Tag Archives: Netherlands

Retrenching under false pretence

Today we see (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/mar/01/len-mccluskey-ford-unite-tariff-free-single-market-access-bridgend), how Ford is moving its needs and its projections towards other places. It fill the pattern and projected promise that have been set in motion a few years ago. The US is moving parts back to the US and some parts to Asia. Australia had been feeling this for some time. Ford left Australia in 2016 when in October the last Falcon XR6 came of the belt. Now we see the beginning of their exodus from the UK and in this the title ‘Unite blames Brexit as Ford prepares to cut 1,160 Welsh jobs‘ is as they call it, a total load of bullocks! You see, this is the other side of a one market and tariff free access. You see, as these costs fall away, making these 4 wheeled thingamajigs in America becomes profitable again. Now, let’s be fair, Ford is an American company. For American companies to move back to their home turf makes sense, it could even be seen as patriotic. But in all this, Ford remains a business. So they need profit to soar and that can be done by having their factories in America and Asia. Brexit was never a factor, Australia never had a Brexit.

Is there a chance that Brexit was any factor? I do not believe so, the UK is not yet in a completed Brexit and it would take a few years before all would be complete, so there is no Issue for Ford, in their camp it was already planned, the entire pressure on Brexit is just tactics, because the US is scared of what comes next, so for the US, in light of the upcoming French elections, the anti-Brexit pressures are essential. The game is changing in France. President Francois Hollande is not seeking a second term, according to the BBC the first French president to do this in modern times (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39130072), he is that unpopular and as such France is seeing several different issues and power plays in place. With one in four under-25’s is unemployed. So even as all parties agree that massive changes are needed, the Socialist failure gives rise to additional voices moving towards Front National. In all this, we see additional moves. We could even consider that this is a partial discriminatory ruling. The EU claims to be all about the freedom of speech and freedom of opinion, yet they will happily lift parliamentary immunity for the French prosecution to take legal action. We can argue the validity here in two ways. One: Marine Le Pen did break French law. Two: how many other French people have been prosecuted for ‘publishing violent images’? I would really like to see the numbers on that one. So as we will see big data mining on transgressors, I wonder how many have not been investigated, which shows that the EU is very willing to upset the sanctity of a fair election, especially as those deciding on this are likely to lose their jobs when Frexit becomes a reality.

So as we see through the (what I personally regard to be) blatant lies by Ford, or better stated by Len McCluskey, and in this as Ford is not forthcoming they get to be tainted by the very same lie. The quote “UK’s biggest trade union has urged Theresa May to guarantee car makers tariff-free access to the single market“, in this I would state ‘Mr McCluskey, are you usually just facilitating for big business?‘, you see, as I see it, Ford is using Len McCluskey not for the plant, not for the single market access ‘need’. No, they want to sweeten the deal! They need other concessions, like the ones they had in Australia. ABC Australia (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-17/tax-transparency-report/7036708) gave the people a Tax Transparency report. Where: FORD MOTOR COMPANY OF AUSTRALIA LTD, had a Total income ($) of 2,940,670,099 (so basically almost $3 Billion), a Taxable income ($) of a mere 7,057,051. This means that 99.9917% of the income did not need to be taxed. So as we see: Tax payable, Tax payable as percentage of total income, as well as Tax payable as percentage of taxable income. These numbers become zero (that means $0.00 and 0.00%). So is Len McCluskey going to open his eyes? Is he going to realise that he is made the bitch of big business that requires the UK government to give away taxable income in the form of free labour? Perhaps Len McCluskey remembers what slave labour is? All valid questions, more important, if this is the path Ford wants, why not let then fuck off to merry old America? Let’s be fair and honest. America is in dire need of actual jobs and an actual economy. They are bleeding currency value and as such, if American companies decide to retrench in the US to save their home country, than that should be regarded as a noble action. Yet, these companies are run by boards that have one need, dividend and bonuses. Let’s also be honest here, these people don’t make any massive coin, not compared to a few other fortune 500 companies. The top executives, have an income ranging from $5.2M to $17.7M, which in Wall Street terms might be laughingly little, yet the retrenching has the danger of those people losing 28%-42% of what they are getting now. You see, as the US has a collapsing infrastructure, the strain the US is getting by having these manufacturers move back to the US is going to cause a few infrastructural gaskets to blow. It will not happen overnight, but within 24 months they setbacks will hurt Ford, there is no doubt in my mind on that. The level of setback will be anyone’s guess, I do not have any wisdom that could state to any degree of certainty how much the impact is. Yet, when you consider that Ford is working on a 3.9% operating margin (2014 reported numbers) and they walked away from an Australian 99.9917% non-taxation, we should wonder on how they tend to do economically more terrific in the US. It seems to me that the US retrenching has either massive kickbacks, or will come at the consequence of short sightedness and long term hardship. The numbers do not makes sense to walk away from either, but the clarity is that fingering Brexit was not the reason. But then, Ford did not do that, they got

Len McCluskey to do just that. It is the part “McCluskey also demanded that Ford provide “legally binding guarantees” of future production at the plant”. It made me giggle. You see if they had not before, why would they do that now? It seems to me that McCluskey, not unlike Kim Carr in Australia, was either in on part of it for a time, or I need to consider them both to be massively incompetent. A legal binding guarantee after the fact. It is just too hilarious! Of course, when the issue collapses and Ford moves, then we get the real issue, because at that point the blame game starts. In Australia, Kim Carr got to play his game and got the reprieve, so when his labour team got replaced by the Australian Liberal Party (the Aussie Tories), he stood back and got to stand playing with his beard thinking ‘not my problem anymore!‘, yet Len McCluskey does not get to be this lucky, when Ford leaves it will be on his plate and the Unite members will have a massive amount of questions, I wonder how many actual answers Len McCluskey will have.

So all these revelations and facts brought to you because someone decided to blame Brexit and I have actually had enough of those blamers. The fact is that there would always be consequences to Brexit, so when I see another ‘bremainer’ demand a Brexit without consequences, I wonder just how stupid some people tend to get. Another side linked to this is seen in the Independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/britain-will-not-contribute-to-eu-budget-if-no-brexit-deal-is-reached-says-lords-report-a7609526.html), here we see ‘Britain will not contribute £50bn to EU budget if no Brexit deal is reached, says Lords report‘, the subtitle is even more descriptive ‘The UK appears to have a strong legal position in respect of the EU budget post-Brexit and this provides important context to the Article 50 negotiations‘. The reason to go here is seen in “According to the Lords, EU budget payments – likely to be a contentious issue throughout the Article 50 negotiating period – would not be enforceable and the UK would be in a “strong” legal position to not pay a penny if talks ended with no deal“, so all the hard play we have seen has been absent of a proper analyses of the articles, something the House of Lords was not about to let go. The quote “Theresa May has warned her European allies that the UK is prepared to crash out of the EU if no reasonable Brexit deal is agreed on. In this case, the Lords add, Britain will not be liable to make any further financial contributions to the budget” also implies that there is a two stream issue within the conservatives. You see, when we see the quote of Theresa May against “David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, said earlier this year that the Government would not rule out making future payments to the EU’s budget in order to secure favourable access to Europe’s markets“. The two streams are ‘let’s be flexible about it all‘ and ‘we have had enough of this‘. The point being that large corporations have been souring the cream pushing European politicians to take emotional stands whilst others are trying to muzzle Mario Draghi and his need to spend a trillion no one has. This now pushes back to the Automotives of the land (including the exiting Ford), I think we need to see that the approach that has been used for too long a time, making some industries holy and non-taxed is not the way to go. Now, there are plenty of people who want certain markets to push forward and to have trade deals in place tends to be a good thing. Yet the part that the media seems to ignore again and again is that these deals benefit large corporations to a massive degree, but others tend to fall between the cracks losing out on all those fringe benefits. It is an injustice that has been seen several times and Brexit would allow for a change that gives a level of fairness to it all (allow does not mean it will happen though). So whilst we can agree that there would possibly be an impact, there are still too many waters stirring, so any level of Brexit blame is very premature. That evidence is given additional support when we consider Reuters news from 2015 (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-ford-asia-idUSKBN0O625Y20150521), it was already forecasted 2 years ago that “When I take a look at Ford’s growth over the next five to 10 years, we believe roughly 60 percent of the growth will be in the Asia Pacific region,” said Dave Schoch, president of Ford’s Asia Pacific region“, which was the first sign that the Ford plants in Australia were at risk. In equal measure, the slowing economy in China saw Ford sales drop, a similar event has been happening in Europe, where the drop is three times higher and here we get the issue. It had a rise for a while and the European numbers looked really good, that is, until you realise that Russia was the only strong contributor to the Ford sales. Yet the Russian slump has been in play and it is now also hurting Ford, whilst the news of ‘rapid recovery unlikely‘ to be at the head of the forecasting table. So when we see Ford media give us (at https://media.ford.com/content/fordmedia/feu/en/news/2017/01/18/ford_s-european-sales-rise-5–in-2016–strong-ford-transit–rang.pdf), “Ford sales rise 5 percent in 2016 to nearly 1.4 million vehicles in its 20 traditional European markets*“, with the reference to Austria, Belgium, Britain, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Romania, Sweden and Switzerland.

