Who knew? Apparently there’s a whole industry of people whose job is nothing but to spot the tics of corporate liars, and to help their hedge fund clients profit from the resulting investment implosion by shorting the stock. From Barron’s profile of BIA:
Barron’s recently stumbled across several hedge funds that have hired a five-year-old Boston company called Business Intelligence Advisors, which employs a number of former CIA and other national-security operatives to do behavioral analyses of corporate executives. The intent: to detect when managers are being less than candid or lying in their communications with shareholders, during interviews and quarterly earnings conference calls or even in press releases or management discussions in 10-Ks.
Other cues that BIA experts place a lot of stock in are management replies larded with irrelevant specifics, meant to obscure some troubling issue. Often the details are accurate as presented.
Qualifying words can be important also. When executives resort to such locutions as “candidly,” “honestly” or “to tell the truth,” watch out. They might be trying to manage perceptions rather than convey fact.
Ad hominem attacks on accusers are another staple of managements seeking to cover up problems and blunt charges. Typically, whistle-blowers and other critics are dismissed as “disgruntled former employees” or “cranks.” The aim is both to impugn an accuser’s credibility and to avoid having to directly deny the charges.
Nonverbal cues can also be important, though they are often subtle. For example, BIA officials assert that, in judging credibility, most people are overly biased by such nonrevelatory externals as lack of eye contact, apparent nervousness and posture. Instead, BIA looks for such indicators as what it calls “shifts in anchor points.” Executive zingers are often proceeded by a sudden shift forward in body weight, for example. The onset of fidgeting — such as playing with a water bottle or cup of coffee — can likewise betoken acute discomfort in an executive. This is particularly telling if it contrasts with previous mannerisms and tics.
Where are the ex-CIA spooks when you really need them? I’ll tell you where: in Boston, collecting sweet fees from hedge funds grown fat. Too bad, because I think can think of a really big liar who regards himself as a CEO to whom all of this applies. Everything: the reliance on irrelevant specifics meant to obscure some damaging truth, the verbal qualifications, the ad hominem attacks on accusers as an avoidance strategy, the disingenuous body language. It’s all there in a highly managed choreography of deception.
Except that this whopper of a liar doesn’t have a stock to short. Wait a second, hang on, I almost forgot — he did.
Update: slowly, slowly improving…
(again: thanks for all the support!)
Agenten met elastiekjes aan het stuur..
The Swedish company which offers insurance against file sharing law suits will expand into other Scandinavian countries.
Founder and owner Magnus Brath told OUT-LAW that “very similar” legal regimes in Denmark and Norway make a move likely.
“There are of course different laws in different countries but it seems like we should be able to expand into the Nordic countries at least in the not too distant future,” Brath said. “It’s a very small company at the moment and we don’t have the resources to get out into Europe fast, but we’re looking into it.”
The company, Tankafritt, was launched this week and Brath is currently the owner and sole employee. It operates on a membership basis. “Our customers pay us 140,000 which is about £10 and they get to be a member for a year and then if they get sued for file sharing we will pay their fines if they get any,” said Brath. “We should be able to pay every fine in the future.”
Brath said a legal precedent for such a scheme already exists and that schemes exist to pay speeding ticket fines in Sweden.
As well as the costs of any finding against a member, Brath is also offering each prosecuted member a t-shirt. “Translated, it reads: I got convicted for file sharing and all I got was this lousy t-shirt,” he said.
A woman coated with silver paint dances during the annual Gay Pride Parade in Madrid, Saturday, July 1, 2006. Last year Spain, a predominantly Roman Catholic country, became the third in the world to grant full recognition to gay marriage and adoptions. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
IMAGINE being able to record a smell and play it back later, just as you can with sounds or images.
Engineers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan are building an odour recorder capable of doing just that. Simply point the gadget at a freshly baked cookie, for example, and it will analyse its odour and reproduce it for you using a host of non-toxic chemicals.
“Point the gadget at a freshly baked cookie and it will reproduce the odour”
The device could be used to improve online shopping by allowing you to sniff foods or fragrances before you buy, to add an extra dimension to virtual reality environments and even to assist military doctors treating soldiers remotely by recreating bile, blood or urine odours that might help a diagnosis.
I dislike sites starting to make noise, so the odds of me connecting such a device to the computer I use to browse are just about zero.
On the other hand, I guess I’ll start an online manure shop if this takes off…
Britons have never had such a low opinion of the leadership of the United States, a YouGov poll shows.
As Americans prepare to celebrate the 230th anniversary of their independence tomorrow, the poll found that only 12 per cent of Britons trust them to act wisely on the global stage. This is half the number who had faith in the Vietnam-scarred White House of 1975.
Most Britons see America as a cruel, vulgar, arrogant society, riven by class and racism, crime-ridden, obsessed with money and led by an incompetent hypocrite.
American troops are failing either to win “hearts and minds” in Iraq or bring democracy to that country.
More than two-thirds who offered an opinion said America is essentially an imperial power seeking world domination. And 81 per cent of those who took a view said President George W Bush hypocritically championed democracy as a cover for the pursuit of American self-interests.