Tag Archives: Hollande

Family of my enemy

There are all these expressions, like for example: ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend‘. In this day and age, in the one place, the one moment when Marine Le Pen has a growing chance of becoming President of France, her father, for whatever reason is now trying to thwart her chances. This is the one clear evidence that ‘Family of my enemy is my friend‘. The quote “threatened his daughter and sent her an ultimatum, to ensure the “unity of her movement and of the national movement“, must make François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy howl with laughter. Euro Disney could not come up with this plot! In addition, the quote “We must not lose part of our political capital in the hope to conquer others. You have to be yourself”, which reads like: ‘be the ultimate extremist of yourself, as outspoken as possible‘. The reality is that some will listen to the very old man, giving rise to internal opposition towards Front National. I still believe that an actual Brexit will give a massive sway towards Marine Le Pen. There are two factors that will change it. The first one is either Hollande or Sarkozy to get on the Frexit horse, this would be the most powerful deflator for Front National and here is the kicker. If Hollande does this before the Brexit vote they will actually expedite that what neither wants. We have seen in the previous round that they will combine powers just to prevent Marine Le Pen from winning, which could be seen as betraying ones constituency on one side and in my book there is no other side. The entire approach reeks towards the fact that Sarkozy and Hollande will do anything to stay in the Euro and keep Front National out of Élysée Palace. Is that truly representing ones constituency? We can argue for either side. Yet it could all be moot if Mademoiselle’s Le Pen’s daddy goes extreme. Her victory could turn instantly from definite into possibly, maybe. This is not a solution for her side, which the other players definitely love. So the problem for her side is now starting to grow. Her chances are growing fast, but only if she can get a handle on daddy dearest. For her opposition this is great, should their dreams come true, if they escape defeat by Le Pen, the speculation would become whether the gilded tombstone will read ‘Jean-Marie Le Pen, deceased, as is Front National, I killed my own party and we never got to govern because I would not trust my children‘, which could end up becoming a tourist attraction, which is also good for France.

Yet, the issue does not stop in France, recently we have seen issues rise in both the Netherlands and Italy. First the Netherlands. For this I will use the Irish times as a source, so you won’t need to learn the complications of Google Translate. For example ‘schijt lijster’ does not mean ‘shit thrush’, but ‘coward’. So let’s take a look at a decent version of reporting, where (at http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2016/02/geert-wilders-is-a-threat-to-democracy-says-labour-chairman/), we saw earlier this month “Wilders told a gathering of far right parties in Milan 10 days ago: ‘If I am the biggest and the other politicians won’t work with me, then the people will not accept that. Then there will be a revolt. We won’t let that happen“, which is a fair enough statement to make. The statement “Wilders has ‘let the genie out of the bottle’ with his calls for ‘resistance’ to the establishment of refugee centres and warnings that his supporters will ‘revolt’ if the PVV is not part of the next government, Spekman said” is in that context not correct, what Geert Wilders has stated that if he becomes the biggest (which is statistical likelihood at present) the other parties would need to work with him. This is at the core of the Dutch issue. In the past, not entirely unjustified did parties turn their back and all support away from the PVV, which in light of Dutch liberalism, if THEY think it is too extreme, there should be an issue. What becomes partially the issue is “The threats being made against local politicians are an attack on democratic decision-forming, the Labour party chairman said. Wilders, Spekman said, should take back his words. ‘The genie has to be put back in the bottle and Wilders has a role in doing that.’“, this is not correct. You see, for a long time there has been a growing aversion against more refugees. The Netherlands, pretty much the smallest nation in Europe is 7th on the GDP list, largely through transport and processing services. It has a comparable GDP with Turkey but is only 5% in size. It has a population size that is only 3 million less than Romania, yet 16% it’s size. So a population pressure that is 5 times higher. In addition, the local population have for a long time made the argument that the value of houses would decrease when a refugee centre would be added in near proximity. However, that last fact has never been proven with factual data, partially as the Dutch house market has had many fluctuations.

