Tag Archives: Jack Lew

The Iranian funds play

Today is all about Iran, the Washington Post and many others are giving the world the information that the previous president misled congress. Yet the Washington Post phrases it as ‘Obama administration misled Congress on possible Iranian access to U.S. financial system‘, they also mention that it is a Republican investigation. There are two issues, right off the bat, even before you read the article, the question becomes, where were the FBI and the CIA in this?

So when we get the first lines with “The Obama administration went out of its way in early 2016 to help Iran recoup previously sanctioned oil revenue stranded in an overseas account after the nuclear deal went into effect and actively misled Congress regarding those efforts, according to the results of a nearly two-year Republican investigation released early Wednesday“, we need to realise that the setting is wrong from the very start.

Before I go there, let’s follow the trail of crumbs that we get offered. next there is “Iran wanted to convert the money into U.S. dollars and then euros, but top U.S. officials had repeatedly promised Congress that Iran would never gain access to America’s financial system“, which is followed by “the Obama administration secretly issued a license to let Iran sidestep U.S. sanctions for the brief moment required to convert the funds through an American bank, an investigation by Senate Republicans released Wednesday showed. The plan failed when two U.S. banks refused to participate” and finally we get: “the revelation is re-igniting the bitter debate over the nuclear deal and whether former President Barack Obama was too eager to grant concessions to Tehran“. The full story (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal_government/obama-era-license-aimed-to-let-iran-convert-money-in-dollars/2018/06/06/60be6d36-6971-11e8-a335-c4503d041eaf_story.html) gives us a lot more, but initially, we get ‘The plan failed‘. So this was seemingly (according to a previous Obama official) about the Iranian money held overseas. The issue seems seen with “No one involved seems certain whether Iran has yet received all of its $5.7 billion“, yet as I see it, that does not seem to be the case. When you think this through, $5.7 billion amounts to 11.2 million barrels based on the average oil price, this amounts to funds equal to 26 hours of oil production in Saudi Arabia, 26 hours! Now we are not debating whether Iran is allowed access to the funds, the fact that we see that this much oil (or so little in Saudi Arabia), whilst in Iranian production it amounts to 4 days of oil production is a Joke. Oil still goes to Asia, so all this fanfare for 4 days of oil production? This is about something else entirely, or it is about a very different amount of money. I let you mull that part over, so when we look at the second article (also Washington Post), we see in the article called ‘Secret Obama-era permit let Iran convert funds to dollars’ where we are ‘treated’ to “Iran had been promised access to its long-frozen overseas reserves, including $5.7 billion stuck in an Omani bank“, which we knew to some extent, yet the full economic value is not given, which is also an issue, you see that stuff makes interest, so at that point who gets that money? Is it locked in the Iranian account, or was it the balancing act to the seesaw that is going up and down on €11 trillion in essential European and American debt guarantees? The second article has pretty much what the first one had, but we also see (slightly more clearly) “And when questioned by lawmakers about the possibility of granting Iran any kind of access to the U.S. financial system, Obama-era officials never volunteered that the specific license for Bank Muscat in Oman had been issued two months earlier. According to the report, Iran is believed to have found other ways to access its money, possibly by exchanging it in smaller quantities through another currency“, this now gives us the part (when going back to the first article: “Lew, according to documents reproduced in the report, had been given Treasury talking points explaining the Omani conundrum, he chose not to mention it in a House hearing in late March“, this reference to former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, where we wonder that if this is about the question, was the question correctly phrased, or perhaps the better setting is, was he breaking any laws not mentioning the ‘Omani Conundrum’?

