Knocking on the door of death

There is a time in anyone’s life when death comes knocking. For some it is in an early stage for others when the end of a long road has been reached and a few of the latter go that way after a rewarding life, being it material or spiritual. So when we see ‘The Greek government says the country has turned a corner, but that is not the experience of people on the ground‘ it is merely another step to an early grave for a lot of them. The Greek Debt is being disconnected, it is being misrepresented by government and media, and overall the people are only losing more and more at a steady pace. When we see the quote: “The worst is clearly behind us.” Panaghiota Mourtidou pondered the words with a gravity unusual for the jovial volunteer. Even now, several days after the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, saw fit to use the phrase, she still feels somewhat bewildered” (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/30/greek-debt-crisis-people-cant-see-any-light-at-the-end-of-any-tunnel), the people seem to realise that they are being played. In the end Tsipras delivered on being as shallow and as deceitful as all the administrations before him. When we see the mention of the  French-trained hairdresser who had paid into a pension fund for almost 45 years, we see the initial fallout “At first it was a fairly good pension at €1,750 a month,” she recalled. “Then it was cut to €1,430 a month and now its €960 a month“, it is a 46% drain on quality of life, it is merely slightly more than Australian welfare, it implies that people get to live of $5 a day for their goods and groceries, which is utterly inhumane and I think that Panaghiota Mourtidou and Alexis Tsipras are insane to give any voice to ‘the worst is behind us‘, there is a realisation that this is merely the end of the beginning. With a debt of €325 billion, and according to one source an interest that is set to roughly €600 per second, we know that this is before the last bailout, so it gets to be a little less positive soon enough. We know the Greece didn’t have any options, they all know that this would happen, yet the injustice that there has been no prosecution of the previous administrations must hurt the people a lot too. So when she voices the fact “Hopes of spending their later years in Crete have been dashed“, I feel for her, because at some point, that was my dream too and for a lot it was a decently realistic dream. In all this we see “raise the sort of money it needs to refinance its debt,” said Kyriakos Pierrakakis, director of research at DiaNeosis. “It will almost certainly need a new financial credit line, a bailout light, and that will come with new conditions.”“, as the risk grows the refinancing of debt is so hollow, as more goes into interest it all falls away and nothing is left. Now, we can agree that Greece or a larger than smaller extent did it to themselves, they did it in either ignorance or in spite of, the reason does not matter; the outcome would remain the same. As they had the option to get out of the Euro and default on their loans there might have been an optional new start-up, now we see that there has been almost no actual support and the Greek population will need to live with the consequences of ending empty handed, generations washed away without the optional memory, it might be the first time in history that the financial institutions have taken their goods, their savings and their memories, the harshest of conditions.

In all this, Kathmiri shows another side (at http://www.ekathimerini.com/220517/article/ekathimerini/business/prices-remain-particularly-high-in-greece), the quote “Eurostat data show that Greek consumers pay more than all other European Union citizens for their telephony and postal services, with price levels standing almost 40 percent above the EU average rates, and even higher than the rates in Switzerland“, the question becomes: ‘who is pushing this?’ When we see options from Vaya, TataDocomo and Amaysim in places as outlandish as Australia (a large island with at some places miles of stretches between each house), the option from the Greek government to open the option to other players so that some of the quality of life is not lost is one part, the other is to invite players like Google, so that the Greeks have some level of ‘free’ internet is not out of the bounds of thinking. The mandate for the Greek politicians becomes less waiting for the credit houses to throw them scraps; it becomes an issue to offer the Greeks some additional levels of options that floats the quality of life to the smallest degree. It is a simpler process than merely hoping for the economy to get better and to hide behind the falsehood of ‘the worst is clearly behind us‘, a statement we all know (especially the Greeks) is not true.

