Tag Archives: Australian Financial Review

Telecom providers & swaggering vanity

Any business has issues; the one that states that they do not is lying to you. We understand that there is mostly smooth sailing, that there are bumps in the road and that things are not always on track. We have all seen them; we might have all seen them near our desks. It is a reality, if a lumberjack is working, there will be wood chips, such is life. So when we see the Telstra ‘purpose & values’, we see: “The telecommunications industry is experiencing enormous growth; network traffic is growing faster than any other period of time and digital technology is changing our world. Telstra is at the heart of this change—and we’re helping make it happen by connecting everything to everyone“. That might be true, yet when you price yourself out of a market, there tend to be consequences.

So when the Business Insider gives us merely 2 days ago: “It looked like there were national problems with the Telstra network again today, but the Telco says no” (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/telstra-is-down-nationally-2018-6), we see a troubling setting. So the quote “The Telstra network appeared to have another national meltdown, with services in most of the major capitals disrupted in the first half of Tuesday, but the company denies there were any problems with its mobile network.“, concessions on social media were made and the services were back up in the afternoon. Yet the damage was done. Not the fault, the disruption or the faulty service. The fact that Telstra was in denial is the issue. So when we also see: “Telstra said there was no issue for Telstra customers and the Telco’s 3G and 4G networks. “There was a vendor platform issue that impacted mobile virtual network operating services for a small number of wholesale customers,” a spokesperson said“, we see the issue that Telstra has moved on through carefully phrased denials. It is a tactic to use, it is however the wrong tactic, because it takes away trust and Telstra did not have that much left to begin with. One source gives another view entirely; it is the view that makes CEO Andy Penn too confused for his own good and the health of the company. In regards to the question that ABC host Leigh Sales asked, which was: “How can shedding 8000 jobs, not make your service worse?“, the response “Mr Penn deflected the question and talked about the complexity of a Telco network and the inevitability of network interruptions when dealing with such sprawling physical technology assets and software. After the host tried once more to ask the question, the Telstra boss steered clear of the jobs losses and moved the conversation back towards his message of increased simplicity for customers“, we merely see the fact that Telstra is playing a dangerous game of stupidity. Deflection is bad and shares will get slammed (and they did). You see, the proper answer (or better stated a proper answer) would be: “As we are moving to a flatter organisation, management is now directly in touch with the workforce, management will get the full scope of issues in their area of responsibility. There is no longer a delay of information trickling on the path of 2-3 managers deciding where what goes, the buck stops with the manager in charge. Basically the lower managers get more responsibility and as they resolve the issues also a much better reward. The direct exposure to issues and answering the questions of staff members and consumers will lead to a much better understanding and also decrees the timeline of issues and questions requiring a resolution“. You see?  I resolved that question, I gave an answer, I exceeded the expectation of the current customer base and I did not deflect. So perhaps I might be the better CEO Andy? Now, we can add that this is a work in progress and as any company needs to adjust settings; with a flat organisation structure it is much more direct and easier to adjust. So yesterday’s interview, published today, I merely required seconds to set the stage in a more positive way. Yet Telstra has more issues. Their mobile plans are still horrendously expensive; in some cases placed like Optus will offer 20 times the data at the same price and that was merely a month ago. So Telstra needs to realise that unless they truly become competitive with some of their competitors. In addition when we look at IT News, we see (at https://www.itnews.com.au/news/telstra-completely-changes-how-it-sells-enterprise-services-494853) the issues that some expect. Issues like ‘Confirms it took ‘too long’ to revamp enterprise core’, yet the revamping is not the issue, actually it is as there was no ‘real’ revamping, merely adjust the tailoring to fit other elements (as I personally see it). You see, the danger offered through: ““It is the ability to provide fixed voice, unified communications and messaging with add-ons for mobile and applications on a per seat pricing basis for our midmarket customers. “It will be all digital.” It will be ordered in minutes, provisioned in minutes to hours, and everything will be billed electronically with the ability for the customer to flex up and down in volume in real time. This is what I call the folly setting. It starts with ‘our midmarket customers‘, which translate to ‘corporations and those with money’, which is fair enough, yet the economy is still in a place where the cost of living is way too high. The rest is merely a statement of ‘buy on our website or through a phone app’; there will be no negotiating, no personal touch, not a warm touch to any of it. Merely a ‘buy this by clicking or go somewhere else’. You can rephrase it again and again, but that is where it is heading and the people have no real high regard for an automated Telstra, so that will hammer the share prices for at least an additional 2%-3% in a negative direction. So as more and more people go towards the ‘Yes’ oriented Optus stores, we see that in some places Telstra is setting up movable selling points (Westfield Burwood), yet in the direct cold light of day, it is not merely a transforming business, it is the setting where Telstra looks less appealing than before. That requires addressing and Andy Penn did not go the right way about it from the beginning, yet in the setting we now see it, it is even less appealing than ever before.

It goes further than all this, a mere 3 hours ago, ABC gives us ‘Is this really the end of Telstra’s ‘confusopoly’?‘ (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-21/telstra-what-is-in-it-for-customers/9891076), there we see: “Andy Penn says the job losses will largely come from management so presumably consumer-facing staff will remain”, so why is Andy Capp hiding behind ‘presumably‘?

 

 

 

 

The AFR takes it in another direction. There we see ‘Telstra’s strategy is all about killing Optus, Vodafone and TPG‘. So (at https://www.afr.com/brand/chanticleer/telstras-strategy-is-all-about-killing-optus-vodafone-and-tpg-20180620-h11mtt), we see ” competitors are clearly going to be most obvious victims of his 2022 strategy, which prioritises mobile above everything else in Telstra’s sprawling portfolio of businesses”, yet with the website as it is and the announced 5G rumours that are nowhere near 5G we wonder how much trouble they are in. so even as we see the boastful “Telstra’s mobile business currently earns about $4 billion a year on revenue of $10 billion“, it will have little effect until the data offered is a hell of a lot higher than they currently offer. It might have been a good moment of timing for me, I ended up with twice the data ant half the price. The largest population really cares about a deal that is 75% better and that is not merely me, it includes well over 60% of all households and pretty much 99.43% of all students. Even if Telstra proclaims that they only care about midmarkets, the shareholders will not understand how they lost out on millions of customers and that change is not reflected in anything we heard. It does not stop there. With the setting of the quote “Telstra said on Wednesday that the number of Australian households with no fixed broadband service is between 10 and 15 per cent. It expects this to rise to 25 to 30 per cent as 5G is rolled out around the country“, we see that Telstra is to lose out on more markets. The shear fact that Vodafone figured out in the EU is an optional gain of momentum for Vodafone, yet the hybrid options that Telstra failed to see could cost them even more in the 2020-2024 period. In addition, when we see “Penn’s decision to adopt an aggressive roll out strategy for 5G plays into the established trend of greater use of mobile networks relative to fixed line, much of which is driven by the widespread frustration caused by the poor performance of the NBN Co”, considering the part I discussed yesterday in ‘Telstra, NATO and the USA’ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/06/20/telstra-nato-and-the-usa/) alerted us to a previous stunt played with 3.7G, yet the setting is reflective here. In part it is expected to be merely temporary. So when we see on the Telstra site “Verizon and Ericsson recently decided to test the 5G network on a moving target — a car being driven around a racetrack — and were able to record a 6.4gb/s connection”, now I get it. It is a test setting yet the speed is still off by almost 40%, which is not good. It is better than what we have now, but getting out in front before the technology is truly ready is very dangerous. In addition CNet had another issue that also reflects in Australia, as well as a league of other nations. With “Cybersecurity for 5G networks had been a top priority for the previous FCC under Tom Wheeler, a Democrat appointed by President Barack Obama. But the current Republican-led agency believes the FCC should not have authority to ensure wireless providers are building secure networks. “This correctly diagnoses a real problem. There is a worldwide race to lead in 5G and other nations are poised to win,” FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, noted in her statement. “But the remedy proposed here really misses the mark.”

You see, I have been writing for the longest time on the benefits and powers that 5G will give on a whole new range of options, yet the overly non-repudiation ignorance in Telecom town is staggering. Their view is almost on par where the NSA decides to set the admin rights to the guest account and leave the password blank. The dangers that people will face on that level cannot be comprehended. The moment the ball is dropped, the damage to people will be beyond comprehension. It boils down to Cambridge Analytica times 50, with all privacy set to public reading. The business will love the amount the amount of data; the people will be less enthusiastic as their consumer rights and needs are no longer in stock with any shop using the internet for sales. I raised issues on that field in March 2017 (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/03/13/the-spotlight-on-exploiters/), yet that was merely the lowest setting. At that point, the Guardian (the writer that is) raised: “The mass connectivity it allows for will also help expand the so-called internet of things (IoT), in which everyday appliances and devices wirelessly connect to the internet and each other“. Yet, this is in equal measure the danger. You see as Telstra gave visibility to ‘Lessons from CES 2018: everything is connected‘ (at https://exchange.telstra.com.au/after-ces-2018-everything-in-tech-is-connected/) and Huawei is giving us ‘Huawei Connect 2018: Activate Intelligence’ (at http://www.huawei.com/en/press-events/events/huaweiconnect2018), they will likely all miss out on giving proper light to non-repudiation. It needs to be the cornerstone, yet for now there seems to be the global ‘understanding’ that someone is working on it, or that ‘block chain solves it’ and a few other hype responses that merely are deflections of a situation not understood and even less properly attended to. To better understand it, I found a promising paper (at https://arxiv.org/pdf/1708.04027.pdf) from Mohamed Amine Ferrag, Leandros Maglaras, Antonios Argyriou, Dimitrios Kosmanos, and Helge Janicke. In the conclusion we see: “Based on the vision for the next generation of connectivity, we proposed six open directions for future research about authentication and privacy-preserving schemes, namely, Fog paradigm-based 5G radio access network, 5G small cell-based smart grids, SDN/NFV-based architecture in 5G scenarios, dataset for intrusion detection in 5G scenarios, UAV systems in 5G environment, and 5G small cell-based vehicular crowd sensing“, which gets us to the real setting that this part is still some time ahead and even as telecoms are rushing to get 5G first to get the better market share, it appears that the players have no clue on the time they will lose by not properly investigating and setting the steps to get non-repudiation on the proper path, it will be seen the moment some CEO decided to listen to marketing and give a first roll out of 5G, whilst not listening to support as they are a cost and not an asset. At that point the situation will unfold where the clever hacker ends up having an optional access to 100% of the available data on several floors and at that point the people attached to any of that will have lost whatever choice they had in the first place regarding their privacy, their accounts and their data. It had all been denied to them.

