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Halting State by Charles Stross
augmented reality, Boris Johnson, call centre, forensic accounting, game design, Google Earth, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, impulse control, indoor plumbing, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the steam engine, lifelogging, Necker cube, Potemkin village, RFID, Schrödinger's Cat, Vernor Vinge, zero day
“Everyone else is focussing on HA’s business-level organization, they dumped the gaming stuff on me, and I’m not really an expert.” She gives a little self-deprecating laugh that raises the temperature back above zero. “So I asked for a native guide.” Ah. That explains it. Well, no it doesn’t, you realize, but it goes at least a third of the way towards it. “What do you do?” you ask her. “I’m a forensic accountant.” She pulls that prim, mousy, librarian face again as she taps a bunch of papers in her folio into line. “Oh. Well, ever done any gaming?” There’s always a chance. Some of the deadliest GMs you ever ran into back in your table-top days were accountancy clerks by day. “Not that kind. Why, do you think…?” You glance at the blank white walls of the conference room. Perfect. “Now’s your chance.
VISITOR 2 continues to make with the long stare, but VISITOR 1 caves. “Um, yeah, we are. She’s the organ grinder, I’m just the performing monkey.” He mimes shaking a hat. VISITOR 2 elbows him in the ribs, sharply. “No, you’re a dancing bear. Do try to get the right species!” She faces you: “I’m sorry we seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot. I’m Elaine Barnaby, and yes, I’m from Dietrich-Brunner—I’m a forensic accountant. Jack here is a game-development consultant, and he’s acting as my guide. Now, what can we do for you, Sergeant?” “You can help yourselves to a coffee, then maybe tell me why Marcus Hackman might not want people such as yourselves, um, crawling around on his turf?” She raises an eyebrow. “Ah, that is an interesting turn of phrase. His?” Good, that’s got her attention. “Depends. What are you doing here?
“Sure, but nobody would—” “Tell them it’s to register an insurance claim,” she interrupts, raising her voice. Someone’s been taking assertiveness classes, you realize. “That Hayek Associates are trying to get the items back, but will be unable to return unclaimed items.” “But they’ll claim all sorts of shit that they never had!” “Really?” She gives Couper a withering look: “I’d never have guessed. Poor innocent me, nobody told me that people lie while I was studying for my master’s in forensic accountancy…” “But what use is it?” Couper looks upset, more than anything: “It doesn’t make sense!” “It’s simple enough. Most people will tell the truth, especially when we tell them we just want to know their five top items, so we can verify them against our database.” “But there isn’t a database—” Couper stops dead. Elaine nods, smiling a little smile. “But they don’t know that, do they?” “Oh.
Confidence Game: How a Hedge Fund Manager Called Wall Street's Bluff by Christine S. Richard
activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Blythe Masters, buy and hold, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, corporate raider, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, diversification, Donald Trump, family office, financial innovation, fixed income, forensic accounting, glass ceiling, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, money market fund, moral hazard, old-boy network, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, short selling, statistical model, white flight, zero-sum game
To bolster his case, he set out to find a well-regarded accountant to support his arguments and lessen the skepticism he had encountered as a short seller. His first choice was Lynn Turner, the former SEC chief accountant who had recently joined the forensic accounting firm Kroll, Zolfo, Cooper as a senior adviser. Turner, who couldn’t take on the assignment because it involved appearing before the SEC too soon after leaving the agency, recommended Roger Siefert, another accountant with the firm. Ackman decided Siefert was the right choice after he read a report Siefert worked on as part of a team of court-appointed examiners in the bankruptcy of Spiegel, a Chicago-based mail-order company. Ackman found it to be a brilliant piece of forensic accounting and research that described how a 100-year-old company collapsed under the weight of subprime lending. Under the heading of “accounting irregularities,” the examiner’s report described how Spiegel covered up its surging delinquency rates on its credit cards.
Marty Peretz, the New Republic editor-in-chief and Ackman’s longtime friend and investor, offered to write to SEC Chairman William Donaldson, with whom he was friendly. “Dear Bill, I am writing to bring to your attention a company that is deserving of substantial SEC scrutiny that to date has appeared to escape the SEC’s normally careful review process,” Peretz wrote in a July 2004 letter to Donaldson. Peretz described Ackman’s two-year effort to publicize problems at MBIA, including the initial report, the hiring of forensic accounting experts, Ackman and Siefert’s 33-page letter to the SEC, and the five-hour presentation to a group of SEC officials in February 2004. “It is Mr. Ackman’s counsel’s view that the SEC has not pursued Mr. Ackman’s and [accounting firm] Kroll’s allegations seriously, and may have dropped the matter entirely,” Peretz wrote. He continued: Ackman’s research on Farmer Mac led to a GAO report recommending various changes to improve the company’s liquidity, reduce its off-balance-sheet risk, and protect U.S. taxpayers from loss.
The day after their return appearance at the SEC, Siefert got a call from the SEC. They wanted to meet with the two accountants again, this time without Ackman. “They might have thought we were suffering from Patty Hearst syndrome,” Siefert jokes, referring to the kidnapped newspaper heiress’s apparent loyalty to her captors and willingness to break the law for them. Essentially, the SEC wanted to know whether the forensic accountants would tell the same story without Ackman present. They did. ON NOVEMBER 18, 2004, MBIA announced that it had received subpoenas from the SEC and the New York attorney general’s office. Within a few days, MBIA clarified that regulators wanted to know more about the AHERF reinsurance deal. In all the hours of testimony Ackman gave at the attorney general’s office and at the SEC, he was asked almost nothing about his statement in the Gotham report that the AHERF transaction “was a loss-deferral, earnings-smoothing device.”
Queens Reigns Supreme: Fat Cat, 50 Cent, and the Rise of the Hip Hop Hustler by Ethan Brown
[laughs] If I was never doing any crime why the fuck am I gonna make millions upon millions of dollars and then say, ‘OK, let’s move some coke!’ It don’t make no sense. The government will figure that out.” But the feds weren’t looking at cocaine dealing—at least on Irv’s part—they were focusing on money laundering. Soon after the forensic accounting in late 2003 that found nothing inappropriate in The Inc.’s books, the feds allegedly found evidence that the Lorenzos were laundering ’Preme’s cash through two side companies they’d created, IG (“Irv Gotti”) Records, Inc., and MI (“Murder Inc.”) Records, Inc. “After the forensic accountant looked at Murder Inc., LLC, which is his partner company with Def Jam, we were confident that Irv was not engaged in money laundering,” says a source at the Universal Music Group, “but then we were told by the feds about the side companies. Irv was doing something on the side and not telling anybody.”
Indeed, instead of making The Inc. seem less threatening, the move placed the company in the tradition of Death Row, which changed its name to Tha Row after its profile became too notorious. If the Lorenzos thought The Inc.’s cosmetic changes could turn the labels fortunes around or stave off a federal indictment, they were dreadfully naïve. The Lorenzos’ misguided optimism was enhanced after receiving a clean bill of health from a forensic accountant they’d hired to scrutinize their finances for improprieties. The accountant’s report supported many of the Lorenzos’ primary contentions—namely, that the Universal Music Group, not ’Preme, gave Murder Inc. its seed money—and, as a result, they became convinced that the feds would never indict them. Chris Lorenzo even became combative during his interviews with the FBI that fall. “Why is that you have to become so personal?”
The fall of 2003: Ethan Brown, “Hip-Hop Beef: Is It Going Too Far,” New York magazine, December 1, 2003. 16i. The pressure on the Lorenzo brothers: Lola Ogunnaike, “Record Label Drops Murder, Keeps Inc.,” The New York Times, December 4, 2003. 16j. The Lorenzos’ misguided optimism: Interview with Chris Lorenzo. 17. Supreme paid his debt: Nolan Strong, “Lyor Cohen Speaks on Gotti, Feds, JMJ,” allhiphop.com, March 22, 2003. 18. I can see: Interview with Irv “Gotti” Lorenzo. 19. After the forensic accountant: Interview with Universal Music Group executive, February 2005. 19a. With the evidence: United States of America v. Cynthia Brent, also known as “Cynthia Carr.” 19b. Against a backdrop: United States of America v. Kenneth McGriff, also known as “Supreme.” 19c. As a handcuffed Irv: Jeff Leeds, “Hip-Hop Producer Surrenders in Money Laundering Case,” The New York Times, January 27, 2005. 19d.
No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller by Harry Markopolos
backtesting, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, buy and hold, call centre, centralized clearinghouse, correlation coefficient, diversified portfolio, Edward Thorp, Emanuel Derman, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, family office, financial thriller, fixed income, forensic accounting, high net worth, index card, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, offshore financial centre, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, regulatory arbitrage, Renaissance Technologies, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, rolodex, Sharpe ratio, statistical arbitrage, too big to fail, transaction costs, your tax dollars at work
It meant there was almost no relationship between those stocks and the entire index. I was so startled that the legendary Bernie Madoff was running a hedge fund that supposedly produced these crazy numbers that I didn’t trust my math. Maybe I’m wrong, I figured. Maybe I’m missing something. I asked Neil to check my numbers. If I’d made an obvious mistake, I was confident he would find it. Neil went through my math with the precision of a forensic accountant. If I’d made any mistakes, he decided, he couldn’t find them. By this time I had been working in the financial industry for 13 years and had built up a reasonably large network of people I knew and respected. In this situation I turned to a man named Dan DiBartolomeo, who had been my advanced quant teacher. Dan is the founder of Northfield Information Services, a collection of math whizzes who provide sophisticated analytical and statistical risk management tools to portfolio managers.
That figures, I thought as I trudged through the storm carrying all my papers. I loved the Venus. My family and I spent so much time there that it was almost like our second kitchen. It’s owned and run by the Drosos family, and they knew me well enough to consider me the local eccentric. I was the guy who had been coming in for years telling bad Greek jokes and sitting at a table reading forensic accounting books. I rushed into the restaurant disheveled, dripping wet, and admittedly very agitated. There was a television set hanging above the bar, and a photo of Bernie Madoff was on the screen. “Elaine,” I said, “Elaine, that’s my case. That’s what I’ve been working on. I’m the whistleblower. Do you have a fax machine? I have to get this to the Wall Street Journal and I don’t want the wrong people to find out about it.”
