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Insurance Australia Group
02 ноября 2016, 12:05

How Artificial Intelligence Will Redefine Management

Many alarms have sounded on the potential for artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to upend the workforce, especially for easy-to-automate jobs. But managers at all levels will have to adapt to the world of smart machines. The fact is, artificial intelligence will soon be able to do the administrative tasks that consume much of managers’ time faster, better, and at a lower cost. How can managers — from the front lines to the C-suite — thrive in the age of AI? To find out, we surveyed 1,770 managers from 14 countries and interviewed 37 executives in charge of digital transformation at their organizations. Using this data, we identified five practices that successful managers will need to master. Practice 1: Leave Administration to AI According to the survey, managers across all levels spend more than half of their time on administrative coordination and control tasks. (For instance, a typical store manager or a lead nurse at a nursing home must constantly juggle shift schedules because of staff members’ illnesses, vacations, or sudden departures.) These are the very responsibilities that the same managers expect to see AI affecting the most. And they are correct: AI will automate many of these tasks.   Report writing is another relevant example. The Associated Press expanded its quarterly earnings reporting from approximately 300 stories to 4,400 with the help of AI-powered software robots. In doing so, technology freed up journalists to conduct more investigative and interpretive reporting. Imagine technology like this drafting your next management report; in fact, this is already possible for some analytical management reports. Recently, the data analytics company Tableau announced a partnership with Narrative Science, a Chicago-based provider of natural language generation tools. The result of the collaboration is Narratives for Tableau, a free Chrome extension that automatically creates written explanations for Tableau graphics. The managers we surveyed see such change in a positive light: Eighty-six percent said they would like AI support with monitoring and reporting. Practice 2: Focus on Judgment Work Many decisions require insight beyond what artificial intelligence can squeeze from data alone. Managers use their knowledge of organizational history and culture, as well as empathy and ethical reflection. This is the essence of human judgment — the application of experience and expertise to critical business decisions and practices. Managers we surveyed have a sense of a shift in this direction and identify the judgment-oriented skills of creative thinking and experimentation, data analysis and interpretation, and strategy development as three of the four top new skills that will be required to succeed in the future. Insight Center The Automation Age Sponsored by KPMG How robotics and machine learning are changing business. As Layne Thompson, director of ERP Services for a U.S. Navy IT organization, told us: “More often than not, managers think of what they’re doing as requiring judgment, discretion, experience, and the capacity to improvise, as opposed to simply applying rules. And if one of the potential promises of machine learning is the ability to help make decisions, then we should think of technology as being intended to support rather than replace [managers].” Practice 3: Treat Intelligent Machines as “Colleagues” Managers who view AI as a kind of colleague will recognize that there’s no need to “race against a machine.” While human judgment is unlikely to be automated, intelligent machines can add enormously to this type of work, assisting in decision support and data-driven simulations as well as search and discovery activities. In fact, 78% of the surveyed managers believe that they will trust the advice of intelligent systems in making business decisions in the future. One company that is trying to address these opportunities is Kensho Technologies, a provider of next-generation investment analytics. Its system allows investment managers to ask investment-related questions in plain English, such as, “What sectors and industries perform best three months before and after a rate hike?” and get answers within minutes. Picture how such technologies could support individuals and teams of managers in assessing decision consequences and exploring scenarios. Not only will AI augment managers’ work, but it will also enable managers to interact with intelligent machines in collegial ways, through conversation or other intuitive interfaces. AI will be their always-available assistant and adviser. Practice 4: Work Like a Designer While managers’ own creative abilities are vital, perhaps even more important is their ability to harness others’ creativity. Manager-designers bring together diverse ideas into integrated, workable, and appealing solutions. They embed design thinking into the practices of their teams and organizations. A third of the managers in our survey identified creative thinking and experimentation as a key skill area they need to learn to stay successful as AI increasingly takes over administrative work. In an interview, Peter Harmer, CEO of Insurance Australia Group, emphasized the need for managers who foster collaborative creativity in the digital enterprise: “We need people who can actually layer ideas on ideas. Not somebody who has to win in a competition around ideas, but somebody who can say, ‘Crikey! If we bring these two or three or four things together, we’ve got something very, very different.’ That’s the creativity, the curiosity [we need in managers].” Practice 5: Develop Social Skills and Networks The managers we surveyed recognized the value of judgment work. But they undervalued the deep social skills critical to networking, coaching, and collaborating that will help them stand out in a world where AI carries out many of the administrative and analytical tasks they perform today.   While they will use digital technologies to tap into the knowledge and judgment of partners, customers, and communities, they must be able to tease out and bring together diverse perspectives, insights, and experiences. Steps to Success AI will ultimately prove to be cheaper, more efficient, and potentially more impartial in its actions than human beings. But such a scenario should not be cause for concern for managers. It just means that their jobs will change to focus on things only humans can do. Writing earnings reports is one thing, but developing messages that can engage a workforce and provide a sense of purpose is human through and through. Tracking schedules and resources may soon fall within the jurisdiction of machines, but drafting strategy remains unmistakably human. Simply put, our recommendation is to adopt AI in order to automate administration and to augment but not replace human judgment. If the current shortage of analytical talent is any indication, organizations can ill afford to wait and see whether their managers are equipped to work alongside AI. To prepare themselves and their organizations for the kinds of human-led work that will gain prominence as technology takes on more routine tasks, leaders must take the following steps: Explore early. To navigate in an uncertain future, managers must experiment with AI and apply their insights to the next cycle of experiments. Adopt new key performance indicators to drive adoption. AI will bring new criteria for success: collaboration capabilities, information sharing, experimentation, learning and decision-making effectiveness, and the ability to reach beyond the organization for insights. Develop training and recruitment strategies for creativity, collaboration, empathy, and judgment skills. Leaders should develop a diverse workforce and team of managers that balance experience with creative and social intelligence — each side complementing the other to support sound collective judgment. While oncoming disruptions won’t arrive all at once, the pace of development is faster and the implications more far-reaching than most executives and managers realize. Those managers capable of assessing what the workforce of the future will look like can prepare themselves for the arrival of AI. They should view it as an opportunity to flourish.

29 июля 2015, 22:42

One Stock That Could Double If Warren Buffett Is Right About Australia

Last month, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway paid $500 million for a 3.7% ownership stake in Insurance Australia Group (IAG). In addition to the 3.7% ownership stake, Berkshire Hathaway will receive 20% of IAG's gross written premiums, while paying 20% of claims over the next ten years. Immediately after the deal was [...]

30 июня 2015, 23:10

Berkshire Hathaway to Expand Australian Insurance Business - Analyst Blog

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.B) is gearing up to expand its insurance business in Australia by selling policies to hospitals and medical practices in Australia.

17 июня 2015, 23:15

Berkshire Hathaway to Boost Insurance Business in Australia - Analyst Blog

Sources have reported that Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.B) is gearing up to expand its insurance business in Australia,

16 июня 2015, 19:19

США/Австралия: Berkshire Hathaway приобрела 3,7%-ную долю в IAG за $388 млн

Американская инвестиционная компания Berkshire Hathaway, принадлежащая миллиардеру Уоррену Баффетту, приобрела 3,7%-ную долю в австралийском страховщике Insurance Australia Group (IAG) за 500 млн австралийских долларов ($388 млн). Так, в рамках данной сделки Berkshire приобрела 89,77 млн акций IAG по цене A$5,57 за каждую.

16 июня 2015, 11:42

США/Австралия: Berkshire Hathaway приобрела 3,7%-ную долю в IAG за $388 млн

Американская инвестиционная компания Berkshire Hathaway, принадлежащая миллиардеру Уоррену Баффетту, приобрела 3,7%-ную долю в австралийском страховщике Insurance Australia Group (IAG) за 500 млн австралийских долларов ($388 млн). Так, в рамках данной сделки Berkshire приобрела 89,77 млн акций IAG по цене A$5,57 за каждую.

