Category Archives: Finance

A second view, what can we see?

Some might have wondered how last Friday’s blog was weird (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/11/10/two-streams-one-view/). That is not a bad thing; it is not with the reader. The writer (read: that would be me) watched too many data sources and too much information on several sides from several fronts, I merely illuminated one path, one journey ever streams of data. More important, even as the Story was published (read finalised) on Friday morning, we see that Reuters reported (at http://www.businessinsider.com/frances-macron-flies-to-saudi-arabia-to-discuss-lebanon-crisis/?r=AU&IR=T) the mention “French President Emmanuel Macron booked a last-minute flight to Riyadh as tensions between Saudi Arabia, Iran and Lebanon heat up“. I am not so sure how ‘last minute’ it was. You see, I already reported on “Credit Agricole SA is selling half its stake in Banque Saudi Fransi to billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal at a discount“, you see, I reported on part of this and I mentioned the Forbes part which had given me “International banks are grappling with how to approach the Middle East’s biggest economy, which blocks foreign control of local lenders. Some are positioning themselves for what’s expected to be a free bonanza as the kingdom overhauls its economy and plans to list Saudi Arabian Oil Co. in what could be the largest-ever initial public offering” already. This free bonanza is part why some of the most eager people trying to become a wave of new billionaires are there. If they have the Gaul, the vastly above average intelligence and the backers, those three will allow for the next few years to make another 300-500 new billionaires. In that light the move of Credit Agricole to leave did not make sense to me. You see, they are greed driven like pretty much any other bank, walking away from a profit bonanza makes no sense at all. The fact that these parties are trying to unload what they have to Prince Alwaleed bin Talal makes little sense. That is until you realise that these people might have been in business with the 200 arrested individual. Yet in this we see that the entire issue goes further when we see that ‘Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Arrested in Saudi Crackdown‘, so was the event set up for tactical reasons? Do you think that if he had seen his arrest he would have bothered with the sale as it is? The fact that his links with JP Morgan and their facilitation of the sale means that there is a lot more going on behind the screen. You see that share is well over £372 billion; do you think that the media is showing us all? There might be a crackdown, but is it a crackdown? Is it royal annexing of squandered goods or is its trial and a showdown where the other members of the Saudi Royal family are shown that disruption within the ranks are no longer tolerated. In all this what is next? You see, from the view we are given, the existence of these international banks are essential to creating a non-oil depending economy. A new economy set towards services, technology and pharmaceuticals. There is plenty of value in all this for Saudi Arabia to move forward, yet the track will be a lot longer if there is disruption in the ranks. France might have been hard on Hezbollah and as such they are a pleasing presence towards the Royal family of Saudi Arabia, but more important, Banque Saudi Fransi is merely one of several players with trillions in value available. In military terms France is a better beachhead for Saudi Arabia to enter the new fields of economic growth in several ways. The moment the growth in France is seen the other nations will jump like hungry rabbits to the fields of vegetables in a mere instant. France is leading the way because it is figuring out that the present course is not working.

Yet, is any solution so polarised?

No, it never is. Yet again the situation changed. Iran has not been seen in a good light and their nuclear options have been met with large waves of distrust. Not in light of Hassan Rouhani and the path he is on, but the realisation that there was a Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before him and that level of extremism is a danger to most of the world, and the clear danger and additional risk we see that when another Mahmoud Ahmadinejad comes after President Rouhani. It is not merely a risk, it is closer to an actual likelihood and whilst their nuclear knowledge grows, the danger becomes a lot larger. France and Saudi Arabia see that danger too and they are beyond concerned. They are not alone. At https://www.businessinsider.com.au/saudi-arabia-iran-tensions-2017-11 we see the tweet from Israel’s defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman:

  Lebanon=Hezbollah.
Hezbollah=Iran.
Iran=Lebanon.
Iran endangers the world.
Saad Hariri has proved that today. Period.
 

It is the view we have always seen and as such that truth is pretty much undeniable, so now the moment is primed to get this sorted and to get the changes made earlier, there is seemingly no downside to any of this, political Europe merely preferred to sit on their hands when it came to this terrorist organisation (Hezbollah that is). I believe that Saudi forces are considering that Iran will be more and more limited to create turmoil when there is no Hezbollah. As they can no longer facilitate through others, Iran must openly act and turn the world against them or fall in line with the Arabian Leagues and behave according to those voices. At that point Qatar must also adjust many of their policies, and the impact might not be predictable, there would be enough evidence out there to show that they need to adjust in many ways. I believe that this would end up with Saudi Arabia wielding the only voice of power, dissent in the Middle East would end to a much larger degree. As I personally see it, there would be clear benefits for the state of Israel as well. As the threat to Israel ends, it can focus on growth in a way they have not been able to do for decades. There will be clear impacts for the UK, Russia and the USA too. Their diplomatic games will likely fall on ears much less eager to please them. It will be about growth for the Middle East. I believe that this shift will continue into Europe and several Commonwealth nations as well. India might be a frontrunner to grow the generalised pharmaceutical markets. The US will have to water down their wine to a much larger extent and there are options for the US, but no longer at the vulture driven profit margins they used to have. A shift that will take several years and that is where those ‘free bonanza runners‘ currently in Riyadh could make their billion(s) over the next decade. It will be risky to some extent, but art present you run large risks and end up making nothing in Europe at present. So why stay there?

How right am I?

I could be wrong but there is enough evidence out that that I am more likely than not correct. Business Insider, Forbes and the Financial Times have shown these paths over the last 6 months more than once. There is one premise that needs to be pointed out. The direction that this path opens is based on two elements. The first being how the drill-down on corruption in Saudi Arabia is playing out and their true intent on shifting their economy away from their petrochemical side. The more correct those paths are, the more reliable the outcome is that I predict. The corruption crackdown remains a factor as this has never happened before to this degree. I applaud it but I also realise that as this becomes a success a new Saudi Arabia will rise up in the global markets, one that is not in internal strife and one that is breaking out all borders to grow their economic footprint. It is not the status quo the current powers in charge have ever considered and it will make a lot of ‘old’ billionaires very nervous.

This might not be a bad thing either!

 

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Two streams, one view

As I see the news pass by, events shown on separate media, I notice myself wondering if my life had any meaning at all. I was young and I went to the Middle East in 1982, I would return in 83 and 84 only to learn that there was change. Terrorists like Hezbollah and Hamas were only small and Hamas rose as I would see in 1984, yet I thought that change would be inevitable. I saw Hezbollah as nothing more than pesky small minded terrorists, a tool to be used by Iran and Syria. Yet even as Lebanon was trying to move forward, there were signs in media and some places that the US needed Syria too much, in their case dealing with Saddam Hussein and as such many of us thinking we would fight for peace, we only fought for the borderlines that the US decided needed to be in place. It must have been the late 80’s, I was not longer in the Middle East and not all clued in towards the events of the day there. You see DARPA had not rolled out the internet at that point; ARPANET was not available for the audience at large. So today I see that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Now we see another push against Hezbollah. You see Saudi Arabia has had enough of those terrorists and is pushing back hard, it is also willing to push against Iran. I see two issues. One is that this issue will be bloody and even as we hope for the victory of Saudi Arabia there, there are more than just a few markers showing us that the three largest players (US, Russia and UK) are not completely in agreement whether the Middle East should have one clear dominant party. The issues in Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Kuwait that have been going on for half a century should show that. If that had not been the case Hezbollah and Hamas would have been little more than an inconvenience and they would have been dealt with a long time ago. So even as I see certain steps being taken I need to wonder if Saudi Arabia is pushing for a resolution, what will the larger picture show as it shifts. As that unfolds where will the US and Russia stand? What actions, or inactions will they use to leave the Status Quo in the middle east in a place called ‘as is’? The evidence for the longest time has shown that they pronounce whatever allies they have, but in the end, they only care for their needs and options. Now, this is not wrong or immoral, it is merely the way any nation plays its game. It is not a new game, it goes back even before Nicola Machiavelli thought it was a god idea to write down certain options for politicians to be.

