FTC orders Walmart, Amazon, Kroger and more to turn over information on empty shelves, high prices

Link:https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/shopping/2021/11/29/supply-chain-ftc-investigation-walmart-amazon-prices/8799724002/

Excerpt:

The Federal Trade Commission said Monday that it is investigating the causes behind ongoing supply chain disruptions and how they are “causing serious and ongoing hardships for consumers and harming competition in the U.S. economy.”

The FTC said it is ordering Walmart, Amazon, Kroger, other large wholesalers and suppliers including Procter & Gamble Co., Tyson Foods and Kraft Heinz Co. “to turn over information to help study causes of empty shelves and sky-high prices.”

Orders also are being sent to C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc., Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. and McLane Co, Inc.

Author(s): Kelly Tyko

Publication Date: 29 Nov 2021

Publication Site: USA Today

Flood-Threat Assessment Finds Danger Goes Far Beyond U.S. Homes

Link:https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2021-flood-risk-critical-infrastructure/

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Nearly a quarter of U.S. critical infrastructure—utilities, airports, police stations and more—is at risk of being inundated by flooding, according to a new report by First Street Foundation, a Brooklyn nonprofit dedicated to making climate risk more visible to the public.

Roughly 14% of Americans’ properties face direct risk from major storms, but the study shows danger extends far from those property lines.

The authors say the report provides the first holistic understanding of flood risk beyond individual property level. In addition to critical infrastructure, the report assesses commercial buildings, millions of miles of roads and socially important institutions such as schools and museums.

“Even if your home is far from the risk of flooding or forest fires, you may not so easily escape the systemic impacts from vulnerable critical infrastructure that sometimes extends hundreds of miles,” said Jesse Keenan, a climate-change and real-estate expert at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Author(s): Leslie Kaufman, Rachael Dottle, Mira Rojanasakul

Publication Date: 11 October 2021

Publication Site: Bloomberg

Dude, Where’s My Stuff

Link: https://am.jpmorgan.com/us/en/asset-management/institutional/insights/market-insights/eye-on-the-market/dude-where-is-my-stuff/

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COVID has disrupted supply chains in two major ways: surging demand for imported consumer goods in the West due to pandemic work from home trends and other home improvement spending, and a decline in workers required to maintain and operate these supply chains. The surge in US import demand has led to a sharp rise in eastbound freight rates (see charts for Shanghai->LA and Shanghai->Rotterdam). However, westbound freight rates have not risen nearly as much, leading to an odd and problematic phenomenon: incentives for container owners to move them back to China empty to accelerate receipt of eastbound freight rates, instead of waiting for containers to be refilled to earn westbound freight rates as well. This is illustrated in the fourth chart which shows departing containers from LA/LB: a lot of them started leaving empty once eastbound freight rates surged. This further exacerbates supply chain issues, since US goods (i.e., grains) that were supposed to depart US railcars and warehouses for export remain in place, occupying space that US imported goods were destined for. 

Author(s): Michael Cembalest, Chairman of Market and Investment Strategy

Publication Date: 27 Sept 2021

Publication Site: JP Morgan

The Supply Chain Crisis: How We Got Here

Link:https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2021/10/the-supply-chain-crisis-how-we-got-here.html

Excerpt:

Nevertheless, the motivations for outsourcing IMHO are not properly understood. In the auto business, which is typical of a lot of US industry, direct factory labor cost is 11% to 13% of product cost. The offsets against that are greater supervisory and coordination costs (longer shipping times and financing costs, and with that, greater risk of being stuck with inventories related to products that aren’t selling well) and just plain old screw ups due to having more moving parts.

In other words, outsourcing is better understood as a transfer from factory labor to managers and executives, at the cost of greater operational risk.

Author(s): Yves Smith

Publication Date: 11 Oct 2021

Publication Site: naked capitalism

Banks Share Data to Block Cyberattacks

Link:https://www.wsj.com/articles/banks-share-data-to-block-cyberattacks-11632389402

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Competing banks are cooperating more than ever before to beat cybercriminals.