Kotz’s people didn’t challenge my answers; they were probing to find out why the SEC had failed, who was responsible, and what should be done to make certain that nothing like this ever happened again. I began to feel like we shared common objectives. I went through my red flags with them. They had a whiteboard in the room, and several times I got up and showed them the math. The inspector general brought in a camera and took pictures of each of my formulas, explaining that they intended to hire a forensic accounting firm to review my math for accuracy. That seemed like the best way to handle it. At one point late in the morning, Phil Michael took the unusual step of asking Kotz if he could step in and take over the questioning. He said, “I want to run by some points that we’re not hitting.” Phil had spent decades involved in criminal investigations and he knew the entire story, so he made sure we got out the pertinent information.
Keeping at It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government by Paul Volcker, Christine Harper
anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, business cycle, central bank independence, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, Donald Trump, fiat currency, financial innovation, fixed income, floating exchange rates, forensic accounting, full employment, global reserve currency, income per capita, inflation targeting, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, margin call, money market fund, Nixon shock, Paul Samuelson, price stability, quantitative easing, reserve currency, Right to Buy, risk-adjusted returns, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, secular stagnation, Sharpe ratio, Silicon Valley, special drawing rights, too big to fail, traveling salesman, urban planning
Somehow, I’ve been involved in all three areas. In each I’ve seen a degree of erosion in the trust that should be at the heart of the auditing profession, its very raison d’être. I respect many of the leaders in the field, both in the private sector and certainly in the US Government Accountability Office (the GAO). I came to value the forensic accountants who played an important role investigating the claims on Swiss banks by Holocaust victims and corruption in the UN’s Oil-for-Food program. In both, the internationally respected forensic accountant Frank Hydoski and his colleagues demonstrated what experience and technical skills can produce in terms of hard evidence. Unfortunately, in other areas of accounting there have been too many grounds for skepticism and concern, too many incentives to cut corners, too many conflicts of interest.
(Office of Management and Budget, table 14.2, “Total Government Expenditures 1948–2017”). Epilogue. Credit Where Credit Is Due an earlier graduate: Dewey was, in fact, the first PhD in public administration from the Littauer school. See Federal Reserve, https://www.federal reservehistory.org/people/j_dewey_daane. INDEX Accenture, 198 accounting democracy/accountability and, 202 forensic accountants, 193 GAO and, 193, 229, 230 generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), 194, 196 trust and, 193 accounting standards, international Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and, 193–194, 196, 197 Aichi, Kiichi, 80 Al-Waleed, Sheikh, 155 American Council on Germany, 42 American International Group Inc. (AIG), 213n Andersen, Arthur, 198, 199 Anderson, Roger, 126 Angell, Wayne, 142 Annan, Kofi, 181, 183, 186, 187 Argentina, 135, 136–137 Arthur Andersen accounting firm Accenture/split and, 198 consulting vs. auditing, 198–199 Enron and, 197, 198–200 history, 198 Justice Department indictment/results, 199–200 reputation (past), 198 SEC suit/Waste Management Inc., 198 Volcker and, xv, 198–199 Ash Council, 67 Asian monetary crisis (1990s), 28 Atlantic City, beauty pageant and, 6–7 auditing firms, 200–201.
See savings and loans (S&Ls) Tilghman, Shirley, 160–161 Tobin, James, 23 too-big-to-fail issue Continental Illinois and, 128 Great Recession (2008) and, 128, 213–214 Trade Expansion Act (1962), 73 Traveler’s Company, 204, 205 Treasury “Accord, the” and, ix, 31, 38 Federal Reserve accounts and, 35, 35n Federal Reserve independence and, ix, 31, 37, 38 Latin American debt crisis and, 131, 132–133, 134, 135 See also Quadriad; specific individuals; specific monetary policies Treasury (Nixon administration) fixed rate exchange/end and, 61–79 team/Democrats on team, 60, 61 Treasury/Volcker Federal Financing Bank/securities, 88–89 interest equalization tax/IRS and, 50 interventions leading to more interventions and, 50 move/home and, 46 offer, x, 26 position/work, x, xi, 46, 50, 51, 52–53, 54–55 Treasury/Volcker (return) auctions/debt securities, 88 beginnings, 60 Camp David meetings (1971), 71–74 fixed exchange rates and, 61–62, 63–67, 68, 69–74 international monetary policies, 59–60, 61–62, 63–67, 68, 69–79 leaving, 90 Nixon and, 61 reforms/debt securities, 88–89 responsibilities, 60 work, 58, 59 “Triffin dilemma,” 48, 54, 64, 65, 87 Triffin, Robert, 48–49 Trilateral Commission creation/beginnings, 171 David Rockefeller and, 57, 58n founding, 57 Japan and, 171, 172 Volcker and, 57, 58n, 171–172 Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), 209, 233 Truman, Harry, 20, 25, 238 Truman, Ted, 132, 243 Trump, Donald, 215, 234–235 trust in government, xvi, 2–3, 4, 221, 235–236, 245 Tweedie, David, Sir, 194, 196, 200 Tyco International, 200 United Nations Iraqi Oil-for-Food program, United Nations Security Council and, 182 United Nations Iraqi Oil-for-Food program investigation Australian Wheat Board and, 185 Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and, 184 countries cooperating/not cooperating, 184–185 findings/recommendations, 186–187 forensic accountants and, 193 Independent Inquiry (Volcker) Committee, 183–188 India/Singh and, 185 Kofi Annan and, 181, 183, 186, 187 Kojo Annan and, 186 secrecy laws and, 184 team members, 182–188 team reunion (2018), 187–188 United Nations Security Council and, 183 US Congress and, 185–186 Volcker and, xv, 182–188 US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), 194, 196 US Government Accountability Office (GAO), 193 Vagelos, Roy, 198 Van Gerven, Walter, 190 Vasisht, Gaurav, 246 Vassar College, 6 Venezuela, 136 Vereker, John, Sir, 189–190 Vietnam War, 54, 55, 240 Volcker, Adolf, 9 Volcker Alliance, 245–246 creation, xvi, 2, 239, 242, 245 Fed supervision and, 234 governance of United States and, 235–236, 239 government trust and, 233–234, 245 mission, xvi, 2, 4, 245 public service education and, 159 Volcker, Alma, 6, 11, 12–13, 18, 240 Volcker, Barbara, ix, xv, 30, 43, 91, 116, 123, 143 health issues, 91, 103, 116, 152, 156, 162, 163, 164 son’s education and, 91, 163 Volcker, Barbara/Paul car and, 52n financial squeeze and, 116, 152 friends in Washington, DC, 91 grandchildren, 162, 163 living arrangements/Fed chairman, 103, 104 moves/homes, ix, x, 30, 40, 46, 56n, 93, 95, 156 reappointment to Federal Reserve/deal and, 116–117 Volcker family/childhood finances and, 12 fishing/New Jersey lake, 11 heights, 5–6, 10, 10n parental educational responsibilities, 13 See also specific individuals “Volcker Group,” 64, 67, 83, 87 Volcker, Janice, ix, 40, 76, 91, 104, 162, 163, 164 Volcker, Jimmy, ix, 40, 91, 103, 114–115 Volcker, Louise, 6, 9–10, 26–27 Volcker, Paul, Jr., 40, 68 fishing and, 11, 94, 111n, 117, 126, 132, 164–165, 225, 243 golf and, 164 government pension and, 26, 95 offers after leaving Treasury (1974), 93–94 offers following Fed, 152–153 political parties and, 30, 210 procrastination and, 15, 18, 22, 40, 153 smoking and, 163–164, 165 Volcker, Paul, Jr.
Humble Pi: A Comedy of Maths Errors by Matt Parker
8-hour work day, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, bitcoin, British Empire, Brownian motion, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, Flash crash, forensic accounting, game design, High speed trading, Julian Assange, millennium bug, Minecraft, obamacare, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, publication bias, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, selection bias, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Therac-25, value at risk, WikiLeaks, Y2K
This wasn’t a quirk of their prices: the owner seemingly liked the number 40. As always, humans are terrible at being random. And it turns out restaurants are not very good at cooking books. Lead digits on the left; final two digits on the right. Benford’s Law also applies when looking at the first two digits of numbers, and this is one of the things forensic accountants look for. It’s hard to get real-world examples of this being used to spot tax fraud, and all the forensic accountants I’ve ever met have refused to be named or speak on the record. But there is some old data we can look at. Mark Nigrini is an associate professor at the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics and he analysed a dataset of 157,518 taxpayer records from 1978 which the Internal Revenue Service had anonymized and released.
Just like teenagers trying to cheat on their boring homework is what we should expect. Not that adults are very different. As the saying goes, there are only three things certain in life: death, taxes and people trying to cheat on their taxes. Fudging a tax return can require making up some random numbers to look like real financial transactions. And instead of a teacher checking homework, there are ‘forensic accountants’ going through tax returns to look for the tell-tale signs of fake data. If financial fraud is not done randomly enough, it is easy to spot. There is a standard financial data check which involves looking at the first few digits of all available transactions and seeing if any are more or less frequent than expected. Deviations from the expected frequency do not necessarily mean something nefarious is going on, but where there are too many transactions to all be checked manually, the unusual ones are a good starting point.
Bean Counters: The Triumph of the Accountants and How They Broke Capitalism by Richard Brooks
accounting loophole / creative accounting, asset-backed security, banking crisis, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, blockchain, BRICs, British Empire, business process, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, corporate raider, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Strachan, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, energy security, Etonian, eurozone crisis, financial deregulation, forensic accounting, Frederick Winslow Taylor, G4S, intangible asset, Internet of things, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, low cost airline, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, principal–agent problem, profit motive, race to the bottom, railway mania, regulatory arbitrage, risk/return, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, supply-chain management, The Chicago School, too big to fail, transaction costs, transfer pricing, Upton Sinclair, WikiLeaks
Two of its other three executive directors, covering ‘corporate governance and reporting’ and ‘audit’, are accountants from KPMG and PwC, while Big Four veterans chair other committees supporting their work.55 More important perhaps is the regulator’s lack of firepower. In 2016/17, the FRC’s total budget was £33m, and it spent just £4m on ‘enforcement’.56 Even after a recent recruitment drive, its enforcement division contains just 30 staff (mostly lawyers and forensic accountants).57 Towards the end of 2017, it had only 24 cases under investigation, covering almost a decade of widespread accounting malpractice. It routinely turned down high-value apparent accounting failures for investigation as not meeting the FRC’s ‘public interest’ threshold. Yet when I talked to Stephen Haddrill in 2017, he told me that he did not consider his organization’s enforcement effort to be under-resourced.
