Tag Archives: Patrick Artus

Patsy Ross and the curse of greed

Yes, we can do all kinds of things in Davos, Switzerland. We can enjoy cheese; we can enjoy the white slopes of Davos and not to mention learn about greed in the World Economic Forum. One article to start with Fortune, who gives us ‘Wilbur Ross Tells Davos: U.S. Is Done ‘Being a Patsy’ on Trade‘ (at http://fortune.com/2018/01/24/davos-2018-trump-wilbur-ross-trade-war-tariff/). The article brings up a few things and has a great ending (from a comedy point of view). With: “Ross also issued a warning against misinterpreting the Trump administration’s hardline approach to trade, in what could foretell what Trump himself will communicate to the Davos crowd on Friday. “We don’t intend to abrogate leadership,” Ross said. “Leadership is different from being a sucker and being a patsy.”“, you see if that was actually true than you would have had fairness in mind with the Trans Pacific Partnership. That document is a joke giving all the power to business and leave governments running for the hills as they get sued for diminished profits, in addition the TPP would not have given additional powers to patents leaving the option of generic medication in the basement. That cursed piece of parchment should never have been allowed to be completed to the degree it was, in secret and without proper open consultation. Now, we agree and accept that this was basically before the Trump administration and they rightfully opposed it, yet the dangers that the people of 12 nations are exposed to and exploited by is just too large. Consider the quote “Critics on the left also said the TPP would pave the way for companies to sue governments that change policy on, say, health and education to favour state-provided services“, since when is any corporation allowed to endanger the health of people by suing for damages? How greedy and stupid does a government need to get by endangering their citizens to such a setting? The full text (at https://www.mfat.govt.nz/en/about-us/who-we-are/treaties/trans-pacific-partnership-agreement-tpp/text-of-the-trans-pacific-partnership), also gives other dangers. Part of the deal was that, large pharmaceutical corporations (most of them American) want to extend the life of their patents, arguing that having spent billions to bring their research to fruition they should be entitled to a just reward so they can invest the profits into developing new medicines, the issue is that that timeframe had been given and they merely want to double that profit as much as possible. Yet in light of an aging population the effect is that generic medication becomes a long term inability driving cost up for the retired population by a lot, in some cases well over 100% more. So as we read that “Time Inc. chief content officer Alan Murray, agreed that pacts brokered decades ago “need a facelift,”“, the people are not given a fair shake in all this, it is all about the large corporations, whilst their tax accountability is off the table, making the forum a very imbalanced exercise. So as we saw the Patsy mention of Wilbur Ross, we are treated to no approach to keep the ‘jokers’ of Wall Street in check, there the political wings all fall silent and that is where the kneejerk dangers are. The law has failed the people, the Wall Street gains are beyond normal whilst those getting the cash seem to remains non-taxable, or taxable to merely the smallest possible degree. In this The Financial Times has an additional setting (at https://www.ft.com/content/cb18f700-011b-11e8-9650-9c0ad2d7c5b5). The emphasis on TTIP over TTP, as well as In this we see that he “repeated a willingness to revive negotiations on trade with the European Union“, yet left the United Kingdom unmentioned, which I see is merely a shot across the bow. In this Davos has been making jabs in that direction for 2 days now. In a place where every word and specific mentions are essential, it comes with clear setting on poses, stances and hand gestures, we see the total disregard and consideration regarding Brexit, or Brexit mentions in the same way that toilet paper advertises ‘softness’.

Finally, there is a continuation from yesterday’s blog as we see (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/live/2018/jan/24/davos-2018-merkel-macron-mnuchin-inequality-slavery-wef-day-2-live), the mention “Macron hails French recovery“, which sounds nice, but there is no evidence on that, only overly optimistic views for 2018. So as France still had 9.8% unemployment in July 2017, that against 4.2% in the UK and 3.6% in Germany, France is a long way away from hailing ‘recovery’. In addition, it was the view of Natixis Research that was used by Reuters to give us: “With growing optimism on the health of the Euro zone economy and its equity markets, it’s easy to forget that GDP growth in some countries such as France is somewhat below what one would expect at this stage in the cycle, with forecasts of under 2 percent for 2017 and 2018. According to Natixis’ research, structural unemployment and the rise in numbers of young people with no qualifications are a drag on the Gallic economy and will keep holding it back. “When the structural unemployment rate is as high as in France currently (more than 9%), recruitment difficulties will very prematurely stop growth,” Patrick Artus, who heads research at the French bank“, as such he uses a more academic stance, but our views partially align, France is not out of the woods yet and the Draghi Stimulus will still hit France as well because that money needs to come from somewhere in the end and France stands well over minus 2 trillion Euro. That is the part all the players are ignoring whilst the paths are made for large corporations, whilst the need to dam the flow through proper corporate taxation. None of that is properly in place in Europe (and the UK needs to fix a few things too). And as the people get to hear from Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair on how Brexit is a mistake, the first part of my prediction comes out. I only need to see one of the five as mentioned last week to make a similar remark to make the prediction I made over a week ago come true. Yet in all this there is also a benefit to get soon enough. You see as the US is now hitting others with steep tariff increases, he is directly giving the danger that all the others (probably with the exception of Japan), will hit back by doing the same to video games, when that happens America will get a massive hit to that $130 billion market which is predominantly American, in this the tariffs would equally hit the digital sold titles. In light of the numbers, The US is making a dangerous move that could hit them harder than they bargained for.

