Tag Archives: Greece

The failing Mario Draghi Kart

Just yesterday, the Deutsche Welle (at http://www.dw.com/en/eurozone-economy-still-requires-stimulus-ecbs-mario-draghi/a-42751327), gave us that the ‘Eurozone economy still requires stimulus‘, so after these years the stupid and the rich still will not learn and the people are about to pay for it dearly. That is, not the UK, they might have gotten out just in time, if they don’t add delay upon delay. Even as we are sussed to sleep with: “The bank is gradually reducing its bond purchase program but it may continue past September”, the people are sussed to sleep, in a situation, where they sleep on a luxury liner and it is going down. Like having a nice cabin on the Titanic and you decided to sleep in on April 15th and you did. You never woke up, you could if there was oxygen, yet oxygen is 3786 meters away, 3786 meters straight up!

So when we are pointed at the ECB’s asset purchase program, which began three years ago, and which has seen the central bank spend €2.55 trillion ($3.14 trillion) to buy government bonds and other financial assets. The people are not given clarity on where that money went EXACTLY, in other news, that news we got months ago on Mario Draghi being a member of a very exclusive 5 mile high club. So when we got 6 weeks ago: “European Central Bank President Mario Draghi should give up his membership of the opaque Group of 30 consultative body because it risks hurting public confidence in the ECB’s independence, the European Ombudsman said on Wednesday“, how come the near entire bloody media has not followed up on this? After that one day it was silenced, the ECB will not respond, Mario Draghi apparently keeps on getting away with whatever he needs and there are no questions, not even on an international level which is unsettling in so many ways as it leaves us with the indication that the media may be as unreliable as the politicians they are reporting on.

A program that has sunk 3 trillion dollars and everyone is just stating that the economy is great, yet nobody is asking the number one question and that is ‘How will we pay it back?

The theory of printing money

Mario Draghi, president of the ECB has profiled his place and his ‘bank’ as awesome, marketing on a near supreme level, like a politicians stating on how honest he is. Excellent standards, great breeding and stellar academic excellence, and you know that expression about a story being too good to be true?

So they have their ‘Quantative Easing’, they use it to buy government bonds and other financial assets. The purchases have helped keep borrowing costs low, which in turn have boosted spending and investment in the Eurozone economy. But is this true? You see, there are now two levels of problems and dangers. When we consider that the bond is a debt security, under which the issuer owes the holders (so the government that issued the bonds now owes the ECB), a debt and (depending on the terms of the bond) is obliged to pay them interest and to repay the principal at a later date, termed the maturity date.

So over $3 trillion is bought from these governments and those governments are paying the ECB interest until they pay back the amount at the date of maturity (could be up to 30 years). So basically they are pushing massive debts forward, it is almost like the Greek debt mess, but now close to 173 times more intense in regards to the outstanding amount. The current makers in charge get a free pass and leave the mess to the next person whilst they enjoy the millions they earned as well as the multimillions they got by being a member of an exclusive group of 30, as they get the results before any other publication and they get to the cream all without ever running the risks other ‘investors’ face.

So whilst everyone sees the interest only part, we are kept in the dark on the fact that an additional $3 trillion would be outstanding and with the UK out of play, the other nations will get to pay for it all, so when we consider that last week nations like the Netherlands told the EU that they want a freeze on EU contributions, so now we read: “Rutte has said he does not want the Dutch contribution to the EU to increase, despite the European Commission’s call for higher spending on climate change and border controls, and the gap left by Britain after Brexit. Like the Netherlands, Britain is a net payer into the EU’s coffers and will leave a large hole when it pulls out. The Commission wants to fill the gap through a combination of spending cuts and higher contributions, something which the Dutch strongly oppose” (at https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2018/02/dutch-prime-minister-begins-campaign-to-freeze-eu-contributions/), what no one is looking at, or mentioning is that the outstanding $3 trillion is going to be an additional matter to deal with, even if that is placed in a very separate part of the books. Payment will be due!

So as they give the mention how Brexit will be one reason to increase payment, the absence of the QA plan and outstanding amount remains unmentioned, it is an impact, but that is exactly why the UK got out in the first place. In this the contribution for the Dutch will go up by $4500 per person, so where is that coming from? Now consider that the impact of the matured bonds will be massive for the positive contributing nations, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark and Austria would end up getting a blow to their budgets unlike any they have had. The question becomes how intense depends on certain elements. So when we consider the bad curve. So, when the bonds bought reduce in value by 30%, the ECB is not hit, it might lose the value, but that means that the government it was bought from ends up with a smaller invoice to pay, and the losses for the investor (the ECB) loses 30% of their investment, now the EU nations as a bloc will have to come up with that money. So depending on where it was invested in, that government get to laugh as the other EU members need to pay for the ‘losses’, which amounts to the positive paying nations. This is one of the foremost reasons why I was all for the UK getting out as soon as possible. So these nations could end up paying an additional $1 trillion divided amongst them. So how was this ever going to be fair? Of course that is if the value of these bonds depreciates, if that does not happen, than there is no additional issue, but the fact that the outstanding amount is still due for payment and in light of the bulk of these EU nations not being able to keep a decent budget and almost no ability to pay such amounts does not help us in any way in raising confidence in regards to the EU moving forward. Greece is to the smallest extent some indication, even as many sources are positive, I have an issue with “The 2017 primary balance target of 1.75 percent of GDP is expected to be reached with a significant margin. For 2018 the primary balance target of 3.5 percent is considered achievable“, so there are two parts. The first is the use of ‘expected to be reached‘, margin or not, these numbers are not yet set in stone, so there could be a bad news cycle. The second part is ‘target of 3.5 percent is considered achievable‘, which means an almost 100% increase towards the positive result, which has never been realistic. Even as the unemployment numbers are down from 27% a few years ago, to 21%, this still implies that one out of 5 is without a job, that means the stresses on the Greek infrastructure remains and it will remain for several years to come. So when it comes to the larger nations, Spain, Italy and France are still a downward drag here in regards to the overall EU and their drag is draining their infrastructure and options towards pushing the EU economically forward, some others like the Netherlands and Sweden are ahead of the curve, but we forget that they are merely 26 million, whilst the three dragging us down represent close to 185 million people, in that regard we forget the weight that the larger nations have. So in that both the UK and Germany are the positive sides, but the UK is leaving and adding Germany only gets that group of 3 at 50% of the ones slowing the EU down, so even as the slowdown is a good thing, it is still a negative result in the end. So it is in that light that there is a growing risk to the entire Quantative Easing plan that Mario Draghi gave the EU and even as they are all on how ‘the economy is so much better‘, I agree that compared to two years ago, the people are more positive and jobs are getting better, yet this has been at the expense of unrealistic levels of spending and there is no given on when that will be resolved, so those people have a $3 trillion bill hanging over their heads.

You see, part of the problems is infrastructure, EU infrastructure mind you. So as the Australian Financial Review (at http://www.afr.com/news/economy/monetary-policy/mario-draghi-keeps-focus-on-monetary-accommodation-20180226-h0wos8) gave us “Draghi did address a question on why ABLV Bank received emergency support from the Latvian central bank before the ECB declared it failing or likely to fail. He said that the Emergency Liquidity Assistance policy – under which national central banks rather than the ECB decide to provide support to troubled lenders – is a “remnant of a past time” and should be reformed

Say What?

So basically a bank got support from its national bank, whilst the ECB had it as ‘likely to fail‘, so is this how Quantative Easing is ‘miss-spent’? It is not completely clear or fair to state it in that way, yet when we see Reuters with “The ECB said at the weekend that privately held ABLV is likely unable to pay its debts or other liabilities as they fall due. “We believe our bank will be able to settle with all of our clients in full,” ABLV, Latvia’s third-biggest bank by assets, said in a statement. “Voluntary liquidation is an important condition for it – the process has to be done as professionally and as transparently as possible, given the history of Latvian insolvency and liquidation processes”“, yet in all that is there any mention whether that included the emergency support funds? The text does not include that part, so that is money down the drain. That whilst it is not the only scandal that Latvia faces. If we consider the Stratfor view (at https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/what-watch-two-banking-scandals-unfold-latvia), we see “On Feb. 17, the Latvian anti-corruption agency detained the head of the country’s central bank, Ilmars Rimsevics, after Grigory Guselnikov, the Anglo-Russian owner of Latvia’s Norvik bank, accused him of taking bribes. Rimsevics has denied any wrongdoing, and Latvia’s Defense Ministry said that the allegations were part of a “massive information operation” by an external actor. Latvian Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola said that the corruption allegations would be investigated“, as well as “a report issued Feb. 13 by the U.S. Treasury Department detailing the results of its investigation that found ABLV had facilitated transactions linked to “large-scale illicit activity connected to Azerbaijan, Russia, and Ukraine” as well as activities circumventing sanctions on North Korea. In the wake of that report, significant assets were withdrawn from ABLV“. Now we can see that for what it is, yet we also get “the ECB’s Single Resolution Board has rebuffed ABLV’s efforts to seek financial assistance, determining that shoring up the bank “was not in the public interest.”“, so in light of the mention by Mario Draghi with ‘under which national central banks rather than the ECB decide to provide support to troubled lenders‘, I see it as instead of money wasted from the left trouser pocket, it came from right cheek pocket. How does that solve anything? The fact that the trousers came from the old tailor, the fact that the damage was not contained and allowed certain parties to take their cash out of Latvia is still cause for concern for those wearing the trousers.

That reflects also when we add the Greek issue that is playing right now with “the resignation on Monday of economy minister Dimitris Papadimitriou and his wife, the alternate labour minister, Rania Antonopoulou. Antonopoulou gave her notice after it was revealed that she had accepted €23,000 in housing benefits at a time of immense hardship for Greeks” (source: the Guardian). The issues playing do not seem like much, but it is like mopping the floor in a room where the water main has burst, it is close to pointless. In all this, especially when we hear Alexis Tsipras come with ‘praising the couple, in a speech late on Tuesday, for the “sensibility” they had exhibited in stepping down‘. To me it reads like ‘I am happy you vacated the premises as the people now know what you did and they are angry, thank you for that!‘ Is there any way that the Greeks are not getting fuming mad on that issue?

