Sunday, June 17, 2018

Driverless Hotel Rooms: The End of Uber, Airbnb and Human Landlords

Expanding on some of the ideas in Friday's "Ogilvy & Mather UK Vice-Chair Rory Sutherland on Driverless Showers".

From Hackernoon:

How driverless vehicles can enable on demand accommodation for one night or 1000, and at rates 10x cheaper [sic] than your rent bill
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen, we’re about to begin our descent into Sydney. Please fasten your seatbelts and place your trays in the upright position. Local time is 8:42pm and a humid 27 degrees. Our flight crew wishes you a Happy New Year, and we hope you fly with us again in 2025.”
Screeech. You’ve landed. Time to relax those butt cheeks.

It was only this morning you booked this flight, and now you’re on the other side of the planet. Amazing. You’re nervous but excited to visit Australia for the first time. One week to explore the city and five weeks on a new design project. When that project match showed up in your feed you claimed it in two seconds. You’ve already earned 24,000 $design in the peerism economy.
Ping. “Need a room?”.
You hadn’t booked any accommodation yet. “Yes please”, you respond.
“Just out the front, number 420”.
You giggle, then follow the augmented directions leading to a sleek driverless hotel room. It’s about the size of a mini bus but without the seats, steering wheel and engine. A giant transparent panel stretching the length and height of the vehicle greets you on approach. The panel opens and you step inside.
Inside is everything you’d expected. On the left, a couch seat that folds into a queen-sized bed with the push of a button. To the right, a small kitchenette with electric stove, running water, sink, microwave and bar fridge. Behind that is the detachable bathroom module with toilet, shower and wash basin.
“Hi there, welcome home. Hungry?”
“I could go some pad thai and a beer thanks”, you respond.
“That’ll be here in 6 minutes. Want a quick tour of the city?”
“Nah early one tonight. Let’s checkout Bondi beach tomorrow”, you say.
Your room begins driving itself towards Bondi and a live map displays on one of the side panels. You sit back and relax with some Netflix on the other side panel. Exactly 6 minutes later, a drone lands on the roof and lowers your order through a compartment in the ceiling. If you need to order any package you simply ask the room and a drone arrives; it even does laundry!
“Arriving at Bondi Tower 7”.
You look up at a lego-like modular skyscraper reaching high above the moonlit clouds. Your room docks with an electric skate and is elevated thirty stories up before slotting into a window-facing position. One of the side panels opens smoothly to reveal a large adjoining living room module.
Extra modules are optional and can be requested ondemand: an extra bed, private gym, spa, snackbar, office and more. On various levels of the tower are cafes, restaurants, retail stores, entertainment areas, communal kitchens, laundromats, a gym and even a cinema. Luxury living at $30 per night.
You fall asleep as your driverless hotel room recharges itself ready to take you on an extensive tour of the city and beaches tomorrow. Your six week experience will be personalized to your precise ondemand preferences including invites to local communities, events and interest networks.
“Goodnight”.

https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/2000/1*hcn4fDEfcZMA2gRrSe7t0g.png

Crisis of Car Manufacturing

The image above is a screenshot of the thousands of new, unsold cars sitting at a dock in a town named Sheerness in the United Kingdom. This is one of hundreds of locations where new cars sit empty and unused. And while auto manufacturers typically keep a 60 day supply, US manufacturers hit a record high of over 4 million unsold vehicles in their inventory in 2016.

The issue of overproduction is a common crisis in Capitalism where more goods are produced than there are customers to consume them. In a free market this should result in prices dropping until the excess supply lowers to meet demand. But what typically happens is that manufacturers either artificially restrict supply or resort to simply destroying the unsold goods.

Vehicle manufacturing faces a unique challenge with oversupply because the production lines are very expensive to initially setup and very expensive to stop. When a vehicle production line is down it costs $22,000–50,000 per minute in lost revenue and wage costs. So you can bet that if a particular car model isn’t selling, they’ll continue to produce until the next year’s model.
The inevitable reality of ondemand self-driving cars poses a huge looming existential risk to the entire auto industry.
With nearly 1.3 billion vehicles on the planet and more than 94 million new cars rolling off the production lines each year, the auto industry looks rather similar to a runaway AI paperclip maximizer; consuming vast resources to sell thousands of various car models, which we then park idle for 95% of the time.

However if on demand driverless vehicles come to fruition then your $10 Uber ride suddenly becomes a sub-$1 ride anywhere in the city. At that point the appeal of owning a car will diminish for most of the population, thus creating a massive oversupply of unwanted human-driven vehicles.
Given the forecasts of 2 billion vehicles on the roads by 2040, and considering driverless vehicles need only be idle while recharging, we can roughly calculate that only 100 million on demand driverless vehicles will be required to replace all 2 billion human-driven vehicles.
In other words, when every auto manufacturer begins producing the high-demand self-driving cars it will take just one year to reach oversupply.

How and to where will auto manufacturers pivot to stay alive?

https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/2000/1*ZhAL4aIrPesLFfxOkb_Swg.png
One of many IDEO Automobility Moving Spaces concepts

Modular Driverless Rooms

The key concept to grasp with driverless cars is that they truly redefine all of our assumptions and preconceived notions. Combustion engines are replaced by two small electric motors, the dashboard and steering wheel are unnecessary, and safety features are redundant when the cars don’t crash.
Driverless vehicles are simply rooms sitting atop an all-electric drivetrain and rechargeable battery pack with a few extra visual, laser or radar sensors.
Tesla Powertrain

In a Tesla Model S there are only 18 moving parts compared to the 1500 in an average internal combustion engine vehicle. As such it’s predicted that by 2025 all new vehicles produced will be 100% electric and cost much less than the cheapest combustion engine vehicles sold today.
This opens endless possibilities to re-imagine vehicles as moving rooms able to cater to a vast array of human experiences and activities:
  • the driverless office
  • the driverless boardroom
  • the driverless gym
  • the driverless bedroom
  • the driverless bathroom
  • the driverless cafe
  • the driverless cinema
  • the driverless shop
These rooms need not be used in isolation either. They can be dynamic, modular and interconnected with other driverless rooms via an ondemand request. Tap a button or speak a request, and moments later you can have a bathroom or gym module drive itself to your location and autonomously connect to the office module you’re currently working from.....
If you enjoyed this, you’ll love my post on driverless van homes!

"How quickly could Canada build an atomic bomb?"

From The Ottawa Citizen, June 15:

We’ve got the uranium, the know-how and a sudden desire to be respected by our nearest neighbour
As U.S. president Donald Trump thumps Canada with an out-of-the-blue trade war, he is simultaneously cozying up to a nuclear-armed North Korea: Saluting their generals, flattering their dictator and even making them fake movie trailers.

