Tag Archives: Latvia

Hammering Facebook

The Guardian has another story, which was updated a mere 6 hours ago. To be honest, I am a little ticked off. I get that the Guardian is giving us this and it makes perfect sense, it is news. Yet when I see ‘Fake news inquiry: Facebook questioned by MPs from around the world – as it happened‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/live/2018/nov/27/fake-news-inquiry-facebook-to-face-mps-from-around-the-world-mark-zuckerberg-live-updates), whilst in the same setting we see newspapers ‘hiding’ behind ‘from an unnamed source’, when we get blasted by well over 64 million results in Google Search on the death of a journalist that close to nobody gives a hoot about, the entire ‘fake news‘ seems to be nothing more than a targeted sham to me. Not the element of fake news, I get that, but some of the players are a little too hypocrite to my liking.

So let’s take a look at a few of these issues we see (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/nov/27/facebook-fake-news-inquiry-the-countries-demanding-answers).

Ireland: “The Irish government is reviewing proposed legislation to promote online safety amid an outcry that tech companies are unable or unwilling to tackle harmful content. The move jars with Dublin’s normally effusive support for tech companies with an Irish base. Facebook has its European headquarters in Dublin and falls under the remit of Irish data protection authorities“. The first thing to do is look at the definition. The European commission gives us: “Harmful content, is authorized material subject to distribution restrictions (adults only, for example) or material which some users may find offensive even if, on the grounds of freedom of speech, there are no restrictions on publication.” First of all, the Pornhub site is freely available to every man, woman and child. In addition there is a porn version of YouTube that is also freely available, from that we can see that Ireland has a lot of other worries and these two are not available through Facebook. When we look at Ireland we see a nation that given in to big business through tax laws at the drop of any hat and they have harmful content issues? In addition the Times gave us on November 6th: “Google and Facebook will call on the government today to define exactly what kind of content a proposed digital safety commissioner would have the power to remove online.” It becomes a lot more entertaining when we see in Fine Gael last week: “Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughton will travel to Westminster next Tuesday (November 27th) for a meeting of the International Grand Committee on Communications”, as well as ““Social media companies cannot hide from the genuine concerns of national parliaments from around the globe, it is imperative they engage with us in a meaningful way. “This document sets out a blueprint for how that can be done.” It is entertaining as she seemingly has a document whilst this entire setting has been going on for years (even before Cambridge Analytics). That entire meeting is in my personal opinion as hollow as it sounds. All trying to look important, yet where is that so called document from Hildegarde Naughton? It does not seem to be on the HN site (at http://www.hildegarde.ie), so where is it? When we are told: ‘This document builds upon the work done by the Oireachtas Communications Committee‘, we should be able to read and scrutinise it. You see, the Irish Law Reform Commission has a 2016 document (at https://www.lawreform.ie/_fileupload/Reports/Full%20Colour%20Cover%20Report%20on%20Harmful%20Communications%20and%20Digital%20Safety.pdf), it is merely that or a continuance of that? And this document is important, especially on page 165 where we see: “The definition of “communication” implements the recommendation in paragraph 2.53 that the proposed legislation on harmful communications should apply to all forms of communication, whether offline or online, analogue or digital, and therefore the definition includes communication by speech, by letter, by camera, by telephone (including SMS text message), by smart phone, by any digital or online communication (including the internet, a search engine, a social media platform, a social media site or the world wide web), or by any other telecommunications system.

This now implies that art is now no longer merely in the eyes of the beholder, basically if any art is regarded as harmful content, is comes under scrutiny (read: censoring) A massive part from Facebook is relying on art to propagate via digital medium, digital art is still in its infancy and it seems that this offends Ireland in the broader view it has, it is in that view that my message to Hildegarde Naughton is seen (at https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/priest-who-sexually-assaulted-girl-6-during-first-confession-avoids-jail-due-to-old-age-and-health-problems-36840577.html). When we contemplate that when you have health issues and you are old, it seems fine to rape a six year old. It is all in the nuance, is it not? So, what will you do when you consider this Grigor Malinov painting to be harmful content? Add a Jade Swim bikini with a brush and a fashionable colour? In light of what certain people get away with, the entire harmful content is not a joke, yet hammer Facebook with it, whilst there are other players openly in the field is too weird as I personally see it.

Then we get a Turkish advertisement variant with ‘MPs do not intend to publish Six4Three documents today, Collins says‘, either you have the documents and you inform the public, or you go home and polish your silverware! You scream fake news and leave the audience in innuendo and what I personally perceive as intentional miscommunication, and haven’t we seen enough of that?

Blame Canada

I can’t resist, whenever I see a Canadian flag, a Canuck or anything Canadian I think of that South Park song. It’s nothing negative, I think that Canada is awesome in hockey, it seems to have great people (several attended UTS with me) and it seems to have a healthy life. I’d take a job in Canada any day if possible (as well as the opportunity to watch Hockey almost every night), I might even be good enough to be a goalie for one of their NHL teams, even though I am nowhere near Martin Jones as a goalie (I merely wish I was). So Canada gives us: ‘Facebook inflated video viewing times for two years‘, I actually see an issue here, the Guardian gives us “only counting views lasting more than 3 seconds, the time a video must be seen to count as a view“, yet with YouTube the skip moment is 5 seconds an now as some people get 100% more ads with many of them not with the option to be skipped we see a shifted trend. This might be YouTube, yet there is no chance that this does not affect Facebook, giving rise that Canada has as optional a valid issue. Richard Allan (Facebook) gives us: ““it depends on the problem we’re trying to solve”“, something that might be valid, yet in the question by Charlie Angus we see: “Facebook has inflated video metrics, overstated for two years. “I would consider that corporate fraud, on a massive scale,” he says, “and the best fix is anti-trust. The simplest form of regulation would be to break facebook up, or treat it as a utility, so that we can all be sure that we’re counting metrics that are accurate or true.” I see his failure as a setting as there is a large intertwined part of Facebook, Vines, YouTube and a few other medium adding fuel to the video metrics, no matter if all hosted on Facebook. You would have to set the stage for all and to merely have Facebook here is a faulty stage, we get pushed into an assumption pool of no facts and biased metrics making matters merely worse. I feel certain that Charlie Angus should have and probably did know this making the issue a tainted one on more than one level.

Finally, let’s go out with a bang and add Latvia to the stage. When we get Latvia’s Inese Lībiņa-Egnere, we get the question: “how Facebook can help countries like Latvia, that face specific threats from Russia“. It took me around three minutes to stop laughing, I should be serious, but I cannot hold my straight face. You see, that is not the job of Facebook. I will go one step further, by stating: “Dear Inese, have you considered adding digital responsibility to both the Drošības policija and the Militārās izlūkošanas un drošības dienests?” There is an unconfirmed rumour that one of your routers is still set to ‘Passw0rd‘ and another one to ‘Cisco123‘, can you please confirm that? In light of the fact that ‘https://www.zs.mil.lv/lv/kontakti‘ directly links to Facebook pages, one might see how the Latvian military (as well as Latvian intelligence) could get phished in several ways, especially when there is the chance that some alleged under dressed biker chick would have been looking for ‘adventurous officers’. It gets to be even more fun when that alleged woman look a lot like a vogue model. You should introduce them to: (https://heimdalsecurity.com/blog/fake-facebook-scams/), to have Common Cyber Sense is a government’s responsibility. Getting Facebook to do free consultancy via a hearing is just not Cricket.

