Tag Archives: Independent

The assassin’s methodology

In the intelligence world methodology matters, it is actually a game maker in that setting. We seem to think that some parts were fabrication, we seem to hide behind the slogan ‘If it looks like Hollywood, it is fake‘, yet that premise is not quite accurate. In the 90’s there was a time where the Wetwork business had a massive shortage of recruits and volunteers. That all changed when someone decided to park a 747 in a building in New York, but before that there was a shortage. Those people worked all over Europe, usually in construction, often well-educated with a focus to be placed all over the EMEA region. They were often called Technical Account Managers (or Technical Consultants). Often not linked to a company, self-employed short term hires that got in did what needed to be done and left. It is that era where the strategic sense of segregation, isolation, assassination comes from.

To make another leap, some might remember the Austrian raid on its own intelligence service in 2018, if it was only that simple. When Reuters gave somewhere in May 2018 “That led some allied countries to fear that intelligence they had given to Austria might have been compromised“, if it was only that simple, the raid was 24 years late. The independent had part of it in 1994. It took me a while to find it, yet (at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russian-mafia-summit-in-austria-1425805.html) we merely see: “Russia’s crime bosses held an unusual mob summit in Austria last month to discuss gambling, contract killings and other shady business back home, AP reports. The daily newspaper Izvestia reported that ‘Participants (also) enjoyed an extensive cultural programme. They even went skiing in the Alps.’“, there were two additional participants, two elements that would be speaking to a few only; they were one senior plus one additional representative from the FSB. It was not what they did and where they went, those bosses got a clear message where not to go and who not to bother. They already had a spread system in place, from Katendrecht (Rotterdam harbour district) to Antwerp and Monchengladbach Germany, they had channels in place and they were making a bundle (read: serious amounts of cash). So for these Wetwork TAM’s to stay under the radar was quite the challenge over there. The Russians were almost everywhere. Yet it changed, somehow in 1997/1998 the Germans got the upper hand in Germany and cleaned the place up by a lot. Some of the Russians went underground, some merely changed positions; there was an impact. One of these moments was seen in the Dutch newspapers (at https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/1997/07/29/man-ontvluchtte-moskou-politie-voert-onderzoek-uit-7362317-a714933), the case is larger than shown. What was not widely known was that there was some kind of an agreement between the FSB (read: former KGB people) and the Russian mafia itself. Germany got a handle on it somehow and even as the ‘evidence’ was staring them in the face, it was ignored. The firm Lorit was quite literally Tirol (his Moscow office) backwards. The newspapers at that point mentioned “Rozenbaoum kocht het huis in 1993 voor acht ton. Op het dak staan twee satellietantennes. Daarmee hield hij contact met zijn vrachtwagenchauffeurs die door Europa reden” which translates to: “Rozenbaoum bought the house in 1993 for 800K. There are two satellite antennas on the roof. He kept in touch with his truck drivers who drove through Europe“, it was 60Km from the German border and 92Km from the German base monitoring a lot of traffic. A lot more was going on, even then and as some issues were buried into miscommunication and a considerable amount of cases linked to the response: ‘I am unable to recall the precise details of those events‘, there were several indirect links to Austria, yet those were seemingly never proven.

How does this relate to today?

This relates to an article in ‘The Hill’ (at https://thehill.com/policy/technology/433497-trump-admin-threatens-to-withhold-intelligence-from-germany-unless-it-drops) 4 hours ago when we were introduced to: ‘Trump admin threatens to withhold intelligence from Germany unless it drops Huawei‘, so not only is the Trump Administration dumb and ignorant. not only have they not ever found, or produced any evidence that Huawei equipment was an actual security danger (not since 2012 have they given anything). They are now ready to alienate the one nation in Europe that had success against Russian operatives as well as against Russian organised crime (often linked to FSB priorities) and we are introduced to “The Wall Street Journal obtained a letter dated Friday from U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell to Germany’s economics minister saying that intelligence sharing would be limited if Huawei or other Chinese vendors are allowed to participate in building Germany’s 5G network“, so in that one place where the CIA has been useless for the longest of times (an exaggeration, read: a little too often), they are now biting the hand that has been feeding THEM intelligence. So when I presented: ‘segregation, isolation, assassination‘, I did so for a reason, I have never seen a target do this to their own survival chances, which is a novel experience to read. Even as the Germans offer: “Germany says it has seen no evidence that Huawei had or could use its equipment to spy on its users and that it should be allowed to bid for the country’s 5G network if it meets security criteria“, we see clear evidence of the Americans remaining utterly stupid. If only they had adopted the speech Alex Younger (MI-6) had. We can argue against that, but the premise was at least sound, the Americans did not even bother with that part, they have not bothered with that part of the equation since 2012. This is what I would call the result of taking intelligence out of ‘intelligence services‘, it merely becomes a speaking stage of services to whoever is a competitor of Huawei (they must be a non-Chinese or Russian player though).