That is the part that does matter, because that is linked to whatever bonds were purchased, where they were purchased and how much is in play. We see none of that; merely that the invoice at present is set at 30 billion Euros per month, down from 60 billion per month earlier and 80 billion per month before that. So there is no way to tell how unrealistic my 30% loss is, it could be as low as 1% or as much as 41.3%, there is at present no way to tell. It is a long term gamble instigated by those in power now and left to solve for whoever gets to hold that seat when those spending’s mature and payment is due. Yet the chance of breaking even (best case scenario) is almost statistically impossible and no one has answers how to deal with it the moment it happens.

Can the Draghi failing be proven as a failure?

That remains the main event in all this and the fact is that the proof is nowhere near complete because the transparency in the spending and the path to repayment is missing. The fact that the money is printed and that the payment of the printed money is due at some point is not dealt with, by none of the media. Is it because it is not due now, or are we kept in silence because it stops us from asking questions? Perhaps like the elite group of 30 bankers, only initial questions are allowed and no response will be coming. That are merely factors in all of this and it does NOT sets any premise to the failure or success of the acts by Mario Draghi. Part of it is shown by Bloomberg a mere 15 hours ago, as they gave us: “The rate of price growth slowed to 1.2 percent this month from 1.3 percent, dropping to its weakest since 2016. The core measure was unchanged at 1 percent. The figures follow a series of releases that have checked the economy’s thundering momentum at the start of 2018, which had emboldened policy makers who want a faster unwinding of the central bank’s crisis-era monetary stimulus“, so even as that is not evidence, it seems to me that people are stalling and delaying stopping the QA wave, until the QA wave shows a positive. It is like watching a person throw more and more money in the pokeys until that person breaks even. In gambling terms it is watching a fool bleed dry. Even when we accept that a pokey returns 90% over its lifetime, that means that at the very least there is a loss of 10%, even if that person is getting lucky, the small wins are still used up whilst the player is trying to break even and in the end that money too is gone. That is how we could see the QA program to go and if that is true, a loss of 41.3% might have been optimistic, but it remains speculation. The article (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-28/slowing-euro-area-inflation-helps-draghi-push-back-exit-debate) now gives the other parts I mentioned earlier too. With “consumer price growth almost halved in Italy and slowed in Germany” giving the line I had that with unemployment in Germany being an asset, but this slowing and 50% less gives rise to more without a job, or halted in economic growth for Italy, whilst Germany is halting to some degree their forward momentum, which translates in upcoming bad economic news cycles, or better stated less positive ones, so how will that impact the outstanding $3 trillion? The impact is only seen when that amount is due, but the impact will be there and those who pushed it onto us will no longer be around and they end up washing their hands off the dangers and leave us to pay the outstanding invoice, it makes for the most dangerous of market karts.

With ‘Buy now and pay when we make the most profit!‘ is an economic standard that has never been good commerce, or realistic for that matter; but that is exactly what Europeans signed up for, and the people in Europe end up not getting a say in the matter. That is the issue I opposed all that time and that is why I hope that the UK got out in time, because that part will drag the EU economy down to a degree it has not seen before. The only worry is what happens when that issue hits the European tax payers, because it will! No doubt about that!

 

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SW2, not WW2

Is there a Syrian War 2 brewing? That was the initial thought I had when I got exposed to the ridiculous claims from Turkey this morning. There are two parts. the first comes from the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/19/turkey-warns-assad-not-intervene-kurdish-enclave-afrin), the quote is “Turkey warned the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad that it risked a military confrontation with Ankara if it intervened in an ongoing war in the Kurdish enclave of Afrin, in a further escalation of tensions that hint at the possible widening of an already complex conflict“, now, just to make sure you get this. Turkey invaded Syria for the alleged reason of coming to aid towards Assad, or perhaps merely to ‘fight ISIS‘ in a presentation attempt to silently start the second genocide, the genocide of the Kurdish people. So Turkey goes invades Syria and now states: “Turkey warned the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad that it risked a military confrontation with Ankara if it intervened“, so how is optionally opposing an invader ‘intervening‘?

The second part comes from the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-43107013), where we see basically the same with ‘Afrin offensive: Turkey warns Syria against helping Kurds‘. So when we read “Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said Turkey’s operations were going ahead as planned and it would be a “disaster” if Syrian troops were to intervene“, should we deduce that a failed introduction to genocide is a ‘disaster‘?

Even as we see the similarities, we see that the issue is larger than merely a scuffle between the Turks and the Kurds, the way we see the quotes and the way that they are reported give rise to the fact that there are other issues below the waterline. It is not merely semantics, it is the interaction that Turkey has been having with several nations gives that rise and the optional viewing of that should make plenty of people worried at the very least and decently nervous in the nominal setting of international relationships.

The BBC article ends with “President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Russia’s Vladimir Putin that Damascus would face “consequences” if it struck a deal with the Kurds, CNN Turk reported on Monday“. So, Erdogan, President of Turkey, a person with not much diplomatic skills or powers outside of Turkey for that matter, is telling Putin….? Oh, sorry, I nearly lost my breakfast laughing myself into several layers of bellyaches. It is almost as impactful and powerful as me calling Alexander Bortnikov, telling him to give me access to all his data, or he is going to hear ‘stuff he will not like‘ (most likely me calling him a pussy). Yes, people like the President of the Russian Federation, or the director of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (Федеральная служба безопасности Российской Федерации (ФСБ)) getting told by the likes of President Erdogan (or me for that matter) is something they should take extremely serious (sorry, second laughing attack, I will be back shortly). So, after I had my second laughing attack that lasted close to 611 seconds, I got back into my seat and decided to take another gander at a few parts. You see, the nice part of such short sighted actions is that it alienates the players Turkey actually desperately needs. Which in turn is making Iran more and more nervous, which is good news for several countries in the Middle East. The interesting part in all this that he BBC reported “During the course of the Syrian war, pro-government forces have largely avoided direct conflict with the YPG, but they have had sporadic clashes“, which now gives the optional food for thought that Syria might actually set some resources that way with the optional thought that they will not be targeting the YPG, because if we agree that direct conflict was never a real necessity, the Turkish forces changing that by sticking their short stick in a hornets nest, that part would be the greater threat to Syria, which now gets them into hot water is a few places and on several ways. In addition, it will also change the conversation that is going to happen in Kazakhstan in two weeks, giving more questions if there is still going to be a summit in Istanbul on Syria. The changing pressures are by no means a way to get things talked about and smoothed over. Even as Reuters gives us: “The three countries are working together to try to push the troubled Syrian peace process forward“, we need to also consider the mandate that Tehran gave to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as the outbursts from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is pushing its own agenda whilst at the same time causing chaos towards the plans that Iran seemed to be having in all this, his self-serving hatred of Kurdistan is making the creation of coalitions next to impossible. With the Netherlands adding fuel to the fire of Turkish non-diplomacy, as they have now voted to recognise the Armenian genocide of 1915, pressures are growing there too, at a time when Turkey needed every European nation to be on his side regarding the non-realistic approach to becoming an EU nation, we see that the gap is increasing beyond the chance of that ever becoming a reality. The Turkish parties kicking every hornets nest in the Middle East is not very useful. On the other hand, Turkey could decide after Kicking both the US and Russia, to see if this level of craziness is useful in Beijing, which it is unlikely to be unless they open up all kinds of open trade paths which might actually be a lot less interesting to Turkey, especially at a time when Turkey is trying to get increased Cherry exports to China in time for the next harvest, the need to grow their export which according to some is in excess of 80,000 tons, they are now in a stage where they can no longer afford to get on anyone else’s wrong side, which must be a novel experience for the Turkish Diplomatic Corps.

All this whilst the issues in Greece and Cyprus are at present still unresolved, with the Ekathimerini making a connection between the report published on March 28, 1897 in Empros newspaper where we get: “referred to a foreign diplomat who described Greeks’ behaviour in relation to Turkey as that of a dog that barks, but does not bite. We all know what followed, but we still tend to forget how bad it is in international affairs when you bark, but no one really feels any threat“, and the escalations on gas resources at present, that whilst there is a certain logic to make the statement, especially when we consider Europe, NATO and the UN is seen in relation to: “where tensions broke out between Greece and Turkey, these organizations never really offered anything more than carefully worded statements“, that is the situation when we rely on the paper tiger to get things done. So when we read: “Athens must be very careful in weighing its next moves. It’s a balance of terror. If it shows compliancy, one can’t be certain where the other side will stop“, whilst we all know perfectly well that Ankara will not stop until forcefully halted. As the article ends with the absence of emotion in the Turkish-Greek debates, the issue is that the theatre is getting prepared to get very emotional from more than one side. Turkey almost has no options left after kicking all the wrong shins. In my view, when Syria escalates and escalates in one wrong direction we will get a flood of orchestrated news (whilst journalists have been sentenced to life in prison) and from there onwards it becomes a long winded marketing campaign, because Turkey seems to be realising that the US, the UN and Europe are all about statements and statements alone. Which is a dangerous game as it could press towards a second Syrian war where the Syrian Kurdish area could get annexed into Turkey and its population would optionally somehow mysteriously vanish.

