Category Archives: Science

Retail Asset Management – FinTech History

Innovation in Retail Asset Management: 1960 to 1980

  • Launch of Index Funds (Vanguard – 1975)
  • Acceleration of mutual fund sales in the US first true “star manager” in Peter Lynch / Fidelity.
  • 1980 – $8 billion est
  • 1985 -$15 billion est.
Sold Not Bought: Role of Salesperson Compensation:

Historically: One time commission paid by investors (up to 9%)

1987 – Launch of deferred sales charge and trailers paid out of management fee of 2.5%

Front end commission: 4% upfront plus trailing commission of .5%

Backend compensation: Nothing upfront

but 1% trailing commission

Power of salesperson led to “buying business”. Sales people fueled major change in the way Retail Asset Management started.

Banks start to focus on fund sales via branches

  • Growth of independent advisors – shift away from captive sales organizations (closed to open)
  • Focus on stealing customers from banks
  • Emphasis on US and global funds outside Canada to overcome home market bias
  • First ETFs launched in Canada (TIPs)

Growth in Canadian Mutual Fund Industry (billions)

1980 – $   8  est                1995 – $144

1985 – $ 15 est                  1996 – $211

1990 – $ 25 est                  1997 – $287

1991 – $ 50 est                  1998 – $335

1992 – $ 67                        1999 – $397

1993 – $115                       2000 – $433

1994 – $125                       2001 – $441

  • Interest rates on GICs and bonds
  • Boomer demographic / saving years
  • Scepticism about CPP
  • Market performance
  • Media coverage
  • Banks starting to focus on mutual funds (beginning with money market funds)
  • Industry innovation
  • Strategic Asset Allocation – STAR (Mackenzie funds only) and Keystone (include outside funds)
  • Clone funds to get around the foreign content limit within RRSPs (originally 20%, later increased to 30%, then eliminated)
  • Corporate class funds to allow investors to switch between funds without triggering capital gains
  • Fee structures for HNW and fee based accounts

Growth of Canadian mutual  fund industry assets (billions)

2002        $404                 2010  – $   772

2003        $474                 2011  – $   769

2004        $524                 2012  – $   849

2005        $603                 2013  – $   996

2006        $696                 2014  – $ 1138

2007        $739                 2015  – $ 1232

2008        $585                 2016  –  $1339

2009         $694                2024  –  $2000 (Forecast)

Net sales of Canadian funds

2004      – $12 billion             2011 – $31 billion

2005      – $10 billion             2012 – $36 billion

2006      – $17 billion             2013 – $42 billion

2007      – $22 billion             2014 – $58 billion

2008       ($15 billion)            2015 – $57 billion

2009 – $  5 billion              2016 – $30 billion

2010 – $11 billion             2017 – $19 billion (to July)


1990                     1998                     2011                     2016

Banks                   36%                      29%                      46%                      53%

Independents      35%                      53%                      45%                      39%

Captive / Direct   29%                      18%                      9%                        9%

Loss in Share by Banks was due to:
  • Performance
  • Advice
  • Internal Barriers
  • Level of Focus and Priority
  • Internal Conflict / Cultural Issues
Banks Made Five Key Decisions
  1. Ensured competitive products – shifted to packaged solutions
  2. Approached high value customers with dedicated branch financial planners
  3. Aligned incentives – implemented variable compensation / pay for performance for planners
  4. Deployed sales management for planner salesforce
  5. Incentives to activate branch referrals from front end staff


Growth of Canadian ETF assets (billions)

2002        $   5                    2010      – $    38

2003        $   9                    2011  – $    43

2004        $   9                    2012  – $    56

2005        $ 12                    2013  – $    62

2006        $ 15                    2014  – $    75

2007        $  18                   2015  – $    88

2008        $  19                   2016  – $  114

2009   $  31                        2017 –  $  134 (August)

Threat from ETFs – Sales

ETFs       Mutual Funds  ETF Share of Funds

1999                     .07                 18              0.4%

2010                        3                  11                    27%

2011                        7                  20                   35%

2012                     11                  31                    36%

2013                        5                  42                    12%

2014                     10                  58                    18%

2015                    16                   57                    28%

2016                     16                  30                    53%

Three Types of Innovation

1 Breakthrough

  • Passive investing: Burton Malkiel, Princeton
  • Three factor research: Fama and French, Value, Small Caps and Momentum
  • Junk bonds: Michael Milken
  • Asset allocation: Gary Brinson
  • Stocks for the long run: Jeremy Siegel, Wharton

2 Incremental

  • Income Trusts
  • Income oriented offerings / return on capital
  • Dividend growers vs dividend sustainers
  • Low volatility funds
  • Fundamental indexing / Smart Beta
  • Active share
  • Geographic sectors – Emerging Markets, Frontier, Japan
  • Industry sectors – Technology, Energy, Pharma, Telecom, REITS
  • Tax driven
  • New instruments – Leveraged loans, Floating loans, Bank debt
  • Market sectors – small caps, mid caps
  • Market Responsive
  • Fee structures
  • Tax structures
  • New pricing and features targeted to different segments   

Value(s) by Mark Carney: Chapter 15 Investing for Value(s): Key Takeaways / Analysis / Citations

Chapter 15 Investing for Value(s)

Key Takeaways

Based on Beeple’s artwork, modified by Professor Nerdster, free to distribute:-)

The short-summary is:

It’s the transition, stupid!

More detail:

Capitalism must solve the climate crisis, obviously, according to Carney. In this chapter, Carney is making a push to show how ESG ought to be used which aligns with his Glasgow COP26 work. This chapter is very much advocacy as he is the special envoy to the UN on climate finance.  

The Rise and Rise of ESG

Carney lays out the trajectory for ESG. Just as GAAP (in the wake of crash of 1929) and as IFRS (following the 2008 credit crisis) imposed new standards in accounting, we now see increased pressure for companies to set out their sustainable development goals. Carney identifies a key challenge however, that there is a wide variety in methodologies in environmental, social and governance (ESG) and subjectivity is more prominent then in absolutes typical in accounting. Noting of course that accounting, too is subject to managerial influence. Hence, to shore up standardization, Carney is working on Glasgow COP26 ie. re-assert global standards for ESG. Glasgow COP26 is the next global conference, Paris 2015 was the last major conference. For Carney, the providers of capital such as pensions, banks and insurers will increasingly need more transparency, stipulate their investment horizons and clarify where they sit on the continuum of maximizing value for shareholders versus doing the same for stakeholders (who as stakeholders provide a positive feedback loop back to increased shareholder value in many instances anyway, according to Carney). 

The Rise of ESG Historically:

It started with SRI (Socially Responsible Investing) in the 1960s. SRI screened for tobacco companies and apartheid in South Africa. ESG has broadened considerations: 

Environmental Impacts

  •         Climate change and Greenhouse Gas emissions
  •         Air and water pollution
  •         Biodiversity
  •         Deforestation
  •         Water scarcity
  •         Waste management
  •         Energy efficiency

Social Contributions

  •         Customer satisfaction
  •         Labour standards
  •         Data protection and privacy
  •         Human rights
  •         Gender and diversity
  •         Community Relations
  •         Employee engagement

Governance and Management

  •         Board composition
  •         Whistleblower schemes
  •         Audit committee structure
  •         Political contributions
  •         Bribery and corruption
  •         Executive compensation
  •         Lobbying
Hortense Bioy

The Surge of Interest in Separating the Good Motives from Bad Execution

Modern ESG involves analyzing and investing in purpose-driven companies. In short, ESG is about having credible strategies while avoiding those that are part of the problem (gambling, firearms, deforestation, tobacco, fossil fuels) but also supporting “bad” companies and industries that are actually part of the solution, not just green washing (fronting that they care). Sustainably managed assets totaled $30 trillion at the start of 2018 and is now already at $100 trillion in 2020 according to Morningstar’s Hortense Bioy in August 2020. In addition, the UN’s Principal for Responsible Invest (PRI) have now been more widely supported which mandated ejecting member who don’t follow ESG principles. So there are now more serious consequences for green washing / fronting that they care.