For Canadians watching all this is, a natural question is: What if we got some nuclear weapons, too?
“Your world would change,” said Mitchell Reiss, a former director of policy planning at the United States Department of State.

The action would be so needlessly provocative that it would likely result in Canada’s immediate ejection from NATO.

A Canadian A-bomb would also violate a whole host of international agreements. As soon as word got out about a Canadian effort to build nuclear weapons, Ottawa could expect to see the evaporation of whole webs of alliances and trading partnerships.

A nuclear-armed Great White North “would change the national character and how the world views Canada,” said Reiss.

However, a Canadian bomb is indeed possible. Canada is among an elite fraternity of countries that do not possess nuclear weapons, but could build them relatively easily if they wanted to.
This has been true since at least the 1950s. Canada was a critical partner in the Manhattan Project, the U.S. effort to build an atomic bomb during the Second World War.

Canadian technology was also key to another country’s development of a nuclear bomb. In 1974, India detonated their first nuclear weapon using plutonium that was clandestinely made in a donated Canadian research reactor.

Nevertheless, Canada has a long history of eschewing atomic weapons for itself. The country has never tested an atomic bomb, nor considered acquiring a nuclear arsenal.

In a 1978 speech to the United Nations, then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau referred to Canada as the “first country in the world with the capability to produce nuclear weapons that chose not to do so.”
This isn’t to say that Canada hasn’t dabbled with nuclear weaponry. For a 20-year period during the Cold War, up to 200 U.S.-controlled warheads were stored at Canadian military bases for use in an all-out war with the Soviet Union.

However, the country has been entirely nuclear-free since 1984, when Canada returned the last batch of Genie nuclear-tipped missiles to the Americans. Ever since, Canada has pursued a policy of increasingly strict non-proliferation.

On the face of it, Canada has all the ingredients to become a nuclear-armed state: Ample uranium, plenty of engineering talent and a robust nuclear power sector. Ontario’s Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, in fact, is the world’s largest nuclear power plant....
...MUCH MORE
NOTE: Just to be clear, all sources quoted in this story think a Canadian nuclear bomb is an unbelievably terrible idea that is bad for everyone in almost every way.
Previously from the Ottawa Citizen the best retraction/apology EVER:
“The Ottawa Citizen and Southam News wish to apologize for our apology to Mark Steyn, published October 22nd.
In correcting the incorrect statements about Mr. Steyn, published October 15th, we incorrectly published the incorrect correction.

We accept and regret that our original regrets were unacceptable, and we apologize to Mr. Steyn for any previous distress caused by our previous apology.”
HT: Jay Leno

"The Anatomy of Global Debt"

From Project Syndicate:
The IMF's new Global Debt Database is an impressive piece of work. And the numbers suggest that the so-called debt intensity of growth has increased: we seem to need higher levels of debt to support a given rate of economic than we did before.
LONDON – At the end of May, the International Monetary Fund launched its new Global Debt Database. For the first time, IMF statisticians have compiled a comprehensive set of calculations of both public and private debt, country by country, constructing a time series stretching back to the end of World War II. It is an impressive piece of work.

The headline figure is striking. Global debt has hit a new high of 225% of world GDP, exceeding the previous record of 213% in 2009. So, as the IMF points out, there has been no deleveraging at all at the global level since the 2007-2008 financial crisis. In some countries, the composition of debt changed, as public debt replaced private debt in the post-crisis recession, but that shift has now mostly stopped.

Are these large figures alarming? In aggregate terms, perhaps not. At a time when economic growth is robust almost everywhere, financial markets are relaxed about debt sustainability. Long-term interest rates remain remarkably low. But the numbers do tend to support the hypothesis that the so-called debt intensity of growth has increased: we seem to need higher levels of debt to support a given rate of economic growth than we did before.

Perhaps that is partly because the growth in income and wealth inequality in developed countries has distributed spending power to those with a propensity to spend less than their income. That trend has leveled off recently, but the implications are still with us. It also seems that productivity growth has slowed, so a given quantum of investment generates less output than it used to do.1

The IMF’s recommendation to governments is that they should fix the roof while the sun is shining: accumulate a fiscal surplus, or at least reduce deficits, in good times so that they are better prepared for the next downturn, which will surely come before too long. The current upturn is now quite mature. That puts the IMF on a collision course with the tax-cutting United States administration and now with Italy’s new government. If the Italians’ grandiose plans for a minimum income and more public investment are implemented, they might soon find themselves in difficult discussions with the Fund. The team that has been in Athens for the past few years might soon be booked on a flight to Rome.

But what are the implications if the growth in debt is principally in the private sector? That is a question for the financial stability authorities in each country....MORE

"Erdogan says Uber ("or Muber or whatever") 'finished' in Turkey"

From the Daily Mail:

Erdogan bans Uber: Turkish president bows to pressure from nation's 17,000 taxi drivers left furious by 'illegal' rival
  • Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the ride hailing app Uber is 'finished' in Turkey
  • His government agreed new rules expected to complicate Uber's operations 
  • Istanbul's yellow taxis drivers waged an intense campaign to have Uber banned
  • 'This thing emerged called Uber or Muber or whatever... but this issue is now finished'
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the ride hailing app Uber is 'finished' in Turkey, following intense pressure from Istanbul taxi drivers for the service to be banned.

Erdogan's comments, in a late night speech on Friday in Istanbul, came after the government agreed new rules that are expected to severely complicate Uber's operations in Turkey.

Drivers of Istanbul's yellow taxis have over the last months waged an intense campaign to have Uber banned, saying the company is eating into their business without having a proper legal basis for work.

'This thing emerged called Uber or Muber or whatever,' said Erdogan. 'But this issue is now finished. It's over now.'...MORE
Also in Turkey:
Erdogan: Turkey Plans to Accept 40Mln Tourists in 2018
Uber faces being banned in Turkey after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the ride hailing app was "finished" on Saturday following an intense lobbying campaign from Istanbul taxi drivers.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-06-erdogan-uber-finished-turkey.html#jCp

Piketty on Eurozone Reform

From Le blog de Thomas Piketty:

The Transferunion fantasy
While the political crisis deepens in Italy and in Spain, France and Germany are still demonstrably incapable of formulating precise and ambitious proposals for reforming Europe. All that is required however is for these four countries, who alone account for three quarters of the GDP and the population of the Euro zone, to agree on a common approach and the way to reform would be open. How can we explain such extraordinary inertia and why is it so serious?

