Tag Archives: Cyprus

What is an economy?

Yesterday we saw all kinds of movement in the markets. The start of this was a violent sell off in almost direct answer to a message be Ben Bernanke (Source:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/jun/20/stock-markets-violent-sell-off ). It is a name that ‘shines’ to some extent when we watch the movie ‘Inside Job’. Mr Bernanke has been involved with the Federal Reserve for over a decade and has been the chairman of the Federal Reserve since 2006. Bernanke’s message that started a whole lot was to end QE (Quantitative Easing). Is it wrong? That is the debate that many want to start, yet we are currently in a phase where this approach to bond buying must stop, the question is not just why, it is also current to ask why not sooner, or why would this have such a strong effect on global markets to this effect.

Does this event show that the US is actually getting stronger, or is the rest of Europe’s so much weaker? My initial voice goes to the second part and I will explain why. If we consider the outstanding debts then we must agree that the US remains now and for some time to come on the utter brink of bankruptcy. The total US debts are well over 120 trillion (almost 17 trillion national debt), which is so much outside of the reach of repaying for a long time to come. There is the valid question why the US should support Europe to the extent it is doing at present. Europe is so not getting a handle on their spending and many nations are showing more and more delay to getting it all under control. This is not just fuelling UKIP and the reason that the UK population is more and more intent on leaving the European Community, parties within the US are validly asking, why are we paying for all this? As the US pays the IMF and they keep on pouring money into bottomless pits like Greece, more and more are asking questions as to why this should continue.

It gets even better. If we add the sums of payments by the different parties into getting the economy going (jump starting was the label they used) , we end up with an amount well over the sum of all outstanding mortgages in US and Europe. So if we consider that amount, then consider the option of paying of the mortgage of EVERY household making less than $70K. That amount would be less than the amounts paid to get the economy started. In effect, no mortgage means that people would be spending money everywhere and the US (and also the European Community) would have an economy that is up and running.

So as Ben Bernanke stops QE and as the US is buying back the outstanding bonds the markets will not suffer, but they will reflect the poor position everyone is in.

If we see the past of Rothschild we see: “Amschel Rothschild’s (1773–1855) definition of economy saw this as financing national projects such as wars, goods and infrastructure”. Economy would be defined as a national economy as a classification for the economic activities of the citizens of a state. So our view of economy (you and me in general) sees this in relation to the citizens. As such, the US economy is seen as extremely poor as one out of six lost their house; one in ten had no job. This has now improved to one in 12 (which is really not that good yet), yet the overall considering healthcare (or lack thereof) and other topics mean that the economy is not yet in a state of health. It is only barely starting to be on a road to recovery. The Federal Reserve is considering that dropping QE would enable a stronger wave of recovery. Is that wrong? When we read about the economy in many places, and how much better the economy is doing, we feel we are being lied to, yet, is that true?

that point of view only hangs on what the definition of economy is. In a global market where we look on how corporations are doing in their markets we see a definition devoid of citizens as they only consider the consumers. I think that their definition is wrong, yet it is not incorrect. Many of us seem to look with at the same picture with wrong (different) standards and values.

If the market drops (as it did yesterday) because these sellable items are no longer there, then this is another matter. If a shop loses one item and it drops to such an extent, then we see evidence that are (or have been) living for the most of the ROI of one successful item. Today’s message on the Guardian (source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/2013/jun/21/global-markets-stablise-crisis-euro) only gives strength to my views. It shows on how Greece needs another 3 Billion, how can this continue?

The article shows the following quotes that are important for the next part: “EU leaders in Luxembourg are holding a day (and probably night) of talks to create rules that force losses onto large savers when banks fail.

So like Cyprus, those who saved money for their retirement will see it dwindle? Because in Cyprus those over 100K Euro lost a bundle. After working up to 45 years, their retirement all based on joy of working hard is getting cut because no one has either the guts or the insight to actually deal with the banks and the governments behind these events?

Sweden’s Finance minister Anders Borg emphasised on the dangers of those moves. Also stated in the article by the Guardian was “A draft bill has suggests bank shareholders should suffer first, followed by bondholders and then savers. A new fund could also be set up to oversee new tighter rules.

Now, I get the shareholders suffering side of this. When you invest in shares, you invest in risk. Yet the one part that needs an overhaul, the banks and their board of directors are still not properly dealt with. So whatever draft will be created on dealing with banks and their path of recovery is still not laid out in full. However, with the promotion of bad bank separation only gives pressure on taxation and tax payers. Who wants to live in such an environment, where what I see as unacceptable levels of risk-taking remaining undealt with. To me it seems that it is more humane to legalise drunk driving as that will only kill of a few people, the fact that banks and risk-taking financial institutions can dump these levels of risk on a population group many times the size over is just absurd.

