“Wir sind das Volk” was a chant used by the Monday demonstrators during the peaceful demonstrations of 1989/1990 to end the GDR and bring down the Berlin Wall. The slogan meant that the “simple people” would no longer endure the dictatorship, and wanted to reform the political system of the GDR.
“I am done. Don’t ask me to pledge to the flag, or salute the troops, or shoot fireworks on the 4th. It’s a sick, twisted, heartbreaking joke, this bloated, unrecognizable corpse of a republic that once was ours.
“I am not alone. Not sure how things continue to function when millions of citizens no longer feel any loyalty to or from the society they live in.”
As anyone who has been part of or through a financial audit knows, red flags are fairly common. Most people in large corporations get dragged into an audit at some point so you know what I’m talking about.
Red flags raised by auditors don’t mean there’s fraud. A few flags can mean a lot of things: sloppy records, random stuff, individual stupidity, plus, of course, outright dishonesty.
Surely, just an innocent mistake. Or, plain stupidity. No doubt, they’ll “fix the glitch.”
But a lot of red flags are often a sign of criminal behavior somewhere.
See one cockroach, you know there are more.
One of the flags auditors look for is inordinate populations in the tail of the curves. Numbers that are too random. Or, not random enough – too good to be true.
Or, perhaps anomalies in the distribution. That’s often a sign of fraudulent behavior.
Sort of like when you see carpenter ants – you know there’s rot somewhere in the structure. Just not obvious where.
But auditors use a range of tools to test for fraud. One such tool is the Newcomb-Benford law.
The Newcomb–Benford law (NBL) defines a probability distribution describing the expected patterns of significant digits in real positive numbers. NBL tells you how the distribution should look like.
And, in real life, that distribution should not be random.
To the contrary, NBL observes the first significant digits are not uniformly scattered. Rather, the digits follow a logarithmic-type distribution.
Auditors of all kinds – tax, financial, trade data – typically employ NBL to assess the likelihood red flags are, indeed, indicative of fraud .
What’s applicable to process data of all kinds is readily applicable to electoral data.
Lacasa and Fernandez-Gracia  discuss Newcomb-Benford to electoral applications. They demonstrate that fraud can be easily inferred from electoral statistics at the macro and micro level.
Kokak et al.  apply these methods to a number of Russian elections over the years and highlight anomalous behavior consistent with fraud (inter alia, unusual voter turnout percentages and material changes) in the skewed results.
All of this brings us to the current election.
Matt Braynard, a GOP political analyst and former Trump Data Chief, believes he can detect voter fraud by comparing absentee ballots and early voters to the Social Security Death Index and the National Change of Address Database.
He even setup a “GoFundMe” account, though the corporate captains seem to be holding him at arms length.
In the meantime, suffice to say, we will be hearing more about voter fraud in the months to come.
BTW, want to see another take on voter fraud? Check out some Russian elections.
See a pattern in the distribution tail?
Getting a deja vu?
Well, let’s see:
Biden outperforms Senators in swing states, underperforms in VA, NH, RI
Biden underperforms Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in MI, PA, GA, and WI
Biden mail-in dumps have 100% margins
Down-ballot senators and congressmen get fewer votes than the top-line presidential candidate
GOP lose ZERO House seats
Does this look like anomalous behavior?
 Cerioli, A., Barabesi, L., Cerasa, A., Menegatti, M., & Perrotta, D. (2019). Newcomb-Benford law and the detection of frauds in international trade. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116(1), 106–115.
 Kobak, D., Shpilkin, S., & Pshenichnikov, M. S. (2016). Statistical fingerprints of electoral fraud? Significance (Oxford, England), 13(4), 20–23.
 Lacasa, L., & Fernández-Gracia, J. (2019). Election Forensics: Quantitative methods for electoral fraud detection. Forensic Science International, 294, e19–e22.
“China imported 1.1 million tons of corn in September, a jump of 675% from a year earlier, according to official customs data. That was the highest level since 2016. Between January and September, inbound shipments climbed 73% to 6.67 million tons, the highest since at least 2005, data showed.”
Carloads and intermodal units up 2.2% YoY. Four carload commodities showed increases over 2019, led by grain, up 23.9%; six were down, most notably coal (minus-20.1%) and petroleum and petroleum products (minus-19.1%).
