Tag Archives: Dow Jones Index

As we know it

The universe has changed, it changed some time ago, yet the powers that be, be it in business, administration (read: government) or retail where all for the most are in denial. They deceive themselves through stories. One uses Tableaux to use the data to present the picture, a picture often based on incomplete or overly weighted data. The next one relies on dashboards like SAP to use spreadsheets to bedazzle the people with slice and dice numbers, looking pretty as a pie chart, yet not giving us the goods, because nowadays, these companies hire people who can sell a story, not drill deep on the results. The story is whatever the paying customer is willing to hear. They are all adopting the political need that has been in play for many years: ‘If the data does not match, change the question‘. That is the first part in a sliding scale of representation, and those representing the stories are running out of options (read: point fingers) to turn to.

The first part is seen in ‘At the time of year when queues usually form for popcorn and the money pours in, box office revenues are plunging. Where are the blockbusters?‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/aug/26/even-superheroes-may-not-save-hollywood-desperate-summer), here we see: “The true scale of the potential problem facing the industry can be seen in the precipitous drop in movie attendance this summer, down 52% year-on-year to 385 million at the time of writing. It is the lowest level of attendance since the summer of 1992“, in addition we get “Hollywood is stuck in a rut and it needs a safety net – superhero flicks fit that bill right now“. Two statements that might be the bill of the story, but in reality, the people are adhering to mismatched data and not properly investigated results as I see it. You see, the data is evident and it is out there, the games industry is taking 100 billion plus a year now and some of the other elements of gaming are taking a slice of that. In addition, providers like Netflix are now in much better control of their audiences that is mainly because they figured out what was wrong in the first place. You see, the gaming part is the first part of the evidence. People are now spending it on something else and they are no longer relying on the box office as Netflix gives then options. the second part is seen in the Business Insider (at http://www.businessinsider.com/us-cities-where-cost-of-living-is-rising-the-fastest-2017-6) where we see that on number 10 (New Orleans) the cost of living went up by 18%, on number one we see Nashville with a cost of living raise of nearly 30%, as we have not seen any actual economy increase from the United States, or better stated, the working people of the United States have seen almost no increase in wages and quality of life, those representing certain numbers decided to just ignore issues and evidence. Now, that top 10 list is a little skewed too, yet when we realise that for 3% of Americans their cost of living went up by 18% or more, how worried do we need to be with certain represented numbers? So consider that Los Angeles was part of that top 10, yet New York is not, there we get ‘Cost of living index in New York is 21.37% higher than in Los Angeles‘, which with close to 9 million is 2% of the US population, so now we see that the hardship and quality of life is hitting 5% of the American population and the numbers do still go up, so when we see “drop in movie attendance this summer” how can anyone be surprised? In addition, we should also realise that this gives rise to the fact that apart from people not going to the cinema, many are now spending it on something else and a $20 spend on 90 minutes is not considered when $55 gets them hours, sometimes hundreds of hours of gameplay. We are all getting more and more weary on the bang for our buck and the cinema can no longer deliver that value. No one denies that movies are just better on the big screen, but for many it is a trip only affordable a few times a year so the people are getting really picky on what they see on the big screen. Richard Cooper gives us part of the news, but also ‘forgets‘ to give the full picture. With “It is mid-budget films and their fans that have tended to suffer“, here he only gives us part of the story. As the Hollywood engine of greed and reselling remains on a steady course, we see the need for maximising results and as such the movie makers are closing the gap between cinema and digital release. Why spend on the cinema whilst within 26 weeks the movie will be out on Blu-ray? Basically it is the same price, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is an excellent example in this case. People are becoming stingy because they have no other options. All the messages of a fake economy and how good it is might look nice on the news, but for the most, people in the US cannot afford any extras. Many in the USA need to work double jobs just to get by. The US census gives us that in 2015 13.5% of Americans were in poverty, I feel certain that this number has gone up in 2017, some sources give us that this has gone up to 14.5%, so one in seven is in poverty. Do you think that these people will be watching movies on the big screen? So the Hollywood moment of desperation is not to be resolved, not until the quality of life and cost of living for Americans is set to a much better status. Those who can might try to leech of the neighbour’s Netflix, those who cannot need to find affordable entertainment, if they get any at all.