I cannot state without the full text and even if we agree that there is an issue, we now get back to the very core of the matter. If it involves US Banks and when we reconsider ‘the plan failed when two U.S. banks refused to participate‘, two out of exactly how many banks? That part is also not revealed here. So now we get to the part where it becomes either the US treasury AND the FBI who seemingly did not act here, the Omani Conundrum implies that the CIA turf was trodden on and the communications (in several levels) give us that the NSA ignored it. So what is going on? Did anything actually happen? Because that question is becomes valid when we reconsider ‘the plan failed‘. If that is true, then why is the Washington Post, one of the most revered newspapers in the USA not giving the correct light on this? In addition, the outstanding questions that we get from the mere substance given becomes an issue when we see the words of President Trump “this disastrous deal gave this [Iranian] regime — and it’s a regime of great terror — many billions of dollars, some of it in actual cash — a great embarrassment to me as a citizen and to all citizens of the United States,”. Yet how much money was actually released, through the deal and from 2015 onwards? None of that data is available through the articles. So what exactly is US congress playing with now, because this all looks like a really loud smokescreen, all emotion and no contributable facts on the matter. How many banks were part of it (and their names), which two banks refused (double plus points for them two) and in light of merely one $5.7 billion source we need to see the scope of the money, especially in light of the setting that Iran is even now shipping oil to Asia. Are those not valid questions? In all this, where were the FBI and CIA when this was going down and more importantly why is there no mention of their part in all this, or were they not part of any of it? That is equally an issue, because if there is evidence that they were in different states of activity and actionable requirements regarding Iran during the two presidencies, the people have an equal right to know, do they not? You see, in the larger scope that matters, because the Yemeni issue is covering two presidencies, so if (a very clear if) the CIA was less vigilant during the previous presidency, it might also explain a few things on how missiles are getting shipped from Iran to Yemen, if the manifest states 1013 barrels of oil for humanitarian aid, it might explain a little more than we bargained for. Now the last part was speculative and knowingly incorrect, yet the question remains valid. This was not some article from the enquirer, or the Canton Cherokee Tribune, it is the Washington Post. In many (global) cases that newspaper is seen as gospel right next to the Financial Times, so when two articles give us so many questions in all this, I need to wrap my head around the option that Martin Baron is either on vacation or perhaps down with the flu. The man who inspired Tom McCarthy to make Spotlight should have a better grasp on the entire Iranian fund issue and how it should be made visible in my Hummer opinion.

Because behind all this is not merely the oil, or the Iranian uranium enrichment plans. It in equal measure gives another light that we get from “The draft involved a general license, a blanket go-ahead that allows all transactions of a certain type, rather than a specific license like the one given to Oman’s Bank Muscat, which only covers specific transactions and institutions“, you see, if that is in play and when we remember the G30 bankers group, the one that got some limelight, for ONE DAY. After that all the media dropped the issues when the people were given the sight of Mario Draghi being a member of this insiders only club, a club that he had to give up and no one (except for me that is) followed up on that. All the media left it alone. So when we see that part from April 18th 2018, where Reuters and the Financial Times give us that he would remain a member, the ECB and others never acted on it and silently wait it to go away, now we see the Omani Conundrum issue and I have to wonder, as bankers will do trade with anyone, what licenses are out there that no one knows about, more important, whoever the owner of the funds are that they get to play with ahead of all other banks, with close to €3 trillion in extra printed money for the game of bonds, in all this, what else are we not seeing and as this optionally directly reflects on Iran’s and all the billions we are left unaware of, how is it that the Washington Post seems to not care (or rather stated, believingly unimportant issues that are therefor not investigated) are out there with two pages set to issues in a setting of ‘the plan failed‘ and ‘at the end of the day, nothing worked‘. Which makes me wonder if any transgression was committed and what it was all about. Time will tell whether we see more revelations tomorrow and more important if it leads to anything actionable, because that will be come the heart of the matter soon enough.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Law, Media, Military, Politics

When a joke is too pathetic

This is the first thought that came to mind when I saw the ‘headline’ ‘IMF has ‘criminal responsibility’ for Greek crisis‘, which was in the Guardian Live part. So, is Alexis Tsipras just too stupid to be allowed as a politician? Let’s face it, after 6 months he achieved absolutely nothing, so is my question that far out of bounds? He created decline in diplomatic bonds by accusing everyone, except the ones really responsible, which were the Greeks themselves!

