Tag Archives: Goldman Sachs

Pay for Success: A ponzi scheme?


This is a follow up to my post Unmasking Pay for Success . Here, I think I have succeeded on showing that this  is nothing but a Ponzi Scheme. It’s based on how pay-for-success has been applied in the UK. It’s dry material and, as usual, long. But if you bumped into this post and don’t read it, don’t say later that you weren’t warned about the truth behind ‘pay for success’.

I still have another part on this next week. It’s about how Pay for success is being applied here in the USA. I hope you find this interesting and informative. Links are at the bottom.

“PAY-FOR-SUCCESS”: ANATOMY OF A PONZI SCHEME

“UK building integrated impact investment marketplace”

Over there they call it “outcomes-based financing”.

“These contracts allow the government to outsource the provision of a service [privatize the functions of government] to impact businesses or other private-sector contenders and only pay for that service once a defined set of outcomes is delivered.”

Now, who in its right mind would want to get into that type of business: you get paid only if you deliver, for example, a sober alcoholic? Sure, it started with services for the unemployed and released prisoners, but it is moving to ALL social services, including mental disabilities and children and alcoholism services. Social services and human behavior cannot be shaped into ‘asset instruments’. Somehow, though, Wall Street will find a way to do it.

“Changing government procurement practices: Outcomes-based financing”

[I had to look it up: procurement = acquisition of good and services from an external source. Very complicated topic too.]

Payment-by-results contracts

 The suppliers – those companies that will be commissioned to find employment for the target populations – are paid on a staggered basis, reflecting achieved outcomes: there is an upfront fee, a job outcome fee once the individual is employed, and a sustainment fee once the individual has maintained the employment for a given period.”

The “upfront fee” is an issue for me. How much is it? How about the “sustainment fee”?

“Importantly, the sustainment fee is meant to make up a “substantial” portion [quote provided by JP] of the total amount the government will pay5, and the government will not pay anything should the outcomes not be delivered.”

There’s another scheme, more ‘attractive’ than that one:

Social Impact Bond

Creating the social malady and then profiting from the pain?

Creating the social malady and then profiting from the pain?

“raising GBP 5mm in a bond whose payout is linked to the government savings achieved by reducing recidivism at Peterborough Prison. Notably, unlike traditional bonds, investors stand to lose their full principal should there be no reduction in recidivism6 since, similar to the Work Programme contract, the government will not make any payment if the defined outcomes are not achieved.

Wait! Don’t run yet to Wall Street to buy these bonds. A bond is a bond. It means that the government is BORROWING. Bonds are DEBT the government owes. Caught in a lie once again. Our government says that ‘pay for success’ is a ‘win-win’ situation because it takes care of social services without engaging in debt. Yeah, right.

But let’s see how JP gets out of this unattractive risky bond business where you are bound to lose everything if you play with them

Risk transfer.

.

“Understanding the risk transfer inherent in outcomes-based financing”

You can bet on it: there’s INHERENT risk in ‘pay for success’. And it gets “transferred” to somebody by somebody. To whom down the pyramid do you think the transfer is more likely to be passed on? Think, then read.

“Transferring risk to the right recipient”

“The Social Impact Bond transfers the impact delivery risk (and hence the risk of financial return) from the government to third-party investors who provide capital to the service providers and take the risk that outcomes may not be achieved.

Did you get that? The big financial institutions who provide the capital is the one [gulp] who stand to lose their money in the bond scheme. What are the chances that JP will want a piece of that losing action? Of course not. JP compares this bond thing with the other scheme:

“By contrast, the Work Programme’s payment-by-results contracts transfer the impact delivery risk from the government to the service provider.”

Uhm, “the provider”? Does that means YOU, Community Access? Aren’t you laughing yet? Let’s see what JP says is necessary before signing the dotted line for these contracts, given these risks:

Both working capital and risk capital are required to win these contracts

“…delivering on these contracts requires working capital to cover operating costs until payments are received, and risk capital to cover the risk that outcomes are unsuccessful (and no program payments are received).”

THE PONZI SCHEME

And from where do you, my little small- business -entrepreneur -non-for-profit get that money?