In the second we see that this economy is also bolstering a new level of exploitation. Even as we all ignore certain elements, Uber has changed the game, with ‘Inside the gig economy: the ‘vulnerable human underbelly’ of UK’s labour market‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/aug/24/inside-gig-economy-vulnerable-human-underbelly-of-uk-labour-market) we see a new level where the people are sold a cheap story (read: Uber story) and as they are hiding behind what people should investigate, we see that desperation is exploited in other levels. It is not merely an American issue; it is becoming a global issue. With “Each passenger’s destination, however, will remain a mystery until they have been collected. And regardless of the considerable costs they might incur to fulfill that journey, the driver will have no say in the fare. Uber both sets the fare, then takes a hefty rate of commission from it“, we are shown that there is a dangerous precedent. As we see online needs explodes as people need cheaper solutions, Uber will weigh in on maximising its profit. As I see it: ‘the drivers having no other options to work to near death for scraps’. With “The driver knows that failure to accept these terms will result in an immediate loss of work: they will be blocked for a set period of time from accessing Uber’s online system that provides work” we see new levels of legalising slave labour. The ‘do it or else‘ approach is now strangling the freedom of people to death. We see evidence of my statements with “The companies themselves tend to talk about the freedom, independence, and flexibility with which self-employment is usually associated. But many of the couriers and drivers we have spoken with over the past year have had an alternative model of self-employment, and with it much financial insecurity, enforced upon them“, and the law is not offering any solution, not in the UK and not in the USA, being an entrepreneur tends to have long lasting benefits at times. They all voluntarily went into the contract and they can all walk away and starve. It is not an option for those with families to support and feed. Part of this crux is seen in “we have noted how companies are able to use the guise of self-employment to dump a whole series of obligations and liabilities onto their workforce, while depriving them of protections enjoyed by the rest of working Britain“, to be the entrepreneur comes with hidden dangers, especially when you work for other entrepreneurs. The age of exploitation is upon us and as we know it, we can no longer afford to go to the cinema, a side Mark Sweney seems to have ignored. Yes, he does give us the Netflix element and there was no way to avoid it. He does go in the wrong direction with “For film fans, theatres still have an allure for the launch of big movies, but in the new world, where all media is competing for eyeballs and time in the “leisure economy”, the Netflix threat is rising“, he is not incorrect, yet he is incomplete. He forgets that Netflix is all many can afford (and a fair amount cannot even afford that). So why go to the cinema for the next sequel? Box Office Mojo gives us part of the goods, in 2017 only 2 movies broke the 1 billion mark, Beauty and the Beast with Emma Watson (I personally do not think she was a beast in that movie) and the Fate of the Furious, which makes sense as Vin Diesel is stark raving nuts on most given days (in the fast and furious series) and who doesn’t enjoy a chase movie whilst we know that the driver is Looney Tunes. A movie with a good grasp on the desired quality of life time! So if we accept that the bulk of the Americans had to choose two movies these would be it. Yet, that number is not correct. You see Vin Diesel is attracting an audience, but 81% is not domestic, in the case of Miss Watson it is a 60% non-domestic audience. If we focus on the American market the Beauty and the beast was best, but only good for half a billion, if we focus on the domestic market, it is merely the Force Awakens that brings the goods for Americans. It makes sense with the following it has, but it is also deeply sad that decent movies are no longer bringing in the bacon. We cannot merely be blaming Netflix on this, we can surmise that the people can no longer afford the large screens in America, it is the most likely scenario, when we consider that only 3 movies got the domestic top 100 of gross revenue in 2017 and 11 in 2016, we cannot disagree with the view we get offered, but in retrospect, there is enough evidence that the US job market was worse last year. So with still 3 upcoming box office smashes, the big screen performance remains down, to what extent is harder to state, because there is enough indications that there is a lack of quality numbers, which makes my predictions not wrong, merely speculations and I accept that, yet the makers of the article and the presenters of the story of ‘Even superheroes may not be able to save Hollywood’s desperate summer‘ know that they were blaming the DC and Marvel Universe for not saving an economy that does not presently exist. The economy only exists on the Dow Jones index and that one is skewed towards the 1% of Americans that can afford a large apartment in New York and other places. What a shame that reality requires the 99% of Americans they give no consideration to. Yet it could be worse and there is every chance of that happening. As we see Mario Draghi and Janet Yellen warn against regulatory cuts, as we see “European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said protectionist policies pose a “serious risk” for growth in the global economy“, we could deduce that Draghi is soon depending on exploitation tactics to grow the economy, not only has his Quantative Easing failed, he will soon depend on legalised slave labour to get the economy the boost no one wants in such a manner. So as Draghi states: “To foster a dynamic global economy we need to resist protectionist urges“, which will not just end the filling of any quality of life if it was up to certain Uber approaches, it is also signaling the end of places like Hollywood, because they only get to exist when people can afford to go to the cinema, an display of ‘ingoranus totalicus‘ shown by these same people as they bolster the story that ignores the needs and plight of those in the lover 60% of the total income bracket in most of the modern western world.

We will see in the next 18 months what remains of the values we considered in the past. Life as we know it will change, that has always been the consideration of an evolving natural life. We merely forgot that those in charge are not in favour of change unless they could directly profit by it. I wonder if the people in Hollywood realise that part of the equation.

 

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Twilight in your pants

This is not about medication, or even about flaccidness (other than the flaccidness of the economy or politicians for that matter). No this is about changes, about the need for governments to do a lot more than wake up, because that knock on your door is no one else but the grim reaper informing you that time is up, with the additional request to follow him into the next room.

Yes, this sounds like drama and entertainment, but it is not. At present, the changes that will hit us can impact our retirement funds, they will hit our lifestyle and it will most definitely hit the cost of our living. All elements of a situation I send warning about. So now we read ‘US stock markets take a major fall as Dow reaches lowest level since August‘, where (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jan/15/us-stock-markets-fall-dow-oil-prices-china), the quote “the Standard & Poor’s 500, the index of America’s biggest companies, falling 2.2%” might give view that there is not a large event going on, but that is alas not the case. The two quotes “the markets’ decline has put “a negativity across the economy, a negativity to every CEO looking at his or her stock price, a negativity about business”. He also warned that the oil price, which on Friday settled below $30 for the first time in 12 years, could fall as far as $25 a barrel or lower” as well as “We’ll probably have to test the markets lower, and I think when we test the markets lower it’s going to be a pretty good buying opportunity”. These two give view that waves are coming, but when we look at the reality of any market and any season, there will be indications that sometimes those markets are up and sometimes they are down. So why exactly is this a big issue?

Well, that part is seen in “The falling oil price and disappointing retail sales data released on Friday have pushed back expectations of when the Federal Reserve will next increase interest rates“, yet the question is, was this all about the oil, or is this about the hidden text, the mere mention ‘disappointing retail sales data‘, which in a long down economy should not be a real surprise. The text “retail sales declined in December to make 2015 the worst year for US shops since 2009“, as well as “retail sales dropped 0.1% compared to November” was set in two separate paragraphs as to confuse the reader with a half sentence, but consider that November preceding the shopping needs for Christmas was 0.1% higher, this gives a clear part of the problem, because consider all those temp workers, with economy that bad, how can they hold on to their jobs? Their bosses cannot be blamed here. This is about an economy that had been ‘spiced’ up in reports and then failed to deliver. Something that we all should have seen coming.