In light given another part is also ignored. When we see “threats being made against local politicians are an attack on democratic decision-forming“, there is a clear side that is ignored. The fact that the population is more and more agitated by these events is also a clear sign that political parties are about international visibility. The voter has been ignored too many times, this is exactly why the PVV had grown too much. Local politicians proclaiming to be international players all in the interest of ‘self’ is why this shift is happening. In addition, to some extent I still believe that a coalition government should be seen as the most corrupt form of democracy (not just a personal view). We see on how politicians will advocate ‘a little water added to the wine‘, this has been happening in the Netherlands since the 80’s, which means the politicians all get what they need, but the population gets a mix, no longer having the ability to differentiate water from wine. What they are left with won’t kill them, but it should be regarded as undrinkable. The people at large have had enough. The fact that the PVV is now regarded in the Netherlands as the largest party is a blemish on the political shield. The true political titans that the Netherlands had like Joop den Uyl, Hans Wiegel, Dries van Agt and Hans van Mierlo. These titans were true politicians, when den Uyl fought van Agt on the political battlefield it was a sight to behold, there was a true fight for their constituents. I believe that this fight is gone, as a majority is no longer an option it became about compromise and from the 90’s onwards there was too much compromise where parties gave in to big business and certain scandals (there will always be scandals in every nation) were almost a cornerstone of political office.

It is not really that much of a wonder that Geert Wilders grew to the extent he has. This now reflects back to France. As France is now making more and more compromises (Team Hollande/Sarkozy), we see a local population that has had enough. A united Europe has brought them too little, or nothing at all. In that regard many European nations are now more and more pushing the ‘nationalism’ button, after too much hardship the people are accepting that story, even though in the back of their mind they know it will not bring any ease to their hardship. After a harsh decade where large corporations gave millions to their top dozen, these people will now try ‘anything else’. It is the ‘else’ part that is bringing the problems known as Brexit and Frexit.

So in countering the statement by the Dutch Chairman of the Labour party, I would state “Mr Spekman, your party lost close to 50% of its power, because of self-serving bias. The pension plan is perhaps the most visible one. A long fight that had no option of getting won. Instead of fighting a useless battle, accepting the reality of a sliding age of retirement and presenting the demand for reinforcements and growth of the total pensions, giving way to a more secure future would have been the real solution. Your party never sold it correctly and did not terms of preparations which would have made all the difference. You lost the faith of your constituents!” which would have been my response to that disaster. In that light people are now listening to someone else, it is not up to me to decide whether he is the wrong person.

In light of that, as he stated in a Dutch Newspaper “Het optreden van Geert Wilders brengt democratie en rechtsstaat in gevaar“, “The acts of Geert pose a threat to democracy and the rule of law“, is that truly the case? If he is a threat to the rule of law, he would be breaking the law and he can be prosecuted, he cannot be a threat to democracy, in that light, you and your posse (your coalition partners) are that threat. The threat is there because the people have been ignored for too long and they (well over 25% have had enough), in that light, how often will a Dutch politician state ‘it is a complex situation‘ to avoid giving a clear answer? How many of the clear answers given turned out to be ‘half-truths’ or ‘incomplete answers’? In that light, who is the threat to democracy? In that light, Mr Spekman should realise (fast) that should the PVV win, he has no option, but to either find a way to work or to create a minority coalition. Should that happen, than perhaps Mr Spekman might want to try to remember what happened on August 20th 1672 and especially WHY it happened.

Even as the mood in France is not that grim, the issues are now quickly evolving. The investigation into the Nicolas Sarkozy 2012 election charges, which according to the French population is not a good thing. According to the poll 77% regard Mr Sarkozy ‘a handicap’ to his party’s ambitions, within his party, it is Alain Juppe who has 55% of the votes within the party (at http://www.connexionfrance.com/france-politics-les-republicains-nicolas-sarkozy-president-francois-hollande-alain-juppe-survey-17738-view-article.html), in that light, as Sarkozy designed a coalition with Francois Hollande, who is dealing with disastrously low ratings. So as the two French parties are in turmoil, there is a clear path for Front National to get national gains beyond the two areas where they had an advantage. An option for Marine Le Pen that is now in danger as her daddy seems to have a failing level of logic and even less faith in his youthful young daughter.

