Tag Archives: George Soros

Automated Fraud Dangers

What a world we live in, not only is there the crime of fraud, there is now the option to automate it. Yes, the Guardian is giving us (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/aug/08/fake-news-full-fact-software-immune-system-journalism-soros-omidyar), the automation against ‘fake news’. It is the subtitle that gets the blackberry pie in this. With ‘Full Fact software backed by George Soros and Pierre Omidyar fact-checks statements in parliament and news media in real time‘ we see the start of a series of events, and I am honestly not sure where they are trying to take it at present. The bias is intentional, because we all have this feeling, when a billionaire (or plural) support something, it will put them in a better position. It could be seen as unfair bias, yet bias is in the human core, which in light of what the media does more and more not the worst position to place yourself in.

To get there, we need to take a few steps. With fraud we need to see where that is at. We get “wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain“, so let’s take a gander into The Fraud Act 2006. This gives us three options.

The first being that with fraud by false representation we can go hilariously with ‘I really have an 11 inch dick‘, or better stated, in section 2 paragraph 2 it is all about:

A representation is false if: (a)it is untrue or misleading, and (b)the person making it knows that it is, or might be, untrue or misleading.

This issue as seen in the first part as it could be measured and acted on by the rulering (pun, innuendo and Full Fact challenge intended), yet the statement ‘I am the greatest lover in the world‘ is that fraud, being delusional of conviction of a personal ability through (or enabled by) the deceit of your own ego, so how to prove such subjectivity, against fraud? Now the important part here, which is not covered in lust (or perhaps it is) is seen in paragraph 3 with

(3) “Representation” means any representation as to fact or law, including a representation as to the state of mind of (a) the person making the representation, or (b) any other person.

and the important part that matters in his case is paragraph 5 which gives us (5) For the purposes of this section a representation may be regarded as made if it (or anything implying it) is submitted in any form to any system or device designed to receive, convey or respond to communications (with or without human intervention)“, this puts tweets, social media and optionally this software solution in a similar weird new position.

Now this is part one and you can see where this is going, and there is no twist to this part of the tale, yet the other two are still important.

The second is fraud by failing to disclose information. Now in this case journalists get a free pass, because it is about the legal duty and that person is in breach of this section if he (or she)

(a)dishonestly fails to disclose to another person information which he is under a legal duty to disclose, and (b)intends, by failing to disclose the information

  • (i)to make a gain for himself or another, or
  • (ii)to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.

so this tends to be professionally set to the makers of laws, accountants, those people with red or purple robes and wigs, you know the types, in this case doctors, and not to forget certain contractors working for governments, in this the military and intelligence community cannot be convicted or prosecuted as they have other sets of rules, like national security, military law and in some cases maritime law could leave a person not in breach of this, yet they would have their own set of rules that still sets clearly their responsibilities.

And last we get fraud by abuse of position. I am merely mentioning this almost for the completeness of the fraud as it is in common law. Yet with

(1) A person is in breach of this section if he (or she), (a) occupies a position in which he is expected to safeguard, or not to act against, the financial interests of another person,(b) dishonestly abuses that position, and (c)intends, by means of the abuse of that position

  • (i)to make a gain for himself or another, or
  • (ii)to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.

(2) A person may be regarded as having abused his position even though his conduct consisted of an omission rather than an act.

Actually, now that I think of it, the makers of the software program once called the “bullshit detector” in an early version of the system by its creators, is now set to be a virtual truth vaccine. I am in two set mind here, on one side I love the idea and on the other side there are a few hitches that would make it fall over for possibly a lot longer than anyone could consider. You see, when I think of fake news, I do not think merely of the actual fact misusers. The joke that Channel Nine became in the evening as they got the first lead on a shooting (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjkQSREjxH0), the lady now nationally known as the ‘chick chick boom girl’, gave an eye witness report and the journo just ate it all up. A sexy looking girl giving the news all the ‘facts‘ as she was allowed to report this in the limelight offered. The reporter felt so good and six days later the Age gives us “Within 24 hours of the footage first airing on Channel Nine, T-shirts emblazoned with “chk chk boom“, the phrase which Ms Werbeloff used to describe the gunshot, were being sold on a US website. There were also drink bottles with the slogan and a rap-music remix of her video, and in addition, the fact that the news was bogus, fake, not real and pretty well made up“, we now have two issues, she is not merely guilty of fraud, she possibly impeded an investigation into a shooting.

This is more than a funny story, even as we can admit that one comment in the YouTube states that it is still funny and to some extent I agree, merely because the gullible reporter basically got played. We can set in equal measure giggle to the smallest extent as KVTU reported that the names of the MH370 crew members were Captain Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk and Bang Ding Ow. The fact that the newsreader and the editor did not ‘seemingly realise‘ that this was fake is a failure on an entirely different level and no software on the planet will protect us from stupid people (or gullible politicians for that matter). So that in the back of my mind within a minute of the article in the Guardian had me pondering this ‘software solution‘. Now, I do believe that the software could be used to flag thousands of messages almost instantly, yet the claim we get from “The early version of the software scans the subtitles of live news programmes, broadcasts of parliament, the Hansard parliamentary record, and articles published by newspapers. It tracks millions of words sentence by sentence until it identifies a claim that appears to match a fact-check already in its database” is dangerous on a few levels, yet as the makers interestingly and validly point out: “Babakar is keen to stress the limitations of the system so far and believes the tool should only be used by journalists in the first instance rather than the general public“, I like that part, they admit that the software is nowhere near ready even when it initially launches.

So where is my issue?