Let’s take a look at some of this, for this I am taking a larger step back, back in time. You see, after the Olympics of 2004, we should have seen an influx and a positive result for Greece, which it did, but only to the smallest extent. Compared to other nations that influx was not as strong as many expected it to be. When we look at the data the OECD (at http://www.oecd.org/) has, we see that the investment in Gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) was up in the year before the Olympics (that makes sense), then collapsed, only to go up steeply in 2006 and 2007, after that it goes down a lot, far below the average, guess what, after it hit a low (-26%) in 2012, suddenly there was a spike in investments, to minus 9.5% in 2013 and plus 2.7 percent in 2014. Yet, investments by whom? If we look at investment on % of GFCF by government we see that they represent 23.3% in 2013 and 20.7% in 2012. All this whilst corporate invested 34.9% in 2012 and 38.3% in 2013, households are in the basement, so the picture does not make sense (to me), when we compare this next to let’s say, the Netherlands, the picture looks even more distorted. Greece spiked its general government investment as % of GFCF far beyond the Netherlands, especially in 2009 and 2013. Greece has nowhere near that funding. Now, we see that it is just ‘% of GFCF’, yet spiking’s of 7% difference makes a lot more sense for the Netherlands than for Greece (the Dutch have dikes, harbours and plenty of assets to worry about). The Greek spending under former PM George A. Papandreou as well as spending by former PM Antonis Samaras, or should I say spending whilst they were in charge? Spending on transport equipment, other buildings and cultivated assets went up consistently, especially since 2012, whilst investment for dwellings went down from 2011 to 8% in 2014. These investment parts cannot be denied to some extent, yet the spiking implies that it is done at a moment’s notice, on the whim of emotion, lacking long term insight and stability. You only need to compare Greece to nations like the Netherlands and Sweden to see that the ‘spikes’ reflect what I would call: lacking vision and insight.

The questions only increase when you consider that Greece’s net trade never comes close to -20, -25.2 is the best they were able to achieve from 2003 onwards, and this is in billions of dollars, so as we see a decade of minus 20 billion or worse, it was -64 billion in 2008, questions should be asked, especially from the Greeks. A nation in trade deficit for ever a decade adds up to questions on WHY they were allowed onto the bond market in 2014, no one clearly asked those questions. In that light I need to add a blog (at http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2014/05/11/how-the-greek-banks-secured-an-additional-hidden-e41-billion-bailout-from-european-taxpayers/), the article called ‘How the Greek Banks Secured an Additional, Hidden €41 billion Bailout from European taxpayers’, so how come that these matters are not on the front page? So as I see it, these massive indicators are shown that when it comes to ‘criminal responsibility’, Alexis Tsipras should also knock on the doors of previous PM’s and Greek political bigwigs (if they actually have any). For the simple reason that massive austerity would have been needed in 2006 onwards, how much was cut? How was this achieved? You see 2005 was already a clear indication that overhaul of property taxation, tax collection and tax evasion was a clear given, especially when you come up short by THAT much. Yet in over a decade no achievements were made and neither was anything truly done in the last 6 months.

In addition, we see the dangers of the title ‘Athens threatens to miss IMF payment‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/16/eurozone-greek-exit-athens-imf-grexit-tsipras), whatever the Eurozone braces for is an unknown to me, considering the large players downplayed the event. The quote ‘threatens to miss IMF payment‘ is also slightly misrepresented. As I see it. As I see it, Greece no longer has that much money at their disposal, I reckon the shift by using the IMF emergency funds was a clear given. There is also a ghostly silence when it comes to the bank run. No clear indication how strong that pull is, or are the banks perhaps already empty? That is not a speculation, it is the question, especially as political parties and banks are debating ‘Grexit’. The problems will only intensify when the bank runs are complete. Actually, I expect that escalations will occur a lot faster when people can no longer withdraw. There is presently no indication when it will happen, but as payments are missed, the dangers of banks no longer handing out cash (emphasis on ‘being able to’) after June 23rd is not out of the question, if the bank run continues, that date might be even before that date. It will be a new low in humanitarian economics, as retirees will no longer receive payments, how will they be able to pay, when the Greek government allowed in March for the dipping into pension funds. Depending on how many Greek bonds these pensions ended up with, when money is not coming, which is extremely realistic, the pension funds themselves will not be able to flood the monthly retirement pay out, which is due in less than 2 weeks, at that point, how will the population react?

