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Up for grabs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Two deadly sins

This is the second attempt to this story. I was still on the Sony horse when writing the first attempt. Yes, it will hurt us and it will have long standing consequences for many to come, but I realised that it was not really the story (even though the press remaining silent on it is).

Of the seven deadly sins (Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Envy, Wrath, Pride and Sloth) I only truly hate Greed! It is also represented in Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century epic poem ‘the Divine Comedy’, which actually introduces something I would like to call the 8th deadly sin, which is depicted in his 9th level of hell. It is Treason! These two sins are the most debilitating sins to consider. These sins are not against one, or against one’s self. These two sins are acts by one against many and we see the consequences every day. These are not just acts by people against people. They are also seen as acts by governments against people or even against their own nation. We must arms against these two, we must do so fast, because the liberties we lose as we allow this to go on will hurt billions and many care for one thing, they care for number one, they care for themselves!

Do not take the last sentence as an assault, I am not talking about selfishness perse, but we are in a life cycle where we are almost forced to survive. Greed and Treason pushed us there. The Dutch NOS showed us several parts in one newscast. It was the news of the 26th of November 2013. The first piece came from the news on the scale gas winning in the Netherlands. I had written about part of it in July 2013. The blog was called ‘The Setting of strategies‘ where we see that the Dutch are trying to get billions in gas using a technique called ‘fracking’. There were major concerns, but should you watch the issues, you will see that parties involved were trivialising it all to some extent. Now questions are called for a large investigation. The most interesting part is the quote they stated in the news [translated] “the NAM will not drill for any less gas as this is not a mandate handed by the stockholders“. In addition reported e-mails by the Dutch Gas drilling firm (NAM), which from their side, remarks and ‘interpretations’ seem to be taking a negative term. The mail showed that they knew that earthquakes in excess of 3.9 (on the Richter scale) were to be expected. This means that not only is this, the possible start of a class action in damages against the NAM, the NAM could be seen as a major contributor into damaging a unique Dutch landscape. Not just the land, but also the cultural heritage that the Dutch area of Groningen has. Many buildings, most of them predating WW2 are structurally damaged. It is an area that had been culturally unique for over two centuries, even by Dutch standards. Are you fracking kidding me? Stockholders are allowed to ruin the state of Groningen? So the government oversight knew this going back to 2012? So what were these investigations in 2013? Party favours? This is greed gone wild as I see it. The most important part is that the UK and the conservatives are facing similar issues at present. The conservatives are very willing to go this route. It was reported in the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/nov/03/uk-dash-gas). The question becomes whether George Osborne has been properly instructed involving the risks he would place Wales in? If he is briefed by stockholders, the UK should take another look at these proceedings. I understand that heating is hard and very expensive, but can people continue when they are faced with long term, perhaps even unrepairable damage to England itself? Can that be acceptable? I am not a geologist, so there are elements I have no knowledge of, yet it might be realistic that many Walesians did not sign up for Shale Gas experiments when it could cost them both Cardiff and Swansea, both containing the largest population in Wales. Is Britain ready to pay for 350,000 damaged homes? I agree, that is an exaggeration, yet the true damage will not be known for some time. Perhaps there will be ZERO damage. I am fine with that, but the Dutch evidence shows that greed trumped safety and health easily. Can the UK afford such a mistake?

The second link to greed, are the changes that Finance Minister Dijsselbloem is trying to push within the Netherlands. He is aiming for commissions not exceeding 20% of a banker’s income. I think that this is a good idea. I also believe that he is on the right track. Greed is debilitating to say the least. The Dutch Union of Bankers stated that this law is not needed; there are enough rules in place. The interview with Chris Buijink, who is the chairman of that union, is not in agreement. He is mentioning that with specialist jobs, temperate commissions are to be expected. You see! We all agree, so make it no more than 20%, which is temperate enough (in my humble opinion). I, personally think that a group of Dutch banks, after the SNS Reaal and other banking issues, including the RABO LIBOR fixing issue, need to expect much stronger measures. Greed must be stopped!