“each procurement contract is meant to engage a Social Investment Partnership comprising a financial sponsor (or consortium of sponsors) who will then engage one or more service provider8. This arrangement enables the impact business to transfer the risk to investors,

Follow King Midas.

as in the case of the Social Impact Bond. The next natural question is: how much risk are investors willing to take on these new

THE NATURAL QUESTION??! HELLO! No wonder Bloomberg said that he and his billionaire pals HAVE to infringe on our freedom! PLEASE DO! Don’t let me INVEST THERE! We don’t know what we are doing!…………….Ok, enough banter.

So, at the end, the risk was passed on to the low-level investor, not the ‘senior’ investor. Does Ponzi scheme come to mind? It should.

But no, it doesn’t end there. Keep reading.

OF PONZI SCHEME DREAMS YET TO BE REALIZED

“Finding the right risk and return profile”

[This is the part where the cookie crumbles.]

“Some market participants have anecdotally provided feedback that the pricing does not sufficiently capture the additional cost of the hardest to reach outcomes [IT’S NOT PAYING!], and some fear this will lead service providers to focus rather on the easiest to employ populations. In both instruments, the upside is capped while the downside is not, and the probabilities of realizing the impact are yet to be determined.

Broken dreams.

Broken dreams.

It’s not working. No ‘social impact’ = no meaningful jobs created and recidivism not reduced = no payment to small investors = no money saved: a loss-loss situation.

And what do you think the big financiers will ask the government to do with this losing ‘initiative’?

“More risk-sharing with the government could reduce the downside exposure,”

This “pay for success” will end up with ALL  the risks being passed on to the government, the small level investors and the service provider, and of course, to what is left of  the middle class. The government is there to serve and protect the financial market. This is the JP evidence:

“Engage cornerstone investors, like Big Society Capital”

“With the aim of growing the impact investment sector more generally, the government established Big Society Capital (“BSC”) in July 201112. Backed by a projected GBP 600mm in capital, this organization is designed to provide financing directly into impact investments and also to invest in infrastructure and initiatives that would encourage faster market growth.”

When a government ‘invests’ 600 million bucks to help ‘big capital’ (the ‘society’ in between Big and Capital is there to cover ‘big capital’), you know it is doing EVERYTHING and ANYTHING for them. The government will buckle down and take the risk and put no controls, as they do today when privatization comes with no monitoring.

ON WALL STREET BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS…WITH GOVERNMENT $$

Now, all of this business is supposed to save “tax payer” money by asking businesses to take on the functions of government and to be willing to be paid if and when the service delivers the outcome. No money ahead, supposedly. Well, take a look at how the government will have the responsibility of building a business, from the ground up, take loans for this business, take the risks eventually and let the profits go to the big capitals. If no profits, we lose, financial markets will be protected by the government.

“Ensuring impact businesses are ready to compete

“While the prospect of capital [provided by the government] will help to ensure that impact businesses can financially manage payment-by-results contracts, for example, they also need to be “investment ready” in order to access that finance.”

Basically, the government will put billions of dollars in the seed money, hire big corporations to “teach” the little ones (paid by the government)t and “de-risk” (JP’s term)  these adventurous capitalists by providing the money that will pay JP when the whole Ponzi scheme collapses.

I invite you to read that document. It’s lots of fun…not, but it IS interesting to see the calculating mentality of the greedy billionaires planning their next attack on the people.

This post may be revised later.

Links:

Goldman to invest in NYC jail program

The JP Morgan document:

Counter(Imp)acting Austerity: The global trend of government support for impact investment

About Privatization, fracking and Lucy the psychiatrist. 5


This post will close the ‘series’ on privatization of the NYS public health and mental health system. It’s difficult to make these posts short; the topics are too big. I will try to be economical. So, please, don’t give up on reading. 🙂

The roadmap leading to privatization

You can’t claim that the NYS government is not ‘transparent’. I have discovered since I started this blog that almost every piece of government policy that takes our collective property and rights have been announced beforehand to the public, like Garcìa Màrquez’ “Chronicle of a Death Foretold”. This applies to the latest big report: governor Cuomo’ SAGE Report published last month, February, a roadmap showing the steps  to PRIVATIZE the STATE: public land, public transportation, agencies transformed to ‘efficiently’ serve Wall Street, mental health programs run, literally, by Wall Street.  How many of you have heard about it or have bother to read it?