I expect to stay away from Greece until that dust cloud settles as it will be a harsh reality for Greeks to watch tourists walk around whilst they can no longer afford to feed themselves. The escalation with refugees all over Greece (Kos being the most visible one) is not helping any. The fact that posters are appearing with texts like “I am an immigrant, I’m here to rape your children” is not helping any. You might think that they are separate issues, but they are not. You see, this fuel of hatred is hitting Greeks every day, the unrest is growing amongst both sides. The entire debt mess is hitting the Greeks, who now see that what is left would be lost to the refugees. We are all about humanitarian aid, but how many will give them your last sandwich? How many will give food to the refugees when it means that your children will not eat? You might think that this is an exaggeration, but after next week, that might not be the case. When the announcement of a default meeting is given, the banks will get overrun, people will take all their money out, they might already be starting that today, when THAT is gone, how exactly will groceries be paid for? All this, because the two players Alexis Tsipras and Yanis Vardoulakis have basically been sitting on their hands for 6 months. It is nice to see the headlines ‘No new reform proposals for Eurogroup‘ and ‘Varoufakis rules out ‘Grexit’, deal possible if Merkel takes part‘. Well, as we are seeing now, it is no longer up to Varoufakis and Tsipras. as they pushed away reforms, accused the IMF and as we see ‘Europe Struggles Toward Solution as Tsipras Rips Into Creditors‘, we have to wonder, the Greeks made these deals, a I see it, the acts of THIS administration is now killing their own options, burning the bridges behind them. At this point, as I see it. Greece can no longer state “Grexit not a possibility“, at this point, we have arrived at the stage that Greece gets notified that Greece will be ejected from the Euro, perhaps even the Eurozone. The latter part is not that likely, but in sight of the Greek acts, no longer an impossibility. Now, only 2 hours ago we see “US urges compromise after Greek PM attacks IMF” (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/live/2015/jun/16/greek-crisis-negotiations-deadlocked-as-time-runs-short-live-updates). Now we see “US Treasury secretary Jack Lew has telephoned Alexis Tsipras to urge him to reach a realistic compromise, urgently. In a statement, the Treasury revealed that Lew told Tsipras that the Greek people, and the global economy, would suffer if Athens can’t reach a deal with creditors

My cold war view (I miss those old days) is: “Jack, buddy boy! Did you miss certain facts? Did you consider that this is exactly what Alexis Tsipras wants all along? He is a communist! This scenario will have a massive impact on America, he is meeting Putin on Friday. Perhaps they will walk through the Hermitage on Saturday, a family outing, special tour and as they turn around the corner he gets his new golden future, if he can push Greece over the edge, massively hurting the US (please do not deny that it will not hurt the US), than he will have a nice future, he might even get the Star of Lenin on May 1st 2016. Instead of meeting with European parties, he is having another meeting with Putin. This guy met with Putin more often than the bulk of the Europeans together

This might look like my shallow view, but consider the past of Syriza, their foundations, is my view so far-fetched? He has done absolutely nothing to propel the debt situation in any positive way. Is all war not based on deception? (Source: Art of War). Look at all the photo’s the papers have, all posing moments and all presentations of the moment (which politicians tend to do), has Alexis Tsipras been anything but a petulant child? As he went on and on in the style of: ‘Just give me my cookie now!‘ (Reference to the 7.2 billion bailout). In 6 months no clear reforms, no clear mention in any direction that could have eased any kind of resolution. The icing on the cake would be if the US would now take on some of these debts too. It would be a total victory for Tsipras, he can tell the Greek population has been dealt with and he’ll be living next to the Kremlin for daily Caviar and Vodka, the new Russian superstar!

This is just my view, it is a view and there is no reliability on my view, but oddly enough, my view matches all the facts we see, so is it less or more likely? Consider yourself, when you are in deep water with your bank, would you not try to get a dialogue and understanding? Would you not plead ‘there is no money now, but as soon as some comes in, we start paying!’ of course, the bank cuts you off, but the bank realises that waiting is better than losing, especially when the client has sincere intentions. So pissing of your bank, accusing them of ‘criminal responsibilities’ and letting them pay for it all, how does that help?

When the fence between you and the tiger is gone, posturing seems pointless, even if it is the only thing left to you. So, are the Greek politicians in charge now the joke that is too pathetic?

