Category: Australia

Nine of world’s biggest banks join to form blockchain partnership

LONDON Nine of the world’s biggest banks including Goldman Sachs and Barclays have joined forces with New York-based financial tech firm R3 to create a framework for using blockchain technology in the markets, the firm said on Tuesday.

Commonwealth Bank of course joined earlier.


Labour curation

Market-based management for labour markets and labour curation

Industrialised Adhocracy and The Future of Work

Excellent overview on Industrialised Adhocracy and The Future of Work:


Corporations – thought of the day

I think it’s time I made clear something I’ve honestly believed for a long time.

I think capitalism is a really good system. I think “freedom” is the only moral political system. I think the Austrian Economists at are right.

But I think capitalism and corporatism are different.

As one of my favorite intellectuals I’ve never met (Peter Klein) would probably agree, it’s all about entrepreneurship.

I think the anti-capitalism interpretations of Naomi Klein’s work, and the anti-capitalist interpretations of the whole “occupy Wall Street” movement, are flawed.

And finally – and this is the point of this post – I believe that all corporations exist for only four reasons:

1. To provide a mechanism for fascinating and productive individuals who are too scared to start their own business to be “successful”

2. To provide a mechanism for economically, socially, or future-trendy savvy people to be successful through investment and non-participatory involvement

3. To allow people like me, who are fascinated by the way organisations work, to make them better. Just for our own personal satisfaction.

4. To either make individuals happier by the products and services they provide – or to fail

This is what I believe. It’s also why I think Alan Joyce is cool.

EaaS in Australia

Very, interesting… I wonder, and I presume I guess correctly, who this is:

 “I understand that a major Australian Bank has used this book as its “bible” for its current transformation, which includes the replacement of 30 year old core systems. Their objective is to be able to change business models in 20 minutes. With RWR’s vision implemented;  if that’s possible,  it might be doable. But I say good luck to them. It’ll be interesting to revisit them in 12 months.”

– from Angry Architect

 The book in question is Enterprise Architecture as Strategy, which I think is a profoundly interesting approach.

Confessions of an aeroholic

“Airlines are notoriously cyclical because revenue is very sensitive to changes in demand. Profits are greatest when strong demand results in full planes (‘‘load’’) and high prices (‘‘yield’’), but they can disappear quickly when demand falls because costs are relatively fixed and flights can’t easily be cancelled.”

via Confessions of an aeroholic.

I’m currently working on the very edges of the airline industry (via IT outsourcing).  I can relate to the ‘aeroholic’ tag.  It’s a very compelling industry and while I don’t invest money in it I certainly invest time in it.

So, somebody important let me under his umbrella this morning.  I spoke briefly to him and it got me thinking about Boston Consulting Group (from where he had worked as an adviser to Qantas for 10 years).

I think the airline industry’s highs and lows have been managed through sophisticated financial devices (fuel hedging, for example, or deferred losses).  This is by necessity, but I think this process might have had it’s own unintended consequences.

I’m currently focusing on what those unintended consequences might have been… because that is where I will be able to have the greatest impact.  There are some non-optimal behaviors and outcomes I have noticed.  I think if I understand them in terms of the necessities above things will make sense …

“We glorified finance, we privileged finance, we even subsidised finance”

ABC radio’s PM programme has a good little interview with Jim Standford regarding how people incorrectly think of economics as part of the finance industry rather than the finance industry being just a part of the economy:

JIM STANFORD: … I mean the financial sector is a part of the economy but it’s not the most important part of the economy. In fact in many ways it has very little to do with what the true economy is about, which is about average people getting up, going to work, producing something useful, a good or a service that has inherent value, and then how we pay people for it and how they buy stuff.

JIM STANFORD: I think that this meltdown in some ways is the culmination of say three decades or so of a trend where we glorified finance, we privileged finance, we even subsidised finance through a tax system that favours paper investments over real production. And we came to equate the ups and downs of the markets with what the real economy was all about and that was wrong.

The financial sector doesn’t produce anything of real value in and of itself. It is supposed to facilitate investment and growth in the real economy but it ended up serving its own purposes. It became the tail that wagged the dog and as a result of 30 years of over-financialisation we had this inevitable breakdown and now we’re all paying the price.

Des Moore on Central Banks


First, contrary to popular interpretations, the blame for the panic cannot primarily be placed on irresponsible bankers: they responded rationally to the subsidy for credit created by central bankers.

But what’s this in the very next paragraph?!?!:
Second, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is clearly wrong in attributing the crisis to policies that reflect the neo-liberal views of free marketeers. Few if any supporters of free-market policies believe there should be no regulation of monetary conditions. (emphasis added)
Both from The Age.

More on Michael Costa, or Moron Michael Costa?

After my last post on Michael Costa, my wife accused me of having ‘a little man crush’ on Mr Costa.  To be honest I hadn’t yet decided what I thought of him due to lack of information.  This in turn being due to my generally underdeveloped interest in politics.  But I admitted to my wife that he had sparked my interest.  I wouldn’t say ‘man crush’, as such – it’s an intellectual, platonic thing.  Really it is.

