Tag Archives: Lloyds

The new Monopoly game

Do you remember playing monopoly? Did you ever play it? I grew up loving it. I am not some realtor, some real estate dreamer beyond the dream of having my own place. Most of us are like that. Just the time when I was young and the family played that game, or plying it with a couple of friends. I ended up having several versions, including the replica original with coins, in a wooden box, just a cool thing to have. So when we consider this game, as the prices of the streets were shown in those days; we knew that blue was the highest an always out of our reach. I lived in a green property for some time, so life felt good, yet today, Yellow, Red, Orange, Purple and light blue are no longer in my view of affordability, in the best case, I might be able to get one of the brown coloured properties. This is how the market changed in a mere 22 years. From an optional 80% of the map to a mere 2 out of 16, that is all that was left to me. So when I read ‘Total UK wealth tops £10tn thanks to City and property boom‘ by Larry Elliott (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/aug/08/total-uk-wealth-city-property-homes-inequality-saving), I just had to laugh. I understand that he might be trying to have a sense of humour about it. Yet when we see “A booming City and rising house prices provided a double boost to Britons holding assets in 2016 as they pushed the nation’s wealth through the £10tn mark, according to a new survey“, the question becomes: ‘How much of that is NOT owned by foreign investors?‘ Is that a weird question or what? Even as we see “Since the better off held a greater proportion of these assets, 40% of the gains of rising share and bond prices went to the richest 5% of households“, is ‘households’ correct or should it read clients represented by British law and accountancy firms, representing foreign interests in the UK? With “The £3.9tn increase in the value of residential property and financial assets owned by UK residents represented a 59% rise, whereas prices rose by 39% and gross household income was up 37%“, we see again the ‘UK resident‘ part and when we take a look at the government (at http://www.ukimmigration.com/investor/uk_investor_visa.htm), we see that basically any person investing in any property (as the London bulk is well over £1 million, the threshold for foreign investors is reached), which beckons the call, when we start digging into UK residents versus UK citizens, how will this all end? Lloyds shows even more sense of humour with “Lloyds said its figure excluded non-residential property and assets held by charities and other non-profit institutions“, which clearly includes all the foreign investors and they are always in it for the profit. It is the final part that gives the new consideration “However, a continued low mortgage rate environment, combined with an ongoing shortage of properties for sale, should help continue to support house prices over the coming months“. This now gives the premise, have the current and previous governments been guilty of betraying the British people by setting the stage of ‘ongoing shortage of properties for sale‘, in this we see the historic part that former Prime minister Margaret Thatcher was the last of the prime ministers giving a rising and clear need for social housing. We see this in the 2015 article from the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-14380936) where the amount of social housing went up in the beginning of her ‘reign’ to the highest ever recorded surpassing 150,000 right-to-buy, it took a small dive and in 1987 it got back to around 140,000, after she was succeeded in 1990, social housing took a steep dive to below 50,000 and from there it just went down and down. At the end of the labour reign in 2010 it was at the lowest stage ever, only now is there a small increase visible in that graph. Yet in the BBC article we also see a problem, even as it compares to 1918 where owner occupied is a mere 23%, the 2012-2013 part where 65% is owner occupied is as I call it ‘misrepresented‘ at 65%, because how much of that is empty and what part is foreign invested? You see, plenty of places in London are not offered for rent, but for lease, so who is the owner in that case and where does this fit in that graph? If we add the privately rented, we see that socially rented is a mere 16% (way higher than 1918), yet as we see the Thatcher numbers, who got the people there and how were the people kept out of affordable housing by not making that available. In Australia it might be as bad as the valid people in NSW housing are on the lists for a time in excess of 6 years. So how is that a solution to solving housing issues? And let’s not forget, when the housing is set and forced to become a larger contributor to social (read affordable) housing, what then remains of this ‘£10tn UK wealth‘ housing side? The fact that both sides of the political isle have been in denial and remiss to get any of that solved and Jeremy Corbyn claims to have a solution by pushing the UK in even deeper debt, deeper by the better part of a trillion pounds. So how does that help anyone?

Now, we might accept and understand that life in London is never affordable ever again, yet the political isles must equally accept that this change could constitute an infrastructure collapse. This gets us to some old news. In August 2014 we saw (at https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/aug/07/london-gets-24-times-as-much-infrastructure-north-east-england) the mention ‘London gets 24 times as much spent on infrastructure per resident than north-east England‘ which is a nice title, yet the dangers are shown soon thereafter. With “more than half of that total was down to the decommissioning of the Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria – necessary, doubtless, but hardly an infrastructure ‘improvement’ as most people would understand it” we see only part of the danger. The quote “New analysis of public infrastructure spending by IPPR North lays bare the gap between how much capital expenditure there is in the capital than the rest of England” shows another part, yet the actual issue is not what is spent, but what is required to get something done. When we paraphrase it into “analysis of public infrastructure spending by IPPR North lays bare the gap between how much is required for the same amount of work in London compared to the rest of England” we see the dangers, when the infrastructure maintenance is 2400% of the rest of the UK, there is a danger, yet is it the correct one? In February this year, we see a partial repetition of the old Guardian article, yet with updated numbers it shows (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/20/more-than-half-uk-investment-in-transport-is-in-london-says-study) that London requires 50% of all the funds. In all this we are not given any reliable numbers, because in all this I do not see the comparison of £ per mile of rail serviced. Consider that London has 20 times the amounts of rail that most places have and he London rail when stretched can get a person from Waterloo station to Glasgow five times over (OK, slight exaggeration). Yet the message should be clear. As the infrastructure has less options with in addition less people being anywhere near it, the city of London is facing all levels of collapse. Another part was shown on July 17th in the Independent. The title ‘More than half a million social homes in England do not meet basic health and safety standards‘ is the first indication that social housing and infrastructure are beyond collapsing. With quotes like ‘almost one in seven of all social homes in England‘ are below standards, we see a dangerous escalation. So in this we see a mention of 224,000 houses where the most dangerous safety hazards (category one) is seen. It includes “exposed wiring, overloaded electricity sockets, dangerous boilers, leaking roofs, vermin infestations or inadequate security“, yes, the right and proper place to get your partner pregnant and start a family, would you not agree?

Even as we now see that the Grenfell disaster is a first step in looking into cladding, they all seem to forget that the cladding was done to appease the houses around Grenfell, in addition, the other failures and dangers are basically the non-cladding issues, so the mess is a lot bigger. when we consider the quote “Local authorities have a legal duty to act if a category one hazard is discovered, but hundreds of thousands are going unreported or ignored” we see a much clearer situation where government and city council members could be held accountable towards the transgression of ‘reckless endangerment‘ of lives, so in all this, what is the CPS doing? Has the Crown Prosecution Services made any start on taking a look at this, because these 244,000 houses would in theory represent 300,000 people working to some degree for the London Infrastructure, being it the underground, busses or other civil offices, if even 10% falls away, what happens then? How much pressure, increased costs and non-functional infrastructure remains for London at that point? It seems that the City of London has no way of dealing with such dangerous terms. As I see it, Lord Mayor Sadiq Khan has his work cut out for him. We should all agree that he did not cause this, but he can equally agree that it is on his plate at present and his success will be weighed against his ability to lower that danger and remove the hazards within his largely leased London city.