From accusations to ‘trying to make up’ as Helena Smith of the Guardian reports, “Over in Athens the government’s spokesman has just released a statement attempting to douse tensions with EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker“. Is this part of the play, or have the members of Syriza lost direction and focus? This is the question for many, you see, accusations followed by carefully phrased corrections is about emotion, limelight and posturing, as I see it an almost empty gesture to keep a non-conversation going. In here, I mean non-conversation as a means to continue a dialogue that allows for non-actions to continue too. Will this go on for 30 hours until the upcoming near-fatal meeting to be? That will be a question to consider, because tomorrow might be the last chance before certain members meet separately to put Grexit to the vote. That last part is again just my view, but it is a distinct possibility, because the reality of Grexit has now been voiced, and the change from ‘if’ to ‘when’ Grexit commences needs a start date, Germany, France and Italy would want to keep control of that moment, just to make sure that they will not be terminally affected because of it, a consequence that is still an option!

As I see it, the game will change massively for France when Grexit happens, as such, France would want to champion that meeting for valid reasons of cost impact.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Media, Politics

The numbers we ignore?

Today is another day that the US government is in shutdown mode. This is not Episode 8 from season 5 of the West Wing by Aaron Sorkin (brilliant man). This is reality!

There is polarisation on many levels and even though we want to blame one side as we stand on the other side, there is a deadly reality playing out in the corridors of power. The Democrats refuse to cut their spending; the Republicans will not play soft or compromising. Today we see the Guardian with “Obama meets bank chiefs as economists warn of ‘deep and dark recession’” at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/oct/02/obama-bank-chiefs-economist-deep-recession. As we look at a few facts quoted “President Obama met bank executives including Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein“. The firm that helped many lose their house. I admit that this is unfair towards Mr Lloyd Blankfein, but the sentiment behind it stays in valid form (I will get to that later on).

A looming battle over the nation’s $16.7tn debt ceiling. Treasury secretary Jack Lew has warned that the US could default on its debts if the limit is not raised soon.

The second part is why the republicans are not budging. The Democrats are raising and spending and leaving it all to the next one in office. There is enough evidence to state that it is likely that the Republicans will return to the White house. In that regard, they have ZERO interest in cleaning up the Democrat mess, which will take several administrations. The fact, that the Democrats are not willing to cut their spending, whilst they spend a lot more than their budget allows. It is almost hilarious how things are spun. They claim it is all about affordable healthcare, whilst this option is increasing the debt by $100 billion a year. Now, it there was money coming in on the other side, there might be some level of case, but that is not happening. This current administration has added over 5 trillion dollars in debt during his first term. That is an overspending by 3.4 billion dollars a day. With Obama care this will be even more. Now, this administration inherited a sour deal. The economy had collapsed; there were issues with some financial crash in Wall Street and so on. Yet, the debt he has added to in one term is a lot more than Bush added in two terms. (So both sides have some of the blame). The republicans are not blameless, but they will not accept the continued addition of debt which is currently getting pushed. The US national debt is now well over 100% of its GDP. This is the part many seem to ignore. So if all taxation (which is only 26.9% of the GDP) is used to pay for the loan, then it will take 4 years to get rid of their debt. That works ONLY if the US government pays no wages, fixes nothing, builds nothing, buys nothing and heals no one. So for 4 years Americans must make due with nothing at all. This is not a realistic approach, I admit that! So you can only use to pay what you have left, however the government has been spending 120%-145% of the money they received and with Obama Care spending will increase. America is currently, in my humble opinion bankrupt!

Do you doubt this? This would be a fair enough position to take, consider any company being allowed to spend 120% of their annual revenue. How long until any bank will close the tap? In addition, there should be overall outrage that a company would work 100% of the time just to pay the bank. There is 0% job security in that regard, for if the annual +5%-+15% cannot be made, they will cut the costs that are not desired. In that scenario there will be no healthcare of any kind, because the sick do not contribute to the future of profit. That dangerous situation currently exists!

The article by the Guardian has more “But he warned that would be nothing compared to the Pandora’s box that would be opened if no deal on the debt ceiling was done before 17 October deadline. Congress must agree to raise the US’s $16.7tn debt ceiling by that date or risk being unable to meet its obligations.

That is the crux! The total debt will increase and the republicans will not stand for that. My earlier comparison to get rid of the debt in 4 years is not realistic, I said that. Only if spending is lower than American income can the debt be lowered. It will take more than 3 generations to get that done. Some disagreed with that number. This is fair enough. Yet, let us make a small calculation.

$17T is $17,000B. The interest due would be $340B (it is actually higher at http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/ir/ir_expense.htm, but it is about the example).