Even in this light, there is still an issue with Greece, as their economy created the dangers of Brexit and Frexit in the first place. However, in this case it is NOT Greece that has the blame here. In this case, the refugee issues that are fuelling election, we see a Greece that is in the middle of a scenario they did NOT create. In that light we need to look at the issue of Austrian short-sightedness. Greece is the first port of call, not by choice, by mere geography. Austria seems to forget that Turkey (stupid is as stupid does) is doing what it can to get the people away from their turf into the next one (Greece). So the quote “Sebastian Kurz says that Greece has “clearly expressed no interest in reducing the (migrant) influx and in contrast wants to continue waving them through” ” is already a first issue, because the refugees DO NOT want to be in Greece, they want the juicy places like Germany and the UK. Which means that they will end up getting through Austria. In my view, how was Sebastian Kurz elected for office as he has such a failing view of geography and logic? Greece should have been the guest of honour at that event!

You see, people (read: refugees) need to be processed, they need to be identified and assessed on optional issues of security. That system would bring jobs and possible economic support to Greece, whilst the EEC gets the data it desperately needs. So as we see (at http://www.ekathimerini.com/206291/article/ekathimerini/news/austria-defends-excluding-greece-from-migrant-conference), so as we look at the quote “the conference is set up in a “regular format” that does not include Athens“, to which I reply: “such a conference requires intelligence and clear thinking, so Minister Kurz, will you therefor be equally absent?

That for the mere reason that the intelligence required would be the data your neighbours desperately needs (which includes Germany and Italy). I wonder if that conference will lead to anything truly productive, or will it just be good food, hookers and a few days away from their offices? I’ll let you readers contemplate that part.

All these events are interconnected, and it is not even the complete story as Italy is missing in all this, but that is for another day.

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Looking for an Exit sign

You are on board the EEC. There are four emergency exits, Brexit on the left, Frexit on the right, each marked with a red EXIT sign overhead. All doors except the overwing doors at 3 left and 3 right are equipped with emergency funds. These funds will keep you debt dependant for decades. Yes, it sounds like the speech a flight attendant might give you as you travel from the gates of the fake economic upbeat information towards the airport of Conturbare Gentem.

There is the impulse to state ‘the real issue is’, but that is not the case here. As we see ‘Brexit ‘will be the first step of the definitive decline of the EU,’ says former Prime Minister of Italy’ (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/brexit-will-be-the-first-step-of-the-definitive-decline-of-the-eu-says-former-prime-minister-of-a6861326.html). You see, I have been trying to warn my readers for well over 2 years on this danger. In a few cases it was laughed off loudly, but those ‘economic wannabe’ agents are not laughing now. When I was feeling a little evil. I asked them (as they honed me in public), to explain last week’s events, how it will lead to new prosperity. They basically told me to ‘f*ck off’. They are no longer laughing. I proclaimed these events, whilst also clearly stating that I am not an economist (a fact I did not deny). This situation was for the most a simple exercise of math, basic high school math actually, interesting how an economist missed that part.

The subtitle here is also interesting ‘Enrico Letta warns London ‘would lose a lot of influence’ on world stage‘, actually, it will not. As the UK turns their economy into a stronger engine, as we see this impact, we see that both Germany and the UK will get ahead faster and faster. Italy because of their election timing could end up with the worst deal (which sucks for Italians). You see, all that rattling we hear is empty and hollow. The financial markets might threaten to leave, but they will not, should they do so, than they end up in an even worse situation. Yes, they have options, but when the system crashes, their only option for now is Germany. If they select Paris, their issues will fossilise into a brittle solution, one that impacts their markets for decades.

In Germany they will be too isolated. In all honesty, their only decent alternative is Amsterdam, yet that comes with other perils. The Dutch DNB has stronger rules in place, so in that regard Paris seems a better choice, but overall that move isolates them from a few places down the road. London will remain the better option. And it is not even close to any decision. When we see the AFP article (at https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/30812452/cameron-confident-of-reaching-eu-deal-to-avoid-brexit/), we also see second rate top people go all out with quotes like “pragmatism and courage… and their ability to compromise” or “my wish is that the United Kingdom is and remains an active member of a successful European Union“, which are unique examples of misdirected communication. The “a deal could be reached allowing Britain to remain in the European Union and avoid a so-called Brexit” sounds so nice, but in the end, there is still a referendum and because too many European players were sitting on their thumbs creating ‘ease and inaction’, maximising their gravy train. The people have caught on and they are not playing nice anymore. Just 9 days ago in my article ‘Intimidating the Euro‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/02/04/intimidating-the-euro/), I mentioned the BBC article (at http://www.bbc.com/news/business-35122710), which was claiming that “Now the experts are predicting once again that the economy will return to growth in 2016, unless something else gets in the way“, so how ‘lame’ are these experts? Only a weak later we see in the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/feb/12/eurozone-recovery-falters-greece-recession), giving us “Greece fell back into recession“, oh really Captain Urban Funding? So cheap oil and the ECB stimulus was kind of pointless, was it not? So when we get these aggregated levels of bad news, explain to me how a united economic Europe is anything other than a really bad idea? One the UK should seriously consider getting out of and that will drive the immediate departure of France and Germany. The scenario I predicted all along. And for 2 years experts, the media and political players remained in denial.