I will end this with Brazil, I really liked his question: ‘He asks what Facebook is doing to prevent improper manipulation of its algorithms to prevent illegal manipulation of elections‘. It is a good and important question. I think the newspapers, especially the tech columns should spend space on this and let Facebook show them what is being done, what the impact is, how those metrics were generated and how its validity was checked. I think that the problem is a lot larger than we imagine. I would set a line towards American soft money. It has never been regulated and it still is not. We talk about fake news and political influence, whilst soft money is doing that in the US from the day after a president is elected all the way up to the next presidential election (or the senate, or congress). It is basically shouting at one, whilst the other element is ignored. The difference is that digital campaigns give anyone all the soft money they need, taking the rich out of the equation, the fact that I have not seen anything towards these lines gives a larger implied weight on all media. All those newspapers with ‘from an unnamed source‘ and that is where the blockage begins. There is a setting that it is not the ability or Russia, but the failing of others not correctly countering digital media that is the problem and that was never a Facebook problem, it merely shows the incompetence of others and in an age of advanced nepotism it is a much harder pill to swallow.

In all this, I never claimed that Facebook is innocent, merely that there is a lack of the proper questions making it to the table and even as a few nations were addressed, the issue is a lot larger and needs addressing, preferably before the 5G tap opens which allows the digital media providers to deliver 500% more than it is delivering now.

I wonder how many players have considered the impact of that game changer.

 

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Is it merely timing?

When I looked into some off the Mario Draghi matters two days ago, I made a reference to his little kart, a kart full of tricks or is it a kart of indiscretion? So let’s take a look at the alphabet, the alphabet of ABLV

A is for Actuality

You see, the European Central Bank publishes a list where all the supervised entities are and the list starts with “Cut-off date for significance decisions: 1 January 2018“, so as we are in March (way past January 1st) and that same attached list gives us on the 81st position the ABLV Bank, AS, with the mention of ‘Among the three largest credit institutions in the Member State‘, whilst there is also (non-supervised) the ABLV Bank Luxembourg, S.A. in Luxembourg, yet stated and linked to the ABLV, should we wonder if we are being had? In light of the news two days ago when we were treated to “Draghi did address a question on why ABLV Bank received emergency support from the Latvian central bank before the ECB declared it failing or likely to fail. He said that the Emergency Liquidity Assistance policy – under which national central banks rather than the ECB decide to provide support to troubled lenders – is a “remnant of a past time” and should be reformed” (Source: Australian Financial Review), whilst the bank was being supervised according to the ECB, the fact that they are grasping at the notion that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing, is that not an indication on how massively useless and overpaid the members of the ECB are? Just so that we are all in clear and that we all understand what is going on, let’s look at ‘supervision’, which the dictionary calls ‘the action of supervising someone or something‘, and with ‘supervising’ we get ‘observe and direct the execution of (a task or activity)‘, it seems to me that the ECB was not doing any observing or directing, so if the ABLV did not inform the supervising entity, I have a hard time to comprehend the Bloomberg article (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-02/latvia-analyzing-rimsevics-s-role-at-ecb-as-he-returns-to-work), where we see: “Latvia is still considering the ramifications of central bank Governor Ilmars Rimsevics’s status as a suspect in a bribery probe, as he returned to work this week and weighs up how to continue his role at the European Central Bank“, in my view, either the ECB knew in advance certain matters, or we have a different puppy in our midst. Now let us be clear, one is a setting of corruption, the other is the ‘receiving of emergency support from the Latvian central bank‘, yet the fact that this all happened during the oversight of the ECB makes it twice the size of the issue. The ABLV went to the Latvian Central Bank (Governor Ilmars Rimsevics) and got emergency funds, yet what was the origin of those funds? So when we see “Both ABLV and Rimsevics deny the accusations in cases that the authorities say aren’t linked“, my response would be ‘Really? So who are exactly those authorities?’ It seems like a simple question but it is one that we will never see an honest answer to I reckon. The links are not clear, but consider the following accusations.

First we have “The U.S. Treasury Department alleges ABLV engaged in institutionalized money laundering and violated sanctions put in place to counter North Korea’s weapons program

Second we get “Rimsevics has denied any wrongdoing, and Latvia’s Defence Ministry said that the allegations were part of a “massive information operation” by an external actor.” I used them in the article (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/03/01/the-failing-mario-draghi-kart/), yet who exactly was the external actor?

It is the second one that is weird, so how did the Defence Ministry get involved in a banking issue? Did it come from the office of Minister Raimonds Bergmanis, it would be an interesting tug of war between him and me, because I have my own centre of gravity and he is a three time Olympic contender in the category of weightlifting. I did not have all the information I needed in that piece, and I was juggling a few issues, so I moved it all along to today.

B is for Bloomberg

Bloomberg ends with “there are no signs other Latvian banks are experiencing outflows after the ECB decided to close ABLV on the grounds that it was failing or likely to fail. What happened to ABLV is a signal to other banks to follow the rules, she said“. Yet is Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola giving us the goods? Why did the Defence Ministry get involved? Was it to emphasize the weapons accusation? Clearly that would have been an issue that resides with Latvian Intelligence. So as Reuters gives us “Ainars Latkovskis, the head of the national parliament’s anti-corruption committee of lawmakers, who also urged Rimsevics to step down” as well as “Latkovskis, who is authorized to listen to reports from the heads of the Latvian intelligence agencies, dismissed hints by some local officials and politicians that a Russian campaign of disinformation might be behind the case“, it seems that the Intelligence official is either trying to stay out of this or we can see this as a sign that the SVR RF (the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation) has been whispering in someone’s ear and the culprits have overplayed their hand. Now no matter what has happened in that tier of the industry, it still gives us that the ABLV made a deal for funds with the Latvian Central Bank and the news as shown by the media is giving us that the ECB was either unaware or was informed after the fact with ‘Good news, we solved the problem‘ and now we see that the banks who are on the oversight list are either not getting supervised or they are ignoring their supervisors, I wonder which scenario is worse for the ECB.

L is for Liable

If you think it does not matter, think again. We pump billions into the UN and it cannot arrange a ceasefire (Syria), we pump billions into the European Union and the ECB is casually unwilling or unable to do their job and those people are fetching a lot of money every year. Two entities who are now proving to be more and more facilitators for the wealthy as well as paper tigers with a fluidic agenda that merely spells ‘compromise to keep the engine going’. So when did wee surrender our tax funds to those ends?

