Crisis

First responder assaults – the shocking stats

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We must question the sanity of the world we live in. First responders – police, fire and ambulance – are generally people trying to save the community from danger by putting themselves in harm’s way. Yet the incidence of assaults against them has grown to shocking levels around the world. These are not exhaustive stats (this will come in a more comprehensive piece) but this piece paints a picture of what is going on and why we shouldn’t be surprised at the growing incidences of PTSD suffered by first responders. Something must be done. The next journey for CM is to provide a solution.

By branch:

POLICE

The FBI noted in 2016 that 57,180 (c.10% of all) US police officers were assaulted while performing their duties. 28.9% were injured (enough to enforce time away from work). The largest percentage of victim officers (32.2%) were assaulted while responding to disturbance calls (domestic violence, family disputes, pub fights).

Assailants used hands, fists or feet in 78% of the incidents, firearms in 4.2% of incidents, and knives or other cutting instruments in 1.9% of the assaults. Other types of dangerous weapons were used in 16% of assaults. Assaults on police in the US are up 17% in the past two years. 

In NSW, Australia some 2,343 (13.3%) police officers out of 16,500 have been at the receiving end of assault in 2017. That’s 6 per day. With regard to official statistics, the NSW Police Force indicated that over a three year period from 2013 to 2015, an average of 2,236 police officers per year were assaulted during the course of their duties. Around 7% of officers actually end up physically injured. 

 AMBULANCE/EMS

In the US health care professionals experience the highest rate of workplace violence (WPV) compared to all other industries, with the majority of violent injuries committed by their patients according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Studies show EMS responders were three times higher than the national average for all other occupations to suffer WPV. In regards to occupational fatalities, the rate among paramedics is more than twice the national average for all occupations and is comparable to those of police and firefighters at 12.7 per 100,000 workers per year.

The rate of nonfatal injuries among US paramedics was 34.6 per 100 full-time workers per year — a rate more than 5x higher than the national average for all workers.  In regard to fatal injuries, a retrospective cohort study of nationally registered emergency medical technicians (EMTs) in the U.S. found that 8% of fatalities were due to assaults. 

Males have been reported as the most frequent perpetrators of violence however, a separate study found female patients of the mean age of 32.5 years +/- 8.1 years to be the most frequent perpetrators. 

In the NSW Ambulance Service, approximately 51% of assault incidents were attributed to mental illness, 22% to alcohol, 15% to drugs. Similarly, statistics provided by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) concerning violence against Police from July 2006 to June 2016 suggest alcohol is a factor in many incidents.  Assaults on ambos in NSW are up 8-fold since 2001. Median lost hours for those EMS crew assaulted is around 8.6 weeks.

FIRE FIGHTERS

In what world do people shoot fireys? Here are 3 specific incidents in 2016 of attacks on fire fighters in the US. 

April 15, 2016: Firefighter fatally shot, second wounded in Prince George’s, Baltimore, Maryland

Jan. 22, 2016: Ark. firefighter shot, killed on EMS call, Pulaski County, Arkansas,

Jan. 20, 2016: Denver fire chief stabbed near station, Denver, Colorado,

Fire and Rescue NSW indicated its officers do not have the sort of violence prevention training of police and paramedics better able to protect their crew’s health and safety, including in respect of violent incidents. At the Parliamentary Committee’s hearing on 14 November 2016, Fire and Rescue NSW witnesses provided the following evidence:

Basically, when a crew arrives at an incident, you have a station officer and a station commander in charge of the crew and the…truck. That person undergoes promotional programs to get to that position. Part of that is understanding how the legislation is applied in reality from a practical point of view. Also, during that experience – we are talking probably eight to 10 years for that to occur …The promotional programs…cover the responsibilities of the officer and advise around the standard operational guidelines of when to withdraw and ask for police support and what is safe or not safe.