We see all these ideas and patch jobs, yet the instigators of the harm we witnessed since 2004 keep on getting a pass by ‘the deans of industry’ to walk, talk and deal wherever they want. Especially after Cyprus, where we now see the legal proposals to force losses somewhere, seem to be less vocal on jailing the board of directors of banks when these levels of loss become visible. They apparently did not break any laws. If being drunk in traffic is no defence in court, how can irresponsible short-sightedness in financial institutions be legal? This level of high stakes poker where losses are not punished and winnings go to the individual must stop. In that same regard where the European Community (EC) is adding nation after nation, and when these places start to overspend as banks and politicians that the EC stamp is a free for all for name and fame making is short term and the outstanding debts are all dumped on the tax payers in the end. Perhaps it is no longer about saving failed banks. Perhaps any failing bank should be nationalised. The members of the board are investigated for negligence, whilst their belongings are sold at auction and they are scrapped from the banking and financial industry where they may never work again on any level of authority.
Yes, I agree this is equally an overreaction.

Yet, currently nothing seems to be effectively done. Greece remains a slice of evidence in that regard. It is nice for the Greek population to blame others (especially Germany), yet these levels of non-control into the Greek debts come from Greece. It is their own previous government being so utterly irresponsible, not to mention some of the financial institutions who were residing there. From Bloomberg this quote came: “Let’s begin with the observation that irresponsible borrowers can’t exist without irresponsible lenders“. There is logic in that statement. Can we however also mention that Goldman Sachs had given the assistance to hide the levels of Deficit in Greece? So there were more elements in play. Perhaps, when the Greek banks do go into a toxic bank solution, they should consider adding their entire Greek mortgage portfolio and add that to the bad bank. If you truly want to start an economy, taking away their fear of homelessness will go a long way. Especially when the monthly mortgage could then be spend on items that truly jump start an economy.

When nations and conglomerates are talking about the economy, then you should ask them ‘what is YOUR definition of an economy’. It is the same issue as companies hiding behind revenue. Revenue sounds nice, but the reality is profit and contribution. It is what is left after the costs are removed. You will see that many places are not in a good position and they are not getting better any day soon.

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Privacy and (fake) fears

It has been all over the news. The US government has access to your email and your details. It was quite the show to read this all yesterday and the issues this morning was set in a nothing less than A-level theatre play. A play that would make Robert Ludlum envious I might add.

The issue is that the US Government (NSA in this case) is reading your e-mails. They have been doing that for some time. Basically, it was the Patriot act that opened the (back) doors for them to get access to all this information. As they were dealing with data on a lower level in those days, their task was simple. Find Terrorists! Find those who attack America and deal with them. So readers, here is your fake fear! This is one moment where I agree with President Obama 100%. You cannot have 100% security and 100% privacy. Anyone claiming different is lying to you.

The NSA is not interested in you soliciting erotic acts from a recipient on the other side of the e-mail track. They are not interested in the deals you make offering a quick buck! So those in fear (roughly 99.8932353%) you have nothing to fear but fear itself. The part you are not afraid of is the part that SHOULD scare you. You see all that data that you ‘surrender’ to Facebook, Google, MySpace, and Friendster and so on. All THAT data you gave can be crunched, marketed and sold to companies, corporations and all who would buy them. THAT is an interesting part. That is the fear people need to have when they looked at the dangers that Dutch Equens represent (as reported in the earlier blog: ‘You might soon be sold by the banks!‘).

It is not just that part, it is the possibility that data miners offer as they combine data files in one coherent file that could be a personal ‘danger’ to you.

The NSA issues are not that. They need these abilities to fight the existing and growing threat called ‘the lone wolf terrorist’. These people are guided by sources like ‘Inspire’ magazine, which is created by AQAP (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). It is however not that simple. The real lone wolves get their ‘guidance’ remotely from sources most do not know and all that under the eyes of the Intelligence Community. To have a grip on stopping these people, monitoring the internet is essential to keeping us the common people safe. If you think that reading mails was enough, then you are wrong. The further going plans by some to monitor the internet is going to be an essential part. Do not think that this is a fun exercise for those involved. It is pricey, it drains resources and it is never ending. As people move to the cloud the need to monitor upcoming dangers will only increase.

Most readers will have heard of the soldier killed in Woolwich UK. Home Secretary Theresa May was quoted when the mention came that this attack was not from a ‘Lone Wolf’ terrorist. I am not opposing this thought. Yet, it cannot be denied that magazines like Inspire might be central to these events. As such it is no wonder that GCHQ wants to peek over the shoulders of the NSA to see if dangers are hitting their small island (I meant the UK, for those who wonder).

There were additional issues that are growing on several grounds, which give weight to the need of monitoring and in all of these cases people like you and me are not an issue.

For most of you feeling fear of this, your fear is unwarranted. Your fear should be how Microsoft and Sony are very interested on squeezing your details out of you as they are preparing and implementing their Next Gen consoles. That will affect you a lot sooner than the security services ever will. (Blog: ‘Government ministers, be warned!‘)

It looks almost sanctimonious that people are so shouting at these government actions and after that spread their visions with pictures and reveal all they can (and sometimes with way too much info) using Shutterfly/Instagram and Facebook. When their identities are stolen they will whine that it is ALL the fault of the government on how their identity was not safe.

Seems almost laughable doesn’t it.