We have seen several actual experts on 5G voice the issue that leaving out Huawei will delay true 5G for years that is what is in play and the Americans need to wise up fast. This seemingly implies that America has additional losses to register, not only in technology, not only in cloud issues, the German intelligence data that is a lot more important than anyone gives it credit to is likely to stop flowing to the US and to other players, which is not a good turn of events. In addition, the collected information on lone wolves, intelligence France needs might end up in a holding pattern if wrong pressure is applied. If quality intelligence equates to time, what else will France (or the Dutch) lose out on? There is no way to tell, I cannot even speculate on that. The issue will however become a lot more clear if both nations will have to deal with successful actions by extremist groups, as well as lost revenue by certain ‘entrepreneurial Russian entities’, something that was always going to happen, but perhaps not to the degree these places might see in 2019-2020.

So whilst we give consideration of ‘U.S. officials are increasingly sounding the alarm over the potential for Chinese spying‘, all whilst Facebook is giving away the data for free, we see a loaded cannon and the US is aiming it at their own needs. The US has had almost 7 years to collect evidence and present this, it was never done. In addition some of the true top ranking experts in that field have not been able to present any evidence, and finally, the US credibility is just too low. Perhaps some remember US Secretary of State Colin Powell and his silver briefcase giving evidence behind closed doors on the evidence of WMD’s in Iraq. How did that end? Does anyone remember? So when it is merely ‘adaptable’ telecom equipment, they better show the goods. The Americans has thus far not done that and the utter complacency of US tech corporations have become a joke to say the least. In this age of re-engineering, to end up 3 years behind China requires a truly new level of stupidity (read: short coming) and it is time for the people to realise that. Once the evidence comes out that there is no evidence, make sure that people making bold statements (like former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull) get their honours stripped, they facilitated directly against the needs of the Australian people and that should come at a price. Of course the US could clearly present the evidence and get that same former Prime Minister off the hook mind you.

I see merely cogs that are greased through nepotism, facilitation and the need for greed by some tech companies who could not get their ducks in a row in time. We really need to put the spotlights on those people too. In the end methodology is a simple approach, it goes from evidence, what we know, where someone will be, where something will appear and we act on that. The US fictive side in all this tends to go via the cloud solution called ‘delusion’ it has no grasp of evidence, it has no stage of reality and is merely the stage for people on what they desire whilst the do not have what the consumer needed in the first place, how was that ever an acceptable pasture to place your herd of needs?

 

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Decoupling Draghi is hard to do

Like a bad disengaging train, we see more and more how the Euro has become a dangerous place to be. I have pointed the finger at Mario Draghi more than once. He is not the only reason mind you, but he is a massive one. As I see it, a facilitator towards the Status Quo of a coin no one wants. Europeans see how their retirement is devaluating itself, others see a coin they do not trust, they do not like it, and to be honest they do not know why, but the numbers do not add up. Wall Street loves it, as they can leverage iteration after iteration of floating values as they can reset the currency seesaw, but over a dozen nations in Europe cannot, their hands are tied. It gets even worse in the near future if Japan is any indication to go by. Min Jeong Lee and Yuko Takeo from Bloomberg (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-27/escape-route-eludes-japan-stocks-still-hostage-to-u-s-sentiment) are showing you the prelude to the disaster that Europeans could possibly face within 24 months. The first statement is already showing u the issues that Europe will face soon enough: “Japan’s stock market is again showing itself handcuffed to U.S. growth prospects and its own currency“, In that same sense Europe will soon enough be depending on US growth prospects and the massive debt that Mario Draghi is pushing onto the Euro nations. Now, we need to realise two elemental parts:

  1. Europe is not that deep in debt, but the holes that Mario Draghi is creating is already having an impact. “Big bond funds are becoming increasingly reluctant to lend to the euro zone’s weakest members, looking past a crowded electoral calendar to an eventual winding down of the European Central Bank’s ultra-loose monetary policy” (source: Reuters), with the personal change, setting ‘European Central Bank’s ultra-loose monetary policy‘ into ‘irresponsible spending‘. As the time frame goes, Brexit and Frexit might be just in time to avoid a noose for the United Kingdom and France, but for many smaller EU nations it is too late, they have lost economic control and they are now the mere vassals (read: unchained into slavery) to do the bidding of the ECB. Is that what Euro nations signed up for?
  2. Japan has its own way of dealing with the debt and economy and many fear it was never a good plan, but as they skated the edge of the abyss for over a decade people have become insensitive to the impending doom, that is not a good thing, it is merely a Japanese thing.