So was this all done through the allowed whisper via Sergey Yevgenyevich Naryshkin? I am merely speculating here, but the parts and numbers currently do not add up. You see, as Reuters gives us “The ECB appears to have been blindsided by the ABLV case, highlighting how thinly it is spread in supervising Europe’s biggest lenders and raising questions about a system of euro zone supervision just three years old“, this is seen (at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ecb-russia-vtb/ecb-drops-supervision-of-russias-vtb-arm-in-the-euro-zone-idUSKCN1GE2N8), can we say that it is that simple? It remains pure speculation from my side, yet when we see “The European Central Bank has stopped supervising the Austrian arm of Russian state bank VTB after it slimmed down its European operations, the ECB said on Friday. A spokeswoman for the ECB said VTB’s new set-up in Europe no longer warranted direct supervision, which was now in the hands of Germany’s national regulators, Bafin and the Bundesbank” I wonder if there was anything simple on this. We could argue that Sergey Yevgenyevich Naryshkin did exactly what he was supposed to do, to serve HIS country. Yet the information gives me the feeling that this looks like a line of banks with Latvia between the Latvian ECB and the Russian ‘SVCR RF‘ bank. The two outside parties agree to keep each other afloat by shaking hands and pushing at the same time the ABLV over the edge in a combined effort. What some did in primary school (the old tactics are usually the best).

Still, this is all merely speculation from my side mind you!

V is for Voter

The question that remains is how the US authorities got to that jump and where is the evidence? Apart from the fact that one accused of bribery is allowed back into his office until the dust (read: investigation) settles is also cause for concern. You see, the news (at http://www.mod.gov.lv/Aktualitates/Preses_pazinojumi/2018/02/20-01.aspx) gives a part, but when we consider it and dissect “Latvia’s security-sector personnel have raised the alarm that outside actors could be using these current financial and banking scandals against Riga. The Latvian Ministry of Defence has pointed out that the AP news agency’s reporting on Latvia’s connection to various international financial corruption schemes has been reposted with unusual frequency on numerous websites known for distributing messages supporting Russia. As such, the defence ministry has called this media blitz a possible “hybrid”-style operation within a broader information war against Latvia“, we could agree that part of this is an issue. Yet is the foundation wrong? Is the bribery a fact? If so, why the hell is Ilmars Rimsevics allowed back in his office? If we see statements that there is proof, why not give that out to the open? So who were the outside actors? You see, accusation of bribery requires evidence and it is not out of the blue that Russia would expose bribery so that their operations could profit. That is not merely Russia, American politics and Wall Street have operated on that premise for decades, so it is not altogether weird to see Russia play a similar game, if that was the case. So even if there was an ‘information war against Latvia‘, it was done under the noses of the ECB and Mario Draghi. It was not merely a “remnant of a past time that should be reformed“, it was an option where the ‘the Emergency Liquidity Assistance policy‘ was overlooked by overpaid ECB executives, especially in light of the fact that by their own reports that the ABLV was under supervision.

Bloomberg supports my views (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-02/draghi-confronts-limit-of-his-powers-as-latvian-standoff-endures), where we see ““This reveals the impressive lack of power of the ECB in such circumstances,” said Stanislas Jourdan, the director of Positive Money Europe, an advocacy group calling for more transparency and accountability on economic policy“, which on one side is just as it should be about the sovereignty of a nation, but the fact that the ECB are confronted with their own foot in mouth protocol at the expense of millions, if not billions is a larger worry, because they already pushed a $3 trillion debt on the people of Europe. I also support the view we see at: “Draghi already expressed dissatisfaction to ECB officials in the week after Rimsevics’s detention that enough details from Latvia hadn’t been forthcoming, according to people familiar with the matter, and that may still be the case. Latvian Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola said on Friday that the anti-corruption office is “in the process” of giving the ECB all relevant information“, it is not about the ECB, it is a Latvian situation and in this Mario Draghi gets to do what most EU puppeteers do so well, they can bloody well wait (whilst still getting paid high amounts of money). Yet, in part this is not merely a waiting game, the fact that the voters are taking more notice of this mess is not helping him any, but that is the way life works and it is not always working in your favour. So when the Globe and Mail gives us “Did European Central Bank boss Mario Draghi save Italy or merely set up the world’s third biggest debtor for permanent zombie status? As Italians head to the polls on Sunday, the parties, big and small, are showering voters with promises of goodies galore“, we see the deadlines that the ECB has, it has a few and even as there is unlikely to be a stable Italian government, the fact that they won’t worry the ECB like Frexit Marine Le Pen or Brexit Nigel Farage, so they are not too worried, but the overall financial issues will remain and Latvia is not helping any with the news that they are the cause of at present. In the end, the question should become, how come that a supervised bank was able to do this? Because the answer needs to be coming from the people who are seemingly overpaid for work they basically did not achieve and that is not merely Mario Draghi; that list is a lot larger and in this case it might just exclude the one man at the top.

 

 

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The failing Mario Draghi Kart

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

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

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

The theory of printing money

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

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

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

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

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

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

Say What?

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

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

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

Can the Draghi failing be proven as a failure?

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

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

 

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Egotistic Uselessness

Yup, the news has been out for a little while, apart from North Korean rockets flying over Japan and breaking up in three parts, we have another issue to worry the people in Europe. There are now two additional issues. The first one is shown in the Express (at http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/846776/Brexit-news-latest-EU-Michael-Barnier-UK-security-Brussels-talks-negotiations-Theresa-May), yet there it is hidden as a statement of reference. With “Many Eurosceptic have interpreted the proposals as a call to create an EU Army” we see a reference to “The Eurocrat also backed a proposal from the European Commission to gradually combine EU national defences by 2025“, so the largest expense in most national budgets now comes with an added iteration of logistics on a European level. So, how was that EVER going to be a good idea? Is it another snipe at those following Brexit that their defence would suffer if they jump this shark (or is that these sharks)? The Independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/brexit-eu-military-planning-its-own-army-a7916371.html) gives us “the European Defence Action Plan has a goal of reversing around a decade of defence spending cuts by EU states“, so the EU is now setting a course to reverse defence spending cuts, and who is going to pay for all that? Where is THAT money coming from? Because I can tell you now that the nations are getting a hefty bill for whatever comes next, whilst we see a large increase in logistical needs, the overall efficiency of these defence ‘needs‘ will not be getting any better, they will get worse. With defence at present, they tend to be free of communication issues for the most. So, in this new setting, watching a conversation between Dutch General Middendorp, French Colonel Alexis de Roffignac and Italian Naval Admiral Valter Girardelli would become interesting to say the least. I could get rich selling popcorn at that event. It is not merely the language (we hope all three are fluent in one language and some of them will hope that the common language is not German). There is an issue with standards and setting of common ground, which has always existed to some degree between army and navy. No, the issue goes beyond soft skills, the diversity of the armed forces has hardware considerations as well, beyond the hardware (or lack thereof) we see that infrastructure is also a page never properly tackled within the armed forces in any one nation, so overhauling that will be costly on several fronts, which does not merely undo the cutbacks, it forces these defence structures to switch the ways the setting were, making the changes even more expensive. This means that we get a fake growth of economy from some providers, whilst removing provisions from exiting providers, skewing economy numbers and national costs even further, which would force nations in deeper debt. It is totally opposite of what nations should be achieving. So as we see the news from the express (at http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/840804/Brexit-news-ex-Macron-defence-advisor-EU-army-Britain), with the first mention of “‘Now the Brits are gone’ Ex-Macron defence advisor predicts Brexit to pave way for EU ARMY“, which makes Francois Heisbourg nothing short of a raving ‘loon’ in my personal view, the next quote gives us “The EDA, which is a tiny agency headquartered in Brussels, is headed up by EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and is tasked with fostering military cooperation within the bloc. It has a minuscule budget of just £28 million, which has been frozen at that level as a result of British opposition to any expansion of its operations which could lead to the creation of a euro force“, the sheer idiocy here with ‘minuscule budget‘ is at the core. So how long until (with the removal of the UK) that number would be forced towards £28 billion? The need to rise this a thousand fold, and that is merely the overhaul of European defence logistics and initial alignment of communication hardware, software, encryption and skill sets. Oh and that gives us almost immediately the need for billions more and the alignment and shortage of skills would make these defence players the direct target of cyber criminals from the ‘playful education‘ (read teenagers), the ‘academic probing‘ (read Tech-Uni students) and ‘technological entrepreneurs‘ (read organised crime). The option of keeping data and Intel safe at that point could go straight out of the window. You see, there are a few levels of issues and I reckon the moment this starts happening is about the same time when we can download and admire the new ELF encryption system which is (are rumoured) some kind of block chain encryption method (connected to the new Barracuda submarine). It is a clever way to use SmartTags as the setting for the message; making it pretty much uncrackable as well as almost uninterceptable. Because no matter how you slice it, the present settings on defence communication makes it only interesting to try and hack all of it by some governments with the funds to afford such an approach (Russia, USA, China, UK, France and India), when these European players start uniting their solutions, the entire playground becomes a much more appealing field for a lot more players and this is not about merely the intel, when the interception starts, they would start to get access of third party players and where jobs are awarded. Other players would be aware of the decision of billion dollar jobs almost before the market had a clue and that is where speculators would gain a larger advantage, the sale of that knowledge will be rewarded with high bonuses. It is an entrepreneurial heaven for those with a lower setting to the ethical button.