The second story confirming all this namely ‘Wall Street plunges after poor US manufacturing and retail sales‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/blog/live/2016/jan/15/oil-prices-slide-back-towards-30-heading-for-10-weekly-loss-business-live), gives more information. Now I’ll add the quote “On Wall Street, the Dow shed more than 400 points, a drop of 2.3%, and the Nasdaq is nearly 120 points off, a 2.7% decline. The FTSE 100 index is down 2.1%, France’s CAC is off 2.8% and Germany’s Dax has lost nearly 3%” but I’ll ignore it for the moment, you see when we see “We now estimate that real consumption growth was a disappointing 1.5% to 2% annualized in the fourth quarter, with overall GDP growth at an even weaker 1%“, which comes from Steve Murphy, US economist at Capital Economics. So, Mr Murphy, which part of a weak economy, people out of jobs, people forced to work two jobs to get above the poverty level, what did you expect them to do? Ignore their hardship, whilst they realise that bills are due a mere week after Christmas? Neil Saunders from retail consultants Conlumino adds to that conundrum by adding “A relatively weak product line up in electricals failed to capture consumer interest, resulting in a sales decline of around 3.5% in December; and although sales picked up the latter end of the month, clothing also put in a lackluster performance thanks to warmer than average weather“, so he is stating (considering the group mentioned earlier, a group that impacts well over 15% of the US population, in addition, the group that is somewhere between 25% and 30% is just getting by. That gives us close to 50% of the population, do you actually think that these people are interested in an Electrical product line? Did you not consider that well over 50% of the US population is not interested in a new 3D TV, but will find whatever cheap option available, in addition, if the current TV is working, they will try to skip it for a year. Did you not consider that? As for the fashion part, the fact that it was also US’s wettest December on record is ignored, so those people did not pay for things like coats, boots and so on? Umbrella’s perhaps?

So even though it is not the coldest one, it might not have stopped a collection of ladies to buy something for the Christmas occasion, they would still have needed clothes, perhaps your consideration is off?

You see, these people project and make conjectures based on flawed data sets, in addition, as they make the call for needs that might be, they are ignoring the needs that actually are. A functioning economy being the first part of it. In all this the UK is not outside of the scope either. This we see in the third article called ‘Bank of England bans two former Co-op Bank chiefs from top City jobs‘, the article (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jan/15/bank-of-england-bans-co-op-bank-barry-tootell-keith-alderson-top-city-jobs). These three articles were not randomly chosen. Let me add the following quotes “Two former bankers at the Co-operative Bank have been banned by the Bank of England from holding senior positions in the City after being found to have posed an unacceptable threat to the company’s financial position“, we also get “The Bank is fining Barry Tootell, a former Co-op Bank chief executive, £173,802, and Keith Alderson, who ran the corporate and business banking division, £88,890“. Which might leave us with the thought that a fine was given, so what is the hustle?

That we get from “Banks that are not well governed have the potential to pose a threat to UK financial stability. The actions of Mr Tootell and Mr Alderson posed an unacceptable threat to the safety and soundness of the Co-op Bank, which is why we have decided a prohibition is appropriate in these cases”, which sounds awesome and in that, similar steps should have been taken against many others for amounts many times higher than those mentioned. Yet, what is still the issue?

Well part of it is seen here “It cites moves by him to change bad debt charges, which in one instance which had the effect of maintaining the bonus pool“, which is an issue to one end, yet the other part “The Co-op Bank has already taken steps under previous rules to withdraw £5m of bonuses from a number of employees and there is no prospect of clawing back any more bonuses“, you see these things happen and as such there will be consequences. The final quote “The Bank of England did not find Tootell or Alderson deliberately or recklessly breached the rules and did not make findings of dishonesty or lack of integrity in issuing the bans and fines”, gives us the issues to work with. So as stated, the quote “the potential to pose a threat to UK financial stability” is now at hand, because even as those two had senior positions, they still reported to others, they reported to a board of members at the very least. The two might have been fined £261K, but how much in bonuses have they acquired?

That issue can be seen in the first part as stated earlier “did not find Tootell or Alderson deliberately or recklessly breached the rules and did not make findings of dishonesty or lack of integrity“, so if that is not the case, why would there be an issue? If there was no deliberate or reckless, than why are they held to account? There were no guilty parties? So those two are either patsies, or they have the goods on multiple others and they are ‘let off’ with a possible bonus option down the line. In all this we see a few issues. The first, as I see it is that pushing two people out is merely a hollow gesture. Which also connects to the US, as given in “to pose a threat to UK financial stability“. You see if that is true and these small fish are indeed a danger, why are the big fish not acted against? Someone hired these two and mentored (and hopefully monitored) these two. The fact that they are merely ‘senior’ also implies that there are a few involved members that they reported to, are they not bigger threats?

The article ends with “the current management team continues to progress the turnaround, having raised additional capital, achieved considerable de-risking and improved brand metrics“, so how much of a risk does Co-Op remain to be. More important, why is a market research metric an issue here? You see ‘improved brand metrics’ sounds nice, but how much does it matter in the scheme of things? We all accept that brand metrics matter, yet in this light, is this truly about ‘branding’? Perhaps this is about the issue of ‘de-risking’ which also impacts branding, but de-risking is all about the bank not becoming the next ocean floater. So are we misinformed? Yes, we are, but embossing was never really illegal (it is the existence of marketing).