If we believe the census (as shown in my Blog ‘Biased Journalism on USA shutdown?‘) then the interest due is 13% of ALL collected taxation. How can ANYTHING get done after the interest is paid? And that is only interest, no decrease of the actual loan. So consider that all amenities, support and expenditure of the US must decrease by at least 16% to get this done. How can that ever be a realistic situation? This is why the Republicans are not budging. The more important issue is that the Democrats knew this. They knew that the train would stop and they ignored this. Not unlike in the Netherlands where everyone stated that the SNS Bank was too big to fail, the Dutch government nationalised the bank. Why the Dutch as an example? Well, they are in some similar predicament. They are not able to lower spending. They need to cut an additional 6 billion whilst their GDP was 700 billion last year. If they cannot cut 1%, how will the US ever deal with their debt? There have been words on corporate taxation left right and centre, yet what they are not mentioning is the issue that the UK has seen this year. Big business, like Google has been pushing their own booked revenue to other places. This quote from Bloomberg “Google’s chairman says he is ‘proud’ of the way his company avoids paying taxes ”It’s called capitalism,” Eric Schmidt told Bloomberg in a…” So, whatever money the US treasury has coming in, it is not from the big boys of business. They have the right accountants and tax lawyers. So here we get back to Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein.

When we see the acts of Google and how Goldman Sachs was involved in the Greek issues, people would wonder whether they (Goldman Sachs and the US government) are not working together in the same way. If so, then there are more questions on the entire setting of the article the Guardian published (from the link at the beginning). There is no way that someone like Mr Blankfein is not aware what the big boys of industry in America are doing. When we read in places like Forbes that Google is not alone in these acts, but that companies like Apple are doing the same thing, then raising a debt ceiling whilst the captains of industry are not paying anywhere near the tax they ‘should’ then we must ask other questions. All this becomes even more hilarious when we consider the information from the Financial Standard on July 15th (at http://www.financialstandard.com.au/news/view/33335431) where it is stated that “US delays tax avoidance law by 6 months“. So the big boys in that initial Guardian Article are all about gloom and doom, whilst the US treasury seems to be missing out on taxation by not acting on Tax evasion (which is actually not a crime at present). So they want to borrow more, but will not put in place legislation that would lessen the dangers of paying the due interest. That last part is shown in Forbes article last month by Steve Denning. (At http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2013/09/12/alan-blinder-six-reasons-why-another-financial-crisis-is-still-inevitable/)

  1. Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 hasn’t been implemented.
  2. The $5 trillion banking assets in derivatives are still off-balance sheet and unregulated
  3. The rating agencies are “still hired and paid by the very companies whose securities they rate.”
  4. The Volcker Rule forbidding proprietary trading by banks has not been implementedAnd I add;
  5. US tax avoidance laws not implemented.

From these parts we could come to the conclusion that the Obama administration has failed the American people almost completely, whilst unable to get spending under control.

American politics is a lot more complex, so there are other factors, but it seems to me that Steve Denning is showing us several dangers that are currently not stopped. So when, not if, they happen, the people as they walk away with nothing left, can wonder how that expensive affordable healthcare is helping whilst they have no house, no job and no food.

It is a sad day for many people, because in the end, not only America seems to be unable to control their budgets, they are only, for now the most visible one.

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Politics

Bankrupt or failed? It’s all the same!

This topic applies to two events that are hitting two groups. The first one is about one of the final nails that are getting hammered into the coffin that is laughingly called the US economy.

Yet, what is actually in play? On one hand there are the mentions that the US economy is on the rise, so why is the debt limit such a strong issue?

The second issue is one that is playing in the UK, but about that later.

For these issues we need to consider a few chess pieces, that had been ignored in the past and there is only so much you can do before those ‘forgotten’ pieces rear their ugly head. Yes, I agree that there are signs that the US economy is again slightly on the rise. More jobs are offered, people are getting back onto the horse of labouring enterprises. There is however the other side. The government seems to ignore the need to get their budget in order, they ignore that there is a consequence to non-stop borrowing. Excuse upon excuse, story upon story and where does this lead?

