The beginning of the end the end of the beginning?

Ah well, so far no pay this month, and just promises that it will come soon… Many people here in Iceland are getting 20% wage cuts, and I suspect we may see this if we get some pay. To be honest, I am somewhat ambivalent regarding my feelings on the possible demise of my company. While is would be sad to see it go, as there has been so much hard work put in, but I am getting tired of the random task allocations and lack of forward planning. I love the idea of some time off, but in the current economic climate this might turn into a long time…

Maths abuse

Another week, another set of business lectures. This weeks wisdom was all to do with decision taking and what is apparently known as Decision Theory… The basic concepts seemed fair enough, and the aims are all very laudable, which is to add some rigor and repeatability to the decision process. However, the processes and exercises we were taken through felt like pseudoscience at best. I would love to be convinced by these processes, but they seemed to rely on some very questionable maths. Most if not all of them used weighting values and rankings. These figures do not generally seem to based on measured values, but guesses or expected/desired. Once you have multiplied many of these together, the relative errors seem to add up to make the ‘results’ meaningless. Interestingly there was no discussion on this. What I am still pondering is if there is still some value in the process, as it produces a formal and repeatable system for decision making, as opposed to the traditional nebulous gut-feeling models.
Either way I think there is value in knowing how the theory works, as this is a growing field in use in many companies, so their decision are often driven by these models and methods. One method we played with was an interesting (and expensive) Monte Carlo plug-in for excel, which seems to add serious brute-force techniques to ill defined problems. Now, I suspect many of these methods have been used recently in financial institutions to decide on the wisdom of taking on say.. sub-prime loans, and calculating the value of companies and investments.
Oh dear..

Welcome to real life..

Well, what a fun week so far.. I woke on Monday with a sore toe, which I think is caused by gout. This is just a guess, but it seems to fit the symptoms, as I am in the perfect age range (40-50), size (fat) and gender. It also came after a night of red meat and wine which are typical triggers. It would be funny in some ways, if my toe wasn’t so excruciatingly painful. It is hard to believe that something so small and apparently unimportant can hurt so much.
To add insult to injury the landrover transmission failed on the way home from school late on Monday night. Thankfully, being a 4×4 vehicle, sticking it in full 4×4 mode meant that the surviving half of the transmission could carry us home. It looks like the problem is not as disastrous as I thought it might be, but it will still cost plenty.
Finally today we had a staff meeting to keep us up to date with our companies and Iceland’s financial status, and basically neither look good. We should be paid this month, and possibly next, if there is some improvement in the banking system here. Right now as a company we can neither pay overseas suppliers, or move overseas income back to Iceland to keep us afloat. The banks (well, now there is only really one national bank) are not extending or issuing new loans, so bridging over this expanding financial crevasse is not possible either. Being branded as terrorists is not helping things much …

All your money are belong to us [sic]

Interesting, it seems that the new image that Iceland is promoting now is one of a debt-defaulting, bankrupt nation. As you can imagine this is really working well it terms of promoting international trade and stability. Now I don’t understand how the hell we got into this, but then again I seem to be in good company as nor do most of the experts from the look of things. Life here in Iceland is getting interesting, as we can’t transfer money out of the island, nor pay for most international services with Krona. This means that we can’t ship the equipment we should have sent to Spain last week, and we can’t buy our plane tickets out there anyway. Banks have limited the amount of money customers can withdraw in Krona, and almost stopped withdrawals in foreign currencies.
Rumors abound as to what the next step might be, and if individuals accounts will have any guarantee. The govt. says all individuals are covered, but they also told the UK this initially, and it is not clear that any guarantee covers non-national residents. My startup business course is still chugging along. The current lectures on company value seem rather ironic right now. I can’t decide if doing this course right now is a great idea as an insurance policy, or just plain stupid..

Easy come, easy go…

Oh dear! it looks like the economy here is well and truly f#$%ed. Thanks to the Russians the exchange rate has recovered slightly, costing me quite a considerable amount of money, as I had just moved all my savings into uk pounds from krona in light of the rapid drop over the last few days. I tried to move it back this morning before the huge injection of currency, but it wasn’t possible. So, a very expensive day so far for me. That will teach me to try and be a currency trader…
From the sound of it we are now set for higher prices, high inflation and no bank lending (or possibly no banks..). Interestingly it seem that the Govt. will be taking over the house loans, but there is too little information to be able to decide if this will be a good or bad thing. I give our company about a 40% chance of surviving the next 12 months..