Tag Archives: DARPA

Two streams, one view

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Start making sense

I have been tossing and turning for most of the night. Something has been bothering me all day, and as it seems most of the night. You see, the Dutch NOS reported on Saturday 9th of March an interesting footnote in their newscast. They suddenly had this short part on the news on how this is possible. (Source: NOS http://nos.nl/artikel/482586-record-op-record-voor-dow-jones.html)

This is interesting, as I asked pretty much the same questions in an earlier blog called “It hurts every time, but we love it”, which I published on Feb 6th, so slightly more than a month earlier. The Dow index is currently at 14,397 (which was a 2007 record). The issue is that we had the crash of 2008; one in six in the US lost their house. So, the economy is not in a good place. There was also the mention in their radio cast (English and Dutch). They seemed to focus on two parts. First was the fact that Economic recovery is gotten through revenue recovery without staffing (so 5 do the work of 10, and they are happy to have a job). Second is that the Dow is based on only 30 companies. Yet, when we look at the number I wonder what game is being played as I look at a 2 year index graph. This graph is Stellar. My issue is twofold. One I am NOT an economist, but a data miner. Second is that the given ‘excuse’ feels wrong. Especially given that the news had this production line backdrop of cars, and none of the 30 seems to be in the car industry. So why not present this with a pharmaceutical backdrop?

So let us take a look at some of these Dow Jones Index companies.

1. Bank of America. A bank, and after 2008, we could wonder in what state it is in. This quote comes from Forbes and was written by Halah Touryalai, one of the Forbes Writers “No bank knows that better than Bank of America which has agreed to pay a jaw-dropping $42 billion, settling credit and mortgage-related legal battles in just the last three years“.

OK, if we take that into consideration, then seems a little weird that their stock graph has the same shape as that of the DOW. (As one of the 30, it would make sense that the graphs are shaped similar, however, such confidence after such a legal fee settlement bill?)

2. JP Morgan Chase. Another Bank! It had two more dips then BofA, yet overall it is in an upwards movement as well. It was also mentioned in the same Forbes article as before on settlement fees, but those fees were a lot lower. The Bank of America had to chew on 66% of the total settlement fees by itself, so for the other 5 big banks, the damage was relatively small in that regard. However, In April and May 2012 they had lost more than six billion dollars on derivative trades that had gone bad. There was a report of 9 billion in total, which also involved Bruno Iksil for part of the mentioned amount, he is also known as ‘the London Whale’. The numbers and the names vary when we look at UK and US papers, but overall they pretty much tell the same story. It is interesting that JP seemed to bounce back within 6 months to stock values higher than before the June 4th 2012 dip. Last on my list is Boeing. It is a giant, but we have all heard of the 787 issues and it’s now named ‘Nightmare liner’. The issue is all about batteries, yet the news from January as reported by Reuters : The new production forecast raised some eyebrows. Russell Solomon at Moody’s Investors Service was forecasting 100 787 deliveries and said Boeing’s forecast of more than 60 was “significantly weaker than we had expected.” Interesting that what analysts expect and what the vibe says Boeing will be delivering is off by almost 40%. Suddenly NOT meeting expectations has almost no impact? 40% less on a firm the size of Boeing should have a very visible effect (imho).

Now the DJI is about 27 other companies and there are only two banks in it. It is also a fact that these banks work with securities and values in the hundreds of billions, so are my concerns just a storm in a teacup?

It is a valid question, and I also ask myself this question. Let us take a look at the two following thoughts.

1. US debt. It is set at 16.6 TRILLION dollars. The total US debt is a lot higher. That one is $59.1 TRILLION.
Can anyone even imagine those numbers? Now consider that someone has that kind of money. To be honest is that really true? Is there a group of nations with that level of wealth? the only nation capable of owning that much is one with an abundance of oil, so basically the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the only one that wealthy. Either the US is labelled UAE-west, or my thoughts are not that correct in this instance. So perhaps I am wrong (I will be the first one to admit that).
We know that most value trades are now done digital. It is the only way for the market to move such amounts of wealth. However, who checks this?

I have seen my share of digital forms of miscommunication by loads of people in several fields. Often they seem connected to the corporate headquarters of Bloated, Botched, Bungled and Baboon. An always newly formed enterprise, coming to a local public stock market near you. Consider that this is done on the electronic super highway. Now consider that Hackers come at a dozen a dime and greed is eternal, these last two are given facts. Also realise that ANY system can be gotten at. DARPA and the NSA proved that more than once.

The valid question loudly remains: “Who truly checks the validity of trade and the numbers they are traded at?”

2. LIBOR scandal. I wrote about it, the news has talked about it in abundance. Last week in an article by Mark Scott in the NY Times on March 5th the following was stated “The review published by the Financial Services Authority, the country’s regulator, said there had not been a major failure of oversight by local authorities, but it added that officials had become too focused on containing the financial crisis to analyse information connected with the potential rate-rigging

This is a fair enough statement (it did seem shallow in relation to the handed fines), and them be hefty fines, so why are these two events related? Well, in my mind there are two parts of the LIBOR that were in play. From my point of view there are two variables that might be played with. The first one we know. It is the interest rate; the second one is the bigger issue. You see, those percentages are linked to a total sum of $350 trillion in UK registered derivatives. That is 20 times the US national debt. If people play with one, there is every reason to suspect that they might have played with the other. So again, who controls those totals that are being traded in? If derivatives include hedge funds, swaps and forward rate agreements then we should be worried. Consider as well that the US Bank for International Settlements holds almost twice the value the UK seems to be registering.

So, we are now confronted with just in excess of 1000 TRILLION dollars. How can this even be monitored? Now let us add one more part. The US LIBOR rate is set by 18 banks. The two banks in the DJI are members. Are we all on the same page now? The third bank (Citi) is to be given a fine in regards to percentage ‘tweaking’. According to Reuters, later this year, a new set of settlements will be ‘delivered’. In their publication of March 8th by Kirstin Ridley and Philipp Halstrick it states that: “Deutsche, Citi and JPM are the banks named in regulatory circles as those candidates near the next settlements,” said the second source. So now we have both a DJI member and libor member in this illustrious ‘donation’ scheme. What else is at play?

What if the total value is not correct? What if they did not just play with the percentages, but the total package of the trade able amount? Let’s just take a fictive 5%. Mainly because I feel not so comfortable with the value they say they have and in part because I cannot even comprehend that much, as we get above the $200 trillion range. So, if 5% is taken off the total amount of over $1000 Trillion, would mean that we might all be devaluated by a total of 50 trillion dollars. That comes down to $8400 for every citizen on the planet. Did we sign up for that invoice?

It might be just be me (and I can happily live with that notion), but can bankers and financial corporations be allowed to continue on this track? We have seen clear evidence that those places cannot be trusted with even a small speckle of such amounts. Even though they NEVER broke any laws initially, LIBOR shows that some are very willing to do that. With the US on the edge of bankruptcy (or on the wrong side of a fiscal abyss), with the financial industry in such disarray, what can be done?

So when this all falls over (not if it falls over), what will we be left with?

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