The Art of Thinking Clearly

The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli

I will be serially doing abstracts of the marvelous Rolf Dobelli’s book, The Art of Thinking Clearly. I enjoyed the book. I ‘ll do a chapter at a time. I enjoyed the book. I ‘ll do a chapter at a time.

Chapter 1

WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT CEMETERIES: Survivorship Bias

In daily life, because triumph is made more visible than failure, we systematically overestimate our chances of succeeding. As an outsider, we succumb to an illusion, and we overlook how minuscule the probability of success really is. We are victims of Survivorship Bias, which simply means this: people systematically overestimate their chances of success.

We should guard against it by frequently visiting the graves of once-promising projects, investments, and careers. It is a sad walk, but one that should clear one’s mind.

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Nssa boss externalizes $340 million

HARARE, Newsday (May 11, pg 3) National Social Security Authority (NSSA) acting general manager Hashmon Matemera appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Court yesterday charged with externalizing about $340 million during his tenure as BancABC managing director. Matemera (52) was not asked to plead when he appeared before provincial magistrate Vakai Douglas Chikwekwe, who granted him $10 000 bail and remanded the matter to June 15. Allegations against Matemera are that he facilitated the externalization of $332 980 000 belonging to diamond miner Jinan to Botswana, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Dubai and China when he was still head of BancABC three years ago.

Introduction to Fraud and Forensic Audit in Zimbabwe

Introduction to Fraud and Forensic Audit

1 Background

Fraud has always been a major business constraint in Zimbabwe. With the introduction of the multi-currency regime, the problem of fraud has gone beyond what was just a business challenge. Foreigners can now look into Zimbabwe for the much coveted US Dollar.

At 5wh we offer a series of services across the fraud control spectrum – from fraud prevention and detection, through to investigation, evidence collection and litigation support.

2 Definition

The Oxford Dictionary defines “Forensic” simply as, “Of or used in law courts.” Eagle

Forensic auditing is a blend of traditional accounting, auditing, and financial detective work. The emphasis is on the quality of work, as it has to satisfy the exacting demands of the law courts.

3 Investigate first – then act

This is the logical thing to do and in Zimbabwe this is what the law (Labour Relations Act [Chapter 28:01]) requires. If you suspect that your organisation is the target of financial crime you will need fast professional support to help you take action.

©Caleb Mutsumba

Ten CyberSecurity Tips for Small Businesses

Broadband and information technology are powerful factors in small businesses reaching new markets and increasing productivity and efficiency. However, businesses need a cybersecurity strategy to protect their own business, their customers, and their data from growing cybersecurity threats.

cybersecuirity

Here are ten key cybersecurity tips for businesses to protect themselves:

1. Train employees in security principles
Establish basic security practices and policies for employees, such as requiring strong passwords, and establish appropriate Internet use guidelines that detail penalties for violating company cybersecurity policies. Establish rules of behavior describing how to handle and protect customer information and other vital data.

2. Protect information, computers and networks from cyber attacks
Keep clean machines: having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Set antivirus software to run a scan after each update. Install other key software updates as soon as they are available.

3. Provide firewall security for your Internet connection
A firewall is a set of related programs that prevent outsiders from accessing data on a private network. Make sure the operating system’s firewall is enabled or install free firewall software available online. If employees work from home, ensure that their home system(s) are protected by a firewall.

4. Create a mobile device action plan
Mobile devices can create significant security and management challenges, especially if they hold confidential information or can access the corporate network. Require users to password protect their devices, encrypt their data, and install security apps to prevent criminals from stealing information while the phone is on public networks. Be sure to set reporting procedures for lost or stolen equipment.

5. Make backup copies of important business data and information
Regularly backup the data on all computers. Critical data includes word processing documents, electronic spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files, and accounts receivable/payable files. Backup data automatically if possible, or at least weekly and store the copies either offsite or in the cloud.

6. Control physical access to your computers and create user accounts for each employee
Prevent access or use of business computers by unauthorized individuals. Laptops can be particularly easy targets for theft or can be lost, so lock them up when unattended. Make sure a separate user account is created for each employee and require strong passwords. Administrative privileges should only be given to trusted IT staff and key personnel.

7. Secure your Wi-Fi networks
If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace, make sure it is secure, encrypted, and hidden. To hide your Wi-Fi network, set up your wireless access point or router so it does not broadcast the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID). Password protect access to the router.

8. Employ best practices on payment cards
Work with banks or processors to ensure the most trusted and validated tools and anti-fraud services are being used. You may also have additional security obligations pursuant to agreements with your bank or processor. Isolate payment systems from other, less secure programs and don’t use the same computer to process payments and surf the Internet.