How ESG can Guide Stakeholder Value Creation

a massive amount of ink in this chapter is dedicated to the technical deployment of a more rigorous version of ESG. The details are as follows:

  • Carney insists on looking at finance first impact investing, that is to say, “seeking to do well by doing good” (Value(s), 421) using ESG criteria to identify common factors that assist risk management and value creation BUT ALSO delivering superior financial returns;
  • ‘Do well by doing good’ is about positive social or environmental benefits AND accretive financial returns;
  • With mandatory pensions, you can’t ‘vote with your feet’ but beneficiaries on socially responsible resolutions are possible;
  • As the CFA (charter financial analyst exams) trains you to identify a client’s risk appetite, it should also train you to prioritize non-financial appetites ie. ESG; Again, think John Kay, who says that the purpose of living is not to breath anymore then the purpose of business is to make a profit. Breathing and profits are necessary but not the purpose…;
  • Carney supports attempts to evaluate wooly environmental and social outcomes as rigorously as financial returns;

As such, Carney points to the Impact Management Project’s approach as detailed here

·(From the Impact Investing Institute)

·         Carney advocates a broad alignment between stakeholders and shareholders which occurs when purpose and competitive advantage of a company both depend on achieving a specific social or environmental value which Carney calls “Shared Value”;

Trade-Off versus Divine Coincidence

Some will trade a degree of financial returns to gain greater social returns while other seek divine coincidence which is what Carney is more interested in exploring in this chapter. Divine coincidence is a central bank / new Keynesian terms that suggests there is zero-tradeoff between stabilization of inflation and the stabilization of the welfare output gap. Divine coincidence approach of environmental outcomes and accretive returns that increase together. But what Carney is referring to regarding divine coincidence is more likely that doing well on ESG just so happens to mean doing well in terms of financial performance for factors obvious as well as less tangible (hard to draw causal links given complexity). Said another way, Carney’s thesis is that stakeholder values have a feedback loop that fuels the maximization of shareholder values.  Carney wants explicitly calculated, reported and tracked social and environmental goods to be embedded in financial reporting…and its finally starting to happen through various international bodies: TCFD, FSB, Glasgow COP26, IFRS…..

Why ESG is so Lucrative or At Least Will Be…

Carney’s big persuasion push in this chapter is that purpose-driven companies tend to score on ESG metrics and also tend to outperform those that do not score well on ESG. Why? Possible explanations have to consider:

  • Superior management = superior ESG adherence = superior financial returns. Some ESG factors are more helpful financially than other ESG factors, the ones that are short-term could be overweighted and thus deliver shareholder value sooner, for example Wal-Mart has a logistics competency at its core and their carbon footprint is reduced which would align with divine coincidence;
  • Some ESG factors are more long-term. Some ESG factors are indirect contributors of competitiveness such as brand, social license which improve a company’s ability to attract and retain talent. For example, opposite to Wal-Mart, a company that protects endangered species but receives no direct reward might receive more or better job applicants as is the case with Patagonia for example;
  • The prospect of strong cashflows could explain why a ESG company trade at a premium in the case of Wal-Mart (controlling for other factors which is difficult empirically) and on social license in the case of Tesla (i.e investors and institutions bias towards cashflow metrics, managing what they can measure as Peter Drucker famously points out but social media darlings and rocket launches play into an aspiration mix that communicates both “it’s the transition, stupid!” and stock momentum)
  • Carney admits that ESG performance will not automatically translate into higher cash flows and that society’s values should not be determined exclusively by whether the stock market gives a company credit for helping achieve those ESG goals.
  • Somethings…money can’t buy but companies have massive impacts such as species loss or inequality according to Carney. The value in those cannot be captured by the firm and thus not translated into the price of the company.
  • As Albert Einstein said “not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” Carney notes that there is are a lot of different methodologies to decide what should count, and determine what society believes should be counted…..

Performance….Further Arguments for ESG

  • Sustainable investment strategies (divine coincidence) outperform traditional strategies, according to Carney. He points to a study by Causeway Capital’s Mozaffar Khan, George Serafeim of Harvard and Aason Yoon of Northwestern University which shows that activities that enforce better and material social and environmental value get you ‘Alpha’ ie outperformance relative to the market median of 3 to 6 percent annually.
  • Again, Carney references Divine Coincidence here. The researchers found that this may be a function of the positive ESG sentiment such as public sentiment momentum (ie. Tesla is the top example).
  • Public sentiment influences the value of corporate sustainability activities therefore the price paid for corporate sustainability and the investment returns of portfolios that consider ESG data is boosted by those sentiments.
  • Again, Carney acknowledges that ESG does not equal Alpha automatically. The formulaic application of ESG ratings or kitemarks are not enough. Also, that as more firms use ESG… “if ESG mainstreams, then overall market performance, risk-adjusted returns, should improve, but relative performance will not.” (Value(s), 427)
  • Broad societal improvements to workforce diversity and inclusion across the board won’t differentiate specific companies that have helped make it happen, except during the transition to a more equal and inclusive society. “These shifts will create ‘social alpha’ , or what people would colloquially refer to as progress.” (Value(s), 427).

Fiduciary Duty

Carney is making an appeal here to the idea that CFA (chartered financial analysts turned portfolio managers) should really include calculations and inputs on ESG. Investors must weight ESG factors to fulfil their fiduciary duty to those whom the money is being managed. To do that investors need:

1) clear objectives of an investment…ie. that we knew the value that our capital is bringing in terms of ESG.

2) understanding the divine coincidence between stakeholder and shareholder value….i.e what’s good for the abstract other will have intangible benefits for the investor and the client.

Carney argues that investors must consider maximizing their client’s welfare not simply financial results…Recent polls show that owners of capital care more than simply about profit and want ESG to be a factor to some degree. 50% of those surveyed by FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office) were interested in sustainable investment today or in the future….33% were willing to accept LOWER returns if they knew their investment made a difference to something they cared about. In pensions, OTPP (Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan) and UK cancer researches want to exclude things like children in cages, tobacco companies even if these firms are very profitable

Carney proposes changing the definition of what constitutes fiduciary duty.

Also notes the success of Make My Money Matter in the UK which aims to get individual investors to express their views.


Effective in June, 2021, 1,500 firms with a market cap of $17 trillion are now reporting against TCFD (Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure from the Financial Stability Board of the G20) which was launched only 3 years ago. How do we get this to be accretive is being researched and more people are moving into ESG roles to support that analysis.

The Investing Ecosystem for Stakeholder Value Creation

Carney is basically saying, we need climate disclosure. This investment ecosystem is rapidly developing, evolving and confusing according to Carney. Here are the main actors to explain what the information they need is:

  • Companies that receive investments and put it to work on green initiatives or social projects get a weighting;
  • Investors that provide that capital to those companies to support these activities, they can pursue investment strategies that are traditional or ones that systematically do take into account ESG facotrs;
  • Stakeholders including employees, suppliers, customers and communities are wanting more transparency;
  • Governments and regulators that oversee the system, set the rules and address the systemic consequences of actions that companies and investors take. It is a superior solution IF the consequences are independent of any single human actor’s will; if the consequences and punishment are autonomous and objective then those punished will not seek to punish the regulator themselves. This is particularly applicable to good parenting, autonomous punishment works much better.

Problems with Disclosure

Obviously, investors have different weighting on each ESG factor because they may care about different factors differently to others, I might like fire arms for example. Reducing exposure to tail risks and improving returns are part of solution, but companies may shift away from social license and resilience to systematic shocks as memories fade (think about how SARS memories faded in the run-up to Covid). We just don’t know when the next pandemic, climate Minsky-moment or decline in social license (catastrophic global war perhaps) will or might happen.

Carney is betting that the stakeholders are going to push investors over time as these ideas that Carney is espousing are mainstreamed.