So as we look at the wealth boom, how exactly is it benefiting the UK and specifically London? As London becomes less and less affordable, as its ‘status’ as premium investment location continues, we might soon see a London that even the tourists can no longer afford. This is not a danger at present with the dropping pound against the Euro, so London is a great place to visit for Europeans. Yet the reality is that this benefit is merely short term, the dangers as the UK turns its economy around, which they will for certain, gives dangers that the dangers I predict are merely 5 years away. When that happens the tourism part will drop, not by a small part, but by a phenomenal amount (In my speculative view well over 20%), so whoever is investing now needs to get that part back in 4 years, they might be facing deadly competition for the few remaining tourists after that. The Time in 2015 talked about the tourism bubble and set it to greed, I think that it is not merely greed; in all this the infrastructure that is dangerously close to a collapse would be a much larger contributing item in all this. So as we see that the infrastructure is in a dangerous place, we need to wonder how the UK government will be addressing this. It is not like it is not a clearly visible issue. It is merely one of several critical issues that the UK faces. Yet in this, the housing part is also the contributing factor for other sides of infrastructure as well. We saw 3 weeks ago that the NHS has 86,000 posts vacant. Not only can they not be filled, even if there was a person available, the reality is that for nurses life in London has become largely unaffordable, which hits social housing as well as infrastructure, a clear visible item known for the better part of 3 years. As a conservative I would be willing to blame my political party, yet the BBC chart clearly shows that as the conservatives came back into office the social housing curve was moving back up (to the smallest degree). Now, there is part that was done by the previous labour government, but only to an even smaller degree. In this I will end with an article that the Business insider has in 2015, in it we see the minimum income per area, when we take a look is that only the cheapest place was affordable for NHS nurses, 54 miles from the hospital, anything nearer would require double the income they presently have, some places are forever out of their reach. Even whilst I know of some places in Swiss Cottage, Southwark and West Brompton, it is shy of the 86,000 places, it will not even give aid to 1%, or 860 places to live in. So, as some people are shrugging at the £10tn wealth value, or the imaginative issue that the NHS problem will solve itself. We need to realise that a few of these issues were interconnected and have been for many years. In this Labour and Conservatives are both to blame, they achieved nothing in stopping, or decently reducing the danger. So when you look at the Monopoly board consider the 22 places and which of these streets you cannot afford a place to live in. So how was this UK wealth any help in resolving the quality of life for those not in the top 5% wealth part, which amounts 98.85% of the UK population, foreign investors excluded.

Consider that side when the next rent is due, and more important, even as all the papers are shouting about rent drops, in the end, the rental price is merely increasing slower for now. With the rent being on average set to £1,500, the 12 month increase is set between £22 and £35 a month depending on your condition, so when you consider that if these people are lucky, their pay increase ended up being up to £61 a month, we see that the increase only takes care of the rent, it will not hold water to take care of the increased price of groceries or heating, so the outlook for the British tenant will be gloomy this Christmas. And before you start blaming Brexit, it would not have mattered one bit. If anyone tells you different, as I personally see it, they would be lying to you.

The people in Britain are seeing a new Monopoly board. Where you start with £800 and passing start gets you a mere £100, in addition add 15% to every street in the first 5 turns and add another 15% for the rest of the game. The final changes are 40% more due for any station and set utilities to 15 times rolled, regardless if it is one or both owned. Now we get a slightly more realistic version of the game as we live it today, so how far would you get in that version of the game? I might want to add that we would need to add 4 pubs, one for each side and treat them like the stations, yet the amount due is 10 times the rolled dice. It seems that our childhood monopoly is the one we still think we live at times, even as we never had any ambitions to own hotels, we always expected to get one house in one street sometimes in our lives; the reality is that this is no longer an expected reality. The reality is now that whomever owns and keeps a place, leaving that to the children is the only guarantee that they have any future at all in the UK, a reality that was not due to Brexit, but due to a government having other commitments, one that was to spending too much whilst not having any backup in place, it is the reality all in the UK face until well over 2040. I still believe that the conservative path to diminish the debt is the only way out and when we consider the news about the £40 billion divorce bill, that is not too weird, because at present Mario Draghi is spending 150% of that every month and getting out now seems to be a lot safer than being around when that collapses, or is that explodes into the faces of EU citizens? Most disagree with me on that, loads of them with economic degrees and that is fine. As I see it, the people all over are in denial of previous debts made and seem to imply that it is not for them to solve, so at your banks when you borrow £2500 every month to pay for things like rent, do you think that you will not have to pay any of it back? Do you think that financial institutions are that philanthropically minded? So as City AM announced on July 17thEurozone inflation fell in June, the European Commission today confirmed, easing pressure on the European Central Bank (ECB) to start tightening monetary policy at its next announcement on Thursday”, yet a week later we see “Draghi struck a dovish tone at the meeting in Frankfurt, with no firm date given to an announcement on the future of the quantitative easing programme, but investors were not convinced”, which we got on Friday July 21st. So as the spenders are all in denial on several levels, we see that their impact could be a disaster for London when that hits, I have stated in personal belief that getting out of that mess sooner would be essential for the UK. A mere week ago we saw (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-03/big-investors-losing-faith-in-europe-s-ecb-fuelled-junk-rally). Now we see the first mention, not of QE, but the mentioning of ‘ECB-Fuelled Junk Rally’, Bloomberg is now speaking almost the same parts that I have advocated against for many months. With the quote “Deutsche Asset Management has reduced holdings of European junk bonds in its 100 billion euro ($106 billion) multi-asset portfolios and JPMorgan Asset Management says investors should brace for a tough second half. BlackRock Inc. says risks for European credit are tilted to the downside and Nataxis SA recommends dialing back high-yield debt exposure” the large players seem to accept (read: come to the conclusion) the dangers I warned for, for many months, this is a dangers that Brexit should avoid. So, as some players are trying to delay it all, so that the UK gets part of that additional 2 trillion (as I see it).

These matters are connected, you see, when those players try to escape the sewers they will seek other parts that give rise to returns on investment that avoids their downfall, this is where the Monopoly game comes in. Because the reality is that this mentioned UK wealth of £10tn could be the escape hatch they need, yet in that the dangers to the infrastructure would only increase, I might be wrong in that view, yet it is merely my view. So feel free to disagree, providing you do not cry when I am proven correct yet again.

 

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A slave to greed

It is time to take a stance a little more vocal and a little more ‘anti’ certain voices. You see, the people are being led astray, misinformed and basically lied to. It is a clever lie that some people spin, where the involved players (like in Greece) focus on one part of the story and after that story is told, those who think they are getting informed, are told a fairy tale with no concrete connection to reality or to the factual complete truth. Those advocates work from the concept of ‘in the eye of the beholder’, which sounds nice, but when you pay your electricity bill, there is no eye of the beholder, there is just the invoice!

To get this party train started, let’s take a look at the definition. We are looking at Austerity!