It did, though, match the FRC’s response to the 2008 financial crisis, which had amounted to investigating just one major banking failure – and then only after Parliament had forced it to.58 Even when the regulator achieves some success, it doesn’t capitalize on it. In 2017, the FRC fined PwC £5.1m for misconduct in the audit of RSM Tenon, a dubious accountancy company that had gone bust four years earlier. Yet rather than retaining the funds to seriously bolster its investigatory efforts – perhaps by recruiting more forensic accountants – the regulator handed the millions to the bean counters’ own professional body, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), ‘in recognition of their funding of FRC cases’.59 The ICAEW then set about spending the money on training, which they should have been doing anyway. Paying for investigations into their own conduct and receiving the income from any fines, the bean counters enjoy one of the cosiest disciplinary systems around.
In 2011, when chair of lobbying group CityUK, he wrote to the government protesting against EU plans to prevent auditors from performing consultancy work. Stephen Haddrill is formerly of the Department of Trade and Industry. The FRC directors from KPMG and PwC are Paul George and Melanie McLaren. 56. FRC annual report 2016/17. 57. Information supplied by FRC to author, October 2017. The 30 staff were: 13 lawyers, 11 forensic accountants, 5 support staff, 1 PA. The FRC’s budget in 2017, for all its work going beyond investigations into standard-setting and similar duties covering the actuarial profession, was £36m. The Big Four’s total fees were around £10bn. 58. Details of board members and figures available from FRC website, https://www.frc.org.uk/Home.aspx. 59. Explained to author by FRC in email, 18 September 2017. 60.
How to Predict the Unpredictable by William Poundstone
accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, Bernie Madoff, Brownian motion, business cycle, butter production in bangladesh, buy and hold, buy low sell high, call centre, centre right, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Edward Thorp, Firefox, fixed income, forensic accounting, high net worth, index card, index fund, John von Neumann, market bubble, money market fund, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, random walk, Richard Thaler, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rubik’s Cube, statistical model, Steven Pinker, transaction costs
., Bradley P. Carlin, and Jonathan M. Alexander (2008). “Contrarian Strategies for NCAA Tournament Pools: A Cure for March Madness?” Chance 21, 39–46. Nigrini, Mark J. (1993). “Can Benford’s Law Be Used in Forensic Accounting?” Balance Sheet, Jun. 1993, 7–8. ——— (1996). “A Taxpayer Compliance Application of Benford’s Law.” Journal of the American Taxation Association 18, 72–91. ——— (2005). “An Assessment of the Change in the Incidence of Earnings Management Around the Enron-Andersen Episode.” Review of Accounting and Finance 4, 92–110. ——— (2012). Benford’s Law: Applications for Forensic Accounting, Auditing, and Fraud Detection. New York: Wiley. Nocera, Joseph (2005). “$100 Billion in the Hands of a Computer.” New York Times, Nov. 20, 2005. Nocera, Joe (2012). “My Faith-Based Retirement.” New York Times, Apr. 27, 2012.
Quantitative Value: A Practitioner's Guide to Automating Intelligent Investment and Eliminating Behavioral Errors by Wesley R. Gray, Tobias E. Carlisle
activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, asset allocation, Atul Gawande, backtesting, beat the dealer, Black Swan, business cycle, butter production in bangladesh, buy and hold, capital asset pricing model, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, compound rate of return, corporate governance, correlation coefficient, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, discounted cash flows, Edward Thorp, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, forensic accounting, hindsight bias, intangible asset, Louis Bachelier, p-value, passive investing, performance metric, quantitative hedge fund, random walk, Richard Thaler, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, shareholder value, Sharpe ratio, short selling, statistical model, survivorship bias, systematic trading, The Myth of the Rational Market, time value of money, transaction costs
PREDICTING PROBMs Accruals are not the only way to manipulate financial statements. For a more holistic view on manipulation, we need to dig deeper into the academic literature. Dr. Messod Beneish, an accounting professor at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, outlined a quantitative approach to detecting financial statement manipulation in his 1999 paper “The Detection of Earnings Manipulation.”11 He based his model on forensic accounting principles, calling it the “probability of manipulation,” or “PROBM” model. Despite the sophisticated statistical procedures used by Beneish, his research is easy to understand. First, he collated a sample of known earnings manipulators. Then he identified their distinguishing characteristics and used those characteristics to create a model for detecting manipulation. Simple. The result was the PROBM model.
Thomakos, and Tao Wang, “Information in Balance Sheets for Future Stock Returns: Evidence from Net Operating Assets (June 20, 2011).” International Review of Financial Analysis 20 (2011): 269–282. Available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=937361. 11. M. D. Beneish, “The Detection of Earnings Manipulation.” Financial Analysts Journal (September/October 1999): 24–36. 12. Messod Daniel Beneish, Craig Nichols, and Charles M. C. Lee, “To Catch a Thief: Can Forensic Accounting Help Predict Stock Returns? (July 27, 2011).” Available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1903593 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1903593. 13. The NORMDIST function in Excel can be used to perform the transformation of a PROBM score into a more interpretable PMAN, or probability of manipulation score. 14. Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron (Mountain View, CA: Portfolio Hardcover, 2003). 15.
The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi
banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, butterfly effect, buy and hold, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, Corrections Corporation of America, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Edward Snowden, ending welfare as we know it, fixed income, forensic accounting, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, illegal immigration, information retrieval, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, naked short selling, offshore financial centre, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, regulatory arbitrage, short selling, telemarketer, too big to fail, War on Poverty
It would later come out that Rekuc forgot to file his own federal tax returns for four consecutive years, and he would be convicted of that offense in 2010, but nobody knew about it at the time. Instead, for much of the mid-2000s Rekuc played the part of high-powered international forensic accountant, and it was he, in conjunction with Contogouris, who helped craft the specifics of Contogouris’s central theory, that Fairfax was the next Enron. In fact, Contogouris in the summer of 2005 managed to get an audience with the FBI and dragged Rekuc along with him, presenting him as an expert forensic accountant who had done a detailed analysis of Fairfax and discovered a sizable fraud. Years later Rekuc in a deposition would cheerfully admit that he wasn’t a forensic accountant, hadn’t done a forensic examination of Fairfax, and in fact had discovered no evidence of fraud at Fairfax or at Crum & Forster when he met with the FBI.
The Teeth of the Tiger by Tom Clancy
Jack nearly snarled, but there was only one way to accomplish this task, and it was his job, wasn't it? First, he tried to see if his program could shortcut the process. Nope. Fourth-grade arithmetic with a nose attached. What fun. At least by the time he finished, he'd probably be better at entering numbers into the numeric keypad on the right side of the keyboard. There was something to look forward to! Why didn't The Campus employ some forensic accountants? They turned off Route 2 onto a dirt road that wound its way north. The road had seen a good deal of use, some of it recent, judging by the tracks. The general area was somewhat mountainous. The real peaks of the Rocky Mountain chain were off to the west, far enough away that he couldn't see them, but the air was thinner here than he was accustomed to, and it would be warm walking. He wondered how far that would be, and how close they were to the U.S. border.
"I put him on a young Saudi living in London, name of Uda bin Sali-money changer for his family's interests. The Brits have a loose tail on him because he called somebody they found interesting once." "And?" "And Junior has found a couple of hundred thousand pounds that can't be accounted for." "How solid is that?" Bell asked. "We'll have to put a regular on it, but, you know this kid's got the right sort of nose." "Dave Cunningham, maybe?" A forensic accountant, he'd joined The Campus out of the Department of Justice, Organized Crime Division. Pushing sixty, Dave had a legendary nose for numbers. The trading department at The Campus mainly used him for "conventional" duties. He could have done very well on Wall Street, but he'd just loved bagging bad guys for a living. At The Campus, he could pursue that avocation well past government retirement rules.
"I haven't checked yet, but if there is, then he was ordered to do it by his friend, and then they met so that he could confirm it over a pint of John Smith's Bitter." "You're making a leap of imagination. We try to avoid that here," Wills cautioned. "I know," Junior growled. It was time to check out the previous day's money-moving. "Oh, you're to be meeting somebody new today." "Who's that?" "Dave Cunningham. Forensic accountant, used to work for Justice-organized-crime stuff. He's pretty good at spotting financial irregularities." "Does he think I found something interesting?" Jack asked with hope in his voice. "We'll see when he gets here-after lunch. He's probably looking over your stuff right now." "Okay," Jack responded. Maybe he'd caught the scent of something. Maybe this job really did have an element of excitement to it.
Walk Away by Douglas E. French
business cycle, Elliott wave, forensic accounting, full employment, Home mortgage interest deduction, loss aversion, McMansion, mental accounting, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, negative equity, New Journalism, Own Your Own Home, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, the market place, transaction costs, unbiased observer, wealth creators
Two dark hair and brown eyes men come forward and state: Judge, we both slept with this woman during the time she claimed to be pregnant. Now, 3 different men have potential paternity. NOW, THE ONLY WAY you can determine who the father (holder in due course) is to take blood samples (accounting, servicing, custody, investor reports and data) from EACH MAN (servicer/transferee, etc.) to see whose DNA it was and all the others to determine the dad and who owes child support. Unless you do the DNA (forensic accounting analysis of all docs and records), it doesn’t matter what the bank lawyers or servicers say really transpired here! Without seeing where that NOTE (not mortgage) came on and off anyone’s books; how it was endorsed and when; who has possession and custody and who negotiated the note and PAID for it, you’ll never be able to answer the age old question, “WHO’S YOUR DADDY?” The New York Times’s Gretchen Morgenson reported in October 2010 that in Florida it was standard practice to destroy original notes when the loan file was converted to an electronic one, “to avoid confusion.”
Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World by Tom Wright, Bradley Hope
Asian financial crisis, Bernie Madoff, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, corporate social responsibility, Credit Default Swap, Donald Trump, failed state, family office, forensic accounting, Frank Gehry, high net worth, Nick Leeson, offshore financial centre, Ponzi scheme, Right to Buy, risk tolerance, Snapchat, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund
Cast of Characters The Low Family Low Taek Jho, “Jho Low” Low Taek Szen, “Szen Low,” his older brother Low May-Lin, his older sister Goh Gaik Ewe, his mother Low Hock Peng, “Larry Low,” his father Jesselynn Chuan Teik Ying, Jho Low’s girlfriend Low’s Associates Jasmine Loo Ai Swan, legal counsel at 1Malaysia Development, or 1MDB, a Malaysian state investment fund Casey Tang Keng Chee, 1MDB’s executive director Seet Li Lin, Wharton friend and vice president of Jynwel Capital, Low’s Hong Kong firm Eric Tan, “Fat Eric,” party boy and Low associate Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, 1MDB’s investment director Hamad Al Wazzan, Kuwaiti friend Malaysia Najib Razak, Malaysia’s prime minister Rosmah Mansor, Najib’s wife Riza Aziz, Rosmah’s son by an earlier marriage; cofounder of Red Granite Pictures Mahathir Mohamad, former prime minister and Najib nemesis Anwar Ibrahim, opposition leader Goldman Sachs Timothy Leissner, chairman, Southeast Asia Andrea Vella, head of Goldman’s structured finance business in Asia; later cohead of investment banking, Asia Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive Gary Cohn, president PetroSaudi International Prince Turki Bin Abdullah Al Saud, cofounder Tarek Obaid, cofounder and chief executive officer Nawaf Obaid, Tarek’s brother Patrick Mahony, chief investment officer Xavier Justo, head of London office Abu Dhabi Khadem Al Qubaisi, managing director, IPIC Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE ambassador to the United States Mohamed Badawy Al Husseiny, chief executive, Aabar Investments Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, brother of Sheikh Mohammed and chairman of IPIC Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, chief executive of Mubadala Development BSI Hanspeter Brunner, chief executive, Asia Yak Yew Chee, chief relationship banker for Jho Low and 1MDB Yeo Jiawei, a wealth management banker who leaves to work for Jho Low Kevin Swampillai, head of wealth management AmBank Cheah Tek Kuang, chief executive Joanna Yu, banker handling Prime Minister Najib Razak’s accounts Falcon Bank Eduardo Leemann, chief executive Hollywood/Entertainment Joey McFarland, friend of Low’s; cofounder of Red Granite Pictures Paris Hilton, socialite Leonardo DiCaprio, actor Jamie Foxx, actor, musician Kasseem Dean, “Swizz Beatz,” husband of Alicia Keys, music producer Busta Rhymes, musician Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss, owners of the Strategic Hospitality Group nightclub empire Miranda Kerr, model Prakazrel Samuel Michél, “Pras,” musician Kate Upton, model Martin Scorsese, director Elva Hsiao, Taiwanese musician and sometime Low girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, musician Journalists Clare Rewcastle-Brown, founder of Sarawak Report Tong Kooi Ong, owner of the Edge Ho Kay Tat, publisher of the Edge Federal Bureau of Investigation William “Bill” McMurry, head of international corruption squad, New York Robert Heuchling, lead FBI agent on the 1MDB case Justin McNair, FBI agent and forensic accountant on the case Prologue Las Vegas, November 3–4, 2012 Around 6 p.m. on a warm, cloudless November night, Pras Michél, a former member of the nineties hip-hop trio the Fugees, approached one of the Chairman Suites on the fifth floor of the Palazzo hotel. Pras knocked and the door opened, revealing a rotund man, dressed in a black tuxedo, who flashed a warm smile. The man, glowing slightly with perspiration, was known to his friends as Jho Low, and he spoke in the soft-voiced lilt common to Malaysians.
On the ground, Robert Heuchling, a thirty-four-year-old FBI special agent who worked for McMurry, was attempting to get his head around this mind-numbingly complex case. Slender with blue eyes and an athletic build, Heuchling studied journalism at Northwestern University before joining the U.S. Marines, and he had worked at the FBI for five years. McMurry made him lead on the case, by far the most weighty of his short career. Justin McNair, an agent who had forensic accounting experience, was another senior member of the group. Alongside a team of federal prosecutors, and with access to data from the U.S. financial system, as well as cooperation with law enforcement agencies in Switzerland and Singapore, the agents were making progress. But there was a problem. Money-laundering cases are by nature multijurisdictional, making them time-consuming to investigate.
The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead by David Callahan
1960s counterculture, affirmative action, business cycle, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, David Brooks, deindustrialization, East Village, fixed income, forensic accounting, full employment, game design, greed is good, high batting average, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, job satisfaction, mandatory minimum, market fundamentalism, McMansion, microcredit, moral hazard, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil shock, old-boy network, plutocrats, Plutocrats, postindustrial economy, profit maximization, profit motive, RAND corporation, Ray Oldenburg, Robert Bork, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Chicago School, Thorstein Veblen, War on Poverty, winner-take-all economy, World Values Survey, young professional, zero-sum game
A growing epidemic of white-collar crime attracted little notice, and no real response, until the collapse of Enron in late 2001. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) is located in Austin, Texas. The group's 28,000 members are spread throughout the country and many are skilled in the arcane specialty of forensic accounting. The subfield has grown rapidly in recent years. Conferences are held to exchange tips on how to unravel complex financial frauds and, in 1999, a group of academics founded the Journal of Forensic Accounting. Their timing couldn't have been better. Fraud examiners are constantly struggling to keep up with sophisticated scams for embezzlement, padding expenses, hiding money overseas, and so on. These are the experts that get called when something doesn't seem right with a company's books or when an employee absconds with company cash.
Eastern standard tribe by Cory Doctorow
Bought CO2 credits for an entire year to go with it. Trepan: /private Colonelonic Huh. Who's he working for? ## Colonelonic (private): Himself. He Federally incorporated last week, something called "TunePay, Inc." He's the Chairman, but he's only a minority shareholder. The rest of the common shares are held by a dummy corporation in London. Couldn't get any details on that without using a forensic accounting package, and that'd get me fired right quick. Trepan: /private Colonelonic It's OK. I get the picture. I owe you one, all right? ## Colonelonic (private): sweat.value==0 Are you going to tell me what this is all about someday? Not some bullshit about your girlfriend? Trepan: /private Colonelonic Heh. That part was true, actually. I'll tell you the rest, maybe, someday. Not today, though.
Keeping Up With the Quants: Your Guide to Understanding and Using Analytics by Thomas H. Davenport, Jinho Kim
Black-Scholes formula, business intelligence, business process, call centre, computer age, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, en.wikipedia.org, feminist movement, Florence Nightingale: pie chart, forensic accounting, global supply chain, Hans Rosling, hypertext link, invention of the telescope, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, Johannes Kepler, longitudinal study, margin call, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Myron Scholes, Netflix Prize, p-value, performance metric, publish or perish, quantitative hedge fund, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, six sigma, Skype, statistical model, supply-chain management, text mining, the scientific method, Thomas Davenport
By just looking at the first digit of each data entry and comparing the actual frequency of occurrence with the predicted frequency, one can easily finger concocted data. In general, faked or fraudulent data appear to have far fewer numbers starting with 1, and many more starting with 6, than do true data. In 1972, the Berkeley economist Hal Varian showed that the law could be used to detect possible fraud in lists of socioeconomic data submitted in support of public planning decisions. Forensic accountant Mark Nigrini gained recognition by applying a system he devised based on Benford’s Law to some fraud cases in Brooklyn. Today many income tax agencies are using detection software based on Benford’s Law, as are a score of large companies and accounting firms. In America, evidence based on Benford’s law is legally admissible in criminal cases at the federal, state, and local levels. a. “Benford’s Law,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benford%27s_law; Malcolm W.
Life Will Be the Death of Me: ...And You Too! by Chelsea Handler
Bernice was lacking in all three areas and actually maintained very strong eye contact—something I took as a sign of either intelligence or an addiction to Adderall. The woman who ran the rescue explained that they would need at least two days to give the dogs all their shots and grooming, and that someone from her organization would have to do a home inspection before they gave me the go-ahead. I respected that, but had no idea what it meant. I would have agreed to let her comb through my taxes with a forensic accountant, if it meant having a brother-sister combo platter named Bert and Bernice. I mean, seriously. Does it get any more real than that? I left Tanner in charge of answering the woman’s questions regarding the adoption, and drove back to Los Angeles, looking forward to the challenge of knowing I was ready for some real doggy parenting this time around. Chunk wouldn’t be thrilled with the discovery that I had two more dogs coming home, but I would just explain to him that we were trying to keep families together.
Glock: The Rise of America's Gun by Paul M. Barrett
Other shells established in Ireland, Liberia, and Curaçao were fabricated to issue bills for various “services” to Glock headquarters in Austria and to operating units in Latin America and Hong Kong, the documents show. But these service firms “had no economic substance and were motivated by tax reasons,” according to a confidential ninety-two-page analysis of the Glock companies conducted by Pricewaterhouse-Coopers. The Luxembourg court had appointed a provisional administrator to sort out who owned Unipatent, and that administrator hired the giant auditing firm to do the arduous forensic accounting. Pricewaterhouse found that the Glock service companies’ role appeared to be the shielding of company profits from potential taxation in Austria, Latin America, and Hong Kong. The Latin American and Asian operating units, in turn, appeared to be used to extract profits from the US subsidiary, Pricewaterhouse alleged. The point of the paper shuffle, as noted, was to reduce Glock’s tax liabilities.
Money Mavericks: Confessions of a Hedge Fund Manager by Lars Kroijer
activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Bernie Madoff, capital asset pricing model, corporate raider, diversification, diversified portfolio, family office, fixed income, forensic accounting, Gordon Gekko, hiring and firing, implied volatility, index fund, intangible asset, Jeff Bezos, Just-in-time delivery, Long Term Capital Management, merger arbitrage, NetJets, new economy, Ponzi scheme, post-work, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, statistical arbitrage, Vanguard fund, zero-coupon bond
Thankfully, our ‘merchant of death’ trade was never put into place. 15 * * * Edge The elusive ‘edge’ Once potential investors have satisfied themselves that you are not a crook, the single question they most often ask is, ‘What is your edge?’ They want to know how you think you can beat the competition. And we all have an answer. You have to. You can’t justify charging investors to manage their money if you cannot explain why investing with you is any better than a monkey throwing darts. Answers you hear often from managers are things like ‘forensic accounting’, ‘primary research’, ‘a proven proprietary trading system’, ‘a better process’ and so on. It is no wonder that investors are sometimes unable to decipher the jargon and fall back on investing with companies that have the best performance history. ‘Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM,’ as they used to say. Many investors asked about our competition. We would try to deflect the questions by discussing our approach instead and saying that although many others analysed similar situations, our rigorous use of hedging made us unique.