So, how should we see the optional threat of a second Syrian war? that is hard to see, with too many high level meetings, with the latest addition being one with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to meet in April in Turkey, there is no telling what it will actually be about. Even as we have seen from enough sources that it will be about Syria, there is in my personal view absolutely no way that it will just be about Syria, especially as the meetings are going to be behind closed doors. That view is made stronger when we consider the news merely a few days ago when Kirill Dmitriev, the chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), told CNBC “We’re at the breaking point in positive territory of this relationship … We really embarked on an amazing positive journey“, that in light of Iranian issues and the fact that President Putin’s face is on the homepage of the RFID gives enough indication that nothing happens there without the explicit approval from more than one key member of the Kremlin and there lies the complication, The meeting around Syria is set in a stage where all three have separate agenda’s. Turkey has the Kurdistan region, Russia has a truckload of billions it can win with Saudi Arabia and Iran is extremely opposing anything pro-Saudi Arabia, as well as having a few additional issues regarding Yemen, who would really like Russia to become a mediator here, so the Syrian talks will come with close to half a dozen unscheduled stress points. So, when we see these issues in the lights that can be confirmed, will Syria see more or less stability?

Less stability is not a given, but the premise of it happening is actually more realistic than I would have foreseen less than a year ago.

 

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A Greek Fatality

Greece is in a dubious place. On one side it is trying to advertise the appeal to invest in Greece, whilst on the other side it is trying to emphasize that discussions with Turkey and its ascension into the EU must continue. We might go with what we see in the AFP, yet there with “ending Turkey’s accession talks would be a strategic mistake that would maybe benefit only for Erdogan“; Turkey merely ended their own options. The rules were clear, you either adhere to certain standards, or you are not invited. The fact that others must give Turkey the umpteenth chance merely shows how desperate the EU has become. So when we see “Turkey is an important regional power and should remain engaged, added Tsipras, but also called on Turkey to respect international law and stop provocations“, we need to remind Alexis Tsipras that he is in not such a great place, so fathering solutions for optional investments into Greece is a slightly too dangerous a game to play. France is in a similar place. With “French President Emmanuel Macron said Turkey remained a vital partner of the European Union and ties should be maintained even if the country had strayed from the EU path, according to a newspaper interview published on Thursday” we see a President Macron that is becoming merely a facilitator for economic exploitation. Perhaps both need to learn the little lesson that many have voiced. “If You Don’t Stand for Something, You’ll Fall for anything“, it is a shallow and sad inheritance that the EU is leaving behind. A place that was high and mighty in what they call morals, whilst they are all about big business exploitation. The entire Turkey endeavour is partial evidence of that. The ignore through inclusion or else, whilst the current members cannot maintain their budgets, have no control over the expedient spending and the EU in dozens of trillions of debt, add to that an ECB that prints unsupported billions per month and we get a very dangerous situation. Reuters gives us in addition with “France’s Macron, a centrist, was elected in May on a pro-EU platform that included pledges to create a euro zone budget that would be voted through by a euro zone parliament and supervised by a euro zone finance minister” we are merely treated to a fantasy, a fairy tale that will not result in any budget, merely less transparency and more spending. It is also a first step to get the ECB with two years of utter irresponsibility of the hook. With “Stournaras said the euro zone should be strengthened because the ECB cannot be the single institution responsible for ensuring the euro zone’s stability nor can it maintain its ultra-loose monetary policy forever” Reuters is treating us to the first whiffs that the ECB plan has failed. It wants some level of contingency whilst not willing to throw the utterly overpaid ECB members in some prison until their flesh rots and their bones have bleached to something that reminds us of the colour white. It is merely a sham, set to get two more issues on the table. The overspending of Greece on the bond market, which will set the Greeks in another setting, which will bring certain facilitators dozens of millions in some bonus and nothing more than that, no solutions or gain towards any solution at all. This whilst adding Turkey to a field of players that we have been very outspoken against. Unless Turkey adheres to some minimum level of standards, levels that have not been met 16 fold, should be barred from the EU table. A collection of nations trying not to see that the game ended, they lost and they are not willing to face consequences. The good side is that as Brexit continues, every continued achievement within the UK will mean that France and Germany will face levels of what might become civil revolt against the hardships the people there will face and the politicians who placed them there sooner and sooner. You see, there are a growing amount of articles regarding the Germans and their new class of working poor. I think it is a little exaggerated, but the truth is not far from there. The US has a growing group of people working two jobs merely to make ends meet, for the most they are barely above the poverty line. Yes, that is right, two full time jobs merely to stay barely above poverty. The nations that is claiming to be in such good economic growth is handling it’s one percent by making sure that the disabling of the lower 40% is growing at a steady pass. The numbers are not that harsh yet, but for the most, that group has not seen clear quality of life improvements for well over a decade and Germany is slowly going into that very same direction. In Germany the poverty group grew by 0.5% in one year. As the news is hiding behind ‘new tools’ and reports, the Financial Times gives us: “I survive but I cannot live,” says Doris, a 71-year-old retired nurse, in the former German coal mining town of Gelsenkirchen. “I have no money to go to the ballet, or even €10 for the cinema. But what really eats me up is that I can’t afford to give presents to my grandchildren” (at https://www.ft.com/content/db8e0b28-7ec3-11e7-9108-edda0bcbc928), it is more than merely a story, or merely a small anecdote. It is the growing concern of many Germans and the rest of the EU is pushing the events under a large carpet, but under that carpet are more and more issues that are becoming visible. Even as jobless rates are going down, poverty rises. As the EU is not giving rise to the dangers that exploitative models like the ‘Uber show’ (and other players like that), we see a growing trend towards legalised slavery. In this Germany is following the trend of the USA, where the bottom 40% of these ‘earners’ have nothing left, no savings, no assets and no future to speak of. In this, the EU has become the one party to ignore its local members to degrees never seen before. So as we laugh loudly at the non-sincerity of people like Mario Draghi, we need to be aware that extremism towards the right is almost a given in whatever comes forward in the next wave of elections.

It is the gap between rich and poor that is becoming the next danger. You see, it surpassed 20% by a fair bit in Germany and only in France is this difference larger, so as President Macron is not able to turn the tide on all the plans he made, we see that the dangers many tried to prevent with quick BS schemes are now at the turning point of blowing up in the faces of all who played this game. Now, we can agree or disagree whether Marine Le Pen would have been the solution, I personally do not think she could have made any better switch, what is an absolute given is that whatever comes next is not going to be that simple. And as more are screaming some ‘balanced’ none ultra-right change, the very real danger is that these speakers will no longer be heard or regarded as some option. In this the Financial Times will soon show how the poor side of the equation will no longer be contributing to the economy, because of health and mere minimum standards. The Greek fatality will come to show us all what happens when non-equality and non-accountability will destroy entire generations as well as any economic options that might have been, merely because greed and exploitation was given too much leeway. A first step in this was shown last week in Greece with “especially the IMF – to push through liberalization as an ingredient for jump-starting the country“, this however is the danger as we see “A five-point agreement, dating to the summer of 2015, between social partners and employers’ groups is already in place, with the highlight being that the specific law (1264/1982) should be modernized, especially in order to preclude “practices of poor implementation”. Conversely, the agreement does not dispute workers’ right to strike and constitutionally protected union activity“, these poor implementations are optionally the dangers to the fact that workers will lose even more rights than they bargained for. As the ECB is about to ‘attack‘ protectionism, we will see a growing amount of ‘entrepreneurial’ options like Uber, that will leave people with a presentation and no reality in a protected way of life. And I mean a certain minimum level where workers should have some protection from exploitation, which is not about to happen. We might agree that Uber was a nice idea, yet when we see that passengers are not insured, that is merely the tip of the iceberg and I am merely looking at drivers that have the best intentions and merely want to make some cash for their family. They are getting less and less; they have to agree to almost insane conditions. Even as we see and agree that Wired and the BBC are giving us an extreme with “London’s latest cut-price Uber rival is being investigated by TfL“, do you think that this is merely one case and the end of it? So as this Taxify is merely one player, hiding behind “it would “always” have lower fares than Uber“, how long until it becomes a wild west? Even as it is stopped operations in London, it is active in 18 countries. So how are they looked at there? How many are part of the EU and how is this so called one EU in any way ready for Wild West companies to make a quick coin and get out after the damage is done? It is that level of failure that we will see in Germany, France and Italy. So as the large three need to find solutions, the quality of life goes straight into the basement and what is left cannot continue. That was the danger from the beginning and the EU and its political branch as it fails yet again. But nobody cares because Draghi and Yellen will blame protectionism and leave the rest to rot (for lack of a better example) as they enjoy 8 figure incomes. It will not hit them.

We can agree that there will be entrepreneurial events, some will find the golden goose others missed and that is fine, but at present as protectionism is low, as poverty is rising whilst there is a diminishing unemployment group, we need to wonder how the EU has failed its Europeans and whilst it will find a deal to remove mere values towards Turkey and tries to facilitate for more markets we see that there is very little left of this so called Economic European bloc of areas. Brexit came slightly too late but it might still be on time to keep British values up and growing, when that is shown France and Germany will run for the nearest exit. That is not a speculation, it is an absolute given, because soon enough the one percent who has had the media at their back, will not have any backing from a group that needs to stay alive and out of the hands of millions upon millions of angry people, people that will demand local solutions from people who can no longer give those solutions, or even give rise to the existence of those solutions. When that happens, Europe will not be a nice place to be for some time. Should you doubt this (always a valid option) that consider that Italy one of the 4 largest economic nations in the EU now has over 1 in 4 in the South of Italy that is in poverty, nationwide it is at 7.6%, the largest since 2005. So as some are in denial, the numbers do not lie and they are growing at an alarming rate, so even as we see news of a stabilised economy, we see that poverty is basically through the roof. Yet Draghi is not held to any of those standards, he keeps on printing money, 60 billion a month, leaving the poverty groups fending for themselves as they are growing. A clear warning that the Greek situation should have given the EU politicians, they basically all ignored it, because they had a PowerPoint presentation stating that it was not so.

The Greek fatality that is soon on our doorstep will force a new way of thinking. Not merely to the creditors, but to hold those in office accountable and prosecutable. The nice part is that in the largest 4 economic EU nations there would be enough votes to push that change, I wonder how many people will reside in EU politics the moment that shift happens. I wonder how the employment contracts change overnight before the legislative change comes through. The last is speculative from my side, but the evidence we have seen so far supports my worst fears.