As per Friday morning, we see: ““Due to the circumstances in the Lebanese Republic, the kingdom asks its citizens who are visiting or residing there to leave immediately,” a Foreign Ministry source quoted by the news agency said, adding that Saudis were advised not to travel to Lebanon from any country“, so even as we can merely speculate on what comes next, the onus is now pushed on Iran and what it is going to do with its terrorist ally Hezbollah. There is one opposing side which was shown by Reuters (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-saudi-insight/deep-in-yemen-war-saudi-fight-against-iran-falters-idUSKBN1D91UR). With: “The dysfunction is a reminder to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that his campaign to counter arch-enemy Iran in the Middle East, including threats against Tehran’s ally Hezbollah, may be hard to implement” we acknowledge that Iran has resources and skills and they are driven, both sides clearly are. In my mind, is the additional theatre (read: change of scenery) a workable factor? It does put larger pressures on Iran to get the logistics and goods underway, which will be their weakness to some extent. It is equally an issue how Russia will react. They might not openly act in this placement, yet the clear support to Hezbollah and as the times of Israel states: “the truth is that since Russia began its open military activities in Syria, Hezbollah fighters are also learning Russian methods of war, becoming familiar with advanced Russian weaponry, coming to understand the latest Russian technologies, and in some cases, actually fighting alongside Russian special forces“, we might comprehend the skills and training of the Spetsnaz Malcheks, or the ‘Войска специального назначения’ as they call themselves. In one part Avi Issacharoff omitted or decided not to implement one view in his story. In the end when the Spads are not holding their hands, Hezbollah remains what they were trained enthusiastic terrorists, they are only an army in the smallest sense of the total concept, this also means that as logistics falters, as support dwindles the armed Saudi forces will be more than a match and should gain the upper hand. Now, this can only play out if there is a stalemate between Russia and USA, because if the USA backs down and Hezbollah gets open on the ground Russian support, it becomes an entirely different slice of cake and all bets are off at that point. Only the Russians could push Hezbollah in way that the Iranians could never do. You see, if Iran enters the theatre the game changes as they become a clear and present danger to the state of Israel, their vocal insinuations made that so, so as Iran is trying to get a foothold whilst Israel has a few ways to counter them, we will see a more underground event of escalations where Iran is unable to counter a war they never have faced. You see their words (Iran that is) might look good on the news and on PowerPoint presentations, yet in the true data parks there is no setting, because in the end, this generation of Iranians have never faced anyone like Israel before and their faith in their own internal governmental presentations will make them even less prepared. So at that point it is merely a scuffle between Hezbollah and Saudi armed forces and in that equation there is no option of even a remote stalemate for Hezbollah. Is that the goal? I believe that Russia saw Hezbollah as a tool for what they needed, the US has always been hostile and Europe requires high earnings, so the ECB is very much not in favour of any outspoken hostilities against anything that can downgrade their earnings, so they are seemingly steering away from these events as much as they can, yet I will admit that is just me speculating on European events in this case. Even as London is more and more outspoken anti-Hezbollah. Amsterdam and Stockholm are not taking that path. In my mind it is the liberal multicultural flag that they embrace, in that atmosphere a group like Hezbollah can easily hide under this ‘veil’ whilst hating multicultural events as much as possible.

This again has speculative sides, but it is based on solid data and events. You might think that it does not matter, but it does. As more and more nations in their liberal mindset hold off on an actual war on terror, being it for economic or philosophical reasons. Not being part of it is equally a problem down the track. So as we move back towards Lebanon and Hezbollah, we need to realise that not only will this become ugly to a larger degree, there is every chance that unless certain actions are taken the issues seen in Aleppo will be seen in Aleppo too, there is just no way to tell to what extent. In this we can look at Survival Analyses (or listen to the song ‘as time goes by’), where the point in time and the prolongation of all this is the setting on just how much Beirut will look like Aleppo in the end, time is the only factor required here and the people in Europe know this. So as we see the news prepare on how there should be talks and there should be armistices, they all better remember that it was their need for status quo that is pushing the consideration for a terrorist organisation.

Who in Europe would have ever thought that support of a terrorist organisation would be the cool thing to do on September 12th 2001? So consider that and now wonder why Europe is, for now, again sitting on their hands or even contemplating siding to the larger extent with Hexbollah? Yet there is also good news because with the actions by JP Morgan to push into large chunks of the Middle East and more notably the push towards the Kingdom Holding Company. You might think it is not related, but it is. It gives the view that JP Morgan is a facilitator for setting maximised profits and these profits are not to go towards France. There has been a thought that the US is not commitment, but as there is profit in war, the clear fallout of any war is opportunity. It seems to me that the US wants to get as much profit out of that as possible, so as the dominoes are pushed into place, we see a situation where the media proclaims JP Morgan to be a mere financial advisor. I believe that to be incorrect. Even as Reuters reported “JPMorgan is in early talks with Saudi Arabian companies about overseas listings“, that might be true, but JP Morgan has been pushing itself and its ‘friends’ into powerful places where lucrative revenues are not set in millions, but in billions. I cannot answer whether Credit Agricole did the right or wrong thing, they are pretty clever all by themselves. I think that the Saudi issues in play now are pushing for polarising fields of options and opportunity on a global scale. In this case my view will be proven over the next 2 years as we follow the money. They question is where the source will be set and who gets to fill their bucket list from that well. when the options are returned in billions there will be plenty of players, although in this instance I believe that the outside opportunities (non-Saudi based companies) are offered to the friends of JP Morgan and them only, which is again a speculation. Whether I am right or wrong will be initially shown in the next 20 weeks.

There are however facts available to see that there is a direction in place. Reuters show on part (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-jpmorgan-saudi/jpmorgan-sees-more-saudi-firms-looking-at-overseas-listings-after-aramco-idUSKBN1D7107), some might think that “He said listings in New York, London, Hong Kong or Singapore might help increase the liquidity of these companies and make them attractive for international investors, he said” is the part that gives the goods, yet it is the part not seen and more interestingly not implied that gives power to it all. The implied part is seen with “Commenting on the anti-corruption drive, Pinto said: “If it is done in the right way and for the right reasons it is good to do for the future of the kingdom.”” It is however only the first part. The news given with ‘Saudi Arabia detains 201 princes, businessmen in $100 billion corruption probe’ (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-10/saudi-anti-corruption-probe-finds-$100-billion-embezzled/9136608). This was not a sudden part, this had been in play for some time. It was not merely the fact that at present 201 people are now in custody. Even as we see mention of Iran and the Lebanon pressures, we see that there is a larger play. His Royal Highness King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud have been on a path to get the nation reformed and moved away from oil dependency. In this the pool of plenty does not last too long when 100 billion get lost one handshake at a time as more and more people are connected to unlimited resources and wealth. As the press seems to be focussing on the crown prince and the ‘wild ride’ he created, there is a larger issue that is not too much in focus. No matter what the sceptics state, There is a clarity that Saudi Arabia is seriously considering that the age of oil is dwindling, as this happens they need to be able to push into other directions and they do have the wealth to create vested interests in pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, consultancy services and educational advantages. Forbes has had its share of articles on the matter, and whilst some look at ‘Saudi Arabia Looks To The Private Sector To Meet Growing Healthcare Demands’ it seems to me that 5G facilitation has much larger and more profitable sides as other providers are considering what to do, Saudi Arabia has the option to facilitate to the largest 4 cities and exceed in opportunity what Sweden has for its entire nation. When there is such a population (9.5 million) in 4 cities, there is an option to grow and grow fast. Now we know that there is a lively market already, but the idea that other services could be added grows the Saudi options to add markets and manufacturing opportunities through investment. I all this JP Morgan is potentially the spider in the centre of the web, growing in value and wealth from all sides at the same time. There is no way to state why Crédit Agricole walked away from those opportunities, but I feel certain that they did not walk away, the merely moved to a place around the corner. Even as the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/0e629bab-494c-34d0-8fe0-f71c8b089118) show mixed results, yet I believe that this French bank is moving into different fields, acquiring other banks and setting new goals. I have no way to tell on the why of it but I feel that moving away was only one as the clever people in this bank have agreed on a strategy that allows to grow faster and on larger fields. How?