…If we look overseas for experiences and tried to align our experience to that, you would have to say that the civil unrest that is happening in the United States probably would not occur here to that degree. However, there is also an underlying issue in the United States where emergency service is seen as part of an arm of government and there is, hopefully, a small growing trend where emergency service ambushes are occurring…random shooters are calling emergency services to locations to make a point. We hope that never crosses to this country here, but we would always have an eye on what happens in other jurisdictions…because it is quite possible someone would pick that up as a possibility in this jurisdiction….”

PRISON GUARDS

The UK HMPS note that there were 7,159 assaults on staff in the year to March 2017 up 32%YoY. Serious assaults were up 25%YoY to 805 incidents. The National Tactical Response Group (NTRG) which is only called under extreme levels of prisoner violence  surged from 120 in 2010 to an annualized 630 by the end of 2016.  

THE PTSD IMPACT

This was the fascinating part of the research. It isn’t that the job isn’t hard enough already, it’s the lack of resources to support first responders when waiting for incidents. Lots of idle time to ponder.

US FEMA note stress has not only been categorized by exposure to traumatic incidents, but also the monotonous operational characteristics of EMS organizations, such as paperwork, lack of administrative support, low wages, long hours, irregular shifts, and cynical societal attitudes toward public safety officers.

Cumulative stress associated with the monotonous duties or low acuity calls has led to feelings of desensitization for patients, and their job as a whole. Concerns have also been raised regarding sleep quality and fatigue and the impact it has not only on the provider, but also job performance and patient  outcomes. Some research has posited that organizational stress often contributes more to the development of PTSD than traumatic events.

Also noteworthy is the notion that paramedics are often the source for a lot of criticisms by society for the decisions they make in determining life or death situations for patients and themselves. This can affect EMS providers in many ways and may contribute to the slow decline in provider morale.

Burnout (emotional exhaustion) is one of many organizational outcomes that may arise as a result of violence experienced by EMS responders. The question of whether or not violence would eventually lead to burnout was first raised in the early 1990s . Exposures to violence were noted as a reason many EMTs, especially volunteers, left the profession. In an early study from 1998, 7% of survey respondents within one urban fire department considered leaving EMS as a direct result of an abusive situation they encountered while on the job. Knowing how to emotionally cope following a tough incident can help to reduce anxiety and burnout.  

Mixed methods studies conducted in the U.S. and Sweden found that violent encounters altered the patient-provider relationship. Yet, some in the industry feel that exposures to violence do not cause stress or negatively impact providers. This lack of effect has been attributed to the internalization of the mentality that violence is a part of the job.  It has been posited that years of experience may be a protective factor that allows more experienced responders to experience less stress and anxiety after violent events. 

Evidence weighing the social and economic costs associated with increased violence and burnout is based mostly upon anecdotal evidence, with no assessments conducted on monetary value. Some suggest that, as violence increases, the need for police backup also increases, thereby increasing response time and delaying potentially critical care to a patient in need. 

Other concerns include altered operations for the private sector of EMS. Intent to leave the profession is also a concern. As more EMS responders leave the profession, numerous organizational and patient impacts have been hypothesized, including increased costs for training new EMTs and paramedics, greater numbers of inexperienced paramedics serving at any one point in time, and increased error rates committed by new and inexperienced paramedics. EMS responders also report seeking a job change away from their ambulance role. In some cases, responders stated they lost interest in fieldwork and tried to get off the road and into desk positions. 

What’s clear is that not enough is being done to help first responders cope with occupational hazards and handling the stress that comes from it. That is going to change very soon. Stay  posted!

While you’re at it, why not thank those first responders randomly in the street for the great work they do. It goes a long way! They need you just as much as you will need them when you’re in a bind!