Bloomberg partially confirms this. With “Eldorado Gold is the largest foreign investor in Greece and its decision comes as the country, which is working on creating a sustainable path to exit its bailout program, tries to lure foreign investments”, yet with ‘delays in acquiring routine permits’ we see that in the years that Syriza has been in power, the simplest parts of infrastructure arte not in place. We see (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-11/eldorado-s-greek-suspension-threatens-country-s-investment-image) that the government is failing in more than one way. With “I’ve been with Eldorado since February and CEO for five months and I haven’t had any hostility from the government, but just haven’t seen progress on permits”, we need to ask serious questions regarding dropping oversight from Greece, whether the Greeks should be allowed on the bonds market at all. You see, if you allure investment without infrastructure, you have nothing. That is the short and sweet of it all and the players in this debacle are talking a lot and not doing anything. Tsipras did not merely fumbled the ball, he forgot that he is on a playing field, he forgot about the dimensions of this field, he forgot about the referee in this and we now see that he is not aware on the rules of the game to participate. A failing on four fronts in one go, in this they claim to be ready without oversight on creditors? Who are you kidding here?

In this we see even more failings from the ECB and the EU, because in the oversight of the funds given to Greece, we see that there was no proper setting for even the largest investors, giving us the clear path that the EU failed even more because they had to be on par with all this. If not, they have given up their right to existence in all this. They could be regarded as the useless pegs that hold up the virtual tent, a tent that only exists in the minds of the Greek governing party and as such, as the tent is a virtual and exists in only their minds, the pegs would actually be redundant. It sounds harsh, but that is the clear evidence that Bloomberg is giving us. So as we now see ‘Shares in Eldorado have fallen 52 percent in the past year and were trading down 6.5 percent at 09:44 am local time in Toronto’, we can argue that Greece and the Greek government might be regarded as liable for a lot more than they anticipated. As such, what other projects would fail and what will the fallout be from these losses? Jobs, income, visibility as well economic progress, all lost in an instant because the Greeks were not ready to commit. It is a Greek fatality with more casualties than most realise and more will come to the view of others. Even as Reuters gives us that the IMF should commit towards Greece, we now see that such a step is ill advised. Why pour money into anything that will not take the issues serious. Did Greece really think that leaving their largest investor hanging for well over a year would constitute any solution? As such Greece is merely the first, France and Italy have other issues and equal worries, the fact that the EU never clearly looked at certain aspects in Greece gives everyone the worry what else did they not look at, or basically ignore. As such, is Greece merely the first visible fatality? Will we see new references towards Greece? The Greek play could now refer to a version of ‘theatrics‘ as well as a version of ‘doomed economic presentation‘. I will let the English language experts look at that one (just to keep them busy).

 

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A new congregation

I was utterly surprise to see an article in the Guardian that slightly boggled my mind initially. The article comes from Dr Judith Hawley, professor of 18th century literature at Royal Holloway, University of London. There are a few sides to it and the title was more than just an eye catcher. With ‘I didn’t ‘ban’ Fanny Hill because of trigger warnings – I don’t teach it at all‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/aug/15/fanny-hill-ban-university-trigger-warnings-judith-hawley), I initially wondered if it was politically motivated (as I had never read the book in the first place), so I decided to take a look at it. Consider being a professor and making the headline in a magazine like Vogue because of ““Eyebrows were raised when the first erotic novel in the English language, Fanny Hill, was dropped from a 18th-century literature course ‘for fear of offending students’“, you see, that makes perfect sense in America, a nation where the state of Georgia will reward a blowjob with one year imprisonment, apparently being married to the woman who performs this on you is apparently no defence, so go figure. Nope, this issue (the Fanny Hill one) is happening in the Kingdom of the United. So the mail on Sunday, even the Times had the follow up after the Radio 4 message “In the 1980s I both protested against the opening of a sex shop in Cambridge and taught Fanny Hill. Nowadays I would be worried about causing offence to my students” was given by the professor. In addition, we see “I was accused in the papers, remove Fanny Hill from the university course reading list for The Age of Oppositions, 1660-1780 “following a consultation with students” as the Times reported. It was never on the course, therefore it could not have been withdrawn“, so the media got it wrong on more than one count. There is a reference in the Evening Standard that is was Banned, where the writer Lucy Cleland (who fails English comprehension at this point) with “University of London, has apparently banned the book from her reading list 54 years after it was legally allowed to be published and more than 270 years after it was first written” (at https://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/don-t-sanitise-books-such-as-fanny-hill-they-teach-us-so-much-a3611191.html). The professor moves onto the main event with “Yet this isn’t just a story about misrepresentation in the press. There are wider issues at stake, about what is being taught and talked about in universities“, this is actually a lot more important (as I personally see it) than the mere choice of a book being a ‘Yay’ or ‘Nae’ thing. With “The Times article implicitly linked my self-censorship to recent cases of students “no-platforming” public speakers they deemed offensive“. The issue as I see it is “I admit I have been frustrated by students requesting “trigger warnings”, usually about texts which include representations of violence against women. These requests imply that the texts or the teachers of them endorse the violence they represent and that students might be harmed by them. They can, however, provide an opportunity to analyse and respond sensitively to difficult issues“, consider the implication, ‘harm by academic consideration or investigation‘. How are these people even in University? We could consider the words of David Haig (as D.I Grim) with ‘How do such Fooly Woollie Hoiti Toiti academics exist?‘ Not the professor mind you! The professor is being kind by stating it like “But it would be wrong to represent all current students as refusing to listen to views they don’t want to hear. Rather, we could think about this in terms of an evolution in free speech. Students are raising questions about who has the right to speak, the right to determine the agenda, and calling for a diversity of writers to be taught“, the agenda is the education, the degree they signed on for and the teacher has the responsibility to educate them and prepare them for real life as best as possible. you see, when I see ‘Students are raising questions about who has the right to speak‘ as this is getting dangerously close to the judging event of Kristallnacht where Germans decided to burning Jewish goods, like books and paintings. It was not the first time; in 1497 Giralmo Savonarola did something similar in Florence. Here we saw ‘thousands of objects all going up in smoke in front of the Florentine public‘, art that would now be regarded as priceless, books, literary works, all on the whim of censorship by pointing out to the guilty as fornicators and deceivers of the devil, only to propel himself as a prophet and a messiah. So when did this ever go right? We see Ray Bradbury give us the dangers to some extent in Fahrenheit 451. The simplicity of it is within ourselves is by ignoring the side we find uncomfortable, we find it dangerous. There could be some wisdom in banning ‘Mein Kampf’, yet critically analysing it and showing the dangers and teaching the people how dangerous certain approaches are would have been much more powerful. In this it is like making Darrell Huff’s ‘How to lie with statistics‘ a mandatory secondary school subject. when the people at large realise how they are deceived (read misinformed) by the media more often than we realise, that is the first step in making sure that critical facts are displayed to all, giving less rise to innuendo and making all people ask: ‘What are the actual facts?‘ The professor is right that a situation like “they should attend to the power relations implicit in the pedagogic relationship and be aware that students can feel coerced” is a cautious issue to approach. Coercion is dangerous and there should be safety valves to prevent this from getting hold on anyone. In addition, we need to make certain that a critical analysis is available to empower the student with the ability to diffuse situations as they master the trade, the art and their environment. I believe that could in part revoke the issue from growing, which she touches on at the very end. With “A climate of suspicion may be growing on our campuses – but it is fostered in sensational headlines about banning books” If there is a climate of suspicion that it needs to be taken on head on as soon as possible, as visible and as loud as possible. You see, ‘a climate of suspicion‘ can only grow in the shadows, so setting the lights high and bright so that anyone can see everything is the only way to push suspicion in the sewers like the cockroach it is. Open, clear and precise is the only way for the critical mind to move forward and that is the only actual solution. So as the students learn (or would have if the book was on the reading list) is that “The problem with teaching Fanny Hill is not to do with sex, but power“, which in the cold light of day loses power over others as the students learn about the power it emphasises on (or apparently seems to do). It is the media that is the second part and as it implies that something was banned, whilst it was as the professor stated never on the list, is also a needed consideration to see. You see as we know that Mein Kampf is still banned in many places, as such, how can people protect themselves against the message it holds? And we do not need to go that extreme, how about ‘Love comes later‘ in 2014 banned in Qatar, or Lysistrata in Greece, written in 411BC and was banned in 1967 in Greece because it held anti-War message (something about a military junta and feeling anti-empowered by a pussy for peace option). In this where does Fanny Hill fit (perhaps it does not fit)? You see, it is not merely about the fact that books were presuming to be banned, or actually were banned. It was often the empowering reasoning that made them banned. When we see that a 411BC book gave fear to a Greek Junta of 1967, how powerful would the critical analyses be, to empower those opposing an ultra-right military Junta?

So how is the misrepresentation of banning now the message?

It is not, it merely illustrates the dangers why it is important for the students of now, to ignore (to some degree), the elements of opposition. I personally believe that ‘students might be harmed by them‘ is nothing compared by the actual harm that the ignorance of any fact represents. This especially as the harm is speculative and in the end, the academic mind itself is lessened by not knowing. I am not ignorant of the part of “the student body is larger, more diverse, less privileged and more uncertain about the future, and the ubiquity of pornography has changed the terms of the debate“, yet the premise is within ourselves and the university to alter ‘less privileged‘ to some extent. We can tackle ‘uncertain about the future‘ by giving all the parts we can so that uncertainty is partially lessened, by knowing what was, we see that what might be, and prepare ourselves for the larger extent of the eventuality that will present in actuality. ‘Ubiquity of pornography‘ is a much harder issue. By learning that the common place part of sex and desire is at the core of exploitative profit, we can comprehend that inner drive in exploitation is one we can alter and channel (although most likely impossible in any teenager), the fact is that the true illustration on ‘How sex sells‘ is also a first drive towards your money and as such as it is about the price of what is sold, it merely makes the advertiser a pimp of products we ultimately do not need anyway and as such the consumer is more empowered to see how they are exploited, especially through glossy magazines. And these players are all about ‘trigger warnings‘ because the harassment through the message of incoming harm is one that works too often, too well.