Trying to understand if he’s late to the party: this has been tried. Companies don’t do this. Impact accounting and ESG needs to be more transparent in their investment goals. 

ESG seems to be a differentiator…but there will be push-back.

Information and Disclosure:

  • IASB and FASB and securities regulators will likely oversee disclosures.
  • There is the IAS39 for valuation of financial instruments and the IAS9 for expected losses on loans.
  • But sustainability reporting has the following:
  • GRI (Global Reporting Initiative),
  • SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board),
  • And as mentioned prior, the TCFD ( the Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosures…is another group pushing for ESG disclosures as mandatory.
  • Social media to scientific analysis informs the view of public expectations…in the case of social media I hope not considering social media is not representative of public opinion.
  • There are competing interests per topic and opinion will vary over time but those opinions all should matter, according to Carney.

There has been a major attempt to consolidate by the big four (Deloitte, PwC, EY and KPMG) to develop a corporate reporting framework that has agreed standards with the GRI, SASB and TCFD metrics. The metrics are as follows:

1)      Core metrics: 22 well-established metrics and reporting requirements, there are quantitative and obtained with some effort and time;

2)      Expanded metrics: 34 metrics which are less well established which convey a wider supply chain scope. These metrics are more advanced ways of communicating sustainable value creation.

Impact Management Project (IMP): is building a framework on:  What is already reflected in financial accounts (IASB);

§  Information material for enterprise value creation (SASB);

§  Information for sustainable development (GRI);

Integrated Reporting: developed in 2013 to explain the value creation incrementally of human, intellectual, manufacturer, social and natural capital.

The European Union has been leading on non-financial through something imaginatively called “Non-Financial Reporting Directive” (NFRD)

There are three major approaches to using ESG by investors

  • 1.      Ratings based Approach
  • 2.      Fundamental value where raw ESG data is analyzed in an integrated assessment;
  • Or
  • 3.      Impact assessments

[1] Ratings Based Approach

in this approach the investor outsources the assessments to ESG data providers how have their own methodologies for objective and subjective data and then create a comprehensive indices.

  • There is a lot of self-reporting and surveys can be gamed;
  • Ratings system data may vary and therefore data vendors will have wildly different scores;
  • The correlation between 6 different ESG rating companies was only 0.46 in other words only about half the time did they get close to the same rating;
  • The more profitable a firm the lower the ESG discrepancy so there is hope that energy and time can avoid inaccurate ESG reporting;
  • Governance metrics were the weakest at 0.19. In other words only about 1/5 of the time did the 6 different rating firms score similarly;
  • Disagreement are increasing in 2019. Berg, Koelbel and Rigobon showed that there are three primary drivers of difference in reporting: 1) measurement (what metrics are being used), 2) differences in scope (what attributes are being used), 3) weighting (the level of materiality the ratings vendor ascribes to a given attribute).
  • Different ESG outcomes mean ultimately different values.
  • Carney argues the rating approach is simply too subjective. It is not straightforward to value the outcomes that a given investor values. Improvements will come but ultimately, this is subjective.
  • Carney reiterates that sustained practice of a virtuous goal of value creation is essential.

[2] Fundamental Sustainable Value

in this approach, rather then ratings based approaches, investors have access to the raw tools. The data is usually publicly available data (social media, NGOs, company website, company filings) and then disseminated systematically. Examples are:

  • HIS Markit;
  • Refinitiv;
  • Bloomberg. 

The end user determines the materiality. This approach is akin to fundamental analysis in the Equity Research field in which the expert is providing a final investment decision by analyzing company performance, building a financial model that provides a homebrewed answer to the company’s intrinsic value…..and then trading accordingly.

As part of fundamental sustainable value, there is a growing emphasis on Shared-Value. Shared-Value reinforces:

  • (1) creating innovative products that solve a social need,
  • (2) enhancing productivity in supply and value chains,
  • (3) investing to improve the industry cluster where the business is based… 

Carney is supportive of this approach because of the complex changes and having someone at the wheel. However, companies are the leaders at conveying their ESG strategy and this is still going to lead to a lack of standardization. Carney admits that there is a significant risk that this is about branding over substance….

[3] Impact, Monetization and Value

This approach looks at the financial AND social contributions. They seek to measure social impact. This approach uses:

  • IFC Operating Principles,
  • Impact Management Project Dimensions of Impact,
  • And Global Impact Investing Network’s GIIN’s IRIS+ metrics,
  • 1/3 of FTSE100 companies already do this IMV….

Impact monetization puts prices on the impacts. The calculations are sometimes easy like: how many solar panels sold minus production costs? While it’s social impact includes solar arrays installed in a house and the array is known to replace CO2 emissions by $17 therefore the monetary impact of this solar panel company is X. But some investors might place a higher value on CO2 creation averted or that the value factor of CO2 will rise which is a value judgement in and of itself. For example, Canada uses it’s carbon price path of $170CAD per ton….

The Serafiem/Cohen Impact Measurement Model asks that you compare the total environmental cost of 1,800 company. You could find 2 chemical companies with sales of $12B each but one created environmental damage of $17B and the other only $4B.

  • These are the same problems with having to calculate the value of and the actual Amazon. There are some many factors that aren’t measured.
  • Calculating the impact value of moving from fossil fuels to renewable power generation requires looking at the different estimates of the diminishing marginal utility of impact….
  • Ranges and sensitivity analysis are useful here but Carney warns that false precision could set in.
  • The danger in Impact, Monetization Analysis is that the analysts will become disconnected from the raw data and develop a sense of false precision that cannot be validated since it is subjectively derived.
  • Aggregating the nuance, it will basically create an obsession with that one number much like a stock price itself.

Securing Climate Impact

  • The Transition to Net Zero…Carney believes that the evidence points to a need to shift toward green solutions in order to prevent exceeding the 2 degrees Celcius consensus from the Paris agreement which will unleash a feedback loop that is irrevocable.
  • Since climate transition is an imperative of climate physics and chemistry, it’s obvious that this demand for change is going to go mainstream, therefore jump on the wagon. Engineers and politicians see it.
  • Companies are increasingly being as whether they are doing their part or whether they will be crushed and become “climate roadkill” (Value(s), 449).
  • 25 countries already of a Net Zero plan….Carney believes that harnessing finance is critical to make this happen. Every financial decision- should take climate change into account in that decision-making.

There are ways to evaluate the providers of capital:

  • What percentage of companies we invest in have a net-zero transition plan in mind?
  • What percentage of the portfolio is net-zero aligned?
  • What percentage deviation from the target is a given company?
  • What degree of the portfolio is actually warming: how much emissions is this particular company generating? GPIF, AXA and Allianz volunteer this information

Carney works at Brookfields to try to create net-zero as an asset class….

Social Purposes of Investing:

William Blake “Know your values rather than be enslaved by those of another.” Carney concludes that we ought to measure if the impact is achieved! Carney does not believe that investor should able to put companies into ethical blind pools of ESG collateral….. Creating value for all means measuring that value. That is what this chapter has been about.  

Introduction: Humanity Distilled Chapter 1 Objective Value
 Chapter 2 Subjective Value Chapter 3 Money & Gold
 Chapter 4 Magna Carta  Chapter 5 Future of Money
 Chapter 6 Market Society Chapter 7 Financial Crisis
 Chapter 8 Safer FinanceChapter 9 Covid Crisis
 Chapter 10 Covid Recovery Chapter 11 Climate Crisis
 Chapter 12 Climate Horizon Chapter 13 Your Values
 Chapter 14 Values in Companies Chapter 15 ESG

Analysis Part 3 Chapter 15

Ø  Theory (8/10) versus practice (6/10). In theory, something works but in practice, operationally, that something might not work. Executives are interested in the next 2 to 5 years. As Tetlock showed in his master work Superforecasting, our predictions get very hazy past 5 years. Therefore, executives and others will continue to ignore climate physics in the short-run and point to correlative speculation when weather events are more and more extreme. It’s sad but true. Shareholders are wolves too! Carney does not address the counter-arguments sufficiently here.

