Tag Archives: Portugal

Cheese Pizza with Oregano

I love Pizza, I hardly ever get it, merely because the people here tend to rely on Domino’s and Pizza Hut and neither tends to be a true pizza (as I personally see it). As I walked through Sydney over the last week, it dawned on me just the massive lack of actual decent Pizza places in Sydney. It is almost like they are no longer in a sustainable environment. People got used to the cheap solutions two chains bring and they call it Pizza. All the people in the neighbourhood accepted it as the real deal and now, we forgot what true awesome Pizza is like. Now, I am a little off the wall here. I love my Cheese Pizza, with the 5 cheeses and loads of Oregano on top. So when I think Pizza, I always think of the Bravo Trattoria Pizza’s at Crow’s Nest, they are my favourite! Yet, is it about pizza, or the place, or what Pizza actually is? You see, it does matter when we consider the Financial Review (at https://www.afr.com/personal-finance/italys-debt-barely-sustainable-ubs-chief-economist-20180601-h10uun), we see here what I said weeks ago and last week to some degree. When we see “Italy’s debt-to-GDP ratio of 130 per cent is “borderline sustainable”, the UBS top economist says. There is a level of the primary budget surplus which keeps debt stable, and above which you can begin to pay down your obligations, Kapteyn explains. For Italy this figure is a surplus of 1.3 per cent of GDP, versus the actual surplus of 2 per cent. It’s a skinny buffer of around 0.8 percentage points which at current debt levels “doesn’t inspire confidence”, Kapteyn says“. That is merely the tip of the iceberg. The issue is not that it is Italy, it matters more that it is one of the big four. UK, France, Germany and Italy are the large economic suppliers of a 27 nation bloc where they basically represent well over 50% of the EU economy, the fact that they all are in deep debt does not help and the fact that the UK is getting out, or is that ‘was trying to get out‘? So when we see add the issues of the UK and now we see how the Italian issues are growing and France is not far behind. A 27 nation failure due to the inability to set proper budgets, deal with debt levels and add to that a failed economy jump start that is now close to 3 trillion Euro printed with no real prospects to pay for any of it. That revelation is why Italy seems to be vacating the union. The action by President Sergio Mattarella by rejecting the Eurosceptic finance minister and put in his place Giovanni Tria a pro-EU professor. This is perhaps the first setting where we see that voting is no longer an issue for any government, the holier than thou setting of protecting the Euro and the EU against all odds, whilst those in the EU commissions are massively overpaid is setting the foundation of a dangerous mindset. The issue that the AFR is bringing to light is “markets are not pricing in the risk of an Italian exit, they are repricing the risk of a Italian default“. I always rated the Iexit (aka iLeave) setting very low, the two populist parties in charge was not that realistic in 2016 and when Marine Le Pen was ‘surpassed’ by a former investment funds manager we were all wondering what would come next and I thought it would lower the chances of the populists in Italy. And the news is not getting any better. We see that with “The European economy hit a wall over the final months of last year, with growth dropping from a quarterly growth rate of 0.7 per cent to more like 0.4 per cent. Economists are unclear of the reasons for the slowdown, but broadly believed the European economy would quickly rebound“, the issue I personally see is ‘broadly believed the European economy would quickly rebound‘, not the slowdown. You see there is no evidence that there is an actual quick rebound. There is every chance that there will be a rebound, but it will not be quick. The fact that these so called experts are all thumbs when it comes to their forecasting and with 0.3% unaccounted for, we can see that they are in the dark or playing the bad news cycle. I personally believe it to be the second one. And the Italian issues are increasing. Not merely the debt settings, it is a changed political landscape. Even as Paolo Savona was replaced by Giovanni Tria, there is still “Mr Di Maio will be vice-premier and minister for labour and economic development, including trade policy. Matteo Salvini, head of the League, will also be vice-premier and interior minister in charge of immigration“. This we got from the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/79cf905c-64a8-11e8-90c2-9563a0613e56). This duo is going to be a lot more important than even I initially thought. They now have a handle on labour economic development and immigration will see larger changes. There is no way to predict whether that is good or bad. If we listen to people like George Soros we are instantly rejecting liberalism, because it is easy to be a liberalist when you are a multi billionaire, yet he had no issues to short sell US$10 billion worth of Pound sterling, earning a billion in the process during the 1992 Black Wednesday UK currency crisis. He did nothing wrong, he played the system when he could and make a billion. Things like that never go away and he must regard the EU zone as a very profitable short sell opportunity, which makes whatever he is trying to do dangerous, so in that light all his settings for “Best for Britain pushes for second referendum on Theresa May’s deal with EU“, a cause he is backing is very dangerous. In this by pushing the UK away from Brexit, the pressure on Italy decreases. The dangers become that irresponsible spending in the big four can go on for several more years and there is no way to control the ECB and their puppet masters. Unelected people deciding on the descent of financial futures in 27 nations that is how I personally see it. You can agree or disagree, yet ask yourself when was the last time that any European got a decent explanation on who of how the 3 trillion euro spend was going to be dealt with? You see over a decade in an economic setting that is close to the late 90’s, whilst keeping strict austerity in play all over Europe. There is quite literally no way that this will happen, because politicians will adjust their policy towards any speculative proclaimer of ‘the European economy would quickly rebound‘ economists, whilst not prosecuting them when they get it wrong (merely because making any claim of expectation is not a crime, is it?). A setting that the people have no chance of winning, hell, they won’t ever be able to break even on this. This shows that Brexit will be a hard, but the better way to go. When billionaires start proclaiming how bad it is and how ‘we all’ can get a better deal that is when you become afraid for your life and that is what is at stake. And we see this in the Australian Financial Review with ““creeping into the market”, Kapteyn says – “a potentially dangerous one”. After the glory days of 2017 in which investors basked in a globally synchronised upswing, markets are now faced with the potential return of the two-speed world economy: the US vs the rest“, so when we get “America’s economy is growing around 3.5 per cent; some independent analysts estimate growth as fast as 4 per cent. Europe is “at best” growing by 2 per cent“, that shows the dangers, because as George Soros is getting the winnings, the other players do not, from my point of view it is a form of leeching, leeching Europe dry for the term of a generation or better. You see again it is a personal view, it is why Best for Britain is getting the support, it is about delaying Brexit at the very least for as long as possible, merely because it stops the game people like George Soros are likely to be playing and when that stops Europe can start bringing things about, hopefully for the better, especially as the ECB will be forced to print money for all kinds of dubious reasons, dubious because kick-starting the economy after you printed 3 trillion to try it twice is just ridiculous, that money has to be paid back at some point and everyone is in denial about the latter part.

