The Currency Swaps Time Bomb in Global Finance – Rob Johnson



Yves here. While this post gives an introduction to the problem of the magnitude of currency swaps, I suspect readers will find it a bit frustrating because it raises more questions than it answers. I feel I should provide far more than I do in this intro, but it is a big topic to address properly, so I hope to keep chipping away at it over time.

Some initial observations:

First, the size of the dollar-related swaps market belies the idea that the dollar is going to be displaced all that soon.

Second, and not to sound Pollyannish, but there was a lot of currency volatility last year, yet nothing blew up. That may be due to dumb luck. But also recall that the Bank of International Settlements has been a Cassandra. It first flagged rapidly rising housing prices and related increases in lending as a risk…in 2003.

Third, interviewer Paul Jay keeps pushing on the idea that shouldn’t this activity be regulated? Wellie, it never has been and I don’t see how you can put that genie in the bottle. Foreign exchange trading has always been over the counter.

And non-US banks are regulated not by the US but by their home country under what is called the “home host” practice. So it is France’s job to see that French banks fly right, even when they are trading dollars and other non-Eurozone currencies. If a French bank gets in trouble, even on its dollar exposures, it is France that has to bail them out or put it down. That is why, during the financial crisis, when French and even much more so German banks bought a lot of bad US subprime debt and CDOs and then had a lot of losses, they needed dollar funding to cover the holes in their dollar book (as in no one would provide them with short-term dollar funding to keep funding these dollar assets and no one would buy them at any reasonable price if they had tried to sell them). But the ECB could only lend dollars to these Eurobanks, which would not solve this funding problem. So the Fed opened up big currency swap lines with the major central banks. These central banks then swapped to get dollars so they could provide emergency dollar funding to their banks.

Author(s): Yves Smith, Rob Johnson, Paul Jay

Publication Date: 3 Jan 2023

Publication Site: Naked Capitalism,

Emails Show CDC Removed Defensive Gun Use Stats After Gun-Control Advocates Pressured Officials in Private Meeting



The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) deleted a reference to a study it commissioned after a group of gun-control advocates complained it made passing new restrictions more difficult.

The lobbying campaign spanned months and culminated with a private meeting between CDC officials and three advocates last summer, a collection of emails obtained by The Reload show. Introductions from the White House and Senator Dick Durbin’s (D., Ill.) office helped the advocates reach top officials at the agency after their initial attempt to reach out went unanswered. The advocates focused their complaints on the CDC’s description of its review of studies that estimated defensive gun uses (DGU) happen between 60,000 and 2.5 million times per year in the United States–attacking criminologist Gary Kleck’s work establishing the top end of the range.

“[T]hat 2.5 Million number needs to be killed, buried, dug up, killed again and buried again,” Mark Bryant, one of the attendees, wrote to CDC officials after their meeting. “It is highly misleading, is used out of context and I honestly believe it has zero value – even as an outlier point in honest DGU discussions.”

Bryant, who runs the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), argued Kleck’s estimate has been damaging to the political prospects of passing new gun restrictions and should be eliminated from the CDC’s website.

Author(s): Stephen Gutowski

Publication Date: 15 Dec 2022

Publication Site: The Reload

State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo Issues New mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance






Today, State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo has announced new guidance regarding mRNA vaccines. The Florida Department of Health (Department) conducted an analysis through a self-controlled case series, which is a technique originally developed to evaluate vaccine safety.

This analysis found that there is an 84% increase in the relative incidence of cardiac-related death among males 18-39 years old within 28 days following mRNA vaccination. With a high level of global immunity to COVID-19, the benefit of vaccination is likely outweighed by this abnormally high risk of cardiac-related death among men in this age group. Non-mRNA vaccines were not found to have these increased risks.

As such, the State Surgeon General recommends against males aged 18 to 39 from receiving mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Those with preexisting cardiac conditions, such as myocarditis and pericarditis, should take particular caution when making this decision.

