Just abandon SMRT Thomson Line to build elsewhere

SMRT Drivers: We are frustrated over NTUC’s incompetency

It is the job of the unions to help the poor employees. But, in Singapore, our unions are turned on their head and they are remarkably unique – they side the employers and in this case, they have caved in to the demands of the corporation, leaving the local Singaporean drivers in despair. The drivers are left with only one option – seeking legal redress over the National Trade Union Congress’s (NTUC) inability to negotiate a favourable deal, loss of income and for the “lack of consideration made to a crucial aspect to the new terms of employment.”

On Friday 28th September, responding to a query from The Online Citizen, the NTUC announced that they have negotiated for the reinstatement of the five day workweek (without the pay adjustment) which will only come into effect in January 2013. Drivers can opt to revert back to the old scheme starting this month. One SMRT driver, however, has reacted negatively to this:

Quote:
SMRT also denied the driver’s annual increment, so a win situation for SMRT, all the things that the drivers did like writing to newspaper and labour minister [have been in vain]. ~ SMRT Driver.

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SMRT if were to go ahead with Thomson MRT line, S$18 billion will go down the drain with risks of insurance claims from damages drilling underground an area with lots of complications, where it is not possible to recover the investment ROI, that is the stupid reason why they are cutting costs by cutting salary first, which is a stupid move, just change the budget to build at a different location with a feasibility study with drones and gps for site survey in the air. I am sure it is not necessary to cut salary if SMRT makes the right moves. Most likely SMRT need to work with HDB for the planning of new towns together with SLA and URA.
– Contributed by Oogle.  

Reinvestment of idle funds from insurance policies based on mortality rates to maximise returns to lower the cost of risk taking

Constant multiple mortality-constant %*qx for all mortality rates …. Deploy idle capital … Valuation interest rate method is based on ‘issue year’ vs ‘change in fund‘. … scenario which assumes continuance of reinvestment and inflation rates.

http://www.soa.org/files/edu/edu-8ui-8ic-1106.pdf

As such, there are plenty of solutions based on your risk apetide and mortality rates to possibly maximise returns so that there will be a lower cost for risk taking which benefits can be returned to policy holders. The pooling of policy holders must be a critical mass to ensure there will be resources available for claims, where idle funds can be utilised for reinvestment to maximised returns based on mortality rates eg if you have 1000 policy holders between the ages of 40-50 years of age and the mortality rate for claims is 2 out of 10 every 3 months, then the policy amount will determine the claims payout which can be set aside with a buffer, and the idle funds used for reinvestment based on your risk apetide. Therefore a national heathcare policy like Medisave can be tuned to serve the needs of it’s citizens by utilising compulsory insurance to get the necessary heathcare at the lowest cost possible.
– Contributed by Oogle.