In the end I loved the article as it made me contemplate a few things I never really sat for, I was aware of my actions towards ignoring the messages offered to me, yet the realisation that we can voice a certain reflex is also a way to guide it to act (read: react) better. I personally thought that students who undertook ‘The Age of Oppositions‘ would be eminently equipped to utterly ignore (read: counter, or deal with) ‘trigger warnings#JustSaying

The question becomes where to draw the line. Now, that is all up to the professor and the University, and I am not looking at that part, also I make absolutely no implication in any direction on the need for Fanny Hill to be part of that curriculum. The questions that are shaped in my mind are not merely the comprehension of the event, or how the media covered it, it is also the setting of the stage. Consider the 2011 work of ‘The Promise’. One might want to consider the sides, the acts of the British army and how Israel is depicted there, yet in all this, the work that is the dominating part in creating the drama was “Kosminsky says that his overriding aim was to present the experience of the 100,000 British soldiers who served in Palestine“, the view is very unsympathetic to Israel and the Jews, yet the one part not touched on (perhaps validly), is that one religious group got exterminated for 32% of its totality, in the years that would follow, for Europe the numbers were grim beyond comprehension, 63% of the Jewish population was exterminated, so in every Jewish family 2 out of 3 would be dead, the anger, the rage and disbelieve was only catching on in 1947/1948. That part was missed, or perhaps more accurately stated was not the aim of the story, and as such barely covered. It is however the fuel that underlies in the events we see dramatized in the story. We can argue that this is what the Allies wanted all along for the mere reason that 3.7 enrages Jews running free in Europe would not allow for any reparations to commence for decades to come (personal speculation). It does not lessen the TV series, it does not tell you a lie, it merely shows you a side of Palestine 1946-1948 and the experience of the British soldiers in Palestine remains very real. So should we run at the sight of any ‘trigger warnings‘, that is the question we need to look at as well, that is the underlying issue I see in the guardian article. The mere two words ‘trigger warning‘, we should never ignore them, yet are they dealt with correctly? I do not proclaim to have the answer; I am merely voicing the question. Perhaps there is an answer out there that shows me to be wrong. I cannot tell, yet if education and learnings are impeded with ‘trigger warnings’ what do we end up learning? That is as I see it the most dangerous part in what some call ‘the secular society‘. You see, I am not against secularism, I merely seem to see a larger move where it is not merely about separation of church and state any more. It is more and more about halting, censoring and diminishing religion as a whole, to some degree even countering levels of spirituality. The dangers as we might consider people like Charles Bradlaugh, seemingly grows clusters of anti-socialists, not those who are not social, a form of liberalism where there is an implied growth of working against economic self-management. I wonder if it can be proven, some of the works we see imply it, but do not state is as factual (it might not be the case). If ‘trigger warnings’ push the education into learning of ‘we must not cause offence‘ how far is the sheep catechism of our own inner morality to go? Merely follow any flock and let the loudest secular decide? Yet that is the extent of the dangers the next generation face. I have always believed that empowering any person through educating all the sides of the coin (all three sides) is the only way we can see that the coin that falls on the ledge is not magic, just merely a probability closest to zero. Yet is that true? Some sources state that the chance is 1 in 6000. So in a population of billions, how many radicals landed on their edge? Should we be blinded against them by the alerting message of a ‘trigger warning’?

That is not the merely the premise, in some vocations that becomes the name of the game. So the next congregation better be ready for what comes, because the more you know, the better you can solve whatever comes your way, in my personal view, ‘trigger warnings’ be damned.

 

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Those dodgy numbers

We knew it was going to happen, we knew that there would be some term of hardship, everyone knew this. So when the media is lashing all out whilst they know that they are misinforming the people intentionally. We have to wonder why we are not making short work of the media as a whole. So as the Independent gave us (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/eurozone-gdp-growth-rate-uk-second-quarter-2017-eurostat-ons-eu-brexit-a7870811.html), ‘Eurostat’s ‘flash’ estimate for growth in the single currency bloc was 0.6 per cent, double the 0.3 per cent estimate for the UK from the Office for National Statistics last week‘ we have to start asking questions. You see, the numbers are correct, they are all about the correct numbers, yet the clarity that is also behind it, mainly what Forbes and a few others tell us with: “We have the results of the composite PMI for the Eurozone and this is showing that the economic growth in the region is slowing. This really is not quite what is desired, especially as we’ve still got the ECB going all out on quantitative easing” we need to wonder what the game of the Independent is. In addition there is from that same Forbes piece: “in this day and age, people tend not to order the parts to make something until they’ve committed themselves to actually making it. So, what people are ordering to make things from is a really good guide to what is going to be made in the immediate future. We then standardise the measures so that we’ve an index, anything above 50 indicates expansion, below contraction. The one really great joy of PMIs is that they are a very good guide to what is about to happen” and that part of the equation is a slowing economy. Even as we see “A falling Eurozone PMI isn’t a disaster but it’s not exactly what we want either” we see what matters, in the age of 60 billion a month QE, we see in equal measure that the economy is slowing down, so in all this, did the independent give us that, or are they in a ‘lashing mode’ on how the EU is at twice the presented strength? And the term ‘presented strength’ is actually a lot more important than you think.

You see, this is important when we consider Mehreen Khan’s article in the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/edd41c68-76a4-11e7-a3e8-60495fe6ca71). Here we see: “Separate figures from a business survey showed the Eurozone’s manufacturing sector is in the grip of a jobs boom. Factories in France are hiring at their best pace since 2000 and in Spain at a rate not seen since before the start of monetary union in 1998, according to IHS Markit’s purchasing managers’ index“, interesting that both are referring to the PMI is it not? Another article in the Financial Times is giving us ‘Spain unemployment rate has fallen to a 9 year low’, which is great for Spain, yet again, it is merely part of the issue. The fact that it is over 17% is still an issue. Even as there is a drop, it is August, the tourist season is starting to peak this month and that is good for Spain, I am happy for them, I actually am. Yet, the issue is that the drop of 26,000 claims is merely a temporary one, because as tourist season winds down in 8 weeks, these people will get back on the unemployment books, so it is merely a very short term benefit. In addition, it might be better than another time, yet when we consider that the increase started in 2007 doubling the amount in 26 months is another given missing. In addition, there is still the issue not merely of the unemployed, but the internal drain it causes to the coffers (source: Statista). So in my view any benefit Spain gets at present is merely setting the clock forward a mere quarter. Unless an actual economic improvement comes to Spain, we see mere posturing through ‘presented strength‘, not by actual growth or gaining actual strength. It takes three quarters to get a true visible growth to show and the newspapers are keeping silent on that, they hide behind ‘but that is tomorrow and this is now‘, which for the most is correct, yet as they know from various sources that there is already a visible slowdown, the presentation they give is a fake, it is presented fake optimism, some might refer to it as ‘fake news‘.

The fact that the BBC gave a similar view (at http://www.bbc.com/news/business-40774654) does not make any of them a liar, they spoke the truth with “The rate dropped to 9.1% last month, from a downwardly revised 9.2% in May” the fact that France, Spain, Italy and Greece are dealing with global tourism that brings them money, so they need staff is perfectly valid, yet here too is the missed information that is not shown. These nations depend on Tourism. In France and Italy we might see the year round tourism for Paris and Rome, but those two parts are extremes. What is not an extreme is that all three rely to a part on tourism, a valid dependency. Now we consider two sources, the first (at https://www.imtj.com/news/european-tourism-figures-show-growth-2017/), gives us “Several destinations report a rebound in arrivals from Russia -Iceland (+157%) Cyprus (+122%) and Turkey (+88%)-. Overall, outbound travel from this market is projected to improve in 2017“. Now, we need to remember that this was a June article, part of it was expected growth, which is fair enough. The second source Statista (at https://www.statista.com/statistics/186657/travel-and-tourism-scores-of-countries-from-europe-in-2011/), gives us a chart with Spain, France and Germany showing a rise beyond 5% and training Italy with 4.99%, a decent growth all perfectly valid, so when you realise that, and when you see that the impact was a dropped from 9.2% to 9.1% in unemployment rate, is that still a good thing? The rise of these three nations alone (others nations all have tourism, yet not that high), consider the tourism needs; how come that the drop for the short term was not stronger to let’s say 8.7%? That would have been a clear indication of progress, 9.1% even in the short term is not progress and that part remains undiscussed by the media, is that not strange? They have been slamming Brexit through speculations in dozens of articles, and the reality of this so called double economic growth versus the UK is not set into a complete proper context. Even as several sources show the European slowdown. The EU has 8 more weeks until summer is over, what happens then? Will we see the message of a non-anticipated slowdown, or will we see that the slowdown was larger than anticipated? When you see that part, could you decide to trust the media you rely on?