When we sit on the fence we do see that there is a responsibility to hold parties to account for what they do. In case of the NSA this is Judge Roger Vinson. So, yes, someone does take a look at what is done. When did you last hear a loud scream on what Facebook is doing with your details? How about never? Only when Facebook had certain plans involving Instagram did the inner demon of personal greed scream out stating that the pictures were not to be open for business. Again we see a show of double standards. Judge Roger Vinson, born in the state where the delicious Forest Reserve Bourbon is from (Kentucky). He is the Federal Judge for the state famous for Pina Colada and cool Mojito’s (Florida). He approved the data request that the NSA made. So, yes there is oversight on this. It is however not needed for foreign requests. Is that bad? We give it freely to Facebook, so why are they stopped from sharing that with the government. Are you having that drink yet?

The NSA, GCHQ, DSD, CSE and a few others need these data streams. They would like to prevent people who are eager to get other people blown up. For you and me to stand on ‘principle’ on one side and then we give away our identity to be marketed and spammed to commercial content is just way too weird.

The world is now visibly changing. It is in my mind a little frightful as we are soon to become part of something different. As the finance markets were not contained, and soon no longer can be contained ever, we see a move away from nations and nationalities. We are about to be reduced to a metadata tag. With an added weighting that is soon to be set to ‘useful’ or ‘waste’. This was not instigated by governments and not even by the intelligence community. It was instigated by corporations behind Social media; and as we openly surrendered our details we are now placed in boxes where we can be approached. When we have moved through all the boxes and we are no longer an asset in any box we will be given the ‘waste’ tag. Then what?

These are my words, but funnily enough I was not the first one to mention this. In the Netherlands there was a New-Age entrepreneur called Luc Sala. Even from the late 80’s he evangelized the dangers of the groups “have” and “have not” and how we were allowing ourselves to be placed in these boxes. I wonder if he ever realised that not only was he correct, but that it could even fade national borders? Consider what you heard over the last months, what we will see in the next 13 months. Prime Minister David Cameron was strong about keeping the UK identity safe, to protect it. He was not willing to step out of the EU for this. That step is now being sought after by UKIP and their leader Nigel Farage.

How are these related? This is a valid question that is forming in your mind. And I have been fighting with these thoughts and especially evidence around this. Without evidence all this is nothing more than a bad level of Conspiracy Theory. You see, all these messages we read in the last few days and the next week are in my mind a smokescreen to some level. We are all so shouting about privacy. Yet, who was up in arms when MySpace started to sell their data in 2010. (Source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/191716/myspace_selling_user_data.html).

Did you stop to think about your data on Facebook? Did you think ‘whatever’? So what other ‘evidence’ is there? In that case I point to several blogs I wrote, but more important you should look at more reputable sources like the Guardian and the Wall Street Times, where we faced stories in regards to the pay outs by all towards Greece, Cyprus and other nations to keep the economy ‘alive’. Whilst now we read how the IMF made errors. How a train line sucks up over 7 billion and is presently still not operational in the way it should be. This is a time and place where other nations are now giving aid as budgets are not met in various degrees by nearly all EU nations. So is it such a far stretch to see National borders fade as these issues are ‘resolved’ (read: ‘put on hold’) by group driven options. All this happens whilst we hear ‘voices’ that seem less and less aware of consequences or claim ignorance and error afterwards.

For this train of thought we need to see three parts

In the first part there is last year when this was quoted “The slight uptick is largely due to Europe, which is expected to return to very slow growth of 0.3 percent after the -0.2 percent contraction in 2012” (Source: http://www.conference-board.org/data/globaloutlook.cfm). Yet the guardian in two articles where the 2012 version stated in: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/07/eurozone-growth-next-year-ec the following “with the 17-nation Eurozone eking out expansion of just 0.1% in 2013”. However 6 months later we read in: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/jun/06/ecb-eurozone-recession-deepen, where it states “European Central Bank says the Eurozone economy will shrink by 0.6% in 2013 as it considers unconventional policies to kick-start growth”. Numbers change and get adjusted, but the game can only be one of profit by those who have the right numbers (read the better data source). This game is played and replayed, again and again. This has bearing on all the privacy issue in the form of the collected data these predictors require. If the power of voicing the future is based upon data then your privacy is a thorn in the eyes of commerce as they do react to data, but whose data and created how? So as companies are making less, as economic values go down, other paths to revenue must be found and this does have bearing on your privacy, as you are data. This means you are commercial currency, not government currency as such.

This is the other side of data. Many corporations decided to ‘store’ their backup data in some High-Tech solution off-site facility, not unlike the hosting solution Peer1. Peer1 is a Canadian corporation with hosting locations in for example San Antonio (when they acquired ServerBeach). That is corporate data and as such there is an issue in this place. There had been soft voices of concern in those early days on who gets to access these data servers. American linked companies implementing off-site storage options in America from all over their European locations. Was local management realising that they gave their customer base and (financial) details to US insight?

There is NO; I say again NO evidence that these data files were ever ‘violated’ for commercial gain. If we consider the dangers of greed and in the light of what we read earlier, can we be certain that this did not happen, or even whether this is not likely to happen in the near future?

It had been clear that parties like the NSA had access. There is however a side we do need to take proper heed of. If they have access, then who else has access? From corporate documents from these hosts, corporations would have likely read how impossible access was, and how they never give out access. If that part was shown to be ‘violated’, then what other dangers lurk that these companies did not expect? (In this concept violated does not mean a legal violation as the data storage company would have been adhering to their government rules, yet the fact that corporations might not know this is a question for many and as such legal questions should be asked).