The weird part is that people like Francois Heisbourg should be aware of that as he is also the chairman of the foundation council of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. This now implies that he is very aware of the need for stability and security, two elements that would actually diminish to some degree. Keeping that up beyond a certain level would require a lot more than £28 billion. Consider the smaller European players, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia and Latvia. They would be required to adhere to stringent communication rules and equipment, and that is only the communication part. When we go towards supply and the need to adhere to some European standard, the reshuffle becomes truly a nightmare. So as we are ‘lulled to sleep‘ with the fact that I am (according to some sources) overreacting, we will see politicians making new speeches (read: rewriting prognosis of requirement) around 2022-2024, stating that to grow the efficiency of European defence, new changes must be introduced and that is where the list will become a lot larger than I am showing you now. I am merely showing the small places that have had their settled way of dealing with their defence. When the list becomes complete a few players will rake in the billions, billions none of the governments have and none of these governments have certain levels of skills at present. At present they have nothing (read: very little) to fear as they are just a small fish in the data world, when the national defences align they all become a target for data acquisition, far beyond they have ever been before. It will be a game changer on several levels and at present no one has the ability to counter what attacks them. You only need to look at the Sony, who again merely a week ago got hacked again. A company where digital security is their essential bread and butter, we see: “On Sunday evening, hackers claimed to have breached PSN and stolen database information. The group, named “OurMine,” was able to overtake Sony’s official PlayStation-branded Twitter accounts to announce the alleged hack“, so in how much danger will less enabled players be? The entire system of ‘open to a certain degree‘ engineering is the spinal cord of cyber dangers, it becomes a spinal tap of information and there would be a decreasing chance of stopping it, with additional chances of merely endangering its own systems, making the concept of a ‘Spinal Tap Hack‘ a lot more realistic in describing the danger it represents.

There is one upside, when it all collapses, these governments might make a deal with Alphabet to arrange for Google Cyber Security on all European nations (speculative sense of humour in action). So not only could we all have the same security, it might for once, for a short time all remain secure. Did I oversimplify the problem here?

Consider that part. What data has been secure so far and why was it secure?

Now consider what supplies have ever been safe? When we consider that in Portugal merely two months ago we see “Defence officials in Portugal say they are compiling a list of weapons and ammunition stolen from the national armoury in a brazen daytime raid“, so consider that Portugal has its own procedures, which implies to some degree that the perpetrators would have gotten some inside information, now consider that the EU nations will comply with certain procedures. How long until this stops being an isolated case and becomes a little more common place? You see, when we see “Defense Minister Azeredo Lopes described the robbery Wednesday at Tancos Air Base, 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of Lisbon, as a “very professional” job and a “serious” breach of security“, so when we consider the truth of it (and I accept it to be true), what information would these professionals have been given? There needed to have been some leak, because you usually cannot just enter an airbase and go snooping until you get lucky. The issue would escalate when certain security procedures become harder as there will be more compliance to certain standards. Of course there is still security, but as intelligence on certain matters become more ‘readily’ available, security becomes much harder and more essential, so any hole in any ‘fence’ would result in loss of goods. Now, when it is cabbages no one cares too much, yet when it becomes stingers, grenades, ammunition and weapons, will people stay indifferent?

There are the two largest issues and the fact that the ‘blasé‘ response from Francois Heisbourg with ‘Now the Brits are gone‘ is largely beyond short-sighted. A politician with Euro signs instead of pupils is the most dangerous greed driven threat to security that any nation could face. I hope that the EU-army players in this upcoming game wake up before it is too late and too much is spend on something that is as I personally see as largely counterproductive for any nations defence. That is merely my personal view and the current situation makes me regard the European Union as a collective of Egotistic Uselessness.

 

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Hot air for the Ukraine

That was the first thought I had when I saw the news from several angles, when we consider the responses from Chuck Hagel, John Kerry, Viktor Yanukovych and a few others. The Americans were (as expected) all about keeping an eye on what Russia does. My first question could be ‘then what?‘.

This would be a fair question as we have seen what happens when ‘the line gets crossed‘ as President Obama mentioned. Basically nothing happened in the end. There will be rattling of sabres and after that people create some diplomatic summit in a luxury place and in the end nothing really changes. If you doubt that, then ask the Syrians. In the end President Assad needed time and time he got and plenty of it. In that regard consider last week’s NY Times (at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/world/middleeast/un-orders-both-sides-in-syria-to-allow-humanitarian-aid.html), so after several weeks the peace talks ended in failure. Be honest, was there ever a decent chance of a good outcome? This was all about delaying for President Assad, and as such he seems to have won. So, what will happen to the Ukraine?

The Ukraine is not like that, I know, but in the end, does that matter? The US is too weak, it has no reserves left, in addition, there is a growing pile of evidence that big business, not the politicians or the legislative branch are in charge of what happens in America. Feel free to doubt me, but consider the largest employer Wal-Mart. Consider that the owners are multi billionaires and that their staff members need food stamps and financial support just to survive. Did you hear me? This is not about the unemployed, but the workers who still need that level of support and the taxpayer gets those bills, not the employer. This is in my mind a level of clear evidence that the politicians as well as the legislative branch of the US government have failed its citizens. So, they are going to mess with Russia, just as the military has announced massive cuts and downsize plans? Who is kidding who here?

