A new Commercial Reality under Austerity

How to compete fairly and openly.  [Part of our ‘The Trouble with Innovation series 1,2,3,4,5 – Part 6]

Doing business anywhere, anytime is never easy!

That is a stark commercial reality, that most business people will accept as a given.  But how? now? does is work in a climate of AUSTERITY???

(Apologies for the blatant confusion and poetic licence taken in the previous sentence).

Public and private sectors mostly have an uneasy symbiotic relationship with each other.  If the public sector cannot deliver a solution, they have to procure it from a private provider and a private provider (generally, but not always) rub their hands with glee, as it is relatively speaking ‘easy money’ provided you meet and exceed certain framework thresholds.

All nice and cosy, when we are in a growth cycle of the economy; yet ever so tricky when those Framework Procurement Agreements come up for tender during the down slope side of the cycle…

Business Cycle
Image via Wikipedia

It is odd how the ‘staccato’ relationship between private and public sectors work at different periods during the business cycle.  And this is exactly where the public sector, with an astute “commercial hat” on, can take advantage of it’s perceived negotiating strength during the down cycle agreement drafting / tendering process.

Yet, do they take advantage of this? 

Our view is that any Public Sector Procurement Framework Agreement with private sector providers will always be a FLOOR, thereby setting the minimum expectations and requirements, without ever really driving proper continuous INNOVATION and COMPETITIVE DYNAMICS to ensure players with ‘skin in the game’ continue to understand and manage their businesses with the proper risk attitude (never mind risk appetite).  Rather than act as a (“floor price”) barrier to entry, they should act as ceiling, or rather more ‘bluish sky’ REACH or STRETCH agreements, setting the rules of the game, but not acting as the default pricing mechanism , meaning that the private sector provider must continue to be innovative, rather than wait and ‘cream-off’ the best bits whilst seeing out the agreement time period until the next time anyone bothers to ‘tamper with the height’ of the limbo bar…

Our summary take away from this article:

The Public Sector Procurement Framework Agreement therefore should act as an incentive to compete and have fair access, but never as the default pricing mechanism.

Community and Public Sector Union Pledge Signi...
Community and Public Sector Union Pledge Signing 20th August 2010 (Photo credit: Senator Kate Lundy)

theMarketSoul ©2012

A cynical swipe at the ‘Consumer end’ of the money (value) chain

Today’s short opinion piece revolves around the recent rail fare increases announced in the UK.

It strikes us as a very cynical way of rewarding behaviour and policies implemented by previous governments and parliaments to now go and increase the ‘tax’ on rail commuters when the switching policy from road to rail has meant that more rail passenger miles are being racked up versus road miles and supposedly turning off the tax flows into the Treasury from fuel duties, because more rail journeys are being undertaken.

Yet again the pendulum has swung the other way and at the consumer end of the bargain, we are being sent a confusing message us to which behaviours the government wants to encourage us to take.

No wonder the general malaise of cynicism and anti democratic behaviours we have recently experienced has and will manifest itself again.

Less government, less interference, less confusion.  Let the (a well governed) market help efficiently incentivise people to do the right thing at the right time for the right price.

theMarketSoul  ©2011

For more information about the Economics of Taxation just click the link in this sentence

 

 

 

The Economics of Social breakdown

How do we define the state of our nation at the moment?

For a little while now we have been experiencing an ‘unease’ with the communication revolution and the disparate nature of communication tools at our disposal. On the surface it would appear that what is happening is that rather than bind together a society it is having exactly the opposite effect.

The recent riots in the UK is just a small manifestation of this general unease.

From a purely economic and dispassionate analysis of the situation, we would offer the following opinion:

We don’t have a ‘broken society‘, as is such an often uttered phrase, but rather a complete misunderstanding of the disconnect between our ‘old / slow business models’ and the pace at which technology moves and changes the rules of engagement.

The pace of change in organisational design, planning and execution models lags multiple-fold behind the pace of technological advancement. It almost has an exponential relationship and due to this factor, we have not yet come to grips with applying new technology to ‘old world’ thinking, with its checks and balances and control mechanisms.

The disconnect between the pace of the communication revolution and the nature of diminishing returns has led to a massive gap in appreciating the fact the occasionally we have to pause and reflect on where we are and where we want to be.

Both the continuing economic crisis, pace of change, realisation that the future does not hold the same promise and prosperity as the recent past; are all infliction points that have amplified and spilled over into anger and the violence of the past few days.

So what we have is a ‘broken understanding’ of how different factors of production, such as land, labour, capital, enterprise and innovation has drifted further apart and caused unnecessary and unsustainable concentrations of accumulated power and risk amongst differing population groupings in the UK and elsewhere.

Remember, all five of these factors of production listed above need to work in harmony, in order to add, create and manage value and output that are useful and life sustaining necessities for all citizens.

Let’s address the gap between political and civil society to ensure sustainable progress and development for all.

theMarketSoul © 2011

US Treasuries – An FX or a market call?

So it has finally happened. After threatening for months that a credit rating down grade was probable for the USA, Standard & Poor’s finally took the ‘big step’ on Friday 5 August, after the major markets closed.