Giving us now the one part that the papers were missing. The fact that the sales are not sliding, but the revenue is set to better profitability, in that the element becomes that the UK is only one of 20 nations for Ford and when we add the Ford Authority quote to it from February 20thIn all, the closures terminated nearly 6,000 jobs, although some number of those were merely shifted to lower-cost countries like Spain and Turkey“, as well as “Ford Europe has continued to pare down its workforce, offering “voluntary separation” packages to some 10,000 employees since early last year to help save an estimated $200 million annually” a valid tactical move by Ford going back to well before 2015. So as we see this facts, the entire Ford issue has been playing for a while and a lot of it has been out in the open. So at this point I would ask Len McCluskey where he got the idea “workers had been “kept in the dark”“. I would like to know what actions he had undertaken since December 2015 when this was already underway, more important, the move in Australia should have really woken him up. Did it do that? Because certain facts, clearly given by several sources, some of them openly Ford themselves. It is there where we now see a reason to doubt the existence of both Kim Carr and Len McCluskey (but that is just my view on the matter). Len had the option of making a clear speech to the workers in wales starting by ‘the party is over, there will be massive changes in the future, but we do not know the exact setting, but the worst case scenario is that the plant will seize to exist‘. Did he make that speech? I reckon not, most people like that tend to avoid bad news, especially when events like Brexit can be blamed and that is exactly what he did in the end.

As a final point I need to refer to the quote “We have had, as I said, dialogue with Ford. We will continue to have a regular dialogue with Ford about the ways in which government can help to make sure that this success continues“, which was exactly was happening in Australia, with the happy ending not becoming a reality. There, certain players decided to blame the newly elected liberal government, whilst we clearly see that there is plenty of evidence that Ford had already decided, and the decision was ‘vacate!’

I wonder what McCluskey does next, perhaps blame the Welsh weather?


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Is it merely a need to know?

It is more than just an opinion piece, when we saw the week begin with a piece from George Clooney (yes, that one) and John Prendergast, both responsible for the start of the NGO ‘Not On Our Watch‘, the people might took notice (at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/20/dirty-money-africa-atrocities-uk-banks), the title ‘British banks are go-betweens in global conflict. This can be stopped‘ was even more alluring, but then we see the quote “It is time to act against the kind of corruption that enables governments and armed groups especially in east and central Africa – the deadliest interlinked zone of conflict in the world – to prosecute wars and carry out mass atrocities“, everyone decided to take another nap. Actually, I cannot blame them. It sounds so intense and essential, but if there is one part the population at large does not care about, than it is another corruption article from a place the bulk of the people never cared about it in the first place. Now, this is the plain reality that the people seem to have. Can I blame them? Is it a valid point of view?

This becomes part of the centre that we lose when we see that implied levels of corruption are impeding our quality of life in Europe. I discussed part of it in ‘When a Newspaper gets it wrong‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/02/16/when-a-newspaper-gets-it-wrong/). The article linked here implies a lot, especially when you realise that we are faced with British Champagne stories in an age where any member of the EU mentioning it should not even be allowed to be a member of the EU parliament. Then we get “The National Crime Agency judges that billions of pounds of suspected proceeds of corruption are laundered through the UK each year“, which might be true, might not be true, but most important, when we realise that there is also the quote “the international community has failed to fully deploy the anti-money laundering measures“, I would like to see a comparison on a national level, you see, comparing the UK numbers (where possible) with the numbers of Europe’s largest Transit harbour on the planet (read: Rotterdam) and as such the container laundering schemes where it goes on for more iterations of laundering as the bitcoin is used. So how can we see how much is laundered per nation? Is the UK the big player here? How does the UK compare to the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy and Poland? Can we see those numbers please? You see, as we read “These kinds of financial-pressure measures can help save lives“, the bulk of the readers seem to ignore, or remain ignorant on how the pharmaceutical industry funnels billions, all perfectly legal and as such taxation is avoided. Yes, it makes perfect sense to focus on millions and not address the billions missed. Oh, and perhaps can we see the expected, or predicted time table from the quote “Our team is gathering the evidence needed“, now, let’s be honest, that such a given is next to impossible, but a few changes fought for at present might restore the essential need of legal overhauls, a side that does not seem to make the press that often and more important, the more Clooney stories we get, the less gets overhauled or clearly illuminated that an overhaul is essential. Now the quote we see at the end “a real difference can be made in ending wars in Africa and the mass atrocities that accompany them if we target those that are benefiting financially from the mayhem and suffering“, we can only agree with the principle need. I will not oppose that as such. Yet, it has only been a month since the article at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jan/26/nigerian-oil-pollution-shell-uk-corporations  and as such, when we hear ‘Nigerian oil pollution claims against Shell cannot be heard in UK, court rules‘ and the issues of pollution against the Royal Dutch Shell, we need to take a moment to consider whether the futility that team Clooney and Prendergast (Team CP) is bringing to the media. The given subtitle ‘Campaigners hoped case would pave way for lawsuits to be brought against corporations for actions abroad‘ is another part in that the issues cannot be properly examined. This we see in “Shell has denied liability and argued last November that the challenge involves “fundamentally Nigerian issues” that should be heard in a Nigerian court“, now it is important to know that I did not study the court notes. So, if we can accept that the court did do a proper hearing and accepted the relevant issues, than no matter what Team CP brings us, the simple truth is that the dangers of any Nigerian court would properly stop the issues correctly seemingly would become almost pointless (if we accept the corruption part that team CP claims. In addition, when we read the accusation ‘A man collecting polluted water at an illegal oil refinery site‘ gives us even more, especially when we concentrate on the word ‘illegal‘, so is Royal Dutch Shell connected to the illegal refinery site? What evidence is there? So now we get the case that team CP is concentrating on a few numbskulls with the limited possibility to stop millions, whilst the players they need to go for is walking away with billions. In that regard their actions are implied to be ‘doomed to fail’ and that is in the most likely positive version, a more negative version is that massive amounts of times are wasted and nothing gets to be achieved. It is in addition likely that the Royal Dutch Shell would assist team CP with other meaningless cases whilst the Royal Dutch Shell remains out of reach. So how is that for justice?

This we see confirmed in the quote “Joe Westby, campaigner on business and human rights at Amnesty International, said: “This ruling could mean that the communities will never receive meaningful compensation, and that the oil spills will be not be properly cleaned up”“, which supports the view I am having and I got to the conclusion as fast as I was reading the article, only to see that other experts agree with me. The final quote “The company says the Bille and Ogale communities’ problems with oil spills are due to sabotage, theft from pipelines, and illegal refining“, which if proven shows the innocence of Shell to some degree, and it shows to the larger degree that team CP have very little chance of success to the degree they need it as change in Nigerian environmental legislation would be essential to force initial change. Apart from that view, there is still the illegal refining, that takes equipment, which beckons the question how much has the Nigerian government confiscated? How many people got prosecuted in all this? There is no clear answer of success and there likely will not ever be one as illegal refiners are in the same category as illegal poachers, as the need or ivory continues, the number of elephants will decrease in Africa until the animal is extinct, then what?