Yet this is still about Italy, not the UK. You see, Italians want what is best for Italy and I am fine with that, I believe in a healthy sense of national pride. Yet with “Italy’s debt-to-GDP ratio of 130 per cent is ‘borderline sustainable’” they are facing an ugly truth, Italy needs to face 5-15 years of Austerity, yet with the ECB trying to economically equalise Europe, at the cost of the big four, so it amounts to Italy trying on top of an economy for 60 million Italians, whilst they are weighted with invoices for close to 250 million Europeans who can’t be bothered to get their house in order. it amounts to giving an addicted gambler $500 whilst they are only allowed to use $10 for gambling, you tell me how long it takes for things to go really wrong, and that is pretty much a given on this situation. It was seen in the Netherlands 2012 and 2013, and now we see, when we look at the Dutch government statements with in September 2017 we see “The economy will grow by 3.3% in 2017 and a projected 2.5% in 2018“, we see the EU commission giving the Netherlands a ‘mere’ 3.2% last month for that same timespan. Now the 0.1% is actually pretty good, but it is still dangerous when it is a 0.1% in Italy, the issue is seen when we see that the Netherlands has a 65% debt level against Italy at 130% of GDP, and the Dutch are actually in a much better position, so the 0.1% is no actual pain level. Portugal, Spain, Greece, Belgium and Italy all have debt levels well over 100% of GDP, several other nations are somewhere between 60% and 80% of GDP, whilst France is at 99.8%. It is the debt levels that are excellent for banks and not so good for the people. You see, when the big four are required to pay €254 billion in interest each year and that is just the large 4, how do you think that this gets paid for? A decade of inability to set a proper budget and all this is before we consider the €3,000 billion that the ECB printed for what they call Quantative Easing. That is what Italy needs to get away from and at 135% they have the hardest job of all. So when you see that all that money goes all to the banks, short sold loans that they never had the money for to pay for can you see just how dangerous the George Soros setting is in all this? It all impacts Italy to some degree. These are not merely the facts; there is also presentation, representation and misrepresentation. The issue is in the Australian Review, it is the view of Arend Kapteyn. Yet where is he at when he gives us “We are only now at the beginning to find out how responsible or irresponsible [the new coalition government] are going to be on the fiscal side“, you see, the setting then becomes what is irresponsible? Being not pro Eurozone, being forced to default whilst the alternatives are just too unacceptable for the Italian people? So is he the pro greed setting, or the pro solution setting, because with such debt levels we can almost unanimously accept that these two choices are mutually exclusive. The most interesting political part is that Enzo Moavero Milanesi is now Minister of Foreign Affairs. I would have thought that the populists wanted that part for themselves, the fact that this post is now with an Italian independent is an interesting choice, if the populists can work with this setting and use it to maximise their economy by setting new option and opportunities, Italy gets an optional path where minimised immigration and maximised economy could have a setting where the Italian unemployment rates could fall to a number below 10% over the next 24 months (highly speculative on my side). If they pull that off, the entire euro sceptic setting could grow a lot faster than would have been possible with Paolo Savona in the mix.