Ø in the 2000s and mid-2010s attempted to create a systematic ESG metric that is more than a value add but is mainstream, but then they pivoted to supply chain risk because of the greenwashing effect. Self reporting is one problem, there is the tacit consent challenge. The classic criticism of anyone who supports climate change initiatives is that their intentions are conspiratorial and self-interested at a proportion nearing 100%. I don’t think Mark Carney is looking to enrich himself because climate change is not in fact a serious threat, he may enrich himself somewhat because he is creating value by raising climate finance into the mainstream and it is the right thing to do.

Ø  Carney says the investing ecosystem is rapidly evolving, but what is the massive sample size data on that? I’m not talking about a survey which is about as reliable as polling data about Donald Trump. “Yes of course I care about the environment!” Yes, this topic is trending because it aligns capital with solutions to climate change, but the financial sector still has a streak of strategic gambling and as such there will be a strong counter-argument / hedge against ESG as not that accretive after-all. Hard to predict the future but Carney is making an aspiration case, this is how it WILL play out which he’s betting will have a self-fulfilling impact. But as I have argued, I don’t think most people will be reading Value(s) in the way he entirely wants. It’s too lengthy, too academic and should be distilled further to connect with the audience, hence I have provided these summaries….

Ø  Carney thinks the Edmonton Oilers have the greatest player in the world and that cognitive error matters because there is no I in team. And his prediction that the Oilers would go all the way to the Stanley Cup in 2020-21 was dashed in the first round by the Winnipeg Jets! Now, you could read into Carney’s enthusiasm that he a) loves the Oilers/ loyal to the team at a partisan level which is fine, b) places to much emphasis on heroes and individual leaders…it takes a village to achieve great things: you have to lead with good talent of course, but also good strategy, supporters and meeting people where they are at to move them into the light. I think Carney does tend to invite people into his ivory tower and then expect to totally persuade by telling people the way he sees the world (based on being well cited).

Ø  Carney may be violating his principal that the four most dangerous words in the English language (actually five words) “this time it is different” in this chapter. With ESG, he’s saying “this time it is different”. Social license has been around and doesn’t figure that prominently in the MBA programs of the world, unfortunately. I support the aspiration but measurement is going to be your Achilles heel as well as what motivates financiers who are an exclusive group regardless of some democratization of stock trading in recent years. Few bankers will agree with John Kay that breathing is to living as profit is to business…for bankers the only thing that matters is money and right now. They discount the value of money in the future for this reason. The John Kay quote is that profit is no more important to business as breathing is important to living: necessary but not sufficient.

Ø  If Carney had more experience in the private sector, then he’d be aware that every detail that is public-facing is designed to present the firm in the best possible light….managerial accounting shows that A/R (accounts receivable) and A/P (accounts payable) accounting can and may be manipulated if there is shareholder pressure or the executives are playing to analysts.

Ø  It’s interesting that Carney believes ratings vendors will never get rid of subjectivity. It’s self-evidently true but what if the ratings firms were rated as well. And that the consequences of their poor ratings were made clearer to the end users….or is the rating process too far removed from the companies themselves while the employees are loyal to their firm and thus consulting firms ought to march in there to provide this oversight?

Ø  If Wealthsimple has an ESG ETF, then let’s see what GoodInvesting has to say about it. Tim Nash’s views.

Ø  Carney has shown it is the crisis that triggers re-evaluations and gets political and social change. Therefore, climate events are a series of relatively small crises which are correlated to Greenhouse gas emissions but there are counter-narratives that dispute the causal link of the increases in the hurricane season in part to absolve polluting sectors of the economy (most of the product components). Known as “De nile” from Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

Ø  Machievelli says that presenting to the public that you are lovable is better, but it is also essential that you be ruthless and feared. Does sustainable impact investing draw both actual supporters of the environment/human stability as well as self-interested posers? Yes. The ruthless and feared VW executives figured they could game the system…they are merely the folks that got caught…..

Ø  G7 Finance Minister summit in June 2021 was unprecedented as they came together to commit to a 15% corporate tax minimum in all those jurisdictions UK, Canada, France, UK, Germany, Italy, EU, Japan. But of course, where there is a will, there is a consulting firm that will help these corporations maximize their after-tax profit (PwC, Deloitte, KPMG, EY).

Ø  Carbon off-setting in theory is cool. In practice, it might be a bit challenging to imagine that the “books balance” in the intended manner of having 1 ton of carbon generated and corresponding additional tree that reduced 1 ton of carbon. The key is the additional tree planted wouldn’t have otherwise been planted, for example…because it was going to be planted anyway, then a carbon off-set, in this case, could be attributed to more then one off-setting attempt.

Ø  Carney is advocating more people skill up for ESG. There were Masters degrees in environmental science (a decade ago while I was at LSE) that basically created an army of advocates without any significant job and career opportunities over the last decade (perhaps the economy was also screwed up…but…my point is well known). Just as those who studied Middle-Eastern politics in the wake of the Iraq war, those who studied environmentalism found that their skill is still not really taken seriously on its own. You need to be well-rounded, have strong fundamental understanding of things like accounting, finance, marketing, sales, mathematics, engineering or another marketable skills. That talent stack would, as a whole, get you in the doorway of a desired industry. Often, environmentalists I know would ironically become lawyers defending corporations in ways that padded their ESG optics, for example. So being jaded about ESG is informed by practical experience.

Ø  Carney enters the political frame by stating that what society believes should be valued is X. He makes not systematic effort to evaluate what society wants himself. Hence, he needs to consider how citizens engage their own options and preferences.

Ø  Carney doesn’t necessarily call out who the polluters are…he doesn’t put pen to paper to say that fossil fuel companies are the problem and could be part of the solution. And what to do about Alberta’s transition? Carney doesn’t talk about a way to help Albertans who have driven the Canadian economy forward in terms of GDP should be compensated…and or supported in retaining economic development locally against the back drop of the Rookie Mountains. Think about how Britain settled the slavery questions in 1834 by compensating the owners of slaves? Then think about how the US settled the slavery question between 1861 – 65? Oil is like slavery in some ways as I argued a decade ago.

Ø  Carney as well as other advocates struggle with the fact that profit motives are the metric for success for companies (“you can’t [unfortunately for civil servants etc] manage what you can’t measure”} – Peter Drucker, therefore the creation of value and that the capture of that value in the form of money is THE primary driver. Whether it is the only driver is another matter. But I think a critic can be forgiven for thinking that it is naïve to think that this generation of C-suite decision-makers are mostly pre-occupied with the long-term impacts of the company at which they have climbed the ‘greasy hole’ to the top of. Really lucky and foolish CEOs have been incredibly successful merely because the things that we can measure about them keep appreciating in value…they keep hitting their targets. With ESG, you asking CEOs who may actually be hindering their business but are lucky that what is being measured is working (despite their own bad decision-making which can not be untangled for company performance)…you are asking the CEOs to stake their remaining career on something that cannot be measured in profit terms…

Ø  Just because you can find a poll that shows ESG factors are valued by consumers of large asset managers, doesn’t mean you aren’t leading the witness. The question is will we all buy in to the sacrifice and the benefits of the grand transition? I think that more and more people are making decisions with the environment being a variable, but we are poor systems-thinkers. Typically, you and I are going to spend our days being mindful (in the moment) which means we like the dopamine hit of doing carbon off-setting things but not if it gets in the way of amygdala. Also there is a wide spectrum of preferences. To assume that they all care about profits and or all care about ESG, why would that happen? Surely it’s a mix of incentives and motives. And even if there was a major climate catastrophe, it is not clear that polluters would stop polluting considering (they would certainly argue) that the damage has now been done (absolutism abound!), they would argue that the feedback loop of hyper temperature increases that Carney warns about is probably wrong because predicting the future even in climate physics is difficult and they would continue to burn energy to build things they were building just before said catastrophe just as post-Covid, we’re returning to offices because there are rents on that commercial real-estate and C-suite wants to get more value of the capital expenditure on the company’s income statement.

