Tag Archives: Lawrence van Rijn

When the cure is part of the disease

Have you seen that issue in your life, the claim that the cure is worse than the disease, or perhaps that the cure is not worth the disease. There are medical situations where this applies and they are usually used in cases of huge risks, but it is always in a stage where it is about optionally curing the person who got that winning lottery ticket, and the cure will hit him or her full on. It happens, yet what is the stage where the cure is the disease? I am not talking about a vaccine where we are making the body stronger by fighting a weaker version of the disease, no this is a stage where we give the person Ebola or Hantavirus to let the body cure it. The problem becomes that once you have the virus you are actually sick and the complications start from that point onward.

This is the stage we are confronted with in ‘IMF accused of ‘reckless lending’ to debt-troubled states‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/oct/07/imf-accused-of-reckless-lending-to-debt-troubled-states). It is not merely “the Fund broke its own rules by not ensuring sustainable debt burden“, I personally believe it to be a much larger problem in all this. It is also not merely: “encouraging reckless lending by extending $93bn of loans to 18 financially troubled countries without a debt restructuring programme first“, I believe it to be a larger play to push revenue away from vulture funds to create a systemic problem for these nations to become part of the consumer feeding frenzy to banks for generations. when we see: “Debt sustainability has come into the spotlight over the past year after the IMF controversially lent a record $56bn to Argentina even though its annual debt repayments far exceeded the Fund’s own limit” the given excuse ‘The IMF said Argentina, the second biggest economy in South America, was a special case‘ the handed excuse should be casted aside and given no value at all. the supporting evidence is seen in “The crisis intensified when, on 5 December 2001, the IMF refused to release a US$1.3 billion tranche of its loan, citing the failure of the Argentine government to reach its budget deficit targets” (source: https://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/11/business/argentina-scrambles-for-imf-loans.html). When I asked about the situation about 5 years ago from these so called Australian ‘economic reporters’, none of them had any level of a clear answer for me. The case was clear 5 years ago when certain vulture funds issues got to the surface, and now 17 years later they are giving out $56 billion, whilst refusing a $1.3 billion option 17 years earlier. There is a much larger flaw in all this and there have been whispers (read: gossip) that the IMF is very much into facilitating towards the needs of Wall Street and the financial operators out there. The bottom dollar line of Wall Street needs to be met and no one cares how it is done.

the stage becomes a lot less acceptable when we consider the stage Afghanistan; Angola; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Ecuador; Egypt; Ghana; Jordan; Mauritania; Mongolia; Pakistan; São Tomé and Príncipe; Sierra Leone; Sri Lanka; Tunisia; and Ukraine, all whilst Egypt, Pakistan and Ecuador are regarded as high risk, I personally feel that the risk factors of Ukraine, Sri Lanka and Jordan are also way above normal with only Jordan being in a better long term position however, if Jordan does not address its water shortage issues, Jordan could drop into the ultra-high risk group a lot faster than anyone could state: ‘Would you like a glass of water?‘, and in all this we see a larger failing.

It becomes a more visible issue when we see the IMF spin doctors at work. We partially accept the statement: “More than half that amount is accounted for by one programme – Argentina, which has unique circumstances“, yet I am much less forgiving when I see: “We have clear guidelines about not lending into unsustainable debt situations and all programmes require approval by the IMF’s executive board“. It is my response that they publish clearly all their guidelines (and policies), but we will not ever get that. In addition, the Argentina matter after the Vultures were done with it is also a failing of the highest degree, the fact that over 17 years $1.3 billion has required $56 billion implies more than merely 4,300% more funds needed. It gives rise that over 17 years a debt increase of 23% year on year was accumulated one way or another. It is a direct optional sign of complete and utter governmental financial malfeasance. It is a failure on a scale never seen before and the fact that no one stepped in shows the larger failure by the IMF. You see, the overall lack of illumination also constitutes evidence that the players wanted this to be kept out of the lime lights.