18 февраля 2015, 19:58

Австралия: страховщик IAG зафиксировал снижение полугодовой прибыли

Крупнейший в Австралии страховщик автомобилей и недвижимости Insurance Australia Group (IAG) заявил о снижении прибыли в первом полугодии с окончанием в декабре ввиду усиления конкуренции и увеличения количества рекламаций. Так, чистая прибыль в рассматриваемом периоде сократилась на 9,8% до 579 млн австралийских долларов ($453 млн), в то время как аналитики прогнозировали 512 млн австралийских долларов.

16 декабря 2013, 17:58

Австралия: IAG приобретет подразделение Wesfarmers за $1,66 млрд

Крупнейший в Австралии страховщик автомобилей и недвижимости Insurance Australia Group (IAG) заключил соглашение о приобретении страхового подразделения ритейлера Wesfarmers за A$1,85 млрд ($1,66 млрд). Сообщается, что IAG намерена привлечь A$1,2 млрд путем продажи акций с целью финансирования данной сделки.

16 декабря 2013, 15:31

Австралия: IAG приобретет подразделение Wesfarmers за $1,66 млрд

Крупнейший в Австралии страховщик автомобилей и недвижимости Insurance Australia Group (IAG) заключил соглашение о приобретении страхового подразделения ритейлера Wesfarmers за A$1,85 млрд ($1,66 млрд). Сообщается, что IAG намерена привлечь A$1,2 млрд путем продажи акций с целью финансирования данной сделки.

16 декабря 2013, 10:57

IAG станет крупнейшим страховщиком Австралии

Insurance Australia Group вскоре станет крупнейшим страховщиком Австралии. Компания покупает страховой бизнес Westfarmers, действующий также в Новой Зеландии. Стоимость сделки составит 1,85 млрд австралийских долларов ($1,66 млрд). IAG станет крупнейшим страховщиком АвстралииВ результате сделки доля IAG достигнет 27%, при этом компания уже сейчас является лидером в таких сегментах, как автострахование и страхование жилой недвижимости. В декабре прошлого года компания избавилась от активов в Великобритании и с тех пор стремится наращивать свою долю рынке не только в Австралии, но и в АТР в целом, сообщает Bloomberg. Примечательно, что для Westfarmers страховой бизнес является только одним из подразделений, компания владеет и управляется розничными магазинами, угольными шахтами, предприятиями по производству химической продукции, а также инвестиционным бизнесом.

16 декабря 2013, 09:57

IAG станет крупнейшим страховщиком Австралии

Insurance Australia Group вскоре станет крупнейшим страховщиком Австралии. Компания покупает страховой бизнес Westfarmers, действующий также в Новой Зеландии. Стоимость сделки составит 1,85 млрд австралийских долларов ($1,66 млрд).

16 декабря 2013, 09:57

IAG станет крупнейшим страховщиком Австралии

Insurance Australia Group вскоре станет крупнейшим страховщиком Австралии. Компания покупает страховой бизнес Westfarmers, действующий также в Новой Зеландии. Стоимость сделки составит 1,85 млрд австралийских долларов ($1,66 млрд).

06 декабря 2013, 15:33

Австралия: Insurance Australia Group может приобрести подразделение Wesfarmers за $1,8 млрд

По сведениям из осведомленных источников, крупнейший в Австралии страховщик автомобилей и недвижимости Insurance Australia Group (IAG) рассматривает возможность приобретения страхового подразделения ритейлера Wesfarmers. Сообщается, что стоимость сделки может составить более A$2 млрд ($1,8 млрд).

06 декабря 2013, 14:02

Австралия: Insurance Australia Group может приобрести подразделение Wesfarmers за $1,8 млрд

По сведениям из осведомленных источников, крупнейший в Австралии страховщик автомобилей и недвижимости Insurance Australia Group (IAG) рассматривает возможность приобретения страхового подразделения ритейлера Wesfarmers. Сообщается, что стоимость сделки может составить более A$2 млрд ($1,8 млрд).

Выбор редакции
22 августа 2013, 11:52

Австралия: годовая прибыль Insurance Australia Group выросла более чем в три раза

Крупнейший в Австралии страховщик автомобилей и недвижимости Insurance Australia Group (IAG) зафиксировал более чем трехкратное увеличение годовой прибыли благодаря повышению размера страховых премий и снижению объема выплат. Так, в году с окончанием 30 июня чистая прибыль компании выросла с A$207 млн годом ранее до A$776 млн ($697 млн), аналитики в среднем ожидали A$819 млн.

31 марта 2013, 06:22

Проект «Холокост». Признаки мошенничества в особо крупных размерах (1944-1945 гг.)