These ‘steps’ are hidden behind fancy names like “government efficiency“, “right-sizing” (to hide down-sizing), “initiatives” like the “centers of excellence” and “collaborative approach with private and public sector“, “pay for success”…They all relate to privatization, transferring our infrastructure and government functions to you know whom. Worried about fracking? Don’t;  Cuomo will put the responsibility of protecting our environment on the polluters themselves.

Let’s see some of those steps towards privatization, and don’t forget: the recommendations given are usually adopted, at least in part if not in totality. Also, the heads of all these commissions are your typical Wall Street friends. These are the reports mentioned here:

The Commission on Health Care in the 21st Century

OMH/DOMH licensing scheme

Workforce Report

The MRT report

The SAGE report

Step #1: “The Commission on Health Care in the 21st Century”: privatization ‘by all means possible’ and fast, please.

This one is appalling. It (over 200 pages) was commissioned by our legislature and governor in April 2005 to, basically, privatize hospitals and facilitate mergers and cut the competition. The title is misleading, a slap in the face of New Yorkers: You can’t change a health care system in ONE year, which was the length of this ‘plan’; plus, it was all about merging hospitals.

These recommendations were then to be transmitted to the Governor and the Legislature on or prior to December 1, 2006. The binding recommendations were to go into effect on January 1, 2007,” and not later than June 30, 2008.  (All quotes are from the DOH’s report on the Implementation of the Report of the Commission.)

They were in a rush to do this, wonder why?

At the head of the Commission was, guess who, someone with huge ties to Wall Street’s companies gambling on hospitals and health care:

Stephen Berger is Chairman of Odyssey Investment Partners, a private New York investment firm that specializes in private corporate transactions.” [ There’s more to that guy than that.]

This commission’s recommendations accelerated and facilitated a hospitals-merging feeding-frenzy that had started in 2003 and which continues even today after the ‘recommendations’ expired. The cost of this “reconfiguration of the health-care system” (assault on New Yorkers), of closing and paying the debts of the private entities closed, of facilitating mergers, of transferring state property to private hands, of filing for bankruptcies to save themselves, cost tax payers (as they reported, which is always an underestimation) over ONE BILLION dollars in one year.

dr-evil

Included was the cost of defending this atrocity in court:

“numerous lawsuits [more than 20] were filed seeking to prevent implementation” and “the State Attorney General’s office, …created a special group of attorneys to defend the cases…” “The Department substantially prevailed in litigation challenging the constitutionality of the legislation establishing the Commission.”

The recommendations included

“recommendations that municipal and state-operated facilities join together with not-for-profit corporations, in which the plaintiffs argued that such arrangements would be illegal. As described later in this report, however, the Department determined that the facilities could legally join together in a contract merger, in which the efficiencies contemplated by the report were realized, while the legal barriers were avoided.”

The funny thing is that our media didn’t report this hospitals-merger feeding-frenzy was actually designed by the state. On the contrary, the same wolves implementing this assault on us, the state and the Department of Health (DOH), cried innocence. These are all fascinating articles about this:  New York Hospitals Look to Combine, Forming a Giant;  Goal of the NYU-Continuum Hospital Mega-Merger: Raising Prices; this one just announced in March 2013: Mt. Sinai & Continuum announce merger plans, and this one is excellent: As Hospitals Face Pressure, Six in Brooklyn Could Close.

One of the appalling things about this report is that it showed that the state behaved as a Mafioso in order to do the damage quickly:

“Forced hospital mergers [were implemented]”,

“The Department Engaged in Unilateral Enforcement Efforts as Appropriate”

“…it could not easily require a facility to provide unwanted services, or to provide services in a configuration that was not financially or clinically feasible.”

“Nevertheless, the Department at all times insisted on…compliance”

“effectively foreclose the pursuit of constitutional claims, at least in State court.”

“preserve and protect the public health and safety only when the Department determined a safety issue could exist or when updated data made a clear and convincing case that a safety issue existed, [you had to REALLY make your case]”

“the Department [of Health] did not re-evaluate the Commission’s conclusions, or attempt to replace the Commission’s judgment with its own.” [it complied with the Wall Street guy’s recommendations as ordered].