The fact that Digital game revenue surpassed $10 billion in December 2017 alone gives rise to the awkwardly bad decision that the US set itself up for. We will see if the last day of Davos gives us a few more pointers on how large corporations will see more opportunities come your way that is if we can believe Breitbart. That is how we got the news from the Washington Post with ‘Breitbart called Davos a collective of ‘leftist elites’ and ‘corporate cronies.’ Then Trump said he was going’, the article is not really giving us anything besides the views that Breitbart has and therefore not really informative, but they seem to touch on the part that I found interesting, is Davos about upbeat presentations, or is it the one informal place where certain power players can align their presentations because there will be large shifts in 2018, France seems to be starting the events that will hit the people in Europe, in this Reuters also reported on Italy’s view with: “Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni sent a message to US President Donald Trump on Wednesday (Jan 24) that leaders can defend their countries’ interests but must respect existing international agreements”, which is a truth, yet as several sides are hitting the European Community, it is a view that raises other questions on current international agreements .

In the end, Fortune dot come gives us two additional parts. The love of blockchain and the need for smart data will be driving elements over the next few years. None of that was a real surprise, but the amount of push towards blockchain was a larger surprise that I thought it would be. Forbes (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/dantedisparte/2018/01/28/one-thing-is-clear-from-davos-blockchain-is-out-of-beta), the power is seen in “While Blockchain and digital assets were widely featured on the main stage at Davos, perhaps the most insightful conversations were taking place in standing room only events hosted by groups like the Global Blockchain Business Council, whose CEO, Jamie Smith, and chairman, Tomicah Tillemann, have emerged as global emissaries helping Blockchain go mainstream. Indeed, Jamie Smith has made it her personal mission to be the explainer-in-chief of this powerful technology so that more of the world can grasp its potential”. I am still not convinced! You see, the Blockchain is clever and it is one that has great potential, yet the push of a solution that is unregulated and in addition to that it is an option for others to skate around the laws, because the use of blockchain will raise legislation to another level. This was partially discussed in the Business Insider on October 20th (at http://www.businessinsider.com/blockchain-cryptocurrency-regulations-us-global-2017-10). With: “Blockchain is the technology of choice for many start-ups. As per research by Outlier Ventures Research Team in May to June of 2016, 200 new start-ups were added in six weeks. Businesses and start-ups popped up around the virtual technology and sprouted with lightning speed. While many countries are supporting the development of the digital currencies, thus encouraging new ways of transacting and new businesses to bud, there are some that have boycotted the new technology, deeming it as an illegal negative disruption that brings financial instability and global economic unrest”. There is no denying the view that Davos is spreading, yet the push (partially implied in the Business Insider) to get Blockchain approved and mainstream by 2025 is a larger issue than some realise. The banking industry that took close to two decades to accept ATM’s to the degree it did in the end is now setting a new digital path in less than 10. That worries me, not because of the digital leap forward, but because of WHY they are doing it and I feel certain that we will see more and more revelations in the next 2 years.

It is my personal feeling that it is a greed driven path and that never spells any good for the people at large around, because they end up paying for it all, one way or another.

 

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European Exodus Community

There is a reality that people seem to miss. There is a reality that the people at large have been ignoring for far too long. Big business had been until early this year trivialising the entire Brexit issue. Some started the catchphrase ‘Bremain’, but that went out of fashion fast. At some point, in October 2015 something expected happened. An American opened his mount (in this case Trade representative Michael Froman), which gave the Britons “If you leave EU you face barriers to trading with America“, Is that really so? In my view, if the Democratic Party does not get its A-game in place, many will not want to be in trade with a nation that cannot pay its bill anyway. You see, if Brexit becomes a reality, the Euro will take a sizeable dive, which will also hurt the US Dollar. More important, as the US has not been able to keep any kind of control on their budgeting, the US issue would take additional tumbles. Consider that the US exports $57 billion to the UK, should one direction fall away, than so does the other direction, you see pharmaceuticals can come from India, Vehicles can come from Japan and Medical Technical equipment can come from places like the Netherlands (to some extent). We are looking at an easy 12 billion going somewhere else. So that part is not a given, yes, UK export might have a few hitches, yet when other players are found for at least 20 billion in goods, new arrangements will be an option (very fast), not so much for the US of A.