We will learn this over the next 20 weeks. Yet no matter what is done and how the banks react is not a given, the direct dangers on how things escalate in Lebanon and with Iran seems to be crucial in all of this and I reckon that we will see the shifts quite soon. These shifts will not be through armed conflict, but will rely on the pressures and stresses that exist at present. In this Europe seems to take a ‘diplomatic’ stance (at http://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_destabilising_lebanon_will_only_strengthen_hezbollah_7235), yet with “Europeans should veer the other way, taking measures that aim to preserve Lebanon’s stability and governance structures, and to prevent wider conflagration. Iran is clearly a key source of regional instability, and Hezbollah has become increasingly assertive in Lebanon” it seems to advocate a path of inaction, 3 decades of inaction have shown that there is no solution on that path, a stream of casualties, of non-actions and broken promises. Saudi Arabia (and the USA) both had enough, and as Iran seems to be an annoying thorn in the side of Saudi Arabia, they have seemingly decided to take Hezbollah out of the equation. This will be interesting, because the moment Hamas and Iran realise that the gig is finally up, I wonder how must tearful pleads of ‘negotiations’ will be shown on nearly every soft hearted news channel on the planet. Perhaps a recollection of March 2016 is needed. With: “Hamas on Sunday sent a delegation to Egypt in an effort to beseech Egyptian security officials to stop destroying its tunnels out of Gaza. These terror tunnels, employed by the terrorist group for nearly a decade, are used to store weapons, smuggle supplies, and infiltrate enemy territory – Israel – as well as carry out surprise attacks in which people are killed and soldiers abducted.” (source: Breaking Israel News). It reads like “please let us be terrorists a little longer, we need the tunnels to do naughty things”. There is every chance that this falls on deaf ears, because as Israel is optionally no longer pressured in possible two front wars, they can fully focus on Hamas whilst Saudi Arabia will only have to deal with Iran after that. It will truly change the Balance of Power in the Middle East with Saudi Arabia as the only true power in that region, all because to a larger extent, Europe decided to remain in a self-imposed state of inaction. After three decades they still haven’t learned that inaction against terrorists will never ever lead to any solution.

Yes, there are a few elements of speculation from my side, but it is based on gathered facts and it I do not believe it is less likely on the balance of probabilities, it is merely one optional setting in a larger game that has been played for much too long.

 

 

 

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Consideration in 3 parts

There are several things playing and I think it is only fair that I jump a little this time around. In the first jump I will take us into the realm of technology. First the hardware where Keith Stuart gives us ‘is it worth a £100 upgrade?‘ This is a valid question, yet in all the issue is not merely the £100, it is more so “Microsoft has always marketed Xbox One X as an elite product for true enthusiasts and that’s exactly what it is“, which is something I cannot agree with. You see, Microsoft has refused to listen to the gamers, the actual gamers for the longest of times and with the Xbox One X, I expect (read: I hope) that they will get the pounding they have so deserved for the longest of times. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/nov/03/xbox-one-x-review-4k-console-gaming-upgrade) gives you some of the goods, but not all of the goods. You see, the £450 with a 1TB drive is a joke, it always has been. The article names a few games and there a few sources re stating that Destiny 2 is 50GB WITHOUT the 4K assets. There is no clear way for me to find a reliable number there, but with the OS also taking a chunk of the hard-drive, which will be 300Mb at least, we are looking at a console where one game takes well over 5% of that drive. Forza 7 will take well over 10% of that system, now with all the reserved spaces and mind you not ALL these games are that big, you are looking at a dozen games at the most and that is in many cases not including the extra space that the 4K libraries need, so when I stated even before the Xbox One came out (the first one) that Microsoft was not giving consideration to their gamers, I was not kidding. With the Sony PS4 (both old and pro) we have the option to switch the drive at our own expense to a 2TB drive and these things are a mere $105, so one extra cost has kept me safe and hassle free for well over 3 years. Microsoft never allowed their gamers that option, which could be seen as another indicator that Microsoft is actually not giving true consideration to the ‘true enthusiasts‘ as they label them. There are additional flaws in the OS that give less consideration that the Xbox 360 did, so there is that to consider too. A console that might be seen as overpriced, overvalued and overdue a real upgrade. There are more issues, but they are for another day, for now we await the over-hyped release in 2 days.

The second part is one where I have to show fairness (which I have always done). The second part is Assassins Creed Origins. Now, it is on my list to get as I was not trusting Ubisoft after all the things they have done in the past, with the additional embargo of any publications of the game until the day before launch, their approach was shoddy and shady at best. In this case it worked against them. I have watched well over a dozen videos with Eurogamer and IGN showing the best sides, but also leaving us with questions. Yet I had a few questions of my own and i think they need to be put into the limelight. You see, I have slammed Guillemot and Ubisoft for the longest time for not doing their job (or better stated, the job they were capable of). For relying on average scripted events and what I still label as ‘bad programming’. This is not the case in ACO (Assassins Creed Origin). Now when we pull away from the 4K events (which are close to breathtaking), we see a game that has been through quite the change and as such should get some praise, praise on several levels.

First are the reviews, they are like mine all opinions, and even though I was relentless to AC ratings in the past, from all that is clearly shown these ratings are lower than expected. I see the game somewhere between 88%-92% rated (the non PC versions), yet most remain below it and Gamespot gives it a 70% rating which I personally believe to be equally unfair. Now, we can be hard on Guillemot on a few levels, but they did get this game decent. We can argue all we like, but the team that made Black Flag made this game in a good way and I believe that this game might not be regarded as a real AC game. Origin is the start of it all and that makes it fair game, but the clarity is that there are elements that we relate to Witcher 3, Far Fry Primal and Destiny. The reality is that elements in this game have been seen before going all the way back to Ultima7 Serpents Isle, so there is no real identity linking it to a certain game. Now, I do see the elements of Witcher 3 and that is not a bad thing, whilst we need to acknowledge that this game is not some Witcher 3 game, it is truly an Assassins Creed game (whether the player is an actual assassin or not). The wildlife is more dangerous and relentless and a lot less forgiving, which is a good thing (more realistic), and it seems that as far as I can observe, the locations are as any AC game has almost always been. Graphically sublime, even if you have no 4K solution at present. Even as I have been reluctant to see this last AC as a great game, it seems that should this be the last AC game, than Ubisoft goes out on a high note, and that should be heralded by nearly all gamers.

The final part is not a game. I am also getting less convinced that this is merely a leak. We could have accepted to the smallest degree that the Panama Papers were a leak, yet the amount of data that was leaked leaves us with the larger question on how stupid a financial adviser needs to be to endanger billions of dollars in revenue. I have gone back into time checking on a dozen corporations only to find that there was a healthy dose of paranoia in each and every one of them. Some were paranoid from the start, some were pushed by IT as they wanted the latest of the latest and pressing the ‘leak’ button seems to have worked each and every time. So whilst we have been in the sunshine with newspapers giving us Panama Papers on a daily basis, I found it particularly interesting to see the revelation of the Paradise Papers. So when I read “the complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth”, I am not surprised. I have written about the failing of legislation on a global level for long before the Panama Papers and the Tesco affair. As we are told ‘obtained by the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung‘ we are not asking the right questions. Obtained how? Who gave them? You see, earlier this year we saw some mention of certain players, yet again and again the media have seemingly steered clear of certain parts of the evidence and it is time to mention it. In March we saw a few papers mention on how Barclays, RBS and Crédit Agricole had a sort of Tax Haven set-up where they had to pay a mere 2% in taxation. I think that this opened a door to some players. I think that the Paradise papers is not a leak, I personally believe it to be an attack on these three players as well as an attack on a few others too. The BBC is giving us part (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41876939), with the mention of the SIBUR shareholders, we see that there is an issue as the corporations are facing US sanctions, but the individuals Leonid Mikhelson and Gennady Timchenko are not. They represent a wealth that is roughly 50% of what is Microsoft nowadays. It is making a few people more and more nervous. I personally believe that the Paradise Papers is not a leak it is an American corporate ploy, possibly even with the assistance of Rothschild wealth management (a speculation from my side) to push changes that are a lot more interesting to America. Can I prove this?