So think again, as social media is in their right to sell the data they have in some shape and that it is the price you paid for all these ‘free’ abilities that these places give you. Most do not worry, but then worry about information the government has/looks in to.

For private individuals all this is simply a fake fear.

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The freedom to misdirect?

We see all kinds of information and misdirection, almost at any given day. If one good thing is mentioned, another bad thing is swallowed into silence. So when I saw the message on Sky News that “Latvia to join EU”, I had a look.

So Latvia is now to become the 18th Euro state. That part is however you take it. The average Brit will see this as a fearful motion for another few hundred thousand to seek out the London Limelight on a permanent basis. Others might have their own thoughts and reservations. Not all of them will be negative, as Latvia has a decent record in the shipping industry.

Three parts got my eye, and they are at least worrying, infuriating might be a slightly better word. The first quote was from the European Commission that ‘Latvia is ready to adopt the Euro in 2014‘. An interesting quote, especially as well over 60% of Latvia is fiercely against the Euro. Let us be fair, why adopt a sinking ship. Would you buy the Titanic if you found it parked against an iceberg? At worst it is a 3800 meter walk back to the boat (straight down).

It is the quote from the Latvian Prime Minister that is the second quote of concern: “Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis welcomed the news, saying in Riga that ‘joining the Euro will benefit Latvia’s economy by removing currency conversion costs and raising Latvia’s credit rating’.

Really? You want to adapt even more credit option whilst you are already in a position to drown in current debts? How clueless does that seem? It will take five years to get past the weakness gained by Cyprus, and at least 15 years to get a grip on the financial vise that Greece is giving the rest of the EU. Is this a ploy to remove the option for the UK to remove itself from the EU? If that is so, then the current administration is not just heading towards failure at the next election, at that point we look at a total overwhelming victory by UKIP next election. I have nothing against UKIP, but I do not think that to be a particularly good idea. Mostly, as a large part of UKIP would be seated at senior position whilst having little more than junior levels of experience. (I just call them how I personally see them). They would be elected in charge, whilst becoming a real danger to create an unresolvable mess for two administrations to come (again a personal view of mine). I will here and now state quite clearly that this is an assumption on MY side. I will also happily add information proving me wrong when and if the time comes.

Back to Latvia!

The second quote is nothing compared to the third one. “We think Euro membership will increase investment activity. We need only to look at the Estonian example where investment in the non-financial sector doubled.” (Source: http://www.skynews.com.au/world/article.aspx?id=877664 ).

This I see as a massive misdirection. The only reason that this looks this way is because Skype was an Estonian invention (a brilliant one). It comes from the people who initially came up with Kazaa. So yes, even though their mention might be correct, the fact that one product is the major reason behind the non-financial investment is thrown into the deep left field of unmentioned factors. Of course Tallinn is also famous for the Beer ferries to Stockholm. It is indeed a pretty city to see, uncannily picturesque and of course it has some visibility for the hourly lady rental services (some are extremely good looking and it is perfectly legal in Estonia). So which of these options give that reason for investments? Also interesting is that this newscast from Sky News did not come with the identity of a writer. You see, here is where we take a look at a few things. Especially when we consider the mention by Leveson and in regards to Ethics. I think that this article is missing a lot of facts and some are too far out of context. However, this is again my personal view on the matter at hand.

Danger 1.
The EU economy is as fragile as it gets. I will not debate here whether it is a good idea to add Latvia to the list. It is important to consider the Latvian addition to the Euro. Especially, when we read statements from their PM is strong at mentioning of the option of upping their credit rating. That part will hit back to the Euro sooner rather than later and as such the other Euro nations as well. It only makes a stronger case for the UK to get out of the EU (I am not convinced it is the right option at present), and get out fast. Even if they do not, additional reasoning for better and more complete regulations is required for all kinds of banks and financial institutions. That would be needed BEFORE nations get added to the Euro as it allows for a gap for re-managing all kinds of financial packages, that would require those government to need additional IMF support. We all know where that leads the rest.

Danger 2.
Looking at Estonia? Why, because these nations are neighbours? Tallinn has a direct ferry connection with Helsinki and a ferry connection with Stockholm (amongst others). Non-financial investments are nice, but how many and who? Skype (invented in Estonia) got a strong influx by Microsoft and twice the amount of what? Another nation getting a few taxable Billions for Skype does not put Latvia in the clear (also much of that amount went to a small group of private developers) as Microsoft bought it. There is every chance that Skype will be phased out of Estonia, then what? This does not reflect badly on Estonia as it has several economic options. Latvia does not have those in equal measure. It has options, but which ones exactly? It seems that the initial article does not bear that out clearly at all.

Another quote to mention is “Latvia is a small, open economy” the Latvian Prime Minister said. Anyone remember Iceland 2004? Similar words were spoken then. That did not pan out to well for that island, as well as many of their inhabitants (and a massive amount of places after that). This is exactly why those banking reforms I pleaded for in many situations are needed and needed fast. There is NO indications that this is about to happen here, but it is proven that greed is eternal; people in power have been willing to sell away what they can and remain unaccountable after that. It is clear that the open market industry cannot be trusted the way it is. It is even proven that too many in charge are passing the buck and letting those who are innocent pay for the hardships created by the greedy (Greece and Cyprus are clear evidence of that).