In France, there is a tendency to lay the blame on other people. The official view is that our young and dynamic president has made innovative proposals for the reform of the Euro zone, its budget and its Parliament. But the unfortunate thing is that our neighbours are incapable of taking these into account and responding with the same Gallic audacity!

The problem with this superficial theory is that these notorious French proposals are quite simply non-existent. Nobody is capable of writing three simple sentences explaining which common taxes will fund this budget, who will be the members of the Euro zone Assembly who will exercise this new fiscal sovereignty, etc. If you want to make sure, just ask your favourite pro-Macron friend, or, if you do not have any – nobody is perfect – write to your favourite newspapers !

It is almost as if the revolutionaries in 1789, instead of setting up a National Assembly enabling all privileges to be abolished immediately and a new fiscal system to be set up, had only announced that it would be a good idea to pause to reflect on the setting up of a commission to consider a long-term plan to save the Ancien Régime. It is the difference between doing something and empty rhetoric....MORE
As noted in September 2017's "Le blog de Thomas Piketty — Re-thinking the capital code":
I may be mentally ill.

Since 2012 I can't see the "Le blog de..." formulation without losing it. Not that it happens all that often but when it does...See link below....
*****
... Le Blog de Jean-Paul Sartre
From the New Yorker:
Saturday, 11 July, 1959: 2:07 A.M.
I am awake and alone at 2 A.M.
There must be a God. There cannot be a God.
I will start a blog....
...MORE

Factors: "Size matters, if you control your junk" Asness et al

From the Journal of Financial Economics via ScienceDirect, June 15:
Abstract
The size premium has been accused of having a weak historical record, being meager relative to other factors, varying significantly over time, weakening after its discovery, being concentrated among microcap stocks, residing predominantly in January, relying on price-based measures, and being weak internationally. We find, however, that these challenges disappear when controlling for the quality, or its inverse, junk, of a firm. A significant size premium emerges, which is stable through time, robust to specification, not concentrated in microcaps, more consistent across seasons, and evident for non-price-based measures of size, and these results hold in 30 different industries and 24 international equity markets. The resurrected size effect is on par with anomalies such as value and momentum in terms of economic significance and gives rise to new tests of, and challenges for, existing asset pricing theories.

Happy Father's Day: Despite What You May Have Read, Aldi Scotch Is Not 'Best in the World'

Not.

The headlines are everywhere.
And then there's Man of Many:

No, Aldi Whisky is Not the Best in the World
Yesterday, my inbox was inundated with a flurry of headlines proffering (and not for the first time) a bargain bottle of whisky from Aldi as the finest in the world, and my blood (again, not for the first time) boiled.

The headlines, oh the headlines: “ALDI OWN-LABEL WHISKIES NAMED BEST IN WORLD” (the capitals alone are enough to make a reasonable man wince), and “Aldi’s $17 Whisky Was Just Named the Best in the World“… These statements, while excellent clickbait fodder, are simply not true.

Now the last time we got wind of Aldi’s liquor receiving any accolade, it was for a rosé which won a flurry of medals and awards (some of spurious repute, others not). An initial idea, to have a professional sommelier rate it (and perhaps other wines from Aldi), turned into a full day of tasting just about every alcoholic product the German supermarket chain had on offer, which we (luckily) filmed (there was little chance of remembering much).

We also had a whisky expert come along for the ride, and a comedian, because why the hell not?

And there were some winners, too. A AU$7.99 bottle of Mosel proved to be delicious, as did a AU$12.99 shiraz from the Barossa. They also sell a bloody tasty champagne for a clean lobster, which tasted more like something for which you’d expect to pay thrice the price.
But they also sell a LOT of crap–which is fine, by the way, it’s cheap liquor. Nobody is expecting it to be Louis XIII–and this is why this continued track record for winning award upon award is so perplexing.

Until you take a closer look at two things: the awards they’re actually winning, and the nature of those awards.

I’ll start by drawing your attention to an article published by ELLE last year, lauding Aldi’s then-recent win of no less than five awards. While factual in nature, it casually glosses over the fact that the 2017 Melbourne International Spirits Competition, which it cites as its source for these awards, is not exactly the Walkleys of the liquor industry.

In fact, a quick glance at the results page and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the award categories themselves were casually created as the (paid for) entries came rolling in for obscure brands. There are wholly separate categories for Germany Gin of the Year, Germany Liqueur Distillery of the Year, Germany Rum of the Year and Germany Vodka of the Year, but not a single for Gin of the Year. Or Tequila of the Year. Or Even Scotch of the Year. Need I remind you that this is the MELBOURNE International Spirits Competition, a competition which received fewer than 190 entries, and nothing from any major distiller? There’s seemingly, and very conveniently, a specialty category for every single entry.

Including Australia Cream Liqueur of the Year.
Yum.

Aldi’s Highland Black, the 8-year old blend which has once again been lauded as the GOAT by every digital outlet from here to the Hebrides, is a genuinely crap whisky. I know, because I have half a bottle sitting in the liquor cabinet–a rarity in the sense that nothing ever lasts longer than three days in there. Highland Black has now made it past the one-year mark.

Seriously, I drunkenly polished off a half-bottle of Midori over this last week.

Chock-a-block with de-flavoured spirit caramel E150a, which bestows the iconic “piss” colour endemic to all whiskies struggling to find any meaningful hue after their time spent in a third-fill cask, the look alone gives the impression of a crappy spirit. But it doesn’t stop there. Acetone and, in lesser amounts, isoamyl acetate (fake banana) dominate the nose–this, unfortunately, doesn’t much dissipate with air.

The front palate is harsh and slightly bitter, even. There is some attempt at incorporating a peated influence, but it tastes more like it’s been filtered through an ashtray from the pokies room at Rooty Hill RSL. There is some caramel and chocolate in there, but not quite enough to make a Fantale, let alone a 700mL bottle, taste palatable.

The finish is, unfortunately, quite long–normally a sign of quality I’ll admit, but here just a sad reminder of the liquid you’ve regrettably rolled around your tongue.