FXStreet (at https://www.fxstreet.com/analysis/catalyst-for-chaos-201703271520) gives us the two elements. “The BOJ has an inflation target of 2%. If Mr. Kuroda ever has the temerity to end his bond-buying scheme, borrowing costs in this bankrupt nation, which has a total debt to GDP ratio of around 600%, would have to abruptly surge over 200 basis points just to keep even with the central bank’s inflation target” as well as “If the ECB were to seriously commit to ending its QE program, fixed income investors and speculators would panic to get ahead of the removal of Draghi’s bids; and Bund yields could surge well above the rate of inflation in a very short period of time“, which shows the removal of control and the implied fact (read: implied) that Mario Draghi has no intentions of ending his QE plan. Because the devastation that the surge of Bund yields would come with a hefty invoice, one that none of the EU nations can pay, this includes the big 4. Isn’t it nice that FXStreet and other trader and broker sites are actually starting to realise that what I have been warning people against for well over 2 years? I am not the ‘prognosticator of prognosticators‘ (Punxsutawney Phil has that title), mine was merely the conservative approach to the use of a modern abacus (read: Excel) with the application of common sense. Those who were claiming me to be wrong, (a fair amount of them) are now facing their own ridicule as they hide behind slogans like ‘changes in the economy‘, ‘a mere miscommunication‘ and my favourite ‘as we trusted the analysts‘, that is my favourite as it is based on the governmental forecast numbers that have not been anywhere near correct for well over a decade in well over a dozen European nations.

So as we go back to the Bloomberg part we now see: “as a chorus rises among analysts who think they see sufficient improvement in Japan’s domestic economy for the nation’s equities to unlock themselves from the exchange rate. Before last week, the yen and Topix were both up about 3 percent this year“. Yet not long thereafter we see “After Monday’s drop, the Topix is within one and a half percentage points of erasing its gain for 2017“, so before Q1 of 2017 is done, we see that the prospective gain of 2017 is all wiped out. This does not mean that there is no room for improvement, ye the fact that Bloomberg sees Japan as the 7th worst return of the 24 developed markets implies that Japan could potentially end dead last in 2017, music to the ears of the Chinese I reckon. In that same trend I disagree with Soichiro Monji, general manager at Daiwa SB Investments Ltd, as he makes the observation “Investors should focus on fundamentals like the economy and corporate earnings“, perhaps he remembers that somewhat popular kitchen course ‘How to cook the books‘, the news made some reports and comments on Toshiba and Olympus attending those artsy classes. Or perhaps the honourable Soichiro Monji remembers Nikko Cordial Corp. which is now part of the Citigroup Inc. and no longer in the hands of the honourable Junichi Arimura who was never proven to be involved, the proven guilty party is set to Hajime Yamamoto. As the pressures for these corporations go up, the dangers of ‘fraud’ (read: unintentional misrepresentation of a company’s position) will remains a danger and will also increase the impact it has on the Japanese economic forecasts. And this impact is also felt by those into the retirement system as it lost $50 billion less than a year ago. If we accept the realistic return of $2.5 billion, which fuels nearly 30% of the elderly, that is a big chunk to lose, in addition, in 8 years’ time 24 percent of gross domestic product will go straight to welfare, which is a mighty chink out of a budget that they cannot even get close to now, the Japanese debts are too high and Europe is slowly yet surely steering in the same direction.

There is one more element in all this, Toshiba is now ‘demanding’ that its US Nuclear unit (Westinghouse) to file for bankruptcy within the next 24 hours. This is not just cutting losses, this is a move to set losses where they need to be before the financial year ends (so basically all of Westinghouse and some of Toshiba losses (within legal limits of course) in Westinghouse. This gives us the consideration that Toshiba is having a disastrous year and fancy bookkeeping is in order to keep the stakeholders and stockholders happy at the upcoming reporting waves and meetings. This on top of the Fraud that happened earlier, this fits with last week headline ‘Toshiba ponders asset sales as it fights to stay alive‘, the question is what will be sold in addition to Westinghouse, because shedding the losses alone will not do the trick, they need to sell something with profit too. Nikkei Asia Review reported: “If Toshiba fail to win the bourse’s confidence, Toshiba shares will be delisted“, Now, bad places are bad places, yet when a 6.5 trillion yen company gets delisted, it will have an effect and not just a few small ripples. For some of the consumers this will be a golden year, you will face an optional sale of 65” Toshiba displays with possibly 70% off (everything must go, yes really!) Yet, as I stated earlier, they are in a state of clever bookkeeping (not a crime), the question becomes will the holders of stock and stake accept this? I have no idea, but what is decently clear is that the impact will be felt in both the US and Europe, yet not to the degree Japan will feel it.

These are just a few of the elements as they are brought to light that Draghi’s irresponsible spending is becoming more and more of an anchor, one with a noose around the necks of the European governments. In all this it was not a week ago that the Irish independent reported ‘Banks grab €233bn in free ECB loans as Draghi warns on profits‘, with the added quote “Yesterday, ECB president Mario Draghi signalled time is running out for banks to get their house in order“. So, consider the quote. Basically, whilst the ECB knows that the banks do not have their shit in a row, they still got their hands on a quarter of a trillion Euros? How is that not irresponsible? And free loans? When did any person get a free loan? For banks it is even an act, rasher than ever before as they tend to not be held accountable. All this comes with the additional quote “The banking sector’s capacity to fully support the euro area’s recovery is curtailed by its low profitability“,  so we know that the profitability is low, which was not a surprise, it affects recovery and yes, Mario Draghi dumps Europe in even deeper debt. Are you still on the path to support his irresponsible spending?