According to the Investopedia it is: “DEFINITION of ‘Austerity’ a state of reduced spending and increased frugality in the financial sector. Austerity measures generally refer to the measures taken by governments to reduce expenditures in an attempt to shrink their growing budget deficits“.

Whilst dictionary.com tells us “strict economy

Both apply here!

So when I am looking at an article in the Guardian by Heather Steward called ‘Austerity isn’t ‘good housekeeping’: it’s dogmatic, risky and unjust‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jun/07/austerity-isnt-good-housekeeping-dogmatic-risky-unjust), it is time to get a few things out of the way. To help me, there is a source I used for part of this, which is at http://www.economicshelp.org/blog/5509/economics/government-spending-under-labour/. You see, in the time 1997 – 2010 several things happened, even though around 2007 the total debt was at a record low, the increase in spending has changed that. The debt is getting out of control, plain and simple. Governments (both sides) tend to hide behind GDP percentages to validate their spending, yet, in the previous conservative government, it was at 40% of GDP, by the time Gordon Brown was done, it was at 45% of GDP, considering that the UK GDP is decently high, that 5% amounts to a lot. Yet, that figure does not tell you the whole picture.

The UK public sector debt went in the period 2008 – 2010 from around 36% to over 65%, which is massive, this current government has been adding to that, but they are trying to stem that tide, which is not done overnight. Now this is not me blaming Labour (which is always fun), Health care spending almost doubled in real terms between 1999 and 2010, which is a Grim Reaper reality. Some were massive bungles by labour, but the added reality is that the UK population is growing old, that is just a natural part and we have always known that. So there is no blame, but it is therefore of a much higher importance to get a handle on it and none of the choices are nice ones.

You see, the source gives a possible connection, but not the reality behind it. We see the mention whether Keynesian economics are to blame, with the quote “Keynesian economics calls for counter-cyclical spending and deficits. Thus, in a period of strong economic growth, Keynesian economics would advocate balancing the budget or even pursuing a budget surplus“, but that is the problem, the politicians, in the era 1997-2004, in such a ‘good’ climate did not adhere to that. The GDP debt is evidence of that. You see, to some extent, politicians are like children, give a 17 year old boy  a credit card with one million pound, stating that he must be careful, and that person will find a reason to get the PS4, the Xbox One and get personal biology lessons at the ‘Steam and Sun Health Club’. At which point that person is feeling that the good life is here, alas, at some point the invoice is due and whilst it is not getting paid, the interest is getting paid from the credit card, dwindling reserves even further, this is EXACTLY where Greece is at!

So now to the first article as mentioned in the beginning!

the spending squeeze the Tories now hope to implement, starting in the current financial year, is intense, as the spreadsheet wizards at the Institute for Fiscal Studies made clear last week. Shortly before Osborne’s statement, Carl Emmerson, the IFS’s deputy director, warned that achieving the Tories’ planned cuts would be “anything but easy”” Here I agree, it will not be easy, it will be hard and it will be even harder on the people, the issue is however that £1.56 trillion comes with the added issue that at 1%, this bill gets an added 15.6 billion in interest, however, the interest is not 1%, it is higher, so we see that the annual cost of servicing (paying the interest) the public debt amounted to around £43bn (which is roughly 3% of GDP). In an age where some people get instant orgasms from reporting a 0.2% increase in GDP, they seem to forget that this amounts to the part that the UK is annually down 2.8% of GDP. If we act harshly (really harshly) it can be dealt with and even be reduced! Which is the real deal. That interest is benefitting banks and foreign investors. It boils down to ‘money for free’. So now we get the second quote “the belt-tightening is likely to be profoundly unfair. Osborne has repeatedly said his cuts plan will involve a £12bn reduction in the welfare bill. Since pensioners are protected, and out-of-work benefits are a relatively small part of the £250bn social security budget, much of the burden is likely to fall on low-wage workers and their children” I agree, it is very unfair, but when the economy was high, no one was shouting loudly to decrease spending as bad times are always around the corner, no one stopped Gordon Brown to give away the keys to the kingdom, which is what he pretty much did!

So, the term ‘pursuing a budget surplus’ sounds nice, but politicians will avoid bad news whenever they can, so cutting down on expenses will only be done when there is no other option, and preferably in the 11th hour, whilst there is no guarantee that there is a surplus at that point to work with!

More austerity is risky at a time when recovery appears to be fragile against a background of the bubbling Eurozone crisis” this is a clear misrepresentation. You see, the statement is true, but there is no ‘fragile recovery’ at present, Greece is making sure of that by not doing its part. Which is exactly why the UK is contemplating getting out of the EU in the first place. The bulk of the Euro nations are all not balancing their books and getting out now might be the only way to preserve the little gain the UK can get. Now we get to another ‘failed’ view. It comes from Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen. The statement is “A nation’s debts are mainly owed to someone else within the same society – for example the pension-holders whose funds are stacked full of gilts“. Is that so Mr Sen? Well, if you did your homework on this then please elaborate where the 1.5 trillion in UK debt is? I feel 99.324% certain that a massive amount is in other hands, not in the hands of pension holders, in addition, with the annual increase of needed funds over the next two decades, that amount is about to dwindle to record lows really fast, so where is all that debt?

The next statement is a view that I oppose “a report from the International Monetary Fund, rarely considered a hotbed of fiscal recklessness, warned about the risks of trying to tackle a country’s debt burden too quickly“, what is too quickly? You see 1.5 trillion is not going away overnight, it will take 2-3 decades to truly slim it down, so for the next generation, someone is walking away with £43bn a year, so we should get the debt down soon, preferably by a lot because the annual interest bill is around 7% of the received revenue in 2014, that whilst George Osborne spent 15% more than received, so to cut back on that increasing debt austerity seems to be the only answer.

Now we get the next issue “Paying them down rapidly distorts the economy too much to be worth the risk“, the risk to whom? To banks not getting ‘free’ money? Debt is a kicker, it always has been it has never been different. We will never be completely out of debt, but the debt at present is unacceptably high. You see a debt driven economy is based on the illusion of never ending growth. How did that work out in 2004 and 2008? In that light, how is it working out for Greece? They can no longer pay their bills. Whatever they get now in bail-out will be swallowed by debts and interests before Q3 ends. So, when I read “Debts should be “reduced organically through growth, or opportunistically when less distortionary sources of revenue are available”, the IMF’s researchers argue“, I am reading more misinformation. The theory sounds nice, but in the time when there was the option of surplus NOT ONE government created surplus. President Clinton was the only one who got a true surplus, after that due to circumstances the US could not foresee, the debt went completely out of control. In reflection on Austerity, Germany did tighten the buckle and got part of its debt down, which is why they are in a better position at present.

So this is the first article, Heather Stewart is not stating anything untrue, but the article is missing a lot and some of these points I very much disagree with (figure me, disagreeing with a Nobel prize winner, whilst I have no economy degree).