Now on the honourable representative players in this game called John Kerry and Chuck Hagel. I am not attacking them. They are representing their government, but are they speaking their mind and heart? They likely are and they are not happy about any of the issues currently rising, but they are unlikely able to make a true impact at present. You cannot spend money from a budget that is no longer there. Basically, as this administration was idle for over three years to tackle big business, to tackle spending habits and to hunt down tax evaders, the economic trinity at large, the US is pretty much bankrupt, which means they cannot pay for the fuel to make the war engine go forward. It will run out of fuel before it can truly engage a theatre of upcoming war. It is not a good thing, but it is what it is, so at this time it pretty much sucks to be the US Secretary of Defence!

But this is not just about America, many might ‘like’ this US bashing, but that is not what this is. Consider the words of Peter Stano “Peter Stano, Spokesperson for European Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner Stefan Fule, stated the European Commission (EC)’s ‘door remains open’ for Ukraine. The EC’s policy is very open, transparent and predictable, he said. The EC’s offer is tabled, he continued further. The EC offers highly important EU neighbours the opportunity to come closer to the EU with political association and economic integration, he explained

Consider the NY Times from January 2nd 2014 (at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/02/business/international/the-euro-adds-latvia-but-further-growth-is-uncertain.html) “Those include achieving a deficit of 3 percent of gross domestic product and keeping debt to 60 percent of the annual gross domestic product.” This is about its newest member Latvia. You can read two parts here; one is to lower the deficit to 3%, which might be a good achievement. Yet at http://www.kase.gov.lv/uploaded_files/2010/SSD/news_release_2014-A-0109_011.pdf we see the mention “R&I believes that real GDP will continue to grow around 4% on the back of a recovery in the European economy.

Really, who is buttering who’s bread and where (more important, who owns the butter to begin with). This is a massive amount of iterated bad news management I am appalled that the PRESS is not more active in finding out the ‘real’ truth here. Consider a 2013 report from the EC (at http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/european_economy/2013/pdf/ee3_en.pdf) and consider that the numbers on page 47 is up to 2011. So, the 2012 numbers are not even there for a 2013 report. This is all about marketing, all about as they state “Overall, a broad-based look at underlying factors suggests that sufficiently strong conditions are in place for Latvia to be able to maintain a robust and sustainable convergence path in the medium term“, which makes this 55 page paper a sales pitch.

How is this connected?

That is the question isn’t it! It is not about Latvia, or the Ukraine. This is about the EEC and their approach to ‘some kind of a future‘. This is all good, but these events are about setting economic prosperity for a few EEC bigwigs. As they add members, as deficits are still not met in several nations and debts keep on rising, the taxpayers will soon face a harsh reality and it is a bigger one than they bargained for. On my side, there is also a view. Am I comparing apples to pears?
Yes, to some extent I am. The issue is that the EEC is not a vendor of apples or pears, they are dealing in fruit and we all get thrown into the same trog. Russia seems adamant that the Ukraine does not enter the same trog. It prefers its own trog to the EEC one, which might looks nicer but has the same stale grub in the end.

So when we see the sabre rattling from both sides, make sure that you all realise that this is not about the Ukrainians, their choices their future. It is for the Ukrainians, but the other parties are engaging for one reason, their economies! It is about the economic futures of others. Will this all bring prosperity to the Ukraine and its people? Not until the EEC and America end up with a much better economy, which require these governments (all of them) to get their budgets in order. Until then they are showing themselves as some sort of hedge fund dealers. You might remember how that ended up in 2004 and 2008. Now, it is no longer about de-valuated pieces of paper, now it will all be about people and whoever will be the ‘last’ nation left standing. We need to get out of that rat race and real quickly too!

That part becomes more and more visible when we see the latest from Sky News “Russia is ready to help Ukraine as it seeks to stave off economic collapse, US Secretary of State John Kerry says after talking with his Russian counterpart” (at http://www.skynews.com.au/world/article.aspx?id=954470). In addition “Ukraine owes $US13 billion in state debt payments this year – a massive sum in a country where state reserves have shrunk to less than $US18 billion” gives some level of evidence to my views. Another government had been spending money they never had to begin with. When smaller economies fall over, how long until the larger ones take a tumble (especially as they add on new in deficit grown members), because if these issues do not change that will be the clear terminal result, no matter what sales pitch a hedge fund call centre operator calls you with.

In that regard there is an interesting paper at http://www.project-bridge.eu/datoteke/Actions2012/BRIDGE-ANALYSIS%20OF%20THE%20EU-UKRAINE%20RELATIONS.pdf. Denys Kuzmin and Iryna Maksymenko wrote an interesting piece in 2012. Not sure how much I can agree with (as I was never an economic), but it reads like this is all about a possible future for the Ukraine, not about keeping the EEC alive. That side is getting less and less likely, as we see the growing influence from Nigel Farage, Marie Le-Penn, Bernd Lucke and Geert Wilders in their respective governments. Whatever will happen after that will have long term consequences for all the EEC players, even though many ignore these dangers, the dangers will not go away any day soon because that is the consequence of a weak economy, the people choose and currently they are very afraid for their personal futures. So is Ukraine better off with Russia or with the EEC? I actually have no idea, but consider that Russian Commerce is currently buying up commerce all over Europe like for example the Dutch Jeweller ‘Siebel’. The chips are not just changing hands, they are now moving out of local owner’s hands into the hands of foreign corporations. I am not talking about the big boys, they have been in some international hands for a long time, we are now talking about smaller shops where all the moms and pops go.  Consider that these places are no longer held by some oil sheik (like large portions of London), or certain American multi-national groups. Now Russian companies are moving in (through legal methods) and taking control. Who would have guessed this event 10 years ago? Perhaps it is time to ignore these high boasting Wall Street analysts, it is time for actual data, not have baked forecasts to take control of budget goals and government expenditures.

For those wondering about the hot air reference in the title, this is a reference to the windy city of Chicago. The windy city was not about the fresh Canadian air, but about their politicians (filled with hot air). The escalating issue as they are shown in the Ukraine is now in my view all about politicians and spokespeople. For the last 8 years politicians sat on their hands and spokespeople did whatever they could to divert the eyes of politicians, politicians for governments, spokespeople for economic interested parties. If you doubt my words then look at Darfur, Bagdad, Nigeria and Syria, all colossal failures. The politicians failed, grabbing for some ‘sanction solution’ that has never actually worked. Now their credibility of strength is gone. Big Business has been pushing for the lowest and cheapest option for so long; it has made the rich richer, the poor with less, whilst the rich avoid taxation by the billions and after half a decade they are still not dealt with, whilst many taxation coffers are less than empty. Consider the words of Mariana Chilton, an associate professor at Drexel University’s School of Public Health: “If they wanted to address poverty and hunger in this country, then they would pay a living wage, and they would make sure that their workers had good benefits and good family leave for when families have children, etcetera” (at http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/business-solution-war-on-poverty-lyndon-johnson)

These two groups talk to all but they do not really communicate. In the end, when it all falls over they only have themselves to blame and end up blaming everyone except themselves, whilst at the same time they will leave the taxpayer with the cost of it all.

