From deities to data - "For thousands of years humans believed that authority came from the gods. Then, during the modern era, humanism gradually shifted authority from deities to people... Now, a fresh shift is taking place. Just as divine authority was legitimised by religious mythologies, and human authority was legitimised by humanist ideologies, so high-tech gurus and Silicon Valley prophets are creating a new universal narrative that legitimises the authority of algorithms and Big Data." [more inside]
U.S. Army fudged its accounts by trillions of dollars, auditor finds - "The Defense Department's Inspector General, in a [July 26 (pdf)] report, said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up... The report affirms a 2013 Reuters series revealing how the Defense Department falsified accounting on a large scale as it scrambled to close its books. As a result, there has been no way to know how the Defense Department – far and away the biggest chunk of Congress' annual budget – spends the public's money."
In his follow-up to Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari envisions what a 'useless class' of humans might look like as AI advances and spreads - "I'm aware that these kinds of forecasts have been around for at least 200 years, from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and they never came true so far. It's basically the boy who cried wolf, but in the original story of the boy who cried wolf, in the end, the wolf actually comes, and I think that is true this time." [more inside]
Kennedy was right - "Much that is valuable is neither tangible nor tradable... Gross domestic product (GDP) is increasingly a poor measure of prosperity. It is not even a reliable gauge of production."* [more inside]
World After Capital by Albert Wenger [Work in Progress; GitHub; GitBook; PDF; FAQ] - "Technological progress has shifted scarcity for humanity. When we were foragers, food was scarce. During the agrarian age, it was land. Following the industrial revolution, capital became scarce. With digital technologies scarcity is shifting from capital to attention. World After Capital suggests ways to expand economic, informational and psychological freedom to go from an industrial to a knowledge society." (previously)
an introduction to fiat money (pdf) by Steve Randy Waldman:* - "Self-reinforcing bootstrap dynamics hold as strongly for a king's token as it would for any other thing, but much more stably so, since the king can reinforce and assure the stability of his token so long as he retains the political capacity to coerce or persuade payment of tax." (via) [more inside]
In Sweden, a Cash-Free Future Nears - "Few places are tilting toward a cashless future as quickly as Sweden, which has become hooked on the convenience of paying by app and plastic." [more inside]
Ever since its 1977 cinematic debut, the Force has been strong in popular culture. People with only passing exposure to the Star Wars saga probably have at least a general notion of how the story’s mystical energy works: light sides and dark sides, wizard-like abilities over objects and minds, laser-beam swords. But who is the Force strongest with? And how has the balance between light and dark shifted throughout the series? In anticipation of “The Force Awakens,” we decided to find out by watching every minute of the first two trilogies to identify, measure, and categorize use of the Force. This was a delicate exercise, mainly because the Force is vague and entirely fictitious. But we’re confident in our findings—and if you search your feelings, we think you will be, too. The Force Accounted [SLBB]
FINLAND: New Government Commits to a Basic Income Experiment - "The Finnish government of Juha Sipilä is considering a pilot project that would give everyone of working age a basic income."[1,2,3] (via) [more inside]
Shared Prosperity, Common Wealth, National Equity and a Citizen's Dividend: Nirit Peled takes a look at social experiments in basic incomes for VPRO Tegenlicht, a Dutch public television documentary series. Starting with a German crowdfunded UBI chosen by raffle -- kind of like the opposite of Le Guin's Omelas (or Shirley Jackson's Lottery in reverse) -- the focus moves on to Albert Wenger who wants to disconnect work from income not only as automation progresses but to accelerate the process. Then it's on to Guy Standing who has conducted basic income experiments in India and Namibia (pdf) and is trying to get one off the ground in Groningen (Utrecht apparently is also a go). Finally, a stop in Alaska to ask some of its residents about their views on the state-owned Permanent Fund. This last part brings to mind the question: just what is wealth anyway? [more inside]
