What do you do when you need to look better then you should? Well, the obvious reason some might grasp as is ‘to lie’. So how do you lie whilst remaining truthful? Well, here we get to grasp at the one of the smallest books with the power of a titan. It is called ‘How to lie with statistics‘ and it was the masterwork by Darrell Huff in 1954.
This book has never lost its charm, not even after 60 years of evolving news and economy, it still packs a wallop!
Let’s take a look!
The Dutch bank Rabo told us the following “Despite a downturn in the first quarter of this year, Dutch GDP volume is expected to grow in 2014 by ½%, largely due to a recovery in exports and investments. In 2015 economic growth is expected to accelerate slightly to 1½%, fuelled by a real rise in private consumption” (at https://www.rabobank.com/en/press/search/2014/20140612-Rabobank-Dutch-economy-continues-cautious-recovery.html). You know, this reads somewhat familiar. Ah yes! I remember now, it was May 15th 2013, and my blog called ‘A noun of non-profit‘ had something about the Dutch economy.
Where I wrote the following in addition to the information of the Dutch NOS: “The Dutch NOS reported the prediction that even though the Dutch economy will shrink another 0.5%, they do predict a growth of 1.1% next year. I personally join the group “Oh ye of little faith!” on that one and if they are able to get the economy up to 0.2% positive in 2014 than they would have achieved quite the small miracle”
Guess what! A year later it turns out I was less confident by a mere 0.2%, whilst they were overconfident by 0.7%. Now consider that I am NO economist, but I saw the rain and the worry. So were these economists informing the Dutch NOS, brilliantly on the dumb side, or was this an event of managing bad news? I actually do not know and I personally think that this is one of many events where the placer of ‘news’ was not based upon ‘realism’ but on keeping moral high no matter what the numbers are.
Is this fair?
I actually will hold out the ‘do not know!‘ sign. Looking at murky numbers is at times more an art then a science and today’s prophet is tomorrow’s ‘pussy with balls of dough’. Is that even a valid expression? You see, I do believe that we WERE heading in the right direction, but now we get two new players on the market. Actually we get 4 new players in two teams. The first team is Team Anglican with in the South Corner the one, the only the true champion of the British Empire ‘England!’ (Please say it loudly in style of Michael Buffer) and in the North corner, the new contender for the global market ‘Scotland!’ (Repeat Michael Buffer voice). This duo is now at odds and at this point, independence of Scotland is still not a fact. In this era, under these conditions, I remain a ‘stronger together‘ person, not because I am against Scottish independence, but because team 2 and a few other factors could drag down both Scotland and England, especially once they are divided, which is a really bad thing. We as Australians would come to the rescue of both, if at all possible, but our economic gravitas, especially as the previous labour government had spent 627 billion it did not have, we too are bleeding and not in the best condition for any economic price fight.
Team two is the main event and the big potato (no, it’s not Ireland). It is team USA and team Japan. Together they have overspent their coffers by a whopping 28 trillion, yes readers, these two are down 28,000 billion, which exceeds the budgets of both the Commonwealth and the EEC with an uncomfortable margin to boot. So, even if we consider the dead drop of that amount, consider that they need 280 billion per percent per year just to pay the interest on this. This means that every person in the US and Japan need to come up with $636 per person per year, per percent that means if the Us and Japan need to borrow at over 1%, every person in these two nations need to deposit $1272 each year from their net income, in America over 12% lives in poverty, which means that up to 25% of the nation has absolutely no way of making that payment. This is not a new song, it is a song, me, myself, I and many others have been trying to bring forward to the people at large. As we are all trying to survive, no one seems to be listening and the wealthy apparently do not (need to) care. This makes for a dangerous precedent because as we look at the truth of the matter, we see that team two is in such dire economic danger that the entire economic map will be redrawn soon enough. Weirdly enough, the team one issues will give additional pains to both team two and the rest of the world, whilst other events are not helping either.
You see, what can we do? This is at the heart of the matter. I try not to be the one just complaining and then leave it to others, even though I am not sure that my methods would work, it seems that my predictions have been a whole lot more accurate than those from economists making 7 figures (I personally believe I am due a $750,000 bonus, where to send the bill to though?).
Although I see USA as a strong (disregarding their deficit) option, we need to take hard actions, especially as their pharmaceutical (and several other industries) have been, in what I personally regard, a state of mindless infancy. If the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) does not come through, which I personally hope it does not, then the USA would need to change strategies in massive ways, and that is beside several other companies on the list of 30 that Americans keep their faith on high (aka the Dow Jones Index).
But we are not even close to the issues, mainly because this is not some anti-America rhetoric. Truly I am not against America, but against the change some executives want that nation to be, a nation that is no longer one for all Americans, but one where your return on investment and consumer spending decides whether you are allowed to live or not.