Which brings us to this week’s barrage of shoddy coverage, claiming that, somehow, this whisky is THE BEST IN THE WORLD....
...MUCH MORE

And although Modern Drunkard has not yet weighed in, we do have Boozist firmly in Man of Many's corner:

Aldi whisky did not get named ‘Best in the World’ – sorry bargain boozers
have never tried the Aldi whisky that many are claiming won “Best in the World” and costs a mere $17. I can still state with 100% accuracy though that it was not declared “Best in the World.”
Yes, an Aldi whisky won a gold medal in a competition, two in fact. But this isn’t the Olympics. Gold doesn’t equal best. It’s not even the top honor. The highest award in the Scotch Whisky Masters is Master, and 20 brands were awarded Master.
Here’s a very short list of why the Aldi whisky isn’t the Best in the World:
  • Only Scotch whisky was judged
  • 93 different whiskies were awarded Gold
  • Entrants had to be available in Asia
The Spirits Business reports that there were an, “impressive number of entrants,” but fails to mention what that number is. That makes me think it might not have been all that impressive. There is also no way of knowing which brands opted not to enter. I can think of quite a few amazing whiskies that aren’t on the list.
I’m sure the Aldi whisky is good, and it’s probably a steal at $17. That doesn’t make it the “Best in the World” or even one of the best. Sadly you’ll never find out for yourself because it’s not available in the US.
Here’s the full list of Scotch Whisky Masters awards:...MUCH MORE
It's a very long list.

"Nearly two centuries ago, France was hit by the world’s first cyber-attack...)

From 1843 Magazine:
Tom Standage | October 5th 2017

Technology rewind: The crooked timber of humanity
Nearly two centuries ago, France was hit by the world’s first cyber-attack. Tom Standage argues that it holds lessons for us today
WannaCry, a computer virus that encrypts data and demands a ransom to unscramble it, hit thousands of computers in May, causing several hospitals in Britain to close their doors. Hardly a week now goes by without a large company admitting that its systems have been breached: Yahoo recently confessed that 1bn accounts had been compromised in an attack in 2013. Cyber-attacks are a scourge of modern life, but their history goes back further than you might expect.
The world’s first national data network was constructed in France during the 1790s. It was a mechanical telegraph system, consisting of chains of towers, each of which had a system of movable wooden arms on top. Different configurations of these arms corresponded to letters, numbers and other characters. Operators in each tower would adjust the arms to match the configuration of an adjacent tower, observed through a telescope, causing sequences of characters to ripple along the line. Messages could now be sent much faster than letters, whizzing from one end of France to the other in minutes. The network was reserved for government use but in 1834 two bankers, François and Joseph Blanc, devised a way to subvert it to their own ends.

The Blanc brothers traded government bonds at the exchange in the city of Bordeaux, where information about market movements took several days to arrive from Paris by mail coach. Accordingly, traders who could get the information more quickly could make money by anticipating these movements. Some tried using messengers and carrier pigeons, but the Blanc brothers found a way to use the telegraph line instead. They bribed the telegraph operator in the city of Tours to introduce deliberate errors into routine government messages being sent over the network.

The telegraph’s encoding system included a “backspace” symbol that instructed the transcriber to ignore the previous character. The addition of a spurious character indicating the direction of the previous day’s market movement, followed by a backspace, meant the text of the message being sent was unaffected when it was written out for delivery at the end of the line. But this extra character could be seen by another accomplice: a former telegraph operator who observed the telegraph tower outside Bordeaux with a telescope, and then passed on the news to the Blancs. The scam was only uncovered in 1836, when the crooked operator in Tours fell ill and revealed all to a friend, who he hoped would take his place. The Blanc brothers were put on trial, though they could not be convicted because there was no law against misuse of data networks. But the Blancs’ pioneering misuse of the French network qualifies as the world’s first cyber-attack...MORE

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Running on Water: The Hydraulic System that Tapped the Thames to Power London

This isn't the Phillips model that we looked at in 2011 (and see after the jump) this is actual motive force.
From 99% Invisible:
For nearly a century, a vast system of underground pipes run by the London Hydraulic Power Company pumped water to power hotels, shops, offices, mansion blocks, hotels, docks, factories and more.  Hydraulics lifted elevators at the Bank of England, opened gates along the Thames and even provided backup power for the Tower Bridge.
Water pressure lifted curtains at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and rotated stages at the London Palladium in the West End, in addition to raising and lower organs and orchestra platforms at other venues. It also doubled as a fire safety system in buildings it served.
The water was pumped from the Thames (and heated in winter) and pressure was maintained at around 800 pounds per square inch by five hydraulic power stations. Short-term pressure storage was provided by hydraulic accumulators, which were large vertical pistons loaded with heavy weights. An accumulator essentially stores energy and enables a hydraulic system to cope with changes in demand....
 *****
... “Applications for the enormous power of the hydraulic ram were manifold,” explains Subterranea Britannica. “It was used for cranes and lifts and could also be applied in presses for forging, stamping or flanging. At one time hundreds of such presses were in use throughout warehouses for baling cloth and paper, and for compressing scrap metal and other materials to facilitate transport.”...
...MUCH MORE

And from March 2011:

The computer model that once explained the British economy (and the new one that explains the world)

Genius.
Here's the original Phillips (he of the curve) Machine:

The Phillips Machine
From the headline article at the Guardian.

Here's the schematic, from the New York Times:
Two weeks ago, while visiting Cambridge University, I arranged to have lunch with my friend Allan McRobie. He’s a professor of engineering, so it seemed a bit strange that he kept insisting we meet at the department of applied economics. “There’s something there you’ve really got to see,” he said in his Liverpudlian lilt. “It’s utterly fab. Just brilliant. The Phillips machine — it uses water to predict the economy.”...MORE
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/blogs/judson/strogatz-detailed.950.cw.gif 
Schematic diagram of the Phillips machine. (Click to enlarge.)

And here's the latest incarnation:

PM

Genius squared.

The second schematic is from a post on GE's Mark I nuclear reactor at ZeroHedge

Up to 500 Million Sub-Saharan Africans Would Like to Move to Europe; Mayfair, Monte Carlo Favored

That's one of the points made in a March 2018 Pew Research Center report.
The first part.
The second part is from January's "Algorithm matches refugees with best place to resettle":
It appears that Mayfair, Silicon Valley, Monte Carlo and Zürich come out on top....
Which comment was not just fāke news but the obviously borderline demented ravings of an analyst who has to get out more often. The African population in Mayfair is mainly composed of Nigerian kleptocrats, not refugees.
Ahem.

There is a serious purpose to this post though. I wanted to gather in one place some of our prior links on the problem/opportunity of African demographics and some policy suggestions that are emerging.