I am not, but as I am no longer in Europe, there is not much I get to do, the only disaster for me is that I have worked the bulk of my life there and I have seen that my pension is down by will over 60%, 40% in devaluation and 20% due to an increased and uncorrected cost of living. So when the debt bomb blows, very likely before 2019, I will ended have worked pretty much my entire life, with no pension remaining. Perhaps the arts can intervene? Would it be an optional economic success if Joss Whedon launches ‘Betty the banker slayer’? #Justsaying

 

 

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I know a Japanese joke

An Englishman, and Irishman and a Japanese industrial walk into a bar, which could be the start of a joke, yet there is a very serious issue behind it. You see, when we see (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/oct/31/nissan-assurances-over-brexit-cannot-be-published-says-business-secretary) on how “the stark warning from Haruki Hayashi, president of the Japanese chambers of commerce in Britain and the European CEO of Mitsubishi, who said businesses needed more than “general reassurances” if his country’s investment presence in Britain was to be maintained” needs to take a little lesson from a firm called ‘Hypocrisy Inc.‘, when we see (at http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-2230999/Nissan-sells-UK-cars-Switzerland-tax-ruse.html), which is from 2012 “Nissan Motor Manufacturing, which has received tens of millions of pounds in Government grants to build cars in the UK, is a contract manufacturer for another Nissan company based in Rolle, Switzerland. The Swiss company buys the raw materials and owns the finished cars. It pays the UK business a fee that is slightly higher than the manufacturing costs, limiting the amount of profits that are declared in Britain

In addition, this is a game that Japanese car makers have been playing on a global scale, including Australia, getting millions in grants, getting what was calculated as a $2,000 discount per manufactured car, whilst shipping tens of thousands for sale overseas. The comedy team Kim Carr and Bill Shorten (the honourable BS) from the Australian Labor party were on that merry-go-round, that whilst in week 3 of the new government blaming the Liberal party for ‘losing‘ the automotive industry. I discussed this in May 2016 (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/05/22/tuesday-evening-quarterback/), the UK is facing a similar situation, basically, Japanese firms are trying to strongarm a better deal, which is business minded and all fine, yet the Brexit scaremongering thing is getting on my nerves because I am fed-up with this category of ‘wanker‘ (or is the term ‘tosser‘ more correct?) that they represent. For those people I state, there was no Brexit in Australia, Japanese firms will do whatever they can to broker an increased profit any way possible, Brexit is just their latest excuse (whilst we admit that some raised items are a valid concern, there is still no certainty whether the set changes will actually impact). In interesting side that was not mentioned in this comes from Reuters (at http://www.reuters.com/article/britain-eu-nissan-support-idUSL8N1CY3QI). “The support that the UK government has promised carmaker Nissan in return for building new models in Britain could prove expensive, but the Japanese carmaker’s complex structure makes it hard to estimate“, so like Australia, whatever grant the Japanese receive, could be seen as legalising slave labour, for that is basically the setting when the grants add up to work whilst having no cost for the manpower employed. The Reuters article lights up a few additional issues, yet it also gives view that the Bremain group is still playing and pulling lines to scare the population in making them believe that Brexit was a bad idea and as such trying to swing a way to undo Brexit.

So whilst you contemplate those elements, think back to my September article (those who read it) ‘For Only the Messenger‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/09/05/for-only-the-messenger/), where we see the Japanese Prime Minister making demands, whilst we also have the added information that he is making demands for companies that funnel sales through Switzerland, so that paying taxation is kept to an unrealistic minimum. Having cars built in the UK, whilst the grants exceed the cost of labour, whilst in addition, sales are funnelled through Switzerland giving them a 10% taxation option, gives voice to the findings of Reuters. The prestige of having cars build in the United Kingdom does not seem to bring the bacon home, the cost for this prestige is a lot more than the UK governments bargained for. So, when I see the quote “The strong intervention from the Japanese came as the business secretary, Greg Clark, claimed the government’s letter to Nissan cannot be published because of commercial sensitivity“, or is it actually a simple reason? Mainly that any person with an abacus or calculator could work out that government administrations have been giving in to car makers for too long a time at way too high a cost to both the consumer and the taxpayers?

This debate on Japanese demands is actually interesting, because the French political left is now more and more on the side of Frexit, so with Frexit now a realistic issue for 2017, we see that 128 million consumers could fall out of reach to these car makers, should they push for certain options. If Japan wants to play around and endanger an optional 18% European consumer base, that’s fine by other car builders. In my view, the push for non-taxability at any cost could be the more expensive one for Japan in the end and with their economy even more on the edge than America is, it is a gamble that they could actually end up losing. The question becomes, how scared are the UK politicians at present and have they done the clear and correct calculations on what the costs are, because paying for people to be employed is not what job creation is about.

We see similar issues with Honda, from the Wall Street Journal (at http://www.wsj.com/articles/honda-net-profit-jumps-39-1477896050), where we see net profits to $1.7 billion for the last quarter, whilst we see that tax breaks are on the clear side of delivery here. The Wall Street Journal also states “The party may grind to a halt once those tax incentives go away“, in my view the question should be, why on earth are we giving tax breaks to any player making 1,700 million dollars of net profit on a quarter?