That is partially the issue. You see, without the clear data on the leak it might never be proven. it is merely too weird that this happened three times in a row (yes three times, I will let you look deeper into certain places to find the first instance). You see the most interesting part is casually shown at the end of the BBC article. With “a huge batch of leaked documents mostly from offshore law firm Appleby, along with corporate registries in 19 tax jurisdictions, which reveal the financial dealings of politicians, celebrities, corporate giants and business leaders“, this is showing not to be a leak, this is a data gathering by a select few and the combination of large data sets. You see, multiple sources which is clearly seen through the use of ‘mostly‘, and added the ‘19 tax registries‘, shows this to be an event that is precise, it is an act of data gathering and filtering. As such, I see this as a precise strike, more likely than not from financial players who have seen certain bank (Credit Agricole being the most visible one) to grow beyond certain measures and that was not the acceptable mindset of the players who want a different shedding of wealth. This is one of the reasons that I have been keeping tabs on Credit Agricole and that is why they have been in my blog several times. Yet, in all this I did not see the Paradise Papers coming and the clarity we see now, is one where we need to consider who is playing us all, and the media most of all. The Guardian gives us more and more mentions of ‘Tax Avoidance’ and as I mentioned a few days ago. It is not illegal, it is perfectly legal. Most papers will hide behind ’emotional’ parts to cry outrage, but in the end they too are not outspoken on pushing to adapt legislation to change this and to push for clear corporate taxation needs, whilst we see that they are all on the second largest data drain set at 1.4TB. So after the Panama Papers, do you think that banks, especially banks of these kinds, banks that rely on such paths to ensure themselves of a good income. Do you think they would hesitate to invest a few millions into hardware that keeps it secure? No, we see more and more technology, more and more Cloud solutions failing to keep data safe. The BBC gave us in April 2016: “In other words, your data could get lost, wiped, corrupted or stolen“. It seems that not enough people are really listening, happy to embrace the marketing of Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, whilst there is a real concern on safety (for now). Yet, is that how the data was acquired? It is all good and fine to blame a party whilst the data was somewhere else. You see, those IT people (at Appleby’s) would know better, yet when we see the Irish Times (at https://www.irishtimes.com/business/appleby-the-offshore-law-firm-with-a-record-of-compliance-failures-1.3280860), we see “Appleby has transformed itself into a global institution with more than 700 employees across nearly every major tax haven from the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, to the Isle of Man in Europe, Mauritius in Africa and Hong Kong in Asia“, in that there is no doubt in my mind that IT would have had (or needed) a much higher visibility on their security profile. I wonder, if I got to investigate their non-repudiation systems and logs, what failings would I find. I can personally guarantee you that with every passing check-mark in place, we get to see more and more clearly that this was not a leak, I would regard this as a precision strike to shift billions from one place to the other, because just like we saw with he Panama Papers, when the super-rich get nervous, a lot of them can be manipulated a lot easier than ever before and in my mind there is no doubt, in this Rothschild is likely to be the one true victor and the one party who had the most to win.

I can only speculate on a few matters, but in the light of the global financial industry, Bermuda, Nassau, Riyadh and Nevada are the larger tax havens. The two papers are giving loads of limelight to three of them, so where will those people go to next?

The financial industry is correlating more and more to a video game, it is all about the hardware and scripted events. When we know that hardware is not the initial flaw one remains, making the case stronger and stronger that this was not a leak, it was a scripted event, whether made specifically for certain hardware remains to be seen . I wonder if the media will ever truly look deeper into how the data was acquired, I doubt it, because that does not make for a sexy story, making them in my personal view less of a player and more of a tool, the question that remains is: ‘the tool for who?

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Another opinion

Today is about something I read yesterday. It was an opinion piece in the Guardian. The title ‘How to stop Google and Facebook from becoming even more powerful‘ sounds all nice and sexy, but is that what we want? The subtitle ‘Banning these tech giants from buying any more companies would prevent them from entrenching their monopoly position – and help protect our freedom‘ is nothing that I am taking too seriously. The ‘freedom’ of people is too often being hindered by other means. The fact that IBM and Microsoft have had such places of power for decades shows me to be right to a larger extent. Freedom is a dangerous ploy to use to get things your way, but the players (not merely the writers of the opinion piece) have played this game before and they played it well. He has played the fear mongering card often and he knows how to play it. When it came to the new tax reform bill we hear “Kennedy believes reducing taxes on businesses could allow them the funding to hire more people and raise wages“, yet in equal measure it does not stop companies to pour it all into the bonus of the members of those boards of directors. So getting back to the Guardian, it is the part “a fundamental problem that Facebook and Google cannot solve on their own; these institutions are designed to gather vast amounts of information about every American, but they are not built to manage that information in the interest of those individuals or the public as a whole, such as by preventing Russian hackers from targeting propaganda at specific voters“, he mixes up a few elements and hopes that fear and anti-communism does the rest. When we see ‘not built to manage that information‘, we are forgetting the fact that they do not need to do this to the degree he proclaims, because if that is so, Facebook could have just given the data dump to the NSA, couldn’t they? The systems are more and more automated and the people decide what to like and what or who to follow. You see, Facebook has become more and more granular into finding populations on whom to advertise to, who to address and who to invite towards the groups that some seek. It was their version to counter Google AdWords, a freedom of speech that is protected in the USA in the first amendment and as such free speech goes overboard (like on steroids). The US did this to set up the failed dominos against Brexit, they went so far that the former President of the United States was stupid enough to speak out the political issues of another nation, whilst everyone knew that this was largely about corporate greed, the benefit of large corporations, their status quo now endangered in Europe. So how long until that same freedom is used by everyone else to push whatever agenda they had? That is the danger (or is that the consequence of free speech), because those liberals wanted to take accountability out of the equation, the people became entangled into a stream of feeble minded needs and rights in moving towards the waterfalls of too much data and information, call it death by spam drowning us in every device we have. It gets worse as we can often no longer tell between real information and sponsored words, they all use the same template and they all use Facebook to get their view across, merely because it is the largest player.

In this we get to the next part, because the story gets a nice twist, one that can be used against the corporations and against the US. You see with “how to ensure Google, Facebook and the other giant platform monopolists truly serve the political and commercial interests of the American people“, in this we see the countering by 96% of the population of this planet, because the US is only 4% in all this (this planets population that is) and as such any move could be used as evidence to remove all tax breaks from those corporations outside of America because discriminating for one nations will take them away from global consideration for all others. That was a stupid move in all this by those working for John Kennedy. As I see it there should never be a political interest, because you will always oppose 50% of that one consideration. The laws of no accountability took care of that part. There can be no political interest; there can merely be the option and opportunity to facilitate to any and all political needs and political information, in this digital age is there another way? Perhaps there is one but I am pretty sure that I cannot think of any that stops others in one way or another, which is the foundation of discrimination. So, by giving all the players in this a chance to show their case, and getting their interests across, we cater to some level of fairness. In this, there is no actual fairness and no real political catering, there will be merely political discrimination in one form or another and such forms of discrimination will merely hinder a much larger group of people to find the facts and to decide for themselves where they stand. This is the entrenched future of non-accountable free speech, and as for the commercial interest of the American people? In my view that is a group that is even more hollow than any other group. The commercial interest of the American people changes with almost every voice you hear. The bulk not in greed, but in support to feed and give their family a future, but they do not get to have a real voice. The voices that decide on it are merely greed driven and it is about their personal greed, not that of their nation. So by catering to ‘the commercial interests of the American people‘ they are merely catering to greed, unchecked, unregulated and outside of many legal settings that limits greed. That makes the entire opinion piece interesting because the piece in my mind seems to oppose what is good for the people. Now, we can argue that Google is slightly greedy by the prices they set with their Pixel 2, yet they are still decently cheaper than both Samsung and Apple, for what the people get they get it for hundreds of dollars cheaper than the new Apple X, so it seems that Google is catering to the American people by offering a top range device for a lot less than its competitor. How is that a bad business model? As it comes to data, the people of the world have been offered most of all of it at no charge, for 2 decades the people were able to search what we needed to find, in opposition, we see Bing (by Microsoft) to offer some limited version of this. A version made by someone who was better off being brain-dead at birth. By catering to the people by filtering through assumption we never get what we needed. So as I see it, the continuation of Google is a lot more essential than American politicians are comfortable with. For Facebook there is another part that the piece illuminates. The view of “For one thing, there is no doubt these corporations qualify for antitrust regulation. Facebook, for instance, has 77% of mobile social networking traffic in the United States, with just over half of all American adults using Facebook every day” is part of it. Now I get it that these people are merely looking at the American side. Yet Facebook has a lot more. When we accept: “Facebook has more than a billion active users: The platform has 1.71 billion monthly active users and 1.13 billion daily active users, on average. Facebook boasts 1.57 billion mobile monthly active users and 1.03 million mobile daily active users, on average” we see that the American population is below 15% of all Facebook users. America has become part of a global community and that is scaring the politicians in America a lot more than anything else. You see the people are starting to learn on how they were sold some cheap package and their quality of life has gone out the window.
Now everyone is out in arms and as Google and Facebook are largely truly independent the politicians and certain ‘captains of industry‘ can’t push for their personal needs. Now they are trying to take off the gloves and see if they can punch their way upwards. Their desperation shows even better with “Nearly all new online advertising spending goes to just Facebook and Google, and those two companies refer over half of all traffic to news websites“. You see until the early 2000’s the advertisement space was a joke, a few people has ludicrous prices and the papers lived of advertisements. People were often unable to promote their business because the prices were ridiculous, hundreds of dollars for a small image and a few words. Hoping someone would read it. Google decided that they could do better and they decided to make something affordable, suddenly everyone could afford to show their place and/or product for mere dollars, not for hundreds of dollars to a specific larger audience than ever before. In less than 8 years the print advertisement has become almost a wash, the advertisers are targeting THEIR audience and those others, who wanted to milk their systems for the maximum time are now out of a job, out of a business because they were all about the Status Quo. So now we see the writers of this opinion piece “Barry Lynn is the Executive Director of the Open Markets Institute. Matt Stoller is a fellow at the Open Markets Institute” advocating opposition to a world they and their peers created. You see the corporate world is a lot larger than these two players. Apple, Amazon, Walmart, Verizon and Cardinal Health. None of them are mentioned. This gives a more and more critical view that these two players are trying to get global visibility because their tune is getting old and tired in the US, or is that New America as they call it? And none are mentioning General Electric in all this. There are true boogeymen in America who are wrestling in on the American Quality of Life; the weird this is that is the one element that Google and Facebook are not inhibiting. So if it is truly about growing America, would having a go at the other players be more important? Well we can argue against that with the quote “Seven years ago, Google paid $700m for a company called ITA that provides software for the travel industry. The Department of Justice approved the deal on the condition that Google keep access to the software open to other businesses for at least 5 years. This year, Google closed that access“, so as I read it, the industry had 5 years to make something equal or better to the ITA software. So where is that software now? We have seen for decades that software can be vultured on for a lot less, but that always comes with an end date. So as there is no alternative, no new software those people will just have to go to Google. This is a simple world. You either have the product we need, or we get it somewhere else. Yet in the end you still need to bring a product to the table. We saw this as WordPerfect was pushed out of the world and MS Word remained. It was done to Lotus by Excel and the least said about the predecessors of PowerPoint the Better (although some were impressively cool and better than what we have now). Even in Databases, Access was the most inferior product. Now who remembers dBase, SuperBase or FoxBase? So this is not the first time it happens, so why cry now? In my view it is not about the people writing it, it is about the businesses who are now being pushed out of the market because the Status Quo days are over and the people want to know what is actually happening and they are more likely to hear that from Google and Facebook that they will from Bing and friends. Now I agree that there are issues on several levels and improvements are needed, but we know that this is work in progress. In my view it started a long time ago. When we allowed the glossy news from certain publishers go forth with innuendo and advertisements go through, whilst not having to pay GST (read: VAT) on their product, they saw a nice little loophole to gain a lot more. This is how some people like Rupert Murdoch really made a bundle. Newspapers, magazines and other printed issues. Now it is going Digital at 0.1% of the cost, so the numbers of players in this field are growing almost exponentially and fake news is becoming a problem. Not just for the people bringing the news, but in equal measure any support player connected to it and it is the first and most visible play on ‘free speech’ going over the edge. All because no one in America wanted to entertain the actual need for accountability.