Now let’s have a go at the second Nobel Prize winner. In this case Joseph Stiglitz, recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and the John Bates Clark Medal. The article that in centre of this is ‘Greece’s creditors need a dose of reality – this is no time for European disunion‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jun/05/greeces-creditors-need-a-dose-of-reality-this-is-no-time-for-european-disunion). The first paragraph is the very notion of the beginning of my disagreement. “Athens has met its creditors’ demands more than halfway“. And we care….why? Why is Athens not meeting those demands 100% of the way? You see, Greece took the debt, it went back to the markets and sold 5 billion more in bonds (I still have not figured out the name of the idiot allowing for that act of stupidity). Greece vowed to make payments again and again, yet at present the already deferred TWO payments. Now, let me be frank. They were allowed to do that! The rules were there and they played by the rules, yet we all know that Greece is out of money, there are no more options. This will be the first time that a nation goes extinct through economic inaction! Even when Syriza won, instead of going after their predecessors, instead of sitting down and getting to the tax evaders, we see (at http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/europe/article4358352.ece) “The country’s financial crimes police, the SDOE, had begun shredding scores of documents linked to cases of corruption. What remained was stuffed in bin bags and discarded outside the bureau’s headquarters in Athens, in public view” the title ‘Greece shreds files on tax cheating by rich and powerful‘ Kostas Vaxevanis reported this on February 19th 2015. So, why was there no prosecution here? The entire debacle on tax evasion has been treated like a joke by 4 previous administrations, so as they cut their own jugulars, why allow for just a half way approach? So far this Greek administration has not done anything to give ample faith that there will be any level of resolution. Then we get “Greece has made clear its willingness to engage in continued economic overhaul, and has welcomed Europe’s help in implementing some of them“, is that so? So far there has been no overhaul at all, the public sector cuts were undone by rehiring. Greece needs to lower its cost by a massive amount. In all that time, which of the over 2000 of wealthy Greeks ended up in court for tax evasion (from Swiss bank accounts), perhaps one? Oh the Journalist Kostas Vaxevanis ended in the dock too, a massive miscarriage of Justice as I see it!

The one part I do agree with is the dangers of Greece exiting “I believe such views significantly underestimate the current and future risks involved“, this is true, but Greece can no longer be trusted to do what they stated to do and as such, some of the players prefer to get out, before the total debt grows with another 20% which is basically no more than a year away. There is not concrete evidence that the economy will truly pick up and those who have enabled this debt driven event are not held to account either (that small matter of a massive amount of Greek bonds on the market).

Then the last part “The ECB president Mario Draghi’s confidence trick, in the form of his declaration in 2012 that the monetary authorities would do “whatever it takes” to preserve the euro, has worked so far. But the knowledge that the euro is not a binding commitment among its members will make it far less likely to work the next time“, yes, how did it work? By spending a trillion or more one areas that are still not recuperating and will need at least a decade to regain the trillion that was spent in under a year? How is that anywhere near a workable solution?

In all this, whatever should work might have worked to a degree if politicians would control their budgets and that financial institutions would not be as greed driven as they are, which is why it all failed. When we see the quote “16 banks in five years to the end 2014 reveal £30bn increase in payouts, fines and legal bills on previous five-year period to end 2013” and this is linked to a total of well over £200bn. Lloyds alone got £117m in fines, how is this linked? Well, such losses means no taxation in the books as profits are gone, whilst many involved walked out with enough money (read: bonus) to pay their full mortgage in places like Golders Green.

Mr Stiglitz never lies or misinforms, but his view is incomplete. It is very dependent on the people involved doing the right and the correct thing. Politicians and bankers tend to be not those kind of people, Greece has shown it, Gordon Brown has spent it now the Conservatives need to repair the damage, Prime Minister Tsipras is ‘forced’ to play a high stakes game, whilst those involved are no longer willing to give leeway. In my view, that game should never have been played in the first place. By setting austerity, whilst going after the Greeks and their wealth benefitting from all this was perhaps one of the few acts that could have opened wallets all over the place, that act was never done, which is why many see that meeting half way is not really an option.

Austerity might seem unfair, and it is not fair on the payers at present, but someone opened a tap whilst the bulk of those knowing what was going on should have spoken out, and spoken out very loud. This was not done, so behold the consequence of that little caper.

There is one gem in his article at the end that is part of the entire Euro mess, which is fun as I have raised it a few times over the last few years. Not bad for a person devoid of an economics degree!

He states: “Europe’s leaders viewed themselves as visionaries when they created the euro. They thought they were looking beyond the short-term demands that usually preoccupy political leaders. Unfortunately, their understanding of economics fell short of their ambition; and the politics of the moment did not permit the creation of the institutional framework that might have enabled the euro to work as intended. Although the single currency was supposed to bring unprecedented prosperity, it is difficult to detect a significant positive effect for the Eurozone as a whole in the period before the crisis. In the period since, the adverse effects have been enormous

This is true, the one part I have an issue with is ‘Europe’s leaders viewed themselves as visionaries when they created the Euro‘. I think Europe’s leaders had nothing to do with that part. I have always viewed this change as an essential; step by the US. Their benefit of trade with a single currency was titanic in proportions, in addition, the US would keep its option to float the currency as any economy tends to do in times of hardship, whilst the nations that are part of the euro are part of a collective, which removes the option of floating a currency. This was centre in the additional growth (or diminished fall) for the US, yet, even they did not bank on the credit swap meltdown, which did hurt them. The US is getting better, but their 18 trillion in debt is choking them, even with the option to float the dollar, the Euro in the massive debt it is, can only remove the debt by paying it, which is strangling France and Italy. The UK is dealing with it, and the Euro is hurting them, but not as much as being part of the Euro is. Which is just my view on it all.

As I stated in the beginning, the articles are incomplete, misstated, not by inaccuracies, but by incompleteness, which is why people have the skewed view they seem to have at present. In the austerity path, which is unfair to some, we need to add the legal premise and the legal definitions as well as legal obstructions to remove the option of overspending to the degree that was done, we need to make sure that the law will not allow for such overstretching ever again, when that is done, we will return to times when there is hardship, but when there are good times we will all feel it too, in my view, the push of the financial sector to remove the season of ‘financial winter’ resulted in the banks getting by and the rest suffering, this must never be allowed ever again!

 

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Is it illogical?

Today the news is all about Greece, not because they are getting it done, but because they are now less than 24 hours away from a 450 million euro invoice and whilst Prime Minister Tsipras stated that they have the cash to make the next payment (at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-04/greece-has-cash-to-make-imf-payment-next-week-minister-says), of course, that statement is now an issue as we wonder why Tsipras took the fast plane to Moscow.

In other news (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/06/varoufakis-extends-washington-charm-offensive-after-talks-with-lagarde), where ‘rock star’ Varoufakis is smiling all over the place. the quote “The hope is he will gain the support of Treasury officials in persuading lenders to cut Greece some slack” seems highly misplaced as the Greek elected officials have been sitting on their hands in feigned acts of ‘activity’. Yet the article shows two interesting quotes. The first one is “it has been openly critical of a German-dominated Europe pushing the country too hard on austerity and fearful of the effects that might have on European unity. A Grexit would spin the markets out of control. It is the last thing Washington wants“. It seems that the US might have issues with the German approach of reducing debt. You see, that hits the bottom dollar, the US can only partially recover if THEIR banks get the slice of the multi trillion dollar debt Europe has, once the debt goes down, their income slows down by a large margin.