The End of Banking: Money, Credit, and the Digital Revolution - "Unregulated banking with access to government guarantees is an enticing business model. It offers the profits of excessive risk-taking in good times, and allows passing on the inevitable losses to taxpayers in bad times." [more inside]
The Vanished Grandeur Of Accounting, in which Jacob Soll argues that it was the Dutch, and certainly not the Venetians or Florentines who are responsible for the spread of that moral and mathematical revolution: double-entry accounting. [more inside]
Free Money for Everyone - "A wacky-sounding idea with surprisingly conservative roots may be our best hope for escaping endless, grinding economic stagnation." (via) [more inside]
Because of its persistent inability to tally its accounts, the Pentagon is the only federal agency that has not complied with a law that requires annual audits of all government departments. That means that the $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996, the first year it was supposed to be audited, has never been accounted for. That sum exceeds the value of China’s economic output last year. -- Reuters journalist Scot J. Paltrow investigates how the US military's bad accounting not only wastes taxpayers money, but helps ruin the life of ordinary soldiers and veterans. [more inside]
The Lonely Redemption Of Sandy Lewis
“The complicity on Wall Street is sickness!” Mr. Lewis says. He fixes you with his laser stare. “If you think the big firms are being honest” — his tone slides streetwise — “well, sweetheart, go think something else!” The temptation is to dismiss Mr. Lewis, 73, as a crank, except he once ruled as an eccentric genius of arbitrage, with a preternatural feel for the tectonic movements of the markets. He has railed for decades about venalities now on daily display. Rude truth is his currency.[more inside]
An Audience With Neil Armstrong is an hour long interview with Neil Armstrong about the moon landings from 2011, including a comparative view of footage from the Eagle's landing alongside Google Moon maps. [more inside]
Why Amazon Can't Make A Kindle In the USA. Does It Really Matter That Amazon Can't Manufacture A Kindle In the USA? Amazon & Kindle Part 3: It's Not Just Manufacturing! A cogent look at why today's prevailing approach to cost and manufacturing is wrongheaded.
Out of thin air? "Have you ever said something like 'Let me buy you a beer next week'? I'm sure you have. We all issue promises of this sort. And we frequently use such promises as a form of currency... I have just described a simple credit exchange. Societies rely heavily on promising-making and promise-keeping. It is the foundation of all financial markets. I'd like to point out something about the promises you make. They are made 'out of thin air.' " [more inside]
With capitalism in crisis, can it be sustained or is it altogether outdated? As Umair Haque asks though, perhaps a better question is: "are organizations and markets making decisions that help make people, communities, and society better off in the long run, by allocating their scarce resources to the most productive uses?" [more inside]
This is how a Harry Potter film has actually "lost" $167 million by Hollywood accounting, despite bringing in almost a billion dollars worldwide.
It's Finished is a witty and erudite essay by MeFi lurker John Lanchester in The London Review of Books on how completely and utterly screwed the British economy is. In the process of laying out his case Lanchester touches on varied issues, such Scottish banknotes, why Alan Hollinghurst's phrase "tremendous, Basil Fawltyish lengths" is applicable to the reaction by the US and UK governments to the banking meltdown, the value destruction of corporate mergers, the invention of modern accounting, and why no one really knows how large a share of the failed banks is owned by governments.
Stuff Accountants Like -- As the US tax return deadline approaches, take an inside and humorous look at the professionals who you either love, hate, or whose revenue recognition principles you may blame for the mortgage crisis. Or maybe, perhaps, pity?
Open Secrets - the trouble with Enron
Peter Jackson sues New Line. Over money, naturally. Can 'the little hobbit that could' defeat the mysterious Dark Lordliness of Hollywood's Creative Accountants? Well, it worked for Stan Lee.