1944 - The Palestine Post, January 23rd, 1944 «Only a handful of Polish Jews survived the extermination. They were now either with the partisans in the forests or living as Crypto-Jews. The death toll was six million, they declared»1944 - The Montreal Gazette, March 18th, 1944, page 11 «There must be insurance that the Germans, unrepentant as they were after the last war, do not prepare another holocaust»1944 - Rabbi Michael Dov Ber Weissmandl, May 15th, 1944 «And you - our brothers in Palestine, in all the countries of freedom, and you, ministers of all the kingdom - how do you keep silent in the face of this great murder? Silent while thousand on thousands, reaching now to six million Jews, were murdered. And silent now while tens of thousands are still being murdered and waiting to be murdered? Their destroyed hearts cry to you for help as they bewail your cruelty. Brutal you are and murderers too you are, because of the cold-bloodedness of the silence in which you watch»1944 - Rabbi Michael Dov Ber Weissmandel, May 31st, 1944 «...heads of government and radio must announce what was done to our people in the slaughter house of Belzec, Malkinia (Treblinka), Sobibor, and Auschwitz. Till now six times a million Jews from Europe and Russia have been destroyed»1944 - United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America Convention Proceedings, September 25th-29th, 1944 «WHEREAS: History records no parallel to the bestial cruelties inflicted on the Jewish people of Europe by the Nazis and their satellites, whose coldly calculated program of extermination of all European Jews very nearly succeeded, almost six million Jews having been murdered in cold blood...»1944 - Chicago Bar Record, October 1944 «There were then at least eight million virtually homeless Jews in Europe who acquired rights under this treaty. Happily, perhaps, for the Arabs, that number has been cut down by six million»1944 - Illinois State Federation of Labor United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America Convention Proceedings, Vols. 62-66., October 2nd, 1944 «WHEREAS, Six million Jews were murdered by the Nazi henchmen during the time the Nazis kept Europe under their bloody heel...»1944 - Youngstown Vindicator (Ohio), November 27th, 1944 «A five-volume "black book" containing a documentary record of the German massacre of approximately 6,000,000 European Jews is being prepared by the state publishing house»1944 - The Pittsburgh Press, November 28th, 1944, page 5 «Six Million Jews Listed Slaughtered. A five-volume "black book" containing a documentary record of the German massacre of approximately six million European Jews was being prepared today by the State publishing house. ... The work was under the general editorship of Ilya Ehrenburg and the editorial board included Poet-Playwright Konstantin Simonov, Writer Vsevold [Vsevolod] Ivanov and Poetess Vera Imber»1944 - The Leader, November 28th, 1944 «Russian "Black Book" lists German crimes. The first volume of a five-volume Russian "black book" recording the documentary form of the German massacre of approximately 6,000,000European Jews has been completed by the Soviet state publishing house ... The five-volume work is under the general editorship of Ilya Ehrenburg, noted Soviet writer and war correspondent, with an editorial board that includes poet-playwright Kanstantin [Konstantin] Simonov, writer Vsevold [Vsevolod] Ivanov and poetess Vera Imber. Editors of the work -which will be published in both Russian and English in press runs of hundreds of thousands of copies- estimate from data now available that the Germans killed between 5,000,000 and 6,000,000 Jews in Russia, Poland and western Europe. They believe an additional 500,000 now are being murdered in Hungary»1944 - The Palestine Post , November 28th, 1944 «SIX MILLIONS MURDERED. The Soviet State Publishing House is preparing the publication of another "Black Book," a documentary record of the German massacre of approximately six million European Jews. ... According to the Soviet editors, the Germans killed between five and six million Russian, Polish and Western European Jews, and an additional half million are being murdered in Hungary now»1944 - The Jewish Criterion, December 1st, 1944 «...5,500,000 Jews have been killed in Germany and German-occupied territories since the outbreak of the war... Yes, the Germans murdered close to six million Jews...»1944 - Nahum Goldmann, Jewish Western Bulletin, December 8th, 1944 «... apart from Jewish losses in combat service, 5,500,000 Jews have been killed in Germany and German-occupied tesritories [territories] since the outbreak of the awr [war]. These figures exceed the number anticipated even by the most pessimistic... Yes, the Germans murdered close to six million Jews...»1944 - Ilya Ehrenburg, Soviet War News, December 22nd, 1944 «In the regions they seized, Germans killed all Jews, from the old folks to infants in arms. Ask any German prisoners why his fellow countrymen annihilated six million innocent people...»1945 - New York Times, January 8th, 1945 (New York Times archive) «6,000,000 JEWS DEAD. The Jewish population in Europe has been reduced from 9,500,000 in 1939 to 3,500,000. Of the 6,000,000 European Jews who have died, 5,000,000 had lived in the countries under Hitler's occupation»1945 - New York Times, February 11th, 1945, page 10 «1,200,000 Jews survived of the 6,000,000 who had been under German rule during the war, and that most of them were eager to come to Palestine»1945 - New York Times, February 17th, 1945 «Dr. Joseph Schwartz, European director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, estimated today that 500,000 of Europe's 6,000,000 Jews had escaped destruction by emigration and that only 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 of Europe's 6,000,000 Jews were now left on the Continent»1945 - Joseph Thon, president of the National Organization of Polish Jews in America, March 22nd, 1945 «I accuse the whole German people that in the years 1939 to 1945 they slaughtered upward of 15,000,000 men, among which there were 6,000,000 Jews. ... The German people murdered, in cold blood, in excess of 6,000,000 European Jews, among them over 3,000,000 Polish Jews»1945 - Ilya Ehrenburg, The Advertiser, March 27th, 1945 «...the Germans tortured the last handful of Jews. The Germans killed six million Jews -all the Jews of Poland, Hungary, the Ukraine, Lithuania, Byelo-Russia, West Europe and of course Germany»1945 - Army News (Darwin, Australia), April 11th, 1945 «NAZIS HAVE MURDERED SIX MILLION JEWS. Of a population of 16 million Jews in the world before the war, more than six million had been murdered by the Nazis»1945 - New York Post, April 21st, 1945, page 9 «The Nazi leaders felt they had nothing to fear. They murdered six million Jews, but nothing was done. In the words of the Czech delegate to the London War Crimes Commission»1945 - Stephen S. Wise, May 1945; Friends Indeed: The Special Relationship of Israel and the United States, Norman Finkelstein, 1998, page 33 «The Christian world, and I include England, of course, in the Christian world, suffered six million of the people of Jesus of Nazareth to die in a most horrible manner. The Christian world owes the Jews some reparation»1945 - New York Times, May 2nd, 1945 «...estimated that only 1,000,000 of 6,000,000 Jews in Europe in 1939 were still alive»1945 - The Pittsburgh Press, May 13th, 1945 «Nazis Destroy six million Jews. ... Of the eight million Jews living in Germany and German occupied countries before the war, 6,200,000 have died from either execution, cruel treatment or starvation, according to latest figures compiled by Jewish welfare organisations here»1945 - New York Times, May 20th, 1945, page 7 «...seemingly endless streams of former "slaves" from all parts of Europe and by the huge cantonments of liberated victims of Nazism. More than six million of them have been liberated...»1945 - Dr. Jacob Robinson (lawyer), June 11th (12th), 1945; Nuremberg: The Last Battle, David Irving, 1996, page 61 «How great were these losses, inquired [Robert H.] Jackson, seeking a figure to use at the coming trial. 'Six million,' responded Dr. Robinson, and indicated that the figure included Jews in all Nazi-occupied lands 'from the Channel to Stalingrad' ... Jackson noted that day: 'I was particularly interested in knowing the source and reliability of his estimate as I know no authentic data on it'»1945 - The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, August 3rd, 1945, page 7 «This commission is gathering all materials, documents, and photographs illustrating the martyrology of Polish Jews and of the Jews of all Europe. This proves that the Germans murdered six million European Jews in Poland»1945 - The Canadian Jewish Review, August 10th 1945, page 1 «while the Jews, who had lost 6,000,000 victims to Nazism in Europe»1945 - The Times (London), August 14th, 1945 «...some 6,000,000 men, women, and children - were put to death by the Nazis and their satellites»1945 - The Evening Post (New Zealand), August 21st, 1945, page 5 «Two-fifths of all Jewry-nearly 6,000,000 men, women and children-were butchered»1945 - The Guardian, September 5th, 1945, page 8 «Altogether, it is estimated that six million Jews have been killed»1945 - The Canberra Times, September 6th, 1945 «SIX MILLION JEWS KILLED BY GERMANS. Throughout the war the Germans killed 6,000,000 Jews, the number left in Europe being approximately 1,600,000 ... most surviving Jews desired to emigrate to Palestine. The agency plans to send six groups of six men each to help Jews in German camps. ... It is planned to erect a monument on the summit of Mount Scopus to commemorate the Jews who died. It will bear the names of all the 6,000,000, including soldiers, partisans and ghetto fighters. All the Jewish cultural documents and religious objects left in Central and Eastern Europe are to be collected in Palestine»1945 - The Evening Post (New Zealand), September 6th, 1945, page 7 «The Germans killed 6,000,000 Jews during the war, said Mr. Eliahu Dobkin, head of the Jewish Agency's immigration department, on his return to Jerusalem from Central Europe»1945 - Jewish Western Bulletin, September 7th, 1945, page 43  «Almost 6,000,000 Jews were wiped out during these years»1945 - Jewish Western Bulletin, September 7th, 1945, page 47 «Throughout the world there is a growing indignation over the barbarism and the unspeakable cruelty of the mass murders of six million Jews by the Nazis»1945 - New York Times, September 17th, 1945 «Six million Jews have died as martyrs and their blood cries up from the ground»1945 - American Zionist Emergency Council, New York Post, September 27th, 1945 «It was our very unhappy conviction all along that the responsibility for the extinction of six million Jews in Europe was not Hitler's alone. The Entire Christian world shares that responsibility»1945 - The Canadian Jewish Review, September 28th, 1945, page 8 «We mourn six million dead adults, the aged, the young and the little Jewish children. We remember them»1945 - September 30th, 1945. At a Zionist rally at Madison Square Gardens NYC, a huge banner approximately 50ft long and 2.5ft high, hung above the stage on which the speakers addressed the audience. The banner said: «AREN'T 6,000,000 JEWISH DEATHS ENOUGH?»1945 - New York Post, October 1st, 1945, page 15 «While "we waited patiently for the fulfilliment of Great Britain's pledges to the Jewish people," they said, "six million Jews were killed in Europe... ... Aren't 6,000,000 Jewish Dead Enough?»1945 - The Evening Post, October 2nd, 1945, page 7 «The 6,000,000 Jews who had been killed...»1945 - The Manhattan Zionist Club, New York Post, October 3rd, 1945, page 21 «For years we waited patiently for the fulfillment of Great Britain's pledges to the Jewish people, We waited in vain. In the meantime, six million Jews were killed in Europe»1945 - The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, October 5th, 1945, page 6 «You now propose to continue to keep these doors shut against our survivors, after six million of our people perished, for whose death your country [Britain] is not without blame»1945 - The Chester Times, October 10th, 1945 «It was our very unhappy conviction all along that the responsibility for extinction of six million Jews in Europe was not Hitler's alone. The entire Christian world shares that responsibility»1945 - The Observer, October 14th, 1945, page 5 «At the entrance to its office, a large poster asks the searching question: Six million Jews have been murdered-world, where is thy conscience?»1945 - The Canadian Jewish Review, October 26th, 1945, page 12 «They look about and behold the tragic suffering of Israel during the past decade in which six million Jews perished and they seen to see Israel as a defeated nation»1945 - The Observer, November 2nd, 1945, page 10 «The horror of the Middle Ages with all forms of torture was brought down upon European Israel with the result that six millions of Jews perished»1945 - Lebanon Daily News (PA), November 9th, 1945, page 11 «Six million Jews have perished—victims of the Nazis»1945 - Randolph Churchill, Winston Churchill's son, Daily Boston Globe, November 22nd, 1945, page 9 «Six million Jews have been murdered in the past six years and the problem of finding a home for the two or three million European Jews who remain is one of urgent importance»