However the independent also gives us “However, the UK economy has grown faster than the Eurozone’s since the 2008 financial crisis, reflecting the single currency’s multiple crises between 2010 and 2013“, which is true yet in this, they also fail to mention that there will be some level of slowdown and the Eurozone will make some level of temporary improvement, the question is for how long this happens. I am slightly less optimistic, yet also hesitant to be too negative. When the dust settles in the Middle East, we know that the Netherlands have two massive opportunities and a few other options through the large projects in Oman and the UAE, those large projects are the kind of solutions that put the Netherlands in the engineering top of the planet. The options could propel that small nation with most of it below sea level in scale and equality to Germany which is roughly 900% the size of the Netherlands. As Germany is one of the large 4, the Dutch achievement would be close to a legendary one. And if there is a large boost to the EU economy it will not be less likely to come from Germany than it will more likely to come from the Netherlands in both 2017 and 2018. This was always a reality that the EU and Germany faced, things will turn around, yet for the short term the EU numbers would probably boost. What is important is that it would not have impacted the UK in any way other than the presented numbers of difference. In this the UK is not on par with the EU on the short side, yet as European tourism falls in autumn, the numbers will no longer look against the UK to that degree and we will suddenly see different mentions, in this some of them are already a near given, so when we see “The single currency zone has now seen 17 successive quarters of growth. The unemployment rate in the Eurozone currently stands at 9.1 per cent, down from 12 per cent in 2013, but still double the UK’s current rate of 4.5 per cent“. OK, I will accept that, yet what I miss is the part that needs to be given with the quote ‘17 successive quarters of growth‘, so how much were these quarters of growth and how did they compare to the UK? It seems that this part is equally missing. In addition there is another part missing, this related to the final quote in the article. With “Other data last week showed that, within the Eurozone, France’s GDP expanded by 0.5 per cent in the second quarter and Spain’s by 0.8 per cent” you might wonder, yet when we look at Statista (at https://www.statista.com/statistics/263008/gdp-growth-in-eu-countries-compared-to-same-quarter-previous-year/) we do not see the same part. We see the Q1 numbers where France and the UK are on the same foot, Italy trails by 0.1% and Spain is ahead by a fair bit, which is the part that impacts and matters, yet the high note comes from Ireland, Estonia, Malta and Romania, which seems like a powerful impact, yet they are together a mere fraction of the EU output, which is why France, Spain and Germany are so important, they are the lion share together with the UK. Only when we look at the last 8 quarters can we see numbers that make actual sense to some and whilst the future is not a given, the knowledge that there is a slowdown coming, there we see that the hyped EU numbers are slightly over the top in my view. So as we accept that the 2 of the large 4 would have much better numbers in tourism season, the fact that the unemployment numbers were projected down by 0.1% is still a much larger issue than most people realise. What is phenomenal is the fact that the impact on tourism is better for Greece. They reported yesterday that the number of international arrivals in the first half was up by well over 10%, which is awesome, as the Greeks should be getting loads of good news after all the garbage they went through. The two sources, the first (at http://www.tornosnews.gr/en/tornos/trends/26630-greek-minister-spectacular-tourism-figures-in-2017.html) gives us: “there is a huge increase in overnight stays and hotel occupancy, ranging from 80% to 95% in most tourist destinations, as well as record arrivals in some of them. The Minister also referred to important economic benefits from the tourism industry, particularly from non-Schengen countries“, which means that the local Greeks will get a relief from the pressure they have had for the longest of times. The small issue that temperatures are up to 41 Celsius might not be the best thing to be confronted with, yet over all they heatwave will give the sun the hours of baking that the tourists love so much, it would also increase the need for windy trips (on boats with sails) and those enjoying places like the caves of Lasithi (in this, I have personal experience that visiting Knossos is a really bad idea, but several museums in Iraklion tend to be nice and cool. another source is giving us (at http://greece.greekreporter.com/2017/08/05/a-record-3-2-million-tourist-arrivals-expected-in-august/). This gives us “Russia and the Netherlands have marked the greatest rise in seats by 25.8% / 46,000 and 18.3% / 26,000 seats, respectively. Top Greek destinations include islands of Crete, Rhodes, Zakynthos, Kerkyra, Mykonos, Santorini and Halkidiki. Tourism professionals are forecasting the same performance in September, citing a total of 2.73 million seats booked for the month after“, implying that it will be a much better year than hoped for, and good for them I say!

Yet in the back of our minds will be not just for the European zone, more precisely, what will Greece do next? In this day and age tourism is great for them, yet they still have the other three quarters to deal with and in this they might have options and opportunities, it merely becomes the view on how to address it and which model to change so that it becomes a benefit.

They are all issues people want to address, yet in this we need to realise that the dodgy numbers are not a help. They are merely the approach towards undesired thoughts and in the end presented strength is no strength, it becomes strength when it is acted upon and results in a positive outcome, this is why quantative easing is never an actual solution. It is merely an option for those who are paid and reflected on the presented result with quarter on quarter growth. The fact that there is a new multi trillion debt is not what their bonus is balanced on. That is the part that people forget. I state to you here that I can go into the USA tomorrow and get a firm with $2 billion if revenue within a week. I have access to all the materials. I merely want 1% of that revenue as a bonus. Now consider that I am selling Official US currency $20 bills for $9.99. I get the bonus because I made my revenue, yet the fact that there is a $1 billion loss is not my issue, it will be for the registered owners of the business and if I set up an LLC with my finding founders, go bankrupt after the exercise one week later, I am still entitled to my $20 million severance package. This is the reality of quantative easing. People like Mario Draghi will not call it like that (and in equal measure find my example way to simplified, which is partially true), but it is the reality that they face in Europe. So as we see the reported news on how the UK is merely 50% of the Eurozone, we need to realise that there is a blowback from the actions that they are taking and in the long run only the bankers and the top of the ECB will be smiling enjoying life in the luxury estates that they own. I feel that we will see a strong impact of what happened before on the 26th October in Oslo Thursday. On that day we will see

  • Norway Central Bank announces interest rate decision – 0800 GMT.
  • Stockholm – Swedish Central Bank announces interest rate decision. Monetary Policy Report will be published – 0730 GMT.
  • Frankfurt – ECB Governing Council meeting, followed by interest rate announcement
  • Frankfurt – ECB President Mario Draghi holds a press conference, after the interest rate meeting Monday, October 30th

The press conference comes three days later, so after the 3 day speculation there will be the press meeting with even more speculation all that as the Christmas temporary need for short term staff is announced in several global places. I will let you work out what speculation will be offered. I am not having too much faith in the upcoming actions. Merely an anticipation of a media assisted manipulated bad news through overly optimism. It is merely my speculation on the matter.

 

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Knocking on the door of death

There is a time in anyone’s life when death comes knocking. For some it is in an early stage for others when the end of a long road has been reached and a few of the latter go that way after a rewarding life, being it material or spiritual. So when we see ‘The Greek government says the country has turned a corner, but that is not the experience of people on the ground‘ it is merely another step to an early grave for a lot of them. The Greek Debt is being disconnected, it is being misrepresented by government and media, and overall the people are only losing more and more at a steady pace. When we see the quote: “The worst is clearly behind us.” Panaghiota Mourtidou pondered the words with a gravity unusual for the jovial volunteer. Even now, several days after the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, saw fit to use the phrase, she still feels somewhat bewildered” (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/30/greek-debt-crisis-people-cant-see-any-light-at-the-end-of-any-tunnel), the people seem to realise that they are being played. In the end Tsipras delivered on being as shallow and as deceitful as all the administrations before him. When we see the mention of the  French-trained hairdresser who had paid into a pension fund for almost 45 years, we see the initial fallout “At first it was a fairly good pension at €1,750 a month,” she recalled. “Then it was cut to €1,430 a month and now its €960 a month“, it is a 46% drain on quality of life, it is merely slightly more than Australian welfare, it implies that people get to live of $5 a day for their goods and groceries, which is utterly inhumane and I think that Panaghiota Mourtidou and Alexis Tsipras are insane to give any voice to ‘the worst is behind us‘, there is a realisation that this is merely the end of the beginning. With a debt of €325 billion, and according to one source an interest that is set to roughly €600 per second, we know that this is before the last bailout, so it gets to be a little less positive soon enough. We know the Greece didn’t have any options, they all know that this would happen, yet the injustice that there has been no prosecution of the previous administrations must hurt the people a lot too. So when she voices the fact “Hopes of spending their later years in Crete have been dashed“, I feel for her, because at some point, that was my dream too and for a lot it was a decently realistic dream. In all this we see “raise the sort of money it needs to refinance its debt,” said Kyriakos Pierrakakis, director of research at DiaNeosis. “It will almost certainly need a new financial credit line, a bailout light, and that will come with new conditions.”“, as the risk grows the refinancing of debt is so hollow, as more goes into interest it all falls away and nothing is left. Now, we can agree that Greece or a larger than smaller extent did it to themselves, they did it in either ignorance or in spite of, the reason does not matter; the outcome would remain the same. As they had the option to get out of the Euro and default on their loans there might have been an optional new start-up, now we see that there has been almost no actual support and the Greek population will need to live with the consequences of ending empty handed, generations washed away without the optional memory, it might be the first time in history that the financial institutions have taken their goods, their savings and their memories, the harshest of conditions.

In all this, Kathmiri shows another side (at http://www.ekathimerini.com/220517/article/ekathimerini/business/prices-remain-particularly-high-in-greece), the quote “Eurostat data show that Greek consumers pay more than all other European Union citizens for their telephony and postal services, with price levels standing almost 40 percent above the EU average rates, and even higher than the rates in Switzerland“, the question becomes: ‘who is pushing this?’ When we see options from Vaya, TataDocomo and Amaysim in places as outlandish as Australia (a large island with at some places miles of stretches between each house), the option from the Greek government to open the option to other players so that some of the quality of life is not lost is one part, the other is to invite players like Google, so that the Greeks have some level of ‘free’ internet is not out of the bounds of thinking. The mandate for the Greek politicians becomes less waiting for the credit houses to throw them scraps; it becomes an issue to offer the Greeks some additional levels of options that floats the quality of life to the smallest degree. It is a simpler process than merely hoping for the economy to get better and to hide behind the falsehood of ‘the worst is clearly behind us‘, a statement we all know (especially the Greeks) is not true.