Author(s): Joseph A. Ladapo

Publication Date: 7 Oct 2022

Publication Site: Florida Dept of Health

Drowning Prevention: How the American Academy of Pediatrics is failing our children



In June 2021 I co-authored an article with drowning prevention parent advocate Nicole Hughes on the subject of water competency in 1-4 year old children and which national swim lesson program methodology aimed to teach this highest risk age group survival skills to best protect against an unplanned submersion.

The purpose of this article was to provide parents and primary care pediatricians with a direct comparison of popular formal swim lesson curriculums of the American Red Cross, YMCA, and Infant Swim Resource (ISR) to inform them on which program better aligns with the parent’s goals for water competency for their young child.

A secondary objective of this commentary was to highlight the methodology of survival swim as a type of formal swim program that in many ways appears superior for this high risk age group due to its ability to teach independent back floating and swim float swim without flotation devices. Despite being the only prominent formal swim lesson program that does this for the under 4 year olds, the AAP without any evidence has come out guns blazing against it.

This is evidenced by the recent parent article in JAMA Pediatrics which states: “Teaching children to swim is important, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended swim lessons as early as age 1 year to provide another protection layer. However, infant swim classes such as Infant Swimming Resource have not been shown to lower the risk of drowning. As an alternative, families may seek out parent-child water play classes to gain familiarity and comfort with being around water together.

Yet despite the lack of data on benefit vs. harm for each type of formal swim lessons, the AAP feels justified to advocate against ISR survival swim while advocating for Mommy and Me group swim lessons with the goal of comfort over survival.

One year after the publication of our article, the American Academy of Pediatrics authors of the 2019 Policy on Drowning Prevention submitted a Letter to the Editor to Contemporary Pediatrics criticizing our article to which we responded in an Author Response. For unexplained reasons neither letter was published by the journal of record.

Due to the importance of advancing this conversation to better understand the likely benefit and lack of harm of survival swim as a crucial layer of drowning prevention protection, I will publish both the AAP Letter to Editor and Author Response below. It is my hope that you read both. When reading, please do so within the context of an AAP that willingly advocates for non-pharmacological interventions (NPI) such mandatory masking of children for prevention of COVID-19 – stating that there is no evidence that it causes harm or developmental delays while willingly advocating against ISR survival swim – stating that it is harmful and lacks evidence of benefit without any such evidence to make either claim.

Author(s): Todd R Porter

Publication Date: 1 Oct 2022

Publication Site: Authentic Pediatrics at substack

NAIC 2021 Annual/2022 Quarterly Financial Analysis Handbook




The risk-focused surveillance framework is designed to provide continuous regulatory oversight. The risk-focused approach requires fully coordinated efforts between the financial examination function and the financial analysis function. There should be a continuous exchange of information between the field examination function and the financial analysis function to ensure that all members of the state insurance department are properly informed of solvency issues related to the state’s domestic insurers.

The regulatory Risk-Focused Surveillance Cycle involves five functions, most of which are performed under the current financial solvency oversight role. The enhancements coordinate all of these functions in a more integrated manner that should be consistently applied by state insurance regulators. The five functions of the risk assessment process are illustrated within the Risk-Focused Surveillance Cycle.

As illustrated in the Risk-Focused Surveillance Cycle diagram, elements from the five identified functions
contribute to the development of an IPS. Each state will maintain an IPS for its domestic companies. State
insurance regulators that wish to review an IPS for a non-domestic company will be able to request the IPS from the domestic or lead state. The documentation contained in the IPS is considered proprietary, confidential information that is not intended to be distributed to individuals other than state insurance regulators.

Please note that once the Risk-Focused Surveillance Cycle has begun, any of the inputs to the IPS can be changed at any time to reflect the changing environment of an insurer’s operation and financial condition.

Author(s): NAIC staff

Publication Date: 1 Jan 2022

Publication Site: NAIC

Guns Aren’t a Public Health Issue




The takeaway from the story of Dickey, Rosenberg, and the 1993 gun study at the center of the piece is that the congressman was correct to begin with. The CDC shouldn’t be studying gun violence.