10 марта 2013, 08:39

Trans Pacific Partnership: A new Constitution

Update: Application, clarification of "New world Order". I have put this update at the beginning of the post for I believe it is an aspect of my post on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)  that should not be dismissed by myself nor by a reader of the post. Now that I have had the day to contemplate J. Goodwin's comment and after googling “new world order”  I can appreciate his concern and response. I assure everyone, that last thing on my mind with the writing of that phrase was: a conspiracy theory in which a secret elite is conspiring to rule the world via world government and globalization. The TPP is not being written by a secret elite looking to rule the world. On the contrary, the document is being written in secret such that we do not know the specific persons involved, but everyone knows the class or groups represented. The authors/parties feeling of need for secrecy only speaks to their understanding of the potential opposition and not to a devious plot of mad scientist. It's not a James Bond story. This TPP is not about ruling the world. I very much doubt those involved want such a responsibility. This document is about reducing the regulation a sovereign entity may apply to an investment to the point that any investment is almost certain to pay out whether by actually carrying out the investment or through reimbursement for not being able to carryout the investment. Heads you lose, tails I win. This is accomplished in many ways (kind of covering all bases) but mostly by giving a representative of an investment equality to a nation in the eyes of the “law”. It is the elevation of an entity created solely for the purpose of profit (though there is some language toward nonprofit) all the rights and liberties that a nation of people reserve for themselves. There is one thing the investment entity receives that the nation entity (“party” as used in the document) does not: A guarantee against loss. This guarantee comes in the form of insurance. The insurance is the full faith and credit of the nation...it is the ability to tax it's citizens. That is a new world order as in: any period of history evidencing a dramatic change in world political thought and the balance of power. Thank you for reading.  This past week the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement has been post worthy on a couple of the more read blogs. There are specific groups working to get the public up to speed on this treaty. One is the Citizens Trade Campaign.  Crooks and Liars posted Lee Camps Moment of Clarity episode regarding the treaty.  Common Dreams posted a video by Friends of the Earth.  This potential treaty has direct bearing on the subject of innovation, production and infrastructure as discussed in the posts regarding Richard Elkus's thesis in his book Winner Take All and MIT's latest report on the subject. Basically this is being referred to as NAFTA on steroids. It is an agreement being negotiated in complete secrecy with only those considered to be a direct player called “clear trade advisers”(600 in the US) having access. Direct players are not you and me, nor congress (you thought the drone unitary executive stuff is tough to get? Ha!) nor that fourth branch known as the press. Yes, Obama is up on this in that he is pushing it. I'll let Citizens Trade Campaign sum it up:  “The TPP is poised to become the largest free trade agreement in the world, potentially impacting jobs, wages, agriculture, migration, the environment, consumer safety, financial regulations, Internet protocols, government procurement and more. The pact is currently under negotiation between the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, but is being specifically written as a “docking agreement” that other countries can join over time. Canada, Japan and Mexico are currently pressing to do so. The thirteenth major round of TPP negotiations will be held at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel from July 2 – 10.” Recently a portion of this document was leaked. It is called the “Investment Chapter”. Public Citizens has a review of it here. I have read the first 17 pages of the Investment Chapter. It is these pages that provide the definitions and the cans and can nots for the signatories. The remainder of the document provides the means for achieving satisfaction. (Do read at least the definitions of what is considered “investment”.) What struck me in Public Citizens review was that the system being setup as the arbiter of the trade agreement is following the US' fascination with “extra judicial” proceedings as a viable means of following the ideals of our Constitution. It's those same thought processes that gave us rendition, enhanced interrogation, military tribunals, unitary executive. You can't help but see our past 35 years of leadership in the realm of pioneering new concepts in equality, fairness, justice, and processes to achieve such. Concepts of “free market”, “invisible hand”, and process of deregulation, economies of scale, etc. How else do you explain the use of rotating corporate tied lawyers as judges? Where is the separation of the judge and the plaintiff? This is right out of the current US play book on how to better your nation with the social institution known as “revolving door”? You can see in this document the culmination of work performed over the last 40 years (yes Carter started the deregulation) by the conservative (internationally known as neoliberal) ideology merged with Milton Friedman's economics and Ayn Rand's objectivism. Dare I say, the TPP is to capitalism what our Constitution was to democracy? And that is where I really started thinking. This document is not just about the particulars. It's not just about how trade will or will not happen, or whether a company will be able to privatize the gains and socialize the risks and losses, or whether people will be harmed. All those things will be the result of the document. Nope, this document is much more.  This document is the constitution of a new world order. It is an order that has been the dream of many for ages upon ages that until this time in humanity was not possible do to the limits of the technology of the time. This is the document of what I coined a few years ago as The United Corporations of Global. It is this aspect of the document that the people of the world should be most fearful of. It is not a trade agreement as I believe the common man (as in the court concept of the “common man”) would think of the phrase “trade agreement”. This is a constitution that is coming prepackaged with the rules and regulations already written. Only, there is no need for ratification to be a part of the creative process. This document comes pre-ratified in that all a nation has to do is say “I'm in”. It does not take a majority of the worlds nations or a super majority like the original 13 colonies for this document to have power. It has power because those writing it already agree to follow it. Passing it in the US? Can you say “fast track”? The documents greatest power is what I alluded to when I mentioned rendition, unitary executive, enhanced interrogation, military tribunals. Rationalization. This document codifies the use of rationalization as a viable thought process for achieving the advancement of humanity. It reinstates the fallibility of human thinking, turning on it's head the enlightenment age because this document believes it is of enlightened thought. It rationalizes as enlightenment the freeing of people to trade to the greatest level of monetary efficiency. Such a thought is putting a human creation ahead of humanity. It is totally antithetical to the goal of enlightenment. ( I have to say, at this point our fellow Angry Bear Bruce Webb I hope will add to the discussion as our resident historian.) What follows below are specific excerpts from the document. It is legal speak. But it is not hard to understand. I feel it is important that people read these excerpts as this is how you will know the thinking and overall goal of the document beyond the obvious selfish power grab by any particular player or industry. This is a document written by people who envision the world structured far differently than how we are taught to view our social organization based on the US Constitution and it's meaning to the world. It does not matter if you believe our national identity is a lot of myth, that we don't hold up well to our constitutional ideals. The fact is, the myths and ideals have influence and they are not the myths and ideals held by those writing the TPP at worst or are considered not applicable nor appropriate for their desired structure at least. This document is not just about how nations will relate to each other, it also gives the same rights and privileges to individual investor entities as representative of a nation. Thus, keep in mind that anything you read here also means a rich person or a business entity is treated as if they are the nation. However, citizens are not at anytime mentioned as being a “party” of any type other than when it comes to citizens potentially creating a loss for a “party” or it's investor representative. In other words, “citizens” are at all times considered to have lesser status such that citizens have no claim to inalienable rights and the resultant rule of law. It is less than slavery for in this document, the only recognized covered entities are “party” which means a nation of signature and it's participants in the sector of said parties social interaction referred to as “investment”. In fact, there is a defined party entity specifically that is not of the party: investor of a non-Party means, with respect to a Party, an investor that attempts to make, is making, or has made an investment in the territory of that Party, that is not an investor of a Party There is nothing in the list of definitions that suggest or implies “citizen”. The only entities covered and regulated by the TPP are those entities that are creations of man.  Man is of no consideration regarding the benefits of the relationships developed in this new constitution. Man is only mentioned as a consequence of potential harm to the “parties” in the form of financial loss. That's it. WE HAVE TO COME TO KNOW THE MIND OF THE DOCUMENT! Even if we can prevent this document from taking effect, we will not put an end to the ideology behind the document if we only defeat the document based on it's ability to do material harm. We have to come to know the mind of this document so that we can be certain to identify the thought within the new words that will be written and spoken when those behind this document make their new attempt at forming the world according to their ideology. We need to know the mind so that we can educate those who will certainly face the next attempt to implement such an ideology. This is why the document is being created in such secrecy. We have learned from NAFTA et al and those that are the mind of the document are aware of our knowledge. Thus I present the sections as they relate to what I believe is the thinking of this new constitution so that we can be aware of the overriding concepts that ultimately reorder societies and would require a new thinking regarding who and what we are, what our purpose is and where we are going as a species on this planet. The TPP is presenting a new ideal of social order. It is one I that find represents the worst of humanity. This is where the sovereignty breaks down and the new social order is created: Article 12.4: National Treatment 1. Each Party shall accord to investors of another Party treatment no less favourable than that it accords, in like circumstances, to its own investors with respect to the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, and sale or other disposition of investments in its territory. 2. Each Party shall accord to covered investments treatment no less favourable than that it accords, in like circumstances, to investments in its territory of its own investors with respect to the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, and sale or other disposition of investments. The treatment to be accorded by a Party under paragraphs 1 and 2 means, with respect to a regional level of government, treatment no less favourable than the most favourable treatment accorded, in like circumstances, by that regional level of government to investors, and to investments of investors, of the Party of which it forms a part.] Article 12.5: Most-Favoured Nation Treatment 1. Each Party shall accord to investors of another Party treatment no less favourable than that it accords, in like circumstances, to investors of any other Party or of any non-Party with respect to the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, and sale or other disposition of investments in its territory. 2. Each Party shall accord to covered investments treatment no less favourable than that it accords, in like circumstances, to investments in its territory of investors of any other Party or of any non-Party with respect to the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, and sale or other disposition of investments. This is where the responsibility is defined for achieving “favorable treatment”. The “Party” is obliged to: Article 12.6: Minimum Standard of Treatmentll 1. Each Party shall accord to covered investments treatment in accordance with customary international law, including fair and equitable treatment and full protection and security. 