The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow
Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Atul Gawande, Brownian motion, butterfly effect, correlation coefficient, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Donald Trump, feminist movement, forensic accounting, Gerolamo Cardano, Henri Poincaré, index fund, Isaac Newton, law of one price, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, Pepto Bismol, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, RAND corporation, random walk, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Bayes, V2 rocket, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!
And since several homes, twenty personal watercraft, forty-seven cars (including five Hummers, four Ferraris, three Dodge Vipers, two DeTomaso Panteras, and a Lamborghini Diablo), two Rolex watches, a twenty-one-carat diamond bracelet, a $200,000 samurai sword, and a commercial-grade cotton candy machine would have been difficult to explain as necessary business expenditures, Lawrence and his pals tried to cover their tracks by moving investors’ money through a complex web of bank accounts and shell companies to give the appearance of a bustling and growing business. Unfortunately for them, a suspicious forensic accountant named Darrell Dorrell compiled a list of over 70,000 numbers representing their various checks and wire transfers and compared the distribution of digits with Benford’s law. The numbers failed the test.3 That, of course, was only the beginning of the investigation, but from there the saga unfolded predictably, ending the day before Thanksgiving 2003, when, flanked by his attorneys and clad in light blue prison garb, Kevin Lawrence was sentenced to twenty years without possibility of parole.
Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies by Reid Hoffman, Chris Yeh
activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, bitcoin, blockchain, Bob Noyce, business intelligence, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, database schema, discounted cash flows, Elon Musk, Firefox, forensic accounting, George Gilder, global pandemic, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, hydraulic fracturing, Hyperloop, inventory management, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joi Ito, Khan Academy, late fees, Lean Startup, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, Oculus Rift, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart grid, social graph, software as a service, software is eating the world, speech recognition, stem cell, Steve Jobs, subscription business, Tesla Model S, thinkpad, transaction costs, transport as a service, Travis Kalanick, Uber for X, uber lyft, web application, winner-take-all economy, Y Combinator, yellow journalism
Even if you don’t take any immediate action, you should commit to action later so that when the risk does become systemic, you aren’t caught off guard. In the early days of PayPal, in addition to the problem of credit card fraud, we also faced the issue of illegal transactions. We obviously didn’t want people using PayPal for buying and selling drugs or funding criminals and terrorists, which would represent a systemic risk. On the other hand, we didn’t have in-house expertise in forensic accounting or police work. Because our transaction volume was still low, and because we judged the probability of illegal transactions occurring to be very low, we deferred working on the problem, but we also committed to building the necessary expertise and infrastructure to better manage the issue later on. #4: LET IT BURN. When you are facing an unknown/nonsystemic risk, it may not even be worth expending the effort to analyze it—it’s probably a small fire that you should let burn.
The Bitcoin Guidebook: How to Obtain, Invest, and Spend the World's First Decentralized Cryptocurrency by Ian Demartino
3D printing, AltaVista, altcoin, bitcoin, blockchain, buy low sell high, capital controls, cloud computing, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, distributed ledger, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, Firefox, forensic accounting, global village, GnuPG, Google Earth, Haight Ashbury, Jacob Appelbaum, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, litecoin, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Marshall McLuhan, Oculus Rift, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, QR code, ransomware, Ross Ulbricht, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, Skype, smart contracts, Steven Levy, the medium is the message, underbanked, WikiLeaks, Zimmermann PGP
As Nathan Wosnack, the cofounder of Blockchain Factory (a B2B service that is primarily focused on extending the useful data found in the blockchain), has pointed out: I feel as though the statements about anonymity on an open and immutable public ledger that can be audited by anyone [like the blockchain] to be a completely ridiculous assertion and [a] modern myth. […] Using mixers helps, but I’m still not convinced even those can save one from sophisticated forensic accounting tools likely being used and in development by law enforcement to analyze targeted [individuals] or even big data and figure out roughly who the parties are, where, and what they’re buying or selling. It is impossible to predict the future with 100 percent accuracy. We don’t know what kind of tools will be combing through the blockchain in the future. For that reason, any serious crimes are probably better off being conducted in the fiat world with untraceable cash.
The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing
It seems he knew all this not just instinctively, but because his own early experiences had shaped him into an exceptionally ideal tenant of unreal spaces. There are at present two documentaries about Harris’s strange and turbulent life: We Live in Public, which was directed by Harris’s long-term collaborator Ondi Timoner, and Harvesting Me, an episode of Errol Morris’s First Person series. There is also a book, Totally Wired by Andrew Smith, which charts the rise and fall of the dotcom bubble by way of a wonderfully forensic account of Harris’s exploits over the years. All of these works contain scenes in which Harris describes his childhood, in characteristically aphoristic (also confusing, paranoid and unfinished) sentences, as notably unpeopled and friendless, his emotional support provided more by television sets than human beings. He grew up in California, though there was also a stint in Ethiopia: the youngest child in a family of seven, his brothers already well into high school while he toiled through elementary.
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
Asperger Syndrome, asset-backed security, collateralized debt obligation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, diversified portfolio, facts on the ground, financial innovation, fixed income, forensic accounting, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, index fund, interest rate swap, John Meriwether, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, medical residency, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, Robert Bork, short selling, Silicon Valley, the new new thing, too big to fail, value at risk, Vanguard fund, zero-sum game
According to a former Goldman derivatives trader, Goldman would buy the triple-A tranche of some CDO, pair it off with the credit default swaps AIG sold Goldman that insured the tranche (at a cost well below the yield on the tranche), declare the entire package risk-free, and hold it off its balance sheet. Of course, the whole thing wasn't risk-free: If AIG went bust, the insurance was worthless, and Goldman could lose everything. Today Goldman Sachs is, to put it mildly, unhelpful when asked to explain exactly what it did, and this lack of transparency extends to its own shareholders. "If a team of forensic accountants went over Goldman's books, they'd be shocked at just how good Goldman is at hiding things," says one former AIG FP employee, who helped to unravel the mess, and who was intimate with his Goldman counterparts. * Zelman alienated her Wall Street employer with her pessimism, and finally quit and set up her own consulting firm. "It wasn't that hard in hindsight to see it," she says. "It was very hard to know when it would stop."
Duped: Double Lives, False Identities, and the Con Man I Almost Married by Abby Ellin
Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, Burning Man, business intelligence, Charles Lindbergh, cognitive dissonance, Donald Trump, double helix, dumpster diving, East Village, feminist movement, forensic accounting, fudge factor, hiring and firing, Internet Archive, longitudinal study, Lyft, mandatory minimum, meta analysis, meta-analysis, pink-collar, Ponzi scheme, Robert Hanssen: Double agent, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, telemarketer, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions
When their opportunities increased, so would their ability to commit crime, a topic she wrote about in her groundbreaking book Sisters in Crime: The Rise of the Female Criminal.35 One thing that’s clear is that the world is much more forgiving of male liars than female ones. Maybe it’s because we expect more from women—they’re mothers, caregivers. They’re not supposed to deceive. “Society is more accepting of men committing crimes and atoning for their sins than women,” said Kelly Richmond Pope, a forensic accountant in Chicago and the director and producer of All the Queen’s Horses, a documentary about Rita Crundwell. “I don’t think it’s expected for a woman to embezzle or engage in a Ponzi scheme or to have another family in another town. We accept, allow, and excuse it of men. I think it goes back to the historical role we allow men to play, like Leave It to Beaver. We still have this idea that the man goes to work and earns the money and the woman stays home.
A Bit of a Stretch: The Diaries of a Prisoner by Chris Atkins
Boris Johnson, butterfly effect, collapse of Lehman Brothers, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, forensic accounting, G4S, housing crisis, illegal immigration, index card, Mark Zuckerberg, Milgram experiment, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, payday loans
‘You’ve survived the toughest jails in Ireland, but you’re now being bullied by a four-inch rodent.’ Gary refuses to get down until I chase the rat out of the cell. Wandsworth is infested with vermin, thanks to the piles of rotting rubbish. I’m surprised there hasn’t been an outbreak of bubonic plague. 6 January I receive some paperwork about my upcoming proceeds-of-crime hearing. HMRC has hired a new forensic accountant to calculate my financial benefit. They accept that I wasn’t paid personally, but I am on the block for the money retained by the production company to fund Starsuckers. The accountant has actually estimated down what was alleged in court, and the financial benefit attributed to me is just over £100,000. The silver lining is that the CPS can only demand payment of this lower figure. I had assumed that I would probably have to sell my house to settle the confiscation, but it’s looking now as though I might get to keep it.
Legacy: Gangsters, Corruption and the London Olympics by Michael Gillard
For starters, he has no hard-boiled law enforcement background and is more likely to have a row with a sommelier than a punchy informant in a dive bar. The jowly investigator in his mid-fifties is part of the newer breed of corporate gumshoe, the accountants whose playgrounds are the boardroom battles when clients find themselves on the wrong end of a criminal or civil prosecution. Hill was a partner at PKF, a forensic accountancy firm, where he ran the business intelligence team carrying out due diligence inquiries for clients, a fancy name for all manner of investigative techniques, some that straddle the line of legality and plausible deniability. The unwritten agreement between private investigators and their corporate clients in this new world is the same as it ever was: don’t get caught, and if you do, you’re on your own.
Tower of Basel: The Shadowy History of the Secret Bank That Runs the World by Adam Lebor
banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, central bank independence, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, deindustrialization, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, financial independence, financial innovation, forensic accounting, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, haute cuisine, IBM and the Holocaust, Kickstarter, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Ponzi scheme, price stability, quantitative easing, reserve currency, special drawing rights
., the American economic intelligence arm of IG Farbenindustrie. Chemnyco is an excellent example of the uses to which a country with a war economy may put an ordinary commercial enterprise.”18 Donald MacLaren, a BSC operative based in New York, had been working for months on an operation against GAF. MacLaren’s plan combined dirty tricks with very public exposure of the firm’s links to Nazi Germany. MacLaren, an ebullient Scot and bon viveur, was a forensic accountant by training and an expert in economic warfare. He had untangled the web of connections linking Standard Oil and Sterling Products, an American pharmaceuticals firm, with GAF and IG Farben. GAF, he wrote, was a “supply depot” for the Latin American subsidiaries of IG Farben and sought to “camouflage its German ownership.”19 MacLaren knew that there were two factions in GAF’s board of directors.