9. Limit employee access to data and information, limit authority to install software
Do not provide any one employee with access to all data systems. Employees should only be given access to the specific data systems that they need for their jobs, and should not be able to install any software without permission.

10. Passwords and authentication
Require employees to use unique passwords and change passwords every three months. Consider implementing multi-factor authentication that requires additional information beyond a password to gain entry. Check with your vendors that handle sensitive data, especially financial institutions, to see if they offer multi-factor authentication for your account.

The FCC’s CyberSecurity Hub at http://www.fcc.gov/cyberforsmallbiz has more information, including links to free and low-cost security tools.

TRAFFICKING IN FRAUDULENT MEDICINE

TRAFFICKING IN FRAUDULENT MEDICINE

TRAFFICKING IN FRAUDULENT MEDICINE

Fraudulent medicines pose a considerable public health threat as they can fail to cure, may harm and even kill patients. These threats to public health have led the international community to call for a stronger and more coordinated response. Compounding this public health risk is the fact that the supply chain for medicines operates at a global level, and therefore, a concerted effort at the international level is required to effectively detect and combat the introduction of fraudulent medicines along this supply chain.

The 20th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) adopted resolution 20/6 on fraudulent medicines, otherwise referred to as falsified medicines due to concern about the involvement of organized crime in the trafficking in fraudulent medicines. At the same time, resolution 20/6 highlights the potential utility of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) for which UNODC is the guardian, in re-enforcing international cooperation in the fight against trafficking, through, its provisions, inter alia, on mutual legal assistance, extradition and the seizing, freezing and forfeiture of the instrumentalities and proceeds of crime.

As with other forms of crime, criminal groups use, to their advantage, gaps in legal and regulatory frameworks, weaknesses in capacity and the lack of resources of regulatory, enforcement and criminal justice officials, as well as difficulties in international cooperation. At the same time, the prospect of the comparatively low risk of detection and prosecution in relation to the potential income make the production and trafficking in fraudulent medicines an attractive commodity to criminal groups, who conduct their activities with little regard to the physical and financial detriment, if not the exploitation, of others.

Resolution 20/6 contains nine action points among which paragraph nine requests that UNODC, in cooperation with other United Nations bodies and international organizations, such as the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO/INTERPOL), as well as relevant regional organizations and mechanisms, national regulatory agencies for medicines and, where appropriate, the private sector, civil society organizations and professional associations, assist Member States in building capacity to disrupt and dismantle the organized criminal networks engaged in all stages of the illicit supply chain, in particular distribution and trafficking, to better utilize the experiences, technical expertise and resources of each organization and to create synergies with interested partners.

While focus has been given to the health and regulatory aspect of this problem, it appears that less attention has been given to the issue from a criminal justice perspective. Given its expertise and work to build effective and transparent criminal justice systems and to support states to prevent and combat all forms of organized crime, UNODC can support the fight against the illicit manufacture and trafficking of fraudulent medicines in coordination with other stakeholders.

Additional Information:
(i) Technical Conference of Experts on the Trafficking in Fraudulent Medicines, 14-15 February 2013 in Vienna
(ii) Report on the 20th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ)
(iii) Resolution 20/6: English and French
(iv) Contact UNODC

Source: http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/fraudulentmedicines/introduction.html

The quest for economic freedom in South Africa is proving to be the ANC’s downfall

The quest for economic freedom in South Africa is proving to be the ANC’s downfall

The conventional interpretation of economic freedom in the Western world refers to the freedom individuals have to work, produce, consume and invest in an economy. But in South Africa it is interpreted as the material security of people.

It is this economic freedom that continues to elude many in post-apartheid South Africa. The fruits of economic prosperity have not necessarily trickled down to the broader population.

South Africa is ranked among the top five unequal countries globally with a Gini-co-efficient of 0.63. This is high. The index measures income distribution in households, with 0 representing perfect equality and 1 perfect inequality.

Using the Palma index, which measures the distribution of income ratio between the richest 10% and poorest 40%, South Africa is also highly unequal with a score of 7.5.

A key criticism against inequality measures is that they do not consider the impact that social welfare grants can make on reducing poverty. The Human Development Index shows that, while there has been some improvement, life expectancy is only 61 years and the average years children spend at school is ten.

South Africa’s welfare system has been expanded. But the government led by the African National Congress (ANC) is accused of giving people social grants instead of true economic freedom.

At the birth of the South African democracy in 1994 the idea of freedom was intimately linked to that of transformation, not just politically, but socially and economically. Democracy implied not just changing the state. It entailed a more inclusive ownership of the economy, with all citizens sharing in the country’s wealth.