Ø  IF THE INVESTOR SEES the consequence of their preferences then they will be shaped for the better. If Quebec felt the consequences of shutting down the oil sands directly then their behaviour would be modified. If the consequences of your behaviours are imposed by an autonomous system it is much better than if the consequences are imposed by other people (Ottawa, bureaucrats, etc); in that latter case, it will fell like a game: As per How to talk so little kids will listen. 

Citations Worth Noting for Part 3: Chapter 15

Ø  Tidal Wave of ESG, from David Beatty at Rotman.

Ø  Hortense Bioy, ‘Sustainable Fund Flows Hit Record in Q2’, Morningstar, 4 August 2020.

Ø  Hortense Bioy, ‘Do Sustainable Funds Beat their Rivals?’, Morningstar (June 2020).

Ø  Michael E Porter, Goerge Serafeim and Mark Kramer, ‘Where ESG Fails’, Institutional Investor, 16 October 2019.

Ø  Robert G Eccles and Svetlana Klimenko, ‘The Investor Revolution’, Harvard Business Review (May – June 2019), ‘The True Faces of Sustainable Investing: Busting Myths Around ESG Investors’, Morningstar (April 2019).

Ø  UK Department for International Development, ‘Investing in a Better World: result of UK survey on Financing the SDGs’ (September 2019).

Ø  Sarah Boseley, ‘Revealed: cancer scientists’ pensions invested in tobacco’, Guardian, 30 May 2016.

Ø  Oliver Hart and Luigi Zingales, ‘Companies Should Maximize Shareholder Welfare Not Market value’, Journal of Law, Finance, and Accounting 2(2) (2017).

Ø  ‘Dynamic Materiality: Measuring What Matters’, Truvalue Labs (January 2020).

Ø  Dane Christensen, George Serafeim and Anwhere Sikochi.

Ø  PwC, ‘Purpose and Impact in Sustainability Reporting’ (November 2019).

Ø  ‘Fiduciary Duty in the 21st: Final Report’, United Nations Environmental Programme Finance Initiative (2019).

Ø  Florian Berg, Julian F. Kolbel and Roberto Rigobon, ‘Aggregated Confusion: The Divergence of ESG Ratings’, MIT Sloan School of Management Working Paper 5822-19 (May 2020).Ø

Value(s) by Mark Carney: Chapter 10 Covid Crisis: Fallout, Recovery and Renaissance: Key Takeaways / Analysis / Citations

Chapter 10: Covid Crisis: Fallout, Recovery and Renaissance

Key Takeaways

The reality is that mobility did decline as people accepted the lockdowns. State legitimacy is ensured by containing the virus. A lot of what Carney is saying here is a summary of what is relatively uncontroversial. He discusses the framework for the common good. Is that it is possible to calculate that value of a given person? The solidarity of citizens is important to note here, because the view was that no one should die in this pandemic regardless of age (or rather that folks did not want to contract this virus). 

Other topics: 

  • Perceived fairness of healthcare: you cannot have one set of rules for the rich and another for general citizens.
  • Value of a senior versus other citizens. 
  • The young will have to pay twice in increased taxes and the depression of the moment.
  • Kids with internet had an advantage in home schooling. 
  • Value creation and destruction increased under Covid.
  • R0 as the metric is a useful anchor just as the 1.5 degree Celsius  increase to evade the most harmful effects of climate change. 
  • Managing R0 was the core activity of this pandemic as far as governments were concerned.
  • Carney rationally described how the government that is presented ought to appear competent. 
  • Local businesses will be emphasized over global for years to come.
  • There will be future black swans, no kidding. 
  • We have continued to move towards market society however, in this Covid crisis, we have “acted like Rawlsians and communitarian rather than utilitarians and libertarians.” (260, Value(s)).

Covid and Climate Change

  • Carney predicts that the pandemic’s post active phase will see an increase the societal confidence in science, demands for stakeholder capitalism
  • Carney then draws a parallel between Covid and climate change. Using science to inform decision making for example. Having targets. How no country can isolate for each other in a pandemic or a climate crisis. 
Introduction: Humanity Distilled Chapter 1 Objective Value
 Chapter 2 Subjective Value Chapter 3 Money & Gold
 Chapter 4 Magna Carta  Chapter 5 Future of Money
 Chapter 6 Market Society Chapter 7 Financial Crisis
 Chapter 8 Safer FinanceChapter 9 Covid Crisis
 Chapter 10 Covid Recovery Chapter 11 Climate Crisis
 Chapter 12 Climate Horizon Chapter 13 Your Values
 Chapter 14 Values in Companies Chapter 15 ESG

Analysis of Part 2 Chapter 10:

  • Leadership means being a custodian to the long-term. It’s not about you, says Carney.
  • There is a so what to this chapter….it falls short of saying anything about how the issuance of debt what appropriate or not. He didn’t talk about work from home or how the virus works which is a missed opportunity.
  • Carney seems to downplay the fact that the biggest failing of the pandemic is actually that government are operated by people who are focused inwardly in their own self interest within the architecture they have inherited. And such there is a lack of real time data to respond to the real society as it is occurring. There is a high lack information between citizen and government. The government should get out of the way for those who want that and step in for those who need help. Being able to distinguish between complex contradictory people as we all are is critical. It’s a credit card for UBI, it’s an interface to detail ones preferences voluntarily, it’s a relationship that is not simply a marketing blast….
  • Carney makes sweeping claims here that are sufficiently inoffensive to warrant much comment. There are no innovative sliders that he trials in this chapter, there was a lot of spicy behaviour in Covid but Carney manages to keep it very potatoe. 
  • Surprised he doesn’t go after thie no mask wearers and other violators of lockDown. We tend to forget that these regulations were ignored by millions of people as they were ill enforced… 

Citations Worth Noting for Part 1: Chapter 10

  • World Health Organization, ‘Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report – 11’, 31 January 2020.
  • Christian von Soest and Julia Grauvogel, ‘Identity, procedures and performance: how authoritarian regimes legitimize their rule’, Contemporary Politics 23 (3) (2017), pp. 287 – 305.
  • Stephanie Hegarty, ‘The Chinese doctor who tried to warn others about coronavirus’, BBC, 6 February 2020.
  • Ruth Igielnik, ‘Most Americans say they regularly wore a mask in stores in the past month; fewer see oher doing it’, Pew Research Center, 23 June 2020.
  • Timothy Besley, ‘State Capacity, Reciprocity, and the Social Contract’, Econometrica 88(4) (July 2020), p. 1309 – 10.
  • Allan Freeman, ‘The unequal toll of Canada’s pandemic’, iPolitics, 29 May 2020.
  • Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow (London: Allan Lane, 2011).
  • Timothy Besley and Nicholas Stern, ‘The Economics of Lockdown’, Fiscal Studies 41(3) October 2020), pp. 493 – 513.

Value(s) by Mark Carney: Chapter 9 The Covid Crisis: How We Got Here: Key Takeaways / Analysis / Citations

Chapter 9 The Covid Crisis: How We Got Here

Key Takeaway

This chapter discusses the discovering of COVID and all the other asks of this pandemic that we are all very familiar with. Carney was the governor of the Bank of England until February 2020. Economic and family priorities. 

The Covid crisis emphasized:

  1. Solidarity: companies, bank, society
  2. Responsibility: for each other, employees, supplies, customers.
  3. Sustainability: where the health consequences skew towards seniors while the economics consequences skew towards millennials and Gen Z.
  4. Fairness: sharing the burden, providing access to care.
  5. Dynamism: restoring the economy with massive government intervention and private sector resurgences…..

Duty of the State:

Carney goes through a review of political philosophy from Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679) to John Locke (1632 – 1704) to Rousseau (1712 – 1778) to suggest that in exchange for giving up certain freedoms, the state promises to deliver protection to its citizens. Much the same with central banks; that the public gives up the detailed nuanced control of the money supply in exchange the financial system delivers prosperity. 