The second part here is the market response to Grexit. Yes, the US has a fair point trying to limit that event, but this implies the following:

  1. I had been correct for well over a year in my statements that a tumble of the Euro would massively hit the Dollar and the market.
  2. The fact that the Greek exit, with 500 billion in debt has SUCH an impact, whilst the Greek economy makes up for less than 2% of the European economy implies that the European nations at large are borrowed up to the max and this first stone falling, gives us a domino effect that will wound the market for a longer time, which means the US holier-than-thou DOW will also feel the massive impact one way or another.

If economies at large are THIS dependent on that Dow Jones Index, then what failures are we going to see in addition to Greece?

The second quote that is interesting is: “Varoufakis, was scheduled to meet Nathan Sheets, US Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, two days before Tsipras heads to Moscow for talks with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday“. This is interesting for the simple reason which is found in the question: Why?

You see, when we look at Nathan Sheets, the treasury page (at http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2640.aspx) gives us: “Sheets will lead Treasury’s Office of International Affairs, which protects and supports U.S. economic prosperity by strengthening the external environment for U.S. growth, preventing and mitigating global financial instability, and managing key global challenges“, so why was Varoufakis meeting Nathan Sheets? Is he not all up in arms to protect Greece from collapsing? Which might be the same goal both have, but that gives extra weight to second implication I mentioned, the Greek debt has far fetching consequences, so why would a flight to Russia have any positive result for Greece, it would suit Russia just fine to see the DOW tumble. So unless Greece is making a deal that includes the option of a Russian base on Greek grounds, we should consider the possibility of watching a linked smoke screen we see here.

That conclusion (the smoke screen) is given weight by the following quote we see in another Guardian article: “Mrs Lagarde … stressed that, in Greece’s case, the Fund is willing to show utmost flexibility in the way in which the government’s reforms and fiscal proposals will be evaluated“, as well as “It added that in separate meetings, US Treasury officials who also met Varoufakis expressed the willingness of the US government to play the role of an ‘honest broker’ in helping Greece to strike a deal with its lenders“.

The question becomes, flexibility in which direction? That question follows the ‘honest broker‘ offer from US treasury officials. If this was (very likely), the Nathan Sheets meeting, then we get a new issue, not just who gets the brokered deal and at which percentage, we now see a second instance where IMF and US needs meet hand in hand. Did we not see a similar evolution with Argentina? If that is so, then who is catering whom and how much will it cost the Greeks, when the actual full invoice is revealed after a massive black out through smoke screens, miscommunications and incomplete data. Yes, those are presumptions on my side, but when you recall the Argentinian debacle, where they were pushed towards vulture funds, after IMF help was denied through a request by the US, many press members did not properly follow up that part and no clear information was ever published, so are my assumptions that far out of bounds?

Now we get to the interesting part. You see, he Guardian has another piece by Phillip Inman titled ‘IMF needs to see the bigger picture – that debt can choke off growth‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/apr/07/imf-needs-to-see-the-bigger-picture-that-debt-can-choke-off-growth). Here we see the following parts that are a decent chunk of sizzling debate that we can charcoal grill in an instant. “Yet the remedies outlined by the IMF to counter the threat of persistent low growth in Britain and other developed world economies, as documented in that report, show that debt influences growth and in extremis can choke it off” as well as “the IMF says the world’s major economies risk a long period of low growth unless governments do more to overcome the after-effects of the financial crisis and the longer-term problem of ageing populations“.

I do not deny the correctness of the statements, but the statements are all extremely short sighted, especially when you consider that the people making the statements are on high 6-7 figure incomes. Let us not forget that these governments decided to get themselves in debt and that for well over a decade, no proper budget has been pushed through. It was Germany and Germany alone, that tightened their own belt by a lot and as such they have been enjoying lessened interest payments, which is now saving them billions each year. The second part is that ‘overcome the after-effects of the financial crisis’ is all about proper budgeting, which has gone amiss all over Europe (not just in Greece), in addition ‘longer-term problem of ageing populations‘ is not completely a valid concern as this had been known for well over a decade, which means that plans should have been in place for a long time.

Now we get to the interesting part. As governments on a global scale were so eager to be the bitch of large corporations, the involved governments painted themselves in a corner. Yet, the IMF is not innocent here either, I had a go on their numbers in 2013, when they had published ‘World Economic Outlook April 2013‘ (at http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2013/01/pdf/text.pdf), where they stated that advanced economies would be performing at 1.2% in 2013 and 2.2% in 2014. I pretty much labelled the group behind that piece of ….paper ‘bonkers’, now we see “Looking forward, the IMF said potential growth in advanced economies was expected to increase slightly from an average of about 1.3% a year in the last six years to 1.6% until 2020, but not reach the 2.25% average seen between 2001 and 2007“, So this means I was right, my simple use of an abacus got me numbers more precise than they did with their ‘economists’ that they bunched like grapes in an analytics department. I did expect numbers to be a lot better in 2016, but that was based on the limited information I had, irresponsible elected officials did skew my numbers more in a negative way, silly me for having hope that elected officials would keep a level head in all this. Serves me right!

Yet, behind all this is a little more. It is the quote “But growth is not the only way to diminish or pay back debts. Cancelling them is another. Banks do it with their worst performing customers. Unfortunately for Greece, the IMF refuses to use the same criteria as Lloyds or RBS would when confronted by a failed business” that gets to me. As an assumed speculation this path is not a bad option, and any Journalist has my blessing to entertain such a thought in the proper context. But this article does not do that, it is left in the air at the end of an opinion piece, without proper merit. This makes me wonder why Phillip Inman economics correspondent added this. Just to give visibility to his book? I seriously doubt that, the statement in the air is the issue in this, perhaps like me he is postulating that the ‘forgiving’ of debts is what certain banks are hoping for, because it puts them in the clear and leaves the debt with the underwriting governments, a step Germany is opposing rigorously (and rightly so).

What is in my view decently clear is the prediction I made earlier, that Greece is playing Possum in the 11th hour is coming to fruition, my issue becomes, why is the Greek population accepting this and why is there no proper investigations in lighting up all the sides on how previous Greek administrations accepted tons of debt without any decent exit plan. In my view, Antonis Samaras was sailing the only path that had the option of keeping the Greek population independent and proud, a plan that is certainly becoming less and less a reality under Tsipras, because no matter what happens next, whether it is feigned forgiven debt or any Russian deal, there will be consequences for the Greek population at large, an issue ignored by most players involved, especially their elected officials.

 

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Enabling cybercrime!

Yes, we are all in the unintentional habit to enable cybercrime. Yet what complications do we face when the one enabling it is not you, me or Joe Worker, but Microsoft or Apple? Where do we stand when we are confronted by companies, so driven by what I consider the useless drive of greed through Marketing, whilst ignoring the technical support department? Do not claim that it does not happen, because I have been witness to such events (though not personally at Microsoft or Apple).