Most recently we had last month's "George Soros at the European Council on Foreign Relations, May 29, 2018 'How to Save Europe'" which was preceded by:
...In other refugee news George Soros announced at Davos he would be putting refugees on a blockchain:
George Soros Announces Blockchain Plans to Solve Refugee Crisis at Davos
No word on an ICO. We'll update when it comes. 
In April 2017's "IMF: Sub-Saharan Africa has Just Completed One of its Best Decades of Growth--It's Not Enough" we had a graphic depiction of the challenge:
This may be one of the more important graphics you are likely to come across today.
Africa's population is projected by the United Nations to reach 2 billion people by 2045, 4 billion before the end of the century:


http://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/posts/2014/09/pop_image_1/f03a2d201.jpg
And the headline story, from the International Monetary Fund, April 7...

The graph was reprised in October 2017's "Needed: 800 Million Jobs For Africa".

Also in April 2017 was "To Jumpstart Development, Should We Give Africa Bonds a Whirl?":
The problem, as always, is keeping the money from sticking to the hands of the kleptocrats,
And whether investment will actually do any good.

Following on "IMF: Sub-Saharan Africa has Just Completed One of its Best Decades of Growth--It's Not Enough" here are a couple women who have thought about this stuff, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala a former two-time Finance Minister of Nigeria and World Bank Managing Director, currently a senior advisor at Lazard and Nancy Birdsall, former EVP at the Inter-American Development Bank where she ran a $30 billion loan portfolio....
And this year's "Population: 'Future Hubs of Africa and Asia'" on where to focus efforts and resources:
...This demographic boom could, under the right conditions, result in a regional or even a global economic boom. These conditions are first and foremost 1) an increase in literacy and 2) an improvement in governance, in the poorest countries where the population is growing rapidly. Higher literacy, in particular among young women, sets off a chain reaction that drives down infant mortality rates and total fertility rates. In time, this evolution leads to a falling dependency ratio and creates an opportunity for the economy to realize a demographic dividend. This was in large part the dynamic that created the China boom in the past three decades....
We'll be back with more.

Possibly related:
"J.P. Morgan is deploying photos of sausages to lure staff to Frankfurt"
Prospect List: "Africa May Have Up to 200 Hidden Billionaires, Mobius Says"

"The Inside Story of Glencore's Hidden Dealings in Democratic Republic of the Congo"

That was the headline for a post back in December 2017. We introduced it with:
This is going-on two months old but is good background for some stuff that will be coming out in 2018....
Here's the follow-up from Reuters, June 15:

UPDATE 2-Glencore settles with Gertler over Congo royalties
* Mining code still in dispute
* Glencore says has discussed settlement with U.S., Swiss agencies (Adds reaction, detail)
By Barbara Lewis

LONDON, June 15 (Reuters) - Glencore has settled a mining row in Democratic Republic of Congo with Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler by agreeing to pay royalties in a currency other than U.S. dollars, lowering the risk of disruption to copper and cobalt supplies.

U.S. sanctions on Gertler, Glencore’s former Israeli partner in Congo, had triggered litigation and a legal tangle that investors said might affect supplies of cobalt, needed for electric vehicle batteries, from the world’s biggest producer of the metal.

Glencore earlier this week reached a settlement in another dispute involving its Kamoto copper and cobalt mine in Congo, although it remains at odds with the Congolese government over a mining code that increases taxes and royalties on minerals.

Gertler’s Ventora Development Sasu had been seeking $695 million in unpaid and future royalties from Glencore’s subsidiary Mutanda Mining and $2.28 billion from Glencore subsidiary Kamoto Copper Co (KCC).

Ventora accused KCC of breaching an agreement by declining to make royalty payments because Gertler was under U.S. sanctions, Glencore said in April.

The U.S. government added Gertler and affiliated companies to its sanctions list in December last year, accusing him of using his friendship with Congo President Joseph Kabila to secure sweetheart mining deals. Gertler has denied all allegations of impropriety....
...MUCH MORE

"253 Startup Failure Post-Mortems"

From CB Insights, April 17:

It's hard to say goodbye. A compilation of startup failure post-mortems by founders and investors.
Of his many failed experiments, Thomas Edison once said:

I have learned fifty thousand ways it cannot be done and therefore I am fifty thousand times nearer the final successful experiment.”

In the spirit of failure, we dug into the data on startup death and found that 70% of upstart tech companies fail — usually around 20 months after first raising financing (with around $1.3M in total funding closed).

For consumer hardware startups, the stats are especially brutal, with 97% of seed or crowdfunded companies eventually dying or becoming “zombies.”

So why do so many startups flame out? The real reasons can be hard to uncover, but the obituaries written by founders, investors, and journalists offer plenty of clues.

Below is a time-staggered compilation of startup post-mortems for some of the most notable failures in the CB Insights database.

After reading the 253 goodbye letters and investigative takedowns below, check out our rundown for the top 20 reasons that startups shutter.
2018 first update (4/17/2018)
In the last few months, startups have shuttered for reasons ranging from the conventional (Doppler struggled to raise capital to support the production of a complex hardware product), to the regulatory (Coinprism’s CEO cited concerns about the regulatory future of the cryptocurrency space), to the unexpected (connected wine bottle startup Kuvée ran into trouble following fires in Napa Valley).

A number of recently shuttered startups cited fierce incumbent competition as the reason for their closures. Philadelphia-based B2B food delivery startup Zoomer floundered in comparison to UberEats and GrubHub, while video platform Videma had difficulty luring consumers away from established platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

Read on for post-mortems of 11 startups that have shuttered since our last update in October 2017.

Title: ‘Colored coins’ startup Coinprism is shutting down
Product: Coinprism web wallet
In an email to CoinDesk, Coinprism founder and CEO Flavien Charlon wrote:
We didn’t see a business model that would have been viable long term. Regulators are starting to pay attention to the [cryptocurrency] space, and activities around blockchain assets (tokens exchanges, ICO tools and services, etc.) are likely to become heavily regulated in the next 5 years. That means some of these services will have to shut down or restrict their activities, some might go to prison, and only a small number of well capitalized companies will successfully adapt to the regulator’s demands.
Title: I can’t wait for you to see what we do next
Product: Shyp
Shyp CEO Kevin Gibbon published a company post-mortem on LinkedIn after the company shuttered in late March.
Consumer growth slowed. People close to me and the business began to warn that chasing consumers was the wrong strategy. After all, how often do consumers ship things? I didn’t listen.
At the time, I approached everything I did as an engineer. Rather than change direction, I tasked the team with expanding geographically and dreaming up innovative features and growth tactics to further penetrate the consumer market… But, growth at all costs is a dangerous trap that many startups fall into, mine included.
… We decided to keep the popular-but-unprofitable parts of our business running, with small teams of their own behind them. This was a mistake — my mistake. While large, established companies have the financial freedom to explore new product categories for the sake of exploring, for startups it can be irresponsible.
Title: A $178 wine bottle that connects to Wi-Fi raised $6 million from investors, and now the startup is shutting down 
Product: Kuvée connected wine bottles
[It] became clear that, to properly educate the market, we would need a much louder voice and considerably more capital. The last year’s Napa fires affected our ability to scale our customer base over the holiday season and hence our ability to raise the funds required to continue building awareness of Kuvée.
Title: An experienced startup founder learns some new lessons 
Product: IntroNet
Mike Krupit, CEO of IntroNet, a service for professionals to make and track introductions, wrote a lengthy post about the factors that contributed to the company’s failure:
On the surface, the business didn’t succeed in the first two iterations of IntroNet for the same reason that 90% of tech startups fail: we did not find a product-market fit before the end of our cash. It’s a math equation that is pretty deterministic. Why didn’t we find product-market fit? Perhaps we were solving for a pain (e.g., LinkedIn sucks) instead of a real problem (e.g., I can’t find expertise)? Did we try to change user behavior in a way that wasn’t tractable? Yes, probably all of that....
...MUCH MORE