This is merely another opinion in all this and you will need to decide for yourself if my view is valid or not. And before you lash out against Google and Facebook (something I have done in the past and will do so again in the future), consider, did they cost you money, did they ask you to pay or did they give you options at $0? Now we know they get their money in other ways, but it has not cost us anything. So why cry? It seems to me that the Open Markets Institute has its own agenda, I am merely wondering if it was about open markets or about markets for friends who are losing their markets because they were unwilling to move forward. It is merely a view I am considering. It is up to you to decide what you think is actually going in. And when you pay $650 (+$299 for Apple care in addition) more for your new iPhone , $650 (or $949) more than its competitor, what that because it was really that much better, was it because of some proclaimed open market or was it because of something else?

It’s your opinion (read: your point of view) and you get to decide!

 

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Lawyers on a weakly basis

It is the Lawyers Weekly that gets the attention at present. The article (at https://www.lawyersweekly.com.au/biglaw/22159-lawyers-don-t-need-to-become-accomplices-to-white-collar-crime) gives us the nice title with ‘Lawyers ‘don’t need to become accomplices’ to white-collar crime‘, yet is that statement anywhere near the truth or the applicable situation that many face in today’s industry? Monty Raphael QC talks the talk and does so very nicely as the experienced QC he is, yet there were a few points in all this that are an issue to me and it should be an issue to a much larger community. For me it starts with the quote ““Cyber space has not created any new crimes, as such, really, of any significance,” Mr Raphael said.” This is of course a correct statement, because until the laws are adjusted, plenty of issues are not covered as crimes. We merely need to look at the defence cloak that ‘facilitation’ gives to see that plenty is not covered. The case D Tamiz v Google Inc is merely one example and as technology renews and evolves, more and newer issues will rise, not merely in cases of defamation breaking on the defence of mere facilitation.

Yet for this matter, what is more a visible situation is the case of Tesco a how PwC seems to not be under the scrutiny it should be, it should have been so from day 1. So when we read: “Mr Raphael insisted that lawyers have an ethical obligation to ensure they do not support or enable white-collar crime” we are introduced to a statement that is for the most seemingly empty. I state it in this way, because the options of scaling the legal walls while not breaking any of the laws that were bended to the will of the needy is an increasingly more challenging task. If the legal walls were better than PwC would clearly be in the dock 2 years ago, or would they? In addition, they are not alone, merely slightly (read: loads) more visible as the profit before tax for Tesco ended up being minus 6.3 billion in 2015.

Monty makes a good case, yet the underlying issue is not the lawyer, it for the most never was. It is the law itself. This is why I object to the title, it is nice but is it true? PwC shows that even as we oppose their actions, the fact that they are not in the dock is because when we see Reuters (at https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-tesco-fraud/former-tesco-executives-pressured-staff-to-cook-books-court-told-idUKKCN1C41TK) we see “Tesco’s auditors PwC were “misled and lied to,” Wass added“. Is this true? Let’s consider the evidence, can it be shown and proven that they were lied to?

It might never be proven because the people in the dock have had years to get their story right (read: synchronised). What I stated at the very beginning of the events of Tesco remains true and it remains the issue. The fact is that PwC made that year £13 million from this one customer. Much of it in a project and auditors for the rest and they did not spot the fact that the books were ‘cooked’, will remain an issue with me for some time to come. It is the Tesco case that also underlies the issue here. It is about the weak lawyer, not because he is weak, but the lack of proper laws protecting all victims of white collar entrepreneurs is stopping them from aiding potential victims. In addition as the law is struggling to merely remain four passes behind it all, it becomes less and less useful, not to mention a lot less effective. As the next generation of economic tools are being rolled out (block chain being a first), we will see new iteration of issues for the law, for both the CPS and DPP as it cannot progress forward in light of the legal parties not comprehending the technology in front of them, so showing wrongdoing will become an increasingly hard task for lawyer to work with. The biggest issue is that as it is all virtual, the issue of non-repudiation goes out of the window. Not only will it become close to impossible to work with the premise of ‘beyond all reasonable doubt‘, there is the fact that ‘proof on a balance of probabilities‘ is becoming equally a stretch. The fact of non-repudiation is only one of several factors. So as we have seen that successful criminals tend to hide on the edge of technology, the chance to stop them is becoming increasingly less likely.

This now gets us to the statement “In the wake of the Panama Papers revelation from law firm Mossack Fonseca, Mr Raphael cautioned that clients’ criminal activities can come back to haunt their law firms“, the fact that both former prime ministers involved in the Panama paper scandals, Bjarni Benediktsson and Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, have been re-elected to the Icelandic parliament (Source: IceNews), so it seems that the Panama papers are a little less of a haunt. In addition there will be a long debate of what constitutes the difference between Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion, because only one of those two is illegal. In addition certain questions on how 2.6TB was leaked and no alarms went off is also an issue, because the time required to get a hold of such a large amount of documents would take a monumental amount of time and with every option to shorten the path, alarms should have been ringing. When we consider the basic IT issues, we get partial answers but not the answers that clearly address the issues, as they did not. The time it had required to do all this should have placed it on the IT radar and that never happened. So as we see on how patches and security risks are now being pushed for as a reason, we need to wonder if Mossack Fonseca could have been the wealthy party it claimed to have been. When we consider the expression ‘a fool and his money are soon parted‘ the lowest level of IT transgressions that have been seemingly overlooked gives rise to a total lack of Common Cyber Sense, staff that should have been regarded as incompetent and an infrastructure that was lacking to a much larger degree. You see, even before we get to the topic of  ‘illegally obtained data‘ which was used for investigations that have convicted people of crimes, the larger issue that could be in play  on the foundation of that data alone, a few prison sentences could be regarded as invalid, or might get overturned soon enough. There were cases where the story gives clear indications of what was done and here we see the consideration of what is admissible evidence. In this, the one step back is the IT part. The hardware would have regarded as little as $100K to upgrade to better security standards and hiring a better level of University Student in his or her final year might have given a much safer IT environment, perhaps even at half the current cost.