No matter how you slice the Pizza, the factual and actual quality Italian dish is under massive amounts of pressure on several sides and any Italian thinking that their life will get better in the short run is just gobbling down a [Unnamed Franchise] Pizza, bland food that look like a UFO and tastes not as great. The fact is that like Germany did earlier this decade, Italy will know 5-10 years of hardship, yet when persevered Italy could have an actual growing economy for a much longer time, something to look forward to (if you are Italian). Can this government pull it off? That is hard to say because it has been shown that the actions of the ECB are close to non-stoppable and that will still impacts the bottom line. It is good for America and George Soros in the short term, yet after that they will not care and Europe will not be going anywhere ever soon. That danger is just ignored all over the place. Just 2 days ago the Financial Times also gave us “There are still two weeks to go before Riga, but naming an end date for QE right now would be like the ECB shooting itself in the Italian boot,” said Carsten Brzeski, economist at ING-DiBa. “The Italian situation has tilted the balance towards the doves [and] clearly calls for the ECB to keep its options open and even to make clear that they will extend QE at least until December” (at https://www.ft.com/content/dd6b5d70-6413-11e8-90c2-9563a0613e56), which is already an extension of well over a year. so when we see “The ECB has pledged to reinvest an average of €15bn a month over the first four months of next year, using the proceeds of government bonds bought under QE that have now matured” in that same article, we need to consider ‘bonds that have now matured‘, so that danger is seen in the Spanish setting where we see from some sources: “Spain will have refinancing requirements that exceed €300 billion per annum before 2022. In 2018, 41.2 billion euro, in 2019, 82.4, in 2020 83.9 and in 2021 58.5 billion euro, with 60.4 billion maturing in 2022“, so this fiscal year Spain will be required to find €41 billion, or increase taxes or cut services, and it will be twice that amount next year around, so how exactly is Spain in a setting to get the economy back whilst the debts are rising beyond normal control? Italy faces “84 billion euro maturities in 2018, 161 billion in 2019, 164 billion in 2020 and 172.5 billion euro in 2021” do the Italian people know that they are in such deep and hot waters? I wonder, and when they get confronted with that part of the bad news cycle, what will the previous and opposition then proclaim? I wonder if we will see true honest coverage on that blame game. I will order a decent Pizza to watch that unfold, because there are merely the two larger players in the EU-debt zone bloc confronted with the hardships that will hit them hard. Pushing these debts forward is just not a workable solution, not when the debt exceeded 130% of GDP, if you doubt my words, just talk to the average Greek in Athens and ask him how his quality of life is nowadays.

So as you wanted that your slice of life included a slice of pizza, consider the 99% in Italy who soon face the reality that they are no longer able to afford that for a long time to come.

 

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A changing language

Europe is in several stages of unease; there is the spending of Mario Draghi, Brexit remains on the mind of many. Yet, the one change that is now more and more in the foreground of many is the problem that Turkey seems to be. There are those set on the stage to end Turkey as a NATO member and subsequent becoming part of the EU, there are things going forward and backward, but the language involved in all this is changing, so are the settings for the meetings yet to come. In all this the latest Turkish act to double down on the Russian S-400 purchases in 2020. There is, as I stated unease and as I see it the entire EU-Turkey mess is now a dance around unclear settings. Yet the settings are founded on what some would call, clear and blatant lies.

