Risk Management Links of the Day … Featuring Security Dogs on Vacation

security dog philadelphia airport

  • Three bomb-sniffing dogs at the Philly International airport failed their recertification tests and have been relieved of duty. While laying off security dogs may sound like overkill, even in the new climate of airline security sensitivity, one expert notes that “these dogs are not ornamental. They are there for a purpose. If the purpose is not being satisfied, that’s a serious issue.” There is a “built-in redundancy” at the airport so other screening methods can be used in the meantime until new dogs can be brought in. As for the dogs who failed … Do they just get to go on vacation and relax playing billiards like the pup above? Nope. It’s back to school for them: “TSA spokesman Greg Soule said the agency could not comment on the status of its dogs. He said, however, that the rigorous nature of yearly certification tests means that some of the nation’s 700 TSA-led dog teams deployed in air, marine and mass transportation systems may not pass and must go through a remedial program.”
  • A scary-to-think-about report was released today from the Sector Risk Research Programme stating that risks that are poorly understood and thus not addressed properly by the commercial insurance sector could “prompt a new phase of the financial crisis.” More specifically, the report states: “Parallels can be drawn between large property and casualty insurance institutions today lacking the ability to fully understand changing risk exposures and more publicised past failures of financial institutions to understand risks assumed. While loss impacts naturally lag economic changes by several years, turmoil in commercial insurance is expected as a latter phase of the financial crisis.” Jeez. Let’s hope not. (via Risk & Insurance)
  • The 4th quarter of 2009 set a record for cat bond issuance volume. “More companies have put their toes back in the water after a slow start in 2009,” said Robert Stone, director with the RMS dedicated ILS team, RiskMarkets.
  • This is a little dated at this point, but I read it over my holiday break and was just reminded how much I enjoyed Vanity Fair‘s extensive look at Goldman Sachs. The article breaks down the disconnect between “the way Goldman Sachs sees itself (they’re the smartest) and the way everyone else sees Goldman (they’re the smartest, greediest, and most dangerous).” It seems like the further we get away from September 15, 2008, the more interesting the stories become about what actually happened between Wall Street and Washington during the market meltdown, and Bethany Mclean of Vanity Fair peels back a few more revealing layers of the onion here. They also devised this sweet chart illustrating that “Goldman’s influence is ubiquitous in the highest echelons of global political power.” That sure is a ton of former Goldman employees in a ton of the world’s most influential financial positions.
  • Speaking of political power over the financial system … David Leonhardt is asking “If the Fed Missed This Bubble, Will It See a New One?” in the New York Times. “The fact that Mr. Bernanke and other regulators still have not explained why they failed to recognize the last bubble is the weakest link in the Fed’s push for more power. It raises the question: Why should Congress, or anyone else, have faith that future Fed officials will recognize the next bubble?” Fair question, it would seem.

Find an interesting link? Email me any stories, videos or images you come across. Or just follow me on Twitter @RiskMgmt to pass along the news.

Toxic Walls are Talking

The news is in — Chinese drywall has been confirmed to contain vast differences from U.S. manufactured drywall. The Environmental Protection Agency ran the tests, which found the following elements that do not appear in U.S. drywall:

  • Sulfur
  • Strontium (at levels 10 times as high as in U.S. drywall)
  • Two other organic compounds usually found in acrylic paint

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla) reported on the findings today, stating, “We’ve got the what, and now we need the why and how do we fix it? In the end, I think all this stuff is going to have to be ripped out.”

Nelson’s office said the EPA has determined more tests are needed, including air sampling in affected houses, to determine whether the drywall is the cause of corroded wiring and appliances and the alleged health problems.

The drywall was used mostly in the Southeast, with a the highest concentration used in Florida residences.

The Florida Department of Health has recorded 379 complaints from homeowners as of May 19. Residents with the Chinese-made drywall have had health problems that include bronchitis, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and irritated eyes. Many affected houses have a rotten-egg-like smell, metal is turning black, and appliances are failing.

A Senate subcommittee hearing was held today to discuss the current threat and future consequence of toxic Chinese drywall. In attendance were state Senators from various Southeastern states, the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

A growing product liability crisis over the drywall may include up to 35,000 homes in several states, with Florida being among the hardest hit. Several senators said federal money will be needed to deal with the problem.

How will the residents of these homes afford alternative housing, their primary mortgage payment and, in some cases, complete drywall removal? Stay tuned.