Unless the Nigerian government starts hunting down these transgressors with success and extreme prejudice, they end up not having any level of success. Greed is the ultimate equaliser, the need of the one outweigh the ability of many. A reality that has continued on a near global scale since the early 1900’s. Change is too slow and without harsh levels of success, the opinion piece on and from team CP is not going anywhere but into the circular storage and archiving solution (read: trashcan).

In this Shell has no consideration to assist, the government has no place to start and as the wrong parties are more and more likely blamed we get a situation that until the proper papers are filed, the people involved have no option left to move in any direction, which works great for the facilitators of these events. Someone is making a bundle and as these parties cannot be correctly and accurately identified, the actions against them remain empty, unresolved and hollow.


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Is it a Prise, Prize or Price fight?

This is an interesting time, you see, many will not yet realise it, but we are roughly 19 months away from a game changing moment in our lives. There are groups of people scurrying to get to a virtual starting position, because they have learned the hard way that not setting the stage for the fight means that they will lose out the second time and this time there will be no third round for them. If you are at this point considering that I am kidding or that my statement is over the top, you better reconsider fast, because Orange Poland is now starting to get backers who have serious amounts of cash and last Wednesday, AT&T released ECOMP (their version) in San Francisco. They called it Indigo and it is one of two markers that are now actively in place to set the stage for massive shifts in Big Data. Yes, you are reading this correct!

This is not just a stage of evolution, this is now starting to be a stage of transition. As the people are marketed into a sullied state of dreams, they are tempted to seek what the places bring to them. Places like Tableau relying on AdWords top placement to show how important they are in this industry, with others using the same path on how ‘the magic quadrant of Big Business‘ is the solution, on how we see the ‘Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader‘, but the truth is actually in another direction. Places like AT&T who basically got their asses handed to them as they did not act in the 90’s, they now see that being there ahead of the game is the only move left to them, because AT&T sees that America will not make them great, it will not make them the global player. That is the first shift we see are now witnessing.

In this a very similar view can be found in the movie Assassins Creed. Now, it got written off by a several critics, but the beauty of the product is not in the movie, which is still bringing in a decent amount of profit (millions) for first time producer (and actor) Michael Fassbender. The reason why this movie is so interesting is seen in the revenue. Only 25% came from the US, the rest international. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story does it to some degree where the US and international set is 50/50, the US is no longer the bulk of the income for, a basic issue that now needs addressing, especially by the American players.  That time has gone and these players have caught on that in 22 months the infrastructure is either in place, or they are out of the race. Even as we still see large players (like the Dutch KPN) rely on presentations on how ‘great’ they are. Certain players are realising more that tactics need to change, the presentation is no longer enough, and they need to be ready sooner than ever expected.

This is seen in another way, a way I already saw coming. This time it is the Canberra Times (at http://www.canberratimes.com.au/technology/technology-news/ftc-accuses-vizio-of-spying-on-smart-tv-customers-20170206-gu70p5.html) that gives the goods. We see ‘The US Federal Trade Commission said on Monday that Vizio used 11 million televisions to spy on its customers‘, which reminded me of my blog article ‘The back door‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/12/29/the-back-door/), which I wrote on December 29th 2016 with the part “consider the amount of mail you have at present and see what happens when 10 devices are added to your house profile. The refrigerator, your smart TV, your smart recorder, your game console, your laptop/tablet/PC, your 5 smart devices” as well as “A large group of people will get more and more access to your way of life. In addition, there will be an option to influence your way of life, which is a side nobody signed up for“, a stage that is now coming a lot faster than I expected. The Vizio case is only the most visible one now, this whilst more evidence is coming that Microsoft is engaged in similar actions. Is it not interesting that Microsoft is not mentioned? Perhaps that is because they are only doing that outside of the US? What is interesting is that with Vizio, places like Time.com states how to deactivate certain options, there are more and more indicators out there that this is not an option with Windows 10. How many devices use that? The other part we need to know is that the Vizio case started all the way back in 2014. So it took the trade commission well over 2 years to get there, and for how long was data collected? The interesting part is however not there, it is in the quote “manufactured VIZIO smart TVs that capture second-by-second information about video displayed on the smart TV, including video from consumer cable, broadband, set-top box, DVD, over-the-air broadcasts, and streaming devices. In addition, VIZIO facilitated appending specific demographic information to the viewing data, such as sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education level, home ownership, and household value, the agencies allege. VIZIO sold this information to third parties, who used it for various purposes, including targeting advertising to consumers across devices, according to the complaint“. You see, the issue is not seen towards one place, when you consider ‘including video from consumer cable, broadband, set-top box, DVD, over-the-air broadcasts, and streaming devices‘, this implies that Vizio played the field and was also getting the data from Consoles (which hurts Microsoft and Sony) as well as Foxtel (several data paths), so did Vizio get dobbed in? You see, in 2014 this field was in its infancy, now in 2017, whilst data will be the essential centre stage to all matters big data related, now it gets to be a different thing and still the media at large is asking way too few questions on the who, where and for how long. And as our exposure is set to 2014 cases that are only decided now. Even as now suddenly a wave of newscasts is hitting the screens of people on how Microsoft has privacy tools, how Microsoft is trying to quash gag orders. Microsoft is part of all this from the ground up. Whilst within a Chinese wall environment, one side of the wall is boasting that they champion the privacy of others. As we see that there are now Microsoft privacy tools, we see that that part comes with the small quote “coming to future editions of Windows 10“, which is the case because Microsoft and AT&T are very aware that being alive is being in the game and data is the one element that allows them to do it in an affordable way. There is an additional side, which was brought by Forbes. It is just a week old and gives us the consideration we actually need. The part where we get hit with ‘Tempest in a Teapot’, which could just be a storm in a teacup is not that minor an issue. You see Forbes own Thomas Fox-Brewster is setting the stage, but is he doing it intentionally so? consider “Trump’s decision should only affect the privacy of data handled by government agencies, not private companies” as well as “the only way in which the order may affect non-U.S. individuals lies in the manner the Department of Homeland Security handles personal information“, which is actually the part we should not care about. It is the ‘private companies‘ part that is the actual danger. First we need to take a look at the legal part. Now, I can do that, but the experienced people at DLA Piper (at https://www.dlapiper.com/en/us/insights/publications/2016/07/privacy-shield-is-final/) did that and I just hate inventing the wheel twice. Yet in that part the following issue rose, and it did so because it has happened before (and it will happen again). It is seen in this part ‘Secure personal data and ensure the ability to restrict secondary uses‘ and the issue is not because of that part exactly, it is because of the technological side to it. You see the restrictions on data and backup data are not the same, backup data is not seen as data. Forbes actually raised it in 2012 with “First and foremost, IT auditors need to come up to speed on the implications of auditing data that’s beyond the organization’s control and beyond the organization’s home borders. While some auditors are worried, many are more optimistic that these requirements provide business opportunities within the security, compliance and auditing community as organizations move data and long-term storage into the cloud” as well as “When data is moved beyond an organization’s technological and geographic borders, the organization runs the risk of losing control of how that data complies with regulatory compliance. By addressing legal and regulatory challenges up front through technology, an organization can begin architecting an off-premise, cloud-based storage solution that meets the business’s needs as well as keeps regulatory compliance at bay“, yet only now, or better stated only recently do we see a shift that places like SAP are now realising that technicians and consultants have their own agenda’s and an American one does not see things the same way a European technician sees things. Computer Weekly raised it, but they did so with the interesting quote “data analytics technology, will ensure that only technicians in Europe will have access to potentially sensitive data held in its cloud datacentres, if companies demand it“, you see, it’s the ‘if companies demand it‘ part that matters. If provider A has an infrastructure yet it gets its backup serviced by consultancy provider B who uses a different cloud and cloud system, where is the security set when system B is in the USA and system A is in Italy? There we might see the term ‘data safety is not impacted‘, yet it is equally not impacted when Intelligence Agency ‘who gives a damn‘ has mirrored that backup and now has 100% of all data. That is the realistic issue that the Privacy Shield addresses, but does it do that in equal measure for a cloud corporate infrastructure? Is the backup party vetted, or even identified? You see, this is not about paranoia or what people learn about me. This is about large corporations getting an even more unbalanced advantage. That part is not addressed because those supporting large corporation only need to delay things (Vizio 2014 is evidence enough). It is Kevin Werbach from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania who gives the parts I have been referring to. In a podcast on innovation we get “Companies like Uber and Airbnb are built on algorithms. They’re built on software that understands supply and demand and matches people on both sides of the network“, THIS IS IT!