There are a few sides, with ‘claim that appears to match a fact-check already in its databasewe have to realise that the vetting process is a critical part in this, so how soon will we see clearances and cleared checks of miscommunications, the previous news cast from KVTU being a first example. This process would require internal political hands from whoever uses it and there is where the bias sets in. We might go biased and auto accept the facts from sources like the Washington Post, the Times, the Dutch NRC Handelsblad and the Swedish Dagens Nyheter, yet now we get the second part, we have all seen and under the best of conditions there is the danger of getting ‘lost in translation‘ (not the movie which was brilliant). So when we apply the lost in translation, we have the local versions (UK version of English) with the Sun giving us today: ‘1,200 killed by mental patients‘, so is this fake news? I would state so, but knowing the people behind the Sun, they will have some numbers that add up to 1200. Yet ‘today’ was October 2013, when it actually was ‘today’. So here we see the first application of lost in translation, the second side in that headline was seen when we go to the ‘actual’ news, were we see “It discovered 1,216 people were killed by patients with mental illness from 2001-2010 — an average of 122 deaths a year” (at https://www.thesun.co.uk/archives/news/1052064/1200-killed-by-mental-patients/), so is this still fake news? That same article gives us “The study — the first of its kind in the UK — found 45 per cent of those with severe psychiatric problems were victims of crime in the previous year“, now giving weight to anything the Sun states is one thing, accepting the good looks of the lady on page three is another, yet in the end, were these stated ‘facts’ lies? I have had loads of issues with tabloids for the longest of times. Still, when we now look at fraud, where ‘A representation is false ifit is untrue or misleading, and the person making it knows that it is, or might be, untrue or misleading.‘ The additional ‘a representation may be regarded as made if it is submitted in any form to any system or device designed to receive, convey or respond to communications (with or without human intervention)‘. Here is the initial ballgame, you see, it is not merely about fake news, it now becomes about the interpretation of language. In its most basic terms, a grammar system designed to comprehend innuendo. When we know that loads of Journalists are incapable of comprehending sarcasm under even the most optimal conditions and in addition, when I state that sarcasm that backfires is merely irony, they are likely to become even more confused. So the heavens might love the simple minded, but here it becomes an issue on a much larger scale.

The article gives us “The fledgling system is not without its problems; sometimes it flags up a fact-check that isn’t relevant, for example. The challenge for the programmers is to get the software to understand the fuzzy logic and idiom used so often in speech” This actually barely scratches the surface. You see, there are a few other parts, how would the Metro front page ‘Brexit begins‘ be seen? Officially, the letter was delivered, yet the overwhelming ‘news’ is that Brexit has not started yet, could flag this news article. The truth is the interpretation of what constitutes the start of Brexit is also the issue. It’s not like having sex (yes the example matters, so do read on), that is the act and point in time, it is what happens after. So when is the baby seen as alive? When the conception has happened? When the child is capable of being born alive? In Australia it is seen after 28 weeks of pregnancy. Yet in separate Australian states, in this case Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, the terminal points for abortions are 16, 24 and 20 weeks, so there is an issue on a few levels. In cases there is the Crimes Act 1900 (sections 82-84), whilst the ACT had abortions repealed as a criminal offense from the Crimes (Abolition of Offence of Abortion) Act 2002. So, one moment in time that on a national level already has 4 different assessment dates on one national calendar. In that mess on one ‘simple’ issue, we see a mess that becomes even messier when theology gets in the way of the subject of conversation and that is more than just a reference to separation of church and state. This shows part of the problem, also for the us where federal law can be a real mess for the non-legal people and that also has implications for the ‘fake news’ vetting system. So how could any article on illegal abortion be weighed correctly, especially when a politically or religiously tainted tabloid becomes the provider of that news?

Now, if they pull it off would be quite a feat, yet when we go back to the initial fraud part, if the system flags an article as possible fake, what happens when the news agency in light of thousands of items a day scraps that one item? Would the non-reported article by the journalist be seen as a matter for an aggrieved status? That is part of the problem these makers face, because in some nations the torts law is pretty strong and if there is a case of ‘redress of damage‘ the roll of the dice would be well worth it. There would be a direct and instant case of insurance companies, especially in any editorial status to not warrant any level of insurance when such software is used. Not now, possibly even not ever, although the latter part would be highly speculative by me and I hope to some extent that I am wrong, because pulling it off, getting software to be this able would be quite the achievement and the essential requirement for any evolving AI. This is because intelligence artificial or not would be about the ability to weigh information and facts to the proper value of innuendo and ascertainment of paraphrased facts. Weighing information is a skill that is almost never done correctly on the present day internet. A nice example is to compare the search engines Bing and Google, when you seek ‘UK torts‘ the search engine Bing gave me as a 4th and several subsequent mentions ‘Tort law in Australia – Wikipedia‘ as well as a few other Australian references to Australian law. Was that what I had asked for? No, it was not (which is why Bing is my preferred source for not finding facts, yay Google).

All issues given that could be seen as fake news, or is that fake information, so when we see the flags, how long until the bias sets in? You see that is my largest issue with what could come, with bias I get what they want me to see, which I touched on in the very beginning, because automated or not, censoring is a dangerous principle under the most ideal situations. With software, no matter how good the intention we could see a dangerous curve towards what is automated assumed we wanted to see. You see, there are too many parts of the dimension of ‘fake news’. This has been the larger issue with media for a much longer time. In this, Mevan Babakar the project manager at Full Fact in London has his work cut out for him, I do not envy him, yet if this gets solved and if it works, the value of this software would be a lot larger than most people could realise, and it would be a technological software marvel to behold.

 

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Memory lane is a freeway

What do you do when you need to look better then you should? Well, the obvious reason some might grasp as is ‘to lie’. So how do you lie whilst remaining truthful? Well, here we get to grasp at the one of the smallest books with the power of a titan. It is called ‘How to lie with statistics‘ and it was the masterwork by Darrell Huff in 1954.

