Archive for the ‘Statistics’ Category

It has been oft repeated that in our democratic, liberal societies, the few have greater power over the many

Is it the top 1% that owns a greater share of the capital and wealth than the remaining 99%? It is interesting to think of how many of these ‘many verses few’ statistics genuinely exist when analysing our reality

Given the freedom to own property and generate capital, which can indeed be a positive thing, to what extent is this so open to abuse that the rules of the game were never really meant to create fairness and a degree of equality? Is human nature, which is left unchecked, too prone to avarice that such freedoms will always result in a small elite hungry to capture ever more resources than required?

This is not another post looking to promote controlled economies,  however its purpose is to illustrate that, with the best of intensions, will some freedoms, when applied to a population shaped and conformed to behave in a certain manner, always result in a pyramidical structure taking shape where these conditions exist? Is this shape the overriding effect of all the freedoms at our disposal? Consider the following;

Top Asset Management firms by total value of assets under management

Think about what this data is actually telling us; when asset managers acquire equity, or interest in another business enterprise, they take a degree of ownership in that firm. Thereby, over time and because of the funds that flow to these giant institutions, the few in combination, have ended up in a position of ‘owning’ in part or in full, the many corporations that they have a share in – allowing them to ascend to the top of the pyramid; the few owning much greater proportion combined than the many. It also follows that this leads to a common source of control and influence across an economy/region given this limited pool of effective ownership.

Another perspective on this could be that much of this capital originates from the mass population who are the ultimate owners, through their long term savings and pension provisions invested with these providers. Therefore, is this an attempt to invert the structure, allowing the many to benefit? I would argue not, the masses, when considered individually, on average, do not financially benefit as much as the managers who take material cuts from the pool of funds at their disposal. Often their reward incentives are not adequately aligned with the retail investors at large, allowing the elite to become disproportionally better off than the investors who are searching for gains. The small investor is also not the party which excercises the controlling power.

In addition to this asset ownership, consider more generally, how much land the few own in comparison to the larger population, the size of GDP of the few regions compared to the many, the distribution of resources, the access to what is classed as the best quality of education, the trend continues and the structure that we can continually see forming is that of a top down, hierarchical pyramid – it should be clear from such insights what the ultimate power structure of the contemporary world is and what the fruits of everybody’s efforts are really delivering.

 

 

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As the new calendar year opens and the prior year draws to a close, many media slots are filled with both reviews of the past 12 months and predictions for the coming period.

In a year which has shattered any pretence, if there was indeed any in the first place, that certain qualified professionals have an innate ability to understand and predict future events and trends more so than those not so versed, I find it bewildering how the routine of setting predications continues apace.

Yet, nothings changes with the time and space given to these commentators. Does this suggest that we are simply suffering the fall out of the media’s own making?

Does it become a necessary exercise in futility that cannot be undone. People are paid to ply their trade, plenty of investors hoping to be the early bird yearn for such opinion, however what fundamentals change with the ticking of the clock past midnight on the 31st of December….none. Events occur at various moments, they may be game changers, or just another part of an ongoing trend, but until such time, why do many of us become caught up, entangled, in the futility of reviewing for only the sake of review? Until material events take place, should the consensus be the same from one small moment to the next?

With the amount of opinions available, getting the right outcome then becomes a sure fire way to earn a name for yourself…and then ensure others listen to you the next time. It will also set yourself apart from others and thus raise your status even further, allowing one to earn a greater share of the pie.

But the emphasis seems to be to write for the sake of writing, to pick winners or make new observations, not because anything has changed, but because of the need to make a statement, an observation or raise an issue not already discussed. Because the machine is too bloated and it needs more junk to feed on, many are only too pleased to oblige, and before we know it, we don’t have quality research on the market, we have noise. Distracting garbage probably not worth the paper its written on, something to separate the herd from the those with an eagle eye.

No-one can be right all the time, and no-one can rightly claim to know more than their peers. And yet in a year such as 2016 when eggs have been freely spread over the faces of our esteemed experts no such change is thought to be appropriate this time around.

Sometimes, less is needed, not more. Sometimes no comments are more insightful than the need to fill a void, to sell more observations to the detriment of the ordinary investor. I find a great connection here to the fact that even in an information age, with so much growing information at the tips of our fingers, we are arguably becoming ever more ignorant, being drowned in distraction not clarity. Look at the clamour of reporters trying to decipher from the tiniest inferences from Central Bank Governors as to the perceived direction of rates and the economy….there is just too much at stake not to be overzealous in this regard.

Will we think back to the remarkable number of events throughout modern history when the herd were quite disastrously wrong (EU Single Currency argument ?), or is this too just many people buying the trash up for sale. Perhaps we have never been accurate at all but the blurred reality shown to us is one that most experts get it right… mostly, but who’s really keeping check?

I wonder how the future will pan out…..let me see what those in the know are saying….?

 

 

 

AI is not an upcoming trend to watch for. It is a reality becoming ever more present and considerably more powerful with each passing moment.

The following documentary by the acclaimed filmmaker Adam Curtis, only touches upon this in the wider context of his narrative, however I wish to focus particularly on his coverage of the asset management giant, BlackRock, and the Aladdin platform and risk management system it employs.

Adam-Curtis-Hypernormalisation

This sparked my interest into the use of such intelligence within the monetary system itself. The finance industry is clearly not distinct for its use of AI as compared to that of other spheres of life and work. I believe it is worthwhile exploring this in the following articles from The Economist;

The Monolith and the Markets

The rise of BlackRock

ASK conspiracy theorists who they think really runs the world, and they will probably point to global banks… Oil giants …..may also earn a mention. Or perhaps they would focus on the consumer-goods firms that hold billions in their thrall….