That is why the players need the data and as much as they can. Do you think that people like Mike McNamara (Target Corp) got a massive oversized budget for the fun of it? No, he realised (and successfully sold that to the board of directors), that if he had the data and the systems in place he can take K-Mart and Walmart to town and take chunks of their share, in the next 6 months we are likely to see the first small victories, small in start but it will be a growing wave, have no doubt about that part. These are the advantages that larger corporations have and some are doing it ethically acceptable. Yet in a similar fashion I see that those taking a different path are not questioned or hold to any level of accountability. How is that for screwed up? I have nothing against these places, but in the global setting, Target would gain an advantage against the Dutch C&A if this continues. I believe that to some degree competitiveness is a good thing, but what happens when the tools available are not available to all? What happens when one retailer is ethically kept blind, whilst the outside competitor has a dataset describing the national population in excellent detail? Where is the fairness then?

So are we facing a fight with three players? That is not a given, there are a few elements in motion over the next 18+ months so there will be shifting. Except those who are claiming and considering not participating, they are pretty much out of the game for good. Nokia is now re-joining the mobile fight, trying to bring a competitor to the Pixar XL and the iPhone 7 to the fight (Nokia P1), what was interesting is that they avoided the one ‘mistake’ the Google Pixar has. It will be one way for people to get a cheap solution this year, but will it be enough?

Not enough data to tell and that is where it sets the pace of the continuing fighters, who has the data? Which might be the premise of a joke. Three fighters were getting into the match. One thought it was a prize fight, one thought it was a prise fight and one assumed it was a price fight.

Which player do you think will be the one left standing in the end?


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How misinformed are the French?

This is what today’s article in Reuters brings to mind. The article (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-election-frexit-idUSKBN1420HF) gives the following information: “But unlike Britain, France has a written constitution, which states that “the Republic is part of the European Union”. So a “Frexit” would require a constitutional change which experts say is difficult, but not impossible“.

You see, we are being bombarded by the media regarding the European Union, yet what about the European Economic Community, which was later renamed into the European Community?

More important, the fact that we see this: “France has a written constitution, which states that ‘the Republic is part of the European Union’“, this might not be in question, yet when a system is intentionally made complicated, is that a valid system? (We see that happening right now in the UK), in addition, when we consider the utter lack of accountability that the EC has shown in the last two years alone, gives rise to the imbalance and the unjust path the EC has been on. There is also the part where we see that Mario Draghi and his ECB are now feeling more and more the loud voices of political opposition. Which is likely the reason why we see (at http://www.europeanceo.com/finance/ecb-opts-for-longer-but-leaner-quantitative-easing/), that the title now reads ‘ECB opts for longer but leaner quantitative easing‘, yet the fact that this might lower the quantitative easing by €20 billion a month, yet the extension until December 2017 now implies that the French and the United Kingdom end up getting a massive part of an additional €830 billion in debt, that is almost a trillion more. Bloomberg had already given its view that the expected results were never met, more important, some critical voices give rise to a failing QE program as the debt increases, yet no economy was actually kick-started, there was a lack of results. By the way, when we add the €700bn of QE reported in April 2016, the debt goes well over the additional trillion, giving multiple headaches to France, the UK and Germany. In addition, it will with certainty drive the Frexit group stronger. Even as we saw in the Reuters article “A poll published by Ifop in July found that 67 percent of French voters who expressed a view would vote to stay in the EU. Only 33 percent were against“, which is the opposite from what was seen in February 2016, we need to realise that the upcoming message that France will inherit their share of a 1.3 trillion Euro additional debt through quantitative easing, that will fuel a possible drive of those 67% Fremainers into the Frexiteers Garrison that Marine Le Pen desires at the drop of a hat (any hat). The fact that a failed plan that keeps on getting prolonged reduces Mario Draghi to a one trick pony, or a one trick Wall Street Mule as some economists rumoured regard him to be after the October 8th IMFC meeting. This might have been in regards to the statement “until the Governing Council sees a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation towards levels below, but close to, 2% over the medium term“. By the way, that paper reads like it requires the United Kingdom not to succeed its exiting path, which might just have been my interpretation of it. In addition, the quote mentioned earlier is also stated in regarding the TLTRO-II actions. So, lets realise that I am no economist, yet in the lighter side of all of it, consider that a bank owes amount x. Now we add the TLTRO-II and suddenly the banks debt becomes x+(x*0.3), so we get a 30% increase in debt, this would be a consideration when it wasn’t part of the quantitative easing already happening. In addition, we get “if a bank sufficiently improves its lending to the real economy, instead of having to pay interest, it can receive interest by ‘paying’ a negative rate. This rate can be as low as the deposit facility rate, currently at -0.4%“, so how much fraud (read: apologies I meant accidentally misreported numbers) will we face now? ‘Lending to the real economy‘ is like finding a virgin with nymphomania and 12 service of years in a brothel (read: Really?). In addition to this, the banks get extra money. So When we go to any bank stating we want to add to the economy, so we all borrow 50 million, because we add to the economy we receive $200K a year. Which we spend on food, bills and other things, so we get money and spend that on a real economy (butcher, baker and pastry maker) whilst getting money for spending it. How weird is that? Of course what they see as ‘real’ economy and my view of that are widely apart I reckon.

Yet in all this, we see another game being played, one that I speculatively ‘accused’ the ECB to play almost a year ago. The fact that they are raising the debt to such an extent that it becomes impossible to leave the EC, the UK is getting dangerously close to that point (France might have surpassed that point already, mainly because their economy has been flat for a lot longer). And in all this we see news cast after newscast on how things are slow, too hard and impossible. This almost makes me wish for the age of Alexander the great, where he dealt with the Gordian knot. In today’s version we are almost at the point where the UK only needs to cut off the heads of Jean-Claude Juncker and Mario Draghi and that problem is solved too. #SubtletyRulezOK

In addition, the document seems to set up hidden traps, traps that if adjusted will hurt many in the long run. The quote “prioritising public investment and reducing the tax burden on labour“, so this is not a reduction on taxation for the workers, it is a reduction on taxation on the cost of labour, meaning that corporation taxation will go down even more, yet the ignored definitions that governments face are the results of those reduced forms of taxation, because that money goes to the boardrooms and if the feelings of reduced enthusiasm for Apple, Google and Amazon were low earlier, wait till you see the feelings in several nations when the American policies are stronger enforced towards the US and where the golden rules for the auditors become that corporate contribution (revenue minus cost) will shift and the money trails push all that contribution towards the US. This is a reality I saw in the late 90’s with American companies. As well as a push that senior positions were to be held (for the majority) by Americans. Now, a company must do what it think it needs to do, yet with lower corporate taxation, unbalanced taxation where the bulk of revenue is not taxed and tax laws are still lacking in efficiency as well as holding corporations accountable for certain tax values, we will see a growing imbalance of cost of living and what I would call the implosion of governing budgets because the money isn’t coming in from several sides as all sides are etched to the needs and desires of corporations. And people are still debating that Brexit is a bad deal and that a one market world is a good thing. Now take the 30 largest corporations add what they paid in taxation and add what their revenues were. After which you go to the tax office and demand a similar deal. How hard will these tax employees laugh in your face?