So to recap, on March 26th in the Bulgarian port city of Varna with the attendance of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, there will be a summit. The given setting is “to discuss EU-Turkey relations as well as regional and international issues“, this we got from the spokesperson for Donald Franciszek Tusk. The meeting held at the leaders’ level will be hosted as a working dinner, a statement signed by Tusk and Juncker said. Yet soon thereafter it begins. With: “Ankara has been stressing that the EU fails to understand the challenges that the county faces, and calls on all sides to take Turkey’s concerns into consideration, particularly against the PKK and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which carried out the failed July 15 coup attempt“, yet how is that true when it has been clear for the longest time “Turkey witnessed the bloodiest coup attempt in its political history on July 15th, 2016, when a section of the Turkish military launched a coordinated operation in several major cities to topple the government and unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan“, this is the quote from Aljazeera, but they were not the only one giving this.

The Turkish government blames the failed coup attempt on Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish preacher and businessman who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999. So as we accept that the Gülen movement is classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey under the assigned names Gülenist Terror Organisation (Fethullahçı Terör Örgütü, FETÖ) or Parallel State Organisation (Paralel Devlet Yapılanması, PDY), we see the link offered, yet another path in this is “MIT officials admitted that they received the very first intelligence report about a possible attack on July 15, only hours before their own headquarters was under heavy artillery fire“, as well as “As of today, more than 100,000 people have been sacked or suspended and 50,000 arrested in an unprecedented crackdown. The government has deemed the crackdown necessary to ‘root out all coup supporters from the state apparatus’“. When we consider those parts, we need to realise that the Millî İstihbarat Teşkilatı (MİT) was completely out of any loop, which makes Turkish Intelligence not just a flawed setting, it would implicate that it has limited counter terrorism options and no resources to speak of (in intelligence terms).

In opposition to this, there would be enough data to offer that it was an internal issue from within the Turkish military and whatever opposes Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey got a fat target painted on them. This fills and completes the view we need to have of Turkey much better. In support of this we need to consider that one exiled cleric could not have orchestrated the military support that would have been required and that was seen in action. The width of the Turkish military acting seems to be that of an internal star chamber than a clerical imprint on the military, the latter would have given more visibility to other ranking officers within the Turkish armed forces. As this becomes more and more visible and accepted, we are treated to the view on the unacceptable acts against the Kurds yet again, which followed the Turkish official view of the coup that they ‘survived’.

So in this light the setting for March will be one that is a puzzle. You see as Turkey keeps on playing this game, their credibility will only go down further. The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) (at http://www.ecfr.eu/article/essay_eu_turkey_relations_the_beginning_of_the_end_7226) gives us: “Both Turkey and the EU need the continuation of this partnership. It is a matter of definition whether this partnership will be in the form of full membership or in a different form. What is important is not to break the process and not to cause alienation. The need for sustainable EU-Turkey relations obliges both sides to take steps to honour their commitment to integration“, we can accept that, but at this point, is continuation feasible? We see the shifting language that shows that Germany is less and less taken with Turkey, now siding more and more with France on the anti-Turkey alliance. It gets worse for Turkey as we now hear: “A Turkish court on Wednesday denied entry to the German ambassador to Ankara to the hearing of Selahattin Demirtas, the former co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)“, which we get from http://www.dw.com/en/turkish-court-denies-german-ambassador-entry-to-kurdish-politicians-trial/a-42579957, even as France is trying to work with Turkey regarding a ‘diplomatic road map‘ on Syria, the sounds of accusation of Turkey violating international law was not far behind it, so there is pressures on nearly every level. Only 12 hours ago, Deutsche Welle gave us “Even NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg wouldn’t hazard a guess ahead of this week’s defense ministers’ meeting. He said Turkey needs to clarify the status of the contract” (at http://www.dw.com/en/turkish-russian-missile-deal-puts-nato-on-edge/a-42572965), as I said earlier, the language is changing. As we see ‘Turkey needs to clarify the status of the contract‘ that it is about cancelling the contract? Yet in that respect, what would Turkey demand in return? How much is that going to cost and where does that invoice end up? You see, when you consider Reuters with ‘U.S. tells NATO allies spending plans still falling short‘ (at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-nato/u-s-tells-nato-allies-spending-plans-still-falling-short-idUSKCN1FY013), where we see “Spain has said it will not meet the 2024 target. Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Portugal, Norway and Denmark are also lagging. Hungary expects to meet the goal only by 2026“, as well as “France will increase its defense spending by more than a third between 2017 and 2025, but Germany, is not expected to reach the 2 percent target by 2024“, this gives us that the three large economic anchors of the European Union cannot get there. It is these elements that make me wonder on the changing language involving Turkey. From a setting that would have given a clear rejection of Turkey becoming an EU member, we see the setting of new talks, new events and more ‘collaboration’ projects. I think that France is already learning the hard way that this path leads to nowhere, but the others need Turkey to be a spender here, and Erdogan is using that tactic to his own advantage, because once they are in, you cannot throw them out anymore (the EU that is), not even willingly as the UK is learning the hard way. Even as we accept that to some extent Turkey helps to reduce an influx of Syrian and other migrants and refugees into the EU bloc, the question is to what extent and for which purpose, because once these refugees make it into Turkey, Turkey is either stuck with them or they must ‘divert’ them to another place.