The issues got visibility after Sky News reported on a story that involved the interview with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. Reuters quoted him stating “We cannot afford for Congress to gamble with the full faith and credit of the United States,” Lew told the Economic Club of Washington, a business forum. Yes, he is correct in that, yet the strong story to hunker down on excessive spending is not loudly voiced. That same situation is what the Dutch government is currently facing. The story there was that it will never be like is was ever again is the story in the Dutch case. The pre 2008 life style is gone and likely gone forever. It will take a small nation like the Netherlands 5-10 years to get their spending under control, but it will never be as good as it was before. Why mention the Netherlands? With 16 million people they are at 5% of the American population. Their debt is around 430 billion. This is less than 2% of the national debt the US has and they have now announced austerity measures to reduce their deficit. The measures will be a helping of bitter fruit to nearly all Dutch. The total US debt is said to be around 60 trillion dollars, which boils down to $9000 for every person on the planet.  Basically, the annual US Currency degradation is larger than the total debt of the Netherlands and the Dutch are looking at the next 10-15 years of financial hardship, and then only if the economy has picked up to the smallest extent by the end of 2015. If not, then those 15 years might not be enough. So the summary ‘the good times are gone forever’ seems amply put. More important, as the US debt devaluates quicker than the annual interest payments, is there any way out left for the US but bankruptcy?

The RABO bank director had made a comment that ‘all will have to tighten the belt’. Sounds nice, but let’s not forget that financial institutions playing fast and loose with other people’s money was cause to most of these issues. The second link is that he is not just mentioning the massive debt, yet a small mention on how the Dutch have such a good retirement treasury. It is another first attempt to get their fingers on the one place that was supposed to keep a population safe. (at http://nos.nl/audio/552545-directeur-rabobank-we-moeten-met-zn-allen-de-broekriem-aanhalen.html)

The US seems to ignore again and again that there is a limit to spending, so the lesson the Dutch are learning the hard way is one that American is currently not ready to face. They might say yes, there is a limit, but then state that they are nowhere near these limits. I disagree! I reckon that the point of no return was reached in 2011. The outstanding debts are now a matter of more than just multiple generations. The fact that we are given stories about returning economies are one thing, the part on how taxation must be paid (and is not) is silenced again and again. the rich move away their fortunes to the Bahamas or other places that will keep it ‘safe’, in addition corporate America is doing the very same thing by moving their ventures to places like Ireland, which allowed several corporations to pay less than 0.2% in taxation. How can the US survive when people without jobs cannot pay taxation and the super-rich move outside of the reach of the US treasury so they do not have to? These steps are socially undesirable and in my mind it is a form of treason. How can a company hide behind the US as a shield stating they have rights and then move away as they shun their own duties? These ignored elements are part of the problem that is likely to soon leave the US in a state of bankruptcy.

The US claims to be a nation of laws, which is fair enough. I think that they forgot that when greed calls the shots, the law becomes a shield for criminals, whilst becoming an anchor for those they are supposed to protect. It is a topsy-turvy world indeed.

So as we move towards the next 8 weeks of uncertainty, as the Democrats and Republicans are moved into a space that is more polarised then sunglasses, we will see that some will get a few coins from the jittery movement of the markets. Also take notice on how some of these people proclaim on how this is all so much unfair and how spending just a little more will save the people. No! It will not. It has not been a solution for almost 2 administrations. It is time to look for an actual solution, instead of prolonging an absolute failure.

So time to take a look at the UK now!

They have their own deficit, but more importantly, they do have a different set of problems. The NHS was at some point to have some kind of system that would record some forms of information. (Or so it would seem).

The NHS IT system is a failure. So much so, that it is the biggest failure in UK history. I reckon it is big enough to be the biggest failure in European history, but that seems too much like splitting hairs. The program had cost 10 billion pound, which makes it a 0.5% of the total British debt. That takes some doing to be such a failure.

Why are these two events connected?

Apart from the usual suspect that both involved politicians, it seems to me that both situations require a clear vision of what needs to be done. In both places they are lacking. It actually goes further than that, however for that part, let us take a look at the NHS laptop.

The Guardian is giving it some attention at (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/sep/18/nhs-records-system-10bn)

To do this, we will need to look at a few quotes that were made in this regard.

MPs on the public accounts committee said final costs are expected to increase beyond the existing £9.8bn because new regional IT systems for the NHS, introduced to replace the National Programme for IT, are also being poorly managed and are riven with their own contractual wrangles.” This is one of the stronger quotes. We are looking at three distinct parts.