You still think a one market deal is anything but an engine to enable the non-taxability of global corporations?

It gets to be an even stronger issue when we consider the Guardian article (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/nov/29/new-cars-imported-from-eu-may-cost-10-more-if-uk-leaves-single-market), which is two weeks old. You see, why would we care? Why get a foreign car? In Australia, the makers didn’t like the deal they had, they wanted more and more tax breaks making the car industry pretty much the first one with legalised slave labour. Why would we want to support this? Why would the UK support this? Consider the UK with 68 million people, now if only 50% had a car, than that would still be a massive amount of consumer goods. If the UK stops importing cars, those in charge behind the screens will then suddenly look for a solution whether a car could be made in the UK. They currently have 4 cars made in the UK, but those are high end cars and too expensive for those usually needing one. This is how VW started its empire, in 1932 it started the people’s car project. A car for every person, Volkswagen, which pretty much translates the German brand. The Australians are not in such a good spot in that regard, but it is still a 20 million citizen market, with plenty of 4 wheel needs. Those car exploiters forgot about the consequence when a market on a national level states, we no longer need you. That is why the single market is so important to them (mostly those in the boardrooms). And as Toyota reported a drop of 40% compared to last year, the consequence of nations no longer needing their brand must be a massive nightmare for those getting a bonus based on sales results. In that regard they will feel the pinch and they will feel it a lot harder than ever before. They are however feeling good because ‘Toyota’s earnings performance is improving, mainly because the yen is now weakening‘, which sounds nice on an Abacus, but the massive debt that the Japanese people face ($9 trillion at present), how long until the Japanese stop to consider how much interest that actually is; considering that Japan only has 123 million people. At 0.1% interest, if it even could be that low, implies an interest of 9 billion a year, this sets the interest to $73K per person per year. So how is that going for the Japanese budget, especially when you consider that the average man in the land of the rising sun makes up to $20K a year? So how is that formula working and how much worse is Mario Draghi making it for Europe? You see, it is my personal speculation in this that the US and Japan are pushing parties in equilibrium, when the debts equalise there will be no way back for Europe. Europe will be at the mercy of the incompetence of America and Japan. At that point, as a member of UKIP would state it: ‘I don’t want some bloody yank telling us how to keep our debt, I don’t want any debt‘, but at that point it will be too late and we will be left without options on a global scale. Did any of us sign up for that? In addition, do the French realise that my speculation is not that far off?

This is a path that I have stated before and in earlier blogs I have clearly stated that we are in for a bumpy ride, I actually expect a new crash late 2017, early 2018 at the latest, so when we see that this article by Pension and Investments (at http://www.pionline.com/article/20161213/ONLINE/161219969/natixis-survey-investors-turning-to-active-management-amid-expected-2017-volatility) gives us the title ‘Natixis survey: Investors turning to active management amid expected 2017 volatility‘, by the way, that is a group of people where the lowest income would be close to 30-50 times my income, so these people have serious cash to play with. So the quote “As a result, asset owners plan to reset their portfolios, relying on active management and alternative assets as they seek to manage risk and boost returns” seems a little bit of an issue when we realise that Mario Draghi and his quote “as part of our expanded asset purchase programme (APP)” gives a whole new light in all this. It almost amounts to a speculated shift in ownership of assets, where governments are buying assets via the ECB (intentional or not) and in addition, these portfolios get to reset themselves and get rid of what would soon be new bad debt. Whilst the Guardian reported in November 2015 that the European banks were sitting on €1 trillion of bad debts and the quote “The increase in lending has been accompanied by a very gradual improvement of asset quality, although levels of non-performing exposures in EU banks remain a concern and a potential impediment to lending growth and profitability” now reflects on Mario Draghi as he basically has been adding more than €1 trillion more (making it a total of €2.3 trillion) by the time we get to December 2017. When the upcoming volatility shit hits the fan, all our financial futures will go straight into the sewer.

So, when the French realise that, do you really thing that there will be any non-illegals left in that country considering to remain in the European Community?

More important, when some of these factors start hitting the UK, its population could end up demanding a sledgehammer hard Brexit almost overnight. Yet, again, that is pure speculation from my side. In the meantime, I should apply for a job at Natixis, facilitate for people who will actually end up having some money left from January 2018 onwards. I have to eat too and I would love some French grub, even if I have to Join Legion Etrangere for that part (do not worry readers, I no longer meet their standards).

So as you now wonder how informed the French are, I need to wonder in equal measure if they are the only ones not getting the full picture (read: awareness), the fact the Dutch move out of the EEC is now getting a lot more realistic, even more realistic than I ever thought it would be, gives additional light to the title and topic in this blog. Yet so far there is a decent indication that Frexit will drive the decision of plenty and Frexit will come to a referendum before the Dutch get that chance, meaning that the French vote will clearly influence the Dutch one, yet to what extent cannot be said or stated. In addition, the Rhine and the Rotterdam harbours would not get the economic punch as hard because of German needs, meaning that these ties will remain strong for the need of both, but that is no guarantee that the Dutch will not feel the initial hardship of change, to what extent cannot be stated with any degree of reliability.


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Viewpoint to a point of view

It all started at 04:00, Google started their announcement of Google Home (which blew me away and that is a rare thing) and Google Pixel, which instantly proved my telecom issues of mobile phones and memory. Shortly after that George Monbiot gave me ‘Lies, fearmongering and fables: that’s our democracy‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/04/democracy-people-power-governments-policy). It is an excellent piece, because it made me ask questions of myself and how I saw things. I have never proclaimed to have all the answers, I give insights and I oppose other views without personally attacking them. You see, many disagreements are not always on the facts, but on the points of view, usually that view is laced in a perceived (non-)factual interpretation of what we observe. So let’s take a look.

You see, when we get to “Democracy for Realists, published earlier this year by the social science professors Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels, argues that the “folk theory of democracy” – the idea that citizens make coherent and intelligible policy decisions, on which governments then act – bears no relationship to how it really works. Or could ever work“, now, we can accept that, or we can consider another option without stating that this view was wrong, because it isn’t.

You see, this is what happens ‘citizens make coherent and intelligible policy decisions‘, which leads to ‘on which governments then act‘, yet the reality is that ‘coherent and intelligible policy decisions‘ tend to be made through the information given to us by the news and by the newspapers, yet too often they do not completely inform, they voice too often the point of view that a government (or benefiting party) wants us to see (or obscure). For example, the previous government of the Netherlands with their approach to ‘managed bad news‘. I wrote about those events in 2013 and 2014. Why what this happening? Well, I was clearly aware of a non-reality of their overly positive news on how commerce would improve, pretty much all the Dutch shared that sentiment and a real revelation would have meant harsh cutbacks, yet that government did not want to do that, so the Dutch were informed of overly positive news, and after the spending date, the NOS started to ‘release’ (read: voice) news regarding setbacks. Not all at once, but step by step by step. So what we perceive to be ‘intelligible’ is nothing more but a reaction to what should be regarded as ‘misinformation’. My defence here was that I foresaw the not so good economy. I (with no economic education) was off by 0.4% (too negative) and the economic experts on high incomes were off by 0.9% (too positive). I’ll let you decide this one!