This was evident in many ANC discussion documents, including its “Ready to Govern” policy guidelines for a democratic South Africa released in 1992. The first step to transformation was to secure political power. This would put the ANC in a better position to advance social and economic change.

In conceptualizing the role of the state, the ANC envisaged that it would remain the gatekeeper and driver of the transformation project. In its self-conceptualization, the ANC would continue to fight for the complete liberation of people.

After political power was seized, the liberator (as in the ANC) would then be charged with leading the complete socio-economic rebirth of society through transferring wealth from the rich to the poor. This would be done through a developmental state, which would seek to actively guide economic development to meet the needs of the people.

What is interesting is the sense of entitlement to govern that emerges. The liberator party, through state capture and cadre deployment, would advance the democratic aspirations of its people to wealth, prosperity and economic freedom. This of course implied a moral and ethical elite that carried the best of the people at heart.

Economic transformation of unequal societies in a democratizing context is difficult. It requires a creative mix of policy options underpinned by a commitment to social justice.

Two out of 54 African states have successfully pursued a developmental agenda while maintaining a degree of democratic legitimacy: Mauritius and Botswana. For a democracy to endure, the people must see it as legitimate and to be delivering the promised goods.

As South Africa enters its third decade of democracy, the socio-political environment is becoming increasingly volatile as inequality deepens. The country has high unemployment rates, and protests against a lack of basic services are an almost a daily occurrence. Business confidence is slowly declining in the midst of sluggish economic growth. We also cannot ignore the rise of systemic state corruption. And the failures of the education system could condemn future generations to a life of poverty and hardship.

In response, the ANC has sought to undermine institutions that should hold it accountable. These include the public protector and the the media. It has blamed history for the country’s economic woes. It has also undermined the doctrine of separation of powers and used cadre deployment to entrench patronage for state capture.

Democratic stability is being undermined through unethical actions, endemic corruption, and a lack of delivery on key socio-economic issues. This is exacerbated if a sense of entitlement to govern emerges within liberator parties. They eventually see themselves as accountable to the political party and not the people. They begin to believe that the liberator will govern forever.

Because the ability of people to hold the liberator accountable diminishes, discontent finds expression in violent and destructive service delivery protests. People opt out of the formal mechanisms of participation, such as elections. A little less than half of South Africa’s voting age population now do not participate in elections. Support for the ANC among the voting age population has declined to 35%.

In the midst of South Africa’s incomplete liberation because of a failure to make good on the promise of economic freedom, a mediocre track record of delivery on key socioeconomic issues and growing political volatility, the question that emerges is whether the liberator will relinquish power if the people will it so.

South Africa will hold local government elections next year. It seems that the ANC will either lose municipalities or win with smaller margins, thus reducing its dominance of municipal councils. Will the party respect the voice of the people, even when a vote is cast for another political party?

Inequality creates breeding grounds for revolt and instability, even against liberators. Societies only remain patient for so long before they start demanding the promised fruits of democracy and freedom. This can either be through the ballot box or through outright revolt. For South Africa, the 2016 municipal elections may very well give the country a glimpse into what extent the will of the people is indeed respected.

Joleen Steyn Kotze Associate Professor, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

Source: Quartz Africa

El Niño Warning

I’ve been hearing a lot about El Niño of late, as businesses, especially in the resources sector, are concerned about the impact of the climate phenomenon. And for good reason: although last year’s El Niño-warnings turned out to be a false alarm, previous events have destroyed infrastructure and crops, disrupted trade and water supply, or undermined mining and hydro-electricity production.

El Niño remains difficult to predict, yet as authorities in Peru are taking fresh measures to respond to a strong El Niño, we are getting a better idea of what to expect this year. It is no longer a matter of “if”, but rather of how bad. The World Meteorological Organization in September talked of a mature El Niño in the Pacific Ocean, potentially among the four strongest ones since 1950. Although the worst weather should occur towards the end of this year, Australia, India and Indonesia are already experiencing droughts. Meteorologists believe there is a 95% chance that El Niño will last throughout the first quarter of 2016.

There will be wide-ranging impacts in vulnerable economies, but they are likely to include smaller harvests. Although the EIU forecast a modest rise in global food prices in 2016, after four years of decline, I do not expect a major turnaround. Low energy costs, ample stocks and moderating demand growth in emerging markets should keep a lid on prices.

How do you see El Niño affecting your business sector and your country’s economy? Let me know via Twitter @Baptist_Simon or via email on simonjbaptist@eiu.com.

Best regards,

Simon Baptist
Chief Economist