1. ‘Own contractual wrangles’ looks to me that the wrong people were involved in the contractual parts. Too much baggage or too little know-how, no matter how you twist this, when the contract is about ‘disputes‘ the people are not linked to a contract, but driven apart though paper (not unlike less successful marriages). This all makes for a nasty ‘separation’.

2. ‘new regional IT systems‘ and ‘being poorly managed‘ means that this is again a track of issues that are set to how good one’s PowerPoint presentation looks, not on how well an infrastructure can be managed. It is a fatal flaw in any IT project.

3. ‘Final costs are expected to increase beyond the existing £9.8bn‘ Like that is a surprise? This means that the costing’s were never properly done. Even in an age where the UK had a 3 year bad run with the economy, it seems to me that proper setting out a charter was never done. No charter, no limits and no results. It is again the same story we see too often when interested parties see the government not as a customer, but as a gravy train with no end in sight.

The IT is no different from any other business, when they see a governmental place where the gravy train just runs through it and they hope they are the station the train will stop. In my mind I see these places as a spot with too many managers and not enough workers. This is often the situation in many organisations. When it is in a commercial organisation it is a nuisance, and if they do not bring home the bacon, they are often let go at some point. With governmental organisations it is a different thing, more important, when it is done on regional area’s where they all want to be ‘in charge’ it adds up to nothing less than a death sentence to any structure that does not have commercial goals. It will collapse onto itself.

Here is the comparison with the US government. Like the NHS both are spending huge amounts they do not have to reflect upon. Not unlike the US their incomes are going down fast as tax havens take away the annual incomes the UK/US used to have. So in all, we are a looking at an engine that is supposed to run whilst we allowed the fuel tank to be external and no longer attached to the car. How stupid is that approach?

Richard Bacon, who had co-written a book on failing government projects, said that the NHS’s particular problems stem from the original contracts signed before 2002.  It comes from a book he wrote with Christopher Hope called Conundrum. I am not disputing his view; it does however show that 10 years later a situation is holding the UK back. Perhaps a better contract team is/was needed? This all reads like my first item I mentioned. Nice that someone from Norfolk can see the issue that the London bigwig’s can’t be bothered to identify on a good day.

The issue I see is that the contracts might have been OK or acceptable at that time, but government situations require a different scope, and signing something that is holding back the UK 10 years later is really a bad contract (from the NHS point of view). So people were hired who lacked that same insight. It is not just on what they were instructed to do, I am questioning whether the right people were ever asked to question the outstanding approach to the long term extent it was needed to be looked at.

Too many are trying the same approach to other scenario’s, which is fair enough, yet those who should be in charge are NOT thinking this through. The mind is lazy, when something works, use it again, I get that! In this case it was not a solution and neither is it when it comes down to spending again and again to shove forward an economy that requires $10 for a return of $0.10. It is bad business through and through.

The one quote from the Guardian article is the crux ‘The government was keen to distance itself from the problem.

That is just not an option. Moreover, if it wanted that, it should have never gone near this issue to begin with. If we look at the BBC in 2011 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15014288) the following quote comes forward “Health Secretary Andrew Lansley will say: “Labour’s IT programme let down the NHS and wasted taxpayers’ money by imposing a top-down IT system on the local NHS, which didn’t fit their needs. We will be moving to an innovative new system driven by local decision-making.

Whilst in July 2010 the issue stated by the BBC (at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10557996) was: “Mr Lansley also announced he expected all NHS trusts, which run hospitals and mental health units, to get foundation status by 2013.” So what did get done? More important, it states nothing about abandoning this ‘new’ system at the moment of release.

It all gets a little more hairy when you consider the quote in that very same article ‘Professor Chris Ham, chief executive of the King’s Fund think-tank, said: “It is a very radical programme. We have never seen anything like this since the inception of the NHS in 1948.“‘

It seems to me that this was another PowerPoint approach by those who talk nice but have no idea where the keyboard is stored. Certain quality questions should be asked from those who can only think in election terms. These systems are supposed to outlast them all. This is an issue which has, not once been properly dealt with in either the US or the UK.

How much more tax money will be spent on trains that lead to a place called nowhere?

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Media, Politics