Capacity of the State must have: 

1) legal capacity: ability to create regulations, enforce contracts and protect property rights: these include social distancing regulations that aimed to reduce transmission of COVID 19; 

2) collective capacity delivering services;

3) fiscal capacity: power to tax and spend: state capacity has moved from 10% of GDP to 25% to 50% of GDP with corresponding services to protect citizens from COVID 19.

Other Points:

  • Poor compliance in democratic societies;
  • Stock piles were not restocked;
  • Bill Gates Ted Talk from 2015 was not actioned by any one actor;
  • Many countries didn’t have PPE and depended on China’s production initially; 
  • No country is really prepared for this particular kind of pandemic;
  • South Korea had a pandemic in 2015 and Carney repeats the often mentioned success of South Korea through contact tracing and geo-targeting of users;
  • Governments need to be better at coordinating: there were departmental territoriality;
  • In simulations for pandemics this was very evident.

Cost-Benefit Analysis for Hard Choices:

  • There was a weighting of variables to decide whether to lockdown or otherwise.
  • The effects of lockdown: domestic abuse were hard to do that. 

Calculating the value of a human life: is hard to do. But there is actuaries to put the intrinsic versus investment value of a life or the net present value of all future cashflows that person is predicted to generate. Life is priceless. Sometimes the calculation is about the productivity of the person in life…..

Schelling’s “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” points out that the value of a life principally the concern of the person living it. Value of a Statistical Life (VSL) became the industry standard. The example Carney provides is the a risk of death in a high-risk job might be 1 in 10,000 and employees receive $300 of danger pay, therefore the VSL is $3,000,000. There are several other methods: 1) stated-preference, 2)hedonic-wage, 3) contingent etc. And different countries use different metrics in similar circumstances. In Canada, the estimated range of a human life is $3.4M to $9.9M CAD meanwhile in the US, the estimated range of a human life is $1M to $10M USD. Healthcare looks at quality-adjusted life year (QALY) and cost-utility versus cost-benefit analysis. Schelling’s assumption about how a person can evaluate the value of their life. VSL usage is a moral choice. Wealthcare many not be measured properly according to Carney. Another model is the VSLY Value of a Statistical Life Year. The question remains: do all lives have an equal value or is it the number of life years should be treated as equal? 

Introduction: Humanity Distilled Chapter 1 Objective Value
 Chapter 2 Subjective Value Chapter 3 Money & Gold
 Chapter 4 Magna Carta  Chapter 5 Future of Money
 Chapter 6 Market Society Chapter 7 Financial Crisis
 Chapter 8 Safer FinanceChapter 9 Covid Crisis
 Chapter 10 Covid Recovery Chapter 11 Climate Crisis
 Chapter 12 Climate Horizon Chapter 13 Your Values
 Chapter 14 Values in Companies Chapter 15 ESG

Analysis of Value(s) Part 2 Chapter 9 

  • While it is complicated, I would have liked Carney to have explained the system of money creation in simple terms as it pertains to the pandemic. The level of government issuance of support has been massive. It is imperative folks understand how stimulus money is created.
  • The perception that money is created out of thin air, subject to political pressures is not true. Zeitgeist and other explanations of the money system are warped thinking. There friends and family going around saying that central banks ‘just print money’ whenever it suits them…
  • Here is a good explanation of how the central bank enables money creation:   To support small businesses and citizens out of work: Is the government increasing tax or are they printing money during the pandemic? The stimulus money was not coming from new taxes so here the government raises through borrowing. The government issues treasury bills to three groups of savers: 

(1) public sector (other parts of the government, 

(2) the private sector (people and companies), 

(3) foreign entities.

The government agrees to pay those savers back with interest at a future date. In the short-term the government uses that cash sucked out of the economy in exchange for the treasury bills to issue stimulus cheques back into the economy. Keynesian economics says that the more stimulus there is, the more economic activity which enables more private savings which then fuels more transactions for bonds. The government can borrow, unlike an individual, through this system as long as the economy is growing at the same or greater rate then that of the debt. The economy is growing at the same rate as debt then the debt to GDP ratio will be stable. If the debt to GDP ratio is stable, then the government can argue for continued investment in its debt securities (ie. bonds).

An additional layer of complexity is that: (4) the source which is the Mint in Canada and the Federal Reserve in the US does not print actual paper money much any more but does indeed ‘print out of thin air’: electronic money, that is credited in the treasury department’s account. In exchange, the Fed then holds treasury bills. The key consequence of issuing too much money with this source (4) is inflation whereby more money in circulation is chasing the same limited number of goods available thus driving the price upward of the individual goods. The 10 year Treasury Note then starts to go up and inflation creeps in. In this case, the Fed needs to increase interest rates to counteract/dampen the purchasing of the demand side….. 

  • The fines for violating COVID rules have an earned media dynamic: we know that the virus is spread through gatherings where one ore more participants has the virus. When someone gets an ‘arbitrary fine’ it effectively markets better than other forms of advertising such as digital. The injustice of the fine is earned media.
  • There are Canadians under the false impression that government at the federal, provincial and municipal level are not allowed to make rules that ‘violate’ the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Well, a constitution has to be enforced, my friend… 
  • This time will be different which was Carney’s number one lie in finance seems to be fillable here to say, why would you think that in a future pandemic in say 2055, that our children will be able to respond better then this time?
  • Just are Carney fails to explain how the central bank manages the money supply, he too here fails to give a basic description of the “obvious’ nature of the COVID 19 virus. Its unique gestation period in which it sheds without the host having any symptoms for T+7 days is very novel unlike other viruses that are initially extremely aggressive, for example, ebola or SARS.
  • The threat of future pandemics is very real until it isn’t at all. If COVID had the immune effects of HIV then the response would have been more severe in North America. However COVID can be contracted and the likelihood of death is 1 – 5% based on comorbidities. We’ve literally spent the last year talking about this virus. The next virus if it were HIV but airborne, the human race would be in full black plaque mode. Freedom loving + scientific illiteracy are a potent weapon.
  • Lack of understanding the characteristics of the virus.
  • In ability to connect barriers that create friction such as laws, walls and masks have the underlying same logic; they do not prevent all the negatives from happening but laws, walls and masks make the unwanted thing from happening, obviously.

Citations Worth Noting for Part 1: Chapter 9:

  • John Locke, A Third Concerning Toleration, in Ian Shapiro (ed.), Two Treaties of Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration, 1689.
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract.
  • Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2014).
  • Derek Thompson, ‘What’s Behind South Korea’s COVID-19 Exceptionalism?’, Atlantic, 6 May 2020.
  • A.E. Hofflander, ‘The Human Life Value: An Historical Perspective’, Journal of Risk and Insurance 33(1) (1966).
  • Cass Sunstein, The Cost-Benefit Revolution (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2018): OECD (2012).

Value(s) by Mark Carney: Chapter 8 Creating a Simpler, Safer, Fairer Financial System: Key Takeaways / Analysis / Citations

Chapter 8 Creating a Simpler, Safer, Fairer Financial System

Key Takeaway

The Problem with Humans versus Objects – Determinism:

Carney makes the classic case that value measurement losses sight of intrinsic or objective reality and then there is a burst of the bubble and wealthy people lose their shirts. This touches on the central thesis of Random Walk Down Wall Street. Many economists have this instinct to try to explain reality by convincing themselves and then others that people are perfectly rational actors. Carney points out that this rational actors theory is wacky: adding that economists envy physicists and engineers, economists love neat equations and want a deterministic model of reality but that’s just too bad, economist! Determinism, meaning that any input will have a predetermined outcome in the model, doesn’t work when the subject of your experiment has agency/choice. Try telling a toddler that they are rational! Lol.

Sir Isaac Newton said it best: “I can calculate the motions of celestial bodies, but not the madness of people. ” Now, fun fact, Newton wrote that having lost a huge investment by speculating in the famous South Sea Company which basically involved misleading investors into thinking that the British empire had opened up South America to trade when in reality, they were actually capped at 1 ship per port per year in South America….But of course, human being aren’t going to let facts get in the way of investment momentum that drives prices up! Get on the train, folks! And again, because humans are awesome, we will #$ck with you’re predictions whether you like it or not.