In this, in an earlier blog I mentioned the Visa Free EU travel for Turkey and that they had not met the demands. So as we see “Last week, Turkey manifested determination to restart a new chapter in its ailing relationship with the European bloc by submitting a paper detailing Turkey’s roadmap for the fulfilment of the remaining seven benchmarks of 72 criteria” we need to get worried on the non-committed acts from the EU on the matter which had not been met. It seems like Brussels is trying to find any way to either delay it all or give Turkey a pass, which would be disastrous for several players. This is seen in several articles, in this case the Irish Times gives us: “Instead of formally ending EU membership talks, Dr Merkel said she would look at imposing “real restrictions on economic contact” including through the European Investment Bank, EU aid, World Bank and by blocking talks on expanding Turkey’s customs union agreement with the EU, a move that could hit billions of euro in potential Turkish exports“, whilst the EU themselves was ‘dismissive of call for end to Turkey accession talks‘, stating that this is for the heads of government, European Commission says, so the EU revels in inaction and restrictions in other ways. This is a dangerous and explosive combination.

So even as one issue was the contention in the counter terrorism benchmark which has been the definition of terrorism in the counter-terrorism law that Turkey was called repeatedly to amend in order to comply with European democratic and judicial standards. Now, according to reports, a legal provision will be added soon to the current anti-terror law stating that “any critical expression that does not exceed the boundaries of journalism does not constitute a crime“, how is that enough? As we see the Kurdish issues as shown earlier as well as a new complete failure by the Millî İstihbarat Teşkilatı (MİT) should leave anyone a clear indication that not only is the counter-terrorism failing, there is an increased worry that Turkey does not really comprehends the term ‘counter-terrorism’, in support of that fact, or evidence to that, you should talk to the journalists Deniz Yücel, Huseyin Akyol, Ragip Duran, Ayse Duzkan, and Huseyin Bektas. Oh no, you can’t they are in jail! Turkey could have had a genuine excuse, but they lost that option when they denied the German ambassador to Turkey access to the court proceedings. That alone should be regarded as evidence to dismiss the ascension of Turkey to the EU.

And whilst the entire language on Turkey seems to be in a fluid state, the Brexit noise goes on, whilst some are relying on fear-mongering with noise like: “You could have a permanent Operation Stack for 20 miles” regarding shipping between the UK and the EU, ‘could‘ being the operative word. So how large was that ‘stack’ in the 70’s and 80’s? In addition we see the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/0a8799c6-1190-11e8-940e-08320fc2a277) give us: “Brussels is urging EU leaders to consider radical options such as raiding corporate tax receipts and money raised from selling carbon emission permits to fill a €15bn a year budget hole left by Brexit“, in addition it gives us: “the need to find more money for priorities such as border control and joint defence, mean negotiations are likely to be even more poisonous than previous EU tussles over money“, whilst we see “Some member states don’t want to pay more but they want to do more. Other member states want to receive more“, these elements show the desperate state the EU is in now, that whilst Mario Draghi has printed almost 2 trillion Euro in money for ‘Quantative Easing‘. This relates directly to Turkey, because it shows the desperate EU trying to open a many doors as possible, this is how I see the impact of not dismissing Turkey as an EU member at present. So when we see “impose tougher conditions on access to EU funds as a way to force the likes of Poland and Hungary to comply with EU policies on the rule of law and on asylum” as is a given view on the two needing more money, wanting a stronger voice but cannot contribute. Add to that the earlier pressure from the US for NATO member to do more gives a shifted view of the needed activities within the EU, Turkey is seen as the one floating elements that will allow a few players to keep their heads above water, but it is as I personally see it a desperate act from certain short term viewers, that whilst they also know that it will descent EU elements into chaos. As I (again merely a personal view) see it, it would cripple Strasbourg in getting issues resolved and as Turkey fails to comply with humanitarian sides, it could in equal measure become the puppet for Russia for dislodge other item in consideration, an option honoured by perhaps negating some invoices for S-400 systems, spare parts, training and consultancy? It is merely speculative thinking, but would I be wrong? It would work out very well for Turkey, for the other bloc members a lot less so.