These elements give additional strengths to the UKIP mission to get out of the EU, which also gives inevitable strength to the German group under Bernd Lucke, who will get the power for the last push out of the Euro. With these two elements the UK and Germany, the EU will have more than two little problems floating their way. Should this come to pass then the German chancellor Merkel will end up getting a new job and as things go, there might be a reasonable ‘danger’ for an Early UK election. At that point it will be the EU segregation of coin or nation through possible future Chancellor Lucke of Germany and Prime Minister Farage of UK that will change the EU and possibly even sink it completely. The simple reasoning is that the Euro cannot survive without both. It might survive the departure of one, but no way will it survive both leaving their support to the coin.

So, is this just speaking doom?

I will always agree that these are thoughts (non-positive ones) from me and my way of thinking. Experts will speak out on how wrong I am. Those experts also predicted that the economy was already on the rise in 2013. This has been proven wrong in most EU nations. Where their predictions were right, they were between ½% and 1½% too optimistic. For the EU it is not just about the economy, it is about getting a handle on the current massive debts. Debts so massive that it is likely to take in some cases up to three generations to get back on the horse. To add nations to a coin is one thing, but when we read about raised credit ratings it comes down to pushing many further down a debt driven society. That in a society where on average in the EU nation’s 1 out of 8 do not have a job, in some cases it is 1 out of 4. That is no place to be in a debt driven society. That is not a social structure, that is in my humble opinion seen as the population gnawing on the remaining scraps called ‘their nation’ before those nations become some industrialised economic ownership, where you either work at THEIR leisure, or you perish.

It would be fair of you the reader to dismiss this thought. Before you do, consider that Greece had been holding a fire sale of what is still in their name (for now). This act is to reduce a debt of millions, out of a total debt which surpasses several hundreds of billion. No more than a drop of water on a hot plate. That happened last year (Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/19/debt-ridden-greece-firesale)

So what happens when a nation has nothing left? Is my reasoning that outlandish? Those sales might get them somewhere near 2 billion, whilst 15 billion is due in 2015. Even if ALL savings from the entire Greek population is nationalised (confiscated). It might just be enough to get the 15 billion. So what to do about the other 300 billion not paid? I am not going after Greece; this is not about the Greek debt. This is about OTHER new members not adding to this, and for that certain precautions are needed. Certain regulations for banks and financial institutions need to be in place. Even if the IMF now admits that the damage through Austerity was ‘miscalculated’. (Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/jun/05/imf-underestimated-damage-austerity-would-do-to-greece) In all honesty, I saw that one coming a mile away. It has been known at least since the early 1600’s that a plucked chicken has little feathers left. (And boy did that chook get itself plucked!)

As messages of rephrasing ‘the message‘, it has been clear that there is a real danger that the Euro is way too close to a non-successful triple bypass.

If a new member dumps their domino on the EU and Greece falls, which will topple Cyprus and then the effect will topple France, Italy, which in turn will topple the Dutch and remaining domino stones (read weak economic countries). What will be left? I will keep one eye on the Guardian the next few weeks as people like Larry Elliott and Phillip Inman, who are excellent financial correspondents, add their views to the internet.

If there is any chance of surviving, then it is only possible if credit limits are frozen and debts are lowered. So far no one is on top of that approach and the EU will change as team Lucke/Ferage might remove the little options the EU had left. Are they wrong? I am not sure, but I do not blame these two for getting their nations out of a collision whilst the others keep on failing to successfully manage their budgets.

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Asleep at the wheel of the banking industry?

Cyprus is fast spinning out of control. The banks are still closed; the people are near civil revolt. All this was not just implied by me; it seemed to me that these acts were clear as day. So are people asleep at the wheel of the Eurozone finance?

The problem is that I am not that overly intelligent. In addition, I never had a degree in economy. So what on earth are the parties involved up to?

Last night on the 21st another Cyprus meeting was set in motion. And here, now the new game comes into play. Yes, they might have an alternative! They have offered a solution opting with two banks, a good and a bad bank. (Source: NOS News) Is this it? Is this the wave that we will see? It seems that Goldman Sachs has been very active. It was Goldman Sachs who initially mentioned such a solution in a few cases. This included the SNS bank, however the solution was rejected there and it caused the nationalisation of the Dutch SNS bank. I spoke about this in an earlier blog, and likely you might have read it in a league of other sources discussing this.

As mentioned, I did not study economics, yet I am overwhelmingly against this solution. There is no denying that the Goldman Sachs boys (and girls) are loads more qualified than me in this field and this has to be solved by clever people. All this I agree with. Yet, sweeping loads of debt under a carpet so that those who created the debt to forget about it is not the solution. Getting rid of it by creating bad bank swaps is not a solution and to accumulate all these bad banks in an effort to offset the overvalued total global sum as set in LIBOR is not a solution either (even though that would have been VERY clever indeed).

The banks never ending ability to play quick and loose with bank funds at the expense of all their customers so that they can enjoy a quick raise in commission is clear evidence that after 4 years, doing nothing is just no longer an option. It is extremely frustrating to listen to politicians and journalists games for alleged infringement of their freedom to speech and the need for better budgets. The one party that needs some intense new levels of legislation is left alone to play the games they play.