How the City Really Works: The Definitive Guide to Money and Investing in London's Square Mile by Alexander Davidson
accounting loophole / creative accounting, algorithmic trading, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, buy and hold, capital asset pricing model, central bank independence, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, dematerialisation, discounted cash flows, diversified portfolio, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Elliott wave, Exxon Valdez, forensic accounting, global reserve currency, high net worth, index fund, inflation targeting, intangible asset, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, John Meriwether, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market fundamentalism, Nick Leeson, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, pension reform, Piper Alpha, price stability, purchasing power parity, Real Time Gross Settlement, reserve currency, Right to Buy, shareholder value, short selling, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, value at risk, yield curve, zero-coupon bond
The ARA is a small organisation, with a £15.5 million budget for 2007, which covers both investigation and training. It has 50–60 investigators, 30–40 lawyers and paralegal staff, and some tax experts and accountants, all part of an integrated team. A third of its capacity operates from a Belfast ofﬁce, where costs are 20 per cent lower than in the mainland UK, and the rest from London. Staff are often seconded from other agencies, including the entire tax and forensic accountancy teams, and some investigators, according to McQuillan. Under the Serious Crime Bill, introduced in January 2007, the ARA’s investigative functions will merge with the SOCA (see above), and its training and accreditation functions into the National Policing Improvement Agency. This is part of a government strategy to distribute the ARA’s powers to other agencies and prosecutors. ‘In the long term, mainstreaming powers will increase the volume of assets recovered and hurt criminals.
Misspent Youth by Peter F. Hamilton
He was doing the freak routine when I was going out with her. Like he’d make toast and jam, then deep fry it for lunch.” “Deep fry it?” Colin yelped. “Yeah. Dead on.” “With jam?” “Yeah. He thinks it’s like supernormal. I reckon he’s got an old desktop synthesizer stashed in the house somewhere.” “The guy’s not had a job in years,” Tim said. “Annabelle told me. He used to be some kind of forensic accountant, which is like the top of the profession. He was on the team investigating one of the Italian sea solar plants they built outside Venice lagoon, and it all got political with the Mafia involved and everything. Brussels crashed the report.” “Unserious?” “Dead on. He just spends the whole time in front of the screen now.” “That’s why Annabelle’s the way she is,” Simon said wisely. He gave Tim a friendly smile.
Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business by Ken Auletta
Airbnb, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, Build a better mousetrap, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, cloud computing, commoditize, connected car, corporate raider, crossover SUV, disintermediation, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, forensic accounting, Google Glasses, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, Khan Academy, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, Menlo Park, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Naomi Klein, NetJets, Network effects, pattern recognition, pets.com, race to the bottom, Richard Feynman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, sharing economy, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Upton Sinclair, éminence grise
Unilever, for example, purchased the Dollar Shave Club for $1 billion not just to compete with Gillette, but to capture its membership community of customers who communicate directly with the company. Technology and digital is at the core of R/GA’s DNA. “It’s not enough for Martin Sorrell to say he is willing to eat his own children or to acquire companies,” Greenberg says. “He’s not a disrupter, an innovator.” On another visit, Greenberg would say of Sorrell, “At the end of the day, Martin is a forensic accountant. He’s truly brilliant. But he has too much control for innovation. I would never work for Martin. He’s too controlling.” He does work for Michael Roth, CEO of IPG, his parent company, who he praises for granting R/GA operating freedom. Roth says of Greenberg, “Bob is a visionary. . . . Everyone thinks he’s this technology genius. He is that. But he’s also a very good businessman. I don’t think he gets enough credit for that.”
Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, centre right, disintermediation, Donald Trump, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, forensic accounting, illegal immigration, impulse control, Jeff Bezos, Jeffrey Epstein, obamacare, Peter Thiel, Renaissance Technologies, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, Travis Kalanick, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game
The worry among staffers—all of them concerned that Trump’s rambling and his alarming repetitions (the same sentences delivered with the same expressions minutes apart) had significantly increased, and that his ability to stay focused, never great, had notably declined—was that he was likely to suffer by such a comparison. Instead, the interview with Trump was offered to Sean Hannity—with a preview of the questions. Bannon was also taking the Breitbart opposition research group—the same forensic accountant types who had put together the damning Clinton Cash revelations—and focusing it on what he characterized as the “political elites.” This was a catchall list of enemies that included as many Republicans as Democrats. Most of all, Bannon was focused on fielding candidates for 2018. While the president had repeatedly threatened to support primary challenges against his enemies, in the end, with his aggressive head start, it was Bannon who would be leading these challenges.
Siege: Trump Under Fire by Michael Wolff
Bernie Madoff, Boris Johnson, conceptual framework, cuban missile crisis, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, forensic accounting, gig economy, high net worth, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, immigration reform, impulse control, Jeffrey Epstein, Julian Assange, oil shale / tar sands, Potemkin village, Saturday Night Live, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, WikiLeaks
This relationship lasted for six or seven years, until Manafort, in Ocean’s Eleven fashion, seemed to have conned Deripaska into an investment ruse that enabled Manafort to abscond with at least $19 million, incurring in Mr. D.’s mind something of a blood debt. Deripaska and his people had been relentlessly pursuing Manafort and Mr. D.’s $19 million through the courts, in the Cayman Islands and in New York State, and through a forensic accounting of the long paper trail of Manafort’s treacheries—an accounting that Mr. D.’s people may or may not have shared with U.S. officials. (Mr. D., denied a visa by the United States because of his suspected criminal activities, had been trying to curry favor with U.S. law enforcement.) Manafort, meanwhile, was trying to somehow make good on his debt. In March 2016, an all-but-broke Manafort agreed to become a senior operative in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign pro bono.
Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump, and an Epic Trail of Destruction by David Enrich
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, anti-globalists, Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, buy low sell high, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Donald Trump, East Village, estate planning, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, forensic accounting, high net worth, housing crisis, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Jeffrey Epstein, London Interbank Offered Rate, Lyft, Mikhail Gorbachev, NetJets, obamacare, offshore financial centre, post-materialism, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Renaissance Technologies, risk tolerance, Robert Mercer, rolodex, sovereign wealth fund, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, yield curve
And yet . . . he had a cache of documents that appeared to be authentic and could be extremely valuable. Moscow asked if he could have a copy of the files. Val initially balked—he was beginning to worry that he was diluting the value of his possessions by not guarding them more closely—but eventually agreed to share the materials. A BakerHostetler aide came in and copied the files onto a thumb drive. Back in the Manhattan DA’s office, Moscow had gotten to know a forensic accountant named Sean O’Malley. The two men had stayed in touch over the years. Now O’Malley was leading a team of anti-money-laundering agents at the New York Fed who were investigating. Moscow told O’Malley that he had something interesting to share, and then delivered him a USB stick containing Val’s items. The circle was thus complete. Many of the files were related to the scramble inside Deutsche and DBTCA to pacify the very unhappy New York Fed, in the stress tests, in the mirror-trade investigations, and in the bank’s accounting and financial reporting—in some cases by masking its problems.
Warnings by Richard A. Clarke
active measures, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anti-communist, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, Bernie Madoff, cognitive bias, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, discovery of penicillin, double helix, Elon Musk, failed state, financial thriller, fixed income, Flash crash, forensic accounting, friendly AI, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge worker, Maui Hawaii, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, money market fund, mouse model, Nate Silver, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, Ponzi scheme, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart grid, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Stuxnet, technological singularity, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Tunguska event, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, Y2K
They tend to be global, transnational fraud schemes of a highly complex nature. So I have to simplify them so that the government can understand them. And I also have to simplify them for multiple audiences. I know I’m going to have attorneys in the U.S. Attorney’s office or the SEC that are not going to have financial backgrounds, so I have to do things in picture book form and give them analogies,” he explains. “But I also have to appeal to the forensic accountants who work largely with the opposite part of the brain, and give them something to sink their teeth into. So I have to be able to present the case across multiple dimensions to each audience that’s going to be working on that case. That was something that I did not know how to do in the Madoff case, and so I have to blame myself for that.” Perhaps there were indeed characteristics of Markopolos’s personality that contributed to his not being taken seriously, but the dismissive reaction he encountered is yet another example of a human bias that we must recognize can blind us to the truth.
In-N-Out Burger by Stacy Perman
anti-communist, British Empire, commoditize, corporate raider, El Camino Real, estate planning, forensic accounting, Haight Ashbury, Maui Hawaii, McJob, McMansion, new economy, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Upton Sinclair
The pair had talked frequently; however, when he attempted to call her private home line, he found that the number had been changed and was un-listed. “I was upset,” he recalled. “They changed her telephone number and didn’t tell anybody.” Kahles called In-N-Out’s headquarters only to be rebuffed. “I asked for her number and they said no. Then I left her a message with them and told her to call me. They never gave her any of my messages.” On November 5, 2005, In-N-Out Burger retained Grant Thornton, a large tax firm, to perform a forensic accounting analysis on Boyd; specifically, the firm was tasked with looking into allegations of inappropriate transactions. The firm was given access to Boyd’s department offices and files. They interviewed Boyd’s staffers and a number of the contractors and subcontractors, including Michael Madrid, owner of Michael Anthony Companies. The contents of Boyd’s desk and those of the associates from his department were examined and copied.
Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive ScrabblePlayers by Stefan Fatsis
It’s a function of national characteristics,” asserts Philip Nelkon, Mattel’s Scrabble man, himself a four-time British national champion. “I think the U.K. players are just as intense as the U.S. players, but they just don’t show it. I’d say we have more regular guys than you do.” He says that “Sherman-Edley types” — eccentrics unafraid, even eager, to ﬂaunt their eccentricities — would be unusual in the U.K. Or, as the English player David Webb, a forensic accountant, sums up the Americans: “I can’t imagine being any of them.” “All the Yanks seem to live at the center of their own universe with only a dim recognition of, and no interest in, life outside it,” Webb tells me. “Conversational gambits are treated as genuine inquiries into their universe, but there is no recognition of any need for reciprocity. There is a camaraderie about the Brits abroad which simply doesn’t exist with the Yanks.