Now we see added ‘news’ on how Brexit works for Putin, which clearly reads like an American, ‘communist fear’ as pressure for keeping the UK right where it is now. That does make sense, because the collapse would have an impact on US economy. The Dow Jones Index would be hit a lot harder than it was in 2004 or 2008. In my view, the EEC has no future because it will not correctly deal with the legislation to prevent the non-accountable acts of some, which was the direct reason of this mess in the first place. Greece was never held to account the way it should have. The news on ‘new’ Grexit fears as we see that there is no solution where we see that the Greek government and European creditors have come up with a credible plan to make the country’s debt sustainable. Yet the established situation that Greece cannot be evicted gives rise to additional worries, which fuels both Brexit and Frexit. The Financial Times (at http://blogs.ft.com/brusselsblog/2016/02/08/brussels-briefing-back-to-turkey/), gives more on Frexit. Yes, all parties agree that this will only happen after a referendum, yet what is not given directly is that this would be the first act by Marine Le Pen if she gets elected. Both the Hollande and Sarkozy fronts are scared there, because Marine might only get elected with a clear majority, when that happens, neither party will have any options to stop Frexit from becoming a reality. Which gets us back to that ‘Greek news’. I believe that the parties have all come to an arrangement with the fears that Brexit brought. Because the EEC exit cannot be made enforced under current EEC legislation (discussed in previous blog articles), the article, in my personal view implies that Greece will volunteer to opt out of the Euro on the concession of debt relief, with total debt forgiveness being a possibility (my speculation). What will remain unspoken is that those parties who would, if successful to keep the EEC alive, will only do so when the price is right. That implies taxation not relief on several fronts (for non-Greece nations), realistically it will be a tax that will last generations. Did the people of Europe sign up for that? A Europe that is even less accountable to a chosen few (who forgave debt)? That path basically spells out that these ‘providers’ will get their money’s worth in the form of grants and non-taxability, but at the expense of all the other European citizens. So how is Brexit anything else but a really good idea? In addition, the Financial Times reports, or better Christian Oliver alerts us to the fact that Greece took a fall for Schengen (at http://blogs.ft.com/brusselsblog/2016/02/12/greece-takes-a-fall-for-schengen/). The quote “Athens has received a list of 50 measures that it should undertake to improve its handling of the tide of refugees“, which sounds great, but it is extremely short sighted. The quote “The EU insists that Greece needs to take the 50 steps, citing “serious deficiencies” in the management of the country’s external borders” is even more hilarious. You see, that risk has forever been there, there used to be some level of control, but now we have a bankrupt nation, its requirement to cut staff by almost 66% and the need to build a collapsed infrastructure. There are mere matters of fact. Greece has thousands of miles of borders that are a nightmare to watch. With the inability to get the Syrian matters under control people are running like crazy, they either run through Turkey or the swim from island to island (either way they have a 50% chance to make it). So, how are these requirements anything but a joke, anything but a hollow requirement from the Greek government? The mere logic (and any cheap world map) shows us that those refugees had to get around Cyprus and get either via Turkey, or take the waterway directly, which is well over an 800 Km trip, taking them past Turkey most of the way. So when we consider speeds, on smaller loaded ships, it would be a 3-5 day trip past the Turkish navy, so why is the Schengen council not having this discussion with associate EEC member Turkey? You see, we can blame Greece for many things (actually, just their politicians), but the refugee wave is something Greece got overwhelmed with, even with a functioning economy it would have overwhelmed Greece. More important, how are the refugees getting to the Greek islands? This can only be done with Turkey either ignoring refugee transgressions on their territory (which is weird as they shot down a Russian jet after it allegedly invaded their airspace for 14 seconds), yet refugees that have travel past Turkish waters for days are casually ignored.