Yesterday’s news on NOS, where we saw the head of the Eurozone finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem getting flame baked by the German Peter Simon who is a member of the German Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. He went the route of dust, stating that he was taking responsibility for certain joint decisions. So is this all incompetence? If we consider that he met with Christine Lagarde earlier this week, it gives clear image that more is going on, because pardon my French, but she is one clever cookie. Should we therefore consider that they are considering another path?

I reckon that the entire SNS issue as it exploded earlier this year did not go the way certain groups wanted. Even then there were clear calls for the bad bank solution. It was stopped and the Dutch government stepped in by nationalising it all. It is not impossible that the bad bank solution was the only option from the beginning, however they not in a public position to offer it as a first option. The people would have to be a little more against the wall there (not the Cypriots, but the general population in the Eurozone). This is more than just a call. I think there are several reasons playing the field in regards to the bad bank issues.

Should you consider my thoughts to be wrong (which might be very valid), then consider the US eternal resistance against Russian activity in Western Europe. Now, there is utter silence when Russia is willing to come up with the billions saving the Cypriots and getting access to the Mediterranean Gas fields? There is no way that they would allow this, which means that either another tactic is played here, or the US is almost officially utterly bankrupt. (Not entirely unrealistic either).

It seems that this is turning into a Machiavellian play. A play where the banks hold the dagger that they are ready to stab straight into the backs of the people they should be protecting. Their own citizens! This is where the shoes are getting too tight to dance. The banks have not been a caring factor for their local population for a long time. It is all for greed, commissions and it all tastes sweeter on the international market. This is also a massive reason why it is harder and harder to get a mortgage. In the end the return on those investments does not yield the returns the banks are hungry for. This was clearly mentioned by several sources. They have been bending over backwards to not qualify customers for a mortgage. (Source: Trouw, a Dutch newspaper). Banks want to make money, lots of it. Mortgages just don’t slice the bread for a banker any more, leaving most of us all out in the cold.

So why am I against the bad bank? In itself, the bad bank could be a solution if people in charge would wake up and ACTUALLY get some true banking reforms in play. Stopping this group for needless risks should be punished severely. Like the press they claim to self-regulate, yet, like the press it is nothing less than a joke.

This was reported by CBS on May 14, 2012: “JPMorgan Chase’s admission last week that it lost more than $2 billion in one set of trades should be used as a wakeup call to end the practice of banks regulating themselves, Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren said on Monday.

This is only one of MANY of these reports in a period between 2008 and now. 2009 with the reports by Lord Turner, and even now, or even in six months’ time when more fines hit the LIBOR banks. Self-regulation does not work. Show me a person with greed and I show you a person who does not care about the rules and often does not worry about the consequences either. Banks are filled to the brink and drowned in resources motivated by greed. It is the same reason why the press cannot regulate their ranks. Their need for greed (size of publication) and their ego trip to get the news first is why phone hacking started in the first place.

Yet, a royal charter will not work for banks. They will walk away too often without any severe consequences (because most dealings are international). A clear need to legislate beyond draconian is the only solution for banks, which must happen on a vast international scale. Also, my thought is that any banks on the international trading floor should have at least have 20% vested in local mortgages. The reason is that it will give most banks a better level of stability, it will serve people actually having a chance to work on a future and in the last it will give many a peace of mind.

All this is needed BEFORE we start playing with the bad bank solution. If we can tie these banks down with draconian measures making these transgressors homeless, income-less and future-less is the only way to ensure that not only will the current banks behave, it will give a realistic chance of the debt for bad banks to be resolved and paid.

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Banking the blame game

Yes, it took less than 72 hours, but Cyprus has broken more than just a little all over Europe. There was always the issue is the situation that the numbers did not add up. Looking at the news as it hits us from Sky News, NOS, Wall Street, Reuters, CNN and a few other sources, we get the distinct impression that politicians have heard of the concept of a spread sheet. There is however a decent chance they have never seen one. Consider that these politicians were involved with the Cyprus deal, we should wonder in how much problems Europe currently is.

First is the issue on the uniqueness of the plan in the first place. Those who saved all their lives, high and low savers, all have to chip in to prevent Cyprus from going bust. So, in this situation the people will be taxed twice. Once on the average of their income their savings will be cut up to an extra 9.9%.

So, how did this get this weird? Well, reporters are giving us all kinds of reasoning; many of them make perfect sense. A good one was the issue that the bail out of Greece had to be paid by banks, and this is where Cyprus got into trouble. I am not judging whether it is ‘true’ or not, but there are two sides. I personally belief that this is NOT the full story and more has happened! The interesting part is that the side as mentioned is not given the visibility it should have. Yes, there is an issue, yes, a bail-out is needed. We can also see those reporters around an ATM with queues. Yet, this issue is naught compared to the question how the $12B is needed, and even more, as they scared people to lose faith in the banks and all are withdrawing of billions of Russian Cash, all really willing to take a hike to a safer banking place. Is no one wondering whether certain ‘made’ miscalculations were really this ‘unexpected’? This is what was stated by Bloomberg on the 16th: “‘Simply to leave Cyprus alone and see what happens would be, in my view, irresponsible‘, Merkel told reporters in the Belgian capital after a two-day European Union summit. In her wake, the finance officials arrived, along with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and IMF chief Christine Lagarde, for the Cyprus talks.”