Alex's Adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos
Andrew Wiles, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, beat the dealer, Black Swan, Black-Scholes formula, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Edward Thorp, family office, forensic accounting, game design, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, lateral thinking, Myron Scholes, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, Pierre-Simon Laplace, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, random walk, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, SETI@home, Steve Jobs, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, traveling salesman
The average value of a bell curve is called the mean. The width is called the deviation. If we know the mean and the deviation, then we know the shape of the curve. It is incredibly convenient that the normal curve can be described using only two parameters. Perhaps, though, it is too convenient. Often statisticians are overly eager to find the bell curve in their data. Bill Robinson, an economist who heads KPMG’s forensic-accounting division, admits this is the case. ‘We love to work with normal distributions because [the normal distribution] has mathematical properties that have been very well explored. Once we know it’s a normal distribution, we can start to make all sorts of interesting statements.’ Robinson’s job, in basic terms, is to deduce, by looking for patterns in huge data sets, whether someone has been cooking the books.
McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld by Misha Glenny
anti-communist, Anton Chekhov, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, BRICs, colonial rule, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Firefox, forensic accounting, friendly fire, glass ceiling, illegal immigration, joint-stock company, market bubble, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, Nick Leeson, offshore financial centre, Pearl River Delta, place-making, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, Skype, special economic zone, Stephen Hawking, trade liberalization, trade route, Transnistria, unemployed young men, upwardly mobile
“The problem is that nobody was looking for it who knew how to look for the money,” explained Bill Richey, a former Florida State DA who was asked by the Simonsens and Cochranes to search for the money across the globe. And so Richey made a smart move—he called a buddy who used to work for the Internal Revenue Service as a criminal investigator. “You know, the IRS are tax people, the American gestapo!” he said. “My guy is a very nice man, but he’s a very efficient and effective forensic accountant investigator.” Tracing the money to Switzerland, England, and the United States, Richey assembled the A-team of asset recovery lawyers in London, Kentucky, Los Angeles, New York, Geneva, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Lagos. Slowly but surely, the A-team started to claw back the assets located outside Nigeria. But to get the job done properly, they would need convictions of the criminal group in Nigeria.
The Finance Curse: How Global Finance Is Making Us All Poorer by Nicholas Shaxson
activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, airline deregulation, anti-communist, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Blythe Masters, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, business cycle, capital controls, carried interest, Cass Sunstein, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, centre right, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, cross-subsidies, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, desegregation, Donald Trump, Etonian, failed state, falling living standards, family office, financial deregulation, financial innovation, forensic accounting, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, high net worth, income inequality, index fund, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, land value tax, late capitalism, light touch regulation, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, neoliberal agenda, Network effects, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, out of africa, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, purchasing power parity, pushing on a string, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart grid, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transfer pricing, wealth creators, white picket fence, women in the workforce, zero-sum game
People and institutions operate ‘as though they are beyond the reach of the criminal law. If you mug someone in the street and you are caught, the chances are that you will go to prison. In recent years mugging someone out of their savings or their pension would probably earn you a yacht.’44 And so, it seems, would mugging a whole country – and indeed half the world. 8 Wealth and its Armour On 17 September 2007 Richard Murphy, a British commentator and forensic accountant, published a short blog remarking on some odd items in the accounts of Northern Rock, the British mortgage bank. Long queues had formed outside the bank’s branches after it had admitted a few days earlier that it had asked the Bank of England for emergency funding. This was the first proper run on a bank in Britain since 1866, and one of the first big shocks of the global financial crisis.
Track Changes by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum
active measures, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Buckminster Fuller, commoditize, computer age, corporate governance, David Brooks, dematerialisation, Donald Knuth, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, feminist movement, forensic accounting, future of work, Google Earth, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Haight Ashbury, HyperCard, Jason Scott: textfiles.com, Joan Didion, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, mail merge, Marshall McLuhan, Mother of all demos, New Journalism, Norman Mailer, pattern recognition, pink-collar, popular electronics, RAND corporation, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, social web, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, text mining, thinkpad, Turing complete, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K, Year of Magical Thinking
For one instance, see “I Look to Theory Only when I Realize That Somebody Has Dedicated Their Entire Life to a Question I Have Only Fleetingly Considered (a Work in Progress),” at Kenneth Goldsmith (author page), University of Buffalo, Electronic Poetry Center, accessed July 23, 2015, http://wings.buffalo.edu/epc/authors/goldsmith/theory.html. 11. Hammond, Writer and the Word Processor, 9–10. 12. See Lawrence Rainey, Revisiting The Waste Land (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005), for both the definitive forensic account of the text’s typewritten composition and a deft reading of the typewriter’s figure. 13. Hannah Sullivan, The Work of Revision (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013), 39–41. 14. For two starting points into this history, see Barrie Tulliett, Typewriter Art: A Modern Anthology (London: Laurence King, 2014); and Jerome J. McGann, Black Riders: The Visible Language of Modernism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993). 15.
The Default Line: The Inside Story of People, Banks and Entire Nations on the Edge by Faisal Islam
Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, British Empire, capital controls, carbon footprint, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, centre right, collapse of Lehman Brothers, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, dark matter, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, disintermediation, energy security, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial repression, floating exchange rates, forensic accounting, forward guidance, full employment, G4S, ghettoisation, global rebalancing, global reserve currency, hiring and firing, inflation targeting, Irish property bubble, Just-in-time delivery, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market clearing, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, mini-job, mittelstand, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, mutually assured destruction, Myron Scholes, negative equity, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, open economy, paradox of thrift, Pearl River Delta, pension reform, price mechanism, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, reshoring, Right to Buy, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, shareholder value, sovereign wealth fund, The Chicago School, the payments system, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, two tier labour market, unorthodox policies, uranium enrichment, urban planning, value at risk, WikiLeaks, working-age population, zero-sum game
Many even joined the protests against evictions, even though those evictions were ostensibly being carried out to recoup some money for the savers. Bankia had sparked a humiliating national bailout and the largest loss, at the time of writing, in Spanish corporate history. And what happened to the executives responsible for creating this beast that was too big to fail? While others lost their homes, they kept their high salaries. At FROB, forensic accountants were searching through the balance sheets of all the cajas for evidence of wrongdoing. A week later they sent five cases to court. Most of these related to massive managerial pay packets, sometimes not even revealed to the board of the bank in question. What a way to go. Cajas had been founded by churches on the Benthamite principle of achieving the greatest happiness for the greatest number, and set out to help farmers and ordinary Spaniards in the tough years following the Peninsular War with Napoleonic France.
Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now by Alan Rusbridger
accounting loophole / creative accounting, Airbnb, banking crisis, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, centre right, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, David Attenborough, David Brooks, death of newspapers, Donald Trump, Doomsday Book, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Etonian, Filter Bubble, forensic accounting, Frank Gehry, future of journalism, G4S, high net worth, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, natural language processing, New Journalism, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open borders, packet switching, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, pre–internet, ransomware, recommendation engine, Ruby on Rails, sexual politics, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, social web, Socratic dialogue, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tim Cook: Apple, traveling salesman, upwardly mobile, WikiLeaks
The structuring of the ownership and debt in the Barclays’ companies is extraordinarily complex. One former banker – who (in common with virtually everyone involved in this story) spoke on condition of anonymity – said it had taken him ‘five man months’ of investigation before he felt he had begun to understand the structures and finances of the Barclays’ empire. During the course of his enquiries he worked with another expert in forensic accountancy, who commented: ‘You know these guys have spent a lot of time and a lot of effort making sure that this is not easy.’ The difficulty arises from the movements in ownership and value as companies within Barclay ownership are variously ‘gifted’ to parent or grandparent companies and moved onshore or offshore. Pension assets leave the UK to move offshore. Brand new shelf companies are created, either on- or offshore.
Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton
But I’d like a proper financial analysis of Bromley, Waterford, and Granku. That could result in some important leads.’ ‘I know that company,’ Gore said. ‘Legal firm here in town.’ ‘That is correct. Three of their employees have disappeared, in a similar fashion to Isabella. They set up the Cox Educational charity, which had its account in the Denman Manhattan bank. It would take Senate Security a while to organize a proper forensic accounting review of their records. And I’m sure you’re better able to perform the same function.’ ‘I’ll rip that goddamn company apart for you,’ Gore said. ‘If they’ve spent a single dime buying the Starflyer a drink I’ll find it.’ * The good ship Defender was three weeks into her deep space scouting mission, and her captain was as bored as the rest of his crew. Probably more so, Oscar reflected; while everyone else went off duty they tended to access TSI dramas, immersing themselves in the racier aspects of Commonwealth culture, so at least they got a break from the tedium of life onboard.
They know it’s been compromised, of course, that’s why Seaton, Daltra, and Pomanskie have all vanished. The network funding will have been switched to another distribution centre. However, Gore is going to inform the Financial Regulation Directorate, apparently he has a lot of contacts there. The Directorate will subject both Bromley, Waterford, and Granku, and the Denman Manhattan bank to a forensic accounting evaluation. It’ll be considerably more thorough than anything Senate Security can run. There’s a chance that they might identify both the source of all this dark money, and some of the elusive individuals it was channelled to. It will be difficult, whoever set this up knew what they were doing, and of course one time accounts remain the bane of law enforcement.’ ‘I’m sure Bromley, Waterford, and Granku has been shut down, but I know the FRD, they’ll take months if not years to complete their investigation.’
Bernie Madoff, the Wizard of Lies: Inside the Infamous $65 Billion Swindle by Diana B. Henriques
accounting loophole / creative accounting, airport security, Albert Einstein, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, break the buck, British Empire, buy and hold, centralized clearinghouse, collapse of Lehman Brothers, computerized trading, corporate raider, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, dumpster diving, Edward Thorp, financial deregulation, financial thriller, fixed income, forensic accounting, Gordon Gekko, index fund, locking in a profit, mail merge, merger arbitrage, money market fund, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, riskless arbitrage, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Small Order Execution System, source of truth, sovereign wealth fund, too big to fail, transaction costs, traveling salesman
They included little ones against Madoff cousins and in-laws, midsize ones against elite hedge funds and former Madoff employees, and giant ones against Madoff’s earliest backers and some of the world’s biggest financial institutions. Nearly four dozen lawyers in Baker & Hostetler’s offices in Rockefeller Center were working almost around the clock. The lawsuits against smaller investors had been farmed out to dozens of lawyers scattered among the firm’s offices in Orlando, Houston, Denver, and Los Angeles. Forensic accountants and private investigators were working alongside the legal teams—as were paralegals, courthouse computer specialists, and multitasking secretaries. In addition, a small battalion of foreign lawyers had been hired to monitor and respond to more than 275 lawsuits in courts spread from Luxembourg to the Cayman Islands. Sheehan, who relished complexity, had divided the work among several specialized teams.