In the end, Russia can do to Ukraine (read Crimea region) whatever it likes, because the west currently has no real actionable options left.

 

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Year of the last Euro?

Wednesday’s news on ‘George Osborne lays down ultimatum‘ seems to have remained a little quiet. So, was it all hot air, or are there silent runners under the waterline? The situation reminds me of a poster I once saw. It was a photograph of water, with the by-line ‘Submarine racing, a spectator sport!‘ I thought it was quite funny. Whilst scanning for the latest on this event, I find several people mentioning it, but no real update for a day. The Guardian article was quite informative (at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jan/15/george-osborne-reform-eu-quits-tory-dismantling ). However, I regard the BBC version of it a little better (at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25740462)

The BBC article does however have two items I do find interesting, but they are slightly debatable.

The first one is “I believe it is in no-one’s interests for Britain to come to face a choice between joining the euro or leaving the European Union.” Why is it one or the other? In my view, the only part keeping the EU from collapsing is because the United Kingdom DID NOT embrace the Euro coin. I will get back to this a little later.

The second part is “The 28-member group also had to do more to ensure economic competitiveness with rivals like India and China, he added.

I feel that the UK could become a lot stronger if the Commonwealth brethren embrace each other as family and as mutual protectors. This means that the UK should become the centre force in group that includes Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India.

In my view, the issue is that Chancellor Osborne is too adamant to sing-a-long with the American tune. I view this like a game of musical chairs. An iteration game of leave one out! The problem is that this game includes one chair that is only meant for the rear end of America, so it will always have a chair to sit on. They should not even be included in this game, but there you have it, for some reason they are part of the EU game.

So let us get back to the first part as promised. The EU (or EEC if you prefer), has 28 nations. In the GDP rankings the UK is at number three. The issue is that the top 7 has Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden (these 7 are 79% of the entire EU GDP). Only Germany is in a good position, The Netherlands is on the thinnest ice imaginable, whilst Sweden in its economic state seems to remain skating on the ice it has (for now). The rest has gone through the ice and are in a bad place. So, why should the UK risk it all and add themselves to a currency that is drowning itself because the local politicians refused to stop spending when they could, they kept on spending when they should have stopped and now they are in that bad place. Many should be thankful that the UK and Sweden are not part of the Eurozone at present.

In addition, Greece, according to Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras does not need any more austerity (Nov, 2013). Spain stated “The budget is based on a forecast that the Spanish economy will grow 0.7 percent next year, up from the government’s previous forecast of 0.5 percent.” (at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/28/business/international/spanish-budget-avoids-austerity-measures.html). Yet Bloomberg noted on September 5th “Spain’s bid to meet its budget-deficit target for the first time in five years is running into trouble, fuelling concerns that increased financial stability is masking deeper economic problems.” So, what is actually happening here? Are we witnessing new waves of creative accounting?

In light of all the bad news, it must also be noted that France is at least still fighting to keep the austerity in place, even though President Hollande is slowly becoming the least popular president in French history. I applaud him for standing firm and I do hope he will not share the fate of Louis XVI (a one-time treatment at ‘La Guillotine’). Italy is for now also on the Austerity track, but internal developments are not good and there are signs that Italy cannot continue the course it currently is going. So out of the 6 (not including UK) one is doing decently well, two are on the edge and the rest is for now in a bad place. This is not the time to switch currency, especially as the UK is slowly recovering, to add their heads to a block whilst the Axeman is spending the night away. It is more than just bad politics to do so.

So, we see percentages all over the place, but in the end, what does it mean? Well, let’s take a look at the numbers (as far as I found them, and a stern warning, the numbers are unverified and not from the best sources). In my defence, the numbers do not seem to be clearly presented anywhere.

Sweden, the smallest and not in the worst state is a little over 1 trillion debt at over 180% of GDP, Spain at 2.3 trillion, which is over 150% of GDP, Italy at 2.4 trillion, but interestingly seems to be at almost 100% of GDP, the Netherlands at 2.6 trillion, however the numbers I found place them at almost 350% of GDP, France is at a whopping 5.1 trillion and like Sweden around 180% of GDP, lastly Germany owns over 5.5 trillion at a ‘mere’ 140% of GDP.

Whatever some of these so called economists are trying to tell you (they are hoping you do not revolt against additional borrowing), the current nightmare is far beyond the issues you can imagine. the populations of Sweden is almost 10 million, the Netherlands is at almost 17 million, Spain 47 million, Italy 60 million, France 66 million and Germany at well over 80 million. You see, in the end, the taxpayer gets to deal with these trillions. So, a large nation might seem safe, but consider France, where austerity seems unbearable and with that sizeable population, the debt comes to over 74,000 euro per person. The average income for a Frenchmen is almost 32,000 euro a year (before taxation), which makes the debt more than 2 annual incomes from every implied French resident. So, when people get angry, they need to get angry at previous government administrations that had spent to such a degree that the current debt is unbearable! (Something I have mentioned in several previous blogs.)

This is also the danger of UKIP! I am against the UK moving out of the EU for several reasons, yet the changes could be forcing the current British government to consider the one step that UKIP desires most, what a mess that will make!

Part of the issue I am struggling with is actually in another article in the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/15/europe-welfare-spending-george-osborne). I do not agree with parts of it, but the article is well written and the writer Alex Andreou does set out his position very well. So, please do read it for yourself. My issues is with “The fact that as a continent we have embraced values of social security and solidarity, a high standard of education and health for all, and dignity in old age, should be celebrated.” I am all for that and I am in favour of that too, yet governments all over Europe (including the UK) have overspend by such a massive amount that cutbacks in these times are extremely painful. I get it, but previous administrations lived under some umbrella with the picture of a sun, which they took as an eternal summer! Instead of caution, they ignored basic rules and just went all out on a spending spree. Now that all the money is gone, the coffers are instead filled with ‘I OWE U’ notes. When every nation spends more than they are receiving, no one will have any money left, yet governments started to borrow to one another. So, those in debt were borrowing massive amounts to one another, even though no one had any money, is no one catching on? This is my issue! I am all for social security, but if we do not have the money, how can we get it done? In addition, Latvia, the newest member of the Euro states (at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25567096 ) “The former Soviet republic on the Baltic Sea recently emerged from the financial crisis to become the EU’s fastest-growing economy.” Is that so, in that regard we can read the following at http://www.baltic-course.com/eng/finances/?doc=83279The state budget is projected to have a deficit in 2014, 2015 and 2016, according to the medium-term budget framework that Saeima approved in the final reading yesterday, informs LETA.” so the newest member already goes into deficit from day 1? This is quoted in the following way in the article “The medium-term budget framework is based on the following GDP growth forecasts: 3.7% in 2014, 4% in 2015, 4.1% in 2016, 4.1% in 2017 and 3.9% in 2018.” so already above the limits as stated by Brussels. Compared to the top 7, the amounts they refer to seem peanuts in comparison (al 35 billion of them), the issue is moving forward and gaining economic strength, not add to the massive debt. As I see it, the Latvians have plenty to worry about and in my view; the UK and Sweden would remain well warned and not join the Euro.