59yo COO sues Fujifilm Australia for ageism

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The Australian Financial Review (AFR) reports that one of Fuji Film Australia’s executives, COO David Marshall is suing for ageism. There is a sense of irony in that the Chairman of Fujifilm Japan is 78. The AFR reports,

At a dinner at Melbourne’s Rococo restaurant in 2015, former Fujifilm CEO Kevin Masuda allegedly stood up and pointed at Mr Marshall, laughingly saying “Dave is too old” in front of senior clients…During 2017, Mr Koshimizu repeatedly referred to himself in front of Mr Marshall as “old, like past 60, retirement age” and allegedly told him Fujifilm “wants you to find the next Mr Marshall” and it was looking for a “young, strong” team.’We need a younger person’

On May 18, during a dinner at Palace Hotel in Tokyo, the chairman Mr Koshimizu told Mr Marshall “Dave, you and I are old too. We need a younger person to make strong as a general manager.”

Retirement is a hot issue in Japan. Corporates are retiring expensive workers (who are often paid based on seniority) and reemploying them as ‘advisors’ (pp.15-24) on relatively paltry sums of $1,000/mth. While it is not unusual here, it would be rather strange if Fujifilm in Australia were to make such a rookie mistake in trying to flip a worker approaching 60. In 1984 85% of male employees were full time vs 62% odd today. It isn’t surprising to see the most active demographic seeking work aren’t young uni grads but the elderly struggling to make ends meet.

 

Crime in Japan – BBC interview 7 July

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Tomorrow, BBC World Service’s Edwin Lane will release the pre-recorded interview he conducted with me several months ago on the back of a series I wrote on Crime in Japan – Part 1 – Geriatric Jailbirds, Part 2 – Breakdown of the nuclear family and Part 3 – Fraud, Drugs, Murder, Yakuza and the Police some 15 months ago. Since then the reports have been reported in 14 different languages and reached c.5 million page/podcast impressions as the BBC also conducted an interview on BBC Radio 5 “Up all night”

The reason I ended up writing the research paper came by chance. While trawling through the Japanese National Police Agency statistics looking for data to help a client on motorcycle license trends, I stumbled over the crime stats and couldn’t believe the wealth of information that showed the sharp jumps in crime levels. There is some suggestion that much under-reporting went on several decades ago but as you can see in the reports the charts speak for themselves.

On a global basis, Japanese crime is low on almost any measure but the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has had to expand prison capacity 50% in the last decade, facilitated early release to prepare for a sharp rise in elderly inmates. The pension-age cohort in prison now represents the highest percentage of total inmates. With that the MoJ has had to apply for a supplemental budget to cover the extra cost of healthcare in prison as the average age rises.

 

Misfiring Motorcycle Market in Japan

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The Japanese National Police Agency has just released its 2016 statistics. Since 2010, there has been a decline of 1,500,000 Japanese men who possess a large bore (401cc+) motorcycle license. In the reverse there has been a 715,000 increase in mid size capacity bikes. Female riders have shown a similar pattern of 178,000 fall in large capacity licenses and 147,000 increase in mid size respectively. While there are still 9.175mn men and 625,000 women willing to get out on the highway with large capacity bikes, the trend is alarming. More frighteningly, new graduates aren’t lining up either. 30,000 fewer students lined up to get a mid or large size bike license between 2014 and 2016 representing a 12.3% dip.

In fact only one prefecture saw a rise in graduates out of 47.

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Even then that was the law of low numbers. Yamagata saw a 9.9% increase in total graduates or 222 people, hardly making a dent on Kanagawa which saw over a 3,000 person decline or 13.3% fall.

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When looking at the large bore market, something the big overseas brands are targeting the stats look grim.

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Nagasaki and Miyazaki, two of the prefectures in Kyushu (which had a terrible earthquake in April 2016) saw a rise in those obtaining a large bore license, which backs up the trend seen in Miyagi and Fukushima when the quake and tsunami hit in 2011. Perhaps the idea of ‘living one’s life’ became a driver to get people to apply for big bore bike licenses.