In this, the press has little blame, it is what they are told and as such, in this case, I am not having a go at the Press. What is partially the issue is that these articles are at the foundation of things that have been known, issues that are set or expected, but in all this, the governments and their over optimistic reporting has not led to serious questions and questioning by the press either, which is an issue and remains to be so. That part is now gaining visibility when we see that two senior executives are banned with the reasoning ‘a threat to UK financial stability‘, I am not stating that this is not the case, but the fact that two individuals can have this strong an impact is equal worry on how the banks high executives could have allowed for such risks to remain in place, moreover, the fact that this is done to these two, why are their bosses not mentioned or part of the conversation as to what is regarded to be ‘a threat to UK financial stability‘? That part is clearly missing.

This now reflects back to the US.

For this we need to take an academic step back in time (see the TARDIS on your right). On August 19th 1988 Richard B. McKenzie wrote ‘The Twilight of Government Growth in a Competitive World Economy‘. Initially he focuses on “Technology is gradually eroding the monopoly power of government and is thereby reducing people’s incentive to control governments (or the people who run them). This is the case because the capital in capital-ism is becoming far more elusive and far more difficult to control–by governments“, so we see a view that in 1988 someone reported on the dangers on how technologies might enable big business, but will cause erosion within governments. Simply stated, most governments are confronted with the twilight in their pants, flaccid and to some even regarded as redundant. His paper is more about the impact on technology, but there are a few gems that have been ignored by spokespeople and reporters at large. The quote “Democratic governments are necessarily constrained by the rules of politics. For example, these rules require that a majority of the voting representatives approve fiscal and regulatory policies. Rules of democracy also force politicians to face periodic elections and to be held accountable, within limits, for what they do. If politicians raise taxes and expand business regulations, they have to consider the possibility of being turned out of office“, might be accepted as a mere fact, yet consider ‘voting representatives approve fiscal and regulatory policies‘ and ‘the possibility of being turned out of office‘. Now we get the issue that has been playing for almost a decade. By not approving fiscal and regulatory policies politicians could stretch their time in office. So, is my premise correctly, by stating that acting has consequences, does the inaction guarantees the opposite? Proving one is not a premise for proving the other, yet in all this, we see the elements of the economy that has been plaguing the people since 2005. Now consider the following: “In general, a growing number of policymakers see a need to make America ‘competitive’ again, mainly by releasing government constraints on capital and income“, here I am not in agreement. Actually I am, providing that accountability will be taken into account and as such accountability will become a massive part in the change we require. Here we see the link towards the UK, the banning sounds nice, but until what extent? How can some be ‘punished’ whilst we see stated that they never deliberately or recklessly breached the rules? Which might be a discussion for another day.

So where do I stand?

Is this the case that these events are mere flickers of the light? This remains an option, we are all fixated on the US and their 18 trillion debt, the UK has a trillion and small change in debt and both are realising that they have degraded their populations as upcoming slave labourers for whomever holds onto those debt slips. I admit that this sounds ludicrous, but is it that far-fetched? Consider the loans you have, ALL your loans, now consider the loans your government has, and now consider what happens when they default. Do you think that things remain the same? No, your loans will now suddenly be adjusted due to risk and you will end up with an additional 2%-10% (there is no way knowing of how much you will face). Now, some will state that default is an illusion and that the no government will default. Really? How long until we all realise that Greece can no longer be saved? They call it ‘debt forgiveness‘, but it remains a default. Carmen Reinhart is Professor of the International Financial System at Harvard seems to be trivialising it in an article, as I see it (at http://www.afr.com/opinion/signs-of-sovereign-debt-default-loom-20160110-gm2s05), we see quotes like “creditors may be overstating its potential external impacts“, which might have been true in the past, but we see little regard on the impact of the Euro when Greece defaults. There is no way it will not impact. The bulk of the Euro nations are so deep in debt that these hundreds of billions will impact them. I reckon the day that happens it will not be a good day to be a Greek outside of Greece. These issues are elements of a needed change. We need to make big changes and they will have to start this year. Every year that changes are delayed means that less people will have any options down the road. It is the direct and pragmatic approach to triage in an economic environment. There are no shortcuts to resolving any of this. There is only the harsh reality of changes, legislative, regulatory, procedural and then operational. It can only be done if all are aligned in that same goal, which implies that politicians should be left out of it (even though that is not a reality). The action by the bank of England might be a first spark, yet it is a spark that might go nowhere, if you doubt this then contemplate Tesco v Pricewaterhouse Coopers [2015], when exactly did that happen?

We need change, massive change, it was stated by many, not just me, but when will it come?

Here is the crux of the danger we face, whatever change we need, it needs to be implemented by politicians, all fearing the flaccid twilight in their pants. In France Marine Le Pen is trying to force change, to give France to the French, this scared Hollande and Sarkozy to the extent that they collaborated in a coalition, just to keep any victory away from Le Pen. Consider that part, two political opponents collaborating BEFORE the election, regarding who will win. That is what nations face. In my view that action was not about the good of France, that was about keeping the status Quo for big financial behemoths like Natixis, one of many who would lose out on billions when change happens. So as we see we need change, we are confronted with the people who have, as I see it too many self-interests at play, how can this ever go right? In that same way we have Nigel Farage in the UK. Here the UK has an advantage as the Conservatives have been trying to get the damage down as much as possible. It has been a bumpy ride for them, but there is progress, even as the waters seem to work against them, the UK is moving with many more options than the US or Japan has. The other Euro players (those with the Euro) are nervous, their nervousness increasing every day and faster as we see the back set by markets. In that regard, other nations have their own issues that are pushing things down. The Dutch pensions have breached solvency levels. They are below the required 105% levels, some have it as low as 101% and one even at 99%. They are facing the issue of combined value of pension assets fell by £6 billion, rising bond yields reduced the total liability by £20 billion. How will those be further impacted with the economic forecasts as they are diminishing and even further when those who invested in government debts see that the first one, Greece can no longer pay them! What do you think will happen? Are these just bad panic mongering words?