I have to say that the ONE thing that threw me off my seat was the recommendation that OMH’s unlicensed facilities be made licensed again. The cause of the Citywide Mental Health Project was validated years ago. I knew we are right on our claims! Of course, that was the ONE recommendation ignored.

Step #2: OMH/DOMH licensing scheme

OMH was created in 1977 (per President Carter’s Commission on mental health) right after the 1972 Willowbrook case. Since THEN they have been acting like a corrosive acid on our system. Not only did OMH engaged and sanctioned (up to 2010) the same crimes that led to its own creation, human medical experimentation (previous posts), but they turned the back at the mandates given to them, as I described in my previous posts. OMH has been decertifying programs since the early 1990s; at least that’s what I have found.

By de-certifying most of our mental health system, these two agencies have de-facto privatized it without the people’s knowledge. You can’t reverse that without a major public movement, which requires the awareness they don’t have about what these agencies are doing. Most people are unaware that the programs they use are unlicensed. The people trust these agencies blindly because, otherwise, they would have to perennially keep an eye on them.

OMH has ‘rules’ to attract businesses by paying between 50 and 100% of the loans they take to run their businesses (PART 521. FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR CAPITAL ACQUISITION AND CONSTRUCTION). This is done under the excuse of creating the facilities where services will supposedly be provided. But, despite all that public money, OMH refuses to license most of these businesses and, instead, gives them the ‘freedom’ to act unaccountable to anybody. This is how I understood that rule. I hope to be corrected by someone up there if I’m wrong.

Step #3: On the Workforce Report and Lucy the psychiatrist

This one is la creme de la creme. Not only OMH argued there  that we don’t need a licensed system, it said that we don’t need licensed professionals. It seems to insinuate that a case manager acting as a psychologist is as ‘safe’ and ‘efficient’ as a licensed psychologist. I’m not kidding. This is the background:

State’s legislators required in 2010 that a workforce study be conducted to determine what would be required for mental health agencies and non-for-profits to come into compliance with licensing by 2013. The issue is whether the state should enforce the requirement that these entities hire licensed professionals (which some legislators want to do) or that, on the other hand, they be granted a ‘waiver’ to allow them to hire unlicensed professionals to provide the same services as licensed do. It all has to do with the ‘corporate practice doctrine’, which I will not discuss here, but you can read a good history of the corporate practice doctrine here. It’s a fascinating controversy about corporations running health services businesses when they are not physicians.

The point is that OMH made the following conclusions in its report, basically saying that we don’t need the protections that come with a licensed system because, well, they have such a great history of protecting us and a great structure to provide the oversight they know is indispensable anywhere you hire people to do things. Take a look at how to downgrade quality of services:

They said that despite the fact that

“…15% of case managers were performing psychotherapy

and that

“…more than half of the agencies [“licensed”, imagine the case for the unlicensed] responded they employed titles that can be “licensed or certified” however were reportedly filled with unlicensed staff… including psychologists and social workers positions.”

…they concluded that:

lucy“OMH does not find a material difference in the quality of services provided in programs which also employ unlicensed staff.” [Meaning, perhaps, that the 15% case managers mentioned before with two or four years of college are as good psychotherapists as a real one who must have a doctorate degree to practice.]…

and that

[licensure]…would not provide any meaningful measure of increased safety or quality to our citizens as reflected by the survey results.”

We are also unaware of any evidence that would support better client outcomes with increased licensed staff, given the multiple layers of protections that exist in OMH licensed and funded programs.”

So much for the ‘best practices’ philosophy. OMH concluded that more unlicensed programs and unlicensed staff [performing as licensed] are better because they save money and, well, who needs a psychologist or social worker when a case manager can do ‘the same work’ for less? For those reasons, OMH concluded that the State ought to make permanent the exemption of requiring licensure for the professions and services discussed:

“OMH recommends to make permanent the exceptions…”

Credit to the DOMH: they argued in favor of licensing in their own report; goes to show that the ‘system’ is not monolithic.