This was seen in the Economist last year where we saw: “The flaw lies largely with the weakest link: the phone system and the humans who run it. Mr Mckesson and the bitcoin victim, for example, suffered at the hands of attackers who fooled phone-company employees into re-routing the victim’s phone number to a device in the attacker’s possession“. You see this is not about non-repudiation, it is about authentication and that is not the same. There is a whole league of issues and in part because the solution is still not a true given, it is in its initial stage and even as we accept that non-repudiation is sometimes essential, it is not always essential, there is a larger issue on where and when it is needed and it cannot be when the user decides because roughly 92.556% is too ignorant on the subject. The impact on a personal life can be too far stretched and that is where the problem starts. Telstra fails here, in their Cyber security White paper 2017 it comes up once and there we see: “Transaction approval should satisfy certain characteristics – including but not limited to integrity, non-repudiation and separation of duties“, that is it! In a ‘Cyber Security White Paper‘ that give s on the front page ‘Managing risk in a digital world‘, non-repudiation needs to have a much higher priority and in a 52 page paper that gives ‘acknowledgements’ all kinds of high priced firms mentioned in the end, with the ending of “We can assist your organisation to manage risk and meet your security requirements“, so what happens when customers want clear answers on non-repudiation? What is currently in play and available?

The non-acknowledgment that even, if not practised in 2017, or 2016, might be fine, this is about what comes next? That part we see on page 45 with ‘The increased adoption of incident response drives the growth of the after breach market‘ and “In Australia, the highest usage for emerging security solutions is in ‘incident response’, and Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB) are used the most in Asia. 47 per cent of organisations surveyed in Australia and 55 per cent in Asia have adopted ‘incident response’ toolsets or services“, as well as “announcement of legislation around mandatory data breach notification by the Australian Government“, so how long until non-repudiation makes it to the main focal area? I reckon one incident too late, at that time Telstra becomes a ‘responsive telecom‘ nothing pro-active about it. When the first victim comes and the 99% realises that there is no actual non-repudiation properly in place, how many will remain with Telstra? And it is not merely them, a much larger global Telecom provider pool has that same flaw, the one who did think ahead will be gaining exponential growth the day after someone got hit and we have seen the growth of non-repudiation need for almost 4-5 years, so it is not coming out of the blue.

So, when we see the sales pitch called executive summary in the beginning, the mention of “That organisations are prepared to take such acknowledged risks speaks to the urgency of their move to cloud services“. So is non-repudiation addressed there? and the start of that page with “Organisations and individuals are dealing with new security and business opportunities, many of which are fuelled by mobility,” which of these sides are giving in that you and only you bought the 50,000,000 shares at $29.04 and the loss of 63.223% (roughly) we saw in the 45 seconds after that. At that point, or a boss that you and only you bought them, would that perhaps be good, bad, or perhaps was blaming a hacker the solution?

so in that report, where we saw ‘Mobile malware‘, ‘Advanced Persistent Threats‘ and ‘Web and application vulnerabilities‘; When we realise that the report gives us ‘Number of days compromise went undiscovered (median)‘ with the average value of 520 days (almost 18 months), would the flag that ‘not an employee’ had access helped perhaps in finding it sooner than 18 months?

It all read like a cloud sales paper as security is less complex. It does not solve the non-repudiation issue which would soon be at the footsteps of telecom companies and as they are in denial (for too long that something needs to be done, whomever solves it, that will be the winner of the 5G race and they will gain the 5G business from those claiming to have any non-repudiation and those who did not bother. It is not sexy, it is not limelight, but it will be the cornerstone of personal and corporate safety lot sooner than most people realise.

It all matters because flattening the organisation means that there is either space provision for that branch of security or it falls in the gaps and is forgotten until too late. Andy Penn can deflect all he can at that point (or his successor), but at that point the impact of such an event will be too devastating to respond to or correct for.

The issue remains complex, and if people remember the issues I have with Microsoft, will also accept the part I now give them, because one quote on this from Microsoft is bang on: “Can we say we have non-repudiation by putting a check in a box on a certificate template? Absolutely not, we must first jump through many hoops to be sure that only the owner of a private key associated with the certificate ever has access to it. This involves many controls, policies, procedures and security practices, some of which are listed above“, it is a much harder field, but an essential one and even as financial services are eager to embrace it, data handlers need to start doing this too.

We need to acknowledge that: ‘authentication is easy, non-repudiation is hard‘, and as 5G, automation and cloud systems evolve, the legal need for non-repudiation grows almost exponentially for every day that the three are active in a corporate and personal environment. Those who ignored that essential need end up having no legal foothold on any claim whatsoever. In my mind companies who ignored it will lose their IP and most legal options to get it back the moment it gets downloaded to another place. That IP will soon thereafter be owned by someone else, or it ends up in public domain where anyone can use it free of charge, both are nightmare scenarios for any firm relying on IP.

 

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Cheese Pizza with Oregano

I love Pizza, I hardly ever get it, merely because the people here tend to rely on Domino’s and Pizza Hut and neither tends to be a true pizza (as I personally see it). As I walked through Sydney over the last week, it dawned on me just the massive lack of actual decent Pizza places in Sydney. It is almost like they are no longer in a sustainable environment. People got used to the cheap solutions two chains bring and they call it Pizza. All the people in the neighbourhood accepted it as the real deal and now, we forgot what true awesome Pizza is like. Now, I am a little off the wall here. I love my Cheese Pizza, with the 5 cheeses and loads of Oregano on top. So when I think Pizza, I always think of the Bravo Trattoria Pizza’s at Crow’s Nest, they are my favourite! Yet, is it about pizza, or the place, or what Pizza actually is? You see, it does matter when we consider the Financial Review (at https://www.afr.com/personal-finance/italys-debt-barely-sustainable-ubs-chief-economist-20180601-h10uun), we see here what I said weeks ago and last week to some degree. When we see “Italy’s debt-to-GDP ratio of 130 per cent is “borderline sustainable”, the UBS top economist says. There is a level of the primary budget surplus which keeps debt stable, and above which you can begin to pay down your obligations, Kapteyn explains. For Italy this figure is a surplus of 1.3 per cent of GDP, versus the actual surplus of 2 per cent. It’s a skinny buffer of around 0.8 percentage points which at current debt levels “doesn’t inspire confidence”, Kapteyn says“. That is merely the tip of the iceberg. The issue is not that it is Italy, it matters more that it is one of the big four. UK, France, Germany and Italy are the large economic suppliers of a 27 nation bloc where they basically represent well over 50% of the EU economy, the fact that they all are in deep debt does not help and the fact that the UK is getting out, or is that ‘was trying to get out‘? So when we see add the issues of the UK and now we see how the Italian issues are growing and France is not far behind. A 27 nation failure due to the inability to set proper budgets, deal with debt levels and add to that a failed economy jump start that is now close to 3 trillion Euro printed with no real prospects to pay for any of it. That revelation is why Italy seems to be vacating the union. The action by President Sergio Mattarella by rejecting the Eurosceptic finance minister and put in his place Giovanni Tria a pro-EU professor. This is perhaps the first setting where we see that voting is no longer an issue for any government, the holier than thou setting of protecting the Euro and the EU against all odds, whilst those in the EU commissions are massively overpaid is setting the foundation of a dangerous mindset. The issue that the AFR is bringing to light is “markets are not pricing in the risk of an Italian exit, they are repricing the risk of a Italian default“. I always rated the Iexit (aka iLeave) setting very low, the two populist parties in charge was not that realistic in 2016 and when Marine Le Pen was ‘surpassed’ by a former investment funds manager we were all wondering what would come next and I thought it would lower the chances of the populists in Italy. And the news is not getting any better. We see that with “The European economy hit a wall over the final months of last year, with growth dropping from a quarterly growth rate of 0.7 per cent to more like 0.4 per cent. Economists are unclear of the reasons for the slowdown, but broadly believed the European economy would quickly rebound“, the issue I personally see is ‘broadly believed the European economy would quickly rebound‘, not the slowdown. You see there is no evidence that there is an actual quick rebound. There is every chance that there will be a rebound, but it will not be quick. The fact that these so called experts are all thumbs when it comes to their forecasting and with 0.3% unaccounted for, we can see that they are in the dark or playing the bad news cycle. I personally believe it to be the second one. And the Italian issues are increasing. Not merely the debt settings, it is a changed political landscape. Even as Paolo Savona was replaced by Giovanni Tria, there is still “Mr Di Maio will be vice-premier and minister for labour and economic development, including trade policy. Matteo Salvini, head of the League, will also be vice-premier and interior minister in charge of immigration“. This we got from the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/79cf905c-64a8-11e8-90c2-9563a0613e56). This duo is going to be a lot more important than even I initially thought. They now have a handle on labour economic development and immigration will see larger changes. There is no way to predict whether that is good or bad. If we listen to people like George Soros we are instantly rejecting liberalism, because it is easy to be a liberalist when you are a multi billionaire, yet he had no issues to short sell US$10 billion worth of Pound sterling, earning a billion in the process during the 1992 Black Wednesday UK currency crisis. He did nothing wrong, he played the system when he could and make a billion. Things like that never go away and he must regard the EU zone as a very profitable short sell opportunity, which makes whatever he is trying to do dangerous, so in that light all his settings for “Best for Britain pushes for second referendum on Theresa May’s deal with EU“, a cause he is backing is very dangerous. In this by pushing the UK away from Brexit, the pressure on Italy decreases. The dangers become that irresponsible spending in the big four can go on for several more years and there is no way to control the ECB and their puppet masters. Unelected people deciding on the descent of financial futures in 27 nations that is how I personally see it. You can agree or disagree, yet ask yourself when was the last time that any European got a decent explanation on who of how the 3 trillion euro spend was going to be dealt with? You see over a decade in an economic setting that is close to the late 90’s, whilst keeping strict austerity in play all over Europe. There is quite literally no way that this will happen, because politicians will adjust their policy towards any speculative proclaimer of ‘the European economy would quickly rebound‘ economists, whilst not prosecuting them when they get it wrong (merely because making any claim of expectation is not a crime, is it?). A setting that the people have no chance of winning, hell, they won’t ever be able to break even on this. This shows that Brexit will be a hard, but the better way to go. When billionaires start proclaiming how bad it is and how ‘we all’ can get a better deal that is when you become afraid for your life and that is what is at stake. And we see this in the Australian Financial Review with ““creeping into the market”, Kapteyn says – “a potentially dangerous one”. After the glory days of 2017 in which investors basked in a globally synchronised upswing, markets are now faced with the potential return of the two-speed world economy: the US vs the rest“, so when we get “America’s economy is growing around 3.5 per cent; some independent analysts estimate growth as fast as 4 per cent. Europe is “at best” growing by 2 per cent“, that shows the dangers, because as George Soros is getting the winnings, the other players do not, from my point of view it is a form of leeching, leeching Europe dry for the term of a generation or better. You see again it is a personal view, it is why Best for Britain is getting the support, it is about delaying Brexit at the very least for as long as possible, merely because it stops the game people like George Soros are likely to be playing and when that stops Europe can start bringing things about, hopefully for the better, especially as the ECB will be forced to print money for all kinds of dubious reasons, dubious because kick-starting the economy after you printed 3 trillion to try it twice is just ridiculous, that money has to be paid back at some point and everyone is in denial about the latter part.

