Oct 23, 2011

What's a Greek Tragedy?

As actuaries we do not believe in miracles, or do we?

According to a 'strictly confidential' document from the Troika (= EC, IMF & ECB), Greek's Debt/GDP ratio suddenly raised from 149% to 186% in 2013!

This new insight causes a 'potential need for additional official financing' ranging up to €440 billion!! (are you still with me?)

Let's take a look at how Debt/GDP ratio developed in the past and the new optimistic Troika forecast (red line).

Just to help the Troika, I've added a non-miracle 'Maggid' forecast based on simple and more realistic economic principles.

Not a word in the Troika report about the drivers and cultural changes that are necessary to achieve a long term decrease of the Debt/GDP ratio. Everything is based on  suggestive mathematical art.

Continue throwing good money after bad, is not the way forward. Greece will first have to show that it is not only willing, but also achieving debt reduction. Current measures are insufficient. Start for example to raise retirement age to 65 as a beginning...

Let's pray European leaders give up Keynesian miracle thinking and take the right decision:

Stop helping Greece to finance their debt, unless Greece shows strong progress in reducing debt itself every month .

If not.., the line 'A Greek Tragedy' will get a new meaning....

- Troika report
- Zerohedge: Greece
- Retirement around the globe blog

Oct 14, 2011

Humor: Actuary Scrooge

Today's Brainer:What's the difference between a pension fund and an investment fund?

Actuary $crooge shows...


Oct 9, 2011

On Line DIY European Stress Test

Thomson Reuters' Breakingviews now presents an on line DIY stress test. Change the Tier 1 ratio and haircuts of the PIIGS countries and find out the capital shortfall of Europe and the shortfal of individual European banks.

An explanation can be found here and there is also an Excel spreadsheet.

Enjoy stress testing!

Oct 8, 2011

What's a world without Jobs?

On Wednesday night 5th October, Apple co-founder, former CEO and chairman Steve Jobs, passed away..

Steve Jobs' life is an example to all of us. In an excellent and catching speech, Steve urged graduates to pursue their dreams and pick up the opportunities in life's setbacks at the university's 114th Commencement on June 12, 2005.

What - besides Steve's phenomenal contributions to computer technology and marketing - did Steve contribute to the profession of Risk Management?

Steve Jobs' Risk Management Lessons
Here are (derived from his 2005 Stanford speech) some inspiring lessons from Steve. Lessons we can apply 'one to one' on Risk Management (my comments in Italic):

  • Connect 'the dots' in life
    It's impossible to connect the dots looking forward,you can only connect them looking backwards, later in life.  Do so!

    To turn Risk Management into an opportunity, we can't look in a crystal ball. We'll have to explore and have to allow ourselves some experiments and non-conventional ideas to finally see the bigger picture that turns marginal new business developments into one new final integral success!

    Try to develop 'Risk Oversight' (connecting the dots) as Risk Oversight is negatively related to risk and positively related to shareholder value (Research Stanford University).

  • Trust
    You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.
    Believe in something and follow your heart, even if it leads you of the well-worn path..

    Make Risk management supportive and not dominant to what you want to achieve in life or business. It's positive when  companies Ideas and Vision sometimes conflict with inner and outer notions.

    To grow a plant (company)  in soil (society) is takes opposite 'nutrients' (and circumstances) like water and sun that feed your seed (idea).

    Accept that your heart, gut feeling and helicopter view are sometimes more leading than the rationale of your Risk management (what your brain thinks). The more and the longer you are able to manage this paradox, the more likely success will come your way eventually. 

    Keep all the above decision elements in ('a paradoxical') place. Remember  Shareholder Value and Sustainability are a function of Risk, so don't pull the plug too soon!

  • Love and Loss
    Making mistakes is an inherent part of life and doing business.

    If you (or something you started) fails, start over!

    The effect of less sureness by 'starting over', inspires for exploring new directions and becoming creative again.

    'Love what you do' is the most important leading statement to proceed in life and business.

    'Sometimes life hits you with a brick'. Don’t lose faith.Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.

    Risk Management exists by the grace of losses that occur. Accept that as a fact. Therefore, if no losses occur anymore, your Risk Management program is actually dead without a clue. It will certainly fail eventually.

    Getting knocked down by a 'brick' like in the current financial crisis, is a sign that we have to redesign our Risk Management programs instead of intensifying existing programs like Basel II /III and Solvency II. Get out!

    New Risk Management will have to focus on how to prevent and to DEAL with risk, instead of sophisticated capitalizing risk as Dead Risk Capital. Rather than focus on reducing risk, risk-transformation — that is, capitalizing risk in such a way that its value creation potential is maximized - seems the right way forward.

  • Death
    If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right. Remembering you'll die is the most important tool to help you make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

    Remembering that you are going to die is the best way to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.

    Risk Management is about making choices and giving up less important issues for more important.
    It's about generating focus on what really matters for sustainability or results, instead of trying to manage everything.

    Good Risk management therefore urges for CEO and Board rewards that reflect the downside risk of a company's default instead of just rewarding upward and short term profit.

    Company bonuses should therefore be positive as well as negative performance related.  

 Remember, just like Steve Jobs, Risk Management is about 'failing better than anyone else' .....

- Steve Jobs: He Thinks Different (2004)
- Was Steve Jobs Practicing Proactive Risk Management? (2010)
- The Role of the Board in Corporate Risk Oversight (Stanford University 2010)
- Dead Risk Capital