In addition, when I see “net profit is expected to increase by ¥25 billion yen to ¥415 billion yen as a result of lower costs“, I ask here: ‘How much tax breaks represent the annual 25 billion in increased profit?‘, which is a question we should all ask, especially when we see unrealistic demands from an industry, where a single player in this industry is expected to be making 2 billion a month more. Would you not agree?

This all intersects with the exit strategies from the EU. Brexit is actively an issue, Frexit is currently a realistic change, yet the silent player in this is now Italy with a December 4th vote coming up. This vote is regarding a constitutional referendum regarding the appointment and powers of the Parliament of Italy. In the background however, the changes could also simplify any referendum on leaving the EU if that becomes an issue. The Italeave group is currently not that big, yet grew when Brexit became a reality, also the right wing groups are not that strong at present in Italy, a change that could become a lot more intense when Frexit becomes real, because it would push Germany as they, together with Italy would be the only two anchors leaving the Euro in a somewhat stable state. As I stated before, two currencies will not be able to do that, making Germany and Italy run for the hills soon and fast. Beware! I stated when Frexit becomes a reality! So there is no given, merely an increased level of likelihood, which is no less threatening.

This now strikes back to the Japanese side, because with these changes over the coming two years, any change the Japanese market makes will have other consequences as well. Consider that they suddenly get that ‘special offer’ from Slovenia or Poland. What will happen when France and the UK are out of that single market? They could make a deal together where the UK and France markets support one another whilst pushing other markets to the left. Suddenly certain Japanese dignitaries will need to explain to certain bosses of the Japanese International Trade that their hand of poker backfired, that whilst they only had 3 of the 5 cards to play. That should make for interesting newscasts in Tokyo, I just hope that NHK News will be airing those news cycles with English subtitles.

Are my thoughts realistic?

Well, that is part of the issue. The other part is that politicians on a global scale are always willing to give away the kitchen sink to be able to boast that they secured 100,000 jobs. The fact that nobody is asking what the costs were makes it even easier for them to do this. Yet overall, the consideration of cost is actively being pushed to the foreground by others, giving me a stronger case, but is it strong enough? I honestly cannot tell, but time will tell as we see the publications of concessions given to the car industry.

The question now becomes, who offered what and for what reason, because at this stage, the Bremain group and especially those with political power are eager to make certain promises (within the office they hold), whilst knowingly undermine the continuation of Brexit at the same time, so that hurdle is one we will see a few times more soon enough. So when we get back to the statement that several newspapers reported on ‘Japanese companies have already begun receiving offers to relocate elsewhere in the EU‘, isn’t it interesting that no one is making any claim that they made the offer and no one is making any report on where they might go to. In this place where ‘leaking’ reports is at the core of scaremongering, that fact does not see the light of day. The clarity is, is that the only place where there is a clear benefit to go to apart from the UK, is the Netherlands, because in the end, manufactured cars need to get delivered somewhere, so as the infrastructure goes down, the costs go up by a fair bit. That part is not given consideration to the extent it needed to have. As 50% of the created cars go into export, consider when the factory is in (for example) Germany, what additional jumps would be needed to get the cars to the same location? Sweden has a similar deal, however with out of control weather 3 months a year and additional issues with extreme cold and an additional delivery distance of 1100 miles, what costs would Japan face in addition?

Just questions that impact the decision, there might be answers, or not. What matters is that people are suddenly demanding decisions, taking away the rights that the British voters had. Is it not interesting that this all happens, whilst Wall Street is in absolute fear that Donald Trump might win? The reason to mention this (at http://www.wsj.com/articles/investors-consider-a-brexit-times-10-trump-win-1478111985) is very applicable as the Japanese profit needy corporations rely on stability, something we see here “In the past week or so, the Vix index of volatility has risen from around 13 to just under 20 points; the S&P 500 has fallen for six trading days in a row, for the first time since February 2015; and the Stoxx Europe 600 has fallen for seven days, for the first time since February“, under these conditions, Japanese car makers will resettle somewhere else?

So these three men were in the bar, the Englishman orders an English Chapter 6, the Irishman a glass of Paddy and the Japanese gentleman ordered tea. As all three look at the tea, the Japanese states: ‘If you are not drinking alcohol, then neither am I!‘ (a reference to Awamori)

 

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The insolvable solution

It is time to take another look at the frontier of our Irish brethren. Not that I am calling Sir Anthony O’Reilly a ‘friend’, ‘brother’, or ‘comrade’, but I am a lot less likely to be on the side of the bank, or am I?

You see, there are a few issues that I found interesting, however this could end up being a complete figment of my Imagination, but I let you decide.

First a little more on the consequences of this case, it seems fitting to use the Irish Independent (at http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/former-billionaire-anthony-oreilly-loses-bid-to-postpone-aib-moving-in-on-assets-30389647.html) for this.

We can all agree that the following quote is a given “Mr O’Reilly’s legal team argued that if a stay was not granted, the consequences for him and two of his companies are ‘potentially enormous’“. Nobody likes to be forced to sell. I have been there, all being for different reasons, and I lost around 35,000 Euro on that little caper, so when it comes to holding grudges, I know exactly where Mr O’Reilly is at this particular moment in time.