All this whilst Victoria Hislop produces an article a day earlier on ‘Patra represents the extremes of Greece – sublime and mundane‘, it is her view and she shows some of the remarkable places in Greece, in that she gives her views, with images of Saint Andrew, a breathtaking place. She voices how Patra is elemental in all this as a given need when one sees Greece. It is all valid, you see, the darkness of the debt is an internal one, driving tourists forward towards Greece is clearly another part. I fell in love with Crete when I originally saw ‘Who pays the ferryman‘, in the end I went to the places where it was filmed, and many other places on the island. I saw the relaxed Elounda, the bar where some of the episodes were filmed, but that was merely the beginning, you see, Crete had so much more, Spinalonga was the true treasure of historic events, the Venetian fortifications as well as the impact that the other visitors had to the place. Greece is more than the debt it has, but has been equally reduced to the debt. Yet in all this, what have the greed driven corporations pushed towards Greece in an air of support? Did we see Vodafail giving a sweet deal to the Greeks and create a long term loyalty plan? Ah, no, because they still have a net debt of £29 billion, which was up by 31%, whilst the executive officer Vittorio Colao lives of £6 million, amounting to £500K per month. OK, to be clear, I am not having a go at him, he might have been well worth every penny. It is just that I have been confronted with the Vodafail PR for a little too long and when the times are hard, they ‘suddenly’ retrench. This is a valid step for any corporation mind you, yet, if these players are so much about one EU, and using their influence trying to thwart Brexit whenever they can. Is that suddenly small minded local thinking not an interesting non-EU mindset? When we consider (at http://www.politico.eu/article/digital-single-market-mid-term-report-card-tktkt-percent/) we see the fallout in the corporate sphere. The quote “Thirty years after the launch of the EU single market, 20 years after its first work on launching a telecoms single market and 10 years after then-Commissioner Viviane Reding launched the digital single market idea, the Juncker Commission has only got one of its 35 digital proposals signed off so far“, it is clear evidence of the utter uselessness of a single market, it is evidence on the need and greed of large corporations, the maximisation of profit. In all this, I have stated years ago that pushing some of the services to Greece could have had a positive impact, an actual sweet deal for some of the large players whilst they moved away from expensive western European places, yet none of that was done, because PR was all about the visibility in Dynamic London. So how EU is that? I am all in favour of growing London businesses, yet when you consider £3500 per square meter on average for a company spot, and Greece can get you a large building at 1000x in a one time off option (not an annual fee), how expensive is London (or Amsterdam for that matter). In all this, pushing several call-centres to Greece and Crete could have had an impressive impact on the Greek economy, yet the large players never considered that (or optionally intentionally steered away from that option), it was not sexy enough. So after 30 years we see “Presenting its half-time report card Wednesday, the Juncker Commission acknowledged things need to pick up speed. “The work is far from complete,” said the Commission’s Vice President for Digital Andrus Ansip. Estonia will put digital issues at the top of the agenda when it takes over the EU presidency in July; as its longest-serving prime minister, Ansip is well-placed to leverage that push“, which does not mean that any of it will get done, pushing the weight to the next person, that is the mere realisation that the EU with their so called one market, their 20 gravy trains and a cost of existence that has surpassed the Greek debt in tenfold is showing us that not only is the EU a redundant thing, the fact that Santa Mario ‘spends way too much‘ Draghi is even more evidence as his €60 billion a month is leaving Greece out of any easing options, an equation that should warrant a lot more questions, yet the Financial times (at https://www.ft.com/content/82c95514-707d-11e7-93ff-99f383b09ff9), is showing how apparently, the recovery is slow, but real. That might be to some degree correct, yet when we see “Debt sustainability in both Italy and Portugal is very sensitive to economic shocks“, which is true, especially with the massive debts Italy has, In that that their interest due has surpassed €2500 a second, Greece is not a consideration anywhere, Greece no longer counts. The one quote that we see and require to consider is “Five years later it is clear the head of the European Central Bank was true to his word, restoring financial confidence and ending a crisis of sovereign debt through a series of extraordinary measures to support the continent’s governments and banks“, the first is was he actually true to his word? Is there actual financial confidence or is there an environment of governmental abuse and pushing the risks of the games some play and dangers they bring onto the population of these nations as debts keep on rising, as governments have lost all abilities to keep a proper budget? When we see the local news in the Netherlands with ‘De Nederlandse bank‘, the additional mentioning on how the Brits are all getting into trouble because of Brexit, the Flemish where we see over valuated housing issues rising, in addition, the large banks in Belgium have invested well over €40 billion in fossil fuels, this is an issue and an important one when we consider “Naast de schade aan klimaat, mens en milieu, erkennen steeds meer experten ook het financiële risico van investeringen in fossiele energie. Zo wees BlackRock, ‘s werelds grootste vermogensbeheerder, op het gevaar van ‘stranded assets’: fossiele energiebronnen of -centrales die in de komende jaren meer zullen kosten dan ze opbrengen“, which paraphrased translates as “beside the climatological damage, an increasing amount of experts are pointing at the financial risks of these stranded assets, Blackrock being one of the voices state that fossil energy sources will cost more than they will bring in revenue wise“, so not only are we watching €40 billion in bad investment, the dangers are that there are long term considerations in costs as well. Now in the end, this might have been the least of the dangers for the Belgium government, yet in that light it means that certain matters can no longer be maintained in the overall image. This is a very disturbing issue. All this links back to the options for Greece, when we see European governments make bad and expensive decisions, in addition as the governments in question seem to be creative book keepers, yet when we look at the risks given to their populations, the long term damage is one that seems to be spiralling out of control and none of these governments are making their politicians criminally accountable for any of their actions, how is there any chance of a surplus within the next two generations? That is a reality that should have been enacted for the longest of times, so as we see the impact of Greece as (partially due to their own acts) we see large corporations move out, more and more exploiting individuals move in for the kill and we see Alexis Tsipras and Panaghiota Mourtidou state that ‘the worst is over‘, how delusional is that?

In Belgium the newspaper ‘Het Laatste Nieuws‘ (at http://www.hln.be/hln/nl/957/Binnenland/article/detail/3148452/2017/05/03/Belgische-staat-verkoopt-deel-aandelen-BNP-Paribas-Geen-onverstandige-zet.dhtml), gives us two parts. The first is “Belgische staat verkoopt deel aandelen BNP Paribas: “Geen onverstandige zet”“, The Belgium government is selling a stake (25% reduction) into the French group BNP Paribas. This international banking group employs over 180,000 employees in a little over 75 nations; they have assets close to €2 trillion and had a profit last year of €7 billion, so they are no small grocery on the corner of a village. This happened two days after “BNP Paribas Fortis zet parlementslid zonder uitleg op straat“, meaning that they ended the accounts with a member of parliament, this Member of Parliament has 60 days to push his accounts into another bank. Now the reasons are not linked as a given, yet when we see ‘what is the most upsetting is that neither the phone connections nor the office of the bank gives me any reason as to why this is done‘ (at https://www.demorgen.be/binnenland/bnp-paribas-fortis-zet-parlementslid-zonder-uitleg-op-straat-bc2612a0/). When we consider the other (translated quote “often it is about strict rules regarding ethics and battling fraud, e-Finance institutions are mandatory required to collect customer information and to report this. It depends on the type of customer and for politicians there are specific rules, they need to be updated more frequently“, now we can argue and speculate, yet the question becomes if there is a problem reporting within the bank, that tends to be not such a good thing and if this politician is not the wealthiest one, the juice might not be worth the squeeze, so in this age, as banks become more and more stringent into ‘adhering‘ to certain rules, it seems to me that this tends to be a first sign that the bank has certain stress issues it really prefers not to update too often. It is merely speculation from my side, yet when we consider that for the longest time, elected officials as customers were a positive impact on the PR of a bank, seeing the member of a Green party (usually the most innocent of political types) pushed away, I wonder what on earth is going on.

How these two relate?

That is not the actual question, but it is an important factor. The news (at https://www.febelfin.be/en/belgian-banks-are-doing-fine-first-sight-will-face-a-problem-profitability-near-future), gives rise to a KPMG report, which gives us “But the Belgian banks will have to take corrective measures to maintain this profitability while keeping solvability and liquidity at acceptable levels“, which in light of more frequent reporting might be an issue for these banks, as we see ‘higher costs due to increased regulation and tax burden‘, we need to realise that the banks are playing on ponds that are a lot more shallow than the people realise, even if the water looks clear and reflective as a mirror, it equally shows that beneath the surface there are optional hidden hurdles. I am not stating more options to get beached, more that the requirement to navigate a lot more to get into a forward placement; these two elements are not the same, but the return on investment is becoming a (much) larger effort. Now, as Belgium is economically in a better place than Greece is, it gives rise to the optional irresponsible dangers that Greece is willing to go to with the next selling of Bonds and with the dangers of added percentages on risk, the impediment of forward momentum is not an equal, but a more elevated risk for Greece (as they are all in one happy European Union), in the end the only thing it does is that it raises risk and debt for the mere depressing benefit of one mere interest payment to ignore, a mere 12 weeks of time. The KPMG report as mentioned earlier shows that so far the anticipated return on equity is falling to 6%, which is on par with the minimum requirements for 2017 at 8%, yet will fall another 2% over the next two years, meaning that the minimum required target will be off by 40% in 24 months, which is going to be a large impact on every bank who had set their targets accordingly. This leaves me to speculate that the banks will become a lot more creative by underplaying the dangers for now and as such, Greece will hit waters a lot rougher and more dangerous for the Greek people soon enough. Belgium is merely one example. Italy, the Netherlands and Germany will be facing similar issues. The last one (read: Deutsche Bank) with exists from Australian markets as it is transforming (read: or is that reinventing) itself. As players from the senior side are moving all over the world to other competitive players, we see that the Deutsche bank is moving in some direction. This is the explosive field we see and this is the market that Greece is trying to get into again in what I would call a far too dangerous time to play that desperate card. To me it seems irresponsible on several fronts, so the initial ‘the worst is over‘ could before the end of fiscal year 2017 become ‘we are hitting additional hard times, that could not have been foreseen and were outside of the scope of anything we could normally expect‘, when the Greek people see that statement come, I will happily remind you that this was not as unexpected and that I foresaw the dangers months before they played out, when that happens, the Greek population will need to ask themselves how they got played, how their quality of life was diminished by well over 50% and how it happened that none of the politicians involved ever got to face court and judges on any of that.