It did not just start with the affair of the 101 nude celebrities, yet it is at the core of the visibility that it drives. It is not with the push by so many to get forced towards Google Search and Facebook Messenger, but that is definitely the debatable event pushing the worry, fear and quite honestly the total distrust of greed and marketability that is overtaking what some seem to laughingly refer to as ‘technological improvements‘.

In this age, we see a growing drive for ease and ‘comfort’, yet a lot seems to be enabling cybercrime and exploitation.

We got the ‘Fear Google‘ event and the expose with a non-dressed Jennifer Lawrence has been cancelled (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/jennifer-lawrence-and-kate-upton-nude-photos-exhibition-cancelled-after-artist-finally-concedes-the-images-were-stolen-property-9723751.html).

Perhaps I am too much of a cynic, but the text “Though not, says the artist behind it, due to legal reasons. But instead because he’s had a moral change of heart“, how about the truth (as I consider it to be), ‘the pressure of Jennifer Lawrence has given my expose ALL the publications I needed‘. Seems to be more honest, also, the fact that her lawyer Lawrence Shire, especially if he is the Shire related to Grubman Shire, might have taken away whatever courage he thought he had to continue. I leave it up to the reader to form their own mind.

Yet this is not about that, but it could be.

Consider the following issue, which I witnessed myself today. The setting is simple. She uses her smartphone and for the most never ever uses Skype. Yet, she has a Skype account on her notebook. She needed Skype on her mobile, which was easy enough, yet after installing it, we have lost 4 hours and half a dozen attempts to reset her password.

Skype1

 

 

 

 

 

  1. We enter Skype.
  2. Password lost, which means another browser.
  3. We enter mail details.
  4. We use the received code to enter a new password
  5. We go to Skype, yet the linked identity does not work.
  6. We start again from step 2.

As you can see in the diagram, for some reason, the Skype name and the android Skype are not updated or linked. Even as a technologist it took me a while to see through this and Microsoft is not much help either. If we consider I had dozens of attempts without any repercussions, how long until someone starts trying to get into someone that actually matters?

The issue I showed two days ago (at http://thenextweb.com/apple/2014/09/01/this-could-be-the-apple-icloud-flaw-that-led-to-celebrity-photos-being-leaked/) gave some indications of what is going on. Now we see another level on Skype that calls certain matters into question, more important that the Skype android cannot get updated for some reason, so there is even more going on now, especially as the issues surrounding android Skype seem to have been around since 2012.

This is not the only issues that are out on the works; it seems that Microsoft OneDrive has similar issues of security. There we see that you cannot limit the one drive to be ONLY accessible by certain devices, with cyber-crime on the rise to this degree, we see another mass collecting point, where the people behind it seem to be dancing to the music of Marketing and the mere simplistic need of the matter, as a technologist would mention it is not there. It is likely the same kind of answer I heard in the past “We will get to that in the next edition” or “Let’s get this ‘solution to’ (read revenue from) the customer first“, solutions where the technologist is not at the centre of it all.

Only AFTER some got to admire the Jennifer Lawrence’s chest section do we now see the headline “Apple Says It Will Add New iCloud Security Measures After Celebrity Hack” (at http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/04/apple-says-it-will-add-new-security-measures-after-celebrity-hack/), so is this Marketing waking up, or was IT slamming their fist on the table? Either way, those pushing people and business alike to cloudy places of automatic public revelations should now seriously wake up and smell the intrusion on their networks.

Several of these solutions are still not completely up and running, and the ‘patch’ like solutions in place now, are likely no more than a temporary option, whilst the cyber-criminal goes on exploiting other venues of weaknesses. Let’s not forget that the 101 celebrities list sounds nice, but there are globally at least 399 more women who are beautiful beyond believe, and those not into that kind of information are likely interested in the files of Sir Iain Robert Lobban (GCHQ), Andrew Parker (MI5), John Sawers (MI6). Guess what! They are likely to have very secure solutions in their possession, yet can the same be said for Ewen Stevenson (CFO-RBS) or Simon Henry (CFO Lloyds Banking group)? These people all use solutions for presentations, memo’s and other items. In some cases they need connections to keep up and running. How long until we see the power of Cyber criminals as they influence the market? It just takes one unconfirmed message to make a shift in any direction. If people are scared of what a Lone Wolf can do by blowing up things, think of the damage of disclosed financial events bring. We have seen the smallest of restraint in the press in the case of Jennifer Lawrence (but only by using a super computer and exposing the deeds of the members of the press to the Lyapunov stability algorithm), but is that enough?

There is a growing sense of fear and massive distrust. We have seen it start with Facebook Messenger on the mobile, we have seen some people whisk it all away, yet not unlike the laughable Sony Troll, as they mentioned the ridiculousness of the changed terms of service from Sony, we have seen too much blatant abuse from the greed driven data collectors and now, as trust is gone, more people are starting to wonder why their own local governments aren’t truly looking into it and they fear the same flaccid indecisiveness from them when the Financial sector left a large group of the population (not just in America) in utter destitution.

It goes beyond mere ethics; it is an absolute absence of dedication towards consumer protection for the prospering board of directors, which is at the essential fearing heart of many, both wealthy and utterly non wealthy alike.

This all is getting now more and more visibility as we see the growing amount of people in their ‘right to be forgotten‘, yet as we see at the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/sep/10/google-europe-explain-right-forgotten-eric-schmidt-article-29) we see the following quote “Google is currently conducting a grand tour of Europe, with the ten members of its Advisory Council touring seven cities to gather evidence on the developments in the so-called “right to be forgotten” ruling“, in addition we see “The one thing that everyone agrees about this case is that the label it has been given – the “right to be forgotten” – is a very poor descriptor. More accurately, it is about the right to obscure or suppress personal information“, so is that it, or is there more? Well we can consider the part where the absence of any legal obligation on Google to reveal its processes, which renders Google judge, jury, and executioner. So in combination that it is not about forgetting (read deleting), but about obscuring (read less easy to find) will leave an open field for those with better data comprehension. A market where Google is trying to cash in, so instead of everyone finding it, only those paying for certain levels will more easily acquire information. That is not what ‘right to be forgotten‘ was about. Now again we see the press, yet in this case they are not really placed in any blame, however there is a (sizeable) missing level of clarity on what EXACTLY is requested from more than one side, the un-clarity leads to uncertainty with that leading to nothing getting done. So what is in play?

We know that Google’s fortunes are also linked to data, which means that any additional ‘forget me now’ request is impacting the business of Google, not the one, or the 5, but consider every postcode in the world and 5-10 requests from each of those to be forgotten, now it becomes a massive task, requiring thousands of people, working thousands of hours, paid from the at that point medium slim lined coffers of Google, whilst at the same time having to hold onto those records for later reasons, likely including journalistically and/or juridical. So as we look at all these escalations, then Skype, OneDrive and iCloud are not just three identities, they become three entities of threat of the collected data of all, the privacy of them and whether forgotten or not, they are aware of where they kept their information, passwords and snapshots.