In addition, when we look at the 17 nations, when we ignore the obvious three, we see a larger issue in Jordan. Jordan stepped up and towards the issue that there are well over 1.4 million refugees in Jordan and Jordan was not ready in any way shape or form to deal with that. In their current state the Jordan desalination plants will not be able to keep up (so far it cannot keep up) and the fact that the Jordan population grew by 14% in 2-3 years due to the refugees was never clearly illuminated and now Jordan has a larger issue, even if another desalination plant is added in the Gulf of Aqaba, the issue will not diminish and the loans towards Jordan would become unsustainable. In addition, when you consider Sri Lanka, the newspapers all gave the same quote a month ago: ‘Sri Lanka’s economy has shown a ‘fair bit of resilience’‘, they quoted that to the letter, yet who was feeding them that information? Only 14 hours ago we see: “Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals in September were down 27.2% from a year earlier“, those factors did not really change did they? When we consider a month ago, we see an economy that is getting hit hard, especially when Reuters gives us: “a sixth consecutive monthly fall“. It seems to me that Sri Lanka are betting on the required roll of the dice, when we get the clear indication that the dice are loaded and it seems that they are loaded towards the needs of the IMF/Wall Street and not in favour of Sri Lanka.

When we add the Reuters information: “Arrivals in the five months from May to September were down 44.4% to 468,737 from 843,569 a year earlier” we get a level of clear indication that the quote: ‘Sri Lanka’s economy has shown a ‘fair bit of resilience’‘ should be seen as media BS. And there is more regarding Sri Lanka, the quote less than 24 hours ago is “Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said all the money the current government has borrowed since 2016 was to repay the loans of the previous government of Mahinda Rajapaksa“, if that is true, then there are additional questions towards the IMF in regards to their spin doctors giving us: “Our decisions to lend to countries are not simply based on numerical thresholds, but on comprehensive debt sustainability analyses and policies needed to address economic imbalances and debt burdens“, which in the case of Sri Lanka shows a much larger issue, the fact that the quote on repaying from a previous government and that loan has been in place for 3 years shows a larger problem, so how much was given to them? In addition to this I wonder how much of the $56 billion is going to Elliott Advisors, so much is the IMF helping out Manhattan bad boy Paul Singer? In my view, the question becomes: ‘How much of the $56 billion goes to Hedge funds manager Paul Singer?‘ Under those conditions I reckon anyone could get their fingers on the penthouse in Sky Lofts building in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighbourhood. If it is good enough for Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis), it is good enough for the Lawlordtobe (Lawrence van Rijn), and I could do with a change of scenery, especially if Google buys my 5G IP portfolio.

So if my new address becomes 145 Hudson St New York, NY 10013, I promise that I will not consider the ’13’ in my zip code to be a bad omen and at least I will not have used the IMF to gain my fortune (although I will admit that I am perfectly willing to do that too #weallneedtoeat).

When we see these two issues and we see that I have not even looked at the 12 others (three were known issues) I wonder when any reporter will give us the entire down low on these so called analyses and policies that the IMF has in place, I feel with some level of certain ty that I will find a lot more issues under the waterline than the IMF spin doctors will be able to hide. Especially when we realise the quote in the Guardian: “concerns that a general election later this month will oust incumbent president, Mauricio Macri, in favour of the populist Alberto Fernández and his running mate, the former president Cristina de Kirchner, triggered a flight of investors, a run on the currency and sent the interest rate on the country’s publicly traded debts soaring“, more important, under that change the entire case which would have been part of the $56 billion ‘donation’ that we see through “Argentina agreed to reduce its fiscal deficit to 1.3% of GDP this year, down from 2.2% previously and a balanced budget next year“, especially when we see the required drop of 0.9% deficit, I cannot remember any elected official making that part of their campaign, it tends to leave them unelected at the polls, so in all this, not only does the JDC have a point, we see that Sarah-Jayne Clifton, director of Jubilee Debt Campaign should be considered to be a lot more serious and is in my personal view entitled to massive dose of limelight from the global media, so that she can ask the questions that the IMF would have to explain in a clear and transparent way, would you like to take a bet on the chance of that actually happening?