I do not pretend to know the markets or that I am some banker with the insight of ‘Nostradamus’. Merely a person applying common sense, 6 languages and the use of a spreadsheet, this is how I got there, with all of the degrees I do have, none of those are in economy. So when you see the ground fall away from you just wonder how the economists or the economic reporters did not see it coming as some of them move to other shores with their awesome savings, leaving the Greeks to fend for themselves, deprived of whatever they were supposed to have.

When death comes knocking, the type ‘A’ bankers, often viewed as impatient, ambitious and smitten with business aggressiveness, suddenly become the type ‘B’ individuals, all happily willing to step aside letting whomever are behind them take the plunge into purgatory first. This is how quaint the reality of life will end up being considered for all those who are watching it unfold from a distance (if they get to be lucky enough to watch it from a distance).

 

 

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A shaky Farce Majeure

I got confronted with two news items today, the weirdest part is that the source is the Daily Mail (at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4717082/Chaos-British-holidaymakers-killer-earthquake.html), which is upsetting to some degree. The news started with the earthquake on Kos last week, a shaking that extended all the way to Crete. Now, as the building laws are on Crete, the news of the earthquake was not one that shook me, the people there know it, yet the strength was stronger than usually dealt with. OK, so far no biggie as news goes. Yet, the initially not highly regarded headline became ‘Thomson REFUSES to refund terrified holidaymaker and his family as they try to cancel their trip to Kos amid earthquake chaos‘, which woke me up. This is not the first time that travel agencies are frowned upon, so I decided to take another look. Justin Curtis who wrote this is pounding on a few items that are actually bigger news than most realise.

Now apart from the news you are about to see, there is a few matters that we need to consider, and I will get to them shortly. First we see “Brits due to go to region say they are being told they cannot have a refund“, I’ll tell you another one, they are still offering these trips online, so I could fly out Saturday at £3275 for a fortnight, by the way a comparable trip with a 5 star hotel booked in the Netherlands is €1048 (£937), which is a totally absurd difference (it included the flight, so ordering the trip in the Netherlands, or book it online and take an additional Euro trip train could save you £2300 (minus the two train tickets), so in light of the prices Thomson is pretty ridiculous. In addition, Thomson proclaims to be an ABTA member (shown on their website), With ABTA we see “Clients’ Options on Cancellation 3B) If they are Principals who cancel previously confirmed Travel Arrangements, inform Agents and direct Clients without delay and offer Clients the choice of: i) alternative Travel Arrangements if available; or ii) a full refund of all monies paid. Such refunds shall be sent to Agents and direct Clients without delay.

Now, this is only one part, in addition we see:

3D) Not make a significant alteration to Travel Arrangements less than 14 days before the departure date of the Travel Arrangements unless it is necessary to do so as a result of Force Majeure.

I think that we can agree that an Earthquake is as Force Majeure as it gets.

There are rules of compensation for part, in case it was not a Force Majeure. So in light of what I see, Thomson might be in a lot more trouble than they think they are.

It was merely a first part, the fact that Thomson kept the lines open for flights this coming Saturday indicates just how insensitive they are to their clients. If the Daily Mail is to be believed, we should also consider their website. When we see: “We’re part of TUI Group – one of the world’s leading travel companies. And all of our holidays are designed to help you Discover Your Smile.” You have to wonder how they will address the issues as given with “Some laid down on the grass after they were denied entry to the airport, with staff limiting the number of people allowed inside due to its small size“, which for safety reasons makes perfect sense, in addition we see “I said I wanted my money back but they told me no and that it was safe. But Kos is not going to be rebuilt in a week and I asked if they could guarantee me the buildings there and my hotel were structurally sound and they couldn’t“, from a torts point of view, Thomson now might have an expensive legal issue evolving at their front door, one that they cannot defer under ABTA, This case could get us to Donoghue v Stevenson. Ms Donoghue claimed compensation for illness, after she consumed a ginger beer containing a decomposed snail, in a public house in Paisley, Scotland. This is the first case of Torts, as Thomson is now quoted to have stated that Kos is Safe, if any mishap comes from the trip, the family could sue as there is news and evidence on the dangers. Kathmiri, the Greek news source gives that dozens of buildings are at present unsafe with dozens more not yet investigated, so Thomson was THIS negligent? The question becomes why Thomson has become this negligent whilst the ABTA code of conduct is pretty clear in section 3 on those who have booked, yet not yet travelled. They could have faced praise and clientele as they bended over backwards by offering and working towards alternative solutions for scores of travellers, now they could get into a lot of hot water. The diverted Ferry service is only a small issue, the reason why it was diverted is the real danger as some quays are actually ripped from the road, making for unsafe conditions. This issue goes beyond the Tsunami that came, yet in all this the complications from electricity, sewage and heat will go up and could potentially create additional hazards for some time, we cannot state how long or how realistic these dangers would be, but they will be there. If essential parts are fixed within a month it would be a small miracle, a given that no one should bank on. For Kos, this could not have happened at a worst time, the summer is the height of their annual tourism income flow. July-September is essential to the people on Kos and Crete; as such Kos might get a big blow in a time when the Greek economy could afford it the least. So back to Torts, we have basically shown a Duty of Care and now we get to Breach of Duty, so as we get to the ‘reasonable man‘ test, would a reasonable man send another person into an earthquake stricken place for a family holiday (or any holiday?), if we consider a reasonable safe environment (especially) for children, Thomson could be seen as the reckless endangering element to the health of these children on that vacation. As such, they might state, the people could have decided not to go. In this a step towards criminal law is that the vacation is a product (or service), so as we see product liability we get “Anyone who is harmed by an unsafe product could sue. They can begin their court case up to three years from the date of the injury. In some cases, they can even sue up to ten years after the product was sold“, it is a thin line, yet with these bulk vacations, the minimum amount of people for a class action should be easily reached, especially when there are torts exploiters (they do exist). Consider that the vacation is a product that is offered, in such we could go towards the ‘Guide to the Consumer Protection Act 1987‘, where we see “In the past those injured had to prove a manufacturer negligent before they could successfully sue for damages. The Consumer Protection Act 1987 removes the need to prove negligence. A customer can already sue a supplier, without proof of negligence, under the sale of goods law. The Act provides the same rights to anyone injured by a defective product, whether or not the product was sold to them“, in addition, there is “Liability under the Act extends to components and raw materials. If a finished product contains a defect in a particular component, both the manufacturer of the finished product and the component manufacturer may be liable“, which is interesting, so any item on the package sold to the tourist might be up for instigating the damage compensation track, so not merely the hotel, any excursion sold to the tourist could start liability at this stage. So how defective is this product?

Well the act gives us “A defective product is defined as one where the safety of the product is not such as persons generally are entitled to expect” and according to the Daily Mail, the people at Thomson proclaimed that Kos was safe, so in light of damaged quays, collapsed buildings with rubble all over the street, when the light goes a little low, spraining an ankle would be the easiest part in the entire equation and the elements to sue have been met, after which the liability track could commence. All because Thomson stated according to the Daily Mail source: “Gary Taylor, left, is due to fly to Kos with wife Katy and daughter Summer, pictured, next week but said he wanted to cancel due to safety fears, only to be told by Thomson he ‘could not have the £2,800 cost refunded due to terms and conditions’ of the deal“, yet this is opposed by ABTA code of conduct section 3b and 3d. And ABTA went one step further by giving within the definition of a Force Majeure as “circumstances where performance and/or prompt performance of the contract is prevented by reasons of unusual and unforeseeable circumstances beyond the control of the Principal, the consequences of which could not have been avoided even if all due care had been exercised“. Such circumstances include a natural disaster, so when were earthquakes and Tsunamis not natural disasters? If the Daily Mail is correct, this Force Majeure is making Thomson look like a Farce Majeure, the one place where booking a holiday might not be the best idea, not just for the prices stated.

Yet in the sidelines we also read “Thomson is offering alternative holidays for those due to travel to Kos or Bodrum should they no longer wish to“, which is one offer that ABTA clearly allows for, yet when we see at the Code of Conduct at 3B.ii “a full refund of all monies paid. Such refunds shall be sent to Agents and direct Clients without delay“, the issue of asking a few more questions to the top of Thomson seems a warranted issue to pursue.

The final part that rocked me is that there is at present no ombudsman for travels, something I actually never considered not existing, when we see that a trip per person could be in advance of £2500 and there are 8,000 UK travellers stranded on Kos, is it not weird that one event, representing £20m is not properly protected? Not merely for the traveller, to some extent to protect the travel agency as well? Is such a voluntary code legally enforceable? Well, that is actually the issue, I am not certain in the UK law settings, in Australia, the case in the Victorian Supreme Court named National Australia Bank Ltd v Rose [2016] VSCA 169 gives us “The Voluntary Banking Code in question stated that NAB had to give Mr Rose “prominent notice of various matters” before taking a guarantee from him. Chief Justice Marilyn Warren and Justice Stephen McLeish of the Victorian Court of Appeal dismissed NAB’s appeal of the original case: “We would respectfully agree with the trial judge’s conclusion that those clauses of the Banking Code had contractual force as terms of the guarantee at issue.”“, I reckon that the UK might find against Thomson travel agency if it gets sued, there is a decent chance that the judges will see the voluntary code of conduct, which seems to be used at times as a marketing presentation on the travellers rights as a mandatory setting regarding the terms of guarantee, or as a Terms of Service, in equal measure, in light of what I have found so far Thomson made a few blunders, several on the same day as their terms of service are seen. I also reckon that Thomson might be the only one visible now, but this issue could hit any agency that has some mention of ABTA in their sales prospectus or website and not offer a decent alternative or a full refund.

 

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