New % graduate

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So overall the outlook remains bleak. While licenses numbers are falling at a relatively slow pace (2% p.a.) eventually riding schools will end up shutting shop because there is little new business. Tottori-Pref on the Japan sea coast is one of the aging population centers but it saw a 22% fall in new grads from its schools.

This has to be one of the best countries in the world for motorcycling with high quality twisty ribbon throughout. The question is what to do to arrest the situation.

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New cars for 40% off

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Looking for a new car? This maybe last year’s model but it’s new and 40% off. I recall seeing such lunatic deals the last time we headed for a collapse in auto sales. Mac Haik Ford in Houston is practically giving it away.  Even some of the 2017 models are getting chunky discounts.

Jim Glover Chevy near Arkansas River is also trying to shift 2016 metal. Why buy used when a 2016 new Malibu is $7,000 off?

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Chrysler is also chucking discounts left, right and centre. Northwest Dodge Houston is taking $14,000 off new Rams.

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ZeroHedge wrote:

If GM piles on incentives at this rate three months in a row, it would spend nearly $4 billion on incentives, in just that quarter, just in the US alone. How much dough is that for GM? In Q1 2015, GM reported global net income of $2.0 billion. In Q1 2015, it reported global net income of $0.9 billion. These incentives can eat an automaker’s lunch in no time. And they did in the years before the industry collapsed during the Great Recession.”

The National Automotive Dealer Association (NADA), a division of JD Power wrote,

Manufacturers dialed up incentive spending 18% last month to help reduce new vehicle inventory levels that are at a decade-plus high.”

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The NADA Used Car Guide’s “seasonally adjusted used vehicle price index fell for the eighth straight month, declining 3.8% from January to 110.1. The drop was by far the worst recorded for any month since November 2008 as the result of a recession-related 5.6% tumble. February’s index gure was also 8% below February 2016’s 119.4 result and marked the index’s lowest level since September 2010.”

WolfStreet noted “Used vehicle wholesale prices determine the value of the collateral for $1.11 trillion in auto loans that have boomed on higher prices, higher unit sales, longer maturities (the average hit a new record of 66.5 months in Q4), and higher loan-to-value ratios (negative equity)”

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It doesn’t bode well.

The Public Pension Black Hole

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“It’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so!” – Mark Twain

The beauty of pension accounting is that slight tweaks can make a large unfunded liability
seemingly disappear or at the very least shrink it to “she’ll be alright mate” levels. However if a pension fund plays the game of understating its risks for long enough then eventually it catches up, especially if performance is consistently poor. This is what we are starting to see in vivid colour among state and local (S&L) governments in America. Reality is biting.

This PDF report is  my findings over the last couple of days. Best consumed with a stiff drink.

Pistol whipping Johann Bund

Retirement increasingly looks like an auction with dummy bidders because no-one else wants to raise their hand. The German Bundesbank is warning that by 2060, the retirement age should be 69 not the current 67 proposal by 2029. Yes I get that people are living longer but that disguises the fact that the pension pot is emptying too quickly.

Naturally Chancellor Merkel’s team came out suggesting that the Bundesbank was too negative because  immigration will help slow down the declining workforce alleviating the need to raise retirement ages again. German elections are to be held in autumn 2017 and Merkel doesn’t need more negative news flow to dent her already flagging popularity.

Merkel’s popularity sunk 12 points after the Munich terrorist attack, the second lowest showing since the start of the current government in 2013. Only 34% said they were satisfied with her handling of the refugee crisis.

Pensions are going to be a huge problem and as I showed with the US, unfunded portions due to the inability to generate significant returns will strangle authorities. They can babble on all they wish over actuarial assumptions, but the reality is that people will be forced to retire with less, despite tipping in more while they have to wait longer. Would anyone voluntarily sign up to that type of situation?

As I wrote on pensioners in Japan, the ramifications for people who discover the safety net they expected is not there, some choose to commit crime to spend life in prison as such a life is preferable to struggling on the outside on a pittance.