Oil: Money, Politics, and Power in the 21st Century by Tom Bower
addicted to oil, Ayatollah Khomeini, banking crisis, bonus culture, corporate governance, credit crunch, energy security, Exxon Valdez, falling living standards, fear of failure, forensic accounting, index fund, interest rate swap, kremlinology, LNG terminal, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Nelson Mandela, new economy, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, passive investing, peak oil, Piper Alpha, price mechanism, price stability, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, transaction costs, transfer pricing, zero-sum game, éminence grise
Without concrete evidence of dishonesty, they were unprepared to formally voice any misgivings, or to anticipate the consequences for Shell of the fragmented relationship between Watts and van de Vijver. Compiling “Rockford’s” conclusions about the overbooking of the reserves ruined Watts’s Christmas holiday. Ostensibly celebrating with the Sultan of Oman, he commuted back to Holland to implement Cravath’s advice that Shell needed to debook 2.3 billion barrels of reserves in accordance with the SEC’s requirement of “absolute certainty.” Uncurious about Cravath’s lack of forensic accounting, and oblivious to the doubts about himself among his fellow directors, Watts obeyed his lawyers and auditors to hastily complete a self-destructive operation. Disturbingly, the Wall Street Journal had hinted at Shell’s predicament. The leaks of the critical reports by Anton Bylondrecht describing the unsatisfactory reserves in Oman and Nigeria were clearly intended to destroy Watts and other managers.
The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier by Ian Urbina
9 dash line, Airbnb, British Empire, clean water, Costa Concordia, crowdsourcing, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Filipino sailors, forensic accounting, global value chain, illegal immigration, invisible hand, John Markoff, Jones Act, Julian Assange, Malacca Straits, Maui Hawaii, New Journalism, offshore financial centre, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, Silicon Valley, Skype, South China Sea, standardized shipping container, statistical arbitrage, UNCLOS, UNCLOS, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, WikiLeaks, William Langewiesche
They can run it through a separator, pulling the oil from the water and incinerating the remains on board. Or they can unload the waste for a fee at a port-side waste depot, if one exists. For larger cruise ships, the cost of properly disposing waste onshore can be more than $150,000 per year. Some companies offer their engineers personal bonuses if they stay under budget—creating an incentive to skirt the law with magic pipes and massage the ship’s logs to cover it up. Akin to forensic accountants, magic-pipe investigators employed by the U.S. Coast Guard or maritime insurers comb these records, searching for odd inconsistencies and unlikely consistencies. If the oil record shows a discharge at one latitude and longitude, but the captain’s log for the same time says the ship was two hundred miles away from that location, investigators start asking tough questions. Investigators also look for clues of what’s called “pencil whipping” or “gun decking,” which they describe as lazy bookkeeping with telltale repetitions, like discharges that occur at the same time of day, week after week.
MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom by Tony Robbins
3D printing, active measures, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, addicted to oil, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, asset allocation, backtesting, bitcoin, buy and hold, clean water, cloud computing, corporate governance, corporate raider, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, Dean Kamen, declining real wages, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, estate planning, fear of failure, fiat currency, financial independence, fixed income, forensic accounting, high net worth, index fund, Internet of things, invention of the wheel, Jeff Bezos, Kenneth Rogoff, lake wobegon effect, Lao Tzu, London Interbank Offered Rate, market bubble, money market fund, mortgage debt, new economy, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shock, optical character recognition, Own Your Own Home, passive investing, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, riskless arbitrage, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Steve Jobs, survivorship bias, telerobotics, the rule of 72, thinkpad, transaction costs, Upton Sinclair, Vanguard fund, World Values Survey, X Prize, Yogi Berra, young professional, zero-sum game
www.MarcumLLP.com HW FISHER & COMPANY HW Fisher & Company, Tony Robbins’s UK partner, is a commercially astute London-based organization with a personal, partner-led service aimed at entrepreneurial small and medium enterprises (SMEs), large corporates, and high-net-worth individuals. Founded in 1933, the practice is composed of 29 partners and approximately 260 staff, supplying a range of services spanning audit, corporate taxation, private client services, VAT, business recovery, and forensic accounting. www.hwfisher.co.uk HALL CHADWICK Hall Chadwick is Tony Robbins’s Australian partner and the fifth largest accounting group in Australia, servicing clients in every major capital city. Since 1886, Hall Chadwick has provided leading-edge solutions, and has an enviable reputation for its customer service. Hall Chadwick is also a member of the AGN International accounting group, an association of independent accounting firms from around the world.
Unelected Power: The Quest for Legitimacy in Central Banking and the Regulatory State by Paul Tucker
Andrei Shleifer, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Basel III, battle of ideas, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, centre right, conceptual framework, corporate governance, diversified portfolio, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial repression, first-past-the-post, floating exchange rates, forensic accounting, forward guidance, Fractional reserve banking, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, George Akerlof, incomplete markets, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, invisible hand, iterative process, Jean Tirole, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, liberal capitalism, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, means of production, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, Northern Rock, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, price mechanism, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, quantitative easing, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Ronald Coase, seigniorage, short selling, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, stochastic process, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, the payments system, too big to fail, transaction costs, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, yield curve, zero-coupon bond, zero-sum game
His four classes, for each of the matrix’s cells, were termed production agencies, procedural agencies, craft agencies, and coping agencies. 10 This is a particular application of the definition of accountability in Bovens, “Analysing and Assessing Accountability.” It differs from that in Scott, “Accountability.” As I use it, “political accountability” can combine what Jeremy Waldron, in “Accountability,” has called “forensic accountability” (but without sanctions) and “agent accountability”; the former because, under DP1, the independent agency is assessed against a monitorable standard and the latter because the accountability is to the legislature that created the IA regime and that sustains its existence. In holding an agent to a monitorable standard, principals are in a position to assess the continued value of the standard that they set. 11 This implicitly assumes that IA regimes are not constitutionally entrenched or, roughly equivalent, that IAs are not a fourth branch of government.
The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century by Steve Coll
American ideology, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, borderless world, Boycotts of Israel, British Empire, business climate, colonial rule, Donald Trump, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial independence, forensic accounting, global village, haute couture, intangible asset, Iridium satellite, Khyber Pass, low earth orbit, margin call, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shock, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, urban planning, Yogi Berra
It seems most likely that Ibrahim actually inherited cash from Mohamed’s estate, in the form of dividends, which he then shifted into stocks at Yeslam’s direction; his testimony on this point is not precise, but overall, it suggests the scale and fluidity of the inheritance. The most reliable portrait of the family dividend system comes from an American certified public accountant, Linda Pergament Swift, a specialist in forensic accounting, who examined the Bin Laden family’s finances during the early 1990s as part of an American divorce proceeding involving Ibrahim. In 1989, Swift reported to an American court, Ibrahim received two dividend payments from the Mohamed Bin Laden Organization totaling just over $325,000. This appears to be roughly the amount allotted to all male shareholders that year, including Osama. Swift wrote, however, that her investigation revealed a strikingly flexible and informal family system: “Each beneficiary receives allotments, usually from profits of the business, on an annual or semi-annual basis.
The Temporal Void by Peter F. Hamilton
But the Cat had eliminated certainty from his life, he was flying on logic and fatality now. He looked directly at Somonie, whose right eyelid flickered. For the second time in a day Troblum didn’t need a program to interpret a human emotion. He nodded back, and fired the ship-to-ship neutron laser. For Paula it really hadn’t been difficult to discover who was Troblum’s ally on Sholapur. Troblum’s clandestine money transfers had been subject to forensic accounting by an office at the Commonwealth Senate Treasury ever since Justine reported on his strangely empty hangar at Daroca spaceport. The Treasury office had quickly determined that Stubsy Florac’s accounts had been the beneficiary of a great deal of money over the years, and ANA Security had accumulated a large file on the dealer’s activities. An irritant rather than any kind of threat, Florac moved objects around the Commonwealth, which he had no legal right to do.
Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story by Kurt Eichenwald
Asian financial crisis, Burning Man, computerized trading, corporate raider, estate planning, forensic accounting, intangible asset, Irwin Jacobs, John Markoff, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, Negawatt, new economy, oil shock, price stability, pushing on a string, Ronald Reagan, transaction costs, value at risk, young professional
McLucas was in Houston at Enron’s request, Lay said, to help on the current crisis. McLucas stood. He summarized the events of the past few weeks, describing the challenges Enron faced. “It is critical that Enron both establish credibility with the SEC and create confidence in the marketplace,” he said. The way to accomplish that, McLucas said, was to form a special committee of independent directors. That group, he said, should engage lawyers—who in turn would hire forensic accountants—to review the related-party deals. Lay picked up the theme. “If a special committee will help instill confidence, I would urge we proceed down that path,” he said. The directors warmed to the idea, then took things a step further, discussing whether to add a new director to the board, someone uninvolved in the decisions of the past who could lead the special committee in its investigation.
God's Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican by Gerald Posner
Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, bank run, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, central bank independence, centralized clearinghouse, centre right, credit crunch, dividend-yielding stocks, European colonialism, forensic accounting, God and Mammon, Index librorum prohibitorum, Kickstarter, liberation theology, medical malpractice, Murano, Venice glass, offshore financial centre, oil shock, operation paperclip, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, WikiLeaks, Yom Kippur War
In March, the IOR responded to the joint commission’s many requests for records and financial ledgers by releasing eleven thin files of internal documents that addressed in the vaguest terms its relationship to the ghost companies in the letters of patronage. It was the first time the Vatican Bank ever produced private files for the investigators of another sovereign. And that was the result of a hard-fought compromise to an Italian demand that forensic accountants be allowed direct access to the IOR archives.21 The Vatican’s limited cooperation did not prove helpful to the joint commission, whose work was already hobbled by resistance from some major banks entangled with the Ambrosiano, including the Gottardo, Cisalpine, and Kredietbank. The commission was also stymied in accessing 1,500 pages of Calvi’s working papers as a Bahamian court had frozen a safe deposit box in Nassau’s Roywest Bank.