Step #4: The MRT report

Many of you are familiar with this 2011 Medicaid Redesign Team. Same crap. Cheapening the system, facilitating involuntary commitment by allowing RN to do it without psychiatric authorization, re-working the work force (changing titles responsibilities in mental health services to push them down to less skilled workers), putting programs in private Wall Street corporations hands…Head is Wall Street guy.

Step #5: The SAGE report or ‘wake up! you are being robbed blind’

I don’t even know how to start with this one. It is difficult to unmask this initiative because of its exquisite double-speak language. Take for example the “pay for success program”. Sounds good, inoffensive:

“…the performance based approach known as “Pay for Success” contracts. These contracts, also known as “social impact bonds,” are an innovative financing mechanism that uses private and philanthropic funding sources. Provided at no risk to taxpayers, funding from these external sources is used to fund initiatives and improve programmatic outcomes in key areas such as human services, public safety, juvenile justice, public health, and others.”

Hmmm. Let’s see: “no risk to tax payers”, as if in this corporationist system the “private funding sources” are willing to bear the ‘risk’ instead of the government. This ‘pay for success’ initiative should be called ‘the government pays either way: for success and for failure’. Nothing new there.

Billionaire mayor Bloomberg is credited with opening the door to this shark attack from Wall St called “pay for success”: Goldman to Invest in City Jail Program, Profiting if Recidivism Falls Sharply

In New York City, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg plans to announce on Thursday that Goldman Sachs will provide a $9.6 million loan to pay for a new four-year program intended to reduce the rate at which adolescent men incarcerated at Rikers Island reoffend after their release.

Right from the outset the shark shows its teeth: IT’S A WALL STREET LOAN, people! Somebody has to pay it. Hello! Anybody there!? 🙂

How sweet is that? Goldman gives HIMSELF a loan to gamble on your kids’ minds, loan which YOU will have to pay, and Bloomberg expects ME to believe this in the caption about this “pay for success” deal:

wall

“If the program reduces recidivism by 10 percent, Goldman would be repaid the full $9.6 million; if recidivism drops more, Goldman could make as much as $2.1 million in profit; if recidivism does not drop by at least 10 percent, Goldman would lose as much as $2.4 million.”

I’ll let you to figure that one out. I’m laughing so hard I can’t deal with it. Pay for Goldman’s success!! BUT WAIT!! It gets BETTER for Goldman.

Why put his own money, after all? This is what the SAGE report has in mind. It’s already working.

“The Governor’s 2013-14 Executive Budget advances this innovative, performance-based public-private sector partnership by authorizing up to $100 million in Pay for Success initiatives over the next five years.”

Did you catch that?

Look, among the other goodies for corporations are:-

– letting them license themselves – no need for the government to do it, plus it gives jobs to lawyers:

“Through this program, applicants have an attorney certify the accuracy of their application [for license], which allows SLA to expedite the review process”

– worried about fracking? No need no more:

“Reform of the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQRA) Process.This permitting process includes reviews by multiple agencies and support from environmental consultants, is extremely technical and can cause delay in some instances. As part of its efforts to reform SEQRA, DEC solicited feedback from stakeholders with diverse interests to identify how the process could be streamlined and delays avoided, without sacrificing meaningful environmental review and protection.

– workers, be worried. Civil Servants system is protected by our state’s constitution. Not for too long anymore.

“The Commission has identified as an option for future consideration certain changes [hmm] in the law governing the State’s civil service system that would facilitate workforce modernization.” 

“workforce modernization” as in going-back-to-the-middle-ages. That’s double speak.

“Controlling Wage Increases. In addition to controlling the cost of the State workforce by exercising discipline in new hiring, Governor Cuomo arrested the growth in per capita employee spending by entering into new four and five-year collective bargaining agreements that included no salary increases for the first three years of the agreements[now, THAT’s modernization.]

LIPA will be privatized together with other ‘assessts’, meaning transportation and public buildings.

There are a few good things there, but the bad things are the one they are not telling you about. It’s all in the works. We are ‘screwed’, excused my English. They will use the language that makes you say ‘hmm, that sounds good’ and you will consent to this attack.

Well, that’s my long speech about privatization. I hope this made sense. Please, feel free to post your comments.

By Lourdes