This book has never lost its charm, not even after 60 years of evolving news and economy, it still packs a wallop!

Let’s take a look!

The Dutch bank Rabo told us the following “Despite a downturn in the first quarter of this year, Dutch GDP volume is expected to grow in 2014 by ½%, largely due to a recovery in exports and investments. In 2015 economic growth is expected to accelerate slightly to 1½%, fuelled by a real rise in private consumption” (at https://www.rabobank.com/en/press/search/2014/20140612-Rabobank-Dutch-economy-continues-cautious-recovery.html). You know, this reads somewhat familiar. Ah yes! I remember now, it was May 15th 2013, and my blog called ‘A noun of non-profit‘ had something about the Dutch economy.

Where I wrote the following in addition to the information of the Dutch NOS: “The Dutch NOS reported the prediction that even though the Dutch economy will shrink another 0.5%, they do predict a growth of 1.1% next year. I personally join the group “Oh ye of little faith!” on that one and if they are able to get the economy up to 0.2% positive in 2014 than they would have achieved quite the small miracle

Guess what! A year later it turns out I was less confident by a mere 0.2%, whilst they were overconfident by 0.7%. Now consider that I am NO economist, but I saw the rain and the worry. So were these economists informing the Dutch NOS, brilliantly on the dumb side, or was this an event of managing bad news? I actually do not know and I personally think that this is one of many events where the placer of ‘news’ was not based upon ‘realism’ but on keeping moral high no matter what the numbers are.

Is this fair?

I actually will hold out the ‘do not know!‘ sign. Looking at murky numbers is at times more an art then a science and today’s prophet is tomorrow’s ‘pussy with balls of dough’. Is that even a valid expression? You see, I do believe that we WERE heading in the right direction, but now we get two new players on the market. Actually we get 4 new players in two teams. The first team is Team Anglican with in the South Corner the one, the only the true champion of the British Empire ‘England!’ (Please say it loudly in style of Michael Buffer) and in the North corner, the new contender for the global market ‘Scotland!’ (Repeat Michael Buffer voice). This duo is now at odds and at this point, independence of Scotland is still not a fact. In this era, under these conditions, I remain a ‘stronger together‘ person, not because I am against Scottish independence, but because team 2 and a few other factors could drag down both Scotland and England, especially once they are divided, which is a really bad thing. We as Australians would come to the rescue of both, if at all possible, but our economic gravitas, especially as the previous labour government had spent 627 billion it did not have, we too are bleeding and not in the best condition for any economic price fight.

Team two is the main event and the big potato (no, it’s not Ireland). It is team USA and team Japan. Together they have overspent their coffers by a whopping 28 trillion, yes readers, these two are down 28,000 billion, which exceeds the budgets of both the Commonwealth and the EEC with an uncomfortable margin to boot. So, even if we consider the dead drop of that amount, consider that they need 280 billion per percent per year just to pay the interest on this. This means that every person in the US and Japan need to come up with $636 per person per year, per percent that means if the Us and Japan need to borrow at over 1%, every person in these two nations need to deposit $1272 each year from their net income, in America over 12% lives in poverty, which means that up to 25% of the nation has absolutely no way of making that payment. This is not a new song, it is a song, me, myself, I and many others have been trying to bring forward to the people at large. As we are all trying to survive, no one seems to be listening and the wealthy apparently do not (need to) care. This makes for a dangerous precedent because as we look at the truth of the matter, we see that team two is in such dire economic danger that the entire economic map will be redrawn soon enough. Weirdly enough, the team one issues will give additional pains to both team two and the rest of the world, whilst other events are not helping either.

You see, what can we do? This is at the heart of the matter. I try not to be the one just complaining and then leave it to others, even though I am not sure that my methods would work, it seems that my predictions have been a whole lot more accurate than those from economists making 7 figures (I personally believe I am due a $750,000 bonus, where to send the bill to though?).

Although I see USA as a strong (disregarding their deficit) option, we need to take hard actions, especially as their pharmaceutical (and several other industries) have been, in what I personally regard, a state of mindless infancy. If the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) does not come through, which I personally hope it does not, then the USA would need to change strategies in massive ways, and that is beside several other companies on the list of 30 that Americans keep their faith on high (aka the Dow Jones Index).

But we are not even close to the issues, mainly because this is not some anti-America rhetoric. Truly I am not against America, but against the change some executives want that nation to be, a nation that is no longer one for all Americans, but one where your return on investment and consumer spending decides whether you are allowed to live or not.

Europe as stated is still in a dire mess for several reasons. You see, there are elections in Sweden tomorrow, and for some reason, this is making many non-Swedes nervous. I did not get this at first, because I have lived there, I witnessed them and as elections go, they are as timid as you might think them to be. Watching submarines race underwater from the shoreline is a lot more exciting than the Swedish elections, so what gives?

Well, the first jolt of nervousness can be gotten from the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/11/swedish-elections-cracks-showing-nordic-model).

When we see Sweden, we focus on quotes like “it was Sweden that offered answers, having resolved its own debt mess a generation earlier. It is the only EU country that has lower public debt now than in 2006“, which shows Swedish Pragmatism is not confined to the furniture you buy at IKEA. When we think of the family bonds within Sweden (family is always seemed to be a Swedish trademark), we see “The care sector also suffered a privatisation scandal in 2011, when the Dagens Nyheter newspaper reported that an elderly care centre in Koppargården, run by the private company Carema, was catastrophically neglecting its customers, allegedly weighing their diapers to see if they could be used for longer, thus ensuring maximum usage and lower costs” so it seems that the care of the elderly does not have the safety of a Volvo, not to mention “Complaints about poor service and frequent delays on the high-speed train between Malmö and Stockholm also swung the mood against rail privatisation of the railways“. It seems like there is plenty under the covers that is not just upsetting the Swedes.