Can we perhaps consider that as events of the last few years have unfurled the way I expected, when they did not (as some did), we only saw a mere setback in the critical timeline, only to see these events come again with a much higher need for funds. In all this many forgot about Norway and their dwindling profits. As their wealth was oil and oil went from price X, to price X/4, their deficit went through the roof. Norway started to use their oil funds to plug their deficits. A story that got to Bloomberg, but did not get the visibility it should have had, because it gives us another nation that is not able to pull its own weight. I do not mean that in too bad a way, only in the realisation that the nations that have an economy where its governments have correctly budgeted for the year has now been reduced to less than 5, it is a stretch that Greece can topple the EEC, there is however the issue that the pressure from Greece will reduce the error margin of Italy and France to 0%, which is really a bad thing.

So will politicians remain flaccid admiring the twilight in their pants for the neediness of their own future, or will we finally see the first drastic legislative changes we need to charge up a start to regulatory changes?

 

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Is it illogical?

Today the news is all about Greece, not because they are getting it done, but because they are now less than 24 hours away from a 450 million euro invoice and whilst Prime Minister Tsipras stated that they have the cash to make the next payment (at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-04/greece-has-cash-to-make-imf-payment-next-week-minister-says), of course, that statement is now an issue as we wonder why Tsipras took the fast plane to Moscow.

In other news (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/06/varoufakis-extends-washington-charm-offensive-after-talks-with-lagarde), where ‘rock star’ Varoufakis is smiling all over the place. the quote “The hope is he will gain the support of Treasury officials in persuading lenders to cut Greece some slack” seems highly misplaced as the Greek elected officials have been sitting on their hands in feigned acts of ‘activity’. Yet the article shows two interesting quotes. The first one is “it has been openly critical of a German-dominated Europe pushing the country too hard on austerity and fearful of the effects that might have on European unity. A Grexit would spin the markets out of control. It is the last thing Washington wants“. It seems that the US might have issues with the German approach of reducing debt. You see, that hits the bottom dollar, the US can only partially recover if THEIR banks get the slice of the multi trillion dollar debt Europe has, once the debt goes down, their income slows down by a large margin.

The second part here is the market response to Grexit. Yes, the US has a fair point trying to limit that event, but this implies the following:

  1. I had been correct for well over a year in my statements that a tumble of the Euro would massively hit the Dollar and the market.
  2. The fact that the Greek exit, with 500 billion in debt has SUCH an impact, whilst the Greek economy makes up for less than 2% of the European economy implies that the European nations at large are borrowed up to the max and this first stone falling, gives us a domino effect that will wound the market for a longer time, which means the US holier-than-thou DOW will also feel the massive impact one way or another.

If economies at large are THIS dependent on that Dow Jones Index, then what failures are we going to see in addition to Greece?

The second quote that is interesting is: “Varoufakis, was scheduled to meet Nathan Sheets, US Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, two days before Tsipras heads to Moscow for talks with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday“. This is interesting for the simple reason which is found in the question: Why?

You see, when we look at Nathan Sheets, the treasury page (at http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2640.aspx) gives us: “Sheets will lead Treasury’s Office of International Affairs, which protects and supports U.S. economic prosperity by strengthening the external environment for U.S. growth, preventing and mitigating global financial instability, and managing key global challenges“, so why was Varoufakis meeting Nathan Sheets? Is he not all up in arms to protect Greece from collapsing? Which might be the same goal both have, but that gives extra weight to second implication I mentioned, the Greek debt has far fetching consequences, so why would a flight to Russia have any positive result for Greece, it would suit Russia just fine to see the DOW tumble. So unless Greece is making a deal that includes the option of a Russian base on Greek grounds, we should consider the possibility of watching a linked smoke screen we see here.

That conclusion (the smoke screen) is given weight by the following quote we see in another Guardian article: “Mrs Lagarde … stressed that, in Greece’s case, the Fund is willing to show utmost flexibility in the way in which the government’s reforms and fiscal proposals will be evaluated“, as well as “It added that in separate meetings, US Treasury officials who also met Varoufakis expressed the willingness of the US government to play the role of an ‘honest broker’ in helping Greece to strike a deal with its lenders“.

The question becomes, flexibility in which direction? That question follows the ‘honest broker‘ offer from US treasury officials. If this was (very likely), the Nathan Sheets meeting, then we get a new issue, not just who gets the brokered deal and at which percentage, we now see a second instance where IMF and US needs meet hand in hand. Did we not see a similar evolution with Argentina? If that is so, then who is catering whom and how much will it cost the Greeks, when the actual full invoice is revealed after a massive black out through smoke screens, miscommunications and incomplete data. Yes, those are presumptions on my side, but when you recall the Argentinian debacle, where they were pushed towards vulture funds, after IMF help was denied through a request by the US, many press members did not properly follow up that part and no clear information was ever published, so are my assumptions that far out of bounds?