All issues worthy of debate, yet none of it hitting the lawyers; it more hits the infrastructure of it all. Yet these two issues that might now be seen as real hindrances for lawyers, in a place of laws that are now seemingly too weak, the law, not the lawyer. So as we recollect the Toronto Star in January 2017 where we see “Canada is a good place to create tax planning structures to minimize taxes like interest, dividends, capital gains, retirement income and rental income,” when we see the added “the Canadian government has made it easier than ever for criminals and tax cheats to move money in and out by signing tax agreements with 115 countries” we see growing evidence that the law is getting hindered by eager politicians making their mark for large corporations through the signing of tax agreements, and what they think would be long term benefits for their economy, whilst in actuality the opposite becomes the case. So every clever Tom, Dick and Mossack Fonseca can set up valid and legal shapes of international corporations all paying slightly less than a farthing for all their taxations. Legal paths, enabled by politicians and as the laws are not adjusted we can all idly stand by how nothing illegal is going on. So as we admire the weakly lawyers, we get to realise that the law and the politicians adjusting it weakened their impact.

In all this at no point would the Lawyer have been an accomplice. The data lies with IT, the setting of these off shore accounts were largely valid and legally sound and in that, there could always be a bad apple, yet that does not make the Lawyer an accomplice. That brings us to the final part which we see with “Money laundering has been in the spotlight recently, with the Commonwealth Bank facing punishment for failing to report suspicious deposits in its ATMs“. It needs to be seen against “Mr Raphael insisted that lawyers have an ethical obligation to ensure they do not support or enable white-collar crime” in this the banks are already faltering. We seek the dark light events of PwC and Mossack Fonseca, yet the basics are already getting ignored. I believe that the article is missing a part, I feel certain that it has at least been on the mind of my jurisprudential peer. You see, the legal councils will need to evolve. Not only will they need to do what they are already doing, the path where they (or more likely their interns) start to teach IT and other divisions a legal introduction on what is white collar crimes. The fact on how ‘suspicious deposits‘ could be a white collar crime is becoming more and more visible. I see that the education of IP legality in IT is now growing and growing. The intertwining can no longer be avoided. Now, we can agree that an IT person does not need a law degree, but the essential need to comprehend certain parts, in the growing mountains of data is more and more a given.

In all this there is one clear part that I oppose with Mr Raphael, it is the statement ‘There’s nothing cultural about greed‘, you see, as I personally see it that is no longer true, the corporate culture that is globally embraced made it so!

 

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Behind the political screen

We have seen events in the last few years that make me wonder if there is sanity in choice. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Catalonia, against their desire to become independent. It might make local sense, yet where is the wisdom? You see, the same was in play for Scotland, and now we are starting to see more ‘fire’ from Lombardy. A lot of these moves do not make sense. We might argue that an independent Scotland makes the most sense, yet in all this the direct issue is that they cannot afford it. If the oil was different, perhaps, yet even then there are larger questions not considered. The first being ‘How will we keep a budget?‘, this is the first issue and it sank any chance for Scotland. Even with the oil sales, they were already well over 10% short and as oil revenue dwindles down, the Scottish options melted like snowflakes in a Pizza oven. So until the Scottish political delegations attracts a larger more settled form of investors and long term players there is no independent Scotland, there never will be one as it currently sits and I agree that this is a sad thing for the Scots. Now as we consider Scotland and consider that both Catalonia and Lombardy will be in a place that is a lot worse than Scotland would be, the question now becomes, who is pushing behind the screen. You see these levels of ‘local pride’ is getting pushed, and it is always pushed by people with a greed driven agenda and that is a much larger problem than anyone is willing to admit to.

You see, as I personally see it, a few players didn’t get their way through Spain and the UK and are now vying for another path that opens up opportunity and credit cards. Yet behind all this, once they have what they got, they move away, out of sight, out of mind and leave where ever they have been a massive financial mess that is suddenly not theirs to solve, which they then ‘sell’ on to other players. And after that, who pays the bills? Will the ECB come with funds? Will they make the nations sign new debt agreements and exchange bills for large corporations? Perhaps we will suddenly see a wave of news with all the great things the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) can do for all the players involved. It opens up the doors they need and makes the government vassals towards the goals they have in play. One large Europe where no one gets to have a say, except for the large financier and multinational that swim in the pool that supports and supplies their needs. The fear after Brexit is growing almost exponentially within their halls of power. With ‘Since our establishment in 1991 we’ve invested over €115 billion in more than 4,500 projects‘ we all seem to think the best of the EBRD (which might not be wrong), so where do they get their profit from? Because a bank, EVERY BANK, requires return on investment to continue! With “The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is owned by 67 shareholders, 65 countries and two international organisations” that question becomes more and more important. You see, the fact that there are nations providing funds is fine. Yet when we see Canada subscribing with $1 billion a year, are they throwing money out the door, or window for that matter? In addition, what are the Governor and alternate, or more precisely The Hon Bill Morneau and Mr Ian Shugart getting out of this? Now, let me be clear. I am not stating that the EBRD is doing anything wrong, illegal or immoral! I am asking questions on where these independent seeking groups are getting their economic wisdom (or lack thereof from) the fact that these organisations ALL have boards of directors, getting an income I reckon, is food for thought, because all that money is set, stored or reserved to some extent and their local citizens should be allowed to know where that money is going to. In addition, when these groups are being invested in, the fact that they have no real viable plan to be economic independent is also a matter of concern, so whoever is setting up the funds in all this should be placed in the spotlight. The questions I ask regarding the EBRD, should give food for thought. Even as many might not remember 1993, the Independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/attali-runs-out-of-credit-the-ebrd-president-was-finally-forced-to-yield-to-calls-for-his-head-1494218.html) gave us: “Jacques Attali, the beleaguered president of the Bank for European Reconstruction and Development, picked up the telephone in his office in Broadgate and rang a number in Sweden. He spoke for several minutes to Anne Wibble, the Swedish finance minister and chairman of the bank’s governors, who was away from her office on Sweden’s summer solstice holiday. By the time he put down the phone, he had resigned from his post.” It sounds so summery and tranquil, yet the story is not so sweet. With “The Financial Times reported that Attali had been reimbursed twice for the same first-class air fare to Tokyo and had collected dollars 30,000 (pounds 20,000) for a speech there, even though bank staff were not supposed to be paid by anyone but the EBRD“, we see merely another section of the gravy train. First class lights, twice in his case apparently, or is that for what we used to call a ‘travel secretary‘? In addition he seemingly gets more for one day than most are hoping to ever get for an entire quarter. As for the ‘not supposed to be paid by anyone but the EBRD‘, how much was he on? As the list goes on with most notably the refurbishment of 55.5 million, I think I have illuminated enough for more questions to be asked. The article has more and more vicious material, so do read it. This now gets us to the three optional nations to be, because they will need funds and loans and other things. So whilst it is not out of the question that they would knock on all those doors, the slam back from the EBRD part is: “The EBRD’s expenditure on itself was twice as much as the bank’s actual lending in 1991 and 1992, its first two years of operation“, so running the gravy train, or is that ‘hiring executive jets‘ to fly back an forth to these three nations to be, will we see more disgraceful spending? Reuters gives us more from last June with ‘Ex-EBRD banker jailed for six years for bribery by UK court‘ (at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ebrd-corruption-prison/ex-ebrd-banker-jailed-for-six-years-for-bribery-by-uk-court-idUSKBN19B37Y), with the quote “Andrey Ryjenko, 44, who has joint UK and Russian citizenship, had been found guilty of conspiring to make or accept corrupt payments between July 2008 and November 2009 while he worked at the London-based development bank“, so there are issues and I am decently convinced that in all this Andrey Ryjenko was not the only player, as it went on for well over a year, he was merely the less intelligent one as he was the only one who seemingly got caught. So as we see how Europe is not bursting at the seams for new players to create what we might see as a ‘virtual’ or ‘fictive’ growth of the economic terrain, we will see more economic players, opening new commissions, new ‘opportunities’ whilst in fact, it is merely to set up another part of the gravy train with three new optional stops. This is what is going on behind the political screen and it is happening right in front of our very eyes. So, now as the EIB s loaning Spain 600 million euro for a Basque high speed railway, we need to ask how this will be earning itself back. It might seem nice on the verge of creating jobs for a little while. The idea that something will bring 24 million in revenue a year merely to pay for the interest is just short of insane. It is a 180Km track, so the idea that people would pay 400% to gain 30-45 minutes is close to insane. Having a normal upgraded rail that would be at 30% of the cost giving us a 140-165Km per hour train versus a train that needs to slow down by the time it is a maximum speed is beyond belief (OK, that was a small exaggeration). I get that it might seem really cool for Spain to have their three Basque capitals (Vitoria, Bilbao and San Sebastian) connected, yet the way money is thrown away is just too weird for reality (at http://www.globalconstructionreview.com/news/eu-loans-spain-600m-basque-high-speed-railway/). The 600 million is merely the loan whilst the plan requires at least 400 million more and I feel certain that by 2019 the people get to learn that the calculations were off by no less than 17%. It is the final part that astounded me the most. With “More than 7 million people are expected to use these new high-speed lines in their first year of operation, said the EIB“, Yet when we look at Statista (at https://www.statista.com/statistics/457527/passenger-traffic-in-the-high-speed-train-between-madrid-and-barcelona/) we see that the biggest transport vein (Madrid-Barcelona) was getting between 2.5 million (2010) and 3.4 million (2014), so how that goes up to an astounding 300% for High Speed trains is quite beyond me, because let’s face it, not only is it the size of the place, where we see 3 million for Madrid versus 340,000 for Bilbao, we see Barcelona with 1.6 million versus San Sebastian with 186,000 and there is Vitoria with 244,000. So the population numbers do not add up, the stats compared to other high speed trains do not add up and the required economic importance of the locations do not add up, but someone sold the story that made Spain to be facilitated for a loan that is already surpassing 1.4 billion. That is the game behind the screen and in all this, there are a lot of questions and no one is asking them. The people are merely sitting down, casually seeing train carts full of loans pass by, loans that they in the end have to pay for. And I am willing to bet anyone a nice old beer that the people selling the story that sold got a nice pay check in the end too.