2. For greater certainty, paragraph 1 prescribes the [applicable rules of] customary international law [minimum] standard of treatment of aliens as the [minimum] [general] standard of treatment to be afforded to covered investments. The concepts of "fair and equitable treatment" and "full protection and security" do not require treatment in addition to or beyond that which is required by that standard, and do not create additional substantive rights. The obligations in paragraph 1 to provide: (a) "Fair and equitable treatment" includes the obligation not to deny justice in criminal, civil, or administrative adjudicatory proceedings in accordance with the principle of due process embodied in the principal legal systems of the world; and (b) "Full protection and security" requires each Party to provide the level of police protection required under customary international law. Who determines which party's law is part of the “principle legal systems of the world”? What is “customary”. These are the phrases of those who are trying to hedge. People agree to such language when they believe they have a hidden advantage. This is not language of certainty. Here is where the citizens of the world become hog tied: Article 12.6bis: Treatment in Case of Armed Conflict or Civil Strife 1. Notwithstanding Article 12.9.5(b) (Non-Conforming Measures, subsidies and grants carveout), each Party shall accord to investors of another Party, and to covered investments, non-discriminatory treatment with respect to measures it adopts or maintains relating to losses suffered by investments in its territory owing to armed conflict or civil strife. 2. Notwithstanding paragraph 1, if an investor of a Party, in the situations referred to in paragraph 1, suffers a loss in the territory of another Party resulting from: (a) requisitioning of its covered investment or part thereof by the latter's forces or authorities; or (b) destruction of its covered investment or part thereof by the latter's forces or authorities, which was not required by the necessity of the situation, the latter Party shall provide the investor restitution, compensation, or both, as appropriate, for such loss. Any compensation shall be prompt, adequate, and effective in accordance with Article 12.12.2 through 12.12.4 (Expropriation and Compensation, paragraphs 2 through 4), mutatis mutandis.) Consider the XL pipe line protests. With this agreement, the protestors will have put the citizens of our nation in jeopardy of having to pay for the losses. In other words, a nations taxing apparatus is now bound as insurance against an investor's loss. Capitalism? Read about Excelaron and San LuisObispo County's Huasna Valley.  This clause also pits a nation's government against it's people and pits it's people against each other in that civil protest, maybe even strikes become compensatory offenses if a loss in incurred by an investor.  So, just how will a nation respond to assure it's citizens “behave themselves” such that the other Party's investor does not suffer a loss by means of social unrest? This is where loss of sovereignty is further accomplished as it relates to a nation determining how best to structure it's economy. Article 12.7: Performance Requirements 1. No Party may, in connection with the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, or sale or other disposition of an investment of an investor of a Party [or of a non-Party] in its territory, impose or enforce any requirement or enforce any commitment or undertaking: 12 (a) to export a given level or percentage of goods [or services] ; (b) to achieve a given level or percentage of domestic content; (c) to purchase, use or accord a preference to goods produced in its territory, or to purchase goods from persons in its territory; (d) to relate in any way the volume or value of imports to the volume or value of exports or to the amount of foreign exchange inflows associated with such investment; ( e) to restrict sales of goods [or services] in its territory that such investment produces [or supplies] by relating such sales in any way to the volume or value of its exports or foreign exchange earnings; [ (f) to transfer a particular technology, a production process or other proprietary knowledge to a person in its territory;] [or] (g) to supply exclusively from the territory of the Party the goods that such investment procedures [or the services that it supplies] to a specific regional market or to the world market [; or (h) (i) to purchase, use, or accord a preference to, in its territory, technology of the Party or persons of the Party13 ; or (ii) that prevents the purchase or use of, or the according of a preference to, in its territory, particular technology, so as to afford protection on the basis of nationality to its own investors or investments or to technology of the Party or of persons of the Party] . 2. No Party may condition the receipt or continued receipt of an advantage, in connection with the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, or sale or other disposition of an investment in its territory of an investor of a Party [or of a non-Party,] on compliance with any requirement: (a) to achieve a given level or percentage of domestic content; (b) to purchase, use, or accord a preference to goods produced in its territory, or to purchase goods from persons in its territory; (c) to relate in any way the volume or value of imports to the volume or value of exports or to the amount of foreign exchange inflows associated with such investment; or (d) to restrict sales of goods [or services] in its territory that such investment produces [or supplies] by relating such sales in any way to the volume or value of its exports or foreign exchange earnings. 3. (a) Nothing in paragraph 2 shall be construed to prevent a Party from conditioning the receipt or continued receipt of an advantage, in connection with an investment in its territory of an investor of a Party [or of a non-Party,] on compliance with a requirement to locate production, supply a service, train or employ workers, construct or expand particular facilities, or carry out research and development, in its territory. Again in the above section 12:7 we see the continuation of the individual/citizen carved out from the money. Sure, a nation can make some demands, but those only refer to the citizen as work done within the investment and not as a beneficiary of the work done. The benefits and results of the work done shall not be restricted by the host party of the investment. Section 12:7 does allow a nation to protect it's natural resources and the environment by adopting laws however, they cannot be inconsistent with the TPP: (i) necessary to secure compliance with laws and regulations that are not inconsistent with this Agreement; Understand that what is consistent with the agreement is that the investment is protected at all times against not being fulfilled. Lastly we see the final severing of a nations sovereignty; the loss of the right to have the host party represented within the investment entity. Article 12.8: Senior Management and Boards of Directors 1. No Party may require that an enterprise of that Party that is a covered investment appoint to senior management positions natural persons of any particular nationality. 2. A Party may require that a majority of the board of directors, or any committee thereof, of an enterprise of that Party that is a covered investment, be of a particular nationality, or resident in the territory of the Party, provided that the requirement does not materially impair the ability of the investor to exercise control over its investment. Thus, you can put some people in positions that theoretically may have power to prevent the investing entity from harming your nation, but not so much as the hedge phrase is: materially impair. This is another example of using “common man” language to hide the uncommon results. Personally, this language sounds like a ripe area has been created for the allowance of corruption. Consequently, what we have here is an agreement that the investing entity is protected via insurance in the form of the host nation's taxing ability that becomes a mechanism for “encouraging” shall we say, a host nation to take measures to assure it's citizens remain compliant. This is the new social order. This is the corporate model of relationships. Yes, there is a section concerning the protection of the environment and in general -- health. Article 12.15: Investment and Environment] [ ,Health Safety and Labour] [ Article 12.15: Health Safety and Environmental Measures][ 1. Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to prevent a Party from adopting, maintaining or enforcing any measure otherwise consistent with this Chapter that it considers appropriate to ensure that investment activity in its territory is undertaken in a manner sensitive to environmental [ , health, safety, or labour] [ , health or safety] concerns.] 2. The Parties recognize that it is inappropriate to encourage investment by relaxing its health safety or environmental measures. Accordingly, a Party should not waive or otherwise derogate from or offer to waive or otherwise derogate from, such measures as an encouragement for the establishment, acquisition, expansion, or retention in its territory of an investment of an investor.] It even talks about “Social Responsibility”. But...it's voluntary. Article 12.15 his: Corporate Social Responsibility [ Each Party should encourage][ nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to prevent a Party from encouraging] enterprises operating within its territory or subject to its jurisdiction to voluntarily incorporate internationally recognized standards of corporate social responsibility in their internal policies, such as statements of principle that have been endorsed or are supported by the Parties. [ These principles address issues such as labor, the environment, human rights, community relations and anti-corruption. The Parties remind those enterprises of the importance of incorporating such corporate social responsibility standards in their internal policies.]] Well isn't that a fine one. How do you encourage social responsibility when a nation can not dictate what is to happen to the resultant product of it's citizens' work nor can their representatives on the board of the investment entity effect the management of the investment. Most importantly how do you encourage such voluntary “responsible” activity when the host nation is on the hook for any loss of money that may result from the investment entity's not so socially responsible actions that result in civil protest? Remember, “civil strife” is specifically stated as a compensable event if it produces a loss for the investor. What will this agreement do to the effort to get this world to wake up to the planet warming up? How does this agreement prevent the furtherance of a naturally human trend of selfishness resulting in further policies of exclusivity and extraction of wealth (see: Why Nations Fail)? It doesn't. That is what the ideals of our Constitution are supposedly about. The recognition of the human mind's frailties and a governance structure to assure such frailties do the least amount of harm. The further we go with implementing these types of agreements the further removed we are from the enlightenment concepts that resulted in a group of people writing prose such as our Constitution. You can forget about the ideal bound in our Declaration of Independence. And, the further we are moved toward the model of business organization as the dominate model for structuring a society. It is too accepted that the purpose of business is to make money. There is no longer any talk of “social responsibility” within today's business model. Business no longer is a means for creating wealth that society then puts to work in reducing life's risks. Business is simply about making money...stop. The declaration for the TTP would simply read: We hold this truth to be self-evident, the purpose of business is to make money. Isn't it ironic that in science fiction, a common theme is the threat of man creating an artificial entity that ultimately comes to dominate it's creator. It's a robot, a computer, some kind of machine even biological or any combination or all 3. We obtained the power of the creator only to realize our ignorance toward the full potential of all there is to know. The theme is always dismissed as artistic fun. One thing always is consistent with such stories and dreams. At no time is this entity ever not recognized as nonhuman. Yet, in truth we have created and are willingly moving our self into such a living situation: the corporate structure for managing human relationships. The corporate structure is a creation of man (I don't think a woman is credited with this considering the position of women in centuries past). It is a creation that we have been investing with human social stature and traits. We made this thing. We have given it “personhood”. (Personhood is the status of being a person.)  With that birth we have also given it standing within the circle of human relations. It is the physics of two entities occupying the same space in that the corporation is both human in action and representative of human action. And, we have given it one thing that humans do not have and the one thing that is the singular moment of all human endeavor: the real potential of eternal life. The corporation has the ability to do what we can't: defy death. The science fiction writers had it correct as to our drive, they were just looking at the wrong sciences. It's not the material life that will do us in. It is the cognitive life that has the most potential to do us in. The Trans Pacific Partnership agreement is the realization of our self destruction potential.

