Andy Haldane:: Have we solved ‘too big to fail’?


If you still care about the role of Central Banks (you should, although it may not change much!) a guy like Andy Haldane is ALWAYS worth listening to. Here is his latest contribution…

As with systemic surcharges, the issue here is not to so much the bail-in principle, but its application in practice. Bail-in, whether of big banks, sovereigns or companies, faces an acute time-consistency problem. Policymakers face a trade-off between placing losses on a narrow set of tax-payers today (bail-in) or spreading that risk across a wider set of tax-payers today and tomorrow (bail-out).

A risk-averse, tax-smoothing government may tend towards the latter path – and historically has almost always done so, most notably in response to the present financial crisis. Next time may of course be different…

Have we solved ‘too big to fail’? | vox.

AH appeared in front of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards (video) in November 2012. At the time I was prompted to explain my views on the subject of "ring-fencing"…

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Systemic Risk:: deep collapse in “nested adaptive cycles”


no-trust-300x225I don’t write this blog because I am intent upon coming across as some smartarse, know-it-all, merchant of doom! Rather, accepting the limitations of my own knowledge, I want, as far as is possible, to inform readers (thanks for your interest!) of issues that affect each and every one of us.

I reckon, if I prompt individuals to ask questions of themselves, me,  employer, politicians, trusted advisors or media sources then that is good. If I can answer questions even better. If I cannot, then that may be all the motivation I need to consider a worthwhile topic further or from another perspective. After all, with the communication tools we have at our disposal in the Digital Age, this IS a “Knowledge Economy”.

Part of the problem, that bothers me, is that many of the established sources of information are not as reliable as they would have you believe. Some only see information through the lens of engrained belief systems – a form of blindness. Others rely upon a cocktail of manipulation and, deliberate, misinformation. If this sounds far-fetched please stop to consider: what we have learnt about the culture in Institutions, in whom we were “happy” to trust; how we came to learn of the nature and scale of “abuse”: how long before “abuses” were admitted; why, despite, such as WikiLeaks, Occupy, etc. so little has changed; when we can expect to see perpetrators held to account for their actions?

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Complexity and Consequence: what financial and risk engineers MUST learn from mech. eng. (or anywhere)


Gadget craziness

Image by XuRxO via Flickr

Recently, I have found myself writing about the importance of ADAPTABILITY* & RESILIENCE in complex (business) systems. This is, partly, due to the fact that, the acceptance of the “shortcomings” of current risk models and tools, are becoming more widely “recognised” (in some instances “admitted”)!

*Boston Consulting Group recently cited “Adaptability: the new competitive advantage”.   

The number of Consultancies that – after many years of profiting from preaching the merits of (now-discredited) models and strategies – have now discovered, and wish to share, their “new found” expertise in “complexity theory” and “systems thinking”.

Unfortunately, their participation in the education process wont undo the damage done!

WE should be grateful that the damage their contribution to the prevailing culture has done is substantially reduced and that a higher level of business understanding is, increasingly, on the agenda.

However, I suspect that we have not seen the last of Consultancies promoting and implementing “solutions” that make (business)  systems and economies more fragile…because there are fees to be earned! Read more of this post

Beware Zombie’s in pinstripes!


What do we do when an organisation becomes so complex that it fails to perform the functions for which it was intended…when it is no longer “fit for purpose”?

Well, in nature, it dies and decays or is killed and eaten. This is as it should be in business!

But, as we now know, that isn’t always the case. We have current examples of institutional failure and collapse – but deemed “Too Big To Fail” – being artificially kept alive at escalating and unsustainable expense to you and me!!!. I am, of course, referring specifically to Banks and the Public Sector.

These “Zombie institutions” are as slow as the real deal but they don’t crave your flesh or change physical appearance until in the latter stages. Read more of this post

Revisiting The Limits to Complexity: micro managing your way to macro collapse…


…without losing office or wealth!

PLEASE do yourself a favour and read the full article and ask yourself IF there is any basis to trust in Political and Financial institutions when THEIR agenda(s) have ensured that the handling of the financial crisis has fuelled “civil protest” and, may yet, lead to widespread unrest. By recapitalising the architects of financial collapse Governments and Regulators have allowed them to, further, profit from the economic turmoil they created and for which the weakest in society will continue to pay a heavy price for many years to come.

The graphics are my own. They have embedded links, I hope they help!

"…these same banks were also allowed to securitize many of the underlying loans, sell them off to various institutional investors and market derivative instruments to those clients who wished to gain exposure to the global sub-prime mortgage bonanza. When the greatest financial ponzi scheme known to man eventually collapsed in 2007-08 and it was clear that the global economy faced an imminent depression, governments worldwide decided to "respond".What this response amounted to was an attempt to maintain economic and financial complexity by adding on layer after layer of ever-more complex structures, and suspending/manipulating any measure of reality that was in the least bit accurate.

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