Case in point, not everything that is going up is a bubble. Value that is disconnected from fundamentals of accounting are more likely to be a bubble says Carney but there are no guarantees. The investment could be a castle in the sky or just a really good investment…

2008 – 2016 UK:

The lost decade in the UK where there was political fragmentation of the economy is from 2008 to 2016, according to Carney. The real household income did not grow in the UK for that decade (technically 8 years…but whatever). There was a decline of trust in experts. Finance lost its integrity, prudence and became more protectionist. It came crashing down on the poorest in the financial crisis as discussed in the previous chapter. The G20 had to make radical adjustments and reforms. Value was disconnected on the way up and re-calibrated on the way down. 

No, I’m not gonna put Thug Life shades (sunglasses) on Queen Elizabeth II. I have some modicum of decency left in me. I thought about though…

When Queen Elizabeth II asked:

“Why did no one notice the credit crisis?” The answer: signed by 33 distinguished economists said ‘it was the failure of the collective imagination of many bright people in the UK and internationally to understand the risk of the system as a whole.’

So another factor is certainly, the lack of systems thinking! What I do may not have a positive / negative impact on me, but it could have a positive / negative impact on others. 

The decline in the trust for experts comes from experts being: 

  1. too academic and therefore disconnected to practical reality… 
  2. simply creating bearers for others to understand their view point and choosing to capture value instead of communicating valuably. 
  3. Unable to see the credit crisis coming…
  4. Lack of systems thinking / solidarity / or, in other words, the reliance on the invisible hand / free market as infinitely wise. 

The fault lines were:

  1. too much debt;
  2. excessive reliance on markets for liquidity;
  3. Complexity in derivative markets;
  4. Huge regulatory risk,
  5. Misaligned banks and imitators. 

Getting Global Support for Reforms: G20 finance ministers backstopped the entire system. 

G8 treasury leaders. They didn’t think that the system would self equilibrate as a solution. As such, they created a new plan with the FSB (financial stability board). It is the United Nations for finance. Mario Draghi had an immediate impact on the financial system as the chair. The FSB developed over 100 reforms. And Mark Carney succeeded Draghi as chair of the G20.

Chairing the G20 Finance Stability Board comes with several important lessons:

  1. You must have a clear vision; you need political backing. FSB has the power to recommend reforms, however the national legislatures must put these reforms in place…
  2. You must get the best people you can around the table. Bureaucracy is not helpful here. The group is composed of central bankers, regulators, finance ministers….
  3. You must build consensus that entrenches ownership. Dany Rodrik sees an intractable problem here: a trilema of economics, democracy and sovereignty…We have a seeding or pooling influence. No country is obligated to implement these reforms however it is in everyone, globally that these reforms be implemented at the national level. Commercial banks were happy that “heads they win tails we lose” with the bail out but there were positive reforms made via FSB. 

Mark Carney’s Three Lies of Finance:

Financial crises happen frequently, if you hear someone say any of these lies, then take note: 

  1. “This time, it’s different”
  2. “Markets always clear”
  3. “Markets are always moral”
  1. “This time, it’s different”: what’s happening today is fundamentally different from all prior human history….Nope, don’t believe this lie. Usually, a new innovation is compelling because of its initial success, complexity and opacity. Solving the stagflation of the 1979s and 80s with new monetary stability that were democratic, effective, evident remits, strong governance….The Great Moderation from the 1990s to 2008s also paralleled, technological growth, non-financial consumption, such that it was easy to become complacent. And people assumed housing prices can only go up. This optimism is known at the business cycle. Carney refers to this as the Minsky moment: where lending is abruptly pulled back when financial experts realize there is a correct brewing and thus causes the economic downturn to more severe. In 2008, “Minsky went mainstream.” (186, Value(s)). 
  1. “Markets always clear”: at the right price, excess supply and demand will clear (ie. the supply will meet demand). Labour markets are efficient and clear? Sorry, nope they are rigid and sticky. If money is efficient, then they will reach equilibrium? Sorry, nope markets are incredibly ineffective in reality. Markets do not always clear because life is not a textbook. You can’t describe the real world because people are too complex for any mental or predictive model. Synthetic credit risk; the risk was spread all up. Panic ensues with risk being pooled. The real world is far more complex, we cannot anticipate all of human activity at any given time. Calculating every scenario is impossible, Newtonian physics doesn’t quite work in every scenario and physics doesn’t even involve tricky human beings.
    1. Keynes in General Theory shows that when having his students rank the prettiness of faces in exchange for a prize, it’s more important to calculate what the average opinion believes the average opinion is. Keynes noted that this is what happens in markets where everyone else was thinking, the derivative of the derivative of what other people will do matters more (subjective utility). Keynesian saw the instability is on spontaneous preferences, the full consequences are only based on animal spirits. The belief that markets are always right was what enabled the last bubble and the next bubble. Markets are populated by people however, fickle people.
    2. Cass Sunstein argues that 1) preferences in public differ to what is in our heads, 2) social obligations impact our acceptance of new things. For example, if 1000 people protest something, then we will be more amenable to that something as well. Read: Robert Schiller’s Narrative Economics. Critical mass opinion happens in finance as well. The Minsky cycle works on average and average opinion. How do markets become more differentiated? There is a spontaneous urge to make a decision rather than a complex weighted calculation of the mathematical benefits x the probabilities of a given consequence of the decision…
  1. “Markets are moral”: FICC (fixed income, currencies and commodities markets) have a lot of fraud in them even though they determine the cost of resources, food, housing, government debt prices etc. The commodity squeezes in rye in 1868, cocoa in 2010, and ‘wash trades’ in Manhattan Electrical Supply on 1930 and the Tera Exchange in 2014 show a recurring phenomenon. There have been a lot of squeezes. Planted rumours to drive up a cost happens frequently wherever traders are bored or desperate. Tweaking LIBOR and FX involved manipulating these foreign exchange benchmarks rates for the interest across firms at the expense of retail and corporate clients in the billions. Technology evolves and laws are passed. Engineers of the subprime crisis were clubby and colluded online, globe bank misconduct costs were $320 Billion for $5Trillion of assets. People were colluding online and few were held to account. And there was no rush to take the blame. Trust in the UK went from 90% (1980) of UK citizens thinking banks were well run versus 20% (in 2008). Financial firms help the real economy. The FICC markets, markets are ever more important to people. FICC markets can go wrong with poor regulation. Carney argues you need Hard infrastructure (regulations, foreign exchange benchmark objectivity) and Soft infrastructure like corporate culture, informal codes and policy handbooks. Light banks. Central banks participate in fire insurance. Mistrust between companies and hesitate to invest in firms. FICC infrastructure is key, soft codes of infrastructure, weak banks. Relies on informality. 

Carney argues that the solutions are the following: 

  1. Trust: G20’s Financial Stability Board helps by acknowledging that the market is amoral and will not always clear  by instilling greater trust, less complexity.
  2. Smarter: Ensure traders remain pro-market (shouldn’t be a problem) but support smarter regulation. 
  3. Avoid Lies: Ensure financial professionals avoid the attractiveness of the 3 lies. 
  4. Realistic: Recognize that regulation will not bust the cycles since innovation is always happening but ensure that  regulators be understanding. Implement policy that make real markets more robust with market infrastructure that creates the best markets for innovation.
  5. Transparency: In 2008, Over the Counter derivative trades were largely unregulated, bilaterally settled (closed door) and unreported, but now 90% of new single currency interest rate derivatives are centrally cleared in the US i.e there is transparency. 
  6. Systems Thinking: Ensure financial professionals recognize the importance of protecting the system as a whole.