As I personally see it, greed will always be the main player behind nearly every political screen and the three optional nations to be, would potentially get into hot waters on year one of their existence. So how does that solve anything? It is not impossible that these steps are not the beginnings of independent places, it is merely the start of the sovereign right of a financial institution to have the terms of conditions of their needs be made into law by contractual agreement of whatever geographical indicator that they have acquired ownership of through hostile takeovers without an army and no elections required.

And all this comes at a slightly larger price than most would expect (even beyond my descriptions given), as Spain is lowering its forecast, we see the dangers that the deficit will grow way beyond the proportions expected a quarter ago, so that will dampen further positive news. In all this, whilst unemployment is still way over the top, the EU will have a dampened outlook on a few levels, as Spain is now becoming the more outspoken negative element in all this. In this too many players have been looking towards the short term gains that were seemingly in place, yet in the end, so far they still need to prove to be a positive return on investment, something the new High Speed Train is unlikely to ever become. In that setting we see player’s vying for some level of independent growth, whilst they have futuristically been set on a debt level that will merely strangle them. How is that independence or an act to create forward momentum?

We see the elements, yet the media at large steers clear of several parts in all this. At times we hear some overpaid high official in that government state: “It is a really complex matter to address, so we have sought the expertise of the leading members in that field”, we only need to look at ABC (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2017-01-27/milk-company-problems-as-dairy-industry-sours/8184544) to see the events that involve the Tasmanian-based Linear Capital, we see in addition “Queensland coal miner Bill McDonald told the ABC he planned to build a 40,000-strong dairy herd and was on the hunt for 250 million litres of milk to complement his own production”, it is followed by “Within 18 months, the company announced that Mr McDonald had sold all his shares in the company and he instead planned to invest his money back in the coal industry. His departure came after the company announced its $500 million plan to produce and process its own milk had been put on hold”. So as I see it there is a structural failure, because in all this, where are the contracts? Was there any investigation? What were the findings? All this in an established nation like Australia, so when Scotland, Catalonia and Lombardy get their own version of these ‘investors’, how will it end for them? Perhaps a nice high aimed loan from places like the EIB, the EBRD, or perhaps even both? Yet when the plan starts failing and people start jumping the shark, what then? What will the damage be and how is it that these matters are not set in stronger bonds holding these investors long term accountable for the consequences of their actions.

The real question remains if such events could be prevented; you see the issue was partially addressed by me in August 2013, with ‘Political ego and their costs’ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2013/08/16/political-ego-and-their-costs/) we see the issue raised and not before 2015. In 2 articles the first (at http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2015/05/the-fyra-high-speed-train-debacle-cost-the-dutch-state-e11bn/) shows that the Dutch state losses were stated to be just over €10.8bn so far, the NOS stated that week. Also we see stated: “travellers did not get what they were promised, MP Madeleine van Toorenburg, who is heading the inquiry, told a news conference”. In the second article (at http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2015/10/the-fyra-high-speed-train-debacle-what-the-dutch-papers-say/), So when we see ‘a job half-done which has cost every household in the Netherlands €1,500’, as well as ‘The crux of the matter is the un-transparent and unclear relationship between what was a public sector company and the government’, so the people get to read parts that I had already seen coming two years earlier. Of course the largest delay was the commission, and those dragging their heels to make sure that some names were either delayed in mentioning, or merely blocked from being mentioned at all. The Netherlands and Australia have protection from multi billion Euro stupidities, the new regions will not have that benefit and as such someone gets to pay the price. In all this, the less said on the NHS blunders the better, yet it clearly shows that the entire situation cannot be maintained and still some people end up with a large bag of coins, they move on whilst the households get to pay for their overvalued income.

It is a game that I have seen starting, misreported, placed on notice of communication and written off the red ledgers as bad debt for decades, larger more draconian changes are need to hold ‘PowerPoint users’, who in the end quickly move to another challenge with bags of coins, these people need to sign waivers and be held accountable for damages and losses, yet at that point the politicians will back down, their symbiotic connection being vital to their own futures, no matter how massive a project fails.

The fact that this has been going on for too long and still is happening all over Europe is why I fear that in the end nothing gets solved, nothing is clearly improved and every cent of the overinflated budgets is still spend, often with well over 10% spent beyond of what was available. Feel free to consider your losses as you pay for a project that never worked, was never implemented and is sitting on a shelf; you merely have to release your savings, is that not fair?

So welcome to the show of what you cannot see as it happens behind the stage of the politician and it is demanding all the camera time it can get, leaving you in the dark.

 

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Retaining stupidity

This is the very first thought I had when I saw “Artificial intelligence commission needed to predict impact says CBI“. Within half a second my mind went into time travel mode. Back to the late 70’s where all the unions were up in arms on computers. The computers would end labour, all those jobs lost. This is not a new subject as the magazine Elsevier showed un in 2015 with “Angst voor nieuwe technologie is zo oud als de industriële revolutie zelf. Diverse commentatoren refereerden de afgelopen tijd aan de luddieten, genoemd naar een Engelse wever die eind achttiende eeuw machines zou hebben gesaboteerd omdat die banen vernietigden“. “Fear for new technology is as old as the industrial revolution itself. Several commentaries referred to the luddites, named after an English weaver who allegedly sabotaged machines at the end of the 18th century because it destroyed jobs“. There is a partial truth here, you see, it is not about the loss of jobs. It is the mere fact that some of these Business group will soon truly show to be obsolete. In this they rely on a firm whose largest achievement is (as I personally see it) to remain silent on overstated profits whilst not having to go to court, or to jail for that matter (read: PriceWaterhouse Coopers). So by engaging this party they have already lost their case as I personally see it. So when we see “Accountancy firm PwC warned in March that more than 10 million workers may be at risk of being replaced by automation“, with the offset we needed in the past (read: Tesco) the damage might merely be a few hundred people. So I do not deny that some jobs will go, yet like the automation sequence that computers brought from the 80’s onwards. That same industry would give jobs and infrastructure to thousands, livening up an industry we could not consider at that time. The same happened in the 18th century when the looms and weavers grew, the blossoming of a textile industry on a global setting. So when you see “The business lobby group said almost half of firms were planning to devote resources to AI, while one in five had already invested in the technology in the past year“, you are looking at what I would call a flim flam statement. You see, perhaps the more accurate statements might be: “The business lobby group stated that 50% of the firms are moving away from the facilitation that the business groups provides for“, so these firms are pushing in another direction, why give credence to their flawed way of thinking? You see, this is the consequence of the greed driven executives who rely on status quo, they ran out of time and they need extra time to get their upgraded pensions in play. Why should we allow for them to continue at all?