Yet, I get it. The USA is afraid, very afraid because of what the Euro changes will bring and their fear is escalating. This we get from Euractiv (at https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/majority-of-french-back-holding-frexit-referendum/), who is now proclaiming that “53% of French surveyed would like to hold a referendum on their country’s continued EU membership“, an issue I saw coming a long time ago. i was the first one keeping my eye on this, and even as Hollande and Sarkozy are trying to make other ‘arrangements’ they now realise that non-compliance with the French voters will mean that the bulk will demand Marine Le Pen be elected, another prediction I saw coming. More important, should Brexit be averted, than Frexit still remains a real risk. It implies that American will almost be forced to send their own Al Jolson European Tour 2016-2017, yet unlike Al Jolson, this tour will not be a sell-out success, it will be seen as a painful reminder of America not cleaning ‘house’ in the 2004-2009 era. An era that brought many nations to the edge of despair. Now we see the Obama administration trying the option of Al Jolson singing ‘can I have a little more please‘, an idea many Europeans will regard as offensive. The changes will give additional worry. From one perspective, if the dollar collapses, export from America should go through the roof, but the overly mismanaged economy gives a clear clarion call that the funds to cate to this need would end up being insufficient. The latter part is my own speculation, I have no hard numbers supporting that part. From all the export, one in eight is about machinery. This seems to be a solid one, especially from the excellence in the past, yet in all this we in equal measure ignore that the US is not the only place to get this stuff, so if a part will move to an Asian provider, American wealth numbers will take a sharp dive, all that because Michael Froman seemed to have forgotten that they are not the only player in town.

Yet I digress!

There is now the realistic concern that a European Exodus could hit the community, a real danger, which also means that certain borders will come into a different play. This will impact the USA as well as Europe. Yet instead of a clear summary, the press seems to be throwing too much in the air with emotional plays from both sides of that isle which I consider to be not so productive. We see not so helpful articles by Jane McConnell on ‘why Brexit would be apocalyptic for the games industry‘ with quotes like “British gaming receives a wealth of talent and funding as a result of being in the EU“, which is a joke to say the least. When we see PC Gamer giving us info regarding Ubisoft Montreal “but it was built primarily on the strength of Quebec’s generous subsidies and tax breaks, and with a newly-elected government facing serious debt problems, those breaks are being cut back. That has CEO Yannis Mallat taking another look at the studio’s long-term future“, so that billion Euro firm in France is ‘surviving’ due to tax breaks. (at http://www.pcgamer.com/ubisoft-ceo-ponders-reductions-to-quebec-tax-breaks/). Now, remember that this article is 2 years old. So basically in the time that Ubisoft created mere mediocrity in gaming. In all that time only the recently released ‘the Division‘ seems to be up to critical scrap. So how about not catering to tax breaks? The final argument “and thanks to the EU working time directive, we are guaranteed 20 days a year of paid annual leave, offering us all us all at least one day we can happily set aside for binge playing. That’s worth remembering“, how interesting that she relies on that part, not on the part of government accountability which is actually driving people away. In addition, remember Markus Persson, simple small software firm in Sweden? It made over 2 billion in the end (from Minecraft). So, let’s not cater to mediocrity! The same issue can be stated for Hello Games. It is about the reset the bar for gaming quality, both small firms, just the two visible in a group of dozens. These tax breaks are there for the small players, but they have been overwhelmingly used by large players to not dig into the ‘quality setting’ frontiers they should have been in.

I feel personally decently certain that Brexit is becoming a reality. If the press would focus on truth and fact, not on emotion to sway the people, there would be a certainty that Brexit will be. It will drive Frexit too. The EEC will become a near death-trap for the last one in, which means that Italy will not be in a happy place between 2017 and 2018. I expect it will drive the membership numbers of Lega Nord with Matteo Salvini, I cannot tell how strong, because I know too little of the other Italian players. Yet in all this, certain other players are rearing its ugly head. You see, when we go back to November 2015 we see a paper by Natixis (at http://cib.natixis.com/flushdoc.aspx?id=88106), there we see “In the worst case scenario, the United Kingdom leaves the EU and does not join the European Free Trade Association; there would then be custom tariffs between the United Kingdom and the EU, but given the size of the trade flows, the impact on the economies would be limited. The United Kingdom has a very small industry and its exports of services, which are very specialised, would probably not be too severely affected“, this is the view I also ‘synched’ to. Basically, the bad sides of the EU towards the UK are massively larger than the good sides. The Natixis paper by Patrick Artus might not be complete, but it gives the goods that matter, from that point of view.

