AI will disrupt finance, but not in the way some tech bros think.
In a viral thread, David Heinemeier Hansson describes how Apple Card discriminates against his wife. Nobody at the company can explain how the algorithm makes its decision. Just “computer says no”.
That’s the kind of bureaucratic horror you expect from an old-fashioned state-run company. Ironically, Apple markets its credit card as “built on the principles of simplicity, transparency, and privacy” and “Created by Apple, not a bank”.
Yeah, I’ll stick to my bank, thanks.
If you can’t explain your AI, lawsuits are coming.
Pseudonymous banking expert Johannes Borgen recently discussed the impact of low interest rates on European life insurers. Because insurers discount the value of their liabilities, low rates are a huge problem.
But as Johannes Borgen points out, the regulator lets insurers use a hypothetical long term rate that “is a f**** joke. IT IS NOT EVEN REMOTELY LOOKING LIKE REAL WORLD INTEREST RATES ; which mean that all insurer liabilities are grossly undervalued.”
Swedish tv station SVT has investigated suspected money laundering by Russian and Ukranian customers of Swedbank. Oligarchs used accounts at Swedbank’s Estonian branch to move money offshore. The documentary is available online in English: part 1 and part 2.
At the end of part 2, Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center in Kiev is asked “why do you think they [i.e., the bank] let this happen?”. Ms. Kaleniuk replies “because it’s profitable!”.
In my opinion, criminals succeed in money laundering because compliance with AML regulation was (is?) not a priority for top executives.1 A lack of funding and management attention for compliance leads to a mentality of “just check the boxes, so it looks like we did what we had to do”.
Stronger enforcement, including higher fines and other sanctions, might change that situation.
[A] higher share of women on the boards of banks […] is associated with greater stability. As I have said many times, if it had been Lehman Sisters rather than Lehman Brothers, the world might well look a lot different today. – Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund
In today’s finance & crime news:
“Swedbank AB has fired its chief executive officer, Birgitte Bonnesen, amid allegations the bank was used to launder billions of dollars in Russian money on her watch.” – Bloomberg
For your information, five of the eleven members of Swedbank’s Board of Directors are women.
The ten year anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy is fast approaching. Some quick thoughts on what has changed and what we’ve learned over the past decade, with a focus on Europe.
Banks are much safer now than they were in the summer of 2008.
There’s a remarkable lack of entrepreneurship in banking. A few fintechs offer payment services, but payments are only a small part of banking. Where are the new banks?
Related to point 2, and something I’ve changed my mind about over the years: bailing out the banks was the right thing to do. I highly doubt that we would have experienced much creative destruction by letting the financial system collapse. That being said, the way the bailouts were done was horrible.
The way the European establishment handled the euro crisis was an abomination. Fiscal and monetary coordination across Europe would have resulted in lower unemployment, lower debt, lower taxes.
Notwithstanding the importance of money in people’s daily lives, financial literacy is still limited.
In an event that has been called the WannaCry ransomware attack, hackers encrypted data on computers all around the world. The victims – which included hospitals and car factories – had to pay ransom in Bitcoin to get their files back.
Computers without up to date operating systems were particularly vulnerable to the attack.
People who have never come into contact with the internal IT operations of a large company find this hard to understand. Why don’t companies just install the latest patches, like private persons do on their home computers?