US unemployed & recessions over 66 years

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Once again, another chart highlights over the last 66 years, US unemployed persons trends have been very linear. Of course the number of unemployed as a % of the population has not varied much at peaks and troughs but the  red line in the above chart looks pretty convincing.

Of course the authorities will pat themselves on the back for their amazing guidance but as I continue to warn, recession (and I use that term sparingly) in the US is around the corner. Weaker payrolls, truck orders, a more doveish Fed all point to stampeding toward the exits yet markets still live in wonderland. Although surely the markets are wondering what breaks the 18,000 on the Dow or 2,100 on S&P?

Several EU banks headed for insolvency?

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Looks as though several European banks are headed for the dustbin. In the prelude to GFC1 we had words like NINJA loans (no income, no job or assets) which entered financial lexicon. Now the latest word for equity markets is TINA (there is no alternative).

ZeroHedge wrote on the folding of a Belgian bank

Belgium-based Optima Bank has been shut down by both the National Bank of Belgium (which also acts as the Belgian regulating body) as well as the ECB. According to the national supervisor, the bank would have been unable to meet its commitments to its clients and was forced to cease all banking activities after some potentially fraudulent transaction were unveiled.

It’s surprising to see the main media have tried to keep this silent as even the website of the National Bank of Belgium didn’t bother to issue the press release in English (whereas all other press releases on the home page can be read in English). There’s no statement from the ECB either, nor has this news been translated on the English version of website of the state-owned national television station.

The situation is so bad the regulator has already immediately tasked the special fund organizing the Deposit Guarantee Scheme to start paying out the clients of the bank, even though Optima Bank hasn’t filed a bankruptcy procedure just yet. The urgency of the need to pay the clients does indicate the situation is extremely bad and even though it’s a very small one (it had closed the savings accounts division last year), there are two more important things you need to keep in mind.

Japan’s 15-year sovereign bonds sell for negative rates

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Is it any wonder that the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, Japan’s largest bank, is looking to hand back its sovereign debt primary trading licence? The latest Japanese 15-year bond auction hit -0.004%. The 10 year bond is already trading at -0.14%

Once again printed money is buying MoF debt and other participants wanting to seek yield must go further and further out the curve which then causes enhanced risk on the duration which we spoke of this morning.

Negative interest rates were first suggested at the end of the 19th century by Silvio Gesell, a Prussian economist and short-lived Bavarian Finance minister. Gesell argued that a stamp tax or ‘negative interest was necessary to prevent people from hoarding currency in times of financial stress.’ With the GFC, Gesell’s work has taken on increased relevance, gaining new converts, advocating some type of ‘stamp tax’ to encourage lending, spending and an increase in the velocity of money.

Well the reality is banks remain reluctant to lend, people are reluctant to spend and the velocity of money continues to decline…

Here are 7 things to ponder;

  • A recent US Federal Reserve survey found that 47% of Americans couldn’t raise $400 in emergency cash were the need to arise.
  • A bank survey in Australia showed 50% of people wouldn’t be able to meet their financial obligations if unemployed for more than 3 months.
  • 60% of ETF purchases in Japan and c. 100% of sovereign bond purchases are bought by the Bank of Japan which now owns 38% of outstanding government debt.  Japan’s move to negative rates caused run on sales of mini-vaults as people looked to store their own cash.
  • M2/M3 money velocity has hit all time lows in the US, ECB, Australia, China & Japan.
  • Italian banks non performing loans (NPLs) are approaching 20% and as high as 50% in the south of the country. The ECB is breaching their own covenants to hide the mess.
  • Over 25% of those in the EU live below the poverty line and youth unemployment is c.25% with long term unemployment now 50%. In Greece those numbers are 36%, 58% and 72%.
  • China’s industrial sector among others shows clear signs of recording sales without much hope of being paid with receivables ballooning in some cases leaping to over 5 years of reported revenue pointing to a sharp uptick in corporate debt insolvency & NPLs to follow.