G8 on a bicycle ride

Today, like most days, it is good to get this little jolt of inspiration by Dutch news bringer NOS (www.nos.nl). They illustrated a specific situation where the banks are failing. Whether it is intentional, short sighted or lack of whatever they claim. Banks are not doing their jobs. They have turned into commercial enterprises at the expense of everyone.

We all know that money is tight. We do not have anything to spend, and when I see something interestingly innovative that it could better both consumer and economy then it becomes a matter of public scrutiny, whether some should be allowed to continue the way they are and the way they are clearly not properly doing ‘their’ business.

Of course, the reality is that the Spanish banks are pretty much utterly bankrupt. So if a bank is described as “the connection between customers that have capital deficits and customers with capital surpluses.” So what should we think when the bank itself has come to severe deficit.

When a bank is subject to regulations, guidelines and requirements, I wonder if some should be allowed to call themselves banks. In addition, I am starting to have a few serious concerns in regards to these regulations and guidelines at present. If banks are supposed to have a decent foundation of reserves, the notion that a good idea failing moving towards to a profitable niche should raise questions.

A step requiring no more than 3 million Euro! This bounced as banks seemed to have ‘other’ priorities. When banks that seem to have billions vested in something and according to Basel III are required certain reserves. What on earth is going on?

Consider that a bank has EVERY cent levied in one way or another in a nation with over 25% unemployment rate; I would say that something seems to be wrong in my book. It should be considered that these banks are serving a population group by letting them skate on dangerous thin ice, which is how I see it. Of course the opposing view might be very true. It might be an idea that the banks see as a not so profitable one. Yet, the fact that this design is getting international interest seems to give weight to the designers view, not the banks view.

So what caused all this?

I grew up in the Netherlands, a nation that used to have a massive national monopoly on bicycles. Bicycles were almost 1:1 for every person living in that country. Cars were still a rarity. Today, places like Amsterdam, Leiden and Rotterdam rely on bicycle (especially the student population). I remember having to go 9 kilometres every day to school. So that was a daily 18 Km ride! Those were the days! So, even though I’ve resided in places like London and Sydney, where the rider of a bicycle has less of a chance then Bambi in a deer hunt, I remain optimistic towards the needs of bicycles on a global scale.

In addition, we could consider places like France, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Germany, Denmark and several other places to realise that finding an investment like a novel version of the bicycle into a new era is a massive thing. The chance for an investor of getting a possible corner in the market with 3 million Euro should wake up those who have cash. Seeing it could also infuse the economy of Spain, then that investment seems a lot less like a gamble. I would like to add, that if I had the money I would run to that opportunity.

So, here we are!

A Spaniard called Eduard Sentis has come up with something so innovative it is hard to grasp that no one came up with it. He calls it the Urbike. When we think of bicycles, then we should consider the downsides. For me over history that has been two parts. The first is the danger of flat tires. Eduard gave an old idea new breath with a solid tyre, so no punctures ever. The second is that the chain of the bike can get dislodged. No problems, Eduard added a bicycle version of a shaft drive. So the two downsides I lived with are gone. It even comes with a navigator that is seriously rain and shockproof. (http://www.designboom.com/design/urbikes-by-eduard-sentis/)

This is innovation where no one had looked to for some time, or perhaps they did and the timing was off.

Why would people buy a bicycle? Consider that cars become more and more expensive, fuel prices go up and when you live against a wave of mounting costs then the old way could be the best way to get anywhere. Many will come up with excuses not to consider the car, but then, be honest! Do you really need a car to get bread and milk from the grocer? Do you really need to get to friends nearby in cars?

All that waste of money and then consider all those online options you get from those insurers after answering a ‘few’ questions. For the most you do not ever ask that much detail from the person you have intimate sex with, question after question! NOT ONE gave me a simple answer. They will claim that answers are not that simple. A bicycle is simple. You sit on it and drive. You should get some insurance, but it should be nowhere near the cost of a car insurance.

We seem to ignore in many places the fact that we all could use the workout a bicycle gives us. If all these governments are so into healthy living, the impossibility of Eduard Sentis not getting any funding is becoming more and more of a puzzle, one that might yield massive earnings down the line. I agree that this is always a gamble, but timing is presently on his side.

So is this about the bicycle or the bank? I think both need to be looked at. I think financial groups are now moving into margins where almost none are left. If the Royal Banks of Scotland had close to 40 Billion Euros revenue in 2012 (not all of that profit mind you), and they are in ‘decent serious financial predicaments’ then other banks should doing reasonably well. 3 million should hardly show up with the possible future revenues in store. You see, that is part of the question. What do we know about those margins they should have?

So an amazing innovation gives visibility to failing banks seem to be in question. The fact that the bicycle was offered to the Danes as they were not able to get funding in Spain only intensifies the outstanding question. The banks with the reserves they should have; the transparency in banking that should be and their status at present. Who is minding the store and are we getting the whole picture or are they too managing bad news over a long period of time?

So here we are, the G8 has started and their message is trade and transparency (well these two mattered here to me).  Considering that India and China are also attending that summit, then the question should be, how did a project like Urbike not get any funding for bringing transparent international trade. It’s not like the 200 billion in bad debts in Spain will go anywhere. If Santander can pledge 840 million towards bad banks, in a place where the toxic assets have swallowed 38 billion (Sareb), spending 3 million (less than 0.0001%) towards something that could propel trade and economy seems to be a good thing.  I wonder if that will come up during the G8, or will it in the end be another vessel to move into a Syrian discussion. Perhaps weapons trade has a better return on investment? (It seems to work for Russia)

As we move into the latter half of another year, too many eyes are averted to a growing amount of toxic bank moves. A cost that is very likely to get left with taxpayers in the end.

It seems that we are all taken on a bicycle ride, a bicycle that got never any funding to begin with.


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