A danger that could have been resolved almost 2 years ago, I will let you ponder on the reasons why the EU never negated this danger.

 

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Poly….what? Politics!

It is almost a week ago, yet the news is still rustling through the Middle Eastern meadows. The news is partially all over it. Yet, it is the Business Insider who gave us ‘a plot to shore up the country’s depleted coffers’ (at http://www.businessinsider.com/saudi-arabia-corruption-crackdown-looks-like-a-plot-to-plug-deficit-2017-12), Ambrose Carey makes an interesting point here. The beginning quote “Now a more probable motive for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s unprecedented detention of members of the country’s rich elite is emerging. Reports suggest that detainees are signing away cash and assets to secure their freedom in what looks like an unorthodox bid to plug the kingdom’s gaping budget deficit” could be a given truth. When we consider the Guardian last week with ‘Saudi prince Miteb bin Abdullah pays $1bn in corruption settlement‘, some of us thought that it was interesting not just that the counts of corruption had already been investigated, the idea that there was a ‘get out of jail card‘ for a mere $1,000,000,000 is equally stunning, that I beside the fact that the sum has been agreed upon and that the head of the Saudi National Guard is apparently still smiling after having paid the amount. In light of one of the accusations “awarding contracts to his own firms, including a $10bn deal for walkie talkies and bulletproof military gear worth billions of Saudi riyals” we could see that the price is interestingly light. So does the Business insider have a case?

Well, when we consider how the oil prices have slumped from the almighty $135 to $58 we all have to wonder how the impact on the long term has been. pumping oil might be like printing money at your own convenience, but once the spending spree and the high rises are there, the long term issue is that oil is at 42% of what was and upping production by 193% is just not realistic in the long term. Yet there is another worry. the quote “a huge budget deficit, which stood at $79 billion in 2016. The government has had to use foreign reserves to help cover the revenue shortfall, with the former shrinking by about a third over the last three years. The recession has forced MbS to rein back public spending, alarming cosseted Saudis long accustomed to cradle-to-grave subsidies” does not give it. Even as that is merely the deficit, that and the selling of domestic debt in July gives rise to thoughts, yet we need to wonder how inflated this issue is, as it seems to be presented. Lets not forget that it is less than 10% of the Greek debt and unlike Greece, Saudi Arabia is still getting income from the oil fields. So the need to panic should not be there. And lets face it, who is actually panicking?

Even as the Business Insider is making a nice case. I fear I cannot agree on some of the ‘findings‘ and ‘assumed speculations‘ that they offer. With “So, in all likelihood, MbS will struggle to generate the money he needs. Worse still for him, his actions could have deleterious consequences for the economy. While the acquisition of assets and cash is likely to play well with ordinary Saudis weary of corruption amongst the royals and the business elite, it may unnerve already jittery foreign investors whose engagement is critical to the Crown Prince’s economic plans. Though allies have sought to portray the detentions as an anti-graft campaign aimed at cleaning up the corporate landscape, its apparently arbitrary nature and disregard for property rights and due process will worry the investment community“. You see, it might be correct to some extent, but knowing the greed that some have for mere millions, roughly 99.32554% of that population will not run away from optional billions, that is a given you can take to the bank. From my own point of view, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman can still have it all, the timeline might slip a little, but there are clear signs that there are options to grow opportunity within Saudi Arabia. They still have options to rival Al Jazeera if certain censoring is changed, By investing into tertiary degrees for Saudi’s its dependency for foreign workers will go down, which would be a massive boost for Saudi Arabia and as Saudi Arabia grows its entertainment network it can start opening doors on setting a 5G environment which will have them being amongst those leading the charge in the next mobile evolution which will enable a lot more industry all over the Middle East. In this aging day, pharmaceutical options seem to be the next step. There is no way it can compete with India, but in partnership with India they will have options to grow this industry internally. It seems like that need is too small for Saudi Arabia, yet with 28 million people it could profit by having an industry that is mainly for export within the Middle East that is comprised of 410 million people. That is still a large market that cannot be ignored and as the quality is proven and the export grows, Saudi Arabia could see a drastically reduced need for oil soon thereafter. There are more technology options for Saudi Arabia to enjoy, but the clear path of larