Tag Archives: Crete

Expanding story time

Yes, this happens. Sometimes we get more to a story, but when was that when it was expanded on the main system and not a DLC or expansion? When was the last time that you were confronted with an additional story in the main game? I reckon that most of us cannot clearly give an example. And when someone pushed a demo of the Unreal Engine v5 to YouTube showing us a broken down version of Riverwood, my mind went 145% on the body and thoughts came to mind. Now in this case it will not apply, because Riverwood is decently fresh in the mind of all gamers, but when they see the new (older looking) Riverwood they should catch on.

What happens when we add a few villages, not unlike Riverwood, off the beaten track, off the caught setting and all storylines by themselves. A setting that some might recognise in Spinalonga Island on Crete. It had its own story, but remains a ghost town even now. So what happens when we find the story, evolve the story in the now, solve the story, the riddles and the curse (or other reason for abandonment) and when we find refugees, traders and other people we could direct them to the empty village. Riverwood had a trader, a smith and an inn. There is no stopping us from adding shops, and it would fit the equation towards building the local economy as well. As I wrote earlier. Too many RPG’s are depending on US to build the economy. Yet what happens when the NPC’s are in a secondary stage that they too become drivers of an economy? What happens when traders build economies, adventurers do, mercenaries do and as such, some places will grow even larger, grow more and grow distinctive. In this we can set markers like you need to have certain ranks in the main quest, and side quests as well as levels of fame before your word is accepted, but at that stage your influence grows too. We need to realise that in RPG games we are NOT the machine, we are a mere cog that fuels the machine, but we are one in many cogs and that has never taken a larger stand in RPG games and that has been overlooked for too long. I do understand that some might state that this was not possible until the PS4pro. I believe that this is not merely that case. Game makers are too often in an iterative mode, we get more of the same (Far Cry, Assassins Creed), there are leaps forward (Fallout and Elder Scrolls), yet I believe that more could be done and I also believe that the PS5 now shows that more is possible. And it will not take long for the streamers to show that they are capable of more. And until these players consider that the main quest is nothing more than an outspoken side quest we will not see the leaps forward that RPG’s are capable of. The fact that I came up with TESVII: Restoration and the fact that I am still finding new ways to grease the system into other directions, directions that TESVI:unknown place might not even touch on is speculative, but not entirely impossible. A stage where we see that RPG makers are for a lot about more of the same (not their fault) is a little troublesome and When I wrote about a new RPG, a generation one that I summarised in ‘Recap to the intro’ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2021/09/25/recap-to-the-intro/) which I wrote last September and even now I am still gaining more ideas that could grow that IP to larger stations is interesting to say the least. The side quests are merely one setting. Growing a virtual economy is another one, but it all sets the station where we have an RPG game where there are two stations. The station of you the player and you the influencer, both important, yet influencer we can become through skills, through power and through achievement and they all interact to some degree, and it is those influencer sides that give a much larger unknown to the game and how it shapes. We need to do it in that way, so that the system is free to evolve, if we merely have two settings with a clean and a deprived location (A Fable II event) we lose the plot, we will not see the impact of flourishing villages.

I believe that this is the expansive side of gaming, it fuels replayability and optionally dampens grinding. The last part is not a given or a real event, but could be the impact of influencers, it is merely a thought. So when did you see your last creativity on the sliding scale of something you haven’t figured out yet? A station that keeps me busy, why? I can tell you that I can, but for some reason I feel more comfortable with the thought “Because I have to”, and I am not sure why at present.

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Remaking the past, facing tomorrow

I have been working on my novel, at 58,000 words, I am more likely only 50% done, but there is a lot more to come and as I was considering (creating in the mind) a new IP in the form of a new TV series I realised that the same idea could be an addition to the book I am writing. As such I felt a little bit of a traitor, as such I feel I have to make amends, even as no one has been hurt, I felt that smudge of treason to the idea. As such, my mind decided to take a turn towards the past, not the distant past (Iran in the old days), but a little more present (like the 70’s). I have written about the best drama series that the UK ever made (I Claudius), yet it was not alone, in that age two other series were made, both in the 70’s and both had a Greek origin. The first was Who pays the ferryman and the other was the Aphrodite inheritance. Both (for that time) excellent pieces of work, both based on excellent books and both with a setting that was mesmerising. Who pays the ferryman gave me the interest for Crete an interest that still lives on today, I have seen it three times. 

Cyprus (where the Aphrodite Inheritance was made) was less on my radar, yet the story was fun and gripping. 

I believe that places like Apple and Netflix could turn these two into interesting remakes, put Greece again and more visibly on the map. Even as the episodes are timely, the remake could set the spirit in the now and the issues that grip Greece, the stories could be upgraded and the issues that were skated round can be gripped with connected nearby historic places like Spinalonga, a stronger interaction with Agios Nikolaos and so on. Crete has plenty of stages and plenty of options. 

The Aphrodite Inheritance, started strong and the story takes on a nice turn, yet in today’s environment, the stage could be set with optional IP theft and industrial espionage (on top of the relic part in the story). It all hit me as I saw the Aphrodite inheritance on YouTube the other day, I believe that the older series and especially the mini series are getting more and more views, not because of the lockdown (partially driven by it), but the fact that plenty of Americans are now looking through the UK base of drama and it has them hooked (I agree that is speculative of me). Yet the number of views and the turn that SBS is making with Name of the Rose, shows that there is a growing interest in remaking good drama into something larger and even more astounding. I admit that I was skeptic on seeing the first few episodes of Name of the Rose, but so far that series exceeded whatever I thought was possible and I think that players like Netflix and Apple are always looking towards new IP, yet they too realise that what was made almost half a century ago was often not surpassed in all these years and the two titles I mention are on that list too. 

And in addition, no matter how many franchises there are and how many Marvel movies are coming, the people also want excellent drama and a lot of franchises just do not deliver on that to the degree described (neither do the Marvel movies). This is nothing against the Marvel movies as their origin is very different from many movies and we get that, and we love them. Yet we want more and we seem to want it now. Apple seems to be on top of the New IP with the new shamalamadingdong series (the man who made the Sixth sense) and now with Servant he makes another stab at our dread factor, he does it (as stated by others) in an exceptional way. 

Yet in this day and age, movies and TV series that rely on the Wow factor do not make it very long and that is where the stage of drama can add to the venue. In the first, the rewatchability of any drama is a lot higher than most other series. Yes, we love horror and Science fiction, yet how often will we rewatch them? Consider an American drama series like The West Wing, the fact that even today a lot want to see it again, even as the series ended well over 10 years ago is decently exceptional, there are other series and yes, there are plenty of wow based series that have the same, but the stage of drama is larger, there is no denying it. Whether a drama is dipped in Fantasy, Science Fiction or Horror does not matter, it is the drama effect that draws the people in and I believe that the audience wants to see more of that and there is every chance that Netflix needs to adhere to that part if they do not want to witness a audience transfer towards Apple plus. That will be seen towards the end of the year as more series and remakes hit Apple plus, they took a swing and hit the ball out of the ballpark. The remakes are more than just a choice, series and movies that were quirky and often fun will optionally become the TV series that are drama’s with a coating of wow. There is no way to tell how this will fare, and this is not an attack on Netflix, but Apple took the war to the next stage and they were ready for bear in this fight. To coin a phrase ‘they brought a bazooka to a gunfight’, and that bazooka merely has to be aimed into the vicinity of Netflix, Netflix will get hit no matter what, the amount of damage cannot be foreseen and the entire Covid setting brought it to the forefront. It hastens the setting we see now and even as Netflix has a lot more series, there is every indication that a 10% shift might be enough to get the Netflix investors running for cover and for them to find a way to break even at best. Yes, we see how Netflix shares are rising faster and faster, but lets not forget that as Americans and Europeans get back to work, they will stop using Netflix to a much larger degree, and in all this the internet congestion we see all over the world does not help Netflix, Internet providers were not ready all whilst they claimed they were. I warned people of that fact in 2018, now I am proven correct, even better, there is every chance that the entire congestion stage will increase over the near future and it has nothing to do with gamers. Zoom with its conferencing side will set a much larger international stage and consider how many firms work internationally now and under the strain of a reduced workforce how many more zoom meetings people have to look forward to.

A stage that goes from bad to worse and there is no way to stop that event. Yet this too is a stage we must give value to, as I see it the entire congestion setting is a drama all by itself, a stge of interactions that will not work and will show other wait time and loading icons, but no movie and no shows to see. It is important because it will hit both Apple plus and Netflix. 

There is nothing as hilarious as both offering 4K whilst the internet providers cannot deliver, the entire Corona stage is merely pushing to the foreground what was there all along. So as that stage is debunked more and more all over Europe and the US, we will soon see a stage where the material not the resolution matters and there we see another stage evolve, the quality of the story, because a wow film is only as good as we get to 4K and uninterrupted view and so far there was a lag and has been for almost 2 years, and as we see the congestion pushed to the foreground more and more, because under 5G the matters will only get worse, not less. 

Yet in all that the remakes will give rise to another lag, the stage of crowd control on the internet. Yes, you might laugh yet the stage is already there, the people will demand the full service all whilst Netflix, Google and others are limiting resolutions to appease the covid pressures of online. And in that stage we see a much larger need, the need to deal with congestion right in the middle of the stage of switching between 4G and 5G. Congestion has not been dealt with and cannot be dealt with, not in the immediate future, as such the people will see a much larger shift to appease their demand and the smaller players will now face the hardship of not being able to deliver, it is a drama all by itself.

No matter how we see the coming of more remakes, they are the stuff we demand, for all kinds of reasons, yet enjoying it on a decent quality will remain a question not merely for the direct future, for the larger timespan, even as people will stop to some degree the stage of streaming, the stage of TV series without advertisements is a lot more appealing than most think and when they are confronted with advertisements the entire stage of Apple Plus, Netflix et al will come to the forefront again and still it comes with internet congestion just below the surface, pushing its head above the waterline sooner than ever before. 

A view to face in the sights of tomorrow.


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A night with Clio and Alecto

It started 2 days ago, I have been wondering about the news (no actual new news, just the rehash) and what to write about. I heard snippets all over the place on ‘more of the same‘ and ‘lack of originality‘, yet until yesterday (around 03:30) I had no idea what to consider when the article (at https://www.inverse.com/article/58121-google-stadia-launch-games-6-aaa-titles-to-get-in-november) hid behind ‘6 Huge Google Stadia Launch Games That Will Make You Rethink Consoles‘ to invoke interest in the Google Stadia.

It was the sight of 6 titles that had been available for some time that made me wonder if some people at Google had any idea what they are doing, so I decided now to counter it.

When we look at these games, we see a first person need, no one denies this, yet if the power is applied, we can go so much further. For example, we might see the RPG giant System Shock in a new light (it is being remade). We might look at the Citadel (Mass Effect Series) and consider it is too big (or the death star for that matter), but the situation is nice and contained. What if we set up a large space station, fill it with crew, not spawning them at certain stages, but a station with the amount of people that would ordinary fill a space station. Now the Death Star has been rumoured to contain a crew of 265,675, as well as 52,276 gunners, 607,360 troops, 30,984 storm troopers, 42,782 ship support staff, and 180,216 pilots and support crew, so too large. Yet is the idea too far-fetched? What if we scoop back to Citadel Station (System Shock version) and we have to contain a situation with 5300 people? Now the numbers start making sense. The game has difficulty settings impacting available ammunition, health food and so on and in addition, we can set the scenario to Contagion (zombie apocalypse), Competitor (sabotage), Patent run (thief) and Entity removal (assassin), each with their own issues, challenges and options. The ability to blend in, to not be seen, to steal stuff and more important to remain hidden whilst you optionally kill (or incapacitate) a specific target. Yet the station is different, the crew is completely managed by the system and in some cases it has to be done within a time frame (any except the zombie apocalypse). The option to do it alone, do it together and the fact that this location can be reused gives it all a larger replayability value on a long term premise.

To some extent System Shock had many parts, yet the original had floors and the enemy would not pass that boundary. What if that is not a constraint? What happens when a place that big becomes its complete environment? Like the station on IO in the movie Outland (excellent role by Sean Connery). What if we had a station where the ‘AI’ error of waves of people do not panic (like in AC Unity, repeated to some extent in Syndicate), what if a proper hidden body does not set off alarms immediatly, but what if a missed shift does alert security to seek for the person, a station requiring ID badges becomes a new challenge.

How is this original?

Because the template might have been used to give rise to the environment, it can be any space station. Games like Destiny, Doom, are all about trigger point, all about spawn points and all about flag points. Yet what happens when it is already all there, how do we get through the game when we set off alarms, when we alert security by giving rise to an alarm. I think that this is the part that Hitman 2 really got right. Some will raise concern, but a lot of NPC should not notice, and that is at the centre of a much larger interaction. What if we consider that the stages of Hitman 2 are too confined (not for the story they had mind you), what if an entire city is the premise; do you think that every cop known everyone? They react to the badge, the uniform (medic), the identity (clearance) beyond that they often do not. So to set the ‘futuristic’ stage, millions of gaming fans have voiced the desire to actually walk around the Death Star, On Babylon 5, on the Enterprise, on Citadel Station and so on, yet no one pushed to make it happen to the degree possible, even Mass Effect Andromeda dropped to ball to the greatest extent there, an original game that allowed for (non IP secured locations) to be addressed. Locations to be originally designed, all with the option of giving a run, a challenge and optionally a group of friends united to stop an infection ramping through thousands. We now have the technology (we have had it for 5+ years) and yet they all rehash IP that has been done before. We even see YouTube on the 32 games that are coming, yet rehashing is not a solution, yes they do have some new titles, yet all IP that is already out there, or titles that will also come to other formats. It is interesting, yet we have seen since the very first PlayStation and Nintendo 64 that their true growth was through unique IP, I wonder when Google will figure that part out. We accept that sometimes doing something over is easier and I accept that, yet when we see that these designers ignore dozens of great titles that are on My Abandonware and evolve these titles into a new stage and challenge that will captivate its Google Stadia audience is interesting to say the least. Even now some of these original creators are looking at bringing life to what was an excellent game and turn it into a new great game. I wonder why Google might have thought that this was a path that was not googley enough for them to walk on.

Dinner with Clio

There had been noise around Netflix, several sources, including the article (at https://www.barrons.com/articles/netflix-stock-has-new-worries-including-disney-and-the-loss-of-friends-51563582983) give us a view on optional issues. The article gives us: “For its second quarter, Netflix added 2.8 million net new international subscribers and lost 126,000 U.S. users, versus Wall Street expectations for 352,000 domestic additions and 4.8 million international adds“, some might state that Netflix was not on the ball; personally I believe that Wall Street was setting the stage where the insiders could profit from the backlash of “The company’s shares fell 10% on Thursday, a day after the results. They fell another 3% on Friday“, it is a personal believe, but when we see that the difference between company and Wall Street is a difference of 2.2 million subscribers, a difference of almost 50%, it implies that Wall Street remains unfamiliar with realism. In light of the growing group of streaming services (Disney, Stan, and so on) gives additional rise to the delusional view of Wall Street, especially when you consider that Disney has Marvel in its corner. Yet with the spending spree of Netflix that is set to a $15 billion budget is also a concern. Even as Netflix studios are a one-time expense, the growth needs to come from new IP and mastering innovation in stories, it is the one part that Google and Netflix have in common. I can’t comprehend that they are not considering cooperation in that regard. There is overlap, but one that could be overcome, especially if they need to push Google Stadia to a much stronger position with Microsoft and Apple biting at their heels. They have to set a stage where they can overcome that optional weakness.

As such I decided to give a little diner party, Clio and Melpomene were in attendance, Clio came with a plus one. Not only did they confirm my view of Wall Street, they gave me another example, one I did not know, a story that never made it to print ever.

There is no time, there is no date, it was late summer and in the cool breeze of night, 4800 years before Jesus of Nazareth would be born Hades met with Apollo in a temple at Gortyn. There was no reason, or none that anyone remembers. They merely crossed paths to exchange words. It was after the talk when Hades walked towards the waters at Lentas that he sensed something, he sensed the end of a life and anguish, anguish to a degree that was rare and he moved in a blink to that source. He found a young woman; she looked at him, in pain and anticipation, but not in fear. It took Hades back for a second, this young woman showed more strength and dignity than the thousands of soldiers he received from the battlefields. He gave strength to her to heal by smearing the smallest amount of ambrosia over her lips, her wounds dissipated slowly to show true beauty, her name was Anemone, she was no one special, merely the daughter of a fisherman, brutally raped and left for death. Hades picked her up and took her to a shelter. It was during that night he bedded her and she gave herself to Hades. In that shelter she felt truly happy for months, and it was not until the second week of May that she gave birth, it was not something that she would survive, to give birth to the child of an Olympian was taxing enough the power of death that was there was too strong and it claimed her. Yet Hades knew that would happen, this was now all planned. The baby was named Elissa and Hades set forth his first part, he left her in the care of Tisiphone, Megaera and Alecto. The furies would raise her until she was ready. Over the next years 7-10 Elissa grew fast and became stronger and stronger. The realm of the Furies gave her a never ending supply of cannon fodder. Yet the furies were well versed in all matters and she was not merely of steel, Alecto taught her how to be anyone, to take shape, and how to reshape form. Form was a weapon that could attack the senses, the ability to temper anger to any degree and drive her opponents utterly insane. Tisiphone took Elissa under her wing to teach her about the act of murder, to see in other ways, the ability to charm any snake instantly and make it do her bidding. Elissa learned that cutting a small lock of her hair and cast it could turn it into a snake, to merely draw some poison from it, or let the snake scout for her. She could see through its eyes and she could see the heat of people without the use of a snake, in the deepest night she could see all around her and they could never hide their warmth from her. Her reflexes honed to new heights she was able to strike in the blink of an eye, her daggers thin and short would ensure death to all requiring the veil of Hades to fall over their eyes. Finally she ended with Megaera and there thing changed, as she taught Elissa the power of envy, to see the true worth and value Megaera did something Hades never expected. You see there is an unwritten link between the Furies and the Muses, it is that link that Magaera relied on in the past to see what is true from false and there the game changed. The furies always remember the services rendered and it was at that point that Terpsichore taught Elissa the art of dance and with that skill new levels of balance and creativity were taught to Elissa, Erato taught her poetry of the heart, so that she could always see the true love from the false one, feelings from deceit, as well as truth from planned falsehood, finally there was Thalia who taught her comedy, because Magaera had seen how the jester, the funny person was often overlooked by others, by serious people driven to greed, Elissa looked deeper into poetry and learned that comedy is not merely a relaxant, it was also an interesting weapon. As the lessons ended Elissa had levels of balance never seen in any person that was not Olympian, and it was at that point that Alecto fed Elissa her dinner which put her to sleep and started the dream of what her mother faced that fateful night near Lentas and they unleashed Elissa on the world.

What exactly happened that night will never be known, yet the 4 old men that ravaged her mother were found feasting on the flesh of their sons, who had grown up to be as despicable as their fathers were. In the morning the villagers found the four elderly feasting on a broth containing the bodyparts of their sons; skulls, ligaments were visible in the cauldron, the men old, grey and turned utterly insane chanting slowly and fearful “ένα ακόμα δάγκωμα για συγχώρεση“, Elissa had completed her training and was unleashed on the world, the furies regarded her as ready for a plan of their own.

In a blazing sun

It was deep summer; the sun was relentlessly beating the streets and people. A woman was walking the streets of Heraklion; she ignored the weather and casually looked at market stalls. The street was filled with tourists and she got plenty of smiling looks, it bothered her not, over the centuries she had gotten used to it. She had not seen Heraklion for decades, so she took it all in, she was on an errant to take out a murderer, she was still every much the girl the furies trained, slowly walking towards her goal, it was a building on Evaggelistrias and as she observed the building from a distance, looking at where she needed to be, she looked back at watching the poor boy beaten to death only 2 days before, the police had no clue, but she was not the police, she looked at the building and she saw her target, the two man relaxing, smiling, laughing and drinking beer, they felt good about themselves. She waited patiently until 18:30, most people were starting their meal and she slowly and quietly walked into the building. there was no movement, no sense of anyone and she walked up to their front door, she dropped a lock of hair and quietly entered the house and moved swiftly into the house, the two men were in the kitchen fetching beer and slicing meat, she walked past them as their backs were turned so that the balcony was not a place they could flee from she knocked on the wall and as the men walked with surprise into the living room she merely stared them in the eyes, as her eyes turned deep black, they went pale and white, they over overcome by fear so intense that they dropped their beers, and rant out the door only to see the large snake on the steps, they screamed and ran up, they kept running in fear feeling the hunt of danger behind them hissing loudly, they ran onto the roof running past the water tanks until there was no roof left, they never stopped running, not even as they fell to the grass field on Anogion and the last they felt was the anguish and pain of broken bones blood leaving their bodies and the sound of hissing snakes until darkness set it. Elissa picked up the snake and softly placing the snake in her bag, she would release the snake outside the city limits, her work was done.

That was merely the beginning!

It took me 30 minutes to come up with this idea, another 30 minutes to look into ancient Greece (and a few maps) and 30 minutes to write this, so when we see the implied lack of originality, I am not sure what that was coming from. Creativity is all around us, and it only needs to right spark to set the stage to something fresh. I believe it to be just around the corner and Netflix has an advantage, Disney will not consider certain paths, they rely on families and fairy floss sugary sweetness, it is partially the weakness that Achilles showed (see Brad Pitt in Troy). I believe that the people want something darker. It might have started with an unknown British director named Ridley Scott when he made Alien in 1979; it was that feeling that I had when watching that movie and that same feeling I felt came to me again when I saw Brightburn. It might seem a little shallow, it is not overly epic, but that same feeling is what David Yarovesky left in me, he got the jackpot and if Marvel does not see that and use it (for example in Moon Knight), they will miss out soon enough, Netflix has an advantage because of the limitation that Disney keeps and even if they go via Fox, the delays they call for give Netflix an edge, they merely need to find the right spark to entice watchers, Google faces the same setting, imitation might be the path to flattery, but in this game originality and creativity are much more powerful partners, Even now decades later we still listen to Queen, watch Firefly (or Star Trek) and we watch Top Gun, again and again. Originality and creativity did that, not imitation.

So find your muse and get creative


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Those dodgy numbers

We knew it was going to happen, we knew that there would be some term of hardship, everyone knew this. So when the media is lashing all out whilst they know that they are misinforming the people intentionally. We have to wonder why we are not making short work of the media as a whole. So as the Independent gave us (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/eurozone-gdp-growth-rate-uk-second-quarter-2017-eurostat-ons-eu-brexit-a7870811.html), ‘Eurostat’s ‘flash’ estimate for growth in the single currency bloc was 0.6 per cent, double the 0.3 per cent estimate for the UK from the Office for National Statistics last week‘ we have to start asking questions. You see, the numbers are correct, they are all about the correct numbers, yet the clarity that is also behind it, mainly what Forbes and a few others tell us with: “We have the results of the composite PMI for the Eurozone and this is showing that the economic growth in the region is slowing. This really is not quite what is desired, especially as we’ve still got the ECB going all out on quantitative easing” we need to wonder what the game of the Independent is. In addition there is from that same Forbes piece: “in this day and age, people tend not to order the parts to make something until they’ve committed themselves to actually making it. So, what people are ordering to make things from is a really good guide to what is going to be made in the immediate future. We then standardise the measures so that we’ve an index, anything above 50 indicates expansion, below contraction. The one really great joy of PMIs is that they are a very good guide to what is about to happen” and that part of the equation is a slowing economy. Even as we see “A falling Eurozone PMI isn’t a disaster but it’s not exactly what we want either” we see what matters, in the age of 60 billion a month QE, we see in equal measure that the economy is slowing down, so in all this, did the independent give us that, or are they in a ‘lashing mode’ on how the EU is at twice the presented strength? And the term ‘presented strength’ is actually a lot more important than you think.

You see, this is important when we consider Mehreen Khan’s article in the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/edd41c68-76a4-11e7-a3e8-60495fe6ca71). Here we see: “Separate figures from a business survey showed the Eurozone’s manufacturing sector is in the grip of a jobs boom. Factories in France are hiring at their best pace since 2000 and in Spain at a rate not seen since before the start of monetary union in 1998, according to IHS Markit’s purchasing managers’ index“, interesting that both are referring to the PMI is it not? Another article in the Financial Times is giving us ‘Spain unemployment rate has fallen to a 9 year low’, which is great for Spain, yet again, it is merely part of the issue. The fact that it is over 17% is still an issue. Even as there is a drop, it is August, the tourist season is starting to peak this month and that is good for Spain, I am happy for them, I actually am. Yet, the issue is that the drop of 26,000 claims is merely a temporary one, because as tourist season winds down in 8 weeks, these people will get back on the unemployment books, so it is merely a very short term benefit. In addition, it might be better than another time, yet when we consider that the increase started in 2007 doubling the amount in 26 months is another given missing. In addition, there is still the issue not merely of the unemployed, but the internal drain it causes to the coffers (source: Statista). So in my view any benefit Spain gets at present is merely setting the clock forward a mere quarter. Unless an actual economic improvement comes to Spain, we see mere posturing through ‘presented strength‘, not by actual growth or gaining actual strength. It takes three quarters to get a true visible growth to show and the newspapers are keeping silent on that, they hide behind ‘but that is tomorrow and this is now‘, which for the most is correct, yet as they know from various sources that there is already a visible slowdown, the presentation they give is a fake, it is presented fake optimism, some might refer to it as ‘fake news‘.

The fact that the BBC gave a similar view (at http://www.bbc.com/news/business-40774654) does not make any of them a liar, they spoke the truth with “The rate dropped to 9.1% last month, from a downwardly revised 9.2% in May” the fact that France, Spain, Italy and Greece are dealing with global tourism that brings them money, so they need staff is perfectly valid, yet here too is the missed information that is not shown. These nations depend on Tourism. In France and Italy we might see the year round tourism for Paris and Rome, but those two parts are extremes. What is not an extreme is that all three rely to a part on tourism, a valid dependency. Now we consider two sources, the first (at https://www.imtj.com/news/european-tourism-figures-show-growth-2017/), gives us “Several destinations report a rebound in arrivals from Russia -Iceland (+157%) Cyprus (+122%) and Turkey (+88%)-. Overall, outbound travel from this market is projected to improve in 2017“. Now, we need to remember that this was a June article, part of it was expected growth, which is fair enough. The second source Statista (at https://www.statista.com/statistics/186657/travel-and-tourism-scores-of-countries-from-europe-in-2011/), gives us a chart with Spain, France and Germany showing a rise beyond 5% and training Italy with 4.99%, a decent growth all perfectly valid, so when you realise that, and when you see that the impact was a dropped from 9.2% to 9.1% in unemployment rate, is that still a good thing? The rise of these three nations alone (others nations all have tourism, yet not that high), consider the tourism needs; how come that the drop for the short term was not stronger to let’s say 8.7%? That would have been a clear indication of progress, 9.1% even in the short term is not progress and that part remains undiscussed by the media, is that not strange? They have been slamming Brexit through speculations in dozens of articles, and the reality of this so called double economic growth versus the UK is not set into a complete proper context. Even as several sources show the European slowdown. The EU has 8 more weeks until summer is over, what happens then? Will we see the message of a non-anticipated slowdown, or will we see that the slowdown was larger than anticipated? When you see that part, could you decide to trust the media you rely on?

However the independent also gives us “However, the UK economy has grown faster than the Eurozone’s since the 2008 financial crisis, reflecting the single currency’s multiple crises between 2010 and 2013“, which is true yet in this, they also fail to mention that there will be some level of slowdown and the Eurozone will make some level of temporary improvement, the question is for how long this happens. I am slightly less optimistic, yet also hesitant to be too negative. When the dust settles in the Middle East, we know that the Netherlands have two massive opportunities and a few other options through the large projects in Oman and the UAE, those large projects are the kind of solutions that put the Netherlands in the engineering top of the planet. The options could propel that small nation with most of it below sea level in scale and equality to Germany which is roughly 900% the size of the Netherlands. As Germany is one of the large 4, the Dutch achievement would be close to a legendary one. And if there is a large boost to the EU economy it will not be less likely to come from Germany than it will more likely to come from the Netherlands in both 2017 and 2018. This was always a reality that the EU and Germany faced, things will turn around, yet for the short term the EU numbers would probably boost. What is important is that it would not have impacted the UK in any way other than the presented numbers of difference. In this the UK is not on par with the EU on the short side, yet as European tourism falls in autumn, the numbers will no longer look against the UK to that degree and we will suddenly see different mentions, in this some of them are already a near given, so when we see “The single currency zone has now seen 17 successive quarters of growth. The unemployment rate in the Eurozone currently stands at 9.1 per cent, down from 12 per cent in 2013, but still double the UK’s current rate of 4.5 per cent“. OK, I will accept that, yet what I miss is the part that needs to be given with the quote ‘17 successive quarters of growth‘, so how much were these quarters of growth and how did they compare to the UK? It seems that this part is equally missing. In addition there is another part missing, this related to the final quote in the article. With “Other data last week showed that, within the Eurozone, France’s GDP expanded by 0.5 per cent in the second quarter and Spain’s by 0.8 per cent” you might wonder, yet when we look at Statista (at https://www.statista.com/statistics/263008/gdp-growth-in-eu-countries-compared-to-same-quarter-previous-year/) we do not see the same part. We see the Q1 numbers where France and the UK are on the same foot, Italy trails by 0.1% and Spain is ahead by a fair bit, which is the part that impacts and matters, yet the high note comes from Ireland, Estonia, Malta and Romania, which seems like a powerful impact, yet they are together a mere fraction of the EU output, which is why France, Spain and Germany are so important, they are the lion share together with the UK. Only when we look at the last 8 quarters can we see numbers that make actual sense to some and whilst the future is not a given, the knowledge that there is a slowdown coming, there we see that the hyped EU numbers are slightly over the top in my view. So as we accept that the 2 of the large 4 would have much better numbers in tourism season, the fact that the unemployment numbers were projected down by 0.1% is still a much larger issue than most people realise. What is phenomenal is the fact that the impact on tourism is better for Greece. They reported yesterday that the number of international arrivals in the first half was up by well over 10%, which is awesome, as the Greeks should be getting loads of good news after all the garbage they went through. The two sources, the first (at http://www.tornosnews.gr/en/tornos/trends/26630-greek-minister-spectacular-tourism-figures-in-2017.html) gives us: “there is a huge increase in overnight stays and hotel occupancy, ranging from 80% to 95% in most tourist destinations, as well as record arrivals in some of them. The Minister also referred to important economic benefits from the tourism industry, particularly from non-Schengen countries“, which means that the local Greeks will get a relief from the pressure they have had for the longest of times. The small issue that temperatures are up to 41 Celsius might not be the best thing to be confronted with, yet over all they heatwave will give the sun the hours of baking that the tourists love so much, it would also increase the need for windy trips (on boats with sails) and those enjoying places like the caves of Lasithi (in this, I have personal experience that visiting Knossos is a really bad idea, but several museums in Iraklion tend to be nice and cool. another source is giving us (at http://greece.greekreporter.com/2017/08/05/a-record-3-2-million-tourist-arrivals-expected-in-august/). This gives us “Russia and the Netherlands have marked the greatest rise in seats by 25.8% / 46,000 and 18.3% / 26,000 seats, respectively. Top Greek destinations include islands of Crete, Rhodes, Zakynthos, Kerkyra, Mykonos, Santorini and Halkidiki. Tourism professionals are forecasting the same performance in September, citing a total of 2.73 million seats booked for the month after“, implying that it will be a much better year than hoped for, and good for them I say!

Yet in the back of our minds will be not just for the European zone, more precisely, what will Greece do next? In this day and age tourism is great for them, yet they still have the other three quarters to deal with and in this they might have options and opportunities, it merely becomes the view on how to address it and which model to change so that it becomes a benefit.

They are all issues people want to address, yet in this we need to realise that the dodgy numbers are not a help. They are merely the approach towards undesired thoughts and in the end presented strength is no strength, it becomes strength when it is acted upon and results in a positive outcome, this is why quantative easing is never an actual solution. It is merely an option for those who are paid and reflected on the presented result with quarter on quarter growth. The fact that there is a new multi trillion debt is not what their bonus is balanced on. That is the part that people forget. I state to you here that I can go into the USA tomorrow and get a firm with $2 billion if revenue within a week. I have access to all the materials. I merely want 1% of that revenue as a bonus. Now consider that I am selling Official US currency $20 bills for $9.99. I get the bonus because I made my revenue, yet the fact that there is a $1 billion loss is not my issue, it will be for the registered owners of the business and if I set up an LLC with my finding founders, go bankrupt after the exercise one week later, I am still entitled to my $20 million severance package. This is the reality of quantative easing. People like Mario Draghi will not call it like that (and in equal measure find my example way to simplified, which is partially true), but it is the reality that they face in Europe. So as we see the reported news on how the UK is merely 50% of the Eurozone, we need to realise that there is a blowback from the actions that they are taking and in the long run only the bankers and the top of the ECB will be smiling enjoying life in the luxury estates that they own. I feel that we will see a strong impact of what happened before on the 26th October in Oslo Thursday. On that day we will see

  • Norway Central Bank announces interest rate decision – 0800 GMT.
  • Stockholm – Swedish Central Bank announces interest rate decision. Monetary Policy Report will be published – 0730 GMT.
  • Frankfurt – ECB Governing Council meeting, followed by interest rate announcement
  • Frankfurt – ECB President Mario Draghi holds a press conference, after the interest rate meeting Monday, October 30th

The press conference comes three days later, so after the 3 day speculation there will be the press meeting with even more speculation all that as the Christmas temporary need for short term staff is announced in several global places. I will let you work out what speculation will be offered. I am not having too much faith in the upcoming actions. Merely an anticipation of a media assisted manipulated bad news through overly optimism. It is merely my speculation on the matter.


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Knocking on the door of death

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

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

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

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

How these two relate?

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

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

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



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A shaky Farce Majeure

I got confronted with two news items today, the weirdest part is that the source is the Daily Mail (at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4717082/Chaos-British-holidaymakers-killer-earthquake.html), which is upsetting to some degree. The news started with the earthquake on Kos last week, a shaking that extended all the way to Crete. Now, as the building laws are on Crete, the news of the earthquake was not one that shook me, the people there know it, yet the strength was stronger than usually dealt with. OK, so far no biggie as news goes. Yet, the initially not highly regarded headline became ‘Thomson REFUSES to refund terrified holidaymaker and his family as they try to cancel their trip to Kos amid earthquake chaos‘, which woke me up. This is not the first time that travel agencies are frowned upon, so I decided to take another look. Justin Curtis who wrote this is pounding on a few items that are actually bigger news than most realise.

Now apart from the news you are about to see, there is a few matters that we need to consider, and I will get to them shortly. First we see “Brits due to go to region say they are being told they cannot have a refund“, I’ll tell you another one, they are still offering these trips online, so I could fly out Saturday at £3275 for a fortnight, by the way a comparable trip with a 5 star hotel booked in the Netherlands is €1048 (£937), which is a totally absurd difference (it included the flight, so ordering the trip in the Netherlands, or book it online and take an additional Euro trip train could save you £2300 (minus the two train tickets), so in light of the prices Thomson is pretty ridiculous. In addition, Thomson proclaims to be an ABTA member (shown on their website), With ABTA we see “Clients’ Options on Cancellation 3B) If they are Principals who cancel previously confirmed Travel Arrangements, inform Agents and direct Clients without delay and offer Clients the choice of: i) alternative Travel Arrangements if available; or ii) a full refund of all monies paid. Such refunds shall be sent to Agents and direct Clients without delay.

Now, this is only one part, in addition we see:

3D) Not make a significant alteration to Travel Arrangements less than 14 days before the departure date of the Travel Arrangements unless it is necessary to do so as a result of Force Majeure.

I think that we can agree that an Earthquake is as Force Majeure as it gets.

There are rules of compensation for part, in case it was not a Force Majeure. So in light of what I see, Thomson might be in a lot more trouble than they think they are.

It was merely a first part, the fact that Thomson kept the lines open for flights this coming Saturday indicates just how insensitive they are to their clients. If the Daily Mail is to be believed, we should also consider their website. When we see: “We’re part of TUI Group – one of the world’s leading travel companies. And all of our holidays are designed to help you Discover Your Smile.” You have to wonder how they will address the issues as given with “Some laid down on the grass after they were denied entry to the airport, with staff limiting the number of people allowed inside due to its small size“, which for safety reasons makes perfect sense, in addition we see “I said I wanted my money back but they told me no and that it was safe. But Kos is not going to be rebuilt in a week and I asked if they could guarantee me the buildings there and my hotel were structurally sound and they couldn’t“, from a torts point of view, Thomson now might have an expensive legal issue evolving at their front door, one that they cannot defer under ABTA, This case could get us to Donoghue v Stevenson. Ms Donoghue claimed compensation for illness, after she consumed a ginger beer containing a decomposed snail, in a public house in Paisley, Scotland. This is the first case of Torts, as Thomson is now quoted to have stated that Kos is Safe, if any mishap comes from the trip, the family could sue as there is news and evidence on the dangers. Kathmiri, the Greek news source gives that dozens of buildings are at present unsafe with dozens more not yet investigated, so Thomson was THIS negligent? The question becomes why Thomson has become this negligent whilst the ABTA code of conduct is pretty clear in section 3 on those who have booked, yet not yet travelled. They could have faced praise and clientele as they bended over backwards by offering and working towards alternative solutions for scores of travellers, now they could get into a lot of hot water. The diverted Ferry service is only a small issue, the reason why it was diverted is the real danger as some quays are actually ripped from the road, making for unsafe conditions. This issue goes beyond the Tsunami that came, yet in all this the complications from electricity, sewage and heat will go up and could potentially create additional hazards for some time, we cannot state how long or how realistic these dangers would be, but they will be there. If essential parts are fixed within a month it would be a small miracle, a given that no one should bank on. For Kos, this could not have happened at a worst time, the summer is the height of their annual tourism income flow. July-September is essential to the people on Kos and Crete; as such Kos might get a big blow in a time when the Greek economy could afford it the least. So back to Torts, we have basically shown a Duty of Care and now we get to Breach of Duty, so as we get to the ‘reasonable man‘ test, would a reasonable man send another person into an earthquake stricken place for a family holiday (or any holiday?), if we consider a reasonable safe environment (especially) for children, Thomson could be seen as the reckless endangering element to the health of these children on that vacation. As such, they might state, the people could have decided not to go. In this a step towards criminal law is that the vacation is a product (or service), so as we see product liability we get “Anyone who is harmed by an unsafe product could sue. They can begin their court case up to three years from the date of the injury. In some cases, they can even sue up to ten years after the product was sold“, it is a thin line, yet with these bulk vacations, the minimum amount of people for a class action should be easily reached, especially when there are torts exploiters (they do exist). Consider that the vacation is a product that is offered, in such we could go towards the ‘Guide to the Consumer Protection Act 1987‘, where we see “In the past those injured had to prove a manufacturer negligent before they could successfully sue for damages. The Consumer Protection Act 1987 removes the need to prove negligence. A customer can already sue a supplier, without proof of negligence, under the sale of goods law. The Act provides the same rights to anyone injured by a defective product, whether or not the product was sold to them“, in addition, there is “Liability under the Act extends to components and raw materials. If a finished product contains a defect in a particular component, both the manufacturer of the finished product and the component manufacturer may be liable“, which is interesting, so any item on the package sold to the tourist might be up for instigating the damage compensation track, so not merely the hotel, any excursion sold to the tourist could start liability at this stage. So how defective is this product?

Well the act gives us “A defective product is defined as one where the safety of the product is not such as persons generally are entitled to expect” and according to the Daily Mail, the people at Thomson proclaimed that Kos was safe, so in light of damaged quays, collapsed buildings with rubble all over the street, when the light goes a little low, spraining an ankle would be the easiest part in the entire equation and the elements to sue have been met, after which the liability track could commence. All because Thomson stated according to the Daily Mail source: “Gary Taylor, left, is due to fly to Kos with wife Katy and daughter Summer, pictured, next week but said he wanted to cancel due to safety fears, only to be told by Thomson he ‘could not have the £2,800 cost refunded due to terms and conditions’ of the deal“, yet this is opposed by ABTA code of conduct section 3b and 3d. And ABTA went one step further by giving within the definition of a Force Majeure as “circumstances where performance and/or prompt performance of the contract is prevented by reasons of unusual and unforeseeable circumstances beyond the control of the Principal, the consequences of which could not have been avoided even if all due care had been exercised“. Such circumstances include a natural disaster, so when were earthquakes and Tsunamis not natural disasters? If the Daily Mail is correct, this Force Majeure is making Thomson look like a Farce Majeure, the one place where booking a holiday might not be the best idea, not just for the prices stated.

Yet in the sidelines we also read “Thomson is offering alternative holidays for those due to travel to Kos or Bodrum should they no longer wish to“, which is one offer that ABTA clearly allows for, yet when we see at the Code of Conduct at 3B.ii “a full refund of all monies paid. Such refunds shall be sent to Agents and direct Clients without delay“, the issue of asking a few more questions to the top of Thomson seems a warranted issue to pursue.

The final part that rocked me is that there is at present no ombudsman for travels, something I actually never considered not existing, when we see that a trip per person could be in advance of £2500 and there are 8,000 UK travellers stranded on Kos, is it not weird that one event, representing £20m is not properly protected? Not merely for the traveller, to some extent to protect the travel agency as well? Is such a voluntary code legally enforceable? Well, that is actually the issue, I am not certain in the UK law settings, in Australia, the case in the Victorian Supreme Court named National Australia Bank Ltd v Rose [2016] VSCA 169 gives us “The Voluntary Banking Code in question stated that NAB had to give Mr Rose “prominent notice of various matters” before taking a guarantee from him. Chief Justice Marilyn Warren and Justice Stephen McLeish of the Victorian Court of Appeal dismissed NAB’s appeal of the original case: “We would respectfully agree with the trial judge’s conclusion that those clauses of the Banking Code had contractual force as terms of the guarantee at issue.”“, I reckon that the UK might find against Thomson travel agency if it gets sued, there is a decent chance that the judges will see the voluntary code of conduct, which seems to be used at times as a marketing presentation on the travellers rights as a mandatory setting regarding the terms of guarantee, or as a Terms of Service, in equal measure, in light of what I have found so far Thomson made a few blunders, several on the same day as their terms of service are seen. I also reckon that Thomson might be the only one visible now, but this issue could hit any agency that has some mention of ABTA in their sales prospectus or website and not offer a decent alternative or a full refund.


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The Wrong Question

Another day, another wave of news. To be more precise, more and more ‘news’ regarding the upcoming Brexit event. The vote that will impact Europe, the vote that will drive America nuts with fear and the question that is less and less about actual reasoning, especially as France is now moving towards a referendum too.

You see, the title Cameron says Brexit would be ‘economic self-harm’ might be correct, it might be to the point and it could certainly be a truth in itself. My issue is that my Conservatives are no longer thinking things through. Perhaps there are issues that they cannot address and as such the Brexit wave will grow and grow. You see, the Guardian might be all up and proud with the illusion of informing the public, but in that regard they are falling short.

So the title ‘Today’s briefing: what we learned from Cameron’s TV grilling‘ is equally disturbing, but does it give us actual information that the people in the UK can use to form an opinion which party (Brexit or Bremain) is the right one?

I feel that the answer to that question is ‘No!’, in addition the Scottish equation is pushing the matter even further out of balance. You see, the ‘grilling’ of David Cameron gave us the following quotes: “I think if we’ve learnt anything over the last six years, if you don’t have a strong economy you can’t have the health service that you want, you can’t have the schools that you need, you can’t have the public services you want, and this would be an act of economic self-harm of the United Kingdom doing it to ourselves” and the closing remark that is equally disturbing is “I’ll tell you what it would be like, we would be outside the room. The European Union doesn’t stop existing just because we’ve left.

The latter one is no longer a given. Now that Frexit is gaining traction, Brexit becomes almost a given requirement. I do not think that this is a fair path, but when we see that Brexit is avoided and Frexit becomes a reality, the tables will turn on the UK in the nastiest of ways, as France will drive Italy out of the EU as well. Unless there is a clear call to action for the players in the UK, the start of non-Brexit, could push a Yea-Frexit voice, for the mere reason that France has pushed into a corner and Italy could act after that walking away from it all. If any of these nations Germany, Italy, France or the UK walks away, the remaining three will fall out of synch with the abilities to continue. For the UK Frexit would be a disaster as it would have to arrange special deals regarding the Euro tunnel, whatever gets shipped through there would have a nasty surcharge, in that regard, the UK would have to increase its bonds with the Netherlands a lot more tightly than it currently is to prevent export items to hit top prices plus.

Even if all rules remain open in an EU without France (which would be likely), a Le Pen government in Frexit mode would have large impacts on shipping anywhere via France, that part is almost a given and time is still money too. You see all this link to the Wrong Question, partially we see this when we look at ‘UK should stop ‘sitting back’ in EU, says Jeroen Dijsselbloem‘, you see, Jeroen Dijsselbloem is one party that has been sitting back for too long in a much larger way. The parties might hide behind the TTIP as the reason, but that joke should have been scrapped long ago. Together with the TPP, the US is becoming a business usurper. They might call it ‘legal’, but it is still the US now trying to push what they laughingly regard as ‘rights’ into a framework on unaccountability, beyond what we already regard as acceptable. That is the mere consequence of a former superpower that is as I see it now bankrupt. The Financial Times (at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ed4cfe7e-16a4-11e6-b197-a4af20d5575e.html#axzz4AVKPmPMk) goes one step further. They state “TTIP also puts private profit above public interest, penalising polities that change policy preferences to the disadvantage of business. Indemnifying business against political risk through off-the-record investor-state dispute settlement arbitration is especially worrying. Secret negotiations and special court processes — more Guantánamo than Gray’s Inn — invite the expectation of abuse“, which is pretty much what the US has achieved with the Trans Pacific Partnership. A political system that is now all about the exploitation of those they should be protecting, the people, especially the non-wealthy ones in the US!

So here we are not really admiring the words of Jeroen Dijsselbloem, whilst we get the quote “He was speaking on the same day that the head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, warned that Brexit posed “a downside risk” to the global economy“, the one person who is actually one of the larger problems in the entire Brexit situation. You see, the question that needed to be asked clearly and needed to be addressed is: ‘How can the EU be allowed to continue, whilst the political players are spending the funds of the next three generations that follow us?‘ That is the real question. Trillions are being spend without a clear plan, without clear sense making reason absent from the equation.

That is scaring the people towards Brexit and the two people addressing it are not outspoken on any of it. In here we now introduce the two silent players, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and the Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney. The unresolved issues of massive governmental overspending, is one of the reasons why being part of the EU will no longer matter, would be undesirable and would be a good thing to get rid of.

We can agree that Jeroen Dijsselbloem should get credit for “Dijsselbloem, a fiscal hawk, who has led the Euro group since 2013, sharply criticised the European commission for not championing the EU’s fiscal rules“, yet his office has not been championing changes in taxation law (or not loudly enough). That part is at the heart of it all, because overspending and failing laws of taxation makes the EU a broke and impoverished individual.

You see, part of the stupidity (as I see it) comes from “Juncker, sensitive to elections in Spain later this month and in France next year, has said fiscal rules should not be applied blindly“, yes they should! You see, whomever has lost the ability to properly budget should be removed from the game. This issue with keeping Francois Hollande in ‘his’ presidential seat is part of this mess. He is not hungry for winning, he is happy to just get by and whilst he fills his pockets (in legal ways of course), the French situation will not ever improve, which is why he is truly scare of Marine Le Pen and the rest is scared because Marine is willing to let it all collapse so she can build a real France for the French and that is scaring a lot of people, especially in the large financial sectors that run through Natixis, the IMF and Wall Street, two of them equally scared of what Brexit will bring. Yet in all this, just like with Greece, certain people are all about Status Quo and that has now angered the UK people, they have had enough and with the two British coin Big Wigs that issues are not addressed, giving additional fears to the referendum voters. All being pushed emotionally, whilst rational would have resolved it (unless controlling EU spending is not an option). We know that Mark Carney is an excellent orator, he has the ability to economically talk the crowd into getting 49 runs in one over, smashing the record of Steve Dublin, for a Canadian that would be a massive achievement and Mark better pull this off fast, because the Brexit group is still growing and when they grow a critical mass, there will be no longer an option to convert them to a reasonable solution (whether Brexit or Bremain) that would truly be about the solution that is best for the UK and the British people. That option will go out of the window.

So this is where we find ourselves. We are all staring at the Wrong Question and the actual question cannot be answered and the evidence of hardware is removed from our vision, whilst the presented software can no longer be seen as reliable. You see, the people are seeing more and more how the American agreements called the TTIP and the TPP are about American solutions to not be an acceptable option any longer. This plays out nicely for China and perhaps Russia, but overall the Americans with their arrogance and non-accountability did this to themselves, so how can our lives become acceptable and liveable? That remains an issue, yet for the UK, not to be part of many of these players might not be the special coat they are hoping we would buy.

So here we are looking at the Wrong Question and no decent answer in sight, that is the part not dealt with and it seems that this issue will not be dealt with any day soon. The mere consequence of a lame Duck in Washington and a ‘fearless’ group lacking vision in Europe, united in (again as I Personally see it) personal gain against all odds. This is exactly why UKIP remains in ascendance. The one part that requires regulation isn’t getting any, because unless the EU’s debt grows to the level where Japan and USA are, those two are in a tough spot at the end of the way to dusty death with no alternatives. In all this the final element is seen as Crete rescued hundreds of refugees coming to Greece via Libya only an hour ago. That is the first of several escalations that Europe will have to deal with (at http://www.news.com.au/world/breaking-news/greece-rescues-hundreds-off-crete/news-story/987b32889f6327496a179d4ec95f2aa8), the issue here is not just that these Syrians came from Libya, the question becomes how they got to Libya in the first place. We know that Libya had Syrian refugees as early as 2014, but are those the ones crossing? More important, how can we verify that they were actually Syrians? With Crete entering the high tourist season, will these refugees have an impact on tourism? If so, that would be extremely unfortunate for Crete who is still recovering from years of lessened tourism, not as bad as some other places, but still in a recovering situation, will the almost 30% Dutch downturn turn even worse with the hundreds of refugees arriving on Crete?

There is no way to tell, but these new growing groups of arrivals gives additional ‘worry’ to those in favour of Brexit and their numbers are still growing, the implied pressure that the UK will feel over the next 60 days as people are trying to get into the UK will only grow fears, which drives an implied drive towards Brexit. Here I am cautiously stating ‘implied’, because we have no way of telling how many want to be on route past Greece towards Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. Add to this the fact that the EU remains active in irresponsible spending, debts that the next 4 generations need to work off, and that part is another driving force for Brexit.

There is now too much noise all over the papers, too many facts are intertwined and nobody trusts any of the players involved on either side of the Brexit/Bremain equation. From my side, as stated before Mark Carney did a good job, a really good job to bring clarity to the House of Lords and as such to the British population, it swayed me back to a neutral stance away from a definite Brexit. Now Mark Carney (as well as George Osborne) need to focus on the question too many people are not asking, whilst everyone is staring at the wrong Question. ‘How do we stop the irresponsible spending by Mario Draghi et al?

That part is gaining momentum when we consider the Irish Times (at http://www.irishtimes.com/business/euro-zone-recovery-may-slow-down-says-mario-draghi-1.2670722), the issue ‘Euro zone recovery may slow down, says Mario Draghi‘ comes AFTER he has spent a sizeable slice of the planned 1.74 trillion euros. Now we see how the recovery is slowing down? So when we get the quote “Mr Draghi said his central bank was “willing, able and ready” to act again, should those measures leave inflation short of the target“, the people should worry as Mario Draghi has spent well in excess of the total GDP of most EU nations. This gives the clear danger that the debt will stay in place for another generation. So until someone muzzles that man and crazy glues his EU wallet shut, explain to me how anyone wants to remain in an EU where too many politicians are spending the coins of other people, with no clear repayment in sight? That whilst several larger nations (like France) is growing the national debt in excess of the allowed 3% and no one is getting fined, because no one has any of these levels of cash left.

So as we might remember Shakespeare’s quote, we should consider the newly revised edition: ‘this was the noblest Roman of them all, yet it no longer matters as they have become extinct!

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The math is off

That was the very first thought I had when I looked at an article in the New York times by Clifford Krauss from September 1st 2015 (at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/business/energy-environment/oil-prices.html). You see, the article is quite good and very descriptive, so why is it wrong? Is it his math? Are they the facts? First when we look at the title ‘Oil Prices: What’s Behind the Plunge? Simple Economics‘, now I am all for simple economics, I have wielded that bat myself on more than one occasion, still something is off (not just the smell of oil), so let’s take a walk in the proverbial path of black gold.

  1. Oil is finite. Oil does not regenerate and when it is gone, it is gone forever. In addition, most elements that come from oil have a very short lifespan. Add a match and the stuff just instantly burns away, it burns away leaving you burnt if you stand too close. For a long time our usage grew exponentially, at this point the amount of crude oil used would fill a cube sized at 20 miles by 20 miles by 20 miles, so that is one massive cube! Still, when you consider the oil fields and the size of them, those fields tend to be a lot larger, yet overall they might remain largely below a few hundred metres (which still makes for one massive oilfield).
  2. The quote “United States domestic production has nearly doubled over the last six years, pushing out oil imports that need to find another home. Saudi, Nigerian and Algerian oil that once was sold in the United States is suddenly competing for Asian markets, and the producers are forced to drop prices” is an issue for me. For this we need to look at two additional quotes from the BBC. the first one is “US crude oil was trading at more than $90 a barrel a year ago, but now costs around $45. The UK’s Brent crude has also halved in price from a year ago and is currently trading at about $48 a barrel” as well as “US oil production has increased to a record high in recent years as high prices made investment worthwhile” which was given earlier in that same story (at http://www.bbc.com/news/business-34219144), which is only a few hours old. Now consider one more quote that is only loosely related (one would think). The quote is “Techniques such as fracking have helped US producers offset the falling oil price by lowering investment and production costs“. Now let’s go over the motions (or is that emotions?).
  • When an investment is made, there is a tax write-off, that part has already happened! So those costs are ‘gone’ after that it is the return on investment which takes care of the costs and after that profit comes. This is simple economics. I get an income, I pay for the costs and I pay taxation.

    Now what happens when I work at a loss? This happens. Let’s take the example. I have product X, it makes me a £1000. To get this I need to pay for equipment, which is bought and for the time of the loan this will cost me 300, in addition I need people (you know a non-mechanical labour force). Another 300 gone, leaving me with 400. The evil villain Taxman takes his share and the rest is mine. So let’s say I get to live of the remaining 360. So far it all remains simple. Now we learn that everybody has this setup, so now suddenly people are only willing to pay 500, which is an issue. People get payed, yet I have to share with the loan so I lose out largely, the bank loses out some and Taxman ‘you evil villain!’ you lose out completely (so it’s not all a loss).
    This is how it should be. Now consider the equipment. Either the loan owner (or the investor) takes a dive (for now) as the timeline shifts, so there should not be a massive impact. Not to the degree we see. When you see all these oil articles have you noticed how we see these Jack pumps? We see the iconic devise in nearly every oil mention, so why the pump jack? If that was all it is, a 1925 invention would not be the cause of so much costings.
    This is where the first crumb is left. Those connected state that it is no longer ‘profitable’ to get their money’s worth, which is part of the issue. I personally believe that the players have been engaged in an accountancy game for a very long time. In some cases there are of course long term loans, and yes any device needs maintenance and needs upgrades, yet the Pump Jack could run for almost a decade not getting any attention and the oil flows on. Now, we can agree that oil tends to be found in deeper regions, so the pump jack might not be enough. But the press never shows us that picture do they? Now when it comes to pumps, they need maintenance, sometimes not that much, sometimes the need for mechanics is a lot more pressing. Yet these people are not expensive, so even at $45 a barrel, 20 of them buys an engineer for a day and these places are doing a million barrels a day at times, so the money should remain ‘stellar’.

  • What if this is not just about the price? We know there are much more players in the field, but we all tend to forget that oil was always a finite commodity. It is like living on an island like Crete. Prices there fluctuate (I always loved Crete), but overall living there remains close to the same, even better, selling new houses remain at a reasonable high price. If you wonder how correct (or how wrong I am). Take for example the Bermuda’s an island near you. When you look over a longer timeframe, you will see that these places fluctuate like most places, but never to the extent the average price seem to fluctuate on main land. Take Hawaii, everyone is trying to own something there making prices spike. Now consider the fluctuations and how massive they are for oil. Here my first doubt grew. Yes, we all know that cars are more efficient, we know that spending is down, we know all that yet the overwhelming majority of the people need to get to work by car, by bus or by train. All of them require fuel, even the electricity made comes from power plants and not all of them are nuclear or coal based. Which gets us to bullet point point c.
  • other uses. For this we need to look at the Washington post (at http://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/power-plants/), where we see that there is still a massive group of power plants fuelled by oil. Now, the fact that these are phasing out, because of pollution is a good thing, a great thing even, but for now many are not. In case of Hawaii, where 71% of electricity comes from oil run power plants, the statement from UHERO struck another issue. The Economic Research Organisation at the University of Hawaii stated at (http://www.uhero.hawaii.edu/news/view/273) “Electricity prices can be roughly boiled down to the price of oil, which is used to generate most of our electricity, plus price we pay for fixed costs like power plants, the grid and its management. These costs are fixed in the sense that they don’t vary with the amount of electricity generated and consumed. We have record high electricity prices because oil prices remain high“. Even though the page is from 2014, the collapse of the oil price should have been seen on many levels in Hawaii, but it is not (as far as I can tell), so why are prices pushed upwards and is the collapsed oil price is seen as an ‘evil’?
    In my view this is all about the way the books have been kept from the very beginning. Whether I rely on some knowledge I gained from Schlumberger when I worked there in the past. Whether I go from some news article and some academic papers, my view remains largely the same, the numbers do not add up, they never did but until the oil price collapsed no one had a clue how far they were out of touch.

And now we get the final part in this. Another article by the New York Times. This one is also from Clifford Krauss and it was given light on August 19th 2015. The title ‘Oil Companies Sit on Hands at Auction for Leases‘ is part of what I think is only one facet in the entire debacle. The leases are worth gold and if the numbers as stated go on, than the leases are not kept. So is this to frighten the actual owners of the land to sell cheap? How many leases are up for renewal in the next 2 -3 years? More important, what if the owners state that non-renewal opts for other requirements? The quote “the fortunes of oil companies are skidding so fast that they now need to cut back on plans for production well into the future“, Now we add one more fact from Europe. Scottish energy news reported (actual date unknown) “After nearly 40 years of production, the Brent oilfield – which gave its name to the North Sea benchmark – is now mostly empty“. It is not the only one, not the first and most certainly not the last. We can state that no matter how ‘complex’ the decommissioning is, that this is one of the smaller fields (globally speaking). Even as it was only 10% of the UK oil production, an island with a mere 68 million consumers, the field is dry. So what about the other fields? Is this truly just about leases and demand dropping, or is this to maximise accountancy?

I prefer and I am largely wrong here in this instance, but consider the elements I mentioned up to now. I feel that I am correct ‘the numbers do not add up’, I just do not know why, because it is not simple economics. If that were try then the investments would have been paid off, the maintenance of rigs would remain, but the investment dollars would have been a massive ROI many years ago. So as we consider the image of ‘Oil pumping jacks and drilling pads at the Kern River Oil Field in Bakersfield, Calif‘ from the second Krauss article, we must wonder what the article (at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/20/business/oil-drillers-sit-on-hands-at-auction-for-leases.html) the quote “The continuing drop in oil prices and low natural gas prices obviously affect industry’s short-term investment decisions, but the gulf’s long-term value to the nation remains high“. Is that so, in my view, thee quote that directly follows “Offshore drilling, particularly in deep waters, is some of the most expensive exploration done by oil companies around the world. Nevertheless, since the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster that left 11 workers dead and soiled hundreds of miles of beaches, and the one-year drilling moratorium that followed, production in the gulf has flourished“. So even with the dangers to the environment, the mistakes made and the fact that there is such a surplus to it all deep water drilling, the fact that the investment is massively higher from other options, that part continues?

Is that not the big weird?

If there is so much space to work, why set up your fashion store in a nuclear reactor? Because it amounts to the same thing. You go where you can make your fortune in as comfortable a setting, with the lowest risk and the best returns. That part is a given, has been for decades. Only the accountants have a different view where the taxed benefit of having to buy radiation suits overrules the need for clean profit.

The numbers have not been adding up and only recently with the unusual drop in prices do we seem to wonder why.

The final quote to look at is “That surge will partly offset an expected decline in onshore production because oil companies have reduced their rig count on land by more than 60 percent since last year“. Why? if it is running, as the oil is coming up, it is just going on nodding like a horse’s head, filling up barrel by barrel as the mechanic sleeps until one stops working. You only decrease to this amount when the returns, the actual amount pumped starts to lower by too much.

Make the looks for yourself, try to do the math, it does not add up. In my view whatever formula you get given from anyone you must question (even those from me). The article gives a surplus of two million barrels a day from Iraq and Saudi Arabia, yet the processed goods keep on rising in price. What are we not being told? What are we not seeing?

I’ll let you decide on that part.


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An Olympic steeplechase

Greece is at it again (or still might be a better word)! Let’s turn back the clock a mere month! On April 28th we get the following news (via several sources): “Greece has decided to pull Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis back from bailout negotiations, a move it describes as ‘clipping Varoufakis’ wings’ and ‘reining him in’ after three months of debt talks failed to produce an agreement”.

That move made perfect sense, several people (including me) saw him in some rock star presentation which was good for his ego and not too good for the Greek people. Of course, reining in does not mean ‘keeping him quiet‘, which I would not do (for the shear entertainment value alone), but also because he is the selected spokesperson of the Greek economy. So when we see the news in the Guardian a few hours ago stating: “Greek bond weaken after Varoufakis blames creditors“, my first thought was ‘can’t the man shut up?’

The quote given is “The problem is simple: Greece’s creditors insist on even greater austerity for this year and beyond – an approach that would impede recovery, obstruct growth, worsen the debt-deflationary cycle, and, in the end, erode Greeks’ willingness and ability to see through the reform agenda that the country so desperately needs. Our government cannot – and will not – accept a cure that has proven itself over five long years to be worse than the disease

In my own view I state that he squandered 95% of the time he had with posturing, he forfeited the game buy thinking that Greece is too big to be ‘Grexitted’. Guess what Yanis! The Dutch SNS bank thought that very same notion! It did not pan out too well for them either!

Now we get the second quote, this one from Dimitris Stratoulis. He states “If we decide that there is no money left for the IMF, we have repeatedly said that our priority is to pay salaries, pensions, health, and education”. To be honest, I cannot completely oppose that! Although my priority should state Pension, Salary and Health, with a question mark to what salaries are to be paid, but I understand that the people should normally go first. I do not oppose this! Yet Syriza has been playing what I regard to be a pissing contest with people who did not need to play that game and had no interesting in playing that game. There is additional evidence. Perhaps you remember the case of Leonidas Bobolas, who got arrested in April 2015 for 1.2 million in tax evasion? That short term theatrical play just as the ‘negotiations’ were going on. I reported it in my blog on April 27th in the article ‘Finding inspiration‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/04/27/finding-inspiration/).

How many arrests since then?

The news is awfully quiet around it. There has also been zero visibility on praising Kostas Vaxevanis on his findings and his reports. It seems to me that the members of Syriza have absolutely no intent of doing anything constructive at all towards their creditors. So when we see the statements “Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has apparently pledged that Greece will meet its €305m repayment to the International Monetary Fund” by Yanis Varoufakis as well as “Tsipras instructed officials to act speedily as his government sought to defuse tensions saying it would do its best to honour its debts – even if it failed to reveal how, exactly, it would find the money to pay €1.6bn in loans to the International Monetary Fund next month” (Helena Smith, the Guardian).

Yet these two parts are already ignoring the 750 million pushed forward because the invoice of May 12th was not ‘paid’! It was settled using the IMF emergency funds, which means that this money is also due. In addition on May 12th, 16th and 19th are the amounts of 348, 581 and 348 million due. That is just the IMF, the maturing bonds as well as the ECB have not been taking into account in this matter. In addition, more bailouts are already known to be needed, so as Varoufakis is boasting, threatening and claiming, I notice that many are ignoring the observation some made “the creditors’ insistence on even more austerity, even at the expense of the reform agenda that our government is eager to pursue“. This is at the heart of the matter, because Greece is facing a 22 billion annual interest invoice, which it has no way of paying. A fact many are simply ignoring. So as non-actual payment of three quarters of a billion were made, we must wonder where that comes from. Let’s not forget that on June 12th 3.6 billion in T-bills mature!

Another non-reality comes from that same Guardian when we see: “Traders are also blaming Klaus Regling, the head of the European Stability Mechanism, for today’s euro selloff“, which is specified in “There is little time left… That’s why we’re working day and night for an agreement. Without an agreement with the creditors, Greece will not get any new loans. Then there’s a threat of insolvency. There are a lot of risks contained in that”, which is a reality I have pleaded for, for some time now. The funny part is that the New Democracy HAD it for the most sorted and the Greek people were suffering, no one denies that! Yet the courts have not made any attempt to hold previous administrations accountable, the tax evasion schemes had one trial so far and 1.2 million does not go far.

There is one final part that is an additional danger. It is not reported on, because in all honesty, the actual danger is not known yet. But did you consider how tourism will do this year? How many thousands of tourists will consider avoiding Greece (the Germans being a first nation that comes to mind)? You see, no matter how we regard the Germans, they for the most had jobs, had incomes and will desire a warm vacation. The Greek approach will work out nicely for Spain, Portugal and Italy I reckon, but with the acts of alienation Greece is cutting itself in the fingers. In addition, the dangers of drying ‘wells’, like the fear of empty ATM’s and other means not operational give added fear to the tourist population. Even though Crete should remain reasonably safe, the reality is that no part of Greece might be safe if clear progress is not booked within 2 weeks. I do hope that it will not pan out to be too bad for Crete, Stavros Arnaoutakis has been an active fighter for the prosperity of Crete for a long time and it was his birthday yesterday, so: “Happy belated birthday Stavros!” He was born in Archanes, due South of Iraklion. You might wonder why I bring this up. I will repeat the issue I voiced well over a year ago. It is becoming more and more visible that the power of Crete might reside in its independence. Crete has a founded tourist base, it has a functioning harbour for commerce and functioning airports for commercial ends too. This independence would not break their Union with Greece, but unlike the independence of Scotland, Greece has a much better chance to setup its independence at present, without too many nasty negative sides. Whatever options Syriza is currently destroying, Crete could set up a working base of minimal credit and continue for now. It will be hard, no one will deny that, but if Crete can sway a few services towards the Cretan island, it would for the better part be decently self-reliant.

This is a much better position than the position Greece had in the past, which team Tsipras/Varoufakis efficiently destroyed as I personally see it.

I also believe that the dedication Stavros Arnaoutakis has shown for a strong Crete could go a long way with whatever creditor conversation might be needed. As Crete moves straight into the Drachma, which would then be called the Cretan Drachma, would start to build on a future for both social enhancements (within Crete) as well as built on the decent foundations that Cretan housing has as well as a shift towards a services oriented future. Consider the mild climate Crete offers with water views all around that island, how long until 2-3 retirement villages would rake in jobs, commerce and income from retirees who would like their last few years in decent sunshine?

It is not enough to warrant full independence, but it is a start, if only to make the reliance on tourism 10%-20% smaller. Consider call centres that could work in that time zone and the better weather conditions. Before too long, students from all over Europe will seek a call centre all day and party all night vacation. I admit it is not the business call that matters here, but good commerce is where you built it!

Now, this might not be a great idea (perhaps not even a good idea), but I am trying to find a solution! I hope that there will be options for the Greek people, because Syriza is quickly and as I see it possibly intentional discarding whatever solution is left for the Greek people. If you doubt this, then consider the following facts:

* Less than an hour ago, I see in the Guardian, the following release: “Mujtaba Rahman, analyst at Eurasia Group, reckons that Greece will probably reach a deal with the Eurozone in time” (I am not convinced), in addition we see “We continue to believe Tsipras will lose around 5-10 lawmakers from his coalition when the package is presented to parliament (potentially attached to a vote of confidence). But we suspect he will lose less than 12 MP’s allowing him to keep his parliamentary majority“. As I see it, this should be about protecting the Greek people, now we see the cold reality (not an invalid one) that this seems to be more about playing with votes and keeping a ‘parliamentary majority‘!

This is why I felt that Antonis Samaras was the better option. He was trying to find solutions, not be ‘the popular guy’! You think Antonis Samaras was making friends when he was in office? No! He inherited a 400 billion invoice (very rough estimate) with no way to pay for it. With floating the credit ceiling and pushing non actions, Tsipras in his short time (with of course support by Varoufakis) has added close to 20% to that total debt. Now, in all honesty, he did not cause that 20% directly, but by sitting on his hands and playing theatrics he has not helped resolve any of it.

But we must also adhere to reality. The following we get from Bloomberg if Greece misses a payment: “A missed payment date starts the clock ticking. Two weeks after the initial due date and a cable from Washington urging immediate payment, the fund sends another cable stressing the “seriousness of the failure to meet obligations” and again urges prompt settlement. Two weeks after that, the managing director informs the Executive Board that an obligation is overdue. For Greece, that’s when the serious consequences kick in. These are known as cross-default and cross-acceleration“. This is a true reality, yet is that per payment?

Consider that this happen on June 5th and we get to June 19th? At that point two T-bills will have matured for the total amount of 5.2 billion, the second one of 1.6 billion on the 19th itself. When the 5th is missed, what will the markets do then? In addition, on June 19th a total of 910 million will be due too (16th and 19th of June IMF payments). In addition, what will happen to the interest levels when the two week term passes?

No one denies that the payment pressure is too unreal, but the Greek government themselves was cause to all of this (not Syriza)! That is at the heart of the ignored facts (read: unmentioned). These facts are exactly why Crete should consider protecting the Cretan population if at all possible. In addition, the separation could give additional credit to the Greeks on Crete and it might (not a guarantee) instil a lesser negative impact on tourism, which would be a massive plus. A few extra options could be set up there, but that would be up to Stavros Arnaoutakis and his peers to decide.

So how will we see this steeplechase unfold?

The ‘die hard’ positive proclaimers are singing the same song again and again, the doomsayers are hammering on what cannot be and both are interestingly avoiding key issues. Whether they feel repetitive on them is beside the point. I try to remain on the fence (which is hard with Syriza), yet I do try to find solutions. Will they be useful? Not for me to decide, but at least as a non-Greek, I might be one of the few trying to find a non-exploitative solution, which puts me ethically, morally and spiritually ahead of the pack.


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This is not Sparta!

You might not realise it, but many of us have a Greek side in us. The gamers are all about ‘This is Sparta!’ as they slay their opponents Gerard Butler style (a Scotsman no less) in Diablo 3, more than a few of them would also consider becoming the consort of Lena Headey (Queen Gorgo), a woman who might be twice their age, but still looks better than the average 25 year old photo model. Some with a more academic approach will be confronted with the Socratic Method as they get through another Uni class. Some will love it, some will hate it. It seems there are no people in the middle ground here. Doctors still recite the Hippocratic Oath and we could argue that Prudence which comes from Phronesis, a Greek word, which got introduced by some old Greek with a beard. I remember the speech, this old guy suddenly making a speech, roughly 334BC, I was watching the Panathenaic Games and suddenly he starts deliberating (at himself) in a most bombastic voice. The man starts ‘ranting’ about something called Nicomachean Ethics, nice, but not while ‘I am watching a game!’ Someone told me his name was Aristotle. I reckon the fab never caught on. Let’s face it, public speakers and the virtue of practical thought, it will never catch on, I reckon. Guess what! It has been 2345 years and I was right! Take this Tsipras fellow, as I see it, he continues a long line of public speakers void of practical wisdom.

That we see in ‘Greece financial crisis: EU offers funds in return for urgent reforms‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/mar/20/greece-financial-crisis-eu-offers-funds-in-return-for-urgent-reforms). You see, this Alexis Tsipras has been in office almost 2 months now and as we can read in the article, he has nothing to show for it. He was supposed to show reform, he now has 10 days and the photo as printed shows away hiding his mouth behind his first. Is it agony, frustration, defiance? Is it all just theatre? The BBC with ‘Greece to draft new reform plan within days – EU leaders‘ (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31963952), which shows a ‘smiling’ Tsipras with the quote “Greece has agreed to come up with a new reform plan within days to secure the additional bailout funds required to prevent bankruptcy“, read those words carefully. It does not state, ‘will finalise’, or ‘will complete the current draft’, it states ‘to come up with a new reform plan’. So when we see the quote “I think that all the sides confirmed their intention to try to do their best to overcome the difficulties of the Greek economy as soon as possible“, I feel slightly miffed. You see Tsipras is all about the blame game. In one part, he has every right to be so, because the mess was not initially of his making. He did get into the elections as he saw he could ‘play’ the voters and now it is crunch time, he cannot deliver, because whatever defiant act he will attempt will cost the people of Greece dearly. As I see it, he’ll end up doing exactly what Antonis Samaras was doing, I wonder if that constitutes election fraud? Promising something, not doing it and doing what the opposition was doing all along. As I saw it (yes, a personal view), Antonis Samaras was a fine politician trying to decently play a really crappy hand that he got dealt. You see, in this regard, none of them have done anything  about holding to response the previous administrations that tailored the deal, that spend money an entire next generation did not have, not to mention the artful tax dodgers, none of that was as I see it done! I reckon that Tsipras would only have to arrest Kostas Vaxevanis to show that he is no better than any of the other previously elected politicians.

You see my emotion here is because I love Greece (Specifically Crete), I feel pain as I see that it is driven into the ground by elected officials, it is largely done so through inactions, which makes it even worse. It is sloth in its most profound form, not just spiritual and emotional apathy, it is done through additional decisive inaction. A form of treason of the worst kind. Almost like the captain of a ship who now INTENTIONALLY goes towards an iceberg expecting the iceberg to get out of the way. It reminds me of an advertisement where the captain of a cruiser (USS Montana) who decided to play chicken with a lighthouse (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYsdUgEgJrY), yet in this case it is not a person being handed ‘incomplete’ or ‘incorrect’ information. In this case we all know the object in front of the good ship Hellenic Republic and its captain(s) have not taken the measures they should have. This is how the news is reading to me. What should have been done is a list of continuing meetings non-stop with all parties. The Greeks were given a play, theatre of a mediocre level and soon they will not be left with any options. As I personally see it, politics of its very worst kind.

All this now reflects in a bad way, especially if we take the word of the NOS (Dutch News). Here we see “‘De verwachting was dat het goed zou komen’, zegt de Rabobank-econoom. ‘Maar het probleem is dat de Grieken steeds hun beloftes breken. Ze proberen steeds opnieuw over de voorwaarden te onderhandelen’” “‘The expectations were that everything would be fine’ said the Rabobank economist, ‘but the problem is that the Greeks break their promises and then try to renegotiate their deal again and again’{translated}” as well as “We zijn wel gewend van de Europese politiek dat oplossingen pas gevonden worden als we bijna in de afgrond stappen” “We are used that European politics will find a solution as we are about to step into the abyss {translated}”.

This all directly reflects back to the days of the SNS-bank debacle ‘too big to fail‘. It seems that Tsipras is taking the ‘let’s take this over the abyss, so I can blame someone else‘ approach. Not the most subtle path of the blame game, but a blame game tactic none the less. When did we see any serious step to address reform from Greece? It seems to me that the ‘let’s be nice one more time to Greece‘ is counted upon, yet no clear and decisive act from the Greek elected officials is coming. So as the possible mark of bankrupt is looming no more than 2 weeks away, did the Greek population consider that if the government is out of money, how much money is actually available at a bank? When the run on the bank starts, how quickly are those coffers empty and where will the people get cash to pay for the average need like food, water and electricity?

That part seems not addressed in any way!

Actually it is (at http://www.afr.com/news/world/greek-coffers-running-on-empty-bring-accident-threat-closer-20150320-1m3nym), the Australian Financial Review is not the only Financial Review paper, so there will be more, but for the most, we see little about this little part: “While Mr Tsipras isn’t saying what’s left in the bank, he acknowledges Greece is facing ‘liquidity pressure’. The country’s cash shortfall is projected to hit 3.5 billion euros in March“. So even if that part might be ‘virtual’ to some extent, how much money is actually available to banks? That part might be seen when we consider “The Bank of Greece has plugged cash shortfalls by tapping the reserves of other public sector entities, including pension funds, hospitals, and universities“, as well as “The Bank of Greece and the European Central Bank won’t report official cash outflows for January until the end of the month. But sources in the Greek banking sector have told Greek newspapers that as much as 25 billion euros (US $28.4 billion) have left Greek banks since the end of December“, which comes from http://www.cnbc.com/id/102439432. So in two weeks, how will things get paid for?

That is a question Greeks (the population at large) should be asking, because when the money is gone, how will they address the bills with the cash of their savings whilst the banks had pushed them in possible other none profit making endeavours? At least, if things really collapse, we can always opt ‘at least it was due to a radical left vision’, in the past (read 70’s), the radical left visions gave way in Italy to Brigate Rosse and in Germany to the Rote Armee Fraktion. Their economy was never this desperate, so I wonder what the Greeks will come up with, I am however sure that it will be blamed on the Germans (again).

In my view, I wonder, was I correct two years ago? Could an independent Crete have created at least a partial economic growth? Would Crete have been better off in a state of independence? I do not proclaim to have the evidence, but I feel that my feeling back then was spot on. Now the rest of Greece could drag down this island against their will.

It seems very unfair, but then in the politics of Tsipras (and that of politicians at large), fairness never had anything to do with it.

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