Now we get to the interesting part. You see, he Guardian has another piece by Phillip Inman titled ‘IMF needs to see the bigger picture – that debt can choke off growth‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/apr/07/imf-needs-to-see-the-bigger-picture-that-debt-can-choke-off-growth). Here we see the following parts that are a decent chunk of sizzling debate that we can charcoal grill in an instant. “Yet the remedies outlined by the IMF to counter the threat of persistent low growth in Britain and other developed world economies, as documented in that report, show that debt influences growth and in extremis can choke it off” as well as “the IMF says the world’s major economies risk a long period of low growth unless governments do more to overcome the after-effects of the financial crisis and the longer-term problem of ageing populations“.

I do not deny the correctness of the statements, but the statements are all extremely short sighted, especially when you consider that the people making the statements are on high 6-7 figure incomes. Let us not forget that these governments decided to get themselves in debt and that for well over a decade, no proper budget has been pushed through. It was Germany and Germany alone, that tightened their own belt by a lot and as such they have been enjoying lessened interest payments, which is now saving them billions each year. The second part is that ‘overcome the after-effects of the financial crisis’ is all about proper budgeting, which has gone amiss all over Europe (not just in Greece), in addition ‘longer-term problem of ageing populations‘ is not completely a valid concern as this had been known for well over a decade, which means that plans should have been in place for a long time.

Now we get to the interesting part. As governments on a global scale were so eager to be the bitch of large corporations, the involved governments painted themselves in a corner. Yet, the IMF is not innocent here either, I had a go on their numbers in 2013, when they had published ‘World Economic Outlook April 2013‘ (at http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2013/01/pdf/text.pdf), where they stated that advanced economies would be performing at 1.2% in 2013 and 2.2% in 2014. I pretty much labelled the group behind that piece of ….paper ‘bonkers’, now we see “Looking forward, the IMF said potential growth in advanced economies was expected to increase slightly from an average of about 1.3% a year in the last six years to 1.6% until 2020, but not reach the 2.25% average seen between 2001 and 2007“, So this means I was right, my simple use of an abacus got me numbers more precise than they did with their ‘economists’ that they bunched like grapes in an analytics department. I did expect numbers to be a lot better in 2016, but that was based on the limited information I had, irresponsible elected officials did skew my numbers more in a negative way, silly me for having hope that elected officials would keep a level head in all this. Serves me right!

Yet, behind all this is a little more. It is the quote “But growth is not the only way to diminish or pay back debts. Cancelling them is another. Banks do it with their worst performing customers. Unfortunately for Greece, the IMF refuses to use the same criteria as Lloyds or RBS would when confronted by a failed business” that gets to me. As an assumed speculation this path is not a bad option, and any Journalist has my blessing to entertain such a thought in the proper context. But this article does not do that, it is left in the air at the end of an opinion piece, without proper merit. This makes me wonder why Phillip Inman economics correspondent added this. Just to give visibility to his book? I seriously doubt that, the statement in the air is the issue in this, perhaps like me he is postulating that the ‘forgiving’ of debts is what certain banks are hoping for, because it puts them in the clear and leaves the debt with the underwriting governments, a step Germany is opposing rigorously (and rightly so).

What is in my view decently clear is the prediction I made earlier, that Greece is playing Possum in the 11th hour is coming to fruition, my issue becomes, why is the Greek population accepting this and why is there no proper investigations in lighting up all the sides on how previous Greek administrations accepted tons of debt without any decent exit plan. In my view, Antonis Samaras was sailing the only path that had the option of keeping the Greek population independent and proud, a plan that is certainly becoming less and less a reality under Tsipras, because no matter what happens next, whether it is feigned forgiven debt or any Russian deal, there will be consequences for the Greek population at large, an issue ignored by most players involved, especially their elected officials.

 

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About America, chapter 11

This is a short story; it is not part of a novel where you have seen the first 10 chapters. This is in all seriousness an issue when we consider Code of Laws of the United States, United States Code, number 11 deals with bankruptcy.

So why take my word for this? Why am I right, when every journalist, every economist claims that this is not the case? How diluted am I to think this?

These are all valid question. Now consider the facts. The US treasury (from various sources) had collected in 2013 around 2,700 billion dollars. This seems like a lot, yet the budget as President Obama stipulated in 2012, the budget had spending set to around 3,800 billion dollar, so the US is already 1 trillion short. If we consider the total US debt at 18 trillion, meaning 18,000 billion, then the total debt would need 100% of all taxation for 6 years, an act that is totally unrealistic.

Now take this to your own homestead. I remember that I could never get a loan for a mortgage for more than 4 annual incomes. Now, this is like comparing apples to oranges, but is my train of thought so far out of bounds? It is my view that these seemingly ‘clever’ economists have been rolling their gambling dice in several ways for too long.

Consider the Dow Jones Index. We get fed the line that the economy is good, because 30 companies are doing ‘well’. Ever since the ‘dip’ it took in 2009 to 6547 (at http://stockcharts.com/freecharts/historical/djia1900.html), the Dow has ‘restored’ itself to 16743 (as per now). So, in the time when all was well, before the first economic collapse in 2004, when the Dow was 11722, and until the second collapse in 2008 when the Dow went from 14164 to 6547 in 2009, we now are in a time when many in the US are down on their luck and finances, when many all over the world are feeling the brunt of recession and other financial calamities, the almighty Dow is at 16743.

Is anyone considering the notion on how dislodged the entire Dow Jones concept is in regards to the reality of life?

Consider the following information:

– Amazon is buying Twitch for a billion Dollars in cash (at http://www.theverge.com/2014/8/25/6066509/why-it-makes-sense-for-amazon-to-buy-twitch)

– Roche to buy U.S. biotech firm InterMune for $8.3 billion in cash (at http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/24/us-intermune-roche-idUSKBN0GO0PI20140824)

These are two of several (read dozens) of large shopping sprees, throwing cash around like it is nothing and as these billions come into the other parties’ hands, what taxation ends up getting paid? This is at the heart of the founding issue that should keep our minds busy ‘Is America Bankrupt?