It seems to me that we are watching a new game, one that is burdening Greece on many sides, only to allow Greece to cast themselves out of the EEC/Euro for a price. A price the other taxpayers must pay for and they still hope that Brexit will be averted? Good luck with that notion!

So as the Brits and the French are looking at the exit signs to get off the plane, they are still confronted that the pilot of that plane has been massively irresponsible. Its maintenance crew has maintained the plane on the foundation of their ego and as such certain best practices, practices that a real engineer would have taken were ignored. This has led to today’s predicaments. The Brits are of mind that even in flight, getting off is more likely to lead to a survivable situation that silently staying on the plane will. When the Brits get off, the planes integrity will be permanently compromised, which leads to the events I predicted.

So now the media is giving us more and more articles on the crew giving us horror stories on what happens when someone opens that door. Yet, some of them are exaggerated. In the end the opening of the door could just force the plane down to the nearest airport where the passengers who no longer trusts the pilot could disembark. We do not deny the risks, but the current pilot is taking the plane to places the fuel reserves cannot reach.

Yet in addition to what I already claimed, the British City A.M. (at http://www.cityam.com/234438/ignore-eu-scaremongers-why-britain-would-thrive-post-brexit) gives us ‘Ignore EU scaremongers: Why Britain would thrive post-Brexit‘, which is partially the view I have. Ruth Lea, economic adviser to the Arbuthnot Banking Group gives us “a timely reminder that we are a crucial market for EU exporters – £89bn of the total £125bn goods deficit for 2015 was with the EU, £31.6bn with Germany alone. For every £3-worth of exports to the EU, Britain imported £5-worth from the EU. It is quite simply inconceivable that any German car exporter or French wine exporter would wish to see any impediments to their trade with Britain“, which I see to be a partial truth. You see, that is what it is and in the future it is what it was, but for a time, we will see European resentment and anger. Several European nations will take part of the £3-worth of exports and they will find another place in Europe to get between £1 and £2 of that export and find another source. That element is equally ignored. It will be up to that current UK government to make quick and lasting agreements that would diminish the losses, but it will again be in the hands of the UK, not squandered by EEC inaction. Should you think that my view is exaggerated, then consider recent news! How the economy grew 0.3% yet billions were pushed into it for the ‘reasoning’ of stimulus. Now consider that stimulus refers to attempts to use monetary or fiscal policy to stimulate the economy. Stimulus can also refer to monetary policies like lowering interest rates and quantitative easing. So, how was the economy stimulated? If we consider the Wall Street Journal (at http://www.wsj.com/articles/ecb-announces-stimulus-plan-1421931011), we see ‘European Central Bank to Purchase €60 Billion Each Month Starting in March‘ that amounts to over 400 billion for 2015 (6 months, Mar-Sep). The quote “the ECB will buy a total of €60 billion a month in assets including government bonds, debt securities issued by European institutions and private-sector bonds“, so how did this benefit the UK or people in general? Now to get back to stimulus, where we saw the inclusion of quantitative easing. Let’s take a look there too: “A central bank implements quantitative easing by buying financial assets from commercial banks and other financial institutions, thus raising the prices of those financial assets and lowering their yield, while simultaneously increasing the money supply“. with ‘references’ in play, in my view, the Stimulus by ECB President Mario Draghi is nothing more than a catch and refund net for bad investments, buying back a paper tiger that was not worth the paper it was printed on, allowing governments to spend again. How does that benefit the people?

These elements are all in play, because as people realise that this economy is so that the large corporations go on not being tax accountable, governments spend money on so many things that benefit everyone except the people in general. Consider how many actual problems 400 billion could solve, not some joke called ‘the EEC economy’ but broken things we could actually fix!


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Twilight in your pants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This now reflects back to the US.

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

So where do I stand?

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

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

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

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

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


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The Age of ‘no retirement left’ is coming

Another day and another play for one of the last foundations of wealth. As the Dutch NOS news reported, the Dutch pension funds are willing to invest in its own country. The Netherlands is currently an investment location that is receiving a very small part of that fat fund. Yet, pension funds want a level of government guarantee for these risky investments at present. That guarantee will save them for a certain amount of losses should they occur. As such the government has a level of objections. As the news reported, this plan has been a year in the making. Basically the pensions will be doing all the tasks banks are supposed to do. There is a level of risk that the pensions are not willing to carry at present. And why should they?