One firm unlikely to feature on their list is BlackRock, an investment manager whose name rings few bells outside financial circles. Yet it is the single biggest shareholder in all the companies listed above. It owns a stake in almost every listed company not just in America but globally. …..Its reach extends further: to corporate bonds, sovereign debt, commodities, hedge funds and beyond. It is easily the biggest investor in the world, with $4.1 trillion of directly controlled assets (almost as much as all private-equity and hedge funds put together) and another $11 trillion it oversees through its trading platform, Aladdin

In this context, let me quote Mark Wood, from The Memo;

Machines are only as moral as we tell them to be. And we are all flawed…

…..Machines are logical and lack the emotions that make us human. If we give them the power to think, why should they protect us rather than divide and conquer?

 

Please refer to my previous posts for an understanding on the workings and indications of the money supply. I enclose a link for another insightful article about this topic, especially pertinent at a time when expectations have been in flux regarding the hiking or cutting of record low interest rates;

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/09/12/why-is-the-uks-money-supply-surging/

 

The Price of Failure

Posted: September 14, 2015 in Monetary System, Statistics
Tags: ,

Image result for market price

Consider this presentation from MoneyWeek (and this article by the same presenter), as usual it’s their typical hard hitting, ‘do something since the world is fast going to pot’ scenario, however many valid points which readers of this blog should be familiar with;

Nearly everything you base your investment decisions on, from the value of the shares you buy, to the value of the home you live in… is based on a lie.

The global financial system is the most complex man-made structure in the universe. Millions of goods and services change hands between billions of people at trillions of prices. All in motion. All the time.

Let me put it this way: don’t you need trustworthy prices in order to make good financial decisions? How is it possible to plan your investments and take care of your family if you can’t trust the financial information on which you’re basing your decisions?

The answer is ‘you can’t. Bad information leads to bad decisions and a dysfunctional financial system.

But the fact is, we can pay our bills only as long as other people lend us money.

These arguments rightly call into question all notions of the efficiency of market information, or indeed the nature of the Market itself. If the information is false, then doesn’t such an entity become a propaganda machine, its only real purpose to keep pedaling the lie?

Does that even make sense? We can pay our bills ONLY IF people lend us money. That’s the ultimate deception: that we are rich but in truth we are totally broke.

The above three part documentary (The Foods that Make Billions) is a well worth a view

For me it explores an underlying truth: the business of capitalism is to exploit and manipulate

Nowhere is this better shown than in the first of these episodes on water. How do you sell something that is readily available to people for free – you change (manipulate) people’s perception and convince them that they are better for paying to consume it.

As one commentator in the first part profoundly observes, (and to paraphrase); “The backdrop to this predicament should be clearly understood where one part of humanity can’t get access to any clean water to live, yet another part spends remarkable amounts moving/selling vast quantities of water from those that have to those that already have”

A further example of how insane behaviour can be shaped by the desire to accumulate capital and sell anything for the sake of profits is the following business which was recently seeking to raise investment. An extra-marital affairs website encouraging spouses to cheat, thereby increasing business potentially for divorce lawyers (very expensive), possibly increasing leisure/retail consumption (with the new partner, maybe even another wedding?), perhaps a spill over into the housing market too (new abode, sell old home?), whereas the real cost (and how would you like to measure this exactly) on any offspring from the marriage, on the wider family, the established correlation to crime statistics with those who grow up in broken homes and the consequences for society generally, is completely ignored.

The monetary benefits from such a business venture will readily show up in financial performance, shareholder returns, GDP indicators, but most of us will be left to argue about the drawbacks which no-one will be capturing and therefore any debate can be calmly brushed aside as unsubstantiated moral opinion.

The fact this company specifically targets married couples as a differentiator to other peer-to peer dating websites speaks volumes for the no limit approach to capitalism in the name of liberty and free markets.

I have previously discussed the argument about how the allocation of resources works more ‘efficiently’ under this approach than the alternatives, but it should be noted how severe misallocations of capital can easily occur which the wider community will pick up at the expense of the individual or select few participants.

Clearly, its not only bad tax law that significantly affects human behaviour. The amount of manipulation exacted in the name of profit should be appreciated.

 

 

A long standing concern with using Gold as sound money is the market in which it operates. Please see previous posts exploring this however a current article from the Telegraph sheds more light on the workings of these mechanisms, further highlighting the extent of the manipulation possible and the lack of transparency – it is a wonder that we still call it a market, since it arguably doesn’t even meet some of the fundamental proponents, namely efficient information and price movements based on real participants trading the commodity.

It is telling how much speculators were able to move the market recently. Some commentators have often ridiculed the extent of their influence when markets work in the right way….whenever that is.

Note also the reference to how controlled the price is relative to the US Dollar – the world’s (great fiat) reserve currency – any thoughts the days of the Dollar were numbered should be tempered. This demonstrates the ability to control Gold through the ‘tool’ of paper currencies and interest rates, let us not think merely changing the base of money will solve our problems, we must reconstruct the entire market and all it stands for.

Emerging markets have borrowed $4.5 trillion in US dollars. The borrowers are vulnerable to a double squeeze from both higher US rates and a dollar spike.

What threatens to become a “margin call” for dollar debtors could ricochet through gold markets as a secondary effect. It may have begun already.