The U.S., China and the "Thucydides Trap"

From the Boston Globe, May 7:
A HUNDRED YEARS AGO, World War I was entering its final phase. No one in either Berlin or London had set out to expend so vast a quantity of blood and treasure on four years of industrialized slaughter. As I argued 20 years ago in “The Pity of War,” World War I was perhaps the greatest error of modern history.

Historians often look back to the events of the 1890s and 1900s in an effort to trace the origins of the Anglo-German antagonism. The long-established narrative goes something like this: The German economy was overtaking the British economy, a trend summed up in the words “Made in Germany” that were stamped on a rising proportion of imported manufactures.
Germany had imperial ambitions, too, acquiring colonies in Asia and Africa. And it was building a fleet that was obviously intended to rival the Royal Navy.

Increasingly, as their economy boomed, the Germans argued that their political system — in which the parliament (the Reichstag) had much less power than its British equivalent, and the monarch much more power — was intrinsically superior. Their material successes bolstered an already deep-rooted nationalism.

The ultimate result was that Britain and Germany followed the ancient example of Sparta and Athens: the incumbent power and the rising power ended up going to war. The Harvard political scientist Graham Allison calls it the “Thucydides trap,” after the historian of the Peloponnesian War.

Are the United States and China on the way to repeating this classic historical mistake? Having just spent a fascinating week in Beijing and Shanghai, I fear they may be.
China’s economy has already, by at least one measure, overtaken that of the United States. The Chinese have come up with a strategy to catch up in terms of technology, too. It’s called “Made in China 2025.”

President Xi Jinping has his own version of the Germans’ imperial Weltpolitik: the Belt and Road Initiative, which implies a global expansion of Chinese infrastructure and influence.

The People’s Liberation Army is busily building up its forces, with the goal (as one Chinese official told me last week) of having the world’s strongest military by the time the People’s Republic celebrates its centenary, in 2049.

Like the Germans a century ago, the Chinese no longer worry that Anglophone democracy might be superior to their political system. As for nationalism, there is no mistaking its growing importance, especially on social media. “There is also a Chinese populism,” I was warned.

Yet, as the events of 1918 proved, Germany overestimated itself and underestimated Britain. I fear some Chinese are beginning to make this mistake about the United States, with the encouragement of other Asians. My old friend Kishore Mahbubani, formerly Singapore’s representative at the United Nations, has just published a punchy little book entitled “Has the West Lost It?” His answer is a blunt “Yes.” 
...MORE

I suppose it's time to dust off Barbara Tuchman's books on the run-up to World War I.
The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914 derives its title from a line in the Edgar Allen Poe poem  "The City in the Sea":
 "While from a proud tower in the town/ Death looks gigantically down."
The other, The Guns of August was one of Tuchman's two Pulitzer prize-winners It begins:

1

A Funeral

So GORGEOUS was the spectacle on the May morning of 1910 when nine kings rode in the funeral of Edward VII of England that the crowd, waiting in hushed and black-clad awe, could not keep back gasps of admiration. In scarlet and blue and green and purple, three by three the sovereigns rode through the palace gates, with plumed helmets, gold braid, crimson sashes, and jeweled orders flashing in the sun. After them came five heirs apparent, forty more imperial or royal highnesses, seven queens—four dowager and three regnant—and a scattering of special ambassadors from uncrowned countries. Together they represented seventy nations in the greatest assemblage of royalty and rank ever gathered in one place and, of its kind, the last. The muffled tongue of Big Ben tolled nine by the clock as the cortege left the palace, but on history’s clock it was sunset, and the sun of the old world was setting in a dying blaze of splendor never to be seen again.

In the center of the front row rode the new king, George V, flanked on his left by the Duke of Connaught, the late king’s only surviving brother, and on his right by a personage to whom, acknowledged The Times, “belongs the first place among all the foreign mourners,” who “even when relations are most strained has never lost his popularity amongst us”—William II, the German Emperor. Mounted on a gray horse, wearing the scarlet uniform of a British Field Marshal, carrying the baton of that rank, the Kaiser had composed his features behind the famous upturned mustache in an expression “grave even to severity.” Of the several emotions churning his susceptible breast, some hints exist in his letters. “I am proud to call this place my home and to be a member of this royal family,” he wrote home after spending the night in Windsor Castle in the former apartments of his mother. Sentiment and nostalgia induced by these melancholy occasions with his English relatives jostled with pride in his supremacy among the assembled potentates and with a fierce relish in the disappearance of his uncle from the European scene. He had come to bury Edward his bane; Edward the arch plotter, as William conceived it, of Germany’s encirclement; Edward his mother’s brother whom he could neither bully nor impress, whose fat figure cast a shadow between Germany and the sun. “He is Satan. You cannot imagine what a Satan he is!”

This verdict, announced by the Kaiser before a dinner of three hundred guests in Berlin in 1907, was occasioned by one of Edward’s continental tours undertaken with clearly diabolical designs at encirclement. He had spent a provocative week in Paris, visited for no good reason the King of Spain (who had just married his niece), and finished with a visit to the King of Italy with obvious intent to seduce him from his Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria. The Kaiser, possessor of the least inhibited tongue in Europe, had worked himself into a frenzy ending in another of those comments that had periodically over the past twenty years of his reign shattered the nerves of diplomats.
Happily the Encircler was now dead and replaced by George who, the Kaiser told Theodore Roosevelt a few days before the funeral, was “a very nice boy” (of forty-five, six years younger than the Kaiser). “He is a thorough Englishman and hates all foreigners but I do not mind that as long as he does not hate Germans more than other foreigners.” Alongside George, William now rode confidently, saluting as he passed the regimental colors of the 1st Royal Dragoons of which he was honorary colonel. Once he had distributed photographs of himself wearing their uniform with the Delphic inscription written above his signature, “I bide my time.” Today his time had come; he was supreme in Europe.