The quote “Mr O’Reilly’s lawyers argued that he ‘is hopeful’ that the sale of his Castlemartin Estate in Co Kildare – described as ‘the jewel in the crown’ – would discharge most or all of the debt owed to the state-owned lender“, gives weight to my earlier title ‘The sharks are circling‘. The question becomes how or better to which extent the others will now move in as AIB is going for the jugular as per immediately.

This is the part that never made complete sense here. It is not about the debt, all parties agree, the fact that AIB will now get 100% of any risk back makes tactical sense, the fact however that AIB has only 11% of the debt and others the rest is also part of this little conundrum. The part that kept on re-emerging was ‘Providence Resources’.

It is nice that the Irish papers are staying on par, so here is the next part (at http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/providence-resources-post-loss-of-72m-in-2013-30388958.html). There are two bits that are interesting. The first is that they had a success in 2012 (as claimed). If Barryroe is a success, as claimed at (at http://www.providenceresources.com/uploads/interimresultshalfyearjune2012-finaltables.pdf), then why is AIB in such a rush to get to the jugular? In my view 3,514 barrels of oil per day comes to well over a quarter of a million a day. Which means there is money coming in, but is it?

Even though 2012 was a success, how much is coming in and how much is there to be made. This is where the issues rise. There is little news from either Exxon or Providence Resources. Is this the issue? You see, that is what I found initially too. There was little, but that does not mean too much. If the Barryroe well was still producing and under those conditions money was coming in, the banks could have made a deal with O’Reilly.

So, when I was going through the papers that I found, I was looking at a few things. I made a conspiracy theory reference for more than one reason. One of them was the reference I found in the AIB financial report. In 2011 a person named Declan Collier was prominently mentioned, it stated “Prior to joining the DAA he held a number of senior management positions with the global energy company, Exxonmobil“, He moved to another position on June 28th 2012, yet he did not get any governance mention in 2012, yet there on page 5 we see “A short biography and background of all our Directors is set out on pages 168 to 170“, the new members Peter Hagan and Tom Foley, were mentioned, yet Declan Collier as a leaving member was not. This does not mean anything yet, but the fact that his remunerations were mentioned (as they should), having his details there with the governance team would have been more correct.

This is however not about being correct, or about the lack of governance details. Lets take a look at the events for filing the case. At http://www.rte.ie/news/2014/0526/619683-aib-oreilly/ we see that on Monday May 26thAn action being taken by AIB against businessman Tony O’Reilly in relation to debts of more than €22 million has been admitted to the fast track division of the Commercial Court‘, in itself that is no large issue, filings are done at every twist and turn. The quote “He gave Mr O’Reilly ten days to file a reply to the bank’s claim and he listed the matter for 2pm on 23 June.” got to me however, I had to read up on a few things and I was impressed with the timelines of the Irish courts, these fine young legal eagles do not take it easy, still 10 days for a 22 million brief is a little short (but not wrong, improper or devious in any way).

So, why all these mentions? why this conspiracy theory line?

This is at the heart of the matter. You see, there is no indication of any conspiracy, yet looking at the prospects, the oil found and not to forget the events as they are unfolding, or better stated as they were not unfolding. ExxonMobil has made no press visibility in regards to the areas of Providence Resources at all. ExxonMobil is down a bit, but that is no worry, because of the sheer size of ExxonMobil. Yet, is it that hard to believe, or perhaps in more legal terms ‘is it more likely than not‘ that a person like Declan Collier keeps tabs on his past connections, all of them? Is it that far-fetched that he got the inside scoop form a ‘friend’ and he dropped perhaps a ‘hint’ with another friend? Is that so far out of the realm of possibilities?

In that regard, if so, perhaps the AIB did not act to get all of their outstanding debts, but to make sure they ended up with at least part of it? I left this all out of the initial article as it is basically the thoughts of a conspiracy theorist, but is it that improbable?

If these matters are indeed at hand (or not), then what will happen next? What news are some not made aware of (let’s be honest, it is not the job of ExxonMobil to readily give out bad news), yet this scenario gives another light to the AIB court case, it is as I personally see it not that far-fetched (I would say that wouldn’t I), but does this information change anything? When the others realise (if my assumptions are true), that they got the outside track and were surpassed by AIB, what will THEY do next?

I am not sure about this, yet, as having been the underdog myself on more than one occasion, if Providence Resources do hit pay dirt on a second well, how will the AIB then react? Will the credit range suddenly be ‘extended’? Let’s be honest, if O’Reilly gets back on track then the AIB will have pissed of 14% (possible 28%) of all the Billionaires in Ireland (they apparently have 7 of them). How much business will AIB miss out of then, especially as they are down 20 billion at present?
No matter how this rolls, keeping your eyes on the AIB for the near future might be entertaining.

Time will tell!

 

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Boosting Pensions

Would you like to lose your pension? This is more than just a simple question. If you live anywhere in Europe, then the danger to your pension is a lot more realistic and will have a larger impact then you thought there would be.

Let’s take a look at a few countries.