The next quote is even better “In reality, the research summarised by Achen and Bartels suggests, most people possess almost no useful information about policies and their implications, have little desire to improve their state of knowledge, and have a deep aversion to political disagreement“, now, there is one part that is an absolute given in most occasions ‘most people possess almost no useful information about the implications of policies‘, that is one truth that is undeniable, even the more alert and aware people tend to miss things there, because, unless you are not part of it, you tend not to be fully in the know. It is almost a non-issue, yet the other part of policies is because getting a politician to sit down and explain it all is usually and equally a non-option, the more relevant info the politician has, the less likely it will be to find him available to explain it all. The best example would be the global collection of ministers of defence. Now, I am not talking about the hush hush stuff, because it would be a low and simple blow to get towards the classified stuff. No, I am talking about the large open things. So let’s state a NATO member, its Minister of Defence and Raytheon agreements. Some news now only 14 hours old (at http://www.army-technology.com/news/newsraytheon-to-upgrade-antpy-2-radars-with-gan-technology-5021950), seems to give NATO (initially just the US) with an advantage. So the quote from Dave Gulla who said: “GaN components have significant, proven advantages when compared to the previous generation GaAs technology“. Yet, when we take a look Patent US 6586778 B2, (at https://www.google.ch/patents/US6586778), we see “A gallium nitride layer is pendeoepitaxially grown on weak posts on a substrate that are configured to crack due to a thermal expansion coefficient mismatch between the substrate and the gallium nitride layer on the weak posts. Thus, upon cooling, at least some of the weak posts crack, to thereby relieve stress in the gallium nitride semiconductor layer. Accordingly, low defect density gallium nitride semiconductor layers may be produced. Moreover, the weak posts can allow relatively easy separation of the substrate from the gallium nitride semiconductor layer to provide a freestanding gallium nitride layer“. At this point I would initially state ‘Oops!’, yet that is not the issue, because there is a patent, means that there is a solution. The issue is not the fact that there is a solution, but that the solution is patented, in addition, we see an august article (at https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160801093236.htm), which gives us the summary of “From 2020 the 5G mobile standard is aiming to transmit data rapidly and energy-efficiently. For that purpose researchers are developing new power amplifiers based on the semiconductor gallium nitride“. So now we have an old fashioned horse race, because did that Minister of Defence realise that Raytheon is relying on parts that will drive the costs through 5G needs sky high? So, we are a looking at something that has an optional growth opportunity of close to 50,000% (blatantly extremely speculative by yours truly), so how will that drive the prices? In the UK who will get the sharp component deal, those servicing 68 million mobile users, or that one ministry of Defence? #JustAsking

So here you see information in action. Moreover, from my point of view, it is speculative as well. My speculation is that the Gallium Nitride (GaN) will grow so fast in demand that it will drive up prices fast and near exponentially (and with that the margins they had). Is that speculation so far out of bounds? You only need to remember the 4G rush to know that I am right. And if the patent has any real impact until 2023 as conditional initial end date, then North Carolina State University could end up with both the Angels share and the Devils Cut, which is a nice deal to begin with (for them that is), yet for the rest, it will drive prices up fast and by a large amount. Was this considered and is my view right or wrong?

So this technology war is not over, not by a long shot.

Now this is just one instance, for one nation. And when we ignore classified materials, how many issues play in this alone and where have we not looked? Now, we cannot expect that all issues were dealt with in the initial approach, but when we see that these issues are now undertaken and there is no direct solution, how much higher will the cost be in the end? So, without these facts, would the other NATO members dump the Raytheon upgrade? Is the upgrade mandatory, or even perhaps, my point of view is wrong. The last one is still valid, yet in my defence, what happens when there is suddenly a shortage of something? Show me one instance when the price of the goods were not spiralling upwards. I remember the chip war and the memory bank war. In those days, those critters were on a day price, it was like buying a lobster for Pete’s sake (not the other Pete, because he is a Vegan).

Yet part of my views are seen in “Direct democracy – referendums and citizens’ initiatives – seems to produce even worse results. In the US initiatives are repeatedly used by multimillion-dollar lobby groups to achieve results that state legislatures won’t grant them. They tend to replace taxes with user fees, stymie the redistribution of wealth and degrade public services. Whether representative or direct, democracy comes to be owned by the elites“, Geoff deals with lobby groups, which is what I raised too, yet in my view, I looked at the (miss)-presented side and in the past, just a few days ago, I raised the incapability of tax reforms, all over Europe for that matter. It seems that taxation is a pox on both houses, this whilst both sides know it is essential, yet from 2013 onwards the US has done so much to utterly stop the essential overhaul from happening.

So, I loved the article because it showed for the most my point of view (as I have stated it for many months), from another viewpoint, which is always nice. An article that should wake us up not to the lack of Democracy, but to the realisation how democracy is shaping us all to no longer seek it and spearhead the presented needs straight into the direction that helps big business the most (for now). So did we elect the wrong politicians, or were we only given the media that made us choose the individual currently in charge? Here I now look towards the dozens of morning shows that ‘do’ the news on a local level, but sugar coat a massive part outside of those few minutes on the whole and half hour to push opinions and interpretation of events, ‘guiding’ us towards a choice we could have avoided. As media changed so fast, whilst we did not keep up, we saw our fenced pasture change into a maze of fences and no way to see where the exit is.

This democratic world reminds me of the wisdom seen on a card: “and God promised men that good and obedient wives would be found in all corners of the world…then he made the Earth round…and he laughed and laughed“, which reverberates here too, ‘as democracy reached all corners of the earth’, you get the idea!


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How about them budgets?

Today it starts with the Wall Street Journal (at http://www.wsj.com/articles/italy-cuts-growth-forecast-for-2016-and-2017-1475014871), where we just got the news that Italy is downgrading the forecasts, from “1.2% for this year and 1.4% in 2017″ to “0.8% this year and 1% in 2017“, an offset of 0.4%. So, even as we consider how small this is, on a number 2.22 trillion, this still affects 8 billion dollar. Now, I would agree that the numbers are small, but when analysts are talking in millions, getting it wrong by 8000 million, the error is a little larger than should be allowed for. Italy is not the only one in this predicament, and the fact that this prediction is only reported approaching the final quarter of the initial reporting year, should give clear indication that something should have been known at least a quarter ago.

Italy is not the only one, France is reported on by Reuters that the deficit target will not be met. In this case, France has one part in favour of them, with the refugee issues going through their nations, certain places and departments have been unable to meet any budget, which under the unpredictability of that escalation makes perfect sense. We can overanalyse it, but without the proper raw data, it remains a speculation and not a very accurate one.

Germany has an entirely new issue to deal with, it is now dealing with a surplus and a growing one. Another prediction I got right, but not by the amount I thought it would. Germany exceeded expectations by growing the surplus past a quarter of a trillion dollars. So apart from the surveillance investments, Germany can look forward to (as doomsayers would state), to an interestingly larger EU donation voucher (read: invoice), one that is (according to Reuters) about 4.5 billion higher. The funny people did mention that post Brexit this was the consequence and as such, that response is funny, because it is only angering the German population, where a growing group is calling for a German referendum. Now, there is no official one planned, but that might not be for very long at present. With Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) on the rise, which according to Euro news is at an all-time high of 16%, this makes them a contender, with Chancellor Merkel now in a tough spot as the hard work Germany did achieve is now to some extent syphoned to the EU and Brexit will add to their worries. Now that Brexit is not showing to be the financial disaster so many experts claimed it to be, the threshold for leaving the EU is being lowered by a fair bit. AfD party leader, Frauke Petry stated: “And I think this is why many citizens don’t believe in the established parties and politicians anymore, because they simply don’t feel being taken seriously by the politicians firstly, and secondly because they feel basically betrayed by these politicians because they do not tell the truth”, which is an issue that many people have with the ‘status quo approach that those on the gravy train of EU incomes have been voicing‘, adding to the unrest in several nations. The issue now being pushed by France and Germany is an EU army solution, which seems odd in the light of NATO and it is detrimental on national policies all over Europe, giving another iteration of commissions and conceptual time wasting, as well as resources, especially financial ones.