I believe that people like Paul Singer will set that bet to an estimated 250:1 chance (of it not happening), and as he personally was able to acquire $3.5 billion, I am not putting my hopes on high here. I merely wonder if the people in Argentina have any decent level of Christmas to look forward to this year and the many years that follow.

 

 

 

 

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The Euro in intensive care?

It is always nice to see that the NOS news will not stop to give me the inspiration I need on a gruelling Monday morning. We have all heard on the image of the Euro, the need for bail outs left, right and centre and the impression that the events do not seem to worry too many people. Yet, perhaps this look on the matter at hand from the financial industry and their ‘beneficiaries’ are overly too not worried. What most seemed to have forgotten is that any government (especially in Western Europe) is dependent on voters and the way they think, or more precisely the way they fear!

With a possible new political party, leaning slightly to the right (or better stated slightly conservative) a new option will have arrived with one specific agenda. The intention to move Germany away from the Euro currency. In itself it is perhaps not the immediate worry. Consider that Western Europe was on a route to real or feigned restoration, which does require Germany to weather the storm as it was (I am not ignoring the work France did on this either). It was the immense amount of self-austerity that Germany performed on itself that made them the strongest economy at present.

The issue is the new party! Even if this new party gets a firm foothold, it does not mean that Chancellor Merkel is in danger as yet. The predictions are that this new party stands to get up to 24% of the votes (presently at maximum). So the Chancellor is still in a comfortable pace for now. There is however the issue that not much more is allowed to go wrong at present as this could change the game as is with Chancellor Merkel to become the loser in the next election.

Why is this so important?
Anyone who tries to trivialise this is clearly of their rocker (and out of their mind too). This event, should it take place is huge and the impact it will have is pretty much beyond what anyone can imagine.

Consider two scenarios.

In the first scenario we look at the one that had been an issue a few times in the past. This was the situation where those countries unable to pull their weight would be cast out of the Euro. Merkel united with the others to prevent this in the past. Greece was number one on that list, but at present Spain might actually end up getting added to that list, so there is a lot at stake and the new party might change all that.

The second one is the one that is most concerning to all non-Germans. If the new party gets the strong voice, and this chance is not that far-fetched at present, then there is a chance that they will move to remove Germany from the Euro and moves straight back into the Deutschmark.

There will be many voices on how this will never happen, and then carefully phrased denials on how the Euro is in serious danger. Make no mistake; they will be leading you on. The bulk of all Euro countries are in deficit. Most have NO concrete plan on recovery (they all claim it will happen, yet the events are against them). They all claim that they have which they obfuscate by overenthusiastic information on economic recovery NEXT year. Too many parties are in assumption mode and too few in a state of pragmatist optimism. I do not pretend to be the expert. I am not some PhD with the knowledge of economic events. I am a data miner. I have looked at data in many forms for most of my life. From this point I looked at data and no matter how complex some parties make it all out to be, some simple rules always apply.

First event to take into consideration is that America seems to be printing more and more money on a daily basis. Printed money, which does not seem to be set against anything tangible especially, taking into account a massive 17 trillion dollar debt. Funny enough Germany did something similar in the 1920’s. I remember it because I used to have one of those fünfhundert tausend Deutsch Mark bills (DM 500,000) which is now valued at less than $5. So is this where America is headed? No! I doubt that it will get THAT bad, yet a bankrupt America would be the definite death nail in the coffin now known as ‘the Euro’.

A second fact in this equation is the economical drop in several nations. The Netherlands, Italy, France are all in a not so good financial position. A nice little footnote to this is that the Dutch TV (NOS) reported that the Netherlands would see a more then 2% increase in their economy for 2014 on March 3rd 2013. Yet on the Dutch government site   (http://www.cpb.nl/persbericht/3213019/zwakke-groei-economie-door-achterblijven-consumptie) on 13th of March (10 days after my blog doubted that in my article ‘march Hare of Government’) it now states the increase to be only 1%. I still think it is slightly too high, but whatever, I had made my point. France is also toning down their near future predicaments for their economy. For now only Germany seems to have some reasonable strength (in the short foreseeable term). This is relative as it cannot pull the weight of Italy, France and the Netherlands. Should Germany pull out then the Euro will have a definite problem on several levels.