Behind him rode the widowed Queen Alexandra’s two brothers, King Frederick of Denmark and King George of the Hellenes; her nephew, King Haakon of Norway; and three kings who were to lose their thrones: Alfonso of Spain, Manuel of Portugal and, wearing a silk turban, King Ferdinand of Bulgaria who annoyed his fellow sovereigns by calling himself Czar and kept in a chest a Byzantine Emperor’s full regalia, acquired from a theatrical costumer, against the day when he should reassemble the Byzantine dominions beneath his scepter.

Dazzled by these “splendidly mounted princes,” as The Times called them, few observers had eyes for the ninth king, the only one among them who was to achieve greatness as a man. Despite his great height and perfect horsemanship, Albert, King of the Belgians, who disliked the pomp of royal ceremony, contrived in that company to look both embarrassed and absentminded. He was then thirty-five and had been on the throne barely a year. In later years when his face became known to the world as a symbol of heroism and tragedy, it still always wore that abstracted look, as if his mind were on something else.

The future source of tragedy, tall, corpulent, and corseted, with green plumes waving from his helmet, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir of the old Emperor Franz Josef, rode on Albert’s right, and on his left another scion who would never reach his throne, Prince Yussuf, heir of the Sultan of Turkey. After the kings came the royal highnesses: Prince Fushimi, brother of the Emperor of Japan; Grand Duke Michael, brother of the Czar of Russia; the Duke of Aosta in bright blue with green plumes, brother of the King of Italy; Prince Carl, brother of the King of Sweden; Prince Henry, consort of the Queen of Holland; and the Crown Princes of Serbia, Rumania, and Montenegro. The last named, Prince Danilo, “an amiable, extremely handsome young man of delightful manners,” resembled the Merry Widow’s lover in more than name, for, to the consternation of British functionaries, he had arrived the night before accompanied by a “charming young lady of great personal attractions” whom he introduced as his wife’s lady in waiting with the explanation that she had come to London to do some shopping.

A regiment of minor German royalty followed: rulers of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Waldeck-Pyrmont, Saxe-Coburg Gotha, of Saxony, Hesse, Württemberg, Baden, and Bavaria, of whom the last, Crown Prince Rupprecht, was soon to lead a German army in battle. There were a Prince of Siam, a Prince of Persia, five princes of the former French royal house of Orléans, a brother of the Khedive of Egypt wearing a gold-tasseled fez, Prince Tsia-tao of China in an embroidered light-blue gown whose ancient dynasty had two more years to run, and the Kaiser’s brother, Prince Henry of Prussia, representing the German Navy, of which he was Commander in Chief. Amid all this magnificence were three civilian-coated gentlemen, M. Gaston-Carlin of Switzerland, M. Pichon, Foreign Minister of France, and former President Theodore Roosevelt, special envoy of the United States.

Edward, the object of this unprecedented gathering of nations, was often called the “Uncle of Europe,” a title which, insofar as Europe’s ruling houses were meant, could be taken literally. He was the uncle not only of Kaiser Wilhelm but also, through his wife’s sister, the Dowager Empress Marie of Russia, of Czar Nicolas II. His own niece Alix was the Czarina; his daughter Maud was Queen of Norway; another niece, Ena, was Queen of Spain; a third niece, Marie, was soon to be Queen of Rumania. The Danish family of his wife, besides occupying the throne of Denmark, had mothered the Czar of Russia and supplied kings to Greece and Norway. Other relatives, the progeny at various removes of Queen Victoria’s nine sons and daughters, were scattered in abundance throughout the courts of Europe....
We used that funeral as the introduction to 2011's "Seating Charts are Such a Pain: Soros and the Starlet":
Sometimes it's easy:
You whistle up your Protocol peeps and in three minutes you get


Nine Kings 1910

 
That is probably the only photograph of nine reigning monarchs ever taken.*

Sometimes it is more difficult:...

*May 1910: Nine Kings assembled at Buckingham Palace for the funeral of Edward VII, the Father of George V (centre). From left to right, back row: Haakon VII of Norway, Ferdinand I of Bulgaria, Manuel II of Portugal, Wilhelm II of Germany, George I of Greece and Albert I Of Belgium. Front row: Alphonso XIII of Spain, George V and Frederick VIII of Denmark. The funeral on  20th May was the largest gathering of the European royalty–and its last hurrah, too. Also present at the funeral was Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, whose assassination four years later would spark the WWI–which collapsed many royal dynasties of Europe. Manuel of Portugal would be driven from his throne by revolutionaries within months of this picture. George would be assassinated.  Alphonso, Wilhelm and Ferdinand lost their thrones.-Source

You've probably noted the absence of Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias.
Very odd considering that he was part o'the fam:


Two bearded men of identical height wear military dress uniforms emblazoned with medals and stand side-by-side
King George V (right) with his
first cousin Tsar Nicholas II, 
Berlin, 1913. Note the close 
physical resemblance between 
the two monarchs.

Things change....

"Citibank, Citizen Wriston, And The Age of Greed" (C)

A repost from January 2012:

From New Geography:
Citicorp bldg- Bigstock.jpg
Robert Sarnoff , the CEO of RCA before it was absorbed by GE, once said, “Finance is the passing of money from hand to hand until it disappears.”

That process is very clearly defined in The Age of Greed by Jeffrey Madrick. It recounts, in concise terms, how a few dozen individuals—some in the private sector, some in government--brought us to our current economic pass, in which finance seems to have been completely detached from life. Names from the past come back, and their crimes are explained. Ivan Boesky, Michael Milken, and Dennis Levine look guiltier in the retelling than they did in the newspapers at the time. And in this telling, the philosopher king of the new finance was Walter Wriston, CEO of Citicorp.

I wrote for Wriston and other senior managers of Citibank from 1980 through his retirement in 1984, and for his successors through 1991. My colleagues and I were charged with helping Wriston make the case that the financial regulatory regime that was put in place during the Depression was obsolete. Let me make it clear: I was a footnote, although I occasionally run into old acquaintances who still shake their fingers at me.

Madrick’s Wriston is by far the book’s most compelling character. As with all the other subjects, there’s a smattering of armchair Freud, although most of the political figures who make appearances here escape their two minutes on the shrink’s couch. Wriston’s psyche was more interesting than the insecurities of Ivan Boesky and Sandy Weill, to name just two; his university-president father Henry Wriston despised the New Deal as it was happening, and imparted that attitude to the son. Henry then remarried too quickly after Walter’s mother died for the son’s taste, and they became estranged.