So how does this all link up?

This is indeed the question, on one side we see the worry of privatisation (which is really a common sense issue), because if someone wants to do it ‘better’ by taking it away from the government, then evidence of decades has shown us that this person is in it for the cash, which means the goal is to get it done cheaper, which gets us to ‘it will never ever be done better‘. At times I do not even comprehend how a population accepts such a fabricated story. But there is more (there always is, isn’t there). All this seems to impact on a European scale. Why? Sweden is not that big, as stated it is lowering debt. It is not a G-20 nation (only as an EEC member, yet not a Euro Zone), so why is there such a massive push here? They are in 7th position representing a mere 3% of the EEC in regards to the GDP, so this should not be such an issue, should it?

This is where it gets a little dicey, especially by the standards I try to keep. If we consider a player like Coface (Coface began to diversify internationally in 1992. Currently, the Group has global capabilities to support its clients’ growth in their home markets and with their exports by offering them credit insurance services tailored to their needs. Source: Coface Website). They stated the following in regards to Sweden.

The country is returning to dynamic growth in 2014, as household consumption will strengthen in response to higher disposable income, thanks to the fiscal stimulus in the context of an election year. Unemployment affected 8% of the economically active population in 2013 and is expected to fall slightly in 2014, in particular because of new jobs created in the public sector“, here we see the two united: ‘particular because of new jobs created in the public sector‘ and the rejection of privatisation. So is Sweden a risk or is this about setting the continuing trend of ‘investment’ which is now holds the taste of ‘exploitation for profit‘. This is at the core of the issues. The world at large is perpetuating a scandalous system that has no limit, will not discipline itself and the larger players will not stop overextending their reach. It is like an elastic band that can double in size and has been stretched long beyond its safety limits for half a decade, stretching more and more each year, increasing risk and danger each week. Sweden is a lovely place and it looks magical around Christmas, yet it should not have the economic impact that some give it. Is Coface the right instance? Well, that is less for me to say as these ‘risk assessors’ at times all seem the same. I did however notice that their CFO looked aged as a teenager, which made me a little nervous. Especially when you see the massive exposure Coface enjoys on an international level.

So why are they in this article? You see, Coface is part of Natixis and Natixis manages the public guaranties granted by the French Government. Yet, Natixis is not just a player, it is a financial Behemoth. Bernard Oppetit who is also chairman of Centauris Capital is on the board there. Who was visible in the past as Swedish Telecom Giant Tele2 was fending of Dutch Versatel. These facts are mere unrelated facts (or so it seems), yet there seems to be an almost incestuous relationship between some of these Hedge funds and Sweden (amongst others). How direct is Nataxis or its subsidiaries connected to some of these privatisations? The water is too murky for me to see, but it seems that Hedge funds have a three degree separation between them and pretty much any government is more than a worry. Nataxis has direct links all over America and has an office in almost every Commonwealth nation (apart from New Zealand and the West Indies). So here we see the first steps into memory lane.

There was a link with SNS Reaal as we see the following “The 5-year Note has a total size of € 1.6 billion and carries a coupon of 3.5%. The Note was issued to a widely spread range of national and international investors. Lead managers were Citi, JP Morgan Securities Ltd., Natixis, Rabobank en UniCredit (HVB)“, the bank that could not fail was before it was nationalised has links to Natixis. When I looked into SNS, I never noticed how deep some connections went, until last night I was not even aware of how far the reach of Natixis goes. Now consider the powers of their board “Any acquisition of a stake in another company or increases in equity investments, other investments, divestments (or the creation of a joint venture) by Natixis or one of its significant subsidiaries representing more than €150 million” as well as “Any transfers, mergers or demergers in which Natixis is involved” (source: Natixis website). So is this the first we see of the larger funds, now squeezing out the remaining coin of the smaller places, because if that is so, we only have to wait and see when Natixis opens offices in the West-Indies and/or New Zealand, because that might be an indicator that the other exploitation wells have truly run dry (a personal, and possibly wrong assumption).

It is of course likely that the true economists (me is not one of them), are laughing in regards to my naiveté, yet who else knew and how is a direct subsidiary of Natixis, setting the credit score and advice for customers, supporting them and securing their transactions by protecting them against the risk of their clients defaulting. As they themselves state it, whilst their ‘big momma’ Natixis, with an impact beyond belief has a vested interest. I would state that ‘incestuous’ does not even close cover the issue.

This is not a jump from whatever to Natixis, this memory highway, as some might recall the issues on the Royal Bank of Scotland, which I also took a look at. When we consider the news from the BBC (at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/business-15212476), we see another view where Natixis has links. The quote “Natixis assumes the following percentage writedowns (or “marks”) on Greek, Irish, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish debt, respectively: 70%, 40%, 40%, 20% and 20%. And then it assumes the banks would need to preserve a core tier one ratio of either 7% or 8% on these stressed scenarios by the end of 2012“, Is the writing on the wall or have we all (including me) ignored a tier of economy, or better stated a commissioned golden lining of profit as certain ‘providers’ remained behind the screens. “You take in greed from the customer and charge them all twice” (sing this line in the tune of Harry Nilsson ‘You put the lime in the coconut‘) and you charge the others in the morning.

