theMarketSoul ©1999 - 2015:

Considering the impact of time, leads and lags in our economic thoughts and knowledge…#Thoughts from 2011

Originally posted on theMarketSoul ©1999 - 2015:

Some say that in life timing is everything…

And so too it is with economics.  We don’t yet have a fully developed and ‘mature’ [in terms of life-cycle] grasp of the impact of timing with leads and lags in the economy in general.

Yes, we have very sophisticated and advance models, analytics, knowledge management, quantitative theories, etc.; but we still do not fully comprehend the impact of time and timing in general on the factors of production influencing our ‘modern’ global economy.

In short, it looks like the potential calamitous US Debt Ceiling crisis has been averted (events during Monday 1 August still need to unfurl), meaning that the US nation can continue to settle its debt obligations for a little while longer, without President Obama having to resort to the 14th Amendment.

And this is where the timing conversation picks up its thread again.  The Debt…

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Faites Vos Jeux

theMarketSoul ©1999 - 2015:

Some #thoughts from the previous governor of the Bank of England…could he ever make his mind up?

Originally posted on @lemasabachthani:

“I think there are four [solutions for the eurozone] . One is to continue with mass unemployment in the south, in order to depress wages and prices until they’ve become competitive again. The second is to say, ‘Well, we have to get rid of this imbalance in competitiveness, so we need inflation in Germany.’ That seems unattractive, certainly to the Germans. The third is to give up on this question of restoring competitiveness quickly and accept that this is an indefinite transfer union. That requires two things: one is for people in the north to give money to people in the south; the other is for people in the south to accept the conditions imposed on them, which will limit the size of the transfer. The fourth is to change the membership. Now, I don’t know what the right answer is, and it will depend on their political objectives, but economics tells you that…

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Europe’s Soft Bigotry of Low Economic Expectations

theMarketSoul ©1999 - 2015:

As a precursor to a series of articles we plan to publish over the next few weeks, taking a ‘Factors of Production’ analysis view of “Europe’s Economic Woes”, this article by Dan Mitchell is spot on in framing the European ‘low expectations’ culture….

Originally posted on International Liberty:

The United States is suffering through the weakest economic expansion since the Great Depression, which is a damning indictment of Obamanomics.

But that doesn’t mean the United States has the world’s worst-performing economy. Japan’s statist economy has been mired in stagnation for more than 20 years, which is about what you might expect in a nation where the government is so omnipresent that it even regulates coffee enemas.

But if you really want to feel good about America’s economy (at least in relative terms), then a comparison to Europe is probably akin to snorting cocaine.

The welfare states on the other side of the Atlantic are in such poor shape that they celebrate even the tiniest glimmer of good news. Here are some blurbs from a story in the EU Observer.

The eurozone economy has moved out of recession, according to unexpectedly strong data published on Wednesday…

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The Value of the Synthesist (as opposed to the Analyst)

theMarketSoul ©1999 - 2015:

A walk back in time. #Thoughts from 2010. The #Value of #Synthesis versus #Analysis. #Tyranny and #Innovation

Originally posted on theMarketSoul ©1999 - 2015:

We had some very rewarding conversations recently with business partners and peers regarding the Value of Synthesis versus Analysis.

Synthesis we believe to be a ‘higher level’ skill and experience set than traditional analysis.  Synthesis requires a natural ‘incubation period’.  Very few people are natural ‘synthesists’.  You grow and mature into a ‘natural Synthisist’.

Analysts can be taught.  In fact a very lucrative business education industrial complex has been built on the back of ‘creating a production line of analysts’.  We call them Business Schools churning out master’s level analysts with the three-letter MBA title behind their names.

Don’t get us wrong on this one.  We are not criticising MBAs or the Business Schools that produce them.  Far from it; because we believe that part of the ‘evolutionary process’ of ‘incubating a mature synthesist’ is having a deep and fundamental understanding of analysis and the factors that contribute to making…

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The Kuznets swing and the market for labour and skills

You must have seen the headlines recently? British wages falling sharply in real terms versus our EU brethren…

We wrote about a particular economic phenomenon referred to in this post about economic cycles and particularly the Kuznets swing; which we find the most interesting and thought provoking cycle. The reason for this is that it is a generational cycle, only lasting or more accurately stated lasting anywhere between 15 – 25 years.

Image representing oDesk as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

So where are we on this cycle and what does it mean for me, should be the two most obvious questions to answer?

Lets address both separately below.

Firstly we believe we are now around seven years into a downward phase of the Kuznets cycle, therefore to some analysts it would mean that we are either almost half way or to others around a third of the way through this cycle.

Secondly, and more importantly, the impact it has on market participants like all of us:

We believe that the downward phase of a Kuznets swing is the ‘exuberance‘ correcting phase; when markets and other factors of productions contributing to mostly normal market clearing activity ‘got slightly out of kilter’. The Kuznets swing is always there to bring these factors of production into alignment. It is a consolidation phase of the cycle and interestingly for this particular phase, it coincides with disruptive technological advances around Cloud Computing, dis-aggregation of intermediaries, especially in labour markets with labour or skills exchanges appearing everywhere.  Examples include, Elance, oDesk, PeoplePerHour, etc..

English: Cloud Computing
English: Cloud Computing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Furthermore, and this is the most import action point for our readers to understand and appreciate, this consolidation and technological advance has a severe impact of wages levels and the distribution of where actual ‘work’ is being performed.

Hence headlines like the one we spotted this morning regarding real wages in Britain declining relative to other (very unproductive EU cousins) are not helpful without the pundit exploring and engaging n deeper analysis of the underlying drivers for the pressure.

The Income and Substitution effects of a wage ...
The Income and Substitution effects of a wage increase (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our recommendation:

Understand that the world of work is changing much faster than we had ever become used to in previous generations. As active able and willing participants in this market for labour and skills we have clear choices: Up-skill, be competitive appreciate and plan for volatility in the labour supply market, by ensuring flexibility in location, skills and prices. It is especially painful to suffer real wage declines, but remember this is the market’s subtle way of signalling a problem or challenge in that particular market and a way of adjusting in order to restore the natural balance and clearing prices.

We believe every interfering politician and educating commentator should always bear this in mind.

theMarketSoul ©2013

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Shaping and innovating economic thinking about markets of the future, one behavioural step at a time…Making Sense of Scarcity, Choice and Outcomes

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