The other side is that, should this all be true, then the issue becomes that the bail-out of Greece is not just half baked. The solution the financial experts claim to be a solution, was not only not a solution, it is turning out to be a solution that is now dragging down other nations and the Eurozone as well. As markets opened, both Spain and Italy are feeling that like a painful stab in the back. Consider what was stated on Cyprus. They need $12B, they Cyprus is only 0.2% of the Eurozone economy. Whether they were given a bail out, can someone please explain how a market this small be such a financial tsunami creator?

Take the following facts into consideration

1. If the bailout of Greece has this effect on connected banks, what are the EEC and the IMF not telling us?
2. How can an economy this small be allowed to hold such a chunk of so much debt? Remember that the issues continued AFTER the bail outs. We can seriously ask questions on how the acts by the Eurozone ministers are cut down like this. Also interesting that a lot of this was never loudly questioned by members of the press either (if I am incorrect, please refer me to the evidence I missed and I will happily correct this).

3. The markets are now realising that the Eurozone issues are far from over. Bad management seems to be a clear factor. Perhaps that this scenario and the effects were always envisioned by certain players of the big money game! If so, what are they trying to do? Push savings from banks from place A to place B? Would they intentionally want to weaken banks, especially in Spain and Italy?

We could in my mind come to the thought that either the banks and the bailed out governments are in worse shape than ever reported and the IMF and its partners in managing the banking issues are deciding on issues behind closed doors, therefor missing issues that should have been dealt with, or it is not impossible that the lack of bank regulations on an international level are reason that there is no progress at present, and none is to be expected in the near future. More important, imply that part of this is either orchestrated, of that those in charge are a lot less competent then envisioned. There is one remote third option. I admit that this thought is far out there. What if money is ACTUALLY running out? Consider all these swaps, credit vouchers and derivatives. A derivative is a mathematical future. It is not real. If LIBOR represents, UK and US combined, a value of over $1000T (yes, trillions). Consider all the debt out there; no one can pay for it. What is really left? Traders, still dealing in make belief? Concepts and nothing seems real. Food is real, Land is real, and revenue COULD be real. All those governments all claiming to have so much, yet the US is minus 16T, UK is minus 1.5T, except for Germany, nearly ALL are deep in the negative. Now consider why Cyprus gets such a unique treatment. Is it about the $20 billion the Russians have stashed there? If so, then that would be a weird act, to endanger Euro markets to such a level. Those factors might give a little value to the third option I mentioned. I admit, it is a very thin line of thought.

People all over Cyprus are now considering the fact that their banks are all closed until Thursday. Cyprus seems to be hiding a larger secret. Part of this was reported. The issues on money laundering through Cyprus had been reported before, and last by CNN. This is hardly a secret. I know my lack of knowledge and my naive thought of replacing the ENTIRE banking management groups in ALL the Cyprus banks could have actually increased reliability. In addition, it would have given a strong message out to the banks too. None of this was done, no, the saving of people were initially cut, causing market unease. I feel there are enough thoughts proving more is going on than just a bail out.

Legally? The UK and Germany should step in setting up banking laws immediately (one common law and one civil law nation). Not the penny washing kind, but the kind that has sharp teeth. Real reforms start with laws and regulations. The Wall Street Journal reported by Lukas I Alpert reported this statement 4 hours ago: “Cyprus has always said it abides by international banking laws. Russia’s departing central bank chairman, Sergey Ignatiev, recently acknowledged that Russia saw illegal outflows of $49 billion in 2012

Perhaps those international banking laws are a lot shakier then banks and politicians are willing to admit to.

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Savings from a bailed-out nation?

We all know, hear and get frustrated with bail-outs. So why is Cyprus different?

The bail-out will not just happen in one direction. It is not that the Euro zone and the IMF get out the wallet and give this small Island a $10B voucher. The other side here is that people on Cyprus will be taxed up to 9.9% on their savings. If your savings are under 100,000 Euro then you will only lose 6.7%. This is a new situation. It only effects those with money on a Cypriot bank.

So what is this Cyprus? For those not growing up in Europe, you are less likely to know about it. Cyprus is part Greek, part Turkish and all independent. There is more, the Island has only 1 million citizens, so we are looking at a $10,000 per person support fund.

The natural question following is how this place be THAT incompetent? More important, how can a bail-out be handed to this place without DEMANDING the replacement of that entire government? From my point of view, it is either too corrupt or too stupid to continue. Should we not take a more assertive stance before handing out cash you can pretty much kiss goodbye?

In addition, in my view all banks connected to this situation are to directly report to a Euro zone auditor. The rights of those banks, their managers and its board of directors are to be nullified!

It seems that we are way to ‘forgiving’. It is time to show banks that those who play to this effect get their rights, their bonuses and ego removed.