I am willing to give the TUC a small consideration because of their heritage. Yet, when we see in the Financial Times (September 11th) “Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said the government was hurtling towards a “kamikaze Brexit” and should keep open the option of remaining in the single market” (at https://www.ft.com/content/c5f7afb8-9641-11e7-b83c-9588e51488a0), yet there is overwhelming presented evidence from all sides both positive and negative mind you that the single market only benefits the large corporations, the small companies are merely disadvantaged by the single market as such we must wonder where the loyalty lies of the TUC, by that notion if the TUC is there for large corporations, or to serve them first, we see another piece of evidence that shows the TUC to be redundant, and as they merely vie for the large corporations as their main priority, the fear of those companies would become the fear of the TUC and as such, they are becoming equally obsolete. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is a national trade union centre should show clear cause with all the data, not merely the aggregated data results of a data scientist at PwC. So when I see “the CBI is urging Theresa May to launch the commission from early 2018. It said companies and trade unions should be involved and the commission should help to set out ways to increase productivity and economic growth as well looking into the impact of AI.” Who is going to pay for all that? I submit that the Trade Unions pay their own way and ask their members for the needed funds. What are the chances of that? The poisoners part is seen in ‘set out ways to increase productivity and economic growth‘. You see, AI will do that to some extent on several paths, yet it is not up to the government to figure that out or to set debilitating fences there. It is up to the business sector to figure out where that profit is. That is why they are in business! You see, as I see it, the drive to remain in some level of Status Quo was nice until it ended, these companies have driven away the people who wanted to innovate and now they are in start-ups, or in companies that embraced innovation, the older larger players are now without skills to a larger extent, without drive through misdirected use of funds and lacking ambition, so they are going to get hit in all three ways when the driver comes. 5G will be a first and when it does happen AI (it is still years away from being anything truly practical), these two paths will drive new methods of automation and data gathering. But the larger players wanted to milk their 4G base as much as possible, setting up side channels with smaller players like Orange, DODO, TPG, Tesco and giffgaff. Now that they are learning that 5G will be a larger wave then some academics presented (likely at the expense of some placement), now we see the panic wave that follows. Now we see the need for commissions to slow things down so that the milkers can catch up. In my view there are clear reasons that such paths should be allowed to exist.

That is my supported view, it has been supported by other articles and I have written about these events for close to two years now. Now that the party is over, we see players trying to change the game so that they can continue just a little longer. We allowed for these matters in 2004 and 2008, it is time for the governments to give a clear signal that change will come and stopping it should not be allowed, not until they alter the tax laws, the laws on accountability and the powers of prosecution to have a better grasp at these players, a change that must happen before we allow any level of catering to their needs.

By the way, when we consider ‘PwC placed under investigation following BT accountancy scandal‘ (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/pwc-investigation-bt-accountancy-scandal-italian-operations-pricewaterhousecoopers-a7813726.html), as well as the Fortune.com issue (at http://fortune.com/2017/02/28/pricewaterhousecoopers-pwc-scandals-oscars/), where we see the five larger issues at PwC, which includes the previous mentioned Tesco, but now has an added Tyco, Taylor Bean & Whitaker, Bank of Tokyo – Mitsubishi and MF Global. So as I have been on the prosecuting tank, ready to roll it over the board of directors of PwC regarding Tesco, having any faith in whatever they want to report on now, unless it comes with all the data for the public at large to scrutinise, they should not get close to any commission and even less be part of the reporting. Now we can irresponsibly use 5 bad apples to identify someone who ships containers of fruit and that would be a valid response and defence. Yet overall the players asking for the commission seem to have their own needs first in all this. There would have been a consideration if there was any given that Google or the Alphabet group to be part in all this, yet that mention is missing and therefor the setting is void. Now, there are more players in the AI field, but it seems that the Google headway is the strongest, the largest and at present the fastest. And with a sense of humour I will add that you merely have to ‘Bing‘ the search ‘AI Commission‘ to see that Microsoft is in no danger of getting anywhere near an AI this upcoming decade. Perhaps the mention of ‘Australian Securities and Investments Commission – Official Site‘ on position 2 and ‘Fair Work Commission | Australia’s national workplace …‘ in position 5 to realise that their AI could be sunk in 13 keystrokes. The power of assumption will kill anything, including ones sense of humour and that same persons appetite.

Yet is there more?

Yes, there most certainly is. You see with “Investment in technology could help bolster Britain’s sputtering record on labour productivity, which is among the worst in the G7 and is failing to improve in line with expectations since the financial crisis” we see part of the fear being spread. The ‘milkers’ as I prefer to call some of them are realising that having space and capital for growth was essential to remain in the game. Some of the milkers are ending up being too visible and plenty of consumers are moving to a place where they can get a better deal. That was seen in Australia in June as ABC news gave the bad news that Telstra had to shed 1400 jobs. We see all kinds of excuses, yet the reality was that for well over 5 years they were too expensive, not by a margin, but by being up to 300% more expensive than a decent alternative. I have had personal experience whilst in a Telstra Shop because I was not an optional business account he had no time for me. Do you think that a company like that can remain in existence? Over the last 3 years, the shares dropped from $6.61 to $3.52, that is pain that a company feels and they remains ignorant and blind to the consequences. That view is enhanced even further by the statements given in the Sydney Morning Herald. With “Our approach [to 5G] is to get in earlier and try to have it modified so it’s more suitable to Australia when it arrives, rather than us have to try to modify it when it gets here,” Mr Wright told BusinessDay.“, so basically there is every chance that Australian 5G will be undercut by some level of standard that is not as given in the 5G handbook. As I personally see it is Telstra’s approach to setting a standard that is no standard at all. A ‘get in first so that we can tell others what the standard is‘, or better stated, what the standard is that you are not adhering to; 3.5G for your mobile anyone?

This Australian view translates to the UK as well. With “Despite the potential for technology to increase productivity, firms are cautious about investing owing to uncertainty over Brexit. Growth in business investment was flat in the three months to June, the latest official figures show“, so these business types are not willing to invest, they merely want the one market side to go on and in light of the delays needed, they want a commission, so that they can force government investment and delays. So they can get the best out of both worlds. The (as I personally see it) exploitative model is continued in every venue we see come and as I see it, it will be much better for us if those business models and business players go, they should go now before they become the detrimental force on UK industries. 5G will be a new beacon of industry and progress, it will open up additional venues for many telecom players and as such we are all better to get on board now and think of that one idea we had that could work for us all. It equally holds the solutions the NHS desperately needs and the fact that 3 larger players still haven’t seen that light is a larger worry than anything else. It merely shows them to be obsolete, dinosaurs in a modern age. As one person told me, the reason the T-Rex is such an angry creature is because its arms are too short to take a selfie. That does make sense, especially when you consider what some of these players think when they think 5G, they merely look at speed, whilst 5G opens up so much more than merely a quick download of a movie, in all this AI could be breaking the moulds and give us something that even I cannot envision, which is actually a really good thing. You see, the new waves will come from people that are different from me; they are the dreamers like the game designers in the early 80’s. They will show vision and give us something we never considered before. That is true progress and the people who bring us weighted predictions and tell us of fear of 20% of all jobs lost need to do what they were meant to do, die and become extinct just like the dinosaurs before them and soon thereafter I will become extinct too. That is the nature of future evolution. Just like my grandfather who could not comprehend the electronic calculator. I am clever enough to comprehend quantum computing, yet I hope I cannot comprehend what comes after, because if I can remain on board at that point we have all become technologically stagnant and we merely move backwards, that too is a personal view I have.

 

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