Titled “Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home” and published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the 1993 study looked at 388 people who had been killed in their homes and matched them to 388 neighbors of similar age, sex, and race. One hundred and seventy-four of the victims lived in houses where at least one gun was present versus only 139 of the matched controls.

With scary music and breathless claims, the video tells viewers that if you had a gun in your house, you were 200 percent more likely to be killed with a gun in your home and 400 percent more likely to kill yourself. 

These are both exaggerations and misstatements of the study results. It didn’t address suicide risk at all, nor gun homicides. It found households in which a resident had been murdered at home by any means had a 25 percent greater frequency of having a gun, not 200 percent. But this doesn’t mean owning a gun increases your risk of being killed by 25 percent. 

This is a classic statistical error known as the “base rate fallacy” and is particularly important when studying rare events, like people murdered in their homes. Suppose 10 people are murdered in their homes, and five of those homes had guns. A matched set of 10 people who were not murdered in their homes found only four homes had guns. So there are 25 percent more guns in the homes of murder victims than matched nonmurder victims (Five vs. four).

But what if you put those 20 people in the context of another million, none of whom were murdered in their homes, half of whom had guns in their homes and half of whom didn’t. The rate for gun owners to be murdered at home becomes five out of 500,009, while the rate for non-gun owners becomes five out of 500,011. So now we find that the risk is 0.0004 percent higher.

In other words, being murdered in your home means you have a 25 percent higher chance of having a gun, but having a gun means you have only a 0.0004 percent greater chance of being murdered in your home. Those are not the same thing.

The finding that owning a gun made study subjects less safe was also a conclusion selected from much stronger statistical results that didn’t fit the authors’ political views and, thus, weren’t mentioned in the study. Yes, 25 percent more victims’ homes had guns than control homes, but 38 percent more victims had controlled security access to their property. Why not lobby against gates as a public health matter? Twenty times as many victims had gotten in trouble at work because of drinking, so why worry about guns when drinking at work is two orders of magnitude more dangerous? Renting and living alone were far more dangerous than having a gun. Victims were less likely than controls to own a rifle or a shotgun, so why not a government program to trade in handguns for long guns?


Publication Date: 30 Sept 2022

Publication Site: Reason

A Framework for Defining a Role for Insurers in “Uninsurable” Risks: Insights from COVID-19




RETHINKING UNINSURABILITY While many have viewed insurability as a binary choice with respect to a risk (i.e., insurable or uninsurable), insurability is more appropriately considered on a continuum, ranging from easy-to-insure, such as automobile or life insurance, to difficult-to-insure, such as pandemic, loss of the electrical grid, and other extreme catastrophic risks.

FRAMEWORK The role of private and public sectors in dealing with risks that are difficult-to-insure should be to develop strategies that enable a greater degree of insurability. To do so, the framework suggests that policymakers consider three fundamental options in dealing with the insurance industry:

Status Quo (SQ) –This option (SQ) contemplates a similar dynamic to that experienced with COVID-19, wherein businesses, nonprofits, and local governments found limited (if any) insurance coverage for their losses and ex post relief programs funded by the government.

Service Provider (SP) – This option (SP) contemplates an administrative, non-risk-bearing role for the insurance industry while the entire cost of claims would be publicly financed.

Service and Risk (SR) –In addition to its role as a service provider as characterized by SP, this option (SR) would expect insurers to commit capital – in an amount that does not threaten their financial viability – to cover a specified layer or other defined element of losses.

Author(s): Howard Kunreuther, Jason Schupp

Publication Date: 2021

Publication Site: NAIC

NHTSA Releases Initial Data on Safety Performance of Advanced Vehicle Technologies


Report for Level 2 ADAS:

Report for Levels 3-5:



Today, as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s efforts to increase roadway safety and encourage innovation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published the initial round of data it has collected through its Standing General Order issued last year and initial accompanying reports summarizing this data.

The SAE Level 2 advanced driver assistance systems summary report is available here, while the SAE Levels 3-5 automated driving systems summary report is available here. Going forward, NHTSA will release data updates monthly.