Yet this is still about Italy, not the UK. You see, Italians want what is best for Italy and I am fine with that, I believe in a healthy sense of national pride. Yet with “Italy’s debt-to-GDP ratio of 130 per cent is ‘borderline sustainable’” they are facing an ugly truth, Italy needs to face 5-15 years of Austerity, yet with the ECB trying to economically equalise Europe, at the cost of the big four, so it amounts to Italy trying on top of an economy for 60 million Italians, whilst they are weighted with invoices for close to 250 million Europeans who can’t be bothered to get their house in order. it amounts to giving an addicted gambler $500 whilst they are only allowed to use $10 for gambling, you tell me how long it takes for things to go really wrong, and that is pretty much a given on this situation. It was seen in the Netherlands 2012 and 2013, and now we see, when we look at the Dutch government statements with in September 2017 we see “The economy will grow by 3.3% in 2017 and a projected 2.5% in 2018“, we see the EU commission giving the Netherlands a ‘mere’ 3.2% last month for that same timespan. Now the 0.1% is actually pretty good, but it is still dangerous when it is a 0.1% in Italy, the issue is seen when we see that the Netherlands has a 65% debt level against Italy at 130% of GDP, and the Dutch are actually in a much better position, so the 0.1% is no actual pain level. Portugal, Spain, Greece, Belgium and Italy all have debt levels well over 100% of GDP, several other nations are somewhere between 60% and 80% of GDP, whilst France is at 99.8%. It is the debt levels that are excellent for banks and not so good for the people. You see, when the big four are required to pay €254 billion in interest each year and that is just the large 4, how do you think that this gets paid for? A decade of inability to set a proper budget and all this is before we consider the €3,000 billion that the ECB printed for what they call Quantative Easing. That is what Italy needs to get away from and at 135% they have the hardest job of all. So when you see that all that money goes all to the banks, short sold loans that they never had the money for to pay for can you see just how dangerous the George Soros setting is in all this? It all impacts Italy to some degree. These are not merely the facts; there is also presentation, representation and misrepresentation. The issue is in the Australian Review, it is the view of Arend Kapteyn. Yet where is he at when he gives us “We are only now at the beginning to find out how responsible or irresponsible [the new coalition government] are going to be on the fiscal side“, you see, the setting then becomes what is irresponsible? Being not pro Eurozone, being forced to default whilst the alternatives are just too unacceptable for the Italian people? So is he the pro greed setting, or the pro solution setting, because with such debt levels we can almost unanimously accept that these two choices are mutually exclusive. The most interesting political part is that Enzo Moavero Milanesi is now Minister of Foreign Affairs. I would have thought that the populists wanted that part for themselves, the fact that this post is now with an Italian independent is an interesting choice, if the populists can work with this setting and use it to maximise their economy by setting new option and opportunities, Italy gets an optional path where minimised immigration and maximised economy could have a setting where the Italian unemployment rates could fall to a number below 10% over the next 24 months (highly speculative on my side). If they pull that off, the entire euro sceptic setting could grow a lot faster than would have been possible with Paolo Savona in the mix.

No matter how you slice the Pizza, the factual and actual quality Italian dish is under massive amounts of pressure on several sides and any Italian thinking that their life will get better in the short run is just gobbling down a [Unnamed Franchise] Pizza, bland food that look like a UFO and tastes not as great. The fact is that like Germany did earlier this decade, Italy will know 5-10 years of hardship, yet when persevered Italy could have an actual growing economy for a much longer time, something to look forward to (if you are Italian). Can this government pull it off? That is hard to say because it has been shown that the actions of the ECB are close to non-stoppable and that will still impacts the bottom line. It is good for America and George Soros in the short term, yet after that they will not care and Europe will not be going anywhere ever soon. That danger is just ignored all over the place. Just 2 days ago the Financial Times also gave us “There are still two weeks to go before Riga, but naming an end date for QE right now would be like the ECB shooting itself in the Italian boot,” said Carsten Brzeski, economist at ING-DiBa. “The Italian situation has tilted the balance towards the doves [and] clearly calls for the ECB to keep its options open and even to make clear that they will extend QE at least until December” (at https://www.ft.com/content/dd6b5d70-6413-11e8-90c2-9563a0613e56), which is already an extension of well over a year. so when we see “The ECB has pledged to reinvest an average of €15bn a month over the first four months of next year, using the proceeds of government bonds bought under QE that have now matured” in that same article, we need to consider ‘bonds that have now matured‘, so that danger is seen in the Spanish setting where we see from some sources: “Spain will have refinancing requirements that exceed €300 billion per annum before 2022. In 2018, 41.2 billion euro, in 2019, 82.4, in 2020 83.9 and in 2021 58.5 billion euro, with 60.4 billion maturing in 2022“, so this fiscal year Spain will be required to find €41 billion, or increase taxes or cut services, and it will be twice that amount next year around, so how exactly is Spain in a setting to get the economy back whilst the debts are rising beyond normal control? Italy faces “84 billion euro maturities in 2018, 161 billion in 2019, 164 billion in 2020 and 172.5 billion euro in 2021” do the Italian people know that they are in such deep and hot waters? I wonder, and when they get confronted with that part of the bad news cycle, what will the previous and opposition then proclaim? I wonder if we will see true honest coverage on that blame game. I will order a decent Pizza to watch that unfold, because there are merely the two larger players in the EU-debt zone bloc confronted with the hardships that will hit them hard. Pushing these debts forward is just not a workable solution, not when the debt exceeded 130% of GDP, if you doubt my words, just talk to the average Greek in Athens and ask him how his quality of life is nowadays.

So as you wanted that your slice of life included a slice of pizza, consider the 99% in Italy who soon face the reality that they are no longer able to afford that for a long time to come.

 

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Waking up 5 years late

I have had something like this, I swear it’s true. It was after I came back from the Middle East, I was more of a ‘party person’ in those days and I would party all weekend non-stop. It would start on Friday evening and I would get home Sunday afternoon. So one weekend, I had gone through the nightclub, day club, bars and Shoarma pit stops after which I went home. I went to bed and I get woken up by the telephone. It is my boss, asking me whether I would be coming to work that day. I noticed it was 09:30, I had overslept. I apologised and rushed to the office. I told him I was sorry that I had overslept and I did not expect too much nose as it was the first time that I had overslept. So the follow up question became “and where were you yesterday?” My puzzled look from my eyes told him something was wrong. It was Tuesday! I had actually slept from Sunday afternoon until Tuesday morning. It would be the weirdest week in a lifetime. I had lost an entire day and I had no idea how I lost a day. I still think back to that moment every now and then, the sensation of the perception of a week being different, I never got over it, now 31 years ago, and it still gets to me every now and then.

A similar sensation is optionally hitting Christine Lagarde I reckon, although if she is still hitting the party scene, my initial response will be “You go girl!

You see with “Market power wielded by US tech giants concerns IMF chief” (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/apr/19/market-power-wielded-by-us-tech-giants-concerns-imf-chief-christine-lagarde) we see the issues on a very different level. So even as we all accept “Christine Lagarde, has expressed concern about the market power wielded by the US technology giants and called for more competition to protect economies and individuals”, we see not the message, but the exclusion. So as we consider “Pressure has been building in the US for antitrust laws to be used to break up some of the biggest companies, with Google, Facebook and Amazon all targeted by critics“, I see a very different landscape. You see as we see Microsoft, IBM and Apple missing in that group, it is my personal consideration that this is about something else. You see Microsoft, IBM and Apple have one thing in common. They are Patent Powerhouses and no one messes with those. This is about power consolidation and the fact that Christine Lagarde is speaking out in such a way is an absolute hypocrite setting for the IMF to have.

You see, to get that you need to be aware of two elements. The first is the American economy. Now in my personal (highly opposed) vision, the US has been bankrupt; it has been for some time and just like the entire Moody debacle in 2008. People might have seen in in ‘the Big Short‘, a movie that showed part of it and whilst the Guardian reported ““Moody’s failed to adhere to its own credit-rating standards and fell short on its pledge of transparency in the run-up to the ‘great recession’,” principal deputy associate attorney general Bill Baer said in the statement“, it is merely one version of betrayal to the people of the US by giving protection to special people in excess of billions and they merely had to pay a $864m penalty. I am certain that those billionaires have split that penalty amongst them. So, as I stated, the US should be seen as bankrupt. It is not the only part in this. The Sydney Morning Herald (at https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/how-trump-s-hair-raising-level-of-debt-could-bring-us-all-crashing-down-20180420-p4zank.html) gives us “Twin reports by the International Monetary Fund sketch a chain reaction of dangerous consequences for world finance. The policy – if you can call it that – puts the US on an untenable debt trajectory. It smacks of Latin American caudillo populism, a Peronist contagion that threatens to destroy the moral foundations of the Great Republic. The IMF’s Fiscal Monitor estimates that the US budget deficit will spike to 5.3 per cent of GDP this year and 5.9 per cent in 2019. This is happening at a stage of the economic cycle when swelling tax revenues should be reducing net borrowing to zero“. I am actually decently certain that this will happen. Now we need to look back to my earlier statement.

You see, if the US borrowing power is nullified, the US is left without any options, unless (you saw that coming didn’t you). The underwriting power of debt becomes patent power. Patents have been set to IP support. I attended a few of those events (being a Master of Intellectual Property Law) and even as my heart is in Trademarks, I do have a fine appreciation of Patents. In this the econometrics of the world are seeing the national values and the value of any GDP supported by the economic value of patents.

In this, in 2016 we got “Innovation and creative endeavors are indispensable elements that drive economic growth and sustain the competitive edge of the U.S. economy. The last century recorded unprecedented improvements in the health, economic well-being, and overall quality of life for the entire U.S. population. As the world leader in innovation, U.S. companies have relied on intellectual property (IP) as one of the leading tools with which such advances were promoted and realized. Patents, trademarks, and copyrights are the principal means for establishing ownership rights to the creations, inventions, and brands that can be used to generate tangible economic benefits to their owner“, as such the cookie has crumbled into where the value is set (see attached), one of the key findings is “IP-intensive industries continue to be a major, integral and growing part of the U.S. economy“, as such we see the tech giants that I mentioned as missing and not being mentioned by Christine Lagarde. It is merely one setting and there are optionally a lot more, but in light of certain elements I believe that patents are a driving force and those three have a bundle, Apple has so many that it can use those patents too buy several European nations. IBM with their (what I personally believe to be) an overvalued Watson, we have seen the entire mess moving forward, presenting itself and pushing ‘boundaries’ as we are set into a stage of ‘look what’s coming’! It is all about research, MIT and Think 2018. It is almost like Think 2018 is about the point of concept, the moment of awareness and the professional use of AI. In that IBM, in its own blog accidently gave away the goods as I see it with: “As we get closer to Think, we’re looking forward to unveiling more sessions, speakers and demos“, I think they are close, they are getting to certain levels, but they are not there yet. In my personal view they need to keep the momentum going, even if they need to throw in three more high exposed events, free plane tickets and all kinds of swag to flim flam the audience. I think that they are prepping for the events that will not be complete in an alpha stage until 2020. Yet that momentum is growing, and it needs to remain growing. Two quotes give us that essential ‘need’.

  1. The US Army signed a 33-month, $135 million contract with IBM for cloud services including Watson IoT, predictive analytics and AI for better visibility into equipment readiness.
  2. In 2017, IBM inventors received more than 1,900 patents for new cloud technologies to help solve critical business challenges.

The second is the money shot. An early estimate is outside of the realm of most, you see the IP Watchdog gave us: “IBM Inventors received a record 9043 US patents in 2017, patenting in such areas as AI, Cloud, Blockchain, Cybersecurity and Quantum Computing technology“, the low estimate is a value of $11.8 trillion dollars. That is what IBM is sitting on. That is the power of just ONE tech giant, and how come that Christine Lagarde missed out on mentioning IBM? I’ll let you decide, or perhaps it was Larry Elliott from the Guardian who missed out? I doubt it, because Larry Elliott is many things, stupid ain’t one. I might not agree with him, or at times with his point of view, but he is the clever one and his views are valid ones.

So in all this we see that there is a push, but is it the one the IMF is giving or is there another play? The fact that banks have a much larger influence in what happens is not mentioned, yet that is not the play and I accept that, it is not what is at stake. There is a push on many levels and even as we agree that some tech giants have a larger piece of the cake (Facebook, Google and Amazon), a lot could have been prevented by proper corporate taxation, but that gets to most of the EU and the American Donald Duck, or was that Trump are all about not walking that road? The fact that Christine has failed (one amongst many) to introduce proper tax accountability on tech giants is a much larger issue and it is not all on her plate in all honesty, so there are a few issues with all this and the supporting views on all this is not given with “Lagarde expressed concern at the growing threat of a trade war between the US and China, saying that protectionism posed a threat to the upswing in the global economy and to an international system that had served countries well“, it is seen in several fields, one field, was given by The Hill, in an opinion piece. The information is accurate it is merely important to see that it has the views of the writer (just like any blog).

So with “Last December, the United States and 76 other WTO members agreed at the Buenos Aires WTO Ministerial to start exploring WTO negotiations on trade-related aspects of e-commerce. Those WTO members are now beginning their work by identifying the objectives of such an agreement. The U.S. paper is an important contribution because it comprehensively addresses the digital trade barriers faced by many companies“, which now underlines “A recent United States paper submitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a notable step toward establishing rules to remove digital trade barriers. The paper is significant for identifying the objectives of an international agreement on digital trade“. This now directly gives rise to “the American Bar Association Section of Intellectual Property Law also requested that the new NAFTA require increased protections in trade secrets, trademarks, copyrights, and patents“, which we get from ‘Ambassador Lighthizer Urged to Include Intellectual Property Protections in New NAFTA‘ (at https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/ambassador-lighthizer-urged-to-include-52674/) less than 10 hours ago. So when we link that to the quote “The proposals included: that Canada and Mexico establish criminal penalties for trade secrets violations similar to those in the U.S. Economic Espionage Act, an agreement that Mexico eliminate its requirement that trademarks be visible, a prohibition on the lowering of minimum standards of patent protection“. So when we now look back towards the statement of Christine Lagarde and her exclusion of IBM, Microsoft and Apple, how is she not directly being a protectionist of some tech giants?

I think that the IMF is also feeling the waters what happens when the US economy takes a dip, because at the current debt levels that impact is a hell of a lot more intense and the games like Moody’s have been played and cannot be played again. Getting caught on that level means that the US would have to be removed from several world economic executive decisions, not a place anyone in Wall Street is willing to accept, so that that point Pandora’s Box gets opened and no one will be able to close it at that point. So after waking up 5 years late we see that the plays have been again and again about keeping the status quo and as such the digital rights is the one card left to play, which gives the three tech giants an amount of power they have never had before, so as everyone’s favourite slapping donkey (Facebook) is mentioned next to a few others, it is the issue of those not mentioned that will be having the cake and quality venison that we all desire. In this we are in a dangerous place, even more the small developers who come up with the interesting IP’s they envisioned. As their value becomes overstated from day one, they will be pushed to sell their IP way too early, more important, that point comes before their value comes to fruition and as such those tech giants (Apple, IBM, and Microsoft) will get an even more overbearing value. Let’s be clear they are not alone, the larger players like Samsung, Canon, Qualcomm, LG Electronics, Sony and Fujitsu are also on that list. The list of top players has around 300 members, including 6 universities (all American). So that part of the entire economy is massively in American hands and we see no clear second place, not for a long time. Even as the singled out tech giants are on that list, it is the value that they have that sets them a little more apart. Perhaps when you consider having a go at three of them, whilst one is already under heavy emotional scrutiny is perhaps a small price to pay.

How nice for them to wake up, I merely lost one day once, they have been playing the sleeping game for years and we will get that invoice at the expense of the futures we were not allowed to have, if you wonder how weird that statement is, then take a look at the current retirees, the devaluation they face, the amount they are still about to lose and wonder what you will be left with when you consider that the social jar will be empty long before you retire. The one part we hoped to have at the very least is the one we will never have because governments decided that budgeting was just too hard a task, so they preferred to squander it all away. The gap of those who have and those who have not will become a lot wider over the next 5 years, so those who retire before 2028 will see hardships they never bargained for. So how exactly are you served with addressing “‘too much concentration in hands of the few’ does not help economy“, they aren’t and you weren’t. It is merely the setting for what comes next, because in all this it was never about that. It is the first fear of America that counts. With ‘US ponders how it can stem China’s technology march‘ (at http://www.afr.com/news/world/us-ponders-how-it-can-stem-chinas-technology-march-20180418-h0yyaw), we start seeing that shift, so as we see “The New York Times reported on April 7 that “at the heart” of the trade dispute is a contest over which country plays “a leading role in high-tech industries”. The Wall Street Journal reported on April 12 that the US was preparing rules to block Chinese technology investment in the US, while continuing to negotiate over trade penalties“, we see the shifted theatre of trade war. It will be about the national economic value with the weight of patents smack in the middle. In that regard, the more you depreciate other parts, the more important the value of patents becomes. It is not a simple or easy picture, but we will see loads of econometrics giving their view on all that within the next 2-3 weeks.

Have a great weekend and please do not bother to wake up, it seems that Christine Lagarde didn’t bother waking up for years.

 

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The failing Mario Draghi Kart

Just yesterday, the Deutsche Welle (at http://www.dw.com/en/eurozone-economy-still-requires-stimulus-ecbs-mario-draghi/a-42751327), gave us that the ‘Eurozone economy still requires stimulus‘, so after these years the stupid and the rich still will not learn and the people are about to pay for it dearly. That is, not the UK, they might have gotten out just in time, if they don’t add delay upon delay. Even as we are sussed to sleep with: “The bank is gradually reducing its bond purchase program but it may continue past September”, the people are sussed to sleep, in a situation, where they sleep on a luxury liner and it is going down. Like having a nice cabin on the Titanic and you decided to sleep in on April 15th and you did. You never woke up, you could if there was oxygen, yet oxygen is 3786 meters away, 3786 meters straight up!

So when we are pointed at the ECB’s asset purchase program, which began three years ago, and which has seen the central bank spend €2.55 trillion ($3.14 trillion) to buy government bonds and other financial assets. The people are not given clarity on where that money went EXACTLY, in other news, that news we got months ago on Mario Draghi being a member of a very exclusive 5 mile high club. So when we got 6 weeks ago: “European Central Bank President Mario Draghi should give up his membership of the opaque Group of 30 consultative body because it risks hurting public confidence in the ECB’s independence, the European Ombudsman said on Wednesday“, how come the near entire bloody media has not followed up on this? After that one day it was silenced, the ECB will not respond, Mario Draghi apparently keeps on getting away with whatever he needs and there are no questions, not even on an international level which is unsettling in so many ways as it leaves us with the indication that the media may be as unreliable as the politicians they are reporting on.

A program that has sunk 3 trillion dollars and everyone is just stating that the economy is great, yet nobody is asking the number one question and that is ‘How will we pay it back?

The theory of printing money

Mario Draghi, president of the ECB has profiled his place and his ‘bank’ as awesome, marketing on a near supreme level, like a politicians stating on how honest he is. Excellent standards, great breeding and stellar academic excellence, and you know that expression about a story being too good to be true?

So they have their ‘Quantative Easing’, they use it to buy government bonds and other financial assets. The purchases have helped keep borrowing costs low, which in turn have boosted spending and investment in the Eurozone economy. But is this true? You see, there are now two levels of problems and dangers. When we consider that the bond is a debt security, under which the issuer owes the holders (so the government that issued the bonds now owes the ECB), a debt and (depending on the terms of the bond) is obliged to pay them interest and to repay the principal at a later date, termed the maturity date.

So over $3 trillion is bought from these governments and those governments are paying the ECB interest until they pay back the amount at the date of maturity (could be up to 30 years). So basically they are pushing massive debts forward, it is almost like the Greek debt mess, but now close to 173 times more intense in regards to the outstanding amount. The current makers in charge get a free pass and leave the mess to the next person whilst they enjoy the millions they earned as well as the multimillions they got by being a member of an exclusive group of 30, as they get the results before any other publication and they get to the cream all without ever running the risks other ‘investors’ face.

So whilst everyone sees the interest only part, we are kept in the dark on the fact that an additional $3 trillion would be outstanding and with the UK out of play, the other nations will get to pay for it all, so when we consider that last week nations like the Netherlands told the EU that they want a freeze on EU contributions, so now we read: “Rutte has said he does not want the Dutch contribution to the EU to increase, despite the European Commission’s call for higher spending on climate change and border controls, and the gap left by Britain after Brexit. Like the Netherlands, Britain is a net payer into the EU’s coffers and will leave a large hole when it pulls out. The Commission wants to fill the gap through a combination of spending cuts and higher contributions, something which the Dutch strongly oppose” (at https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2018/02/dutch-prime-minister-begins-campaign-to-freeze-eu-contributions/), what no one is looking at, or mentioning is that the outstanding $3 trillion is going to be an additional matter to deal with, even if that is placed in a very separate part of the books. Payment will be due!

So as they give the mention how Brexit will be one reason to increase payment, the absence of the QA plan and outstanding amount remains unmentioned, it is an impact, but that is exactly why the UK got out in the first place. In this the contribution for the Dutch will go up by $4500 per person, so where is that coming from? Now consider that the impact of the matured bonds will be massive for the positive contributing nations, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark and Austria would end up getting a blow to their budgets unlike any they have had. The question becomes how intense depends on certain elements. So when we consider the bad curve. So, when the bonds bought reduce in value by 30%, the ECB is not hit, it might lose the value, but that means that the government it was bought from ends up with a smaller invoice to pay, and the losses for the investor (the ECB) loses 30% of their investment, now the EU nations as a bloc will have to come up with that money. So depending on where it was invested in, that government get to laugh as the other EU members need to pay for the ‘losses’, which amounts to the positive paying nations. This is one of the foremost reasons why I was all for the UK getting out as soon as possible. So these nations could end up paying an additional $1 trillion divided amongst them. So how was this ever going to be fair? Of course that is if the value of these bonds depreciates, if that does not happen, than there is no additional issue, but the fact that the outstanding amount is still due for payment and in light of the bulk of these EU nations not being able to keep a decent budget and almost no ability to pay such amounts does not help us in any way in raising confidence in regards to the EU moving forward. Greece is to the smallest extent some indication, even as many sources are positive, I have an issue with “The 2017 primary balance target of 1.75 percent of GDP is expected to be reached with a significant margin. For 2018 the primary balance target of 3.5 percent is considered achievable“, so there are two parts. The first is the use of ‘expected to be reached‘, margin or not, these numbers are not yet set in stone, so there could be a bad news cycle. The second part is ‘target of 3.5 percent is considered achievable‘, which means an almost 100% increase towards the positive result, which has never been realistic. Even as the unemployment numbers are down from 27% a few years ago, to 21%, this still implies that one out of 5 is without a job, that means the stresses on the Greek infrastructure remains and it will remain for several years to come. So when it comes to the larger nations, Spain, Italy and France are still a downward drag here in regards to the overall EU and their drag is draining their infrastructure and options towards pushing the EU economically forward, some others like the Netherlands and Sweden are ahead of the curve, but we forget that they are merely 26 million, whilst the three dragging us down represent close to 185 million people, in that regard we forget the weight that the larger nations have. So in that both the UK and Germany are the positive sides, but the UK is leaving and adding Germany only gets that group of 3 at 50% of the ones slowing the EU down, so even as the slowdown is a good thing, it is still a negative result in the end. So it is in that light that there is a growing risk to the entire Quantative Easing plan that Mario Draghi gave the EU and even as they are all on how ‘the economy is so much better‘, I agree that compared to two years ago, the people are more positive and jobs are getting better, yet this has been at the expense of unrealistic levels of spending and there is no given on when that will be resolved, so those people have a $3 trillion bill hanging over their heads.

You see, part of the problems is infrastructure, EU infrastructure mind you. So as the Australian Financial Review (at http://www.afr.com/news/economy/monetary-policy/mario-draghi-keeps-focus-on-monetary-accommodation-20180226-h0wos8) gave us “Draghi did address a question on why ABLV Bank received emergency support from the Latvian central bank before the ECB declared it failing or likely to fail. He said that the Emergency Liquidity Assistance policy – under which national central banks rather than the ECB decide to provide support to troubled lenders – is a “remnant of a past time” and should be reformed

Say What?

So basically a bank got support from its national bank, whilst the ECB had it as ‘likely to fail‘, so is this how Quantative Easing is ‘miss-spent’? It is not completely clear or fair to state it in that way, yet when we see Reuters with “The ECB said at the weekend that privately held ABLV is likely unable to pay its debts or other liabilities as they fall due. “We believe our bank will be able to settle with all of our clients in full,” ABLV, Latvia’s third-biggest bank by assets, said in a statement. “Voluntary liquidation is an important condition for it – the process has to be done as professionally and as transparently as possible, given the history of Latvian insolvency and liquidation processes”“, yet in all that is there any mention whether that included the emergency support funds? The text does not include that part, so that is money down the drain. That whilst it is not the only scandal that Latvia faces. If we consider the Stratfor view (at https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/what-watch-two-banking-scandals-unfold-latvia), we see “On Feb. 17, the Latvian anti-corruption agency detained the head of the country’s central bank, Ilmars Rimsevics, after Grigory Guselnikov, the Anglo-Russian owner of Latvia’s Norvik bank, accused him of taking bribes. Rimsevics has denied any wrongdoing, and Latvia’s Defense Ministry said that the allegations were part of a “massive information operation” by an external actor. Latvian Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola said that the corruption allegations would be investigated“, as well as “a report issued Feb. 13 by the U.S. Treasury Department detailing the results of its investigation that found ABLV had facilitated transactions linked to “large-scale illicit activity connected to Azerbaijan, Russia, and Ukraine” as well as activities circumventing sanctions on North Korea. In the wake of that report, significant assets were withdrawn from ABLV“. Now we can see that for what it is, yet we also get “the ECB’s Single Resolution Board has rebuffed ABLV’s efforts to seek financial assistance, determining that shoring up the bank “was not in the public interest.”“, so in light of the mention by Mario Draghi with ‘under which national central banks rather than the ECB decide to provide support to troubled lenders‘, I see it as instead of money wasted from the left trouser pocket, it came from right cheek pocket. How does that solve anything? The fact that the trousers came from the old tailor, the fact that the damage was not contained and allowed certain parties to take their cash out of Latvia is still cause for concern for those wearing the trousers.

That reflects also when we add the Greek issue that is playing right now with “the resignation on Monday of economy minister Dimitris Papadimitriou and his wife, the alternate labour minister, Rania Antonopoulou. Antonopoulou gave her notice after it was revealed that she had accepted €23,000 in housing benefits at a time of immense hardship for Greeks” (source: the Guardian). The issues playing do not seem like much, but it is like mopping the floor in a room where the water main has burst, it is close to pointless. In all this, especially when we hear Alexis Tsipras come with ‘praising the couple, in a speech late on Tuesday, for the “sensibility” they had exhibited in stepping down‘. To me it reads like ‘I am happy you vacated the premises as the people now know what you did and they are angry, thank you for that!‘ Is there any way that the Greeks are not getting fuming mad on that issue?

That is the part that does matter, because that is linked to whatever bonds were purchased, where they were purchased and how much is in play. We see none of that; merely that the invoice at present is set at 30 billion Euros per month, down from 60 billion per month earlier and 80 billion per month before that. So there is no way to tell how unrealistic my 30% loss is, it could be as low as 1% or as much as 41.3%, there is at present no way to tell. It is a long term gamble instigated by those in power now and left to solve for whoever gets to hold that seat when those spending’s mature and payment is due. Yet the chance of breaking even (best case scenario) is almost statistically impossible and no one has answers how to deal with it the moment it happens.

Can the Draghi failing be proven as a failure?

That remains the main event in all this and the fact is that the proof is nowhere near complete because the transparency in the spending and the path to repayment is missing. The fact that the money is printed and that the payment of the printed money is due at some point is not dealt with, by none of the media. Is it because it is not due now, or are we kept in silence because it stops us from asking questions? Perhaps like the elite group of 30 bankers, only initial questions are allowed and no response will be coming. That are merely factors in all of this and it does NOT sets any premise to the failure or success of the acts by Mario Draghi. Part of it is shown by Bloomberg a mere 15 hours ago, as they gave us: “The rate of price growth slowed to 1.2 percent this month from 1.3 percent, dropping to its weakest since 2016. The core measure was unchanged at 1 percent. The figures follow a series of releases that have checked the economy’s thundering momentum at the start of 2018, which had emboldened policy makers who want a faster unwinding of the central bank’s crisis-era monetary stimulus“, so even as that is not evidence, it seems to me that people are stalling and delaying stopping the QA wave, until the QA wave shows a positive. It is like watching a person throw more and more money in the pokeys until that person breaks even. In gambling terms it is watching a fool bleed dry. Even when we accept that a pokey returns 90% over its lifetime, that means that at the very least there is a loss of 10%, even if that person is getting lucky, the small wins are still used up whilst the player is trying to break even and in the end that money too is gone. That is how we could see the QA program to go and if that is true, a loss of 41.3% might have been optimistic, but it remains speculation. The article (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-28/slowing-euro-area-inflation-helps-draghi-push-back-exit-debate) now gives the other parts I mentioned earlier too. With “consumer price growth almost halved in Italy and slowed in Germany” giving the line I had that with unemployment in Germany being an asset, but this slowing and 50% less gives rise to more without a job, or halted in economic growth for Italy, whilst Germany is halting to some degree their forward momentum, which translates in upcoming bad economic news cycles, or better stated less positive ones, so how will that impact the outstanding $3 trillion? The impact is only seen when that amount is due, but the impact will be there and those who pushed it onto us will no longer be around and they end up washing their hands off the dangers and leave us to pay the outstanding invoice, it makes for the most dangerous of market karts.

With ‘Buy now and pay when we make the most profit!‘ is an economic standard that has never been good commerce, or realistic for that matter; but that is exactly what Europeans signed up for, and the people in Europe end up not getting a say in the matter. That is the issue I opposed all that time and that is why I hope that the UK got out in time, because that part will drag the EU economy down to a degree it has not seen before. The only worry is what happens when that issue hits the European tax payers, because it will! No doubt about that!

 

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When we shift the sands

Sit down and consider a simple question: ‘When was the last time you got played?‘ Not by some sexual partner you wanted, or some deal where the profit remained absent, not the kind that truly takes life’s pleasure away (for a lot of people), the kind where we see that whatever sport you love to watch, being it the NBA, NFL, NHL, IFL, Premiere League or Cricket. When was the time you sat down and knowingly were watching a game that was rigged? How much fun will you have when you start watching the game, knowing it was rigged by others who have profit in mind? How much fun will that game be to you than? Not after the fact, but you in this example you get to know the game has been rigged before the start. How much fun will the game be at that point? To give a slightly better illustration, There was an earlier article by me on March 19th 2014 when I wrote ‘Any sport implies corruption!‘, which dealt with some of the parts of the Qatar 2022 allegations. In there I refer to several links that give us the initial important quotes: “The 2026 World Cup television rights in North America were awarded without a bid to Fox and Telemundo, who had complained about the Qatar schedule change, for which they hold the broadcast rights“, “Six European federations demanded Fifa clean up its act. Three top commercial backers, Coca-Cola, Adidas and McDonald’s, did so too” and “Of the 11 men who voted on 2018 and 2022 World Cups who are no longer on Fifa’s executive committee, only five provided answers to Garcia’s inquiry. Two could not be located at all“. This is how the sport becomes a joke and a mere vassal for corruption and commercial exploitation. Now consider the fact that a person gets the ‘honour’ to become an official, elected to give a vote on who would be the best nation to represent soccer, there are not small people, they tend to be directly linked to captains of industry, the kind that are on the Forbes 500 list. So when we see ‘Two could not be located at all‘, my pondering becomes ‘Who got them assassinated?’ You see assassinating a person is simple, getting rid of the body evenly so, the trick is to know the rules of evidence and not leave any for the prosecution. The Qatar allegations implied a new shot to a billion dollar industry. If these people ask questions, YOU WILL BE FOUND!

The entire mess left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

The BBC comment (at http://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-31605149/2022-world-cup-scudamore-very-disappointed-with-decision), shows bigotry and greed all in one setting, with “Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore has said that he is “very disappointed” with the recommendation of a Fifa taskforce to hold the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in November and December. Mr Scudamore told the BBC that the European leagues felt let down, both by Fifa and Uefa“, it is bigotry because it shows plain intolerance for those in different time zones and seasons. And these people are back in the game now!

In addition, there are still issues with the Sunday Times on that. At the time, also quoted by CNN (as stated at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/07/28/the-old-reasons/), in ‘The Old Reasons‘ we see “We’ve seen millions of documents that prove without a shadow of doubt that corruption was involved. There is clear evidence linking payments to people who have influence over the decision of who hosted the World Cup“, were these people ever subpoenaed, was the evidence, if not, were the editors prosecuted in any way shape or form? No, they were not and nothing was given or achieved. Some of the players understood that the price might be too high. As the FIFA got rid of their corrupt bladder, or is that Sepp Blatter? We now see a second push. Suddenly FIFA found a former president to fall on his sword. Consider that NOW; we see that there are allegations that Nicholas Sarkozy took bribes regarding Qatar 2022. The timing is almost flawless, you see, this will not be a long event, some of the players like the Lard dealer McDonald’s and his clown, The fuzzy dilution to sugar, namely Coca Cola and credit hog system Visa are all about maximising their potential, that is not possible in Qatar, and as such they need it changed and it can only be done if the switch is in weeks, not months. I reckon that these players will ‘suddenly’ give loads of support to whomever takes over, which might be likely the US. I am speculating that if Qatar is suddenly deprived for other reasons, we will see that Atlanta will become the winner (Morocco was never a realistic player on their bid), and guess what, Atlanta will within a few months claim that they can push the event ahead and would be able to get 2 years ahead of schedule. The one nation that has been unable to keep time lines and budgets for DECADES is now suddenly achieve the ability to be ahead of schedule. Now, this is pure speculation, yet in light of ‘sudden allegations‘ which implies an actual need for evidence, evidence that was never available in 2014 and 2015 is suddenly there in 2017? That is beside the joke that the Sunday Times (mainly their editor Martin Ivens) has proven to be with ‘We’ve seen millions of documents‘, I doubt that, I very much if he even looked at 1% of that amount of documents in his studies to get to his A levels, so there is that!

My anger is not about him, I don’t know him. It is the blatant level of facilitation that is shown towards big business and media needs, the sports fan be damned. The media REFUSED to do anything about Sepp Blatter for the longest of times. They did whatever they could to minimise the people of being exposed to Andrew Jennings, the investigative reporter in all this. When you Google ‘Andrew Jennings‘ and FIFA in Google, see how much news comes up, see how the media skates around the central person who exposed the levels of corruption that FIFA had embraced, you’ll find very little. These are part of the shifting sands. I reckon that the entire Saudi-Qatar pressures have not helped any. It merely opened the door for big business to see if they can push towards their advantage.

It is the Australian Financial Review that gives us “Sarkozy’s lawyer, Thierry Herzog, denied any wrongdoing by his client and pointed out that Garcia’s report stated “no evidence was found” linking Platini’s vote with any investments. A source claimed the investigation was “politically motivated”. A spokeswoman for the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office said that they were “carrying out two separate preliminary inquiries” into the Veolia deal and the Qatar World Cup bid“, in this there are two parts. The question why there is a political motivation regarding a former president (there might be, I just wonder how political it could be). The second part is that there had been several issues with the Garcia report first it was withheld, then there was only a summary and after that he leaves. Several sources gave us “Head of the investigatory chamber of FIFA’s Ethics Committee, Michael Garcia, has resigned from his post after FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee dismissed his appeal against the summary of the 430-page report that Hans Joachim Eckert, head of the Ethics Committee’s adjudicatory chamber, issued on 13 November 2014.In the appeal, Garcia calls Eckert’s summary of his report on the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding process “incomplete and erroneous”.“, which happened around the 17th of December 2014. So now the report is merely used, merely observed or neither? In all this Joachim Eckert has played a role to some extent, the summary can be seen as evidence on that. In all usage there are several more questions and we had seen a lot of mentions at the time. The fact that Joachim Eckert was pretty much thrown out of the building in May 2017 implies that there is a chance he had the option, and opportunity (a speculative statement) to ‘foul’ plenty of other parts, giving more and more questions regarding the actions of Qatar, I am willing to go as far as to state that none of the evidence should be allowed into any court or be used in any decision until a board that includes Andrew Jennings and Michael J. Garcia and that board would have to investigate every piece of evidence offered. In addition, if any evidence is found that gives rise (not necessarily proves) that McDonald’s, Coca Cola and Visa had any hand in any of these events, they must be banned as FIFA advertiser and sponsor for 15 years, see if that refocusses their need for greed!

I admit that my emotions are getting the better of me, and I also agree that this is not a good thing. The shifting sands of greed and corruption have gone too far. It is bad enough to see corporate greed in your almost daily life. It is quite another when the sport has become so commercialised that corporations and the media decide on how the sport is played beyond the levels they were already doing it nowadays. You see it is the Financial Times who gave us some of the goods yesterday (at https://www.ft.com/content/36f8ceca-76d2-11e7-90c0-90a9d1bc9691). In this we might notice ‘Gulf media unleashes war of words with Qatar‘, and in addition we see ‘Saudi-led alliance weaponises satellite channels after exhausting diplomatic arsenal‘, yet someone has been considering the longer play and the impact that depriving Qatar 2022 might be. I think that this was short sighted by those players. I always believed that sports could unite disagreeing parties, pushing sport away limits the options for all parties in this. I also believe that the players in Saudi Arabia made an error, a serious one. When we consider “Riyadh and its allies escalated the crisis so rapidly that they have few left themselves with few realistic options to apply more pressure on Qatar, the top exporter of liquefied natural gas” as well as “Some Saudi journalists say they have come under government pressure to criticise Qatar. One Saudi editor described how officials have been using a mobile phone messaging group to instruct journalists on how to shape coverage and what stories to focus on. “These are orders, not suggestions,” he says“. The issue is seen in other ways, not the ways stated in the article. In this Ahmed Al Omran made the flaw that he did not consider (my personal view). You see, I never much looked into the matter of Saudi Television, mainly because I do not speak the language (or live there) and I reckon that the stations do not come with subtitles, which is fair enough. So when I quote the Wiki statement “State-run television consists of four channels: Saudi One, the main channel in Arabic launched in 1963; Saudi Two, an English language channel; Al Riyadiah, a sports channel; and the news channel Al Ekhbariya. Government-owned terrestrial television has changed little since 1969” that was what I expected to see. Even as Saudi Arabia has over 30 million people, the idea of these stations was not shocking in any way. The UK merely had BBC one and two for a much longer time frame. Yet, then I looked up and found MBC, the Middle East Broadcasting Center, when we look at that we see a lot more. At http://www.mbc.net/en.html (there is an English version) we see something more commercial looking, we see opportunity for Saudi Arabia. Not the mention of “how to shape coverage and what stories to focus on. “These are orders, not suggestions,”“, that is where the flaw is. To change it Saudi Arabia should have been creating its own Al-Jazeera, they forgot the truth and freedom of the press is the double edged sword that works for any nation. As people decide to censor and shape news, not report it, they become the one not being watched. If exposure is power than exposing media corruption is the strongest most powerful exposure we know. It is the kryptonite against governments that play the crooked media game, often the governments are no longer in charge, the media decides and they tend to decide whatever their sponsors and stakeholders tell them to. We have seen that time and time again, I have reported (read: blogged) on this again and again. In all this, the level of exposure is the calibre that turns any BB gun into the deadly weapon it needs to be. So as we see an escalating play using peaceful means, the players forgot that there are many more millions watching and some do not know all the facts, I reckon that there are many in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt are only apprised of the Al-Jazeera view. I am not stating it is a wrong or incorrect view. Yet the reality is that there are always three sides to a story, your side, their side and the truth, because the truth when spoken (or written) is always smitten with elements of compassion, valor or honesty. We see this in ‘A man threw another man into the sand‘, yet when we realise that the truth unspoken was that the man saw the scorpion, or he saw that his bisht caught fire, only then do we see that one man did not throw, the other man was not thrown. We see that there was an act to protect and safe a life. It is a very simplified example, but there tends to be points of view in any truth, the question is which exposure matters? Al-Jazeera grew as there was no alternative. We now know that there could be competition, as the west in equal measure have grown tired and distrustful of Fox News, CNN, TRT World and a few others, we see that there are still places to grow. Yet in this ‘These are orders, not suggestions’ will not carry weight in the visibility of any news channel.

The shifting sands are treacherous and offer dangers, yet in equal measure they offer opportunity to those who see them as such. We see how large corporations are taking whatever steps they can, try to get every opportunity, whilst hoping to manoeuvre their competitors into a place where they step and the sands drown them. That is the game and how it is played, yet at times we see that large corporations have been taking their game too far and as such, when they trespass on the things we hold for granted and holy, than we see the injustice and we demand clarity. In this large corporations try to make the moves that remain always one step away from that. The fact that we see these attempts against Qatar 2022, has nothing to do with Qatar, they have to do with the process they set up, large corporations demand that they win every time, so now, when they will not win, but at best play even, now we see the petulant children they are and the consequences of enabling them to the extent that they have been. Many (not just me) are upset. For the most they are not all soccer fans. Some merely want facilitation of as many games as possible, every day another match and as there is an overlap, some of the participators now get upset, they go into tantrum mode. Yet the realisation that you grew the exploitation game with 209 FIFA members, did they not expect that they would get the losing ticket at least once? So when it is not Qatar, but Samoa or Cuba? What happens then? What happens when Mauritius gets the sponsors it needs to host, how will that upset everything? This is the part that everyone ignored, because those nations could not afford to host, yet Qatar was another matter altogether. This is the first time that the exploitative engine that is FIFA, saw the cogs they designed work against them. Now there is an issue and we see that several players are in a state of panic, there were no options but to lose this one round. The pressures through Saudi Arabia have changed panic into opportunity; they just need the right person to fall on their sword. The question is how willing is Nicholas Sarkozy in all this and who is the party that voiced the allegations? Where is their evidence? These are all questions that are more likely than not to come with false answers, that is, until the games are done, we can expect some sudden revelation, humble apologies and carefully phrased denials and innuendo from politicians and media soon thereafter (likely at the immediate same time). Their question would be closed soon after the need of their assassinations. Oh, my bad! I meant to say: “The involved parties could not be located for comments and response in any way shape or form“, apparently that is how events are shaped with and because of large corporations.