Memory lane turns out to be more than just a freeway, as we are limited to walking down this road, the financial advisors and stakeholders are driving back and forth whilst limiting the views we have and the governments involved seem to be driven to not be too revealing on where the money is coming from. It is important to know that all this, whilst true is devoid of any crime, devoid of illegal transactions and possibly even devoid of misrepresentation, yet as I see it a massive misleading amount of presentation towards an audience of taxpayers. So what will happen in Sweden? I do not know, they seem to have an election in less than 24 hours and I find it interesting that it could have an impact. Another vote is soon thereafter on Scotland, which will have an economic impact too. My worry is why the impact is so far beyond the borders of the involved parties, which gives wonder to global statements in the trend of ‘Economic policies in isolation won’t lead to growth in Europe‘. I definitely feel uncertain to oppose such a view, but when we consider players like Natixis, is it perhaps possible that economic isolation leads to a few less dangers? Especially in Europe that issue should be deeper investigated by people who do not have a stake in the game. The writer of the piece I gave was Dr Bryony Hoskins. From what I read, I would categorise her as ‘a really smart cookie’. Yet one of her points is “Encourage collaboration and partnerships between different types of organisations, such as schools, local authorities, youth groups, charities and businesses“, I do not disagree with the generic view, but when we see the involvement on a ‘guiding’ behemoth like Natixis, is there not the danger of government enabling business to push for other long term changes that only serves the business and no one else? With assets well over 300 billion, this player has loads of pushing space, the question is: are they actually pushing?

There is of course the other side, is it fair to blame Natixis for anything (I have not been blaming them)? For example, if we watch all these computers around us with viruses and they are all Windows PC’s, can we state that Microsoft is making viruses? This is at the heart of it all, having your fingers in every pie, could give the thought that any bad pie was because of the fingers, we forget to look at who is making the pies. Yet as we see changes happening in Sweden and as hedge funds and retirement funds are going together, perhaps enabling one another, how dangerous is the stable view of Sweden at present? These searches led me to the attached document named “http___doc.morningstar.com_document_183a66452941e059812946b714604784.pdf”. I do not pretend to understand it. But the risk of ‘5’, when we consider retirement funds and ‘NSIO-OFM1403A’, would give me a reason to worry. LET ME BE CLEAR! I am not an economist!

I added the documents (at the end), so that perhaps those who do know, will know better.

So why am I here then? It seems to be silly, stupid and all other sorts of not bright in a place that I do not understand. The fact that a relative small nation like Sweden could have such stretching consequences on the market was beyond me, yet if I look at the Natixis annual report (at http://ngam.natixis.com/docs/812/834/AF58-1213.pdf), I am confronted with another question. “If one cog in the machine changes direction, what happens to the financial numbers of a behemoth like Natixis?” I am not stating that they are ‘hurt’ in any way. It might be less than a pinprick, but the fact that this company has stakes in all commodities and every large bank that had been slapped around in the last few years; it does make me wonder in light of the issues we faced in 2008. “What happens when a hedge fund bets on a nation failing?” is that such a leap? Only last month several made millions, betting against Banco Espírito Santo. Is my thought really that far from reality? Apparently not! George Soros is already doing this, betting on the collapse of the US stock and he put 2 billion where his mouth was, so was I right all along (at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/aug/18/george-soros-bets-2b-plus-stock-market-collapse-in/)?

http___doc.morningstar.com_document_183a66452941e059812946b71460478414_355_NSI_Bond_b9aeb, 14_355_NSI_Bond_b3c0c

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Independent Crete

Another day, another issue of the Guardian! In it we find the article where we see how certain people lash out, in fear of the future (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/08/greece-begins-eu-presidency-austerity-intolerable). Not to be too smug about it, but even the X-Files movie told us that we could not fight the future.

I keep a slightly more open mind at that point, as most of these actions are based upon what was done in the past. So when we read the quote “Following four years at the sharpest end of Europe’s debt and currency crisis and €250bn in bailout funds, the Greek government declared enough was enough.” we should add that the Greek can have that opinion, yet at that point someone will make the statement “Can we have it back please?

At this point, the Greek government will come up short by a lot!

The second quote is the ‘interesting’ one “a senior policymaker in Brussels said: ‘The worst of the crisis is over. So the pressure to take tough measures is off. We’ve had enough of discipline, enough of sanctions, we’re sufficiently unpopular already. The worst is over, so let’s stop now.’

Let us take a slight look at that statement. Is that policymaker one of those same ‘not too bright’ individuals who stated in the 2005-2010 era that it would be OK with the debt? How did that work out? In my mind, the utter idiocy of several decisions are now in a state where no one wants to admit to anything as leaders and especially middle management is getting cut all over the place.

Before we start ignoring the obvious, take a look at the following (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/09/morrisons-issues-profit-warning-sales-down). This is not just in the UK, this is happening all over the EEC. People have run out of money. Whatever they have they spend on getting debts down and making sure bills are getting paid. The worst is NOT over. There is enough evidence on several fronts, in several nations that this will last for at least another 18 months. After that it might (I stated might) improve if the economy gets better (more than 1% improvement would be needed) as per the next 6 months. If not, then the slump we see now will continue at least three months for every month after this point that the economy does not improve strongly, which means that in 4 months’ time, no improvement will mean an additional year of a slumped economy.

That same senior policymaker must feel that his/her job is decently threatened. As you read the last Guardian article, you might realise that these numbers seem to be slightly off. If this is all about the report to the stakeholders, then what are they not ‘telling’ the people?

I get the fact that to look good they need to get creative (without lying) with the presentation towards their stakeholders.

That part is reflected in the quote “The finance director, Laurie McIlwee, who is under pressure from shareholders over his handling of profit forecasts, said: ‘In hindsight we were a little too optimistic at the beginning of December there has been further weakness across the whole of the grocery market which we didn’t anticipate.’

How dim is that? In the UK not unlike the US, one in seven is currently below the poverty line. If we add the UK energy prices, there is enough indication that the UK population in 2014 is hitting its hardest time for almost 15 years. So either Miss McIlwee was not looking in the correct area, or she was gladly ignoring the issue on more than one level. There is not hindsight here. This is a harsh reality, which has been known and will remain for at least another year. So what ludicrous data is this senior policymaker exactly in possession of?