In fact, up until last week – except for some vague notion that he had done something with the railway, and of course, that he was the NSW treasurer – all I really knew was that other politicians don’t like him.  I decided I needed to do a little research so that I could form my own opinion about him.  Because one thing I do know is that I’m not going to form my opinion of a politician based on what other politicians think about him!

I should note that I think trying to choose your favorite politician – or even one that you like – might well be like trying to choose your favorite episode of Friends.  In both cases they are essentially all the same.  In both cases, even if you do choose a favorite and decide to by the DVD, they come with a bunch of other episodes that you don’t like.

(I’m paraphrasing and otherwise bastardising a quote from a friend of mine in the above paragraph –  he said trying to remember your dreams was like trying to remember last weeks Friends episode)

I also know, or at least believe, the following:

  • being right doesn’t always make you popular
  • government might well be ineffective by design
  • it’s the person who is actually trying to fix the problem who gets the blame
  • sometimes everything is exactly the same as it always was but suddenly it’s your fault
  • some jobs are hard or damn near impossible and it takes balls just to try them
  • some of the way people behave can be explained by their context

Now, what I’ve learned about Michael Costa in my recent research is:

To be continued…

‘Fit to govern’ in Australian politics

Readers in Australia will know that the NSW treasurer Michael Costa was recently sacked – just before he became eligible for a pension from what I understand, and not long before the premier himself resigned.

Skip ahead a few scandals and Michael Costa has now written an essay for The Daily Telegraph with all sorts of anti-government (anti-state government, at least) statements.  Some say sour grapes; I would say it’s more likely PR for Costa’s private sector career.  But either way I hope it’s also able to cause a debate about politics and government.

According to Costa’s manifesto, most of the states politicians are ‘spin merchants’ and ‘machine politicians’ who are unqualified to govern.  Now I might be cynical but I expect politicians who are actually in politics – as opposed to wanting to be in politics but not being able to gain entry to the club – are precisely qualified… to be politicians.  Nothing else is guaranteed.

That is surely true by definition.  People who are successfully in politics know what it takes to be successfully in politics.  Whether they are qualified to govern is a totally separate question and may even have a negative correlation with their qualifications as politicians.  I’m certainly not the first person to suggest this.

In the MWT Model there is a process above and beyond the process of management which allows you to tell the difference between a good manager and a successful manager.  Most organisations don’t have this process and politics certainly doesn’t have it almost by definition.  Costa talks of people being ‘qualified to govern’ but I’m sure this is the last thing on a politician’s mind.

Take for example this morning’s announcement that in Western Australia the National and Liberal parties have entered into a ‘power sharing’ agreement – not a coalition mind you, because I assume that not only doesn’t suit the parties; but also simply that the word itself has some ‘branding’ issues.  So when political parties combine it is to ‘share power’.  It’s not to ‘share responsibilities’, not to ‘combine capabilities’ like an organisational merger.  It’s to ‘share power’.

I really don’t think political parties should be running around talking about ‘power sharing’.  It misses the point while it lets the cat out of the bag.  In contrast, premier Nathan Rees with his talk that ‘the people of NSW expect us to engage in one thing and that is simply the improvement of service delivery and infrastructure and that’s what we will go about doing’ is playing the government-as-service-provider card.

But if the argument stops being about who is more qualified and starts being about what the right way to govern actually is, politicians are likely to find themselves all out of a job.  While the specifics of how to govern are left out of the debate their will always be positions of power to scramble for – or share.

Even when they are attempting to convince us who deserves the power, they are often agreeing with each other.  Michael Costa got there first on the government-as-service-provider thing as he argues in his manifesto that the ‘strongest argument for abolishing state governments is that it would remove a layer of political interference in service delivery.’

Michael Costa’s manifesto and Nathan Rees’ improvement of service delivery and infrastructure are two sides of the same coin.  But they are both simply PR so all it shows is that as memes: government as service provider is in – and limited government is rallying.

My wife has already said she likes what Mr Ree is saying in his first days as premier.  This usually means that eventually I’ll start to like him too.  This is just a process of empathising with my wife; but who knows whether that is the underlying force behind all politics.  Problem is my wife loved Kevin’07 too until he actually started talking as PM; so support or otherwise is fickle.

It’s that fickle opinion that politics manages.  Michael Costa’s essay says this like others before him.  If there wasn’t fickle opinion to manage there wouldn’t be any point to government.  That’s were a lot of the political effort goes.  But you can’t tell your boss that – because they will tell you that you have to be in government to govern.  This is true; but again it says nothing about your ability to govern.

Michael Costa’s essay doesn’t actually say anything new.  The reason I don’t need to read, for example, the Mises Daily Article, anymore is that it is pretty predictable.  The same few core ideological ideas over and over again.  But the fact that I don’t need to read the same ideas over and over again isn’t a failing of the ideas.  It’s simply that they stand the test of time.

Once we work this out there will be no talk of power sharing.  The only thing a politician will be able to do is inspire and motivate.  And quickly after that people will recognise that there are plenty of opportunities to be inspired and motivated in our daily lives and no particular need to decide up to four years in advance who should inspire you on a given day.

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