The reporter Jeroen van Dommelen stated “the government does not have the funds to invest, it is poor“. This is part of all the mayhem and issues on play. When the government could have stepped on the plate, they refused to do so. They pushed the bills forward. They relied on certain numbers of bettering the economy. A game played since 2006. And every time the Dutch CBS, which has government stakes and are prone to certain levels of censoring presented them. Those numbers have been downgraded quarter after quarter and as such no issues were resolved. Now this government is pretty much at the edge of viable as they received invoices from past administrations, and now, the one cauldron of cash that remains, and needs to be kept safe is being tapped on. This is not a cauldron where money renews (you know that realistic 100 coin leprechaun model), no it is like a simple soup cauldron, what is taken out, is lost forever. Starting a grab from that last cauldron that keeps an entire generation fed is not acceptable. It is too dangerous. When there were options, we were not allowed to touch it. Now that there are no options they want to touch it against our wishes and diminish it?

This is why pensions what the government to accept levels of losses, and why the buck is not passed forward, but to another person. Why should these funds be used to renovate rental properties? The rental agencies have been making a killing, or at least bosses in these places were. As examples we have the Amsterdam Rochdale scandal (Source, Dutch Parool http://www.parool.nl/parool/nl/1284/Affaire-Rochdale/index.dhtml). The Rotterdam corporation PWS, where fraud was a massive tool to offset the rental market (source: http://www.volkskrant.nl/vk/nl/2680/Economie/article/detail/766332/2006/02/10/Baas-PWS-ontslagen-om-fraude.dhtml). The examples do not even end there. The issues of preferential treatment and other calamities have given these issues a bad taste. In this environment there are grounds for calling the risk of these investments too high, in addition, these expensive dwellings should be providing for its own invested renovations. None of that seemed to have been happening. If we would investigate the issues as the Dutch SHC is investigated in 2011, where fraud was a factor, then we see that these events led to fusions which ended several steps, including in my humble opinion the prosecution of several people. The fusion left Miss Hedy van de Berk in charge after 25 years of service to clean up a mess her predecessors left. She had to lean on ‘lessons learned’ and interesting that Councillor for the City of Rotterdam Hamit Karakus (US equivalent of Alderman), who was present at that meeting seems not to have been that vocal on certain issues. This is not an accusation towards either, yet the foundation of pushing forward seems to be a clear given, and as such investments with retirement funds should be classified as a definite risk. As such we should wonder why these funds have to chip in in the first place. When we look at the responses from Henk Knoop (VVD) as MP of economic affairs, we see that he makes a clear good case where politicians want to make it more interesting to invest in Dutch events. I personally have the view that risk factors currently remain too high and until certain guarantees are added until there is clear evidence that sound investments are proven to be sound investments, the current level of risk should be considered too high.

The fact remains that they want certain levels of guarantees from Finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem. His view is that returns are founding certain levels of risk. This is a fair and realistic view. The issue that many have in this regard is that the risks are unrealistically given. That view has weight if we accept the faltering views SNS Reaal brought forward as it needed to be nationalised. Those are levels of lost investments, especially in commercial enterprises that are too unacceptable. Until those issues are resolved and dealt with, it seems that retirement funds have no business in a field with so much risk.

In addition the message by Jeroen van Dommelen at the end stating “resolving these issues would give way that on the day of princes there will also be good news” is way too thin to base the risk of retirement funds on. For the non-Dutch, the day of princes is on the third Tuesday in September when the Dutch government through a royal speech announces the new annual budget.

These dangers are not just visible in the Netherlands, yet in a place where they have been one of the most secure in Europe, the fall-back might be larger than anywhere else. In the UK, there is the case that Simon Cox of BBC4 reported on in regards to the pension liberation scheme last March. (Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21844955)

The options for those before retirement could access some of this cash. The issue is not just whether people select this, it is about the dangers that the acts comprises. What people do not realise is that a person’s retirement is mostly built in the last 5 years of ones funds. At that time, the interest is so rewarding that those years are the days when a retirement almost doubles making it a good thing (read enough to survive on). To lower these amounts, means that people either work a few additional years, or fall short by a chunk of what they would need. So it is a danger one should not consider. My thoughts are not as full on extreme as those of Shaun Richards of “Mindful Money”. He is more into the question whether an economic war between the saving retirees and the youthful left with nothing (something according to those lines). I do not think it is that far, yet, the greedy and their prying eyes on those untapped resources are out there, so there are dangers. His story makes for a good read, so check it out at http://www.mindfulmoney.co.uk/wp/shaun-richards/is-there-a-danger-of-an-economic-war-between-pensioners-and-the-young-in-the-uk/

If there is one note of criticism from my side on this article then it is the focal view as he looked at the groups, yet outliers from those groups and whether they moved from one group to another is slightly ignored, so a possible factor of skewing from those evading the credit crunch and those who got pushed out into destitution all together seemed to have been ignored, that group might have remained too small (however, still unillustrated).