This goes a lot further then the UK. The Netherlands is in a similar dip, Sweden is presently not in a good shape and the least we state about France, Ireland and Italy the better. When it comes to Spain, we are likely to see much more hardship. The unemployment drop in Spain seems interesting, but when we consider that December, with the holidays, usually has many temp workers in action, the misrepresentation of ‘better times’ is utterly unacceptable until the data proves that the drop of these numbers continue as we enter February and March, only then will there be evidence of less depression. I intentionally avoid the word ‘optimism’ here as youth unemployment remains well over 50% in Spain, the highest in Spanish history. When I read a quote like “And now, buy Spanish bonds and stocks, because ‘the recovery’ is here“, I feel a dangerous game coming on. To be frank, I fear that Spain and Greece are in such bad shapes they both will have a hand in dragging down Europe. That point comes from the issue that France and Italy have no option to intervene. The Netherlands and Belgium are in severely weakened positions, which leave the UK and Germany.

Because of earlier, self-imposed austerity Germany was able to keep a strong back (and they had several industrial advantages), yet the UK is not out of the woods, so when I read ‘the worst is over‘ that might have a foundation of correctness (not a truthful one), the issues we face over the next year will make it essential that Austerity continues in several nations. In addition, when you seek for Austerity we see all these US articles on how this is not an option. On which grounds is this not a solution? Let us not forget that it was the US and its bankers that dropped a 10+ trillion dollar junk hike on all of our heads. When exactly did those bankers go to jail? (The hidden answer is never)

So getting back to Greece! The news on September 23rd 2004 by the New York Times states “Greece confessed to having repeatedly misrepresented significant economic data before it joined the European currency union.

In addition the quote “The problem would not be so serious if it had happened only one year” shows that this had been going on for a long time. Consider that this is about billions. Did the Greek not consider the invoice that would follow? So many billions in a nation with a population of only 10 million. The NY Times article implies that the debt hike was well over 30 billion, with the rest of the ‘mis presented’ data like the Goldman Sachs issues gives way to a massive debt that goes beyond 25,000 dollars for every Greek. In addition, it continued to spend will over its means for well over a decade. That is well over a year of income for every Greek, and that only works if that nation has ZERO costs to operate. It is not a realistic picture. This all points towards one and the same conclusion, the Greek population will be under massive pressures for at least another 5 years. After that the pressure will lower, but the Greeks could face another decade of poverty. The reason for this is that as prices all over Europe will go up, the income they have will not suffice and soon thereafter, even those with a job will learn that what they have will diminish further, which is a bleak outlook.

So when we realise all this, why are they still blaming the Germans and Merkel? It was their own government that got them in this situation. In addition, when we read the response by George Soros “Angela Merkel’s policies are giving rise to extremist movements in the rest of Europe.” New issues rise here. Yes, I am NOT a billionaire, but I have issues with the claims of George Soros. I have had several over the years and so far I have little faith that he serves any issue other than what he sees as ‘a priority’. His quote does ring correct but they are not true in my view. It is poverty, frustration and jealousy that give rise to extremism. Germany after the pressure of the Versailles treatment gave rise to the Nazi’s. So in that regard George Soros is correct. The fact that this debt was not from the people themselves is also correct in the case of pre WW2 Germany and Today’s Greece. The ‘not true’ part is that in the time of Nazi Germany the people got pushed into extremism by its own government, today’s extremism is due to inaction by their own governments. There is the real difference. It would be interesting to see the picture where we see mapped where all these governments get all their money from. Who lends to the government? There is the foundation of government inaction. In case of Greece, several parties would have had to intervene a decade ago. This never happened. That inaction is dragging down all of Europe.

The issue that is correct, true and dangerous is the European election. People have had enough and in several nations there could be a European segregation. This means that what comes will worsen it for all parties involved. The far Right like the Dutch PVV, the British UKIP and the French National Front could imply the end of the Euro as it currently is. This threat and the danger that connects it is real. So whatever a senior policymaker claims in regards to the worst is over. That is not even close to true, it is not even likely in the best outcome, which is already extremely unlikely. So what to do?

Here the title comes into play. I have always had a soft spot for Crete. I love that island! In my long life I have had less than half a dozen actual vacations. Crete is the only place I had moments of actual rest and tranquility. If the Greek way of life is to survive, then the best option in my personal view is for Crete to become independent, preferably before Greece drags them down into nothingness.

 

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60% confiscated and counting in Cyprus!

We knew that the played situation of the Cyprus deal seemed to have a few more angles than foreseen. We saw the two-step dance routine by Jeroen Dijsselbloem and Christine Lagarde. We saw the final second meeting and agreements after hours of delay until the negotiations were set with its back against the wall. We saw the hard felt news on those Cypriots. Some of them were defiant; some of them were blaming different parties. The last part is all good and fine. But the news as stated on BBC and other stations now mention that those owning over 100,000 Euro, are likely to lose up to 60%.

A number of enormous strangling events have been placed in effect; ready to make sure that the money does not get out of Cyprus.

So what is wrong with this picture of the bail-out? Part of me does not disagree that a hefty price is to be paid. There is a very good run down to be seen on the BBC site at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16290598

It gives a short and to the point timeline. So you all should check this out.

You see, the press might not be asleep at the wheel, yet, even after all these high pea-cock statements about the freedom of the press and the need for self-control and no charter and all these other statements of ‘fact’ as to what they should be allowed to do, seem to remain EXTREMELY quiet in regards to the underlying facts of Cyprus at present. We know they ran into trouble when they took massive losses on the Greek government bonds. So, the Cypriot situation had been known about for a long time.