As the number and sophistication of cyberattacks jumps, financial firms are sharing more threat intelligence with each other, according to the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a nonprofit group that facilitates the exchange of cybersecurity intelligence.

This collaboration has thwarted a number of attacks in the past year, bank executives say.

In September 2020, Santiago, Chile-based Banco Falabella became concerned it would soon come under attack by hackers.

Distributed denial of service attacks, which flood servers with traffic to shut down websites and applications, were rippling across the financial sector as part of a long-running extortion campaign. Meanwhile, certain criminal gangs were besieging Latin American companies in particular with ransomware attacks.

Author(s): James Rundle

Publication Date: 23 Sept 2021

Publication Site: WSJ

Jim Dey | After a year, Teachers’ Retirement System’s dirty laundry put on display

Link: https://www.news-gazette.com/opinion/columns/jim-dey-after-a-year-teachers-retirement-systems-dirty-laundry-put-on-display/article_f9668f4b-1a9f-512f-b2b4-e04a58b7b08d.html#new_tab

Excerpt:

There was a personnel earthquake in the summer of 2020 at the Teachers’ Retirement System in Springfield.

Ultimately, five high-ranking employees were removed from their positions, including executive director Richard Ingram. The tumult generated clouds of uncertainly that only recently started to clear, revealing improper and possibly criminal behavior.

Although mum at first, TRS officials recently released their first lengthy statement about what occurred, disclosing that a new employee purposely maintained a conflict of interest that he falsely claimed to have ended.

…..

The OEIG report states the scandal dates back to 2018, when the TRS “began the process of constructing a new pension system that it called the Gemini Project.” Urbanek said the Gemini system recently went online.

That required hiring outside information technology professionals. Singh and his company — Singh 3 Consulting — were initially hired as a contractor. But in 2019, the TRS hired Singh as a permanent employee, the hiring predicated on Singh terminating his relationship with his company.

He told the TRS he had done so. But no one apparently ever checked, because subsequent investigations revealed Singh remained president and chief executive officer.

Author(s): Jim Dey

Publication Date: 12 September 2021

Publication Site: The News-Gazette

Excel autocorrect errors still plague genetic research

Link: https://cosmosmagazine.com/science/biology/excel-autocorrect-errors-still-plague-genetic-research/

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Earlier this year we repeated our analysis. This time we expanded it to cover a wider selection of open access journals, anticipating researchers and journals would be taking steps to prevent such errors appearing in their supplementary data files.

We were shocked to find in the period 2014 to 2020 that 3,436 articles, around 31% of our sample, contained gene name errors. It seems the problem has not gone away, and is actually getting worse.

Author(s): Mark Ziemann, Deakin University and Mandhri Abeysooriya, Deakin University

Publication Date: 27 August 2021

Publication Site: Cosmos magazine

Intro to Financial Modelling – Part 19: Wrap-up

Link: https://www.icaew.com/technical/technology/excel/excel-community/excel-community-articles/2021/intro-to-financial-modelling-part-19

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There has been significant disruption in how organisations conduct business and the way we work over the past year and a half. However, financial modellers and developers have had to continue to build, refine and test their models throughout these unprecedented times. Figure 1 below summarises the areas we have covered in the blog series and how they fit together to form the practical guidance of how to follow and implement the Financial Modelling Code.

Author(s): Andrew Paw

Publication Date: 19 August 2021

Publication Site: ICAEW

Autocorrect errors in Excel still creating genomics headache

Link: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02211-4

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In 2016, Mark Ziemann and his colleagues at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, quantified the problem. They found that one-fifth of papers in top genomics journals contained gene-name conversion errors in Excel spreadsheets published as supplementary data2. These data sets are frequently accessed and used by other geneticists, so errors can perpetuate and distort further analyses.