His views should not be discarded. It seems to me that his views are partially adopted by Peter Hain of the Guardian (alternative is that they came to similar conclusions). Peter was quite adamant on the loss of cohesion as he describes it. Where I disagree is the Nick Clegg view where the better off retirees should ‘abolish’ their tax benefits. Is that fair? Those who remained cautious are now better off, whilst those who ‘partied on’ need additional support. I see no reason for those who did give out those extra few bobs to benefit now should give that up again. The social structure is all good and fine, yet those who did not keep their responsible part are now, as should be suffering a little more. A model was long term agreed upon, as today’s irresponsible spending’s should not be charged to those who got charged and worked all their lives. This is where ‘the Clegg principle’ falls short in my view. Peter’s words strike goal at the end where he writes “Cutting or means-testing pensioners allowances risks turning young against old and rich against poor while making negligible savings for the Treasury“. That is a risk we should not allow. Not because of the unfairness of this, but for the risk that the young will allow the exploiting of funds that should not be touched. In the end it is not just a negligible saving for the treasury, there is every indication that this will propel certain additional costs forward. Especially considering that these costs could have been avoided all together.

These issues also raise a few questions when we look at the Swedish system. A system protected by government and is totally untouchable by people until they retire. This quote came from the Swedish national bank this year. The question on the safety of retirements as such what return on investment has been achieved. the statement was “The major Swedish banks’ liabilities in US dollar amounted to just over SEK 1,600 billion at the end of 2012. Approximately 20 per cent of these liabilities consist of deposits, above all from large non-financial and non-bank financial companies.” So at 1.6 trillion Kronor, the outsourced risk that adds up to almost to SEK 226,000 for every Swedish citizen, all those funds in one investment? That looks like a very dangerous investment indeed, as that makes it the bulk of all the retirement investments all in one fund. When I look at my Swedish retirement savings then I have seen it go up by less than 5% annually (because I have annual costs, but I no longer live in Sweden and therefor no longer add to it). So what dangers are there for retirement investments all over Europe? France is in a peril no less dangerous, especially as President Hollande is asking the retirees to fill the French Coffers. Perhaps he will add a “s’il vous plait” (‘please’ in French) to that request at the end, but the message is rather clear. (Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/05/france-pension-reforms-hollande_n_2810024.html)

There is a European issue with retirement incomes, and it seems that the push it forward routine, as I started with in the beginning of this blog has been a blanket policy for many nations. Should they blame former president Nicolas Sarkozy? He tried to up the age of retirement by 2 years. I do not think it is fair (mainly because dangers were not reported in time). Not unlike the Dutch system as I mentioned in previous blogs. The push-it-forward routine has been employed for too long in several nations.

These retirees all worked hard until they retired. The fact that the younger generation holds those to account and not those who refused to act is unfair. We should add the question on issues that banks had like rogue trader Jérôme Kerviel. A person who decreased French bank values by almost 5 billion Euros. Even though he was convicted and he was supposed to pay this back. How much was actually paid back? Was all this money returned? It is so tearful to somehow this poor poor man has lost it all. Did he? He never owned 5 billion, so it was not his to lose. So if we see all these international trading shortfalls in France, UK, Netherlands, Italy and a few other nations (I reported on those issues in previous blogs). Those sums are more than the combined retirement funds that are about to get endangered. I think these governments should get those coins back before they go after the somewhat defenceless retirement funds.

Still today governments are setting out costs that they cannot foot the bill for. To now address retirement funds is an unacceptable step. Consider the initial Dutch version were in their own admission plans had been in the making for one year. Look at cutbacks that have not yet been met. These events show clearly that these events should have been stopped yesterday, whilst allowing them tomorrow has every realistic view that they could leave the entire upcoming retiring generation destitute.

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