English: Logo for FX
Image via Wikipedia

So what next?

In our article ‘US Treasuries – Are the markets really that bothered?‘ published on 30 July 2011, we argued that the markets were not really bothered, as both 5 & 7 year T-Bill currently delivered a negative Real Return to investors.

Everyone is dreading the opening bells in stock capital and forex market on Monday, yet we believe the fundamental question for this week will be:

Is this an FX or market call?

What we meanby this question is:

Will the markets and market participants see the down grade as an opportunity to play an FX gain game; or has the game fundamentally shifted and will the capital markets react by demanding a higher nominal or at least Real Return on US Treasury bills?

All pointers at the moment did not indicate a problem, but time will tell on whether a fundamental shift in attitude has occurred. Remember a credit rating is only a qualitative indicator, not a quantitative one, so on a technical call a few FX traders and investors might make a profit or two; but we are all waiting to see if the entire game has changed, or not.

Other factors that might come into play soon would be QE3 and attitude hardening  by major T-Bill investors.

How the US Treasury and administration now react will be crucial.

Who are we going to trust to make this big call?

English: A logo of the Standard & Poor's AA- r...
Image via Wikipedia

theMarketSoul © 2011

Pleae refer to our disclaimer page

Economics of Taxation

There are in essence only two ways of taxing citizens:

  1. A Tax on Stock (Wealth)
  2. A Tax on Flows (Income or consumption)
taxes
taxes (Photo credit: 401K)

Within these two tax methodologies are hidden the minutiae of  the tax regime system, but at a fundamental level, any tax raising authority has to look at these two options / methodologies available to them.

Now step back second and consider the tax take flows from  these two options:

With Incomes and consumption generally on the wane, where  else can the taxing authority turn for sustaining or growing their net tax take?  Only on the stock of capital  assets held by its citizens, so expect a sustained, possibly nuanced, yet blatant attack on your net wealth over the coming few years.

Vince Cable United Kingdom Business Secretary ...
Image via Wikipedia

Another salvo  was  launched again from the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, yesterday and we expect a sustained rhetoric and action in the next budget cycle.  Today, the main stream press are reporting rumour of lower the 50% rate to 45%, to encourage an inflow of entrepreneurial  and highly skilled management talent, reversing the recent drain or threat of ‘brain  drain’ from taxpayers in this tax rate band.

Tax
Tax (Photo credit: 401K)

theMarketSoul ©2011

The US Treasury Yield Curves #2 – Do you factor inflation into the deal?

In the previous article we posted, mention was made of the (0.72)% [negative 0.72%] real return US Treasury investors can currently expect on 5 Year Treasury Bills.  The Nominal (quoted) Yield Curves and Real (Inflation adjusted) Yield Curves for two specific points in time, namely Friday 29 July 2011 and 30 July 2006 are listed below.

Yield Curve 1

What is interesting to note is the very flat nature of the Yield Curve for all T-Bills at the end of July 2006, at around a 5% Nominal Return for investors.  Yet the most significant fact is that the Real Yield was around 2.37% on 5 Year Treasuries, versus today’s (0.72)% on 5 Year or (0.18)% 7 Year T-Bill yields.  In order to generate a very small Real Return, you have to be looking at purchasing a 10 Year T-Bill to obtain a modest 0.38% Real Return in today’s market.

A cynic might make this remark:

“Not only do you pay your taxes, but with the negative Real Yields on both 5 & 7 Year T-Bills, you are paying the government to hold on to your cash too”

They win both ways!

theMarketSoul ©2011

Source Material:  US Treasury web site:

http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/interest-rates/Pages/Historic-Yield-Data-Visualization.aspx

The US Treasury Yield Curves – Are the markets really that bothered?


 

Department of Treasury Seal (2895964373)
Image via Wikipedia

As a general introduction today we will look at two US Treasury Yield curves.  The first Yield curve in the Curve graphic 1 below is the 3 Month bills compared to the 10 Year bills over the last 5 years.

Yield Curve 1

In this table it is clear that the current 10 Year rate of 2.82% as of 29 July 2011, is still well below the 5 year average rate.  The trend of the 3 Month bills, especially over the last few months has drifted aimlessly between 0.15% on 28 February 2011 and currently at 0.10% on 29 July 2011.  There is in fact no noticeable concern in the Bond / Capital market over the potential technical US Treasury default on 2 August 2011.

The second curve below in Curve graphic 2 illustrates this fact of the 3 Month bills trend since 28 February 2011 to 29 July 2011.  As can be observed, in the last few days a very slight spike has been observed, yet the rate at 0.10% is still below the 0.15% rate of 28 February 2011.

Yield Curve 2

In real monetary terms it is costing 5 Year Treasury bill holders (0.72%) (Yes a negative return of 0.72% currently to buy 5 Year Treasuries.  (See US Treasury web site)

It will be interesting to observe and track the trends over the coming days, especially as we kick off August and Debt Ceiling D-Day in the US congress and Senate.

theMarketSoul ©2011

Source Material:  US Treasury web site: http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/Pages/default.aspx