Time to get back to issue 2!

I stated earlier “the UK could become a lot stronger if the Commonwealth brethren embrace each other“. As the issues evolve, the Commonwealth should revert to a new British Empire, but only in an economic way (undoing the work of Ghandi looks wrong on way too many levels). One of the big dangers is the Trans Pacific Partnership. Australia and New Zealand are in my view to eager to add their names to an approach that is all about keeping America in ‘power’! Why do I have this view?

There are several articles, but at http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/1/14/technology/tpp-trades-us-clout-expense-innovation we see some of the issues that will bug many in the Commonwealth.

The quote that starts to scratch the surface is “in 2009, total patent applications made through the patent co-operation treaty process from applicants in these nations also exceeded those from North American applicants for the first time.

This is the fear America has, which is why they are so eager to get all the autographs. You see, as I see it, Americans became (or were in the eyes of some) complacent, lazy and greedy (the American industry, not the people). For example, as I see it, the IT industry took a page from the arms industry and stopped true innovation and replaced it with iteration. A disastrous step as you will soon see. The powers at IBM and Hewlett Packard, as I see it, decided to listen to military giants like Raytheon and Northrop Grumman. So, America went from the innovation based, which brought the leaps from the 386 through to the Pentium II, and we ended with iterations like I3, I5 and I7. Newly coated computers, which now move forward in stepwise motion. The issue is that Asia had a huge delay keeping up and this all changed as their comprehension improved, in addition, it is for technology insiders relatively easy to learn the path of an iterative technology. This is the first step of fear as America is now facing it. Asia has its own group of innovators and in my personal view the passing of Steve Jobs took away one clear path of innovation. When Apple moves in that same iterative path, the last true American innovator will be lost! Now Asia has a massive advantage and as such America needs to clamp down on whatever they can, with the massive debt and no clear future path their world will all be about Intellectual Property! The article touches on it with the following quote “But what if the real motive of one or more parties was to isolate, control, enrich, deprive, penalise and stifle? In effect, to put a toll on the drawbridge.

This is at the centre, but not at the core of all this. That is why we see the mention that India is seen as a competitor, because for America, they truly are the new competitor. That deadly error was made by the American administration in 2011. Forbes tells us about it in http://www.forbes.com/sites/henrychesbrough/2011/04/25/pharmaceutical-innovation-hits-the-wall-how-open-innovation-can-help/. They published it in April 2011. That story shows only part of it. The quote “The patents granted to these drugs last for 20 years from the date of filing, and since most drugs take 7-10 years to get to market, the pharma companies have known that this moment was coming for the last 10-13 years. It is the logical outcome of a deeper problem, which is that pharma R&D spending has been less and less productive for many years.” gives us two parts. One is that there are clear indicators that the pharmaceutical industry has been working on borrowed time. The second is that the ROI has been dwindling down and that these corporations will face the horror of generic medication as several patents hit the end date in 2015. That means in just over a year, the largest maker of generic medication (India, in case you were wondering) will get to have a go at several extremely lucrative prescriptions. Perhaps you remember news messages on how the FDA was so against Canadian medications. I personally considered that entire issue to be a joke, but the underlying horror for America was already there. I mentioned in other blog articles on the issues I have had with the Dow Jones index (‘Start making sense’, 11th march 2013). Now consider that the three large pharmaceuticals Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Pfizer represent 10% (3 out of 30) of this index, so America is plenty nervous here. Now take into account that these three will have several expiring patents by December 2015 and that means that within months India could have a quality generic alternative, which is likely to be more than 70% cheaper. Now, be aware that a generic medicine is often less effective than the original. Still, the price difference is huge. It is not just the US; the UK has its own share of pharmaceutical makers, so the knife does cut in two ways in this case. Still, when we need to cut back again and again, India could be a good thing for the Commonwealth at large. So, even though some see the TPP as an option, there is implied evidence that the TPP could strongly block innovation.

How does this link to the Euro? No matter how we twist or turn it, the hard times America will face as it has been facing them for the last few years will intensify as innovation remains absent. That will hit Europe in several ways. The Netherlands already saw that as Merck shut down activities like Aspen Pharmacare. The intertwining of corporations on that level are all over Europe, and as such as American Pharmacies are hit, their European links will suffer a lot more because of it. So, yes, India is a competitor there, but the UK together with Canada and Australia could look for a cooperative solution with India and not see them as the competitor (as America currently does).

So is this all linked to the end of the Euro? Yes! It does however depend on the actions of the UK. If is stops membership, the run on the markets and the panic Germany faces could be catastrophic for the Euro, especially as Germany cannot rely on the pillars named France, Spain and Italy. The other nations are either too weak or too small.

Could George Osborne be wrong?

That depends on your point of view and your allegiance. The latter is implied as I noted the reference to the musical chairs with the one reserved seat. News messages like “the call to end austerity by ‘insiders’ from Brussels”. Yet, in the other light governments must reduce their spending and they need to get clever about it fast. The UK non-working military recruitment solution at 1.3 billion is just one clear example. Pretty much every EU country has its own skeletons. I see that the UK could be stronger as the Commonwealth nations take a route of preference to strengthen their economies, it is clear that such a path in Europe would remain stagnate until late 2015. That does not make George Osborne right, it only means that a European route might work, however it will be a long term path and switching to the Euro (at present) does not seem to be a stable solution for the UK to implement.

 

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The freedom to misdirect?

We see all kinds of information and misdirection, almost at any given day. If one good thing is mentioned, another bad thing is swallowed into silence. So when I saw the message on Sky News that “Latvia to join EU”, I had a look.

So Latvia is now to become the 18th Euro state. That part is however you take it. The average Brit will see this as a fearful motion for another few hundred thousand to seek out the London Limelight on a permanent basis. Others might have their own thoughts and reservations. Not all of them will be negative, as Latvia has a decent record in the shipping industry.

Three parts got my eye, and they are at least worrying, infuriating might be a slightly better word. The first quote was from the European Commission that ‘Latvia is ready to adopt the Euro in 2014‘. An interesting quote, especially as well over 60% of Latvia is fiercely against the Euro. Let us be fair, why adopt a sinking ship. Would you buy the Titanic if you found it parked against an iceberg? At worst it is a 3800 meter walk back to the boat (straight down).

It is the quote from the Latvian Prime Minister that is the second quote of concern: “Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis welcomed the news, saying in Riga that ‘joining the Euro will benefit Latvia’s economy by removing currency conversion costs and raising Latvia’s credit rating’.