My method of reasoning is simple. President Nicos Anastasiades stated to Reuters as published on 16th of March “we would either chose the catastrophic scenario of disorderly bankruptcy or the scenario of a painful but controlled management of the crisis” he was referring to Cyprus Popular Bank, the recipient of the ELA facility for months, and Bank of Cyprus, the island’s largest bank. It is time to put all cards on the table, it is time that all its citizens, as well as all others to know the unimaginable bungling by those who claim and should know better. Their rights to trading removed at present and it should only be allowed by a controller of the most conservative and cautious kind. It seems to me that most banks and traders seem to have reverted to desperate Las Vegas gamblers who have one last chance and they gamble it all. Banks should not be allowed to do this. For those thinking these words are empty and hollow. Consider the SNS bank, the Dutch bank that was considered ‘too big to fail’. It is now nationalised. It seems to me that handing out money to a group of people ready to gamble it away at a moment’s notice should not be allowed in these positions.

It is however not fair to blame just the banks on this. All this seems to be directly linked to Government bonds as well. One set at $1.5 billion being due on June 30th. So again, we see some kind of borrowing strategy. Politicians who are spending others people’s money and then some more. Living in luxury and using up cash that place NEVER had in the first place. These kinds of bonds are actually usually very much desired because they are considered to be risk free.

Here is my second thought. ANY nation trading in these bonds, while levied above a certain level are no longer to be considered risk-free. I know that this is what those standard & poor ratings are all about, however they had downgraded the status of Cyprus as follows: “We have assigned a recovery rating of ‘4’, indicating an expected recovery rate of 30% to 50% in the event of a default, however unlikely.” (Source: S&P website)

They valued it unlikely? Well, that might be the case, but others have to foot the bill at present.

I suggest that ALL ratings of bailed-out nations are set to CCC (Yes, I can see the panic now!) until the bail-outs are paid back. Italy will not likely enjoy that either! (Mi scusi Presidente!)

Some will come with the reasoning that this is bad because it does not allow for restoration. Is that true? Look at Greece and Italy. Paying up is not on their mind. They seem to be pussyfooting around, all caught between bankruptcy and civil war. Italy might not be on that train yet, but one promise from politico Berlusconi and suddenly he is back in the political race. Yes, that is what Italy needs, more irresponsible spending at present. It is utterly unacceptable that these places play nice weather, with currently no way of paying back. Greece is likely the best example. They current;y seem to have no way to EVER pay it all back. Its people are rioting blaming all but their own governments and banks. For them, consider the amounts your governments spend while they never had the money to begin with. All those VERY willing to borrow to them should be as per now be visibly named too.

These people are all relying on anonymity. Take that away and they lose the option to walk in the streets thinking that life is great. In the end it comes back to accountability. The only fun part for some in the case of Cyprus is that it is filled with Russian mobsters who are likely to lost 9.9%. They really do not like it when their money is messed with. So, should the government and banks suddenly leave THOSE accounts alone, those involved should name and shamed. See what the local population will do then!

However, I am digressing from the issue at hand. Cyprus and the bonds are only part of the topics. It is becoming clear that the discussion should focus towards the S&P ratings.

Quoting Wiki it starts with “Standard & Poor’s (S&P) is an American financial services company. It is a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies that publishes financial research and analysis on stocks and bonds.

Wiki is not really an academic standard, however to quickly find a fact it is just as useful as anything else.

The actual issue is the word ‘analyses’ in the entire sentence. In addition I would like to quote a small part that was published by James Rowe on the IMF site on April 20th 2010. I know it is a little old, but there it does state: “IMF says is the newest threat to the financial system: growing sovereign risk.” This has been known for a while, and yes, not only WAS it a risk. I am stating that it STILL is. The S&P rating shows that very part. I am making the additional observation that the analyses might be flawed on a few levels (assumption on my side) as we look at the Cyprus issue. That view is only strengthened as we look at the rating that S&P still seems to hold as per December 12th 2012. “Ratings On Greece Raised To ‘B-/B’ From Selective Default On Completion Of Debt Buyback; Outlook Stable” (Source: S&P).

This is part of the problem! Consider the headline from Feb 20th 2013 “Greek Workers Walk Out in Fresh Austerity Protest” (Source: NY Times). These people seem to not get it, or at least not accept what is needed. They start riots and they start strikes. I am not blaming them. They got handed a raw deal. Unlike some optimistic analysts, who are claiming to see light at the end of the tunnel. There is serious threat that Greece could still collapse if these events are not stemmed. As such, the S&P rating of Greece (and other bailed out nations too) should for a long time stay in the C-range. Reasoning is that bail-outs are limited and there is NO guarantee that it will continue if debt control in Greece is not successfully done. I think that it is irresponsible to take bail-out money in consideration to up the borrow margins. I get it, as a factor, the bail-out is valid, but the fact that it allows Greece a ‘better’ credibility does not seem valid. Even if we consider ‘renewing’ current bonds, Greece (and others) must be used as an example to make it clear that the current path is running out of space fast. Especially as several other governments keep on overspending, with too small a chance to keep their budgets under control. I am against these levels of overspending and enabling by others whilst we all know that there is no end in sight. And it is not just Greece. These visible steps will show clearly to the other nations like Italy and Spain (to name but a few) that the good times are gone, perhaps forever.

It is time for financial institutions and governments to adjust their thinking and approach.

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