This is not what he called ‘a black page’ (as Chris Buijink stated), the banking issues from 2008 onwards show that there is a structural issue with the banking industry. The fact that the Yanks are too cowardly to act (see the non-passed tax evasion act and the Dodd-Frank act for my reasoning in this), does not mean we should sit still. That part gains even more weight as we read more and more about the ADDITIONAL issues the RBS is now facing (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/nov/26/mark-carney-rbs-deeply-troubling-serious). So on one side Conservatives are trying to get the economy going and the banks on the other hand… (You get the idea).

There was a video linked to this, which states “Bank of England’s Mark Carney ‘offended’ by Labour MP’s questioning“. Is Mr Carney for real? As Labour MP John Mann asked questions in regards to the ‘distance’ between the governor of the bank and the political wings. I do not fail to see that it is about quick economic restoration, the issue that it is now likely that small business got sold down the drain into non-viability to get this done is indeed an issue for concern. Why is there no stronger oversight on this? I think that it is time for governments to intervene in stronger measures. What they are? Not sure, but it should be somewhere between nationalising a bank and barring the transgressors from the Financial industry for life!

This issue goes on in another direction too. If we accept what was written by the independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/press/royal-charter-on-press-regulation-may-be-redundant-says-culture-secretary-maria-miller-8919775.html), we see that in the end the Press might not ever be held accountable for the acts they did. Not only are they advocated in their need for greed (as in circulation and advertisements), we see that they are in a connected center of treason against both their readers and the audience at large, again as I personally see this.

How?

Well that is a fair question. As the big papers have steered clear from the Sony issues as they became visible just over a week ago, they seem to remain extremely taken with their advertisement needs and less with protecting the audience. “£3bn: the total price-tag for Christmas gadgets” is a nice tag to have and even though we see news on Microsoft and Sony all the time, those messages are small and do not hit the bottom dollar. The small technology hit “Cody Wilson created a gun that can be download and built with a 3D printer – is he too dangerous for Britain?” is a small article and iterates something I wrote many months ago. He is now linked to advocating bit-coin, which is another matter. I have not taken a stance on it. I think it promotes white washing and I personally do not think that virtual currency has a foundation, once it goes bust in whatever way it does; these people just lose whatever cash they had in it. I reckon that these ‘victims’ when they come will have no turn back and the first case against any government should be thrown out immediately. The story how Sony (and Microsoft too) will hurt an entire industry and how they are setting up the events that could stop local commerce is completely ignored. How quaint!

I see it as a form of treason, because this is no longer ‘the people have a right to know’, but ‘the people have a right to know when we see fit’. That same application can be made for the banks. If we take the RBS case, then the people involved could be seen as committing treason against their customers. Is that not EXACTLY the issue we saw in the US where we see banks setting up mortgages and then betting on them failing? Why is this not under control?

The Dutch examples are their own version of treason. A company that seems to be betraying the people living there by submitting them to intentional dangers is no small matter. This is not the end by a long shot. Treason can go further, from governments towards allies. I am not talking about Snowden, that loon is a simple traitor for personal gains (in my view). The damage he caused will take a long time to fix. No, I am talking about the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership. I mentioned it in previous blogs linked to the Sony/Microsoft issues, but that is small fry. The big price is the pharmaceutical industry. You see, America wants it passed soon, because of the powers this partnership gives. I will not bore you with the patent law details; the issue I see is that America is afraid of India. Apart from being really decent in Cricket (a game America does not comprehend), the Indian industry had made great strides in generic medication. With a population of vastly over 1 billion, they simply had to. The changes are mentioned by IP experts like Michael Geist as Draconian. The Guardian covered part of the TPP (at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/13/trans-pacific-paternership-intellectual-property), the changes could impact this market into a damaging result which will go into the trillions. My issue is that Australia sides with America. Why?