Netherlands.
This was already under review, however, at present there are discussions going on to get a handle on accessing pensions for all kinds of reasons. The image in part is that the Dutch government needs this treasure vault to deal with more immediate issues as well as well as the application of spending to start an economy. As reported yesterday by the NOS, the issue at present is that the government thinks it is getting access to billions a year extra. The ABP comes to the conclusion that the changes will in the end cost billions, not save them. This comes as the government is presently trying to cut almost 3 billion Euro in retirement funding. The cut back was based on the fact that businesses and employees will save-up less per year, which might save 1000 euro, which would suit the government, as this gives them a taxation windfall of 2.3 billion. In the new system it is stated that not only do people lose the 1000 euro advantage, they will have to pay more. So there would be zero advantage, even worse, considering the amount of government jobs the treasury would be down a billion, so in the end no savings at all for the poor poor coffer, only additional losses to deal with. At a time when 6 billion in cut-backs are needed, this is not the bad news they want to hear. All this has a few more hooks. Especially when we consider the questions by Hachchi (D66) in regards pension premium raises that the ABP added in January 2012. The costs were raised by 300 million euro, as documented in  2012Z01310 (source: http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/bestanden/documenten-en-publicaties/kamerstukken/2012/03/06/antwoorden-inzake-de-verhoging-van-de-pensioenpremie-door-het-abp/antwoorden-inzake-de-verhoging-van-de-pensioenpremie-door-het-abp.pdf)

It is interesting that a similar issue is now appearing only one year later. There is more!

In one view we read that the ABP in 2010 was set at 105% coverage (which means that if 100% pension is paid out, 5% remains for growth). It is however interesting to read from the NRC (at: http://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2011/12/01/abp-verhoogt-pensioenen-niet/) we read that in December 2011 the coverage was only 94%, so in one year they went down to some degree. The same can be read at http://www.pensioenbelangen.nl/label/abp/ , more interesting, the numbers state that per September 2012 is was only at 101%. So if we recall the blog I wrote a week ago “The Age of ‘no retirement left’ is coming“, it is interesting that in that case the government is stating so much wealth. As the ABP is considered to be the largest one, we should wonder whether the Dutch politicians have any clue on what they are doing. More important, is this about short sighted cutting avoidance, or is it about more. Do not worry, they are not alone, we will have some fun looking at the UK situation next.

Is there actual evidence to support my theories? Well, the sources above clearly show that the ABP is only marginally above 100%, yet they had remained below 98% for a decent amount of time, so there is a valid amount of concern. In addition, when we consider the questions as stated in

2012Z01310, then certain issues in the recovery measures of pensions were not known, yet the initial billing would have been there, so this again is a piece of evidence that reflects 11th hour budgeting. The fact that this was never completely properly addressed remains a worry and not a reflective concern considering that in part the same issues are now again in the news.

The issues are only part of the entire picture. The fact that the Dutch pension administrator PGGM, has stated that there are issues with Walmart, could have some serious repercussions. Reuters quotes that “PGGM held 2.76 million shares of Wal-Mart as of March 31” (at: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/dutch-pension-group-halts-wal-211416613.html) this was only last week. Should the PGGM pull out then there would be concerns on both isles of the Atlantic river. Those shares represent well over 200 million, which means that Wal-mart might get some renewed problems down the line. Whether this would be due to PGGM is not a given, the fact that questions from a shareholder holding almost 3 million shares are not answered is certainly matter for concern. If we consider the economic downturn the Dutch have faced over the last 2 years, considering the issues the IMF reported in 2011 on Dutch pension funds. In that time, people entering their retirement saw their funds cut and a support capital of 50 billion was needed. So when we read less than 2 years later that those finds are so rich and that they should be opened for additional means, whilst a week later we read on some of the alleged dangers, it seems to me that playing politics with pensions is a very bad and not too bright idea. The 2011 article can be found at http://www.europeanpensions.net/ep/imf-team-recommends-adjustments-to-dutch-second-pillar-system.php

United Kingdom.

