Part 2 – Revelations
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
We have been following the G20 ‘get those naughty multinationals in the tax tent’ debates raging for a few months now, with amusement we have to add; here at theMarketSoul and have the following short thought piece to contribute to the debate.
We know the ‘outrage’ really is all about the what the OECD calls the ‘general erosion of the tax base’, which in our opinion is just a distraction for proper structural reforms in the western democracies contributing to the G20 and OECD coffers.
The real issue is the power of civil society structures, such as multinational corporations, versus nation states. We constantly get an earful on how undemocratic corporations are from a liberal social leftist media and how dangerous unfettered corporate power is.
Yet, multinationals are far more democratic, in both structure and performance, than any sovereign government will ever be. If the corporate governance structure is correctly set up, then every corporate entity has an annual AGM at which point the corporate leaders have to resign, on a rotational basis, depending on individual Articles of Association or Memorandum ofIincorporation provisions (depending in which jurisdiction the corporate entity ‘resides’). How often does a sovereign leader stand down, in comparison and leave it to the popular vote to be re-elected? Certainly not on an annual basis, as is the case for most corporate leaders.
This leads us to the real thought piece of this article, namely the fact that corporate ownership and access to corporate ownership should really be extended to as wide a base as possible, rather than a few ‘monied’ or opportunist participants in the market.
Legislation around employee share ownership schemes are still very cumbersome and rules, rather than principles driven.
The real revolution we require is not around a new tax base or recapitalizing democratic bankrupt nation states; however we require a revolution of democratic corporate ownership to sweep the length and breadth of the land, in order to spread the risk, add additional wealth creation opportunities (and hence a widened wealth tax base) for smaller, leaner and meaner governments to address. This a cry from civil society to the inner ‘goodness’ of political society to sit up, take serious stock and work on longer-term solutions to the erosion of their tax bases, rather than the usual headline grabbing short-termist market distorting interventions the G20 governments are so infamous.
Health Warning: The UK Bond Market rigging issue is all behaviourally driven. We express a personal opinion in this post and do not endorse or condone breaking any jurisdiction’s sovereign laws.
We would like to contribute a very short thought piece on this issue. Our premise basically goes like this and is grounded in behavioural theory:
It is a natural competitive behaviour to ‘cheat’ or try to cheat a system that becomes ‘badly’ designed, as in the case of the highly over regulated bond market and an environment of very low yields.
We find is amazing that the popular press only tend to focus on one side of the equation and distort the real issue and underlying drivers that lead tot cheating behaviour.
The rule of law should be the overriding guiding principle and helping to design markets and market participant behaviours based on properly incentivised interactions is part of any regulatory system. In the recent past, we have forgotten to bear this in mind…
…and then we act surprised when market actors (participants) misbehave?
…or is it regulation and process not taking into consideration Transaction Cost Economics?
This post is really a little rant.
We just tried to contact a well known global financial services institution in London in order to enquire about the opening of a corporate bank account.
We have a few why questions and cannot figure out if it regulatory or process driven.
1. Why can’t we get the correct number to call off the web site?
2. When we get through to someone and identify the product/service we require, why are we given the incorrect follow up number to call?
3. Once we get through the automated call processing system, why can’t the customer services representative do a simple thing for us, by transferring us to a supervisor or competent person with authority to speak to?
4. Why are the customer services representatives so wedded to a pre-prepared script.
5. Why have the management consultants who designed these systems not taken into consideration the basics of Transaction Cost Economics(TCE)?
…we think the rant should end there; but more on TCE to follow in future posts.
Rather than rehash the analysis already performed, we only have two items to add at this stage:
In a fiercely competitive international market space the desire to aggregate banks and financial institutions and hence reduce cost economies of scale at the expense of risk accumulation is overwhelming. (Which the discredited Sir Fred Goodwin ex Chief Executive of Royal Bank of Scotland [RBS] can testify to only too well)
Let’s hope the Vickers Report is not the start of the death knell of the UK financial services sector; or perhaps in a cynical way, that is exactly what is (intended) needed to address the UK’s long-term structural reliance on the financial services sector at the expense of a more balanced portfolio of productive output and activity.
Risk has as one of its essential elements TRUST as a foundation.
Trust on the other hand has many other factors that interplay and interact on it.
Markets are created when there are needs that are not immediately met from you local environment and therefore scarcity exists. Market participants step in to fill this ‘needs’ void.
As for any subset of Risk, either Operational, Market, Liquidity, Interest, etc. a big part of the assessment process it not just about looking inward and assessing the risk profiles, risk attitudes, risk systems, etc., but an important part of the process is stepping into the realm of uncertainty and looking outwards and the wider market context we find ourselves in.
Being too prescriptive about the individual risk profiles and control systems will only stifle innovation and growth. Some say we need a very healthy dose of growth right now, whereas others are content with the new world order of the ‘anti growth economic’ bias (our description of austerity) we have already entered in the Western Hemisphere.
Our positive risk management framework, also known as Value Oriented Risk Management encapsulates both risk and uncertainty management and combines it with the best offerings of Value Based Management. (For more information or to contact us, please click on the Contact us link or read the article entitled “The Intersection – Where Risk, Value & Reward“ link by clicking on the embedded link.
Our Value Oriented Risk Management is the positive Risk Management focus, acting as an enabler ensuring that you unlock value in your organisation a midst the regulatory compliance constraints added to your management agenda.