This brings us all to an interesting question. With the Greeks all getting over 150 billion Euros in bail-outs and THEIR bank customers not being cut, how come the Cypriots are getting sliced to this degree? More important, how come these sides of information in regards to press freedom did not make it to the newspapers to the extent it should have been shown?

So, the bailing out bank in Cyprus, if given 2% out of that Greek tragedy could have prevented the need for many savers to be chopped. Let us not forget that the Greek bailout in total has topped 320 BILLION Euro and it is Cyprus who had bought some those Greek bonds (amongst others) that got them into this mess to some extent.

This had nothing to do with Chancellor Merkel or Germany itself (who many seem to blame). This situation seems to show an almost basic lack of arithmetic skills with many parties. How interesting that this did not come up in the Dijsselbloem-Lagarde show of statements and posturing. This is NOT to blame them; I am just asking a few questions.

More important, the fact that this had been going on since 2010, means that either a few people are dropping not one ball, but several left, right and centre. Or the game played is about a whole lot more than just a bail-out. There is the additional issue, which is that bankers are allowed to too much of wielding, weaving and transferring issues that should have been out in the open for others to be judged of before this all was allowed. There is NO way in my mind that this could not have been prevented if proper steps had been taken by several parties. Consider that even in the final days that Cyprus was flaunting options to gas reserves to several parties including the Russians. Could this not have been done sooner? Several businesses in Europe and US could have stepped in in this attempt to raise businesses. If we can believe the voice President Obama about moving forward the US economy, than the fact that they have not been loudly all over this option seems odd, irregular and in my mind definitely questionable. So are these gas reserves for real or was this a quick Cypriot horse to open the IMF bank vaults? (The Trojan horse was already used in Troy).

In the first degree:
The Cyprus government had a first responsibility to take firm control. When the banks are over 85% of your GDP, a government does not get to look out of a window, blow their nose, then state ‘Did we miss something?‘ This level of utter incompetence (for a lack of a better word) is beyond belief. To me this reeks strongly of two partners (politicians and bankers) enabling each other, and then settling others with the bill. The issue for me is that there has been a total lack of transparency. That evidence becomes a lot stronger if we consider that their bad fortune is linked to borrowing to Greece. So when were those government bond deals done, and why were they not dealt with when they were giving hundreds of billions in Euro’s to clean up the Greek issue?

In the second:
All this reads like banks are moving huge chunks of money from place to place (or from loan to loan), with likely 1-2 executives getting a decent (read 7 figure number) commission out of that. Could this thought be true? (I was making a commercial assumption there). So why are these transactions not a lot more open and visible? This question should be taken a lot more seriously when you consider the 2004 and 2008 bank burns. Beyond that we are now likely to see a bail-out strategy between 2010 and 2013 that is more than just flawed. This entire implementation of bad banks will haunt us all down the track.

And should you consider that the money moves are not happening (which might be fair enough), then consider that people do NOT stick their necks out to THAT degree without a decent pay check behind that. These people would have known that there was a decent danger of bankrupting a nation. So whatever the deal was, it would have needed to be mucho sweet for whoever was adding his signature at the bottom.

Now let us look back at those points. The press has been too blatantly absent from all this. Yes, groups like BBC and Guardian have been active, but these are just two of a very small group that is actually digging deep. Most parties seemed to have repeated very little more than the Reuters newsflash, with all these hundreds of investigative journalists that seem to be all over the place does that not seem a little strange? Add to this the famous Cyprus bailout press meeting. How Mr Dijsselbloem was carefully phrasing abstracts like structures and solutions. Yet, until the Guardian asked their question, the ‘solution’ bad-bank seemed to be pussy footed around. Even after that, that phrase was carefully circumvented as much as possible by all parties.

This is why this last blog reads a lot more emotional than the other ones. From my point of view it is a simple approach. We are being managed. The situation is managed to a certain degree, the events are managed to a certain degree and the Cyprus Crises is shown in details, but people tended to focus for the most on the emotional parts. The people, their savings and the daily impact the banks had on their lives. A real proper timeline that gives us an account on how it drove itself over the edge is often sketchy. I find it all too sketchy.

Last is a smaller element which was reported in News.com.au on the evening of March 30th “Lawmaker Mavrides, meanwhile, confirmed that a committee appointed by President Nicos Anastasiades would investigate a list published by Greek media of Cypriot politicians who allegedly had loans forgiven”. This is a smaller part, yet, that means that there is more than just one link where politicians are making personal deals with bankers is not really that far-fetched. We should wait until the facts are investigated and reported, however, that investigation might take a lot longer with all the issues around. It does however give more credence to my earlier statement regarding the interaction between bankers and politicians.

Should you doubt me? That is fair enough!

Consider another avenue. On 30th November 2010 Jullian Assange revealed that the next target of his whistle-blowing website will be a major U.S. bank. The same date a red notice was issued by Interpol. It was around that time that the hunt for Assange intensified by a lot. Perhaps the one bank was just the beginning? If we look back at the issues we know now, then there is a chance that someone made mention of the LIBOR percentage tweaking issue.
If this is what frightens the US, then consider the consequences of a system like LIBOR being manipulated through the total value of trade. If that would have been off by 11.2%. Out of $1000T (UK and US combined) then that difference would be $112T.

I would love to get 1% finder fee of that! It would make me the FIRST Trillionaire in history (not bad for a person only dreaming to be a Law Lord some day).

This is however not about greed (I would be happy to settle on 1% of 1% of that amount), it is about the amounts that are in play here. We knew about the LIBOR percentage manipulation games played and those fines are still being sent out to the involved banks during this year. Yet the total amount does not seem to be under investigation. At least, not by a range of those loud shouting reporters we heard so much about in the last 6 months (who keep on shouting on how unfair Lord Justice Leveson was). When you look at the total value then you will read about statements of complications, non-clarity and other statements that give way to non-revealing reports. Interesting that something THIS important seems to be lacking transparency.