There are two sides. First there is the Sovereign Default. No matter how you twist or turn it, if a nation cannot pay its debt, it will default and should be seen bankrupt. A good example is Greece. After Europe bailed out a nation with 11 million people, by ‘giving’ it well over 300 billion, it is still complaining. The reality is that it should have been allowed to go under in bankruptcy. Not because I like it, or because I have anything against Greece (in all honesty, Crete is one of the loveliest places I ever saw). The natural cycle of economy has been ‘arranged’ (I would call it mismanaged) into cycles of only good news. You talk to any farmer, they will all tell you that no field can survive on spring and summer alone, nature is all about balance and as we threw away balance, we started to undo our own prosperity.

It is said that a business is stated as ‘insolvent’ when its debts exceed its assets.

Is that not the case here? I have stated in the past that I have reservations about the true value of LIBOR.

If we continue the question: “How much money they need to borrow from their peers to plug any holes in their balance sheets and if they have an excess of available cash, how much they can afford to lend“, which is at the heart of LIBOR (at http://citywire.co.uk/money/qanda-what-is-libor-and-what-did-barclays-do-to-it/a600479), considering that the margins had been played with in the last two years, is the idea that the total valued amount has also been tweaked?

This is all based upon an availability of actual existing Cash. But the entire system is based upon a certain value of assets and goods, as I personally see it, I do not trust that list as it is dependent on the ego of honest bankers, which seems an impossible concept and no one can produce at any given moment an exact list of it. So what value exists in all reality (not in the eager mind of a commission driven banker)?

We now get back to the Dow Jones Index. If we consider the past (when life appeared good) and the now where most of have lost a lot (if not all), then is that index not artificially driven upwards? This is not just my view; several parties, including USA Today (at http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/03/04/federal-reserve–quantitative-easing/1963539/) are showing us a view that shows an economic system that is driven upwards in artificial ways. So we now get a different view. Are all these mergers and multi-billion dollar deals we see regularly now on TV about growth, or about the top of the US industry that seems to leave the sinking ships before the system collapses.

This is at the centre of a few issues, where the US is rallying for ‘support’ whilst not showing one iota of accountability to get its budget under control. The last part is at the heart of the need to call the USA bankrupt (not because I desire it). It will cost many a lot, but is growth not depending on the downfall of others? If we consider that all together we are 100%, does our growth not depend on the need that someone else does less? That intertwining, where we ignore basic foundations that growth is not eternal, we see that there is a consequence to overinflating (yes, this also applies to my ego).

Yet, economists have time and time again stated that there is more here and there (whilst they point to virtual spaces). Now we see the heart of the problem, who has the actual 18 trillion that the US is down for? If we look at the oil links, should USA perhaps mean ‘Unionized Saudi Arabia‘? If we consider the real wealth, are they not the ones holding the oil reserves (one of the big four) and as such, the outstanding debt? I know it is not that simple, it never is, but when we ask a summary of where the debt lies; we will get some clever list from a highly educated economist and some excuse ‘that it is all a lot more complex then it looks‘.

He is not incorrect, but he is also not telling you who hold the 18 trillion the US had been spending in one way or another and as such, the realisation should now be upon you. If America is bankrupt, then what will happen next? Japan will pretty much be permanently out of commission and I reckon the UK will be in very deep waters, but we the Commonwealth must find a way to go it together if we are to survive.

It seems to me that America never realised that lesson, like several others, they all used to max out a credit card in virtual space whilst the actual, supporting currency is not there, so why has America not been declared bankrupt?

I reckon soon enough we will get more and more long winded talks, but in the end no one is sayng anything because those who will be making the speeches are at the heart of what went wrong and no one wants to hold on to that guilt when those left without their house ask them the question ‘where are my savings?‘.

 

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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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The Jay-Z talk

Today’s inspiration comes from a source, slightly right of the middle. It was an interview that aired on Bill O’Reilly which he (or his team) placed on Facebook. Jay-Z was warning for the dangers of escalating violence as the gap between haves and have not’s increases. This is a viewpoint I agree with, especially as I had come to the same conclusion many months ago. More important, that is a reality that is in play in both the US and Europe.

What is to blame? Well, the Financial Institutions started it all and as such they need to be mentioned. I reckon you have all read enough of this, but down the track, this will issue will pop up again. More important are the issues that have been more and more visible over several months. The Obama administration might claim that they have added 175,000 jobs, yet as you would see, this level of misrepresentation will get an ironic side soon enough. The massive spin at present is coming from the industrials. If we see the Dow index, then we look at 30 companies who ‘seem’ to be setting the trend, especially my American readers, have you noticed how 1 out of 6 in America lost their house and an even larger population lost their savings? So, if the economy is so high, then how is it that the damage remains so severe? Well, I am about to answer that.

Those 175,000 jobs, well the bulk of them are only part-time and they are mostly minimum wage options only. To be honest in such a bad economy that could not be the worst, but from my viewpoint there is more, which makes this a lot worse.

It was a little while ago on how some expert spoke with a level of pride that the Dow was so strong, and remained growing due to an increase productivity managed by a declined workforce. So basically, a 90% workforce was achieving 110% result and no one questioned it? The fact that even though these companies are getting record results, no long term hiring has commenced?

Well, here it is. The view I have is that the banks allowed for a shift of policies, which has pretty much introduced a legalised form of slave labour (a harsh reality, but not false). It is a nice irony that this has occurred during the time of an African American president. The first question I should answer whether this assessment is fair. Yes it is!