Before you consider calling Germany names consider that the Euro can only survive if ALL pull their weight. Most of the nation’s overspending the way have been doing for some time is not that. As stated in earlier blogs. When you overspend for well over a decade, at some point the invoice is due and too many are ignoring that little fact. So don’t blame Germany, blame your respective governments. If you have any doubts on that, look at how Cyprus needed 10 billion, an island with barely a million people living there. That is only one island. Several nations are in much higher debts. Granted is that they are not reliant on 80% of their GDP coming from the banks and financial industries.

So the Euro and the issues they might be getting.

It would be very incorrect to say that it is all about the value of the German Mark, yet this is not that incorrect. If you have a soccer team and you lose your star player, will that team survive? Yes, it usually does! However, in most cases that team will not end up as high because of the loss of their star player. When that team is pulled by 1-2 players a lesser result is usually the case. The issue becomes will that team continue on the same level (division) as the other teams. My thought is that this is not the case. That new German party does have a valid point. The other nations could survive if those weaker players are no longer there. What will happen in the immediate response is one from the markets and it will not be a positive one.

We are now left with two thoughts.

1. Should this direction be avoided?
I do not have a direct answer. Let us face it. The chance of Greece or Cyprus EVER paying back their debts is pretty much out of the question. There are off course the additional nations Spain and Ireland. What about them? So far they are coping, but consider that the economy will remain weak until at least the end of 2014. There is no true answer of what to do in that case. Throw out more and more nations? Will the Euro become a factor analyses under the leave-one-out approach? This seems a cold and very logical approach to deal with this matter. Have we loathed ourselves to such an affect that nations are now under the scrutiny of a spread sheet approach?

2. If we embrace this path what is the use of the Euro?
I personally still see the Euro as the means for America to do away with all these different currencies and have a nice go at corporate Europe by moving in with all their options and less as a solution to unite Europe. This is a personal feeling in this matter and the evidence seen in the last three years are clear that European unity is a nice theory and that is all it remained. A theory! If there was true unity then budgets would be kept in check on a European scale. Yet the Euro nations seem to remain a place of PowerPoint global and expedite ‘the local needs’ as it ever was. No matter what we read in the papers and propagated by all kinds of interested parties. The issues in play are kept in a vicious circle.

I wonder whether this is what the banks envisioned from the very beginning, a debt driven society that leaves them out of the equation to do whatever they wanted. This is how we get back to this new German party. Their most prominent speaker was Bernd Lucke, a professor of Macroeconomics from the University of Hamburg. Is he wrong? He definitely knows more about economy than I ever will, but so are the experts who are on the other side of that equation. So where should we stand? It was Bernd Lucke who mentioned in a German magazine ‘Spiegel’ (German for Mirror) in 2011 that all these collapses would end up in the German lap for an amount of 180 billion Euro. That is almost 2200 Euro for each German citizen. And it seems that so far his vision is slowly becoming reality. If someone has to pay 2200 for damages they never made, or issues they never ordered. Would you not get upset with that?

Governments do not seem to accept accountability, Banks and financial institutions are given free reigns to do for the most, whatever they like and the population end up having to pay for it all. How long until we have had enough? This is where the German population is at now. So when people start talking in a trivialising way consider your personal financial situation. Consider paying 2200 Euro for something that is not your fault, not your order and add to this that there is no guarantee that it will not happen again next year. Now consider that the amount is on average 15% of a Germans pre taxation annual income. With German economy losing strength not unlike other European countries, ask yourself how many Germans will consider an alternative to the vision of Merkel?

My views?

Europe should stick together, but there is a clear valid worry that leaving the bill to be paid by a few without clear regulations on what some are allowed to do is just not realistic. It is the present German fear and it is shared by too many people in Germany.