 

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Up for grabs

Have you ever considered a deal that is almost too sweet to consider. Have you ever walked straight into a room seeing that one special item thinking that the price is off, too good to be true. Yet, you look again, as inconspicuous as possible and as you do the maths in your head three times over, you start to realise that you are there, others are there but they either missed the deal, or they were looking at something else. That is where I find myself this morning. Not unlike a day in 2001, as I walked into a small obscure bookshop where I noticed the original 7 hardcover books of Tolkien’s the Lord of the rings with his autograph, the price? £39, I felt like a thief when I paid the man, he sold it with a blank expression in his eyes. I walked out shaking like a leaf and I remained in denial for at least two more days. This is how I feel now when I look at Handelsblatt Global (at https://global.handelsblatt.com/finance/goldman-sachs-weighs-deep-london-cuts-amid-brexit-concerns-685516), where I see ‘Goldman Sachs Weighs Deep London Cuts amid Brexit Concerns‘, could they actually be this stupid? Could I get my fingers on Goldman Sachs for almost literally an apple and an egg? That is a Dutch expression for selling or purchasing something for anything massively below expected price. Like buying the Ducati 1299 Panigale for only £99.95. It’s a world gone mad, and in this case Goldman Sachs will end up doing their own devaluation. Consider the facts. They move away from the central Hub London, which has been there for a lot longer than the Euro, they are now moving to Germany where there is a civil law system and the KWG (Kreditwesengesetz) is Iron Law. Whilst at the same time, its two nephews German Solvability Directive (SolvV) and German Mindestanforderungen an das Risikomanagement (MaRisk) can rock the foundations of the Goldman Sachs board in Germany in ways they have never comprehended (or so it seems). That is the move they are ‘advertising’? That article, with a picture of Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, like he is looking out of a window wondering where the hell his retirement is at. At that same move, we see the quote “Personnel in Goldman’s trading business who develop new products as opposed to advising customers would move to the bank’s headquarters in New York, the sources said“, so those making new products will move away from the area of the people buying it, so they either fly back and forth (impacting contribution) or work remotely alienating their customer base. So is this a serious considered move?

If so, than Goldman Sachs needs to realise fast that once their UK base is deflated to the size they claim, and when the Frexit vote passes, Italy and Germany will not have any options to keep it all afloat. More important, with logistical options diminished and having pissed off France and England, they would have to face conditions to move to France and they end up not getting a foothold into the UK to the degree they once had, because the competitors of Goldman Sachs, like Morgan Stanley would have gobbled up a few of the London links Goldman Sachs lost, in addition, CITIC who took a few body blows will be hungry for whatever Goldman Sachs left in the air as they moved to the mainland, lowering the value of Goldman Sachs overall. In that atmosphere Lloyd Blankfein needs to realise that the move is more than just a bad idea. Perhaps he does know, perhaps this is another shot over the bough to the UK telling them to play nice or else. This from a firm who in a 639-page report was accused of misleading investors and setting out to depress the US mortgage market, ensuring that it would win high stakes bets that the market would fall. That firm is playing footsie and chicken with the UK? Well, that is one that they will not just lose, it will be the act that any person with an apple and egg (preferably boiled hard) could walk into the board of directors offering that as payment for the firm. I wonder who in that board of directors will take the offer first. For the Macquarie group the move would be very nice, that group could grow a lot. They might resort to taking the small fish that Goldman Sachs left alone, but those 800 firms might not have stellar results, but they have remained stable for at least half a decade and even as we agree that stable is not sexy, it does make for a very nice secure foundation to grow on, good luck getting such results from Poland, France or Spain. and as France and Spain are founded on the local markets for language reasoning, the Frexit groups will see Goldman Sachs as a remnant of dire pasts, is that regard there is (a speculation by me) the chance that Goldman Sachs would, through the move facilitate the customers they had to port away as those clients are no longer represented through London, which still has a sizeable value to the clients they had whilst in London.

You might think that this is all untrue and that Goldman Sachs will continue in London in a diminished capacity. Well, consider that one of the largest greed driven entities is downsizing by 50%, do you think that this is merely a corporate downsize? the 50% moving away had its jobs to do, by doing it somewhere else, it is not doing in an additional location, it is doing it in another place, with a different set of admin laws and goals. If you had an accountant, and he is sacking 50% of its staff, do you think you get the same level of service, or is it possible that whomever remains in London needs to look at twice the amount of clients? And if we accept that, how much care will you receive at the same amount of annual contribution? With its posturing Goldman Sachs forgot the cardinal rule, it needs clients and clients in the UK remain, clients remain but their perception on begotten service will diminish and they will seek the firm giving them the service that they expect to receive, the time they expect to receive and GS will be only half its size with other offices in different time zones. So yes, there will be a consequence for Goldman Sachs. The offer that seems too good to be true. So as CITIC, Morgan Stanley start their campaigns, their visibility with advertisement like: ‘the firm that has been in London for the longest of times remains, and we will give the same amount of attention and resources, dedicated to you, your business and what you need‘. That firm could start up softening the Goldman Sachs clients and the moment the announcement of the move comes they just need to invite those clients to a nice breakfast meeting with a deal ready to be considered for signing. You see, the moment the move is announced and the moment Frexit will seriously start, the investors will realise that the UK market was a lot more important and when XNYS:GS hits (-4.62%), I’ll just walk in holding an Apple and an Egg seeing who in the board of directors will take the deal.

As HSBC and UBS are closing ranks with Goldman Sachs, you have to consider that I am wrong!

That is only fair. Let’s face it, I have no economic degree. Yet, when Brexit came, when it became something serious, these people were all ignoring it, they were all claiming that it would never go this far. I was proven correct and now the Financial Gravy Train is changing gears as it’s not as profitable as some expected it to remain, those people are trying to restore their Status Quo and their amount of gravy per pay check. Yet, the unfounded move, the emotional outcry of these people making no less than 50 times the average income, those people are trying to force open a dialogue and a new place of exploitation. The quote: “UBS chairman Axel Weber said that about 1000 of the Swiss bank’s 5,000 employees in London could be affected by Brexit, while HSBC Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver said his bank will relocate staff responsible for generating around a fifth of its UK-based trading revenue to Paris” is actually a lot more funny than even he realised (at http://www.afr.com/business/banking-and-finance/goldman-sachs-hsbc-ubs-all-warn-of-moving-jobs-from-london-on-brexit-20170118-gtu8cj). You see, Frexit is still growing and it is slowly becoming a realistic prospect. So when the Wall Street Journal stated 15 hours ago “A “Frexit” would likely unleash chaos across the currency union and undermine the broader EU in a way Britain’s departure wouldn’t“, we now see that those 20% revenue generating people from UBS will be on the shores of a Civil Law country  whilst the confusion is only increasing. As for the other part of me being correct, we’ll have to make this small sidestep. On May 15th 2013 (yes 3.5 years ago), I forecasted in ‘A noun of non-profit‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2013/05/15/a-noun-of-non-profit) “Consider a large (really large) barge, that barge was kept in place by 4 strong anchors. UK, France, Germany and Italy. Yes, we to do know that most are in shabby state, yet, overall these nations are large, stable and democratic (that matters). They keep the Barge EU afloat in a stable place on the whimsy stormy sea called economy. If the UK walks away, then we have a new situation. None of the other nations have the size and strength of the anchor required and the EU now becomes a less stable place where the barge shifts. This will have consequences, but at present, the actual damage cannot be easily foreseen“, I made the prediction of loss of stability, in addition, a quote not from me “Movements in sovereign spreads affect CDS spreads and bond yields of Italian banks, and are transmitted rapidly to firm lending rates“, this was predicted by Edda Zoli at the IMF. Do some of you remember the issues in Italy on losing the credit rating it had is now a clear marker to consider. Even as the parameters for the Italian downturn are not matching completely the elements in play include the ones I and Zoli stated, meaning that Italy will get a few more negative bumps to deal with (not major ones though).

You still think I am that wrong? I have been involved with data cleaning for decades, I have seen the ‘weighting games‘ some played and now that the party is over, they are running for the high ground, whilst making boasts of clearing away from the market like horse traders. This is all fine, yet the players that are not as big can now shore up their levels of stability growing their overall value by a massive amount, because that is where the UK now is, its economic forecast is growing and the rash statements are doing the opposite as the competitive peers of Goldman Sachs are almost volunteering their free time to help Goldman Sachs pack up and leave the UK so that they can move in on the Goldman Sachs share, because there is no way that Goldman Sachs will not lose a fair chunk of it.

So as Frexit grows (I never expected it to be this strong at present, just a really serious factor), we now see that Marine Le Pen is now leading the polls for the first time after taking advantage of Fillon’s declining popularity among France’s working class voters. I think that this is not the only part, the increased forecast of the UK is doing equal reinforcement of the end of the Euro and perhaps even the end of the European Economic Community. Not because that was the goal, but the fact that all these small nations were too deep in debt and Italy, the third anchor is in massive problems, that large barge cannot remain afloat with only the German anchor in place. My view of 2013 is now showing to be the correct one.

Is it a done deal? No it is not. Someone with actual power in Goldman Sachs could realise that these boast fests are counterproductive and that the boasts only achieved that some doors can no longer be opened by Goldman Sachs. They would have to call, make a proper appointment and they would have to sweeten whatever deal they are hoping for, impacting their dividend in the process. Goldman Sachs played a hand that held a few Trump cards (pun intended) and without those the next few hands will need to be played extra careful and cautious. You see, they lost a little more because those playing now might not have considered 2012 Amsterdam. There we see: “De bank verloor in de nasleep van de crisis veel klanten door negatieve berichtgeving over de rol van Goldman Sachs in de kredietcrisis van 2008. De bank wil deze klanten nu terugwinnen. Het nieuwe kantoor moet vooral de dienstverlening naar klanten toe verbeteren” meaning “translated: The bank lost in the aftermath of the crises many customers through negative messaging on the role of Goldman Sachs in the Credit Crises of 2008. The bank wants to regain these customers. The new office will have to increase the service levels to clients“. This part has two sides, not only regarding clients they will lose in London, in addition, the Dutch clients had a benefit in time zones regarding London, and they will not have that with Germany. So there is more than one fish on the Barbie (read: BBQ) and the impact will be felt and smelled. You see, Amsterdam was never an option for Goldman Sachs, yet as more important reasons GS frowned at the capping of bonuses in 2013 as mentioned by minister Dijsselbloem at that time. Which is rather funny as Germany in this 2017 election year is actually moving in hard on to cap executive pay. This we got from Handelsblatt Global Edition just a week ago, so the move could potentially come with a few nasty sides for those working through the move.

OK, I will admit that Goldman Sachs might not be up for grabs, but it should be clear that if they do move, they will be receiving a few body blows and those come at a price for many at Goldman Sachs. The question however is not, if that is the hard part, the hard part comes when the winner is announced in merely 16 weeks, at that point we will see how realistic Frexit has become. You see, it is not just Marine Le Pen and Front National, Independent Emmanuel Macron, former economy minister will also hold the referendum and together they represent a lot more than a mere majority of the French population, the fact that this reverberates with the populous is an issue for too many as he is not proclaimed left or right, he places himself in the middle making the Fremainers a minority with less and less people in it. Making the move of Goldman Sachs to Germany lacking wisdom as France and the UK will have to unite in whatever trade deals they can have meaning that the UK forecast will grow faster and faster, whilst the French forecast will be less and less dire. The only one who gets to look at that label will be Goldman Sachs.

What a difference a boast makes! Could be a nice future Goldman Sachs slogan, if they survive the ordeal!

 

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A New Disney

There was an Italian, who has been famous for over 125 years, he is not the first or the only famous Italian. There was this guy who came up with Pizza, There was this other Italian who thought fast Ford cars were a joke and he created Ferrari, then there was this other Italian, who made tractors, disagreed with the previous Italian and created Lamborghini. It is actually none of those. It is Carlo Lorenzini who was born 190 years ago. You might not know the name, perhaps his alternative name? Carlo Collodi! If you are still in the dark, than remember the story of a wooden boy who wanted to become a real live boy. Steven Spielberg used the notion in AI, but the original remains the best, namely Pinocchio!