The view of technology every person needs to start comprehending, because they all forgot that ease and comfort come at a price, they just did not consider the currency that was linked to that price. Some of this can be seen in the Lifehacker who in February 2013 (at http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2013/02/why-cloud-services-are-so-easy-to-hack/) write “In most cloud environments, there’s no concept of intrusion detection or prevention, and if they are there people don’t know how to use them“, in itself not that amazing a quote, even though it is a year old and in one year many people tend to not educate themselves that much because of the declining comfort levels. Yet at the end he states a more powerful issue: “This week, I’m in London for Data Centre World, paying particular attention to how to maximise efficiency and lower costs in the data centre“, which is at the heart of my issue. Often these factors involve automation and scripting, which when it comes to issues like speed and the prominence of reduced cost tends to leave security in the backdrop. So if you had any reason to fear any of these solutions, then consider one issue “If all your cloud data became public knowledge at 23:00 and in the 8 hours following you had ZERO control“. Would you be worried? If not then sleep on and sweet dreams, if the answer is ‘Yes’, then you need to take some serious time and get educated on the risks and the consequences. I cannot answer the question for you, but when was the last time you actually had such a conversation with your IT person, or with the sales engineer of the sales person who sold you the cloud solution?

Data is currency, when it is open knowledge for all; you end up only having goodwill and an empty hard drive, which is valued at the price of the empty hard drive.

 

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Exploitation fears for tax-payers

The Dutch NOS reported another go with banks in the view of business. Bernhard Wientjes has been voicing the opinion that some of the banks (ABN/AMRO and SNS Reaal) should be sold. It was brought in the air of ‘when you have no more money you start selling the silver cutlery’ would be the next step. As the Dutch government needs to cut 6 billion, the cutting spree could be a lot less. Well, in this matter I personally stand with Finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem who is not that eager to do that. There is logic for not doing this, as this relief would be for one year only and after that the cuttings would still need to be found next year. I am worried that certain business men are now in a state to strong hand certain political decisions. I leave it up to the reader whether those decisions are purely for the need of greed.

If business is linked to greed (often called ‘enterprising solutions’) then that would clearly fit in the views of Bernhard Wientjes. As chairman of the VNO-NCW it would be an enterprising solution that is right up his alley. The VNO-NCW is a fusion of the VNO (League of Dutch Commercial Enterprises) and the NCW (Dutch Christian Business Society). Their mission is to support and further the needs of Dutch corporations both on a National and international level. In this he is doing exactly what he is expected to do.

Yet, in this light, at a point where two banks would be sold far below value and at the expense of the tax-payers, one should clearly ask and look at the possible windfall for Bernhard Wientjes and his friends should this work out in that way.

There is a clear valid question whether the Dutch Silver cutlery is currently in a safe position. The reality of 6 billion of cutbacks will start to show a strangling result, yet, this was the danger all along when previous political alliances (2006-2010) were clearly pushing the outstanding invoice forward. Now that there are no more options, the consequences are likely to be dire, and as such in his position Bernhard Wientjes is clearly trying to look forward for Dutch corporations. I see this specific step as a dangerous one and until Dutch banks are clearly on a minimum set standard nothing should change. In addition, I am all in favour at present to keep these institutions nationalised to prevent their boards to just seek additional high risk gains at anyone’s expense to meet personal commission goals, whilst ignoring local needs (mortgages and such).

Even seeing these banks as possible training steps for younger jobseekers on the dole, to give them short term jobs whilst staying on the dole, would give them additional food for job experience. The answers that some view that this is not how it is supposed to be, I would counter, with ‘what solutions do you have?’. We need to change the way we think and operate. Instead of trying to balance which pocket the money is coming from, we should accept that the money is coming from the suit the government wears and see how far we can walk with this suit. Instead of staying on principle of keeping tabs what pocket it comes from, use the principle of it comes from us anyway and focus on instilling knowledge and experience. That will strengthen the young to get a good shot in getting something better with a decent chance. If you have any doubt, then consider that the Netherlands is only one of 3 countries where youth unemployment rates are below 10%. Many of the Southern European countries are way over 40%. If the future of youth employment is about experience, then make sure that the youth are getting a running start now is going to be important down the line. If their future could be a decent job in Germany, then giving them an edge as they compete with desperate youthful jobseekers from Spain, Italy or Greece is essential. Do not think that those kids are any less. Those who graduated from Universidad Complutense de Madrid are more than top Notch. 7 of their graduates ended up with a Nobel price and graduates from there ended up with 2 dozen of other internationally acclaimed awards. So, if we are looking at future events, getting the youth ready NOW will be an essential step.

Yet, this week has even more issues involving banks. A report that is due to be released tomorrow on advised banking changes. The ‘advice’ is to change the mortgage market. In the Netherlands it is currently possible to get a 105% mortgage so that the house and the notary costs and change of owner registration can all be covered. The commission chaired by Herman Wijfels is now advocating that the mortgage cannot be any higher than 80%. This is to prevent that the debt of selling a house at loss would end up hitting the banks. It seems that the banks are all over their need for ‘securing’ for the little man (read the average consumer). Taking into account that the average house in the Netherlands is around $350,000 the question, especially in this era of lack of funds is where on earth will a person get $70,000 in savings when the Dutch taxation system makes it almost impossible to get that kind of money saved up. They also mentioned that this should not be done until the housing market is stronger and prices are on the rise. Like that will help people to get the money. It is interesting that there is no mention of the much more reliable and fair Swedish system. Perhaps the report due out tomorrow will mention it, but I have not been privy to the full report. In the Swedish system a house often has a two tiered mortgage. You have the bottom part which envisions the gross off it (let’s say 80% for argument sake) at a low base percentage. The rest goes into the top part. Now that part (in my case) was almost 2.5% interest higher, but the mortgage was 105% covered. So instead of the unaffordable savings needs, we have a slightly higher mortgage. So, even if we have to accept a slightly cheaper house, we at least can get a house and not be looking at houses, never being able to afford any of it. The question becomes on what it was about. The fact that a report leaks is no news, but that the report leaks just around the same time Bernhard Wientjes is making a play to sell banks is a rather convenient coincidence.

These events are important to consider. This is because the same issues are playing in the UK. Consider that Lloyds is in need of an extension as they are selling 631 branches. This and the issues around the Royal Bank of Scotland do have links, as the UK government needs to cut cost by a lot more than 6 billion (having a Trillion in deficit makes that an awkward necessity). So will we see the same play as some are now seeing if they can sell banking interests at no more than tuppence on the pound? There is absolutely no known plans at present (in case you got scared or overly enthusiastic), but the issues remain, and the solution as such would be there in equal measure. To allow the young unemployed to become part of the bank on internships and training places, so that we can offer a solution where those seeking jobs will have actual work experience in their CV. These measures might seem small, yet the confidence boost that the younger jobseekers gain, could be the winning factor. In addition, extra hands, helping to boost the value of these banks would mean that when sold, they will go for a much better and more realistic value then they are currently set at. All this in a combined effort to strengthen commonwealth economy and their assets, for the simple reason that the European Economic outlook remains grim at best and relying on overly confident reports of economic prospects, that get downgraded quarter after quarter is not doing anyone any good.