America had been asleep at the wheel. Instead of opening a market, forcing affordability towards a population, we see segregation for industry against people. How bad is that? Canada kept its consumer driven approach, which is why Americans love Canadian medication. As America does not keep its house in order and they got passed by! Do not take my word regarding these parts; you should however take a look at what Doctors without Borders think. I reckon we can agree that they have always been about healing people. I consider them a noble breed. A group of physicians, who spend a fortune on an education, making less than the personal assistant for a middle manager in a small bank, which is not much to live on! At http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/press/release.cfm?id=7161 they state “Five countries—Canada, Chile, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Singapore—have put forth a counter-proposal that tries to better balance public health needs with the commercial interests of pharmaceutical firms” As an Australian I state that Australia need to take the high-road with Canada and New Zealand, not follow the cesspool America is trying to force down our throats. In the end, I suspect that this is about more than just plain greed.

Consider that the Dow index is based on 30 major companies. Now consider that 10% comes from pharmaceutical giants like Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Pfizer. After the issues we had seen in the last 3 years, I started to doubt the correctness of the Dow (and I reported on that in past blogs). It goes up and up, but with JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, VISA, American Express putting pressures on those numbers, the three big boys (drugs) could rock the boat in a massive way, which scares Wall Street to no extent. India had made great strides in affordable medication; the TPP is now a danger to affordable medication for people on a global scale.

Greed and Treason, it is all connected and it hits us all critically hard sooner rather than later!

 

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My Prediction was spot on again

On August 14th the NOS reported exactly what I expected them to do. The economy was again slightly worse of then they thought it was going to be. This time they finally go one step further, they are now stating that it will not be that good either next year. Really?

According to Minister Dijsselbloem it was a structural problem and he points at the housing market as one of the reasons and 8.7% of the population is now unemployed. They expect now a 1.25 shrinking of the economy, which is not that much of a surprise! However, they do predict a slightly better economy for 2014. Which is not really true, but as they keep on bringing the same wrong news, they will get it partially right in 2015. So, I wonder how quick the bad news will hit the Dutch population, and in addition get more bad news before the budgets have been completed. They have 2 weeks to make a decision on what happens to SNS (which is due before the governmental budget is set) and with the 6 billion in cut backs they will then, not unlike actors come with a tear on their cheeks to ‘sell’ this bad bank option and voilà! The Dutch tax payers get another added 2.4 billion Euro in debts.

This option had been on the forethought of their minds considering the confidential paper they left open on the internet (at http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/bestanden/documenten-en-publicaties/kamerstukken/2013/02/27/07-non-paper-financien/07-non-paper-financien.pdf)

The NOS did mention that the negative steps are getting smaller and smaller. They state “the worst is over“; I personally think there is pretty much nothing left to shrink at present. The Dutch must start to realise that they are getting to some extent a ‘baked’ level of information. They mention some options to finding creative solutions and interesting enough, they steered clear from pensions. According to the NOS the government is pretty much ready with a presentable solution and the Dutch present their annual budget on ‘the day of princes’, which is on the 3rd Tuesday of September, some might think soon enough, yet the options left to them might be less then they expect with the impending bad bank shifts and a possible rehash of regulations opening up pension funds for what I would negatively call ‘waisted spending’, especially when you consider that this will be the third administration that is unable to keep a budget.

Considering these facts is why I believe that the current opposition has no right to complain, especially considering the words of Sybrand van Haersma Buma (CDA). Let us not forget that cutbacks were needed in 2009 when the government was in the ‘majority’ hands of the CDA in those days and when Germany tightened the belt when needed, Dutch politicians decided not to follow, as their projected economy did not warrant it. If they had stepped up to the plate then, the Dutch would not be in this bad a predicament today. Yet, even now their bad news is not complete. When we consider the British predicament, then they should consider, that even though their economy seems to be picking up, George Osborne admitted to the quote “the chancellor accepted for the first time that the UK’s debt would continue rising until 2016/17” (from political.co.uk). This means that with a Trillion plus in debt, the economy is in for hefty austerity measures until 2020, from that view we need to realise that hefty cutting costs in the Netherlands are essential, should they consider any decent level of growth before 2015, simply because both nations have been unable to properly budget their spending.

 

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