Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Ukraine War – Modern Asymmetric Warfare morphing

Media/Asymmetric Warfare: The Ukraine War of 2014-X is an interesting (even if also sad and troubling) example of asymmetic warfare developing into something close to a civil war. The coverage from western news agencies gives a skewed image. That image can be improved to a more balanced take by following the RIA Novosti and ITAR-TASS news agency websites. In addition following certain keywords on Twitter, such as #NAF brings to light a vast source of information from the ground as each side publishes its victories.

Warcrimes/Civilian Killings: Videos on youtube show destroyed civilian cars along a “road of death” in South-Eastern Ukraine. According to the civilian ukrainian (russian) commentary they had been taken out by forces fighting for the Western Ukraine over hours and days, killing many. In the video a tank is shown that was picking the civilian cars off. There’s even an ambulance with a red cross in a field just 20meters from the road, burn out. Destroyed.

Local Population Support: In other videos you can see that NAF (Novorussia Armed Forces) are being given water by elderly civilians who are holding out in their houses. In others you hear the local rebels are eating with the civilians close to their positions. They also get information about troop movement from them. (From my time in the Swiss Army I can recall that this is immensly usefull, especially for small sabotage units or checkpoint soldiers.)

Elite Soldiers: In a rare video which shows Ukraine army units prisoners being questioned by #NAF commander in the background something can be seen which makes clear that the asymetric warfare is still ongoing: Several masked soldiers can be seen holding their machine gun in a different way than soldiers of the ‘regular forces’ in most other NAF videos. These guys are in constant high alert, like I’ve only ever seen pro/elite soldiers doing. It could also be seen in the Krim-phase of the war.

Increasing Troops Numbers: As the war goes on, more and more locals have been conscripted, it seems. Even though in one video an officer of the NAF can been telling journalists off, that many able, fighting men weren’t joining them locally. He goes on to say that only those prooving themselves worthy by making sacrificies will be put in positions of power when the time comes for a new local government.

Humanitarian aid becoming neccessary after destruction of the water system and electricity in certain cities gave Russia the chance to send aid. Aid that increases the likelihood of winning hearts of the local population in that area.

Cauldrons: There have also been some very interesting blog posts about the strategy of creating cauldrons, cutting off supplies of regular ukrainian army troops, wearing down moral of troops from the Western Ukraine. After having watched a documentary about the way the german elite eastern army was destroyed, it is clear the commanders in charge of NAF have studied stategies in detail.

NATO Satellite images: Something that was also interesting: The images the NATO published recently don’t seem to be from a military satellite and also aren’t time and location stamped. They also aren’t very high resolution, quite to the contrary.

Winter: Another thing that will make fighting tougher: Winter temperatures. Here the advantage would lie with those supported by the local population.

Economics: Stories like “Ukrainian oligarch sells Illich Iron & Steel Works in – the second largest metallurgical enterprise in Ukraine.” 


Nobel Biocare vs Neodent = Nobel Biocare vs Straumann; Drive CM eating into NOBN sales

An interesting development in the dental implant market is taking place. Nobel Biocare yesterday launched a suit against Neodent alleging patent infringement. Straumann owns a stake in Brazil’s Neodent (according to this Reuters article). They bought 49% for CHF 240 million in 2012 with an option to buy 100% within 6 years (2018) (according to swiss financial newspaper Finanz & Wirtschaft). (The link to the orginal press release from Straumann regarding purchase of Neodent stake in May 2012 is here.)

Nobel Biocare allegation:  Neodent line of “Drive CM” dental implants imported from Brazil, have striking similarities to the design of the NobelActive® implants which Nobel Biocare commercially launched in 2008.

Neodent response: Prior to launching Drive CM, Neodent obtained in-depth evaluations to ensure that its designs respected all valid intellectual property rights. The current complaint appears to be based on patents that Nobel Biocare obtained after Drive CM was introduced in the USA.

Nobel Biocare allegation:  Nobel Biocare asserts that Neodent USA has relied on Nobel Biocare’s history of successful clinical data in marketing the Neodent product.

Neodent response:  Like most implant systems, its products are supported by the company’s own clinical experience as well as clinical and scientific findings published by third parties in the public domain – for example concerning high grade titanium, implant designs, surface technology, etc. Most companies rely on third-party documentation in applications for regulatory approvals based on substantial equivalence.

Based on the above, there doesn’t seem to be clear cut case in favor of Nobel Biocare. Nobel Biocare may have been late with the obtention of their patents.

Bottom line: More competition, higher costs, lower sales, lower margins. Also: Neodent will role out its products in Europe aswell in 2014 (see Reuters Article).

Check out the respective press releases of both companies:


Illustration of Pension Fund Problem – Low Risk Investments with Low Returns

In this CIIA Final Exam question it is easy to see why our pension fund system, which invests large amounts in bonds will not achieve the return targets promised or needed by pensioners currently paying into the system.

The returns generated with a high percentage invested in bonds versus the low percentage invested in equity is a proposition that will lead to problems in half of the outcomes, now that central banks have effectively capped interest rates for the time being.

The last paragraph shows how the 3% p.a. target return won’t be achieved in close to 90% of the cases over a 30-year period. A high equity proportion on the other hand would lead to a much better risk reward.

Once a central bank has used stimulus via low interest rates, it’s very hard to get away. That can be seen in Japan where the low interest rate environment has been ongoing for close to two decades.pension-fund-problem-1pension-fund-problem  pension-fund-problem-2pension-fund-problem-3