Yes, the story of a wooden boy going into the world, yet as a wooden boy he was not alone, there was a little Cricket accompanying him and he would be a lot more important than your average Cricket, Jiminy was his name. Today the story is even more relevant, you see, the name Yemini Cricket might be ringing bells, but the truth of the wooden boy is there. The question becomes, who is the wooden boy?

So when I read ‘US, Britain and UN demand Yemen ceasefire within days‘ (at http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/10/16/us-britain-and-un-demand-yemen-ceasefire-within-days),

Yet when I read “The United Nations envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said: “We are here to call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, which will be declared in the next few hours.” Cheikh Ahmed said he had been in contact with the rebel Huthi militia’s lead negotiator and with Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s government“, my recollection does not go towards the classical story, it goes to a reference a little closer to the present (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFZrKOCdHFs), the laughter applies to both the sketch and reality. Aleppo is a great example, how 5 years and 400,000-450,000 fatalities later, no solution is there, but they are still flying to places like Switzerland to talk. I wonder when we add up all the costs, how much did the taxpayer pay for this play?

A number of civilian casualties that have now surpassed the total US Military casualties, of those who died during WW2. Doesn’t that look like a clear message that massive change was required a few years ago? I reckon all the players know that, yet, having long conversations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose only concern is to stall so that the population can be made extinct before the resolution passes, reads a lot more like the Friends edition of Pinocchio, than the original by Carlo Collodi, where we see the conscience that is Jiminy Cricket.

So as we see the beginning of the same slow train in Yemen, I have to wonder if creating a new version of Pinocchio with Yemini Cricket is the way to go. It educates politicians as well as bring some hard needed cash towards Hollywood (or Bollywood).

So why is this different?

To one degree it is not, towards the other degree it is very much so. The problem is that both Syria and Yemen could be on the same page, no degrees of separation. In this case there are two at least. You see, Yemen has limited ties to Russia, making it less complicated, what is the issue is that the Houthi’s are actively shooting missiles at the US Navy complicating matters a lot more. It only takes one direct hit, and Yemen would technically be in a state of war with the US. Now, normally, a bankrupt nation is not that much a bother, but Yemen is not an economic or military superpower, so going against America sounds like a PR approach to get them ‘involved’. What is an issue is that Yemen, the neighbour of Saudi Arabia could get lucky at some point, what happens after the hit will be an issue, because Americans tend to get cranky when you successfully blow up something American. Interesting is that there are now multiple sources claiming that Iran is now moving towards the Red sea. An interesting story as the Red sea is on the other side of the Persian Gulf and Iranian war ships have no actual business there (which could also apply to the Americans). The question becomes how is Saudi placed into all this? Here there are issues too. There is no stating if there is even any link but the changes and the Attention that members of the Saudi government are drawing attention to themselves become a factor (speculation from my side).

One part is from the Australian Financial Review (at http://www.afr.com/news/world/middle-east/saudi-prince-mohammed-bin-salmans-shatters-decades-of-tradition-20161017-gs3yt5), where we see the title ‘Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s shatters decades of tradition‘, is not giving us the ‘goods’. The first quote is “He has slashed the state budget, frozen government contracts and reduced the pay of civil employees, all part of drastic austerity measures as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is buffeted by low oil prices“, which would be quite acceptable in one view, at least it appears that one government in this world is dealing with its budget issues, although not in the most ‘desirable’ way, when a nation is so dependent on oil, there might not be too many options. The second quote is “While vacationing in the south of France, Prince Mohammed spotted a 134-metre yacht. He dispatched an aide to buy the ship, the Serene, then owned by Russian vodka tycoon Yuri Shefler. The deal was done within hours, at a price of approximately €500 million (roughly $720 million today)“, which implies the opposite. The question is not the cut-backs or spending spree, the issue is neither quote, it is the quote I will give now “Many young Saudis admire him as an energetic representative of their generation who has addressed some of the country’s problems with uncommon bluntness. The kingdom’s media have built his image as a hardworking, businesslike leader less concerned than his predecessors with the trappings of royalty” as well as “Others see him as a power-hungry upstart who is risking instability by changing too much, too fast“. So is the prince a go-getter or power-hungry? I cannot tell as this is all based on third degree of information, what matters is how the view and the actions will reflect the counteractions of the US and Iran in regard to Yemen. The moment the conflict results in a direct attack on Saudi grounds, what then? Iranian warships in the Red Sea would only complicate that, making a harsh response from the Saudi Military even more destabilising.

In my view there are two sides within Saudi Arabia, yet how they should be seen is another matter. I do not claim to have a proper view. I have questions. You see Mecca is an Islamic Holy city (the most important one) and it is part of Saudi Arabia, so as Saudi Arabia is the caretaker of this holy site, the involvement if Iran is more than just a small issue. Whatever they decide to escalate could have large repercussions all over the Middle East. The Sovereign State of Saudi Arabia has every right to defend it in every way possible, so Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman is also Minister of Defence and the youngest one in the world, which as a stat sounds nice, yet it also means that in light of other decisions, he is ready to do that what the US has been unable to do, declare war on its enemy by actually acting against them! Not that the US needed to declare war, but in light of Syria, doing anything actively would have been nice, an absence of resolution that His Royal Highness Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud is less likely to show.

What is a problem is the fact that the complications are more and more likely as days go by and that is the one spark that this powder keg does not need. Iran cannot be denied access to international waters, which will not lessen the impact. One of the elements in all this is seen in the second quote regarding the ‘power hungry’ side of it. You see, the AFR article is also mentioning “Mohammed bin Nayef, the interior minister and longtime counter-terrorism czar“, which is now an element in all this. You see, whatever happens next is all surrounding the need for intelligence. So whatever issues there are between His Royal Highness Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and His Royal Highness Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud gives wake to the Disney sequel, a tale of two princes. A new approach to the classic Dickens story where the plight of two members of the Royal family of Al Saud are protecting the Sovereign state of Saudi Arabia as well as the safety and security of all Muslims that are in and nearby Mecca. Even as the papers are expecting a ceasefire, the issue is that stalling is equally a tactic here. There is no way of telling why Iran is involving its warships in that region, other than trying to complicate matters and demanding a seat at the table of decision, which would only change the time table in the worst of ways. What the Deutsche Welle did give was the quote “the Saudi-led coalition has blamed an airstrike that killed over 140 people at a funeral ceremony in Yemen on “erroneous information” received from a “party” affiliated with the country’s embattled government“, it matters, because it gives light to the essential issue that the two princes need to rely on quality intelligence, sources that can be scrutinised. And in this matter, mentioning the yacht was to iterate that spending that money on a satellite over the area might not have been the worst personal idea I am having. And let’s face it, any prince that can claim that he has his own satellite wins the discussion with any other prince relying on yacht and status. So many have a yacht, but how many of these rich individuals (very wealthy people in general) would own their own satellite? Especially if it becomes a source of intelligence.

Of course there is a lot more to owning one’s own satellite, but I hope we can all agree that intelligence will be key in whatever escalates over the next week. My issue is that too many players have their own agenda, yet would those agenda’s be truly 100% be focussed on whatever is best for Yemen and/or Saudi Arabia? You see, oil prices are down now, but why and for how long? What happens when prices go through the roof again? What happens then? Suddenly all these political issues are all linked to the price of Oil and the profit it brings?

I do not claim to have these answers, but the fact that too many sources are not asking the questions that require asking is troubling, yet the AFR article gives us a lot more, even more than I bargained for, which is comforting to say the least. What becomes a matter of discussion is the one quote that shows the elements “People who have met Mohammed bin Salman said he insisted that Saudi Arabia must be more assertive in shaping events in the Middle East and confronting Iran’s influence in the region – whether in Yemen, Syria, Iraq or Lebanon“, giving the links that require addressing and the prince is not afraid to do just that, however it take two to dance rings around Iran and taking away its influence in the Middle East. As I see it, Riyadh will have to make changes to some degree. Counter-Intelligence will be key in dealing with Iran and the impression I get when I see a quote like “has deep ties to Washington and the support of many of the older royals” shows the speculative possibility of the older ‘let us see how this plays out‘ against the younger ‘let us get this party started through action‘. It is not about the balance, but about what works best. In that regard both princes might have to make changes a lot faster than they are comfortable with, because if the news is correct, the Iranian ships and submarines will soon be active in the Red Sea, but active to what extent is something that remains speculative, whatever they do, the fact that it includes Iranian submarine presence (as reported but not confirmed), will also raise tensions with Israel.

As I see it, the biggest issue is Iran and what they are trying to get out of it. Putting themselves in the middle of a conflict where they are now trying to imply that it is all about them (especially as they are in the Red Sea), yet is their presence less valid than that of the US? It seems to me that we are creating a new Vietnam, just not with the Russians involved (like Syria). So there are two solutions to consider. One is that the US is replaced by for example the Commonwealth, or France, which takes away the Iranian-US issues. That is, if Saudi Arabia would be willing to consider that move. No matter what, the navy that does that, could find themselves in an armed conflict with Iran, so it better be a competent and modern Navy which leaves not that many options. The Netherlands, the UK, France, South Korea and India. Giving the option to either South Korea or India would benefit, as Iran cannot spin some NATO link story. In addition Iran cannot afford to piss of too many additional nations as either could make short work of the ego of Iran as these navies decide to sink Iranian war vessels like rubber dinghies, because they pushed one button too many.

No matter what happens, Saudi Arabia must do what it can to keep safe and the Yemeni issue is one that tests many sides of those who see and witness it, because there is a dilemma in conscience. A revolution that got out of hand, a set government overthrown with its own agenda. When we see the Houthi’s slogan “God is great, death to the US, death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam“, can we really show any kind of support or sympathy?

The most important part to realise is that we need to set aside our version of what is acceptable, we have seen the US and Europe at large impose their version of ‘civility’, whilst bending over, grabbing their ankles and let the financial industry quite literally get away with murder in many ways. We impose rules and expectations, whilst having no clue how to manage a budget or how to stem greed to the point of strangulation. In all this, we have given up the high ground in several fronts, so we are no lecturer with any level of confidence. It is my opinion, that the Middle East can only be decently governed by someone in the Middle East. I personally believe that Saudi Arabia should be at the centre of it, there is no doubt that it would beneficial that a coalition that would include Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, but I am not knowledgeable enough to see whether it is just them, or that other players should be seriously considered. What does matter is that both General Intelligence Directorate (GID, aka Mukhabarat) and Jordanian General Intelligence Directorate would be important in ascertaining Iran’s hostile actions and if need be counter them. From my academic point of view is the challenge that the SIGNT of the three would pose to get one coherent reporting and analytical solution on Iranian intelligence. One that would definitely benefit all three nations. Yet perhaps that will evolve into a third Disney project, which could be the next big thing. It’s all just a thought, but think it over for yourself and ask yourself the question you did not hear voiced, this is important, because this stage could get ugly in a hurry and possibly before Christmas this year.

 

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