All this whilst Victoria Hislop produces an article a day earlier on ‘Patra represents the extremes of Greece – sublime and mundane‘, it is her view and she shows some of the remarkable places in Greece, in that she gives her views, with images of Saint Andrew, a breathtaking place. She voices how Patra is elemental in all this as a given need when one sees Greece. It is all valid, you see, the darkness of the debt is an internal one, driving tourists forward towards Greece is clearly another part. I fell in love with Crete when I originally saw ‘Who pays the ferryman‘, in the end I went to the places where it was filmed, and many other places on the island. I saw the relaxed Elounda, the bar where some of the episodes were filmed, but that was merely the beginning, you see, Crete had so much more, Spinalonga was the true treasure of historic events, the Venetian fortifications as well as the impact that the other visitors had to the place. Greece is more than the debt it has, but has been equally reduced to the debt. Yet in all this, what have the greed driven corporations pushed towards Greece in an air of support? Did we see Vodafail giving a sweet deal to the Greeks and create a long term loyalty plan? Ah, no, because they still have a net debt of £29 billion, which was up by 31%, whilst the executive officer Vittorio Colao lives of £6 million, amounting to £500K per month. OK, to be clear, I am not having a go at him, he might have been well worth every penny. It is just that I have been confronted with the Vodafail PR for a little too long and when the times are hard, they ‘suddenly’ retrench. This is a valid step for any corporation mind you, yet, if these players are so much about one EU, and using their influence trying to thwart Brexit whenever they can. Is that suddenly small minded local thinking not an interesting non-EU mindset? When we consider (at http://www.politico.eu/article/digital-single-market-mid-term-report-card-tktkt-percent/) we see the fallout in the corporate sphere. The quote “Thirty years after the launch of the EU single market, 20 years after its first work on launching a telecoms single market and 10 years after then-Commissioner Viviane Reding launched the digital single market idea, the Juncker Commission has only got one of its 35 digital proposals signed off so far“, it is clear evidence of the utter uselessness of a single market, it is evidence on the need and greed of large corporations, the maximisation of profit. In all this, I have stated years ago that pushing some of the services to Greece could have had a positive impact, an actual sweet deal for some of the large players whilst they moved away from expensive western European places, yet none of that was done, because PR was all about the visibility in Dynamic London. So how EU is that? I am all in favour of growing London businesses, yet when you consider £3500 per square meter on average for a company spot, and Greece can get you a large building at 1000x in a one time off option (not an annual fee), how expensive is London (or Amsterdam for that matter). In all this, pushing several call-centres to Greece and Crete could have had an impressive impact on the Greek economy, yet the large players never considered that (or optionally intentionally steered away from that option), it was not sexy enough. So after 30 years we see “Presenting its half-time report card Wednesday, the Juncker Commission acknowledged things need to pick up speed. “The work is far from complete,” said the Commission’s Vice President for Digital Andrus Ansip. Estonia will put digital issues at the top of the agenda when it takes over the EU presidency in July; as its longest-serving prime minister, Ansip is well-placed to leverage that push“, which does not mean that any of it will get done, pushing the weight to the next person, that is the mere realisation that the EU with their so called one market, their 20 gravy trains and a cost of existence that has surpassed the Greek debt in tenfold is showing us that not only is the EU a redundant thing, the fact that Santa Mario ‘spends way too much‘ Draghi is even more evidence as his €60 billion a month is leaving Greece out of any easing options, an equation that should warrant a lot more questions, yet the Financial times (at https://www.ft.com/content/82c95514-707d-11e7-93ff-99f383b09ff9), is showing how apparently, the recovery is slow, but real. That might be to some degree correct, yet when we see “Debt sustainability in both Italy and Portugal is very sensitive to economic shocks“, which is true, especially with the massive debts Italy has, In that that their interest due has surpassed €2500 a second, Greece is not a consideration anywhere, Greece no longer counts. The one quote that we see and require to consider is “Five years later it is clear the head of the European Central Bank was true to his word, restoring financial confidence and ending a crisis of sovereign debt through a series of extraordinary measures to support the continent’s governments and banks“, the first is was he actually true to his word? Is there actual financial confidence or is there an environment of governmental abuse and pushing the risks of the games some play and dangers they bring onto the population of these nations as debts keep on rising, as governments have lost all abilities to keep a proper budget? When we see the local news in the Netherlands with ‘De Nederlandse bank‘, the additional mentioning on how the Brits are all getting into trouble because of Brexit, the Flemish where we see over valuated housing issues rising, in addition, the large banks in Belgium have invested well over €40 billion in fossil fuels, this is an issue and an important one when we consider “Naast de schade aan klimaat, mens en milieu, erkennen steeds meer experten ook het financiële risico van investeringen in fossiele energie. Zo wees BlackRock, ‘s werelds grootste vermogensbeheerder, op het gevaar van ‘stranded assets’: fossiele energiebronnen of -centrales die in de komende jaren meer zullen kosten dan ze opbrengen“, which paraphrased translates as “beside the climatological damage, an increasing amount of experts are pointing at the financial risks of these stranded assets, Blackrock being one of the voices state that fossil energy sources will cost more than they will bring in revenue wise“, so not only are we watching €40 billion in bad investment, the dangers are that there are long term considerations in costs as well. Now in the end, this might have been the least of the dangers for the Belgium government, yet in that light it means that certain matters can no longer be maintained in the overall image. This is a very disturbing issue. All this links back to the options for Greece, when we see European governments make bad and expensive decisions, in addition as the governments in question seem to be creative book keepers, yet when we look at the risks given to their populations, the long term damage is one that seems to be spiralling out of control and none of these governments are making their politicians criminally accountable for any of their actions, how is there any chance of a surplus within the next two generations? That is a reality that should have been enacted for the longest of times, so as we see the impact of Greece as (partially due to their own acts) we see large corporations move out, more and more exploiting individuals move in for the kill and we see Alexis Tsipras and Panaghiota Mourtidou state that ‘the worst is over‘, how delusional is that?