26 февраля 2013, 01:36

Charles Heck: U.S. Health Care: Misplaced Pride

A greatest-country-in-the-world syndrome sometimes makes it hard for us Americans to recognize ways in which other societies are outpacing the United States. Health care presents a striking discrepancy between common domestic perceptions of relative U.S. performance and actual comparisons with other high-income countries. A common argument in the debate over U.S. health care reform has been that "the American health care system... is already the finest health care system in the world" (as Senator Mitch McConnell put it on Fox News Sunday on July 1, 2012). But evidence continues to mount that health outcomes in the United States are among the worst in high-income countries, while expenditures on health are far and away the highest! Wealthy foreigners come to the United States for the most sophisticated operations, and medical research and pharmaceutical development is outstanding, but from the perspective of society as a whole, something is badly wrong. The latest wide-ranging evidence regarding comparative health outcomes comes from an impeccable American source. At the request of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine established a Panel on Understanding Cross-National Health Differences Among High-Income Countries. The Panel's report appeared in pre-publication form last month (January 2013) under the title U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health.* Health outcomes in the United States were compared to 16 "peer" countries: Canada, Australia, Japan and 13 European countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland). Panel members were themselves surprised by the strength of their findings. "We uncovered a strikingly consistent and pervasive pattern of higher mortality and inferior health in the United States, beginning at birth: • "For many years, Americans have had a shorter life expectancy than people in almost all of the peer countries.... • "For the past three decades, this difference in life expectancy has been growing, especially among women. • "The health disadvantage is pervasive - it affects all age groups up to age 75 and is observed for multiple diseases, biological and behavioral risk factors, and injuries." Comparing U.S. outcomes to peer countries in specific "health domains," the Panel found, for instance, that • "For decades, the United States has experienced the highest infant mortality rate of high-income countries.... • "Since the 1990s, among high-income countries, U.S. adolescents have had the highest rate of pregnancies and are more likely to acquire sexually transmitted infections.... • "For decades, the United States has had the highest obesity rate among high-income countries." How is this "growing U.S. health disadvantage" to be explained? The Panel finds no single factor that fully explains what is happening. • The U.S. "health system" is one prominent factor. It "is highly fragmented, with limited public health and primary care resources and a large uninsured population. Compared with people in other countries, Americans are more likely to find care inaccessible or unaffordable and to report lapses in the quality and safety of care outside of hospitals." • Adverse social and economic conditions matter to an important extent, though further research is needed to establish specific causal links, not just "co-occurrence." The United States "has higher rates of poverty and income inequality than most high-income countries. U.S. children are more likely than children in peer countries to grow up in poverty....(A)lthough the United States was once the world leader in education, students in many countries now outperform U.S. students." • More surprisingly, and pointing to different societal phenomena, the Panel found worse health outcomes even among Americans not afflicted by adverse social and economic conditions. "Americans with healthy behaviors or those who are white, insured, college-educated, or in upper-income groups appear to be in worse health than similar groups in comparison countries." Just as surprising, "the nation's large population of recent immigrants is generally in better health than native-born Americans." From a societal perspective, it is baffling and unsettling that comparatively poor U.S. health outcomes go along with U.S. health expenditures far higher than any other peer country. The OECD Factbook 2013 gathers the numbers for the United States and peer countries in 2010 or the latest available year. U.S. public and private expenditures on health came to almost 18 percent of U.S. GDP, roughly half again higher -- an astonishing difference -- than the Netherlands, next highest at 12 percent. The mounting evidence of a "U.S. health disadvantage," against a backdrop of extraordinarily high health expenditures, should erode whatever complacency remains about the performance of U.S. society in this regard. In the television interview noted at the outset, Senator McConnell went on to say that "we're not going to turn the American health care system into a Western European system." There is more than one health care system in Western Europe, and no need to adopt any other system wholesale. But given the better health outcomes in Western Europe (and in Canada, Australia and Japan), it would be the worst of American blind self-satisfaction not to look for innovative ideas beyond our borders as well as within them.