You see, the short-sighted users of a spreadsheet forgot the drive that Brexit could have, the view I predicted already in 2014. In addition, the growth and danger that right parties all over Europe became, fuelling one another is a side I did not see coming either. In addition to that view, we saw in November that Wolf Richter, Wolf Street in Business insider had “A Brexit would be ‘a non-event’“. I wonder where that came from. Oh no, I need not wonder because they mention Natixis and quote the relevant parts.

So what changed?

Well, the part I foresaw and everyone ignored is that Frexit is slowly becoming a reality. Now we have ourselves a lot more than a mere horserace, because this is what Natixis can’t use. It is in massive parts a French conglomerate, not a global one. In that regard Frexit will impact on Natixis as a whole. In this I mean that Natixis will see its profit margins decrease by a fair bit (we are talking a game of billions here), whilst in equal part limit certain economic movements and options. That makes it a different event. And the less we say about the impact on the US the better. Ah, here I am wrong!

You see, Lieutenant general Frederick Benjamin Hodges gives us the following last Tuesday (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-eu-usa-idUSKCN0WH0QJ), we get ‘Brexit would weaken NATO versus Russia‘, which is not entirely correct, is it Freddie? It is not a lie either! The mess seems complicated but it is not. We can agree that the General is under orders here. I reckon massively from his Commander in Chief who dropped the ball several times and is sending the General out into an economic field that is not ‘his’ theatre of war. Here is the part that is unwritten (not by me), whilst everyone was looking at Lehman Brothers and other Wall Street players, they all forgot about Natixis, who has a wealth portfolio that delivers an annual return that outranks more than just a few EU nations. When that limits and dwindles many players will panic, because the survival of some is now depending on continuity. Something that behind the screens of Brexit and Frexit comes to terms. With Brexit there was enough time to make adjustments, with Frexit that time will not be there, apart from the fact that it will force Germany to take a different course (one that is expected, but cannot be predicted). In all this that is only one element. The General is right that NATO will weaken, what is not given is that it will change the expenditure that some nations are making, which will directly hit Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, which will now be a sizeable dent in the American economy too. Apart from a collapsing Euro, America will get hit by a double whammy, that part is not given (it is ignored by too many), not shown and not elaborated on. It is how expenditure changes. NATO existed since long before the Euro was a reality, but as those evolutions were taken, by lowering defence spending on a national level in Europe, we see that this ignored cluster will have serious consequences, very much so for the American military hardware industry.

Can I be wrong?

That is what matter, for me as much as for you the reader. We will be depending on two elements, Is Brexit a reality in the first and will it force Frexit in the second. The first is less up in the air, but not a given, in the second, when Brexit happens, Frexit will be a certainty. Even if Brexit does not happen now, the French are worried and they do not want to be the last in the row of decision makers as Italy currently is, the fact that 53% want this referendum is worrying to many players (except for Marine Le Pen). Both Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy cannot ignore the cries of the French, if they do, they will feel the discomfort that Marie Antoinette had on October 16th 1793 (well, one can fantasize, can one not?), because France is for the French (as they see it), not for the Americans. They will come down hard on their government, which is playing perfectly into the hands of Marine Le Pen. No matter what happens, with or without Brexit. Germany cannot sustain the environment without the other three players, which places the UK now in a tactical predicament. Relying on France to keep cool, this is what drives Brexit to additional momentum.

So all this will drive the European Exodus Community, to some extent people, because national business needs the motivated people to get businesses working and moving forward, but for the most it will be about small businesses in a national setting. Those who adapt fast will grow. Larger corporations will feel the disastrous drag of not changing gears, of not adapting to the new environment, mainly because those head offices (many in America and Asia) will not comprehend the old systems that drove them and the changes required to make them. Those depending on decision makers will find that delays will cost increasingly until (often enough) the decision has been made too late. Rowing against the current will be a new slogan that larger players will have to deal with, driving their talents to smaller places where speed is available. This exodus environment will hit in many places, in many layers on several fronts. A front where only the adjusted will make headway. I wonder whether 2018 will be the year of culling the corporate herd. It is too soon to tell, but it will for the most depend on the brethren Brexit and Frexit both leaving this rocky boat called EEC!

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