Europe as stated is still in a dire mess for several reasons. You see, there are elections in Sweden tomorrow, and for some reason, this is making many non-Swedes nervous. I did not get this at first, because I have lived there, I witnessed them and as elections go, they are as timid as you might think them to be. Watching submarines race underwater from the shoreline is a lot more exciting than the Swedish elections, so what gives?
Well, the first jolt of nervousness can be gotten from the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/11/swedish-elections-cracks-showing-nordic-model).
When we see Sweden, we focus on quotes like “it was Sweden that offered answers, having resolved its own debt mess a generation earlier. It is the only EU country that has lower public debt now than in 2006“, which shows Swedish Pragmatism is not confined to the furniture you buy at IKEA. When we think of the family bonds within Sweden (family is always seemed to be a Swedish trademark), we see “The care sector also suffered a privatisation scandal in 2011, when the Dagens Nyheter newspaper reported that an elderly care centre in Koppargården, run by the private company Carema, was catastrophically neglecting its customers, allegedly weighing their diapers to see if they could be used for longer, thus ensuring maximum usage and lower costs” so it seems that the care of the elderly does not have the safety of a Volvo, not to mention “Complaints about poor service and frequent delays on the high-speed train between Malmö and Stockholm also swung the mood against rail privatisation of the railways“. It seems like there is plenty under the covers that is not just upsetting the Swedes.
So how does this all link up?
This is indeed the question, on one side we see the worry of privatisation (which is really a common sense issue), because if someone wants to do it ‘better’ by taking it away from the government, then evidence of decades has shown us that this person is in it for the cash, which means the goal is to get it done cheaper, which gets us to ‘it will never ever be done better‘. At times I do not even comprehend how a population accepts such a fabricated story. But there is more (there always is, isn’t there). All this seems to impact on a European scale. Why? Sweden is not that big, as stated it is lowering debt. It is not a G-20 nation (only as an EEC member, yet not a Euro Zone), so why is there such a massive push here? They are in 7th position representing a mere 3% of the EEC in regards to the GDP, so this should not be such an issue, should it?
This is where it gets a little dicey, especially by the standards I try to keep. If we consider a player like Coface (Coface began to diversify internationally in 1992. Currently, the Group has global capabilities to support its clients’ growth in their home markets and with their exports by offering them credit insurance services tailored to their needs. Source: Coface Website). They stated the following in regards to Sweden.
“The country is returning to dynamic growth in 2014, as household consumption will strengthen in response to higher disposable income, thanks to the fiscal stimulus in the context of an election year. Unemployment affected 8% of the economically active population in 2013 and is expected to fall slightly in 2014, in particular because of new jobs created in the public sector“, here we see the two united: ‘particular because of new jobs created in the public sector‘ and the rejection of privatisation. So is Sweden a risk or is this about setting the continuing trend of ‘investment’ which is now holds the taste of ‘exploitation for profit‘. This is at the core of the issues. The world at large is perpetuating a scandalous system that has no limit, will not discipline itself and the larger players will not stop overextending their reach. It is like an elastic band that can double in size and has been stretched long beyond its safety limits for half a decade, stretching more and more each year, increasing risk and danger each week. Sweden is a lovely place and it looks magical around Christmas, yet it should not have the economic impact that some give it. Is Coface the right instance? Well, that is less for me to say as these ‘risk assessors’ at times all seem the same. I did however notice that their CFO looked aged as a teenager, which made me a little nervous. Especially when you see the massive exposure Coface enjoys on an international level.
So why are they in this article? You see, Coface is part of Natixis and Natixis manages the public guaranties granted by the French Government. Yet, Natixis is not just a player, it is a financial Behemoth. Bernard Oppetit who is also chairman of Centauris Capital is on the board there. Who was visible in the past as Swedish Telecom Giant Tele2 was fending of Dutch Versatel. These facts are mere unrelated facts (or so it seems), yet there seems to be an almost incestuous relationship between some of these Hedge funds and Sweden (amongst others). How direct is Nataxis or its subsidiaries connected to some of these privatisations? The water is too murky for me to see, but it seems that Hedge funds have a three degree separation between them and pretty much any government is more than a worry. Nataxis has direct links all over America and has an office in almost every Commonwealth nation (apart from New Zealand and the West Indies). So here we see the first steps into memory lane.
There was a link with SNS Reaal as we see the following “The 5-year Note has a total size of € 1.6 billion and carries a coupon of 3.5%. The Note was issued to a widely spread range of national and international investors. Lead managers were Citi, JP Morgan Securities Ltd., Natixis, Rabobank en UniCredit (HVB)“, the bank that could not fail was before it was nationalised has links to Natixis. When I looked into SNS, I never noticed how deep some connections went, until last night I was not even aware of how far the reach of Natixis goes. Now consider the powers of their board “Any acquisition of a stake in another company or increases in equity investments, other investments, divestments (or the creation of a joint venture) by Natixis or one of its significant subsidiaries representing more than €150 million” as well as “Any transfers, mergers or demergers in which Natixis is involved” (source: Natixis website). So is this the first we see of the larger funds, now squeezing out the remaining coin of the smaller places, because if that is so, we only have to wait and see when Natixis opens offices in the West-Indies and/or New Zealand, because that might be an indicator that the other exploitation wells have truly run dry (a personal, and possibly wrong assumption).