In Belgium the newspaper ‘Het Laatste Nieuws‘ (at http://www.hln.be/hln/nl/957/Binnenland/article/detail/3148452/2017/05/03/Belgische-staat-verkoopt-deel-aandelen-BNP-Paribas-Geen-onverstandige-zet.dhtml), gives us two parts. The first is “Belgische staat verkoopt deel aandelen BNP Paribas: “Geen onverstandige zet”“, The Belgium government is selling a stake (25% reduction) into the French group BNP Paribas. This international banking group employs over 180,000 employees in a little over 75 nations; they have assets close to €2 trillion and had a profit last year of €7 billion, so they are no small grocery on the corner of a village. This happened two days after “BNP Paribas Fortis zet parlementslid zonder uitleg op straat“, meaning that they ended the accounts with a member of parliament, this Member of Parliament has 60 days to push his accounts into another bank. Now the reasons are not linked as a given, yet when we see ‘what is the most upsetting is that neither the phone connections nor the office of the bank gives me any reason as to why this is done‘ (at https://www.demorgen.be/binnenland/bnp-paribas-fortis-zet-parlementslid-zonder-uitleg-op-straat-bc2612a0/). When we consider the other (translated quote “often it is about strict rules regarding ethics and battling fraud, e-Finance institutions are mandatory required to collect customer information and to report this. It depends on the type of customer and for politicians there are specific rules, they need to be updated more frequently“, now we can argue and speculate, yet the question becomes if there is a problem reporting within the bank, that tends to be not such a good thing and if this politician is not the wealthiest one, the juice might not be worth the squeeze, so in this age, as banks become more and more stringent into ‘adhering‘ to certain rules, it seems to me that this tends to be a first sign that the bank has certain stress issues it really prefers not to update too often. It is merely speculation from my side, yet when we consider that for the longest time, elected officials as customers were a positive impact on the PR of a bank, seeing the member of a Green party (usually the most innocent of political types) pushed away, I wonder what on earth is going on.

How these two relate?

That is not the actual question, but it is an important factor. The news (at https://www.febelfin.be/en/belgian-banks-are-doing-fine-first-sight-will-face-a-problem-profitability-near-future), gives rise to a KPMG report, which gives us “But the Belgian banks will have to take corrective measures to maintain this profitability while keeping solvability and liquidity at acceptable levels“, which in light of more frequent reporting might be an issue for these banks, as we see ‘higher costs due to increased regulation and tax burden‘, we need to realise that the banks are playing on ponds that are a lot more shallow than the people realise, even if the water looks clear and reflective as a mirror, it equally shows that beneath the surface there are optional hidden hurdles. I am not stating more options to get beached, more that the requirement to navigate a lot more to get into a forward placement; these two elements are not the same, but the return on investment is becoming a (much) larger effort. Now, as Belgium is economically in a better place than Greece is, it gives rise to the optional irresponsible dangers that Greece is willing to go to with the next selling of Bonds and with the dangers of added percentages on risk, the impediment of forward momentum is not an equal, but a more elevated risk for Greece (as they are all in one happy European Union), in the end the only thing it does is that it raises risk and debt for the mere depressing benefit of one mere interest payment to ignore, a mere 12 weeks of time. The KPMG report as mentioned earlier shows that so far the anticipated return on equity is falling to 6%, which is on par with the minimum requirements for 2017 at 8%, yet will fall another 2% over the next two years, meaning that the minimum required target will be off by 40% in 24 months, which is going to be a large impact on every bank who had set their targets accordingly. This leaves me to speculate that the banks will become a lot more creative by underplaying the dangers for now and as such, Greece will hit waters a lot rougher and more dangerous for the Greek people soon enough. Belgium is merely one example. Italy, the Netherlands and Germany will be facing similar issues. The last one (read: Deutsche Bank) with exists from Australian markets as it is transforming (read: or is that reinventing) itself. As players from the senior side are moving all over the world to other competitive players, we see that the Deutsche bank is moving in some direction. This is the explosive field we see and this is the market that Greece is trying to get into again in what I would call a far too dangerous time to play that desperate card. To me it seems irresponsible on several fronts, so the initial ‘the worst is over‘ could before the end of fiscal year 2017 become ‘we are hitting additional hard times, that could not have been foreseen and were outside of the scope of anything we could normally expect‘, when the Greek people see that statement come, I will happily remind you that this was not as unexpected and that I foresaw the dangers months before they played out, when that happens, the Greek population will need to ask themselves how they got played, how their quality of life was diminished by well over 50% and how it happened that none of the politicians involved ever got to face court and judges on any of that.

I do not pretend to know the markets or that I am some banker with the insight of ‘Nostradamus’. Merely a person applying common sense, 6 languages and the use of a spreadsheet, this is how I got there, with all of the degrees I do have, none of those are in economy. So when you see the ground fall away from you just wonder how the economists or the economic reporters did not see it coming as some of them move to other shores with their awesome savings, leaving the Greeks to fend for themselves, deprived of whatever they were supposed to have.

When death comes knocking, the type ‘A’ bankers, often viewed as impatient, ambitious and smitten with business aggressiveness, suddenly become the type ‘B’ individuals, all happily willing to step aside letting whomever are behind them take the plunge into purgatory first. This is how quaint the reality of life will end up being considered for all those who are watching it unfold from a distance (if they get to be lucky enough to watch it from a distance).

 

 

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