Yet several news cycles are giving the implied worry (a worry from my side) that the Netherlands hasn’t learned its lesson yet and it is now playing a dangerous game. The initial consequences of Brexit are not realised and there are still worries that are undealt with. With a big smile Dutch Finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem stated last week in the national budget day which has forever been the 3rd Tuesday of September that the message is ‘focus on investing in opportunities‘, yet he also admitted that ‘many people have still not benefited from the economic recovery‘. I personally believe that ‘recovery’ is too optimistic. You see, for too long, the EU deficit had been too high, the debt is close to out of control and the Dutch have, due to serious budget restraints gotten the upper hand over the debt to some extent. What is interesting is the way we see it in the NL Times (at http://www.nltimes.nl/2016/09/26/netherlands-0-5-pct-budget-surplus-2nd-quarter-2016/). The quote at the very end “Statistics Netherlands expects that the budget deficit will mount to 1.1 percent this year and 0.7 percent next year“, gives us clearly that there is no budget surplus, the deficit is finally being turned over, meaning that the deficit is still 0.7% in a years’ time. That means that the debts are for now still going up! I am willing to make the hazardous statement “Mark my words, by April 2017 there will be a bad news cycle that the deficit will alas not make it, due to <insert meaningless reason here> and is expected to be 1.6% in 2016, whilst the forecast for 2017 predicts the deficit to decline sharper to 0.9%“. I’ll keep an eye on this, because I want to know how it all goes. One of the reasons here is that whilst certain scaremongers, set to undo Brexit are still playing their games and placing the pawns in the field. The reality is that unless the Netherlands sets out a much stronger partnership with the UK, the UK fishers who saw the benefit of quickly unloading in places like Stellendam and Breskens so that they can do one additional load, that list will drop to zero (the number was never really high). But that is only one part of several issues that we see. The Dutch Harbour of Rotterdam, could also feel the pinch to some degree. The degree cannot be predicted, but it will happen, meaning that the blind billion to expect will lower by an indecent amount of millions. It is important to realise that the impact will not be large, but two or three of these impacts, like containers via Belgium and a few more of these changes and the impact will change the numbers. So the Netherlands is not out of the woods and we see ‘investment’ statements. Not to mention the German need to make a few changes, which means that containers to a larger extent will not go through Rotterdam, but straight to the end location via Hamburg. This is not a given, not a certainty, but a risk! All these issues are not considered and there is still for well over a year a deficit to content with. The NRC (at https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2016/09/21/kabinet-geef-geen-cadeautjes-maar-investeer-4373438-a1522535) gave us last week “Daarnaast zondigt het kabinet door het totale uitgavenplafond te verhogen met 2,2 miljard euro; de Zalmnorm wordt rücksichtslos terzijde geschoven“, which paraphrased gives us “The sinful deed of this government, through the raising of the maximum budget by 2.2 billion, the budgeting norm is blindly pushed aside“, meaning that as elections come close, the government is trying to give a fake ‘all is well’ view that will be discarded soon thereafter when the numbers show that nothing was achieved and Dutch spending will again go beyond acceptable levels.

In all these factions, the reasoning of Brexit holds firm and this whilst Mario Draghi (at http://www.bbc.com/news/live/uk-politics-parliaments-37473075), starts his political ‘career’ in the trend, of ‘I am looking for a new position, preferably before the reality hits you all‘, by stating “the initial impact of the Brexit vote on the Eurozone has been “contained”“, which is utterly untrue. The impact is not contained, the results are not known because spin doctors are still trying to turn this around via any political means available. In addition “resilience after the vote was thanks in part to “adequate preparation” by both the ECB and the Bank of England“, which we know was not entirely true because someone decided to leak the required need for investigation by the Bank of England in the first place, which meant that the armour of EVERY party went up, so there was a large level of speculated bad news in there, the news clearly showed how disastrous it would be and it failed to happen. In addition, we see “Draghi ‘doesn’t have answer’ on future of Euro clearing in London“, which is interesting when we see “the issue of the UK’s departure from the EU and its implications for the executing – or “clearing” – of euro-denominated transactions in the City of London“. Why would that change? Why would people want to make those changes, because pre of post brexit, there was no impact for the US Dollar, so why is that suddenly an issue? The fact that the ECB took that path and that the result was that it was successfully challenged at the European Court of Justice by the UK government last year, makes me wonder why Neena Gill (Labour MEP for West Midlands) opened her mouth in the first place (regarding THAT questions that is). The fact that Jill Seymour of UKIP got a much larger support in her district gives me the idea that she has other problems to deal with, playing ‘ban-she’ (pun intended) to a question that the UK does not want to raise again for now, whilst staying silent over Draghi’s Trillion Plus Euro stimulus and now the rephrased additional overspending via the what is referred to as the ‘Juncker Expansion wallet’ is one that should have been on her lips. As I see it, she would have been better off staying at home (or in her office) and send someone else to actually grill Mario Draghi. In addition, when French Liberal MEP Sylvie Goulard asked the question, it seems clear to me, that she was setting up the essential discussion to try and move some of the City of London’s expertise towards Paris, which is a proud nationalistic tactic to have and as she is French, I would applaud her attempt with the response: ‘well played milady, but at present not the best idea!‘, as I see it, Neena Gill didn’t have to add to this! The question is not completely unsound, yet the path of Euro based Derivatives is a key market and London does not really want to move it for obvious reasons, yet the size of it has everyone on the edge. The issue has happened before, yet the considered impact will be beyond believe, the stakeholders could lose quick access to Trillions when the clusters get upset and the Euro Clearing moves to Paris (or even Germany). The plain issue is that the shift could very well happen when Frexit is in full gear, what happens after that? Another move? If you want to learn more, look at the Bloomberg interview (at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-21/global-banks-said-to-plan-for-loss-of-euro-clearing-after-brexit), which gives a decent picture, even if economy is not your field.

All issues linked to budgets and each of them having a larger impact on the EU as a whole. Now, I understand that Brexit makes France and Germany trying to take the Euro Clearing market, yet, as the growing voice of Frexit bolsters, moving the Euro seems to be a really bad move, even for stakeholders who hope to gain a short term advantage. Even if we see that the Netherlands is a lot less likely to follow this path at present, France is close to doing it and the number of people wanting this in France is still growing. I personally see that budgets have been at the core of this from the very beginning (starting with the Greek one that is),

For Greece this is not a nice time and it will stay as gloom as death for a long time to come. The new austerity measures will cut hard, especially with the retired population of Greece. There is something utterly unacceptable regarding the transfer of the assets, including major organizations such as the country’s power corporation and the water boards of Athens and Thessaloniki. My view goes back to ‘Cooking the books?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/01/22/cooking-the-books/) as well as ‘Feeding hungry wolves‘(at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/07/28/feeding-hungry-wolves/). My issue is that Greece had to be held accountable, but a fire sale leaving Greece with nothing was never an option in my book. Partially, when team Tsipras-Varoufakis won the elections they had an idea and no other path but their pride, this was where they ended. The initial idea to open the bond markets again was even worse. Now we see a Greece that has Greeks, yet is no longer Greece, as I see it, for the first time in history, the bulk of a nation is owned by banks and creditors, a situation that has never happened before to this extent (as far as I can tell), even as there is an option, it will still remain ugly for Greece for a long time. However, if the change would be accepted Greece would have a first step in actually resolving things. Resolving up to a degree, because I do not expect that this can be solved within the next two generations (if that happens, it will be a miracle). In that regard the energy and utilities would remain completely Greek and a first step into an actual future would be made. Yet, this is not about Greece!

The issue seen that debts are mounting up and we get to see these academic speeches on how good it was. For me, I still remember the 2015 article in the economist (at http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2015/03/economist-explains-5), where we saw “some worry that the flood of cash has encouraged reckless financial behaviour and directed a fire hose of money to emerging economies that cannot manage the cash. Others fear that when central banks sell the assets they have accumulated, interest rates will soar, choking off the recovery“, so no matter how you twist it, it is additional debt, the people get to pay in the end, and as the evidence has shown the last 10 years, proper budgeting is not the aim, the ability or the inclination of these EU governments, making the people anxiously running towards the nearest European Exit Compound.



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What the Frack?

I have stated in several occasions that I am at heart a Conservative, I believe in the conservative plan and for the most, the damage Labour has achieved, on a near global base gives me the certainty that I will nearly never see eye to eye with labour. Yet, it is that nearly part that is today the issue. You see, the one part I do agree with is their opposition to Fracking.