The return of Ralph Snart...to the web and to print! This is Marc Hansen's outrageous story of a mild-mannered alcoholic accountant gone completely mental, featuring Dr. Goot (evil scientist and nemesis), Mr. Lizard (thanks to radioactive crickets) and Holly Hornswoggle (evil lab assistant and love interest). It originally ran from 1986 to 1994 and of course there is always the obligatory unofficial site.
Mr. Civil Rights reaches out Other, bigger fish ex-CEOs of companies brought down to earth by major accounting, shall we say, woes, may be keeping quiet, even if they haven't been convicted of anything. But not former HealthSouth exec and would-be platinum girl group-manager Richard M. Scrushy, who not only has flaunted his wealth as of late, but produced a personal web site that plays up his humble Alabama roots and which, in a totally bizarre fashion, links his struggle to the Civil Rights Movement. (Note: The site's all screwed up on Mozilla, designed strictly for IE.)
This week's most buried headline could be a real stinker this week for the Pentagon. Apparently over $1 trillion are missing as well as "dozens of tanks, missiles and planes."
Enron course original documents - University of Chicago. Actg 494: Special topics in Accounting: Accounting and Disclosure After Enron
You know the accounting meme has hit the wall when folk singers start to make songs about WorldCom. Any else got some good links to give people a chuckle about the economy? (Forgive me if I offend, this is my first post)
Screw you worldcom, enron. In Australia we know how to make a loss. AU$11,962,000,000 in fact. One has to wonder how much of this is a "paper loss" or how much of this is "creative accounting for tax purposes". Or just where the hell did the money go?
You've got jail? The SEC is no longer alone in investigating accounting irregularities at AOL Time Warner. Tonight the "world's leading media and entertainment company" confirmed that the U.S. Justice Dept. has opened its own probe. This, one day after President Bush signed the so-called Corporate and Auditing Accountability, Responsibility, and Transparency Act (pdf of HR 3763) (summary). Tonight, however, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, including Senators Patrick Leahy, D-Vt and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa are criticizing the President for trying to weaken the corporate fraud bill before the ink is even dry.
The U.S. Army pays for lapdances. "In addition to the inappropriate purchases, the GAO said more than 1,200 Army employees wrote bad checks to pay their government credit card bills. Last year alone, that cost taxpayers $3.8 million in higher fees and lost rebates." You mean, the government practices bad accounting? Ron Paul points out that the Congress commits the worst accounting fraud of all. But the most important issue of all is, with the government paying for Strip Club tips, gambling, and wine, does this mean that God will no longer bless America?
"The bigger the binge, the longer and more severe the hangover." A short history of accounting scandals and fraudulent bankruptcies that follow bubble economies.
It's VIVENDI scandal time ! :( One more company with "accounting trouble", not your mom and pop shop.
It is XEROX scandal time ! More or less 6B$ "accounting trouble".. they say "just 2B$" like it's monopoly money
How many more accounting scandals to go? A recent show "Bigger than Enron" on Frontline leads me to wonder, "How MUCH bigger than Enron?" Responses from viewers on that website include a number of accountants for big firms that insist that these practices are everyday business in accounting and that we have a lot more of this coming. Are we actually in the middle of the biggest market crash since 1929? What do you think? Just how bad could it get?
Farewell Arthur Andersen - I guess having one corporate basket case is a misfortune but two starts to look like carelessness. With tens of thousands of employees and pensions holders across the world, it's a disaster, for staff, pension holders and clients. Is this tough treatment "a gross abuse of government power" or a fitting reward for crooked practice?
It ain't just Enron -- This kind of pro forma reporting of "profits" is shifty, misleading, and common practice. Should us small investors be worried? Or do I need to be an accountant to know why this isn't a bad thing? And does this mean that there more Enrons out there, ready to implode in a pile of worthless paper?
The most spectacular corporate imposion in decades. Without 9/11, the biggest news story in the past few weeks would have been the cataclysmic end of one of the 90's hottest companies, headed by one of the President's closest supporters, because of fraudulent accounting practices.