Really? You want to adapt even more credit option whilst you are already in a position to drown in current debts? How clueless does that seem? It will take five years to get past the weakness gained by Cyprus, and at least 15 years to get a grip on the financial vise that Greece is giving the rest of the EU. Is this a ploy to remove the option for the UK to remove itself from the EU? If that is so, then the current administration is not just heading towards failure at the next election, at that point we look at a total overwhelming victory by UKIP next election. I have nothing against UKIP, but I do not think that to be a particularly good idea. Mostly, as a large part of UKIP would be seated at senior position whilst having little more than junior levels of experience. (I just call them how I personally see them). They would be elected in charge, whilst becoming a real danger to create an unresolvable mess for two administrations to come (again a personal view of mine). I will here and now state quite clearly that this is an assumption on MY side. I will also happily add information proving me wrong when and if the time comes.

Back to Latvia!

The second quote is nothing compared to the third one. “We think Euro membership will increase investment activity. We need only to look at the Estonian example where investment in the non-financial sector doubled.” (Source: http://www.skynews.com.au/world/article.aspx?id=877664 ).

This I see as a massive misdirection. The only reason that this looks this way is because Skype was an Estonian invention (a brilliant one). It comes from the people who initially came up with Kazaa. So yes, even though their mention might be correct, the fact that one product is the major reason behind the non-financial investment is thrown into the deep left field of unmentioned factors. Of course Tallinn is also famous for the Beer ferries to Stockholm. It is indeed a pretty city to see, uncannily picturesque and of course it has some visibility for the hourly lady rental services (some are extremely good looking and it is perfectly legal in Estonia). So which of these options give that reason for investments? Also interesting is that this newscast from Sky News did not come with the identity of a writer. You see, here is where we take a look at a few things. Especially when we consider the mention by Leveson and in regards to Ethics. I think that this article is missing a lot of facts and some are too far out of context. However, this is again my personal view on the matter at hand.

Danger 1.
The EU economy is as fragile as it gets. I will not debate here whether it is a good idea to add Latvia to the list. It is important to consider the Latvian addition to the Euro. Especially, when we read statements from their PM is strong at mentioning of the option of upping their credit rating. That part will hit back to the Euro sooner rather than later and as such the other Euro nations as well. It only makes a stronger case for the UK to get out of the EU (I am not convinced it is the right option at present), and get out fast. Even if they do not, additional reasoning for better and more complete regulations is required for all kinds of banks and financial institutions. That would be needed BEFORE nations get added to the Euro as it allows for a gap for re-managing all kinds of financial packages, that would require those government to need additional IMF support. We all know where that leads the rest.

Danger 2.
Looking at Estonia? Why, because these nations are neighbours? Tallinn has a direct ferry connection with Helsinki and a ferry connection with Stockholm (amongst others). Non-financial investments are nice, but how many and who? Skype (invented in Estonia) got a strong influx by Microsoft and twice the amount of what? Another nation getting a few taxable Billions for Skype does not put Latvia in the clear (also much of that amount went to a small group of private developers) as Microsoft bought it. There is every chance that Skype will be phased out of Estonia, then what? This does not reflect badly on Estonia as it has several economic options. Latvia does not have those in equal measure. It has options, but which ones exactly? It seems that the initial article does not bear that out clearly at all.

Another quote to mention is “Latvia is a small, open economy” the Latvian Prime Minister said. Anyone remember Iceland 2004? Similar words were spoken then. That did not pan out to well for that island, as well as many of their inhabitants (and a massive amount of places after that). This is exactly why those banking reforms I pleaded for in many situations are needed and needed fast. There is NO indications that this is about to happen here, but it is proven that greed is eternal; people in power have been willing to sell away what they can and remain unaccountable after that. It is clear that the open market industry cannot be trusted the way it is. It is even proven that too many in charge are passing the buck and letting those who are innocent pay for the hardships created by the greedy (Greece and Cyprus are clear evidence of that).

These elements give additional strengths to the UKIP mission to get out of the EU, which also gives inevitable strength to the German group under Bernd Lucke, who will get the power for the last push out of the Euro. With these two elements the UK and Germany, the EU will have more than two little problems floating their way. Should this come to pass then the German chancellor Merkel will end up getting a new job and as things go, there might be a reasonable ‘danger’ for an Early UK election. At that point it will be the EU segregation of coin or nation through possible future Chancellor Lucke of Germany and Prime Minister Farage of UK that will change the EU and possibly even sink it completely. The simple reasoning is that the Euro cannot survive without both. It might survive the departure of one, but no way will it survive both leaving their support to the coin.

So, is this just speaking doom?

I will always agree that these are thoughts (non-positive ones) from me and my way of thinking. Experts will speak out on how wrong I am. Those experts also predicted that the economy was already on the rise in 2013. This has been proven wrong in most EU nations. Where their predictions were right, they were between ½% and 1½% too optimistic. For the EU it is not just about the economy, it is about getting a handle on the current massive debts. Debts so massive that it is likely to take in some cases up to three generations to get back on the horse. To add nations to a coin is one thing, but when we read about raised credit ratings it comes down to pushing many further down a debt driven society. That in a society where on average in the EU nation’s 1 out of 8 do not have a job, in some cases it is 1 out of 4. That is no place to be in a debt driven society. That is not a social structure, that is in my humble opinion seen as the population gnawing on the remaining scraps called ‘their nation’ before those nations become some industrialised economic ownership, where you either work at THEIR leisure, or you perish.

It would be fair of you the reader to dismiss this thought. Before you do, consider that Greece had been holding a fire sale of what is still in their name (for now). This act is to reduce a debt of millions, out of a total debt which surpasses several hundreds of billion. No more than a drop of water on a hot plate. That happened last year (Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/19/debt-ridden-greece-firesale)

So what happens when a nation has nothing left? Is my reasoning that outlandish? Those sales might get them somewhere near 2 billion, whilst 15 billion is due in 2015. Even if ALL savings from the entire Greek population is nationalised (confiscated). It might just be enough to get the 15 billion. So what to do about the other 300 billion not paid? I am not going after Greece; this is not about the Greek debt. This is about OTHER new members not adding to this, and for that certain precautions are needed. Certain regulations for banks and financial institutions need to be in place. Even if the IMF now admits that the damage through Austerity was ‘miscalculated’. (Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/jun/05/imf-underestimated-damage-austerity-would-do-to-greece) In all honesty, I saw that one coming a mile away. It has been known at least since the early 1600’s that a plucked chicken has little feathers left. (And boy did that chook get itself plucked!)

As messages of rephrasing ‘the message‘, it has been clear that there is a real danger that the Euro is way too close to a non-successful triple bypass.

If a new member dumps their domino on the EU and Greece falls, which will topple Cyprus and then the effect will topple France, Italy, which in turn will topple the Dutch and remaining domino stones (read weak economic countries). What will be left? I will keep one eye on the Guardian the next few weeks as people like Larry Elliott and Phillip Inman, who are excellent financial correspondents, add their views to the internet.

If there is any chance of surviving, then it is only possible if credit limits are frozen and debts are lowered. So far no one is on top of that approach and the EU will change as team Lucke/Ferage might remove the little options the EU had left. Are they wrong? I am not sure, but I do not blame these two for getting their nations out of a collision whilst the others keep on failing to successfully manage their budgets.

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