25 февраля 2013, 15:09

Ten Things for Your Radar Screen

The week has begun off with a bang.  Follow through selling of sterling in early Asia saw its losses extended to almost $1.5070 before recovering almost a cent by early Europe to about $1.5165, filling the gap created by the lower opening in Asia. The dollar gapped higher against the yen on reports that Asia Development Bank Kuroda may become the next governor of the BOJ.  The dollar reached a new 2-year high near JPY94.75 before coming off a big figure to JPY93.75 in the Europe. Japanese stocks liked the yen's weakness.  The Nikkei jumped 2.4%.   The gap extends to last Friday's high near JPY93.52. Cross rate buying has lifted the euro against the dollar, and has taken out  initial resistance near $1.3250.  Intra-day technical readings warn that it is getting stretch.  European shares are higher with the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 up 0.8%, with all sectors advancing; led by technology and building materials. The debt market is less clear cut.  Japanese 10-year government bonds and Italian and Spanish 10-year bonds are bucking the heavier tone seen in core bond markets.  On the other hand, 2-year notes are generally firmer in core Europe and Japan, but softer in Italy and Spain. Here are 10 items that investors will be watching this week. 1. Just before the weekend, and after two weeks of persistent rumors, the UK lost its AAA rating. Moody’s cut its rating one notch to Aa1 and adopted a stable outlook. There was little market reaction to previous rating downgrades of high income countries, like the US, Japan, France and Austria. We do not expect the UK to be an exception. At the same time, our analysis suggests that the macro-economic conditions and debt dynamics are more consistent with Aa3 (of AA-). Investors should not be surprised if the other major rating agencies make good on their negative outlooks for the UK and if deeper cuts are eventually forthcoming. 2. The passive tightening of the euro area monetary conditions does not appear to be as aggressive as it had appeared and this reduces the likelihood of offsetting ECB action. The early repayment of the second LTRO was considerably less than anticipated at not even half the pace in which the first LTRO was repaid. Some 356 banks will repay 61.1 bln euros this week from the second LTRO. The large number of banks and relative small average (0.17 bln) may point to small German bank participation. On the other hand, Italian banks may have refrained given the election uncertainty. 3. Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke provides semi-annual testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday. We expect him to help “correct” the reading of the recent FOMC minutes that some observers seemed to understand somewhat hawkishly, expecting an early end to QE3+. It was only in December that Bernanke led the FOMC to more than doubling its outright long-term asset purchases. With economy growth slowing below the pace needed to lower the unemployment rate, we see little reason to expect a change of heart. A few regional presidents disagree, but they are a minority at the Federal Reserve and especially among the voting members of the FOMC. 4. The US Congress has a few days to avert the sequester—the deep spending cuts—set to be enacted on March 1. It calls for $1.2 trillion cuts in spending over the next decade, with $85 bln to be delivered in the current fiscal year. This is on top of the $1.4 trillion of spending cuts to discretionary programs announced over the past two years. While there may be a last minute deal, as there was with the fiscal cliff, it seems a bit less likely. Assuming a 1:1 fiscal multiplier, the sequester is expected to shave US growth around 0.5%. It is possible that Congress later authorizes additional, which may mitigate the fiscal drag. 5. Results from the Italian election will likely begin around 9:00 am EST.  A tight race is expected. A center-left victory in the lower chamber is expected, but the Italian polls have a habit of projecting greater support to the center-left than actually materializes and Berlusconi appeared to be enjoying some momentum in the days leading up to the last official polls. The Senate is a different story. The center-right can block an outright PD majority, forcing a coalition, depending on how Monti does. The most dramatic market reaction may be if the center-right receives the most votes in the lower house. Grillo’s 5-Star movement, which seems largely a protest vote, is also a known unknown, to borrow a phrase. High levels of undecided voters warn of the potential for surprises. 6. The usual battery of month end data will be released. In terms of important, potentially market moving data, the week begins off slowly. We would highlight the mid-week euro area money supply and the private sector credit-creation. The continued trend toward less accommodative financial conditions will likely be evident. US January durable goods orders are expected to show a weak start to capex in Q1. The UK Q4 GDP is unlikely to be revised, but revisions of Q4 US GDP, based on the combination of trade, inventory, consumption, and construction spending will likely replace a small contraction with a small expansion. Friday is the big day with PMIs, flash euro area February inflation, US auto sales and January personal consumption and income figures. 7. On Thursday, February 28, Bankia will report its full year earnings and is expected to admit to a loss in excess over 19 bln euros, making it the largest corporate loss in Spain’s history. Its restructuring will include the divestment of substantial holdings in several large Spanish companies, including IAG Group (12% stake), Iberdola (5.3%) and Mapfre (15%)—an airlines, utility and insurer respectively. In this way, the financial crisis in Spain will lead to industrial and governance changes. At the same time, the fact that Bankia failed within eleven months of it being listed , when it raised 24 bln euros, has generated persistent protests as the Rajoy government as hundreds of thousands of small investors who bought at the IPO as looking at a 97% loss. 8. The Abe government is expected to announce a new management team for the central bank. It will include the governor and two deputies. The latest reports suggest Asian Development Bank head and former MOF official Kuroda may get the nod as governor. He is moderately dovish and has advocated buying of long-term securities. He has a strong international reputation. If Kuroda does in fact become the next BOJ governor, reports suggest it will nominate Fin Min's Nakao as his replacement at the ADB.  Back channels suggest China will not compete for the completion of Kuroda's term. 9. A combination of minutes from the recent meeting and comments by the governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia suggests that a March or even April rate cut by the RBA is less likely than it appeared a couple of weeks ago. While the evolution of the economy in the coming weeks is important, it now seems that, barring a significant deterioration in economic conditions, the Q1 CPI due on April 23 may be the key to a May cut. 10. In the emerging markets we note the following: HSBC flash China PMI for February was reported overnight, and came in at 50.4 vs. 52.2 consensus and vs. 52.3 final in January, which was a two-year high. This is the first reading for February, and we note that some January data was not reported due to the Lunar New Year holiday, including retail sales and industrial production.. These two series report January and February combined as one reading. On Friday, official February PMI will be reported, with market consensus at 50.5 vs. 50.4 in January. We will also get the final HSBC PMI report on Friday. We continue to believe that everything is lined up for modestly improved China data in H1 2013. Both HSBC and official PMI readings have been above 50 for three straight months now, and that has been largely reflected in improved trade and IP data recently. Elsewhere in EM, the Israeli central bank meets today and is expected to keep rates steady at 1.75%. Hungary's central bank meets Tuesday and is expected to cut rates 25 bp to 5.25%. Brazil reports Q4 GDP as well as February trade and PMI data on Friday. These readings will be important coming ahead of the next COPOM meeting March 5/6, where many analysts are looking for the central bank to signal a more hawkish stance in its policy statement.

21 февраля 2013, 01:27

What Does It Takes To Be A Flight Attendant?