 

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Time for another collapse

We have all seen the state of matters on many nations. Including Australia loads of nations are in a massive downturn. America keeps on spending money they do not have. Spain is fighting a massive wall of unemployed (over 24%). Greece is fighting just about everything from no longer payable debts and unemployment figures to phantoms of their past. In addition to this France, Italy and Ireland have issues with both debts and people somewhat not working. Last but not least, the Dutch economy is at a low and they are about to change the current Monarch. Add to this the referendum that is at the heart of the UK, will they remain in the EEC. All these are questions that hold matters that stop an upturn of their economy. These are bleak times indeed.

So can anyone explain to me that the Dow keeps rising? (Seriously, I am not an economist!)

Apart from a dip around January 8th there is no real upturn in the US. They have their issues around budgets, around 7.8% in America does not have a job, their export is not what it needs to be and it seems that their numbers are not what they appear to be. Citing a newscast where the following was stated “The US unemployment rate falls to 7.7% thanks to the reduction in the labour force.” So from that we could consider that yes, there are less unemployed, those people did not get a job, they became pensioners. What other misrepresentations are they making? Now, let’s be honest. They are not doing anything wrong, not just because it is done by all, but because they are clinically speaking the truth. Yet, considering these truths, the question remains. Why is the Dow Index going up and up and up?

Are we about to get hit with a 3000 point drop, and if so, who’s wealth will fall away, the banks and bankers or the retirement funds? It feels like America has adopted a Japanese way. The way of the ‘Yes’ people! Hai!

Americans shy away from bad news. They go play Possum, they ignore, they reject. There is no fight for improvement, there is no middle ground. It is only Victory or Apathy, and victory is a term used often and mostly never deserved. Lately we see messages like this: “Just one hour before midnight on New Year’s Day, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a one-year renewal of federally-funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC)”. Decisions of the 11th hour! Even issues on the fiscal gap are deadlocked. Moving forward is not just hard to do, it seems impossible to some to make the hard calls. If they like victory stories that much, they should take a look at Germany. Just so that readers are up to speed, let’s take a little walk on the historical side.

June 7th 2010 “The German government on Monday announced plans to reduce spending by €80 billion ($95.7 billion) by 2014 in the largest package of cuts since World War II” (Source: Die Spiegel)

There was a lot of commotion. Several nations called it overreaction, some called it nonsense. In an IEX article on Macro economy they all mentioned how Germany is such a worry. They even quoted George Soros as a source of it as he spoke at a University in Berlin. How irresponsible these cut backs were. Yet, now Germany has a strong economy, much stronger than anyone else in Europe. I wonder if they saw through the Megalomania of George Soros. It had been advocated by people like Glenn Beck for a while. It seems to me that on a planet of debt, those who own money, those who are in the favour of banks would be in charge of the planet. It is one way of making governments flaccid to your actions; they desperately need what you could spend in their country.

Yet, I am digressing from the issue, which remains the Dow index. Germany remains the only one who fought back these debts with success. It stands to reason that the Dow should not be this strong. Consider that the Dow is fully called “The Dow Jones Industrial Average”. Now consider the unemployment levels which is up and the spending ability which is down. Both elements are off on a global scale.

So how come that this index keeps on rising? What artificial flavours are added?

Now consider that the debt of most nations is based upon Gross National Product (GNP), now consider this falls, which means that the debt quickly rises as per example below.

GNP = $1B, debt is set at 3%, which means that the actual debt is $30M.

Now consider that next year, the GNP is only $700M, which means with a debt of $30M the debt is now 4.28%. This is far more than their agreed and allowed margins of debt. Is this why the Dow is rising? To keep debt percentages low? Also consider that most debts are not millions, but often billions, and in one case many trillions.

You might wonder. Does this matter? Yes, it does for two reasons.

1. The same applied to people with debts in the US. And then in 2004-2008 one in six in the US lost their houses as their spread sheets stated an overly large debt. Why should this not apply to governments? Why are they not accountable for their actions (or better inactions).

2. We seem to be getting that ‘we are still OK’ message, while the impression seems to be that some people are cooking the books (or slightly more precise, they seem to be cooking the percentages).

So the question becomes when it happens (not if it happens) that Dow number slices down to 10,000 or less, who is kept holding the bag?

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