It is of course likely that the true economists (me is not one of them), are laughing in regards to my naiveté, yet who else knew and how is a direct subsidiary of Natixis, setting the credit score and advice for customers, supporting them and securing their transactions by protecting them against the risk of their clients defaulting. As they themselves state it, whilst their ‘big momma’ Natixis, with an impact beyond belief has a vested interest. I would state that ‘incestuous’ does not even close cover the issue.
This is not a jump from whatever to Natixis, this memory highway, as some might recall the issues on the Royal Bank of Scotland, which I also took a look at. When we consider the news from the BBC (at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/business-15212476), we see another view where Natixis has links. The quote “Natixis assumes the following percentage writedowns (or “marks”) on Greek, Irish, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish debt, respectively: 70%, 40%, 40%, 20% and 20%. And then it assumes the banks would need to preserve a core tier one ratio of either 7% or 8% on these stressed scenarios by the end of 2012“, Is the writing on the wall or have we all (including me) ignored a tier of economy, or better stated a commissioned golden lining of profit as certain ‘providers’ remained behind the screens. “You take in greed from the customer and charge them all twice” (sing this line in the tune of Harry Nilsson ‘You put the lime in the coconut‘) and you charge the others in the morning.
Memory lane turns out to be more than just a freeway, as we are limited to walking down this road, the financial advisors and stakeholders are driving back and forth whilst limiting the views we have and the governments involved seem to be driven to not be too revealing on where the money is coming from. It is important to know that all this, whilst true is devoid of any crime, devoid of illegal transactions and possibly even devoid of misrepresentation, yet as I see it a massive misleading amount of presentation towards an audience of taxpayers. So what will happen in Sweden? I do not know, they seem to have an election in less than 24 hours and I find it interesting that it could have an impact. Another vote is soon thereafter on Scotland, which will have an economic impact too. My worry is why the impact is so far beyond the borders of the involved parties, which gives wonder to global statements in the trend of ‘Economic policies in isolation won’t lead to growth in Europe‘. I definitely feel uncertain to oppose such a view, but when we consider players like Natixis, is it perhaps possible that economic isolation leads to a few less dangers? Especially in Europe that issue should be deeper investigated by people who do not have a stake in the game. The writer of the piece I gave was Dr Bryony Hoskins. From what I read, I would categorise her as ‘a really smart cookie’. Yet one of her points is “Encourage collaboration and partnerships between different types of organisations, such as schools, local authorities, youth groups, charities and businesses“, I do not disagree with the generic view, but when we see the involvement on a ‘guiding’ behemoth like Natixis, is there not the danger of government enabling business to push for other long term changes that only serves the business and no one else? With assets well over 300 billion, this player has loads of pushing space, the question is: are they actually pushing?
There is of course the other side, is it fair to blame Natixis for anything (I have not been blaming them)? For example, if we watch all these computers around us with viruses and they are all Windows PC’s, can we state that Microsoft is making viruses? This is at the heart of it all, having your fingers in every pie, could give the thought that any bad pie was because of the fingers, we forget to look at who is making the pies. Yet as we see changes happening in Sweden and as hedge funds and retirement funds are going together, perhaps enabling one another, how dangerous is the stable view of Sweden at present? These searches led me to the attached document named “http___doc.morningstar.com_document_183a66452941e059812946b714604784.pdf”. I do not pretend to understand it. But the risk of ‘5’, when we consider retirement funds and ‘NSIO-OFM1403A’, would give me a reason to worry. LET ME BE CLEAR! I am not an economist!
I added the documents (at the end), so that perhaps those who do know, will know better.
So why am I here then? It seems to be silly, stupid and all other sorts of not bright in a place that I do not understand. The fact that a relative small nation like Sweden could have such stretching consequences on the market was beyond me, yet if I look at the Natixis annual report (at http://ngam.natixis.com/docs/812/834/AF58-1213.pdf), I am confronted with another question. “If one cog in the machine changes direction, what happens to the financial numbers of a behemoth like Natixis?” I am not stating that they are ‘hurt’ in any way. It might be less than a pinprick, but the fact that this company has stakes in all commodities and every large bank that had been slapped around in the last few years; it does make me wonder in light of the issues we faced in 2008. “What happens when a hedge fund bets on a nation failing?” is that such a leap? Only last month several made millions, betting against Banco Espírito Santo. Is my thought really that far from reality? Apparently not! George Soros is already doing this, betting on the collapse of the US stock and he put 2 billion where his mouth was, so was I right all along (at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/aug/18/george-soros-bets-2b-plus-stock-market-collapse-in/)?