So, let’s take a look at Australia’s baby brother UK (as UK is only 3% of the size of Australia). The UK is in dangers no less immediate. The Guardian reported last November that issues would impact greatest on savers and pensioners. Yet, the story behind several issues is not brought here. For that we should look at what is happening now. Part of that is set here as http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/capital-markets-climate-change-pension-funds. Is that even a fair assessment? If we read the quote “The way pension funds invest will determine the future, which means that to thrive they’ll need to wake up to climate change” I will wonder whether this is wishful thinking of whichever politician or investor whispered to the author. When we looked at the Netherlands and other places, these nations are all looking at sustainability solutions. Yet at present the ROI of these options are not up to scrap, so WHY use pensions there. These are fields that have been ignored be several administrations. If it is SO lucrative, then why not invest in it yourself (me asking governments)? Yes, it will be the future, but at present too expensive, so getting articles out there for pension funds to invest in the future might read nice, but as ROI reports falter it will not hold a candle up to the coming rage. This view is shared by James Cameron, chairman of cleantech investor Climate Change Capital. I know that the next part sounds dodgy as hell, but when we consider the quote “Future pensioners are going to have to bear more of the investment risk themselves“. In that case Pension funds are much better of owning parts of Raytheon and Northrop-Grumman. It seems that governments all over the world are seemingly ready at the drop of any hat to buy missile technologies, and as such the ROI for pension funds are much better off going to those places. I agree that the statement is less appealing to read, but why should pensions now be put under more and more pressure whilst, those behind the scenes refused to budge when they should have done so. The investment risk reads like a joke considering the article published in May at http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2013/may/22/one-five-poverty-line-state-pension where it states that  20% of those retiring this year will fall below the poverty line. This is in my mind the consequence of a housing issue never properly dealt with for over 27 years, whilst pensions were left alone. Taking both in the balance, then pensions might cover 80%-100% of the rent for this year, and those will come up short 2014 and later. So that is in the most positive case where people do not need to eat or drink ever. This is only for those not living in London, living there would almost amount to instant suicide. At least the Dutch can claim that their retirement issue had never been THAT bad. So, as there is a collective boost to raise the value of the RBS, that former bastion might be used to actually boost and increase value and strength of British pensions as they focus on getting back on the horse of profit (or at least try to get on that horse). Pensions are being cut in other ways too. That part can be read at: http://www.independent.co.uk/money/pensions/expats-call-for-fairer-pension-payouts-8659717.html. Some of these pensioners (almost 10%), saw the unaffordable future they saw coming their way and as such they moved to other areas. Some saw the light in time and bought a small place on Crete, some left for alternative Mediterranean locations and some went to the warmer regions of South Africa. These people saw the light, saw the non-linear growing costs and chose a better solution. It goes even further. What is less than possible in the UK becomes very affordable in India, where a week’s pension gets you a 2 bedroom secured apartment for a month, considering that rent is the most expensive part, three weeks of pension should keep a person well fed. So why not consider this? Instead of going on an exotic vacation, live in an exotic place, and of course, the Indians are all on average Cricket nut, so not the worst place to be during Cricket season. If these people are forced back because of pension issues, would the British government have the means to suddenly appoint housing to these people? They might not get an option in this as they froze pensions. In that regard, I do hope that the Exchequer George Osborne considered the consequence of even part of those 1.2 million pensioners returning to England and his 2 billion pound winter fuel allowance. That is only one post. On the other side, there is a genuine and acceptable concern of the people who are abusing that system. There had been earlier mention of the situation where UK men marrying Thai brides is a reason for the foreign pensions increase. If we voice the scenario where a pensioner marries a woman under 25 and she then gets the allowance after he is gone, then this would indeed be an unfair use of the system. We could argue that a marriage, not validated in the UK would not be seen as a marriage (I know, the legal nightmare behind this is so not nice). However, that those who never added to the British system, not being eligible for those funds would be slightly better phrased, yet the consequences for consulates to keep track of these people would be almost disastrous. Even though this would be spread over several countries, the fact that they could be required to deal with over 700,000 additional requests a year, is not likely to become a ‘relief’ to the system. Yet I must agree that something must be done. The dangers of cutting the transferred pension, if there was a marriage, could mean that these people might have a claim on humanitarian grounds to receive full Visa and transfers into the UK, which in the end might add up to be a lot more expensive. The only solution could be legislative, yet which of the ‘evils’ to choose from is not really for now. In my mind the options grows to make the pension only transferable if the marriage was longer then a certain period (5 years) or the spouse must have been a UK resident or lived, worked and paid taxes in the UK for no less than 10 years. I am just grasping the 5 years out of thin air, yet this would limit the dangers of UK pension abuse, it would also give a clear message to the valid pensioners that THEY are protected, yet that there are limits on passing over a basic state pension. In regards to those who are valid recipients of the basic state pension and their foreign setbacks there is more information at http://pensionjustice.org/.

 

Germany.

We should consider the German system, even though it is thought to be strong, secure and to some extent safe. They share the dangers those in the UK currently have. As reported by The Spiegel at http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/germans-fear-poverty-in-retirement-even-after-life-of-work-a-855352.html, even though their economy is in a strong state, the lost investments, the futures of retirement are almost none existing. In fact, their pensions are a lot worse of then the UK ones. A person there would end up getting a mere 32% of their income. If we consider the Dutch system where 70% does not even foot the bill, the desperation of 32% is a lot less appealing. The question becomes important when we consider the required pension buffers these pension funds need to have. The interesting addition is that a report in 2012 from the labour ministry stated that “the Labour Ministry itself, which indicates about a third of current full-time employees could end up receiving social welfare unless the pension system is changed. Those who have spent 35 years working full time but earn less than 2,500 euros a month would also end up depending on welfare.

So this is the third country playing politics for non-visible short gain and massive shortages in the long term. This gives serious concern for the bill the Germans adopted that as of January 2013 “for a reduction in the statutory pension contribution rates”. And that helps your citizens…..how?

So this is not just a national issue, this is a European issue on several levels. Unless some strong actions are taken, a large part of Europe will enter living conditions worse than that of several 3rd world countries, whilst comfortable living would be found for those moving to places like India and Argentina.

Go figure!

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