The reason is that neither President Obama nor President Bush did ANYTHING truly successful to hold these Financial Institutions accountable for the damage they bestowed on the American population and the rest of the world. The fact that even today in most nations strong bank regulations are still not a fact means that this can all happen again. So, when we get to 2020 and we all think that we are back on track, these players could play the same game all over again and we go back to nothing overnight. We might not even have to wait that long as banks all over the EU are now trying to loosen up ties with those controlling pensions of people all over the world.

So Jay-Z is correct. The gap of those who have and ‘the others’ is widening and it is widening a lot faster than you all realise. Consider the enormous debt that the American people got stuck with, with the due compliments of companies like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Do you remember on how ‘something’ was going to get done? Well consider the house resolutions

H.R.1227 Latest Title: GSE Risk and Activities Limitation Act of 2011
H.R.1225 Latest Title: GSE Debt Issuance Approval Act of 2011
H.R.1223 Latest Title: GSE Credit Risk Equitable Treatment Act of 2011
H.R.1221 Latest Title: Equity in Government Compensation Act of 2011
H.R.1182 Latest Title: GSE Bailout Elimination and Taxpayer Protection Act

All these bills have been left untouched since 2011. The story does get a little worse when we consider the article from Bloomberg as published on May 8th at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-07/new-regulations-are-strangling-community-banks.html

The starting quote: “The wave of new banking regulations that Congress created to deter and punish Wall Street’s misdeeds is landing with much greater impact on the U.S.’s almost 7,000 community banks than on the too-big-to-fail lenders.

This gives us the question whether there is a foul stench coming from the big boy enabling group, which is supported by the quote “Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. show that large banks have both the lowest credit quality and the lowest cost of funds in the industry.” If the American people depend on their day to day issues on those community banks, then why are these regulations pushed out in this way? Well, in my view the banks ‘own’ the politicians and the banks decided a let them all suffer until regulations are dropped again, so we can do this one more time approach. This is how I see it.

Yes, banks definitely need regulation and not only in America. However, the need to strangle certain services that caused the bulk of all the grief could be choked more efficiently without placing these community banks in a vice. That would make sense, unless those community banks go the wrong direction of course, so better options could have been found, which makes us wonder where political levels of competency currently are.

Supporting evidence can be found in this article at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-20/bank-of-america-and-the-tragedy-of-foreclosure.html

It is as analysed as a he said/she said situation. I think it is a ‘they said’ and ‘it claimed’ situation, but let us not revert to a black letter wishy washy job.

Where the bank claimed “These allegations are absurd, patently false and contrary to Bank of America’s long-standing policy only to foreclose as a last resort when other available options to help keep people in their home have been exhausted,” can be read as true, but that does not give way that this tactic has likely been used and to include the tactic as quoted “stall applications for loan modifications“. One does not exclude the other and as such it seems to me that as more facts become visible, the failed regulations and more important a wrongful push to pressure the entirety of banking, instead of certain services and strangling certain monetary reward schemes (read bonus structures).

So again, Jay-Z has a point!

This goes beyond America. The Dutch SNS Reaal bank is still in levels of turmoil, as can be read at http://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2013/06/06/sns-reaal-verliest-netto-972-miljoen-in-2012-16-miljard-in-eerste-kwartaal-2013  (Dutch source), it boils down to the last paragraph [translated]The Netherlands must submit a plan within 6 months for restructuring the SNS. The real estate branch must be placed in a separate organisation. On these submissions the commission will take a final decision“. This was in February and the final decisions are due this month whilst political Netherlands is on vacation.

My prediction is that these politicians will make an 11th hour decision with the humble stance that includes ‘alas’ and ‘we are forced’ and ‘this is by far the best solution’ and they will then push the real estate branch into a bad bank, which basically mean that (please pardon my French) ‘Banking Wankers’ high and low got away with it again and the Dutch tax payers will end up coughing up another 2.4 billion Euro, which comes down to every Dutch tax paying citizen paying a 175 Euro each for a mess that politicians are unwilling to control on several levels. So, these politicians are allowed a vacation whilst there is such a mess? My vacations got cut short twice by two previous employers and these politicians go on vacation making twice as much? Talk about dedication (or lack thereof).

This all boils down to Financial Institutions and Industrials are given the leeway to widen the gap of ‘those-who-have’ and the others, yet politicians remain silently in the background showing the spine of a paperback, not one hardcover amongst them.

Let us to get back to Bill O’Reilly where today’s blog all started. Many do not agree, but I admire the man. He can be right, he can be wrong and I have not always agreed with him, but he has always shown clarity of what he thinks was right. No half-baked answers! The issue with him is that he is another item of proof on the US failing levels. You see, he has a website, a talk show and he has a good (read very good) income. He donates all the profits of those website sales to what he sees as worthy causes, mostly Veteran and serving military and I am all for that. Now, as stated, his income is really good, yet nowhere near what some get. This is clearly shown as annual bonuses on Wall Street rose to a total of $20,000,000,000 (20 Billion) in 2012. So the challenge for Bill O’Reilly is to find 100 people donating to the community on that level, whilst they are not allowed to make over 15 million a year to be allowed on that list, in a population of over 325 million he will fail. So basically he makes less than a mid-level banker and donates a truckload. This man stands almost alone!

That is the evidence, that even though one can be found, many are destitute beyond their control and the people in financial institutions keep on being enabled by the very people who should be protecting those in such an economic state of destitution.

Jay-Z spoke a true word!

When we see what people like Jay-Z, Will.i.am and Bill O’Reilly contribute to communities in such a degree there is evidence that there is still a level of humanity in this world. It would however be nice if the politicians in many nations step up to the plate to make their places a lot better without enabling greed.

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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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