 

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RBS of the Clan Goldman Sachs?

Well today the light shines a little brighter. As I was watching Sky News, I now see a stronger and more enthusiastic run to get these bankers under some kind of rational control. Will it work? Time will tell, however there is a start, and it might not take long until a strong voice could stem the tide of greed to a small extent.

We are however nowhere near a good solution. Mr Osborne (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) is about to take a page from a legally valid solution to divide the bank into 2 parts, a good and a bad bank. Yes, Mr Osborne, that will really help to take these billions of bad debt and add them to the tax payer’s burden! Not really a solution, is it?

To add other news moments that the UK economy is out of intensive care is not just wrong; it is a bad insight close to that of the Titanic playing chicken with an iceberg. No, I stand corrected. This decision is worse. You see, the Titanic had a few survivors; this approach might leave people alive, but destitute for a very long time.

So yes, there is a chance that the Royal Bank of Scotland will join Clan Goldman Sachs.

The idea of shares, making public and so on are ideas. I am not in favour of them, but perhaps Mr Osborne does not have a choice. You know, it is unfair for me to just complain, lay blame and not have a solution. What could be done is to keep the RBS nationalised, and remain an operating bank. Do a proper bank job by giving out small loans, do banking functions for those with jobs and create jobs. Also, the money that the RBS bank makes is used to pay off the debts, the bad loans and even create tax fortunes this way. Why not?

It is not like the banks at present are doing anywhere near a decent job.

The so called stated fact that the economy is in a better shape by stating: “Nothing better signals Britain’s move from rescue to recovery than the fact that we can start to plan for our exit from Government share ownership to private ownership.” is in my view horribly wrong. The fact that the UK is not in the red at present is just fortunate (and at less than 0.5%). The fact that most of Europe is down and there is no realistic view that this will improve within 18-24 months is not realistic. I read the claims that some made over the last two years. Good news was always bad news in the end and results had to be corrected downwards every single time. To rely on that a belief that the UK is now in a stage of recovery is in my humble opinion a case of really bad judgement.

How about playing it safe? Instead of quickly selling the good bank so that irresponsible banks can continue to endanger the lives of too many, hold on to it, make it stronger and get it into a shape where it is worth a lot more than it is now.

The current ‘noise’ that bankers are being chased for criminal charges are nice claims to make, yet the true culprits did what they did, and they never broke the law. Until the law changes, they are out of reach. The small fry we do get to prosecute will get nowhere near the punishment that is due. It is best reflected by Paul Moore, former head of Risk, HBOS. “The banking crises drove 100.000.000 people into poverty“. He is correct, what was done should be criminal and those involved require insane levels of punishment. Yet, as I reflected earlier, that will not happen. Lawyer Sidney Myers seems to be in agreement (or more precisely, I am in agreement with him). Mr Myers is not just a somebody in this field. As the head of Berwin, Leighton and Paisner this man wield a formidable legal cricket bat. It would make Colin Cowdrey instantly humble. Mr Sidney Myers is listed as one of the top 500 lawyers, this in a field that has over 120.000 practising lawyers, so we are in well informed top tier company.

To get a person convicted is near impossible. Getting the group convicted must proof all guilty, neither seems to be a realistic possibility at present. So we need to see a legal overhaul that changes the game, and selling of Lloyds and the RBS before that moment is in my humble opinion not a good idea. Sir George Mathewson, former CEO of the RBS has that same view (in regards to the legal prosecuting). He did however state an interesting line. “Where the information is made clear to the board and the shareholders” this comes to collected responsibility. The interesting part is what information? To get a clue on that, we should look at a book called ‘how to lie with statistics‘ written by Darrell Huff in 1954. It is a gem, an eye opener and it actually shows today’s problems. If we react to numbers and if numbers are ‘not incorrectly’ tweaked, then how is managed risk not anything less than misrepresented risk?

The bulk of data miners will look at profitability, but profitability of whom and how?

Uniting the views of Paul Moore and Darell Huff gives us part of this problem. Separate the data miner from the board of directors and we create a Star Chamber situation that lacks accountability for the simple reason that no laws can be proven to be broken. That danger, until countered gives reason for the now nationalised banks to remain as they are. SNS Reaal in the Netherlands is in that same scope. Until legal secure measures are firmly in place, protecting the taxpayer from irresponsible risks, other banks should not be allowed to continue, especially AFTER they move part of their failures into a bad bank.

The idea that the PM David Cameron has mentioned about selling the RBS at a loss is just not an option in my view. They should continue in the setting they are now, offering financial solutions to the UK citizens at lowest base +1% could over time turn the RBS and Lloyds into banks that are no longer in the red. Other banks have no reason and right to complain. They have been making customer services nearly impossible. To get a grip on that, take a look at The Netherlands where getting a mortgage reads like a tale no less imaginary then ‘the Hobbit’. As banks have been banking on higher levels of return on investments, smaller businesses and individuals suffered. They have no issue with credit cards as they charge 11-12%, however getting a mortgage seems to be a lot harder. So as customers come to the rescue of the RBS as they switch credit cards for 6-7% which will aid the government to get RBS back on their feet and even add some coinage into the treasury’s coffers (with a 1 trillion deficit), this could be a possible good solution. Are there any banks complaining? Well, that is the way the cookie crumbles. It is time for them to face the consequences of unadulterated greed.

The issue of holding bonuses for 10 years does sound nice in theory, however, how about appellant case HQ09X04007 and HQ09X05230. A case settled in the Court of Appeal by Lord Justice Elias and Lord Justice Beatson? A case where 104 members, were due their 50 million Euro in bonuses.

In that case I found this: “Bonus awards for all front and middle office employees who received a letter in December stating their provisional award, which was subject to Dresdner Kleinwort’s financial performance targets, will be cut by 90% pro rata to the stated provisional amount.

However their contract had this little hidden gem “It is common ground that all the claimants, including the three whose employment agreements did not contain any provision with regard to payment of a discretionary bonus, Messrs Sacre, Honeywood and Daley, had a contractual entitlement to be considered for the award of a discretionary bonus.” (Source: Case note)

How soon will that case get quoted in another court case to get a bonus freed up? Some miscommunication through contracts where no one is accountable, yet the bonus is immediately payable? Another option could be that these senior members will start playing musical chairs with friendly banks, switching each year all protecting one another stopgapping large bonuses on an annual basis (in their favour of course).

So how long until we get some level of miscommunication going on? If we accept the journal of Ronald Green from 1993 ‘Shareholders as Stakeholders: Changing Metaphors of Corporate Governance‘ and if we accept that banks and financial institutions fall in that category, then their responsibility is to profit, not to accountability, which means that their acts will focus on non-accountability to endure ruling of profitability. The latter part would be my take on the works of Milton Friedman.

There is the crux. Until serious changes are made to separate the banks, the profit in regards to  stakeholders and shareholders, whilst increasing a banks social responsibility, the cut-throat business they now do and the taxpayer currently pays for will continue.

 

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