But there’s more to Wriston than you read in Madrick. He was a restless intellect, impatient with field of diplomacy he had studied for before World War II, and after taking a job in banking, which he once wrote seemed like, “the embodiment of everything dull,” found a vehicle for exerting his imagination, and then for fulfilling his ambitions.

The First National City Bank, later to become Citibank and Citicorp, and then Citibank again, had inspired imperial dreams before. Through a series of mergers it became the biggest bank in the biggest city in the country. When trade followed the flag around the world, Citibank’s precursors were right there with it. During the Roaring Twenties, Charles Mitchell dreamed of a “bank for all”, the forerunner of Wriston’s vision of one-stop banking, although Mitchell’s stewardship ended with a trial (and an acquittal) after the stock market crash and the Pecora hearings in the early ‘30s. While the bank had social register threads running through its history—when Wriston started the president was James Stillman Rockefeller, descended both from the Stillmans and the Rockefellers, married to a Carnegie—the patrician elements always had hungry outsiders around to push the envelop of banking practice. When Rockefeller was chairman, he had a president named George Moore, and Wriston was his protégé. However, Moore was too frisky for Rockefeller, and when a successor was chosen, it was Wriston.

Wriston hung a portrait of Friederich Hayek on the wall of his office. He was a reader. When Adam Smith became the Holy Ghost of the Church of Deregulation, Wriston’s top writer (and later my boss) was the man who actually edited The Wealth of Nations for the Great Books. When I was new there, I asked one of the bigshot corporate bankers which great thinkers he liked to quote in his speeches. He answered, “The only person who can get away with that is Walt Wriston, and I’m not sure he can.” Wriston’s ambition may have been shaped by philosophy, but he achieved it with tactics and strategy that sprang from a contrary nature as much as by the force of his ideas, and Madrick recounts that. He wanted his bank to be valued like a growth stock, and promised analysts 15% a year return on equity—not a recipe for safety and soundness.

Whether it was inventing financial instruments to get around interest rate restrictions, making outsize bets on railroad bonds and New York City bonds, creating the Eurodollar market, blitzing the country with credit cards, or wholesale lending to developing countries to recycle petrodollars, Wriston had a knack for making money when the economy was right and then challenging the government to deregulate in time to accommodate his losses. Personally, I think that before the bank was too big to fail, it was too big to succeed.

Looked at now, there’s something quaint about these investments. At least they had to do with real things, like trains, oil, municipal governance, and the ostensible aspirations of people in emerging markets, although they were mostly oligarchs and autocrats....MORE

Gene Simmons From KISS Weighs In on Elon Musk (TSLA)

From The Street:

Elon Musk Using a Brilliant Strategy at Tesla, Kiss Rocker Gene Simmons Explains
Tesla CEO Elon Musk seems to have a new idea each day at Tesla. The constant creativity makes sense, says Kiss legend Gene Simmons.

Maybe Tesla CEO Elon Musk isn't crazy for trying every mind-blowing idea that pops inside his head while sleeping at the company's headquarters.

In the eyes of Kiss legend and gazillionaire Gene Simmons, Musk's creative mind will likely keep Tesla out in front of auto rivals such as Ford, General Motors, Toyota and others....MORE
Next up, Keith Richards discusses the end of QE and parsing Draghi's latest.

In the meantime, here's Ozzy Osbourne on infrastructure, with additional commentary from Earth, Wind & Fire



Previously:
"Gene Simmons Sees Dow 30,000"

Friday, June 15, 2018

U.S. Department of Justice: Theranos Founder Holmes, Ex-CEO Balwani Charged With Wire Fraud

From the U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California:

Theranos Founder and Former Chief Operating Officer Charged In Alleged Wire Fraud Schemes

Elizabeth Holmes and Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani Are Alleged To Have Perpetrated Multi-million Dollar Schemes To Defraud Investors, Doctors, and Patients.
SAN JOSE - A federal grand jury has indicted Elizabeth A. Holmes and Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, announced Acting United States Attorney Alex G. Tse, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett; Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb; and U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Inspector in Charge Rafael Nuñez.  The defendants are charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud.  According to the indictment returned yesterday and unsealed today, the charges stem from allegations Holmes and Balwani engaged in a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud investors, and a separate scheme to defraud doctors and patients.  Both schemes involved efforts to promote Palo Alto, Calif.-based Theranos.

 Holmes, 34, of Los Altos Hills, Calif., founded Theranos in 2003.  Theranos is a private health care and life sciences company with the stated mission to revolutionize medical laboratory testing through allegedly innovative methods for drawing blood, testing blood, and interpreting the resulting patient data.  Balwani, 53, of Atherton, Calif., was employed at Theranos from September of 2009 through 2016.  At times during that period, Balwani worked in several capacities including as a member of the company’s board of directors, as its president, and as its chief operating officer.

According to the indictment, Holmes and Balwani used advertisements and solicitations to encourage and induce doctors and patients to use Theranos’s blood testing laboratory services, even though the defendants knew Theranos was not capable of consistently producing accurate and reliable results for certain blood tests.  The tests performed on Theranos technology, in addition, were likely to contain inaccurate and unreliable results.

The indictment alleges that the defendants used a combination of direct communications, marketing materials, statements to the media, financial statements, models, and other information to defraud potential investors.  Specifically, the defendants claimed that Theranos developed a revolutionary and proprietary analyzer that the defendants referred to by various names, including as the TSPU, Edison, or minilab.  The defendants claimed the analyzer was able to perform a full range of clinical tests using small blood samples drawn from a finger stick.  The defendants also represented that the analyzer could produce results that were more accurate and reliable than those yielded by conventional methods—all at a faster speed than previously possible.

The indictment further alleges that Holmes and Balwani knew that many of their representations about the analyzer were false.  For example, allegedly, Holmes and Balwani knew that the analyzer, in truth, had accuracy and reliability problems, performed a limited number of tests, was slower than some competing devices, and, in some respects, could not compete with existing, more conventional machines....
...MUCH MORE

Well, so much for "Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes Is Allegedly Looking to Start Another Company"

And I guess that's a wrap for Equality Day here at Climateer Investing.

"Google barely moves needle on gender, diversity in staff" (GOOG)
Syrian Women Invite Their Western Sisters To Come Help Finish Off ISIS
"Amazon Vows to Include Women, Minorities in Board Search" (AMZN)