I myself grew up in the Netherlands. My grandfather is British and served in WWI , my mother was British, so I am unofficial (for now) British too. I have seen the damage that Fracking has done in the Netherlands. The historic buildings that are now damaged, some beyond repair is just unacceptable. The North of the Netherlands (Groningen) has a unique historical architecture, which is now partially diminished and that is not a good thing. Consider the people who are losing their houses so that a little more gas can be obtained, and the expense that it had to go through to get it. In addition, the Dutch gas company NAM that was the instigator of this approach lost its case last year, which had as a consequence that loss of property value has to be repaired, with over 2000 claims in 2012 alone, the NAM is currently looking at claims totalling into the billions of Euro’s. The good part in this for British Barry Gardiner is that Common Law torts is actually stronger in protecting the home owners’ rights than Dutch law was, so the moment anything goes wrong (it will), the parties that will start fracking will end up paying a lot, possible even a lot more than the value of the gas obtained, so that story could go south fast and a lot faster than any administration would like it to be.

In addition, the UK has one additional issue the Dutch do not have. Fracking in the UK, because of the rocky foundation requires a higher pressure than the Dutch required, giving the UK a slightly larger issue with earthquakes and in addition to that, if the chemicals enter the groundwater in any way (a very likely issue), the damage to people’s health because of water pollution could have the realistic danger to hit water sources that people and farms rely on (being an island surrounded by salt water adds to that danger). That last is not a given, but if it happens, the UK would be in a perilous situation. You see, the Dutch have a collection of waterways and water sources that outdo the UK by a lot, considering they have larger (drink) water provision, with the Dutch at 17% of the size and only 25% of the population, if anything had gone seriously wrong (water wise), the Dutch have alternatives, the same is not clear and should be considered as doubtful for the UK.

In the Netherlands there is an issue, however, we need to clearly look at both sides. The anti-Fracking sites are giving the readers the ‘burning water‘ example, whilst the pro fracking people claimed that this was swamp gas that had found its way into the ground waters. There are issues here, but it was not a given that fracking caused this instance. Still, the county of Groningen has access to 45 billion litres of water, and that is one of the least populated areas of the Netherlands. The Technical University of Delft had this paper that was done for the Drinkwater cooperation in the Netherlands (at http://www.vewin.nl/SiteCollectionDocuments/Dossier_schaliegas/Schaliegas_gevolgen_voor_ons_grondwater.pdf), their site vewin.nl has an English version of the site.

An important conclusion is: “De overkoepelende conclusie van voorliggend rapport is, dat schaliegaswinning in principe veilig zal zijn voor het drinkwater, onder de voorwaarde dat maatregelen worden genomen die de zorgpunten van de sector adequaat wegnemen. Dat vergt in elk geval openheid over de gebruikte chemicaliën en monitoring die start voorafgaand aan het boren en wordt voortgezet tot en met de nazorgperiode (30 jaar na het voorgoed sluiten de putten)“.

The paraphrased translation “The conclusion of this report is that Fracking is in principle not hazardous for drinking water, with the clear condition that safeguards are set in place, with openness of disclosure of all chemicals used and monitoring starting before fracking commences with continued measuring of the chemicals for a period of 30 years after fracking stops“. There is a little paraphrasing here. Yet the foundation that monitoring for 30+ years will have a massive impact on the profitability, with the added situation that the Dutch, due to the soil, required an expected lower pressure. Also, the risk was still there, yet lower due to what I regard of vast water supplies. Elements the UK does not have to the extent the Dutch have, meaning that the risk here will be higher. This is one of the principle reasons I am on the side of Barry Gardiner. The interesting thing is that he is a lot more fearful than the Scottish are, which is also weird because should any water get a case of fracking chemical pollution, one of the main ingredients for making whiskey is gone, ending that market for a very long time. So, buying a 100 cases of Scotch, the day fracking is approved in Scotland, might be a very worthwhile investment indeed.

You see, my aversion to all this is that it requires openly revealing all chemicals used and monitoring. I have never ever seen any profit driven company adhere to these terms. Like the Dutch report shows the Halliburton side of it all and how spiffy their technology is. It is in the end an academic presentation to a set of requirements most large companies will ‘accidently’ ignore and when it goes to court a ‘fine’ will be advocated for that allows them still a degree of profits, whilst the elements in nearly all reports require a level of responsibility and adherence to issues that make profit a near non-issue as there will be no profit. This beckons me to think why any consideration to allow fracking is even considered to begin with. By the way, should any drilling organisation decide to go bankrupt, the aftercare of 30 years would not be possible, meaning that suddenly the government would be required to monitor all this, an expense no one is waiting for.

For the most, there are issues that cannot be guaranteed how deep it will impact the UK, yet the dangers, the risks and the long term consequences, whilst the profit is not even close to a guarantee makes me wonder why the UK Government on both sides of the isle have abstained to unite in banning Fracking on the grounds of risks and uncontrollable costs after the fact. That alone, whilst a trillion in debt should be enough to keep people away from Fracking. Only today, the Dutch NOS now reports that the Dutch NAM is going to appeal last year’s decision regarding the loss of value of houses. A Statement of Appeal, in Dutch named ‘memorie van grieven‘ has been submitted, at 16.5 Kilograms, or in a slightly more metrical definition: 3400 pages. The quote “The Company calls the verdict outdated and vague, saying it creates a huge administrative burden for the NAM“, which I find hilarious. There has been too much damage and clearly proven damage because of fracking, now that the NAM is finding the loss of profit too large, it drowns the court with a document that will take months to read. So as this case will now see another legal iteration that will not start until 2017, the people at NAM will get out fast with as much cash as possible and leave others to clean up the mess (speculation on my side). This is in my view another reason to support the view Barry Gardiner has. If not for the mere logic, then for the common legal sense that any mishap will bring with it.

The last side is the US, when we look at sourcewatch.org, we see the claim that go a lot further. There have been cases where the monitoring labs falsified data and ended up paying $150K fine with 5 years of probation, which was in East Syracuse New York. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has shown and found water safety issues with residential drinking water wells in Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming. Cases of elevated levels of Arsenic and Selenium (not the healthiest in even minute traces), places where there were elevated amounts of Ammonium and Iodide, which would be devastating to environment and wildlife and in Wyoming they found Benzene at 50 times higher than safe levels advice. What was even more upsetting is that a June 2015 report (at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-04/u-s-epa-study-finds-only-limited-water-pollution-from-fracking) is reported by the news as ‘EPA Study of Fracking Finds ‘No Widespread, Systemic’ Pollution‘, there is no way to tell who to believe, but the reports stated in the past as well as some of the actions give way to the notion that big business has a hold over the EPA, not the other way around. What is also interesting in the Bloomberg article is ““Now the Obama administration, Congress, and state governments must act on that information to protect our drinking water, and stop perpetuating the oil and gas industry’s myth that fracking is safe,” said Lauren Pagel, Earthwork’s policy director, in an e-mail“, I myself would have gone a step further and make the children of the people behind the EPA report drink the water from these wells and watch how scared those parents would suddenly become. I wonder if we see any proclamations that their children are allergic to water. The crisis in Flint Michigan is another piece of evidence. Important that this is NOT about fracking, but about the mishandling of evidence regarding the quality of water. Water with heavy metals (lead) tends to be really unhealthy and the fact that one member of the EPA was involved only shows that big business finds a way to take the lead, or is that lead to profit.

As I personally see it. Fracking is nothing more than fake money. Some call it printing your own cash, which is one side, but consider that you are printing £100 that note would cost you £30 in paper and £85 in ink? How profitable is printing money then? Especially as the increased price of ink is one that both government ignore and corporations forget to mention. And the image of Balmoral Castle? Well, to cover the losses, that ‘piece de resistance’ could actually got on the market to cover the losses and that is not too far-fetched I reckon. So far there is not one place that can clearly show the benefit without the out of control risks, making this solution a non-option before it even starts.

Fracking? Get the Frack out of here!


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