All this connects straight back to the IMF and Eurozone issues in play. For the chosen few it is extremely important that the slow waltz controlled by Mr Dijsselbloem and Mrs. Lagarde continues as is. Because this is NOT about what George Soros says in Inside Job (2010) “We have to dance until the music stops“. This same analogy was used in the movie Margin Call (2011). It is however the issue that in our reality the dance itself is the nightmare that keeps many financial institutions up at night. The moment that proof of large scale manipulations becomes visible (and proven) to the many, that is the moment Wall Street ends, the US goes bankrupt and our way of life stops quite literally. At that point it all stops. Then what?

So why not regulate these banks in tougher Draconian ways? These situations go beyond normal. Well, consider that there is not just the chance to lose a lot; there is the potential for these banks to win big. The problem becomes that the speculating approach banks have taken could be seen as one casino with too many independent well trained quality gamblers. To continue to remain in existence the banking system needs two factors.

First they need the one point advantage like in Blackjack (or the zero in Roulette); the second advantage is that they need more cash. This is the entire danger! The bank is no longer THAT rich and they are up against high stake gamblers who know the game through and through. So now their only playable assets left are the bonds no one wants and what is left of your pensions. So how long do you think you have any money left?

Last thoughts, how come the markets keep on going up? Financial markets are in the dump, Cyprus is in an utter depression, whilst the UK, the Netherlands, France, Spain and Italy remain in a state of recession. All these issues give me a clear impression that we are being managed in more ways than one.

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Time for another collapse

We have all seen the state of matters on many nations. Including Australia loads of nations are in a massive downturn. America keeps on spending money they do not have. Spain is fighting a massive wall of unemployed (over 24%). Greece is fighting just about everything from no longer payable debts and unemployment figures to phantoms of their past. In addition to this France, Italy and Ireland have issues with both debts and people somewhat not working. Last but not least, the Dutch economy is at a low and they are about to change the current Monarch. Add to this the referendum that is at the heart of the UK, will they remain in the EEC. All these are questions that hold matters that stop an upturn of their economy. These are bleak times indeed.

So can anyone explain to me that the Dow keeps rising? (Seriously, I am not an economist!)

Apart from a dip around January 8th there is no real upturn in the US. They have their issues around budgets, around 7.8% in America does not have a job, their export is not what it needs to be and it seems that their numbers are not what they appear to be. Citing a newscast where the following was stated “The US unemployment rate falls to 7.7% thanks to the reduction in the labour force.” So from that we could consider that yes, there are less unemployed, those people did not get a job, they became pensioners. What other misrepresentations are they making? Now, let’s be honest. They are not doing anything wrong, not just because it is done by all, but because they are clinically speaking the truth. Yet, considering these truths, the question remains. Why is the Dow Index going up and up and up?

Are we about to get hit with a 3000 point drop, and if so, who’s wealth will fall away, the banks and bankers or the retirement funds? It feels like America has adopted a Japanese way. The way of the ‘Yes’ people! Hai!

Americans shy away from bad news. They go play Possum, they ignore, they reject. There is no fight for improvement, there is no middle ground. It is only Victory or Apathy, and victory is a term used often and mostly never deserved. Lately we see messages like this: “Just one hour before midnight on New Year’s Day, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a one-year renewal of federally-funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC)”. Decisions of the 11th hour! Even issues on the fiscal gap are deadlocked. Moving forward is not just hard to do, it seems impossible to some to make the hard calls. If they like victory stories that much, they should take a look at Germany. Just so that readers are up to speed, let’s take a little walk on the historical side.

June 7th 2010 “The German government on Monday announced plans to reduce spending by €80 billion ($95.7 billion) by 2014 in the largest package of cuts since World War II” (Source: Die Spiegel)

There was a lot of commotion. Several nations called it overreaction, some called it nonsense. In an IEX article on Macro economy they all mentioned how Germany is such a worry. They even quoted George Soros as a source of it as he spoke at a University in Berlin. How irresponsible these cut backs were. Yet, now Germany has a strong economy, much stronger than anyone else in Europe. I wonder if they saw through the Megalomania of George Soros. It had been advocated by people like Glenn Beck for a while. It seems to me that on a planet of debt, those who own money, those who are in the favour of banks would be in charge of the planet. It is one way of making governments flaccid to your actions; they desperately need what you could spend in their country.

Yet, I am digressing from the issue, which remains the Dow index. Germany remains the only one who fought back these debts with success. It stands to reason that the Dow should not be this strong. Consider that the Dow is fully called “The Dow Jones Industrial Average”. Now consider the unemployment levels which is up and the spending ability which is down. Both elements are off on a global scale.

So how come that this index keeps on rising? What artificial flavours are added?

Now consider that the debt of most nations is based upon Gross National Product (GNP), now consider this falls, which means that the debt quickly rises as per example below.

GNP = $1B, debt is set at 3%, which means that the actual debt is $30M.

Now consider that next year, the GNP is only $700M, which means with a debt of $30M the debt is now 4.28%. This is far more than their agreed and allowed margins of debt. Is this why the Dow is rising? To keep debt percentages low? Also consider that most debts are not millions, but often billions, and in one case many trillions.

You might wonder. Does this matter? Yes, it does for two reasons.

1. The same applied to people with debts in the US. And then in 2004-2008 one in six in the US lost their houses as their spread sheets stated an overly large debt. Why should this not apply to governments? Why are they not accountable for their actions (or better inactions).

2. We seem to be getting that ‘we are still OK’ message, while the impression seems to be that some people are cooking the books (or slightly more precise, they seem to be cooking the percentages).

So the question becomes when it happens (not if it happens) that Dow number slices down to 10,000 or less, who is kept holding the bag?

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