Depending on whom you ask, being a flight attendant isn't just a job — it's a lifestyle, and a competitive one at that. After all, not many occupations include 'travelling around the world' as part of the job description. Earlier this month, Air Canada announced 150 positions for the first wave of flight attendants as part of their low-cost carrier, Rouge. To see what it would take to become a flight attendant in an industry no stranger to turbulence, Huffington Post Canada Travel spoke with Angie**, a flight attendant who's been with Air Canada for five years, asking her to share what she's learned and what advice she has for prospective airline attendants. **full name has been omitted at the request of the interviewee. Huffington Post Canada Travel: If you can take us back to your interview process back in 2008, how would you describe the competition? A: It was pretty fierce — they called it a “cattle call”. There’s a really large banquet room — a holding room, if you will — and there are just rows and rows of chairs. Every now and then, we would shift seats — it was like musical chairs. When you got into the next room there was another large banquet room filled with rows and rows of tables. There was a guy who was basically like customs, and you would go up and have an interview for 20 minutes or so, and that would be the first round. If you were approved, you’d go onto another room and do language testing. It just kept going like that. HPCT: I understand you speak multiple languages. Did that help with the job process? A: Definitely. In general, Air Canada only wants to ever hire bilingual flight attendants. The only reason why there’s any unilingual flight attendants is because Air Canada bought up Ward Air and Canadian Airlines. Those companies did not always require bilingualism, so we do have some flight attendants who only speak English. HPCT: Can you tell me more about the level of education or background needed to be a flight attendant? A: Air Canada’s mainline, and I believe Rouge, only requires that you graduated from high school. I've met a lot of people who've had no post-secondary education or even experience in the hospitality industry. HPCT: Are there any physical requirements to being a flight attendant, like height? A: There used to be, but no longer. It’s a human rights issues, so it’s no longer an issue they can discriminate against during the physical examination. However, practically, I don’t think that it’s desirable, because there are physical elements to the job. But I've worked with a flight attendant who was about 4"8 and she was not able to perform all of the duties that we were supposed to. In regards to being too tall, we do have some very small aircraft that are called ’Embraer.’ Anybody who is over, I believe, 6"2 can elect not to not work on the Embraer. HPCT: How about personality-wise? A: It’s a very different thing for a low-cost carrier like Rouge than a mainline because it’s a different kind of flying. But in general, then it would be that you have to be a detached person. You have to be able to spend lots of time alone, adapting to new environments, new people and regulations — that’s always been surprising. I've been flying for over five years now but regulations are actually always changing. HPCT: So what exactly do you mean by detached? A: In the first two years I was laid off twice, and that was a pretty big surprise. I think that’s going to be very interesting to see what will happen with Rouge because of Air Canada’s other attempts at starting low-cost carriers — this is their third. So, we’re all very interested to see what will happen for this and all these new hires that will be promised the world might go through all these ups and downs in the next year or longer if they’re successful. HPCT: Why were you laid off? A: It’s a cyclical business. So in ‘08 when I was fired, it was a bad economy around the world. Beyond that, in 2009, it just happens — that’s what the expectation was. They over-hired, they under-planned and basically it happens to most flight attendants. I would say that about 70 per cent of flight attendants have been laid off at least once in their careers, regardless of what their experience is, whether it’s five years or 30 years. If you do [get laid off] once, then there’s a good chance you can get laid off up to three times in your career, because it’s seniority-based, and anybody is at the bottom at a bad time will get cut. HPCT: So people looking to be flight attendants should expect little-to-no stability in their jobs? A: I think that has been the best advice I was given. At the time, I took a pay cut and decided to do this [job], I really had no expectations, I just wanted to see the world and experience new things. It’s easier if you’re not depending on the income — which wasn't very much — and if you potentially have a stable income from a partner or from your family or if you have little attachment or are just renting an apartment or just have a sublet. You know, you can just pick up and go. HPCT: What would you say is the most memorable trip you’ve had? A: That’s a tough one, because I like to joke the best experiences have been during my layoffs. When I was laid off, we were the first group to ever get discounts even while on layoffs. So I just went backpacking both times. Generally, when flight attendants get laid off, they have to go back to their old jobs or collect employment insurance and it’s a bit of a struggle and you’re biting your nails waiting to be called back, but I just went off and did what I could, and got called back both times. HPCT: So where did you go when backpacking? A: I went to Australia for three months. And that was the first time and the second time I went to Japan for a month. So those experiences were only made possible because of the company. But work-wise/ layover wise, the first time I went to Japan — the only time I’ve ever been on a layover to Japan — was one of my most fond memories. I was on call and surprised by a phone call and they said ‘if you can make it here [the airport] in 40 minutes, then we will send you to Japan.’ Because we’re a seniority-based company, you bid for whatever you want to fly and in general, more senior flight attendants will bid for more productive flying. So when you’re on on-call and someone calls in sick, you can get lucky. Another flight attendant was a German speaker and had spent his entire four years working flights to Frankfurt because he was pigeon-holed — he was forced to fly to Frankfurt because he spoke German and we were short German speakers. He wanted to see something else and so he put his name down for extra hours and he got Japan. The two of us were ecstatic to be there for the first time and instead of going to the hotel, we got changed and at the airport, we gave our bags to our crew who took our bags with them to the hotel and we took the train straight into Tokyo and we went out all day and all night. In the morning we came back and slept all day before leaving. HPCT: Do these kinds of adventures happen often? A: Pretty much never. Because of course with seniority — not that I’m ancient or anything — it’s just that there are different priorities. I can understand if you’ve been somewhere many times then you’re not dying to go out and explore, so in general, when we have these exciting flights, they’re not with exciting people. Over the summer I was on reserve and got a two-day Barcelona layover and my entire crew didn't want to do anything. I ended up going on to Couchsurfing and meeting up with strangers. HPCT: How has this job affected your social life? A: That’s something I always caution people about when they first start, because they have to start making a very big effort to keep in touch with the people in your life that are important. It's only shown me who I actually care for in my life and the things I want to spend my time doing. You know when you’re up in the air all the time, when you come home, it’s to do laundry or to cook and clean. Flight attendants who are a little bit younger, who don’t necessarily have discipline, for lack of a better word, to live on their own, they find having relationships very difficult. So say you’re living with your family and you are not able to see your friends all the time because they’re not nearby, or you can’t easily go on dates because you’ve got chores to do or you’ve got family to take care of. HPCT: On that note, do you have any advice for anyone gunning to be a flight attendant? A: I think that you definitely have to learn how to be frugal and make smart decisions and I don’t think that necessarily translates to living a lower quality of life. You just have to be decisive in what you want, because I find that in this job when there’s a lot of solitude and there’s a lot of mobility and a lot of choice. Flight attendants end up falling into a pit of going out and even alcoholism, and that’s not healthy in the long run and they don’t see it when they’re young. You’ll see these older crew members that are divorced and broke because they spent all their life doing this [lifestyle] and you know, not working on their relationships or their passions and not saving. HPCT: Do you feel that there are there any misconceptions about flight attendants that people should know about? A: Honestly, I would never say it’s not glamorous, but it’s not as glamorous as it’s made to be seen. But I’m thankful that I get to see new cities every day and go on vacations very often, extend my discount to friends and family, attend lots of festivals and see a lot of things that never ever in my life would I be exposed to if I wasn’t doing this. So right now I’m in Edmonton looking out the window and seeing this whole new city. That wouldn’t be possible and I would have probably never come here otherwise. HPCT: Was there anything you wanted to add or comment on? A: The two things I would add is that we are not supposed to lift bags and put them away and we don’t get paid until after pushback — the moment the plane moves. HPCT: So if there’s a delay or a cancellation then... A: We’re not getting paid. This topic has come up so often and I’m shocked that a lot of people still don’t know that. I think that it's something people need to know, like potential flight attendants, applicants and flyers need to know that this is the case. So when we are helping flyers doing things, we’re working very hard. We also have to show up an hour ahead of time before boarding and we’re not getting paid for that too. We’re in work mode even while on the bus. HPCT: So you guys are almost always on the clock. A: I’m happy to help and I’m happy to give directions when I’m on the bus. I’m happy to find space for your bag and I’m happy to give you water for your medication. Or you know, do all my safety checks, but I’m not getting paid. I think that it’s quite absurd and unbelievable but it’s the truth. So I think this is important people know this, because sometimes people get very upset with us when we refuse to help them put their bags away, but they’re very, very heavy when we sometimes have to do four to five flights a day, and just that action is very bad for us. HPCT: So are flight attendants left to their own devices in these situations? A: Yes, that happens a lot, because we’re sometimes put in situations where nobody is there to help an old person who cannot lift their bags but packed it themselves or there’s someone sitting by a window and needs their bag. So you know, we’re lifting a lot of weights repetitively and it’s not healthy for us. It’s many, many bags throughout the day and many throughout the year and throughout our lifetime and we’ve got our own backs to watch out for too. Our own bags need to be lifted too, like on the subway and up and down the stairs, when we switch planes or flights. So it’s something that needs a little clarification about how it’s not personal, it’s for our own safety. HPCT: That’s fair. I mean it’s one thing to have a grumpy flight attendant but no one wants a complaining flight attendant — that just wouldn't be professional. A: Yeah, that would not be professional. I’m really hyperaware of that. I never want to complain in uniform because I don’t want to project a negative imagine on the profession I’ve chosen. It’s just mutual understanding and from a common sense, ethical standpoint, if everyone just knew some of these things then it would make a lot of sense. This interview has been modified for clarity and length