These data reflect a set of crashes that automakers and operators reported to NHTSA from the time the Standing General Order was issued last June. While not comprehensive, the data are important and provide NHTSA with immediate information about crashes that occur with vehicles that have various levels of automated systems deployed at least 30 seconds before the crash occurred.

“The data released today are part of our commitment to transparency, accountability and public safety,” said Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Administrator. “New vehicle technologies have the potential to help prevent crashes, reduce crash severity and save lives, and the Department is interested in fostering technologies that are proven to do so; collecting this data is an important step in that effort. As we gather more data, NHTSA will be able to better identify any emerging risks or trends and learn more about how these technologies are performing in the real world.”

Publication Date: 15 June 2022

Publication Site: NHTSA

Recent Trends in Heat-Related Mortality in the United States: An Update through 2018





Much research has shown a general decrease in the negative health response to extreme heat events in recent decades. With a society that is growing older, and a climate that is warming, whether this trend can continue is an open question. Using eight additional years of mortality data, we extend our previous research to explore trends in heat-related mortality across the United States. For the period 1975–2018, we examined the mortality associated with extreme-heat-event days across the 107 largest metropolitan areas. Mortality response was assessed over a cumulative 10-day lag period following events that were defined using thresholds of the excess heat factor, using a distributed-lag nonlinear model. We analyzed total mortality and subsets of age and sex. Our results show that in the past decade there is heterogeneity in the trends of heat-related human mortality. The decrease in heat vulnerability continues among those 65 and older across most of the country, which may be associated with improved messaging and increased awareness. These decreases are offset in many locations by an increase in mortality among men 45–64 (+1.3 deaths per year), particularly across parts of the southern and southwestern United States. As heat-warning messaging broadly identifies the elderly as the most vulnerable group, the results here suggest that differences in risk perception may play a role. Further, an increase in the number of heat events over the past decade across the United States may have contributed to the end of a decades-long downward trend in the estimated number of heat-related fatalities.

Author(s): Scott C. Sheridan1, P. Grady Dixon2, Adam J. Kalkstein3, and Michael J. Allen4

Publication Date: Published-online: 14 Dec 2020

Print Publication: 01 Jan 2021

Publication Site: Weather, Climate, and Society

Murder-Suicides By Pilots Are Vexing Airlines As Deaths Mount




For decades, commercial airline travel has gotten progressively safer. But one cause of deaths has stubbornly persisted: pilots who intentionally crash in murder-suicides.

Preliminary evidence suggests the crash of a China Eastern Airlines Corp. jet in March may be the latest such tragedy, a person familiar with the investigation said. If confirmed, that would make it the fourth since 2013, bringing deaths in those crashes to 554.

So as aircraft become more reliable and pilots grow less susceptible to errors, fatalities caused by murder-suicides are becoming an increasingly large share of the total. While intentional acts traditionally aren’t included in air-crash statistics, they would be the second-largest category of deaths worldwide if they were, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. By comparison, 1,745 people died as a result of pilot error, mechanical failures or other causes on Western-built jets from 2012 through 2021.

Author(s): Alan Levin, Bloomberg

Publication Date: 17 June 2022

Publication Site: NDTV

A Resilient Future




If we consider how risk events unfold in reality, they usually occur through a sequence of interacting factors (see Figure 1). For example: A control does not quite work as intended because the usual supervisor is not available, and coincidentally a staff member has unintended access to a system from which they are able to extract personal information. On any other day, those conditions might have been different and resulted in another outcome. The reality, therefore, is that risks emerge as a result of a complex series of interactions among a large number of factors, and small changes in conditions can lead to significantly different risk outcomes.

Risk events also often involve active participants who learn and adapt their behaviors accordingly. Cyber is a good example—the attacker generally is trying to outthink their adversary and stay one step ahead. All of this means that past performance is not necessarily a reliable predictor of the future. There are too many things that can be subtly different, leading to hugely different outcomes.

Author(s): Neil Cantle

Publication Date: May 2022

Publication Site: SOA