Smart Kitchen at MacDonald’s using Zwave Technology, Echelon is old technology

(San Jose, CA – July 10, 2007) – Echelon Corporation (NASDAQ: ELON), a leading provider of networking technology that is used to manage and reduce energy consumption, today announced that McDonald’s Corporation has chosen its LonWorks® technology to network its restaurant kitchen equipment in order to create the “kitchen of the future,” which aims to lower energy consumption and increase operational efficiency. McDonald’s is encouraging its kitchen equipment manufacturers to include Echelon’s power line technology in new equipment for its restaurants.
“We are committed to being a market leader in environmental responsibility and energy management, so it’s great to have a proven platform that we can use to address such an important issue,” said Bob Langert, McDonald’s vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility. “Echelon’s technology will also enable our franchisees to create restaurants that are easier to operate, facilitate preventive maintenance and provide new services while saving energy.”
McDonald’s is using Echelon’s power line networking technology to provide communication and data exchange between various pieces of kitchen equipment in its restaurants to allow the development of business process improvement applications, manage energy use, and reduce maintenance costs. This communication occurs over existing power lines, making for easy installation and retrofitting of equipment while enabling McDonald’s to install the equipment without tearing out walls. McDonald’s tested various alternative technologies, including radio frequency (RF), but found Echelon’s power line technology to be the most reliable and cost-effective solution.
Echelon’s i.LON® Internet Server will be used to collect data from McDonald’s kitchen equipment, reducing labor costs spent on gathering data and creating reports while reducing potential data compilation errors.
Food safety issues are a concern in the industry and smart equipment can provide the data needed to support Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) requirements of health departments. This will save labor costs now spent on reading thermometers and creating reports.
“Open, standards-based technologies are very important for McDonald’s because we believe the food service industry will follow suit and realize the benefits of networked equipment, including streamlined operations and energy reduction,” said Bernard Morauw, senior director, Worldwide Equipment Systems for McDonald’s Corp. “The LonWorks platform allows multiple manufacturers around the world to have clear open standards to provide integrated solutions to McDonald’s restaurants.”
The LonWorks enabled “smart kitchen” equipment could easily integrate with other existing or planned building sub-systems, such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and lighting systems that are also based on the LonWorks protocol, in order to extend energy management capabilities throughout the entire restaurant. Such measures are an element that can facilitate LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for the restaurants, and further reduce energy use.
“McDonald’s has always been a market leader at the forefront of innovation and we are pleased that Echelon’s technology is part of McDonald’s commitment to environmental leadership. By choosing a LonWorks solution, they are laying the foundation for ongoing energy savings for years to come,” said Ken Oshman, Echelon’s chairman and CEO. “LonWorks technology is a robust, future proof solution that will allow McDonald’s to continue to find new applications for improving business. The use of LonWorks technology by McDonald’s is a testament to its flexibility and reliability.”
About McDonald’s Corporation
McDonald’s is the world’s leading local restaurant with more than 30,000 locations serving 52 million customers in more than 100 countries each day. More than 70% of McDonald’s restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent local men and women. For the second year in a row, McDonald’s has been selected for inclusion in the Dow Jones World and Dow Jones North America Sustainability Indexes. These indexes recognize companies that are industry leaders on a broad range of economic, environmental, and social issues. McDonald’s is one of the very few food service retailers to be honored. More information regarding McDonald’s can be found at http://www.mcdonalds.com.
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We now have the technology to automate every single processes, from McDelivery to customised ipads that replace the POS system, one click payment via NFC within 10 seconds and the completion of order within 1 minute, by linking every single processes and routing the information to every station, via Zwave technology, every single equipment can be monitored for temperature and control, even lighting, aircon, staff management with automated accounting, stock taking and order and supply, creating enormous economies of scale and productivity, jobs for the biggest number of branches all over the world. I can triple MacDonald’s income by diversifying into the manufacture and maintainence of smart kitchenware. I can even spin off McCafe to the equivalent of StarBucks. My objectives is creating jobs for everyone, I have no interest in taking over MacDonalds.
– Contributed by Oogle.

HFT will crash the markets, only matched orders should be processed with funding risk managed while everything else discarded within a specific time limit

By Emily Flitter and Sarah N. Lynch
NEW YORK | Sun Sep 30, 2012 10:44pm EDT
(Reuters) – More than two years ago, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago was pushing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to get serious about the dangers of superfast computer-driven trading. Only now is the SEC getting around to taking a closer look at some of those issues.
Critics of the SEC say the delay is part of a pattern of inaction in dealing with the fallout from high frequency trading and shows that the regulator doesn’t yet fully appreciate how fears of machine-driven market meltdowns are driving investors away from U.S. markets.
Even as the SEC gears up for a meeting on Tuesday to discuss software glitches and how to tame rapid-fire trading, the eighth public forum it has had in two years on market structure issues, regulators in Canada,Australia and Germany are moving ahead with plans to introduce speed limits to safeguard markets from the machines.
One item up for discussion is whether regulators should require trading firms and exchanges to deploy a “kill switch” so that they can quickly shut down a runaway high-speed computer program. That’s one of the seven recommendations the Chicago Fed made to the SEC in its March 25, 2010, letter.
The Chicago Fed said exchanges and other trading platforms should install more risk controls, even if it slowed down trading, including a “kill switch” at the trader workstation level. “The competitive quest for greater and greater speed must be balanced with appropriate risk controls so that a clearly erroneous trade does not destabilize markets by precipitating a cascade of other trades in response,” the Chicago Fed’s then Financial Markets Group Senior Vice President David Marshall said in the submission.
Less than two months later, the Dow Jones Industrials would plunge 700 points in a matter of seconds. The May 6, 2010, flash crash sparked a national debate over the merits of stock trading that takes place in fractions of a second, but it only led to modest action from the regulators.
Since then, there have been a series of smaller – though still frightening – events for investors, including the near-collapse of major market maker Knight Capital after a software glitch led to violent price swings in more than 100 stocks on August 1 this year. That problem lasted for at least half an hour, leading to questions about why a “kill switch” wasn’t quickly employed.
And still the move towards reforms has been slow.
“So far, the SEC hasn’t seemed to think high-frequency trading is a problem,” said Edward Kim, a former senior vice president at the NASDAQ Stock Market and now a consultant with audit firm Grant Thornton.
INVESTORS FRUSTRATED
Kim, who testified on September 7 before an SEC panel in San Francisco on the potential pitfalls of high-frequency trading, said he’s seen first-hand the fallout that the flash crash has had on investor confidence. Kim noted his father was so rattled by the rapid market meltdown he subsequently sold most of his stocks.
Institutional buy-and-hold investors also remain frustrated.
Mutual fund manager O. Mason Hawkins, who met with the SEC a month after the flash crash in June 2010 to provide evidence about how rapid-fire machine trading was destabilizing the market, has the same view today, according to a representative for his firm, Southeastern Asset Management.
Even proponents of algorithmic trading, which uses computer model-based probability theories and analysis of market data to formulate trading strategies and execute them automatically, are coming out and saying speed isn’t everything.
High-frequency trading effectively treats orders from retail investors like a tip sheet to be harvested and discarded, said Andrew Van Hise, managing director at the investment management firm SEQA Capital Advisors in New York and the designer of the algorithmic trading program for Steven A. Cohen’s $14 billion SAC Capital Advisors hedge fund.
“By the time a standard retail or institutional order reaches an exchange, it’s been looked at in essence by a number of algorithms which have cherry picked it,” said Van Hise. “What finds its way to the traditional exchanges is viewed by market participants as exhaust.”
To be sure, it’s not as if the SEC has simply stood idly by and allowed the machines to run amok. The agency did put in place some new safeguards such as circuit breakers on stocks, after the May 2010 flash crash.
The circuit breakers are intended to prevent a market wide crash by briefly halting trading in particular stocks displaying sharp price moves within a five-minute window, giving the algorithms a chance to let go of trading patterns that may have turned into vicious cycles.
In a move that some say is long overdue, the SEC has begun setting up a new analytical and research team to examine the trading patterns of high-frequency firms. The new group, which will receive and process the same data feeds that high frequency traders get, will enable the SEC to better police the markets.
And recently, the SEC fined the New York Stock Exchange’s operator, NYSE Euronext, $5 million for allegedly giving some customers “an improper head start” on proprietary trading information.
FINE-TUNING
But U.S. securities regulators, noting that high-frequency trading has brought trading costs down for many investors by pumping more liquidity into the system, do not seem to be operating under any sense of urgency.
“We are into a space now where there aren’t any massive changes to be made,” said Daniel Gallagher, a Republican commissioner at the SEC who also previously worked in its Trading and Markets division. “There are fine-tuning and dials,”
In January 2010, the SEC published a 74-page “concept release” on restructuring the markets, in part because of the rise of high-frequency trading. The SEC uses concept releases as a blueprint for future regulation. The concept release included ideas like a “trade-at” rule, which would give preference to the price in a proposed trade rather than to its position in the queue, as well as limitations on when high-frequency traders could suddenly pull out of the market.
The proposal generated more than 200 comments, including many from money managers complaining that high-frequency trading was making stock trading more volatile. The Chicago Fed submitted its letter to the SEC in response to the proposal. But the concept release has not given rise to much new regulation.
Gregg Berman, who is one of the SEC’s leading experts on stock market structure, said regulators found most of the complaints from the public and money managers about high-frequency trading to be anecdotal.
“I’ve heard many suggestions for how we might slow down the markets. But I think some ideas have ignored the fact that we have markets in which investors demand the ability to trade on an immediate and continuous basis, not at discrete intervals,” said Berman.
He continued: “It’s like saying ‘let’s use the rules of train travel, in which every train is on a specific track, to try to dictate how cars should behave, even though cars can drive between the lanes and on the shoulder.'”
A more aggressive approach by the SEC on high-frequency trading cannot come soon enough for those who say the SEC’s inaction is hurting both Main Street and Wall Street. They note that even as the Dow Jones Industrial index creeps closer to its all-time high of 14,000, trading volumes remain near the low levels reached as the financial crisis began to hit in 2007-2008.
Retail investors have withdrawn more than $313 billion from the U.S. stock market since 2008, meaning ordinary investors have not participated broadly in the market recovery. Some market experts attribute fear of another flash crash, and concerns that the playing field is far from level, for making investors wary of stocks.
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
A few enterprising high-frequency trading pioneers are taking matters into their own hands by designing new trading platforms that are being billed as trading zones that are protected from high-frequency programs. But that could lead to further fragmentation of the market, given U.S. stocks are now traded on a myriad of exchanges and electronic platforms.
Keith Ross Jr., a former chief executive officer of GETCO, one of the largest high-frequency firms, is now running a trading platform that bills itself as one that is not subject to abusive trading by high-frequency firms.
Ross’ company, PDQ ATS, processes orders by imposing a 20 millisecond delay on them and then holding an auction. The delay may not seem like much, but it’s enough to deter high-frequency traders from jumping in front of other traders, or trying to influence trading by flooding the market with bids and offers for stocks they don’t actually intend to trade.
PDQ, which launched in 2008, is gaining traction with both asset managers and high-frequency firms that Ross says are willing to play by the rules and still see room to make a profit. But the new platform is small, processing just under 100 million shares of marketable orders a day, 30 percent of which get filled.
“My expectation and my hope would be that the market has an opportunity to solve the problem itself,” Ross said.
Similarly, Bradley Katsuyama, a former top trader in the U.S. for RBC Capital Markets, recently left the bank to launch an exchange he says will employ a strategy that will prevent high-frequency trading firms from gaining an unfair advantage over mutual funds and other retail investors. He declined to provide specifics of his start-up firm, IEX Group Inc.
Still, plenty of individual investors are looking for the SEC to do something more.
One of those is Jim Sutton, who has been managing his own pension payout for the past 12 years. The 69-year-old Des Moines, Iowa, resident wrote a letter to the SEC on July 4, asking for a new rule that would slow down trading in the stock market to keep it within the realms of human perception.
He said slowing down the markets, just a bit, would improve investor confidence. Sutton says he is still waiting for a response from the regulator.
(Reporting by Emily Flitter and Sarah N. Lynch, additional reporting by Aruna Viswanatha; editing by Matthew Goldstein, Jennifer Ablan and Martin Howell)
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The logic for HFT got problems that is the reason why the matching of buy/sell orders will be exercuted in a bull/bear scenerio where the trend of the market will drive up or down the markets, creating a big problem by expanding the frequency of trades to drive the market up/down in the form of ticks so as to maximise profits. Without a tight control of liquidity where the trader need to cover his trade with funds for clearing, the bottom is limitless and the program will force everything either direction, where if there is no time limit to discard all the un-necessary unmatched orders, the problem will be compounded. If everything is brought under control, there is no danger that HFT will crash the market.
– Contributed by Oogle.