However, despite the issue being brought to the attention of researchers — and steps being taken to fix it — the problem is still rife, according to an updated and larger analysis led by Ziemann, now at Deakin University in Geelong, Australia3. His team found that almost one-third of more than 11,000 articles with supplementary Excel gene lists published between 2014 and 2020 contained gene-name errors (see ‘A growing problem’).

Simple checks can detect autocorrect errors, says Ziemann, who researches computational reproducibility in genetics. But without those checks, the errors can easily go unnoticed because of the volume of data in spreadsheets.

Author(s): Dyani Lewis

Publication Date: 13 August 2021

Publication Site: nature

Virtual Meetup: To Err is Human but to ISERR is Never OK!

Video description:

Have you ever built a perfect financial model without any errors? Thought not! And for that reason, all good modellers know they need to include some error checks. But what is not as clear is how many error checks you should have, when you should include them and what form they should take. Excel “helpfully” provided us with functions like ISERR, ISERROR and IFERROR but as you progress your modelling journey you should learn to avoid these functions. Plus, you also learn the sad truth that Excel can’t even do basic maths sometimes! Join us to hear from financial modelling specialist Andrew Berg, who has spent years building models, and so happily admits he has probably already made most of the mistakes you haven’t yet had a chance to! The good news is that he is willing to share the tips he has learned about the right types of error checks to add to your models so you don’t have to learn the hard way. ★Download the resources here ► https://plumsolutions.com.au/virtual-… ★Register for more meetups like this ► https://plumsolutions.com.au/meetup/ ★Connect with Andrew on Linkedin ► https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrew-be…

Author(s): Andrew Berg, Danielle Stein Fairhurst

Publication Date: 2 June 2021

Publication Site: YouTube

12 strategies to uncover any wrongs inside

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Look for nonlinearities

Not all 10% increases are created equal. And by that we mean, assumption effects are often more impactful in one direction than in the other. Especially when it comes to truncation models or those which use a CTE measure (conditional tail expectation).

Principles-based reserves, for example, use a CTE70 measure. [Take the average of the (100% – 70% = 30%) of the scenarios.] If your model increases expense 3% across the board, sure, on average, your asset funding need might increase by exactly that amount. However, because your final measurement isn’t the average across all the scenarios, but only the worst ones, it’s likely that your reserve amounts are going to increase by significantly more than the average. You might need to run a few different tests, at various magnitudes of change, to determine how your various outputs change as a function of the volatility of your inputs.

Publication Date: 14 July 2021

Publication Site: SLOPE – Actuarial Modeling Software

How the government’s mistaken prices disclosure derailed a big follow-on solicitation

Link: https://federalnewsnetwork.com/contracting/2021/07/how-the-governments-mistaken-prices-disclosure-derailed-a-big-follow-on-solicitation/

Excerpt:

When the Defense Information Systems Agency sought a new satellite services acquisition on behalf of the Navy, it included a spreadsheet so bidders could fill in their prices. But the spreadsheet included the prices from the current contract, which were supposed to be inaccessible. For how things turned out, Smith Pachter McWhorter procurement attorney Joe Petrillo joined Federal Drive with Tom Temin.

…..

Joe Petrillo: Sure. This is another excel spreadsheet disaster, and we talked about one a few weeks ago. It involved an acquisition of satellite telecom services for the Navy’s Military Sealift Command. It was an acquisition of commercial satellite telecommunications services. And they were divided into both bandwidth and non-bandwidth services. And the contract would be able to run to for up to 10 years in duration. Part of the contract, as you said, was an excel spreadsheet of the various different line items with blanks for offers to include their price. Unfortunately, this spreadsheet had hidden tabs, 19 hidden tabs, and those included, among other things, historical pricing information from the current contract. So Inmarsat, which was the incumbent contractor, holding that contract, notified the government and said, look you’ve disclosed our pricing information, do something about it. So the government deleted the offending spreadsheet from the SAM.gov website. But they understood and this was the case, third party aggregators had already downloaded it, and it was out there, it was available.

Author(s): Tom Temin, Joe Petrillo

Publication Date: 8 July 2021

Publication Site: Federal News Network