For the year to date, total traffic is down 9.8%, with intermodal units down 5.1% and carloads down 14.9%.
“Every rocket force brigade in Fujian and Guangdong is now fully equipped.” Chang asserts that this is evidence of the communist regime’s invasion plans: “The size of some of the missile bases in the Eastern and Southern theatre commands have even doubled in recent years, showing the PLA is stepping up preparations for a war targeting Taiwan.”
Lavrov: “No matter what we do, the West will try to hobble and restrain us, and undermine our efforts in the economy, politics, and technology. These are all elements of one approach.”
Question: “Their national security strategy states that they will do so.”
Lavrov: “Of course it does, but it is articulated in a way that decent people can still let go unnoticed, but it is being implemented in a manner that is nothing short of outrageous.”
Question: You, too, can articulate things in a way that is different from what you would really like to say, correct?”
Lavrov: “It’s the other way round. I can use the language I’m not usually using to get the point across. However, they clearly want to throw us off balance, and not only by direct attacks on Russia in all possible and conceivable spheres by way of unscrupulous competition, illegitimate sanctions and the like, but also by unbalancing the situation near our borders, thus preventing us from focusing on creative activities. Nevertheless, regardless of the human instincts and the temptations to respond in the same vein, I’m convinced that we must abide by international law.”
According to Reuters, Beijing now wants a full accounting of everything going on at local developers.
“The government is monitoring everything now, unless you want to cheat, but they will be able to tell from your monthly figures,” said a senior executive at one of the developers in the pilot scheme.
Following concerns of too much developer leverage sparked by Evergrande’s liquidity crisis, Chinese media reported that the cap for the debt-to-assets ratio will be set at 70%, the cap for net debt to equity will be set at 100% and the developers should also have enough cash to match their short-term liabilities. While authorities have yet to announcement details of the implementation, the industry expects the rules to be applied sector-wide in the first half of next year.
According to analysts at ANZ, about one-fifth of real estate companies with China A-shares have leverage ratios exceeding the thresholds. They warn that a sharp reduction in leverage “could rattle credit markets and weigh heavily on the property sector”, a key driver behind China’s swift economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis.
SocGen China analyst Wei Yao wrote that “a new chapter of deleveraging has begun”:
“A succession of events in the past few weeks have pushed the debt risk of China’s real estate sector to the forefront. Markets were at one point deeply concerned about the default risk of Evergrande, China’s biggest property developer. And even worse–the risk of a systemic debt crisis that could follow. This situation, while still developing, has calmed somewhat. However, this is probably really only the beginning of a new deleveraging campaign.
“It all started with the government’s proposal to contain developers’ leverage. On 20 August, the PBoC and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) held a meeting with key real estate companies where policymakers proposed the so-called “three red lines” framework for monitoring debt risk and reducing leverage in the sector. According to media reports, the “three red lines” were drawn up based on three financial metrics, including 1) the debt-to-asset ratio, 2) the net debt ratio,and 3) cash flows to short-term debt ratio.
“Future debt growth of real estate companies will be restricted in various degrees based on their current leverage as measured by these metrics (see the table below). In the harshest scenario, a developer will not be allowed to raise any more debt. Based on its current financial situation, Evergrande would in fact fall into this category.“
“Step one, help yourself to tasty assets from the public trough. Step two, figure out how to keep them.
“The best investment in Ukrainian history may be about to become even better—Burisma’s recruiting of Hunter Biden to its board. After a government minister allegedly awards himself lucrative gas rights, the Ukrainian people overthrow a regime famous for its corruption. In the normal course of events, a successor regime would seek to establish its bona fides by clawing back the disputed gas rights, except for one thing: The new government, under military threat from Russia, is desperately dependent on a U.S. administration whose vice president was Joe Biden.
“It was unnecessary for Mr. Biden to do anything. The new regime was checkmated from the start in its desire to relieve Burisma of its questionably obtained assets. Now U.S. reporters frightened to be seen playing it straight in the middle of an election insist there’s nothing to see here except the sad misjudgment of Mr. Biden’s dissolute son. A normal person, though, can’t help regarding Burisma as the culminating chapter in a Hunter Biden career in which, from day one, every job and opportunity was handed to him by someone seeking influence with his father.”