Risks in Emerging Markets are a danger for another financial crisis where the lie that markets always clear continues. China’s economic success contains a lot of shadow banking (SIVs, mortgage brokers, finance companies, hedge funds and private asset pools), there are lots of repo financing, major borrowers and banks with significant opacity. There is now a worrying amount of debt in China that could leave Ray Dalio reevaluating his career choices once again. There could be a major margin call / run on Chinese assets, with first mover. There will be mismatches of markets. There could be a rush to get out of the Chinese market: this is the risk of being trapped when the assumption that markets will always clear (buyers and sellers will find each other) is exposed as wrong. Cyber to crypto crises could also trigger another financial crisis.

Risks in Illiquid Assets treated as if They Are Liquid:

New risk is the global assets under management of $50 trillion in 2010 to $90 trillion in 2021. But $30 trillion is promised to be liquid when it is illiquid assets. Carney’s addressed this problem of not having consistency between liquidity of funds’ asset versus their redemption terms while he was governor of the Bank of England with the help of the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority):

1) liquidity of funds’ assets should be valued as either a) the price discount needed to do a quick sale of a vertical slice of those assets OR b) a time period needed to sell the asset without a price discount. 

2) Investors who redeem get a price for their investment that mirrors the discount required to sell a proportion of a funds’ within the special redemption notice period;

3) the “redemption notice period mirror the time needed to sell the required proportion of a funds’ assets without discounts beyond those caputed in the price received by redeeming investors.” (196, Value(s)). 

During the 2008 crisis: 

  1. Liquidity disappeared with cash-powered banks refusing to lend;
  2. There was a ‘run on repo’ which increased the haircuts on collateral to de-risk counterparties which were shadow banks that then collapsed;
  3. In Europe, the debt crisis compounded these problems driving up nationalist sentiments…

There is now the liquidity coverage ratio and net stable funding ratios…but there are weaknesses with US repo market troubles in 2019- 2020. The Fed’s open market operates calmed down…Carney doesn’t know where the next bubble will burst but he has a few ideas.

Bagegot’s principal of being the lender of last resort thus preventing short-term liquidity shortages from causing wide spread insolvency.

Bank of England presentation by Mark Carney…

Central banks have challenges:

  • Figuring out if the firm is solvent when the market is against that firm’s assets and the market can be wrong longer than that firm can stay liquid;
  • What constitutes good collateral, can always lend government bonds and in the 2008 crisis, it didn’t appear to have an impact on the functioning of the system, banks horde
  • The penalty rate means the firms come late because it convey weakness.

Central banks have now moved to doing transparent auctions of liquidity to many counter-parties which includes banks, broker-dealers, an central counterparties in the derivatives market. Bank of England has a contingent term repo facility….

An Anti-Fragile System – This Time is Different – What Was Done to Banks:

  • Public trust was harmed most by the mantra of too-big-to-fail banks. 
  • Banks didn’t pass lending out enough which amplified inequality. 
  • Privatization of profits while socializing the losses harmed trust.
  • Public paid $15 trillion in bailouts, government guarantees against bank debts and special central bank liquidity projects….. 

G20 FSB brought in standards to create an anti-fragile system:

  • Banks are less complex. 
  • Banks have a ‘living will’ and are reorganized so they have a firewall between the banking that continues to serve families and business even if their investment banking division is imploding. 
  • Trading is less between banks thus shifting to lending to customers.
  • Public funding has dropped by 90% post-crisis with market discipline…
  • Senior leadership can be expected to bare the cost of failure.
  • Can’t legislate virtue but can legislate incentives around how senior leaders train staff.
  • Improving cyber penetration attack resilience. 
  • Looking for risks across the economy, thinking system level about where the next crisis is least likely to be and make sure that is focused. 
  • Macroprudential policy: addressing systematic risks….cyclical risk when the financial system loosens up, debt grows and complacency sets in, the Minsky effect is severe…
  • Macroprudential policy: addressing systematic risks…structural risks when there is a wbe of exposures to derivatives risk, which means the need to have liquidity buffers, restrictions on mortgage lending, shutting down the shadow banking approach.

Bank of England serves the purposes “To promote the people of the United Kingdom”

Restoring Morality to Markets:

Oscillating regulation, light touch versus total regulation. 

  • Aligning compensation with values;
  • Increasing senior management accountability;
  • Renewing the vocation of finance.

Longer-Term Horizons Focus the Mind: Bonuses in the UK are now managed with compensation by delayed by 7 years. If there is misconduct then bonuses can be clawed back, according to Carney. Business mission statements tend.

FICC Markets now have new guidelines:

  1. have clear, proportionate and consistently applied standards of market practice;
  2. are transparent enough to allow users to verify that those standards are consistently applied;
  3. provide open access (either directly or through an open competitive and well-regulated system of intermediation);
  1. Allow market participants to compete on the basis of merit; and
  2. Provide confidence that participants will behave with integrity.

Effective markets are those which also:

  1. Allow en users to undertake investment, funding, risk transfer and other transactions in a predictable way;
  2. Are underpinned by robust trading and post-trade infrastructure enabling participants to source available liquidity;
  3. Enable market participants to form, discover and trade at competitive prices; and
  4. Ensure proper allocation of capital and risk.

Drawing on the Magna Carta:

Having the right principles is essential. Keep pace with the innovation. Senior Managers Regime (SMR) individual accountability. Values need to be exercised like a muscle. SMR makes sure senior leadership is accountable even if many of them were involves in the 2008 financial crisis. Employees must be connected to their communities. 

Introduction: Humanity Distilled Chapter 1 Objective Value
 Chapter 2 Subjective Value Chapter 3 Money & Gold
 Chapter 4 Magna Carta  Chapter 5 Future of Money
 Chapter 6 Market Society Chapter 7 Financial Crisis
 Chapter 8 Safer FinanceChapter 9 Covid Crisis
 Chapter 10 Covid Recovery Chapter 11 Climate Crisis
 Chapter 12 Climate Horizon Chapter 13 Your Values
 Chapter 14 Values in Companies Chapter 15 ESG

Analysis of Part 1 and Chapter 8

  • Mark Carney can look to Mario Draghi for inspiration since, Draghi is now the Prime Minister of Italy (as of 2021). Central Bankers can cross into the political sphere. Currently Draghi is trying to get bank mergers to happen in order to clean themselves up. So like Carney, using the power of politics to effect change is sometimes valuable where as a central banker, you cannot effect change. Analogies, and history does not have predictive power, Italy is very different from Canada, however it is instructive that getting into a position of power may not be a high hurdle for Carney. Finance catteacts people with no socience training, because they are looking for absolutes. These folks lean deterministic. 
  • A bit odd that the Senior Managers Regime (SMR) doesn’t really connect because the people who self-select to work in banking are frequently math. The problem is that the people with the experience made decisions in the financial crisis that seem to benefit themselves disproportionately company to the general public. It is similar to having doctors make decisions for hospitals, there is a conflict of interest in being in control and regulating oneself. 
  • Perhaps the bad behaviour is in Crypto…
  • Great economic shocks cause institutions to recalibrate and reform. It isn’t the individual actors that drive such change but rather macro externalities where no one internally can be blamed that cause reform. 

Citations Worth Noting for Part 1: Chapter 8:

  • Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff, This Time is Different: Either Centuries of Financial Folly (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009)
  • Raghuram Rajan, Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010). 
  • Hyman P. Minsky, ‘The Financial Instability Hypothesis’, Levy Economics Institute Working Paper No. 74 (May 1992). 
  • Adair Turner
  • Kenneth J. Arrow and Gerard Debreu, ‘Existence of an equilibrium for a competitive economy’, Econometrica 22(3) (1954). 
  • Gilian Tet, Fool’s Gold (London: Little, Brown, 2009) which shows that derivatives were distributed throughout 100s of balance sheets through the pooling and distribution of that risk. Similar in essence to a decentralized ledger.
  • John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1936).
  • Wlater Bagehot, Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011). 
  • Financial Stability Board, ‘Strengthening Governance Frameworks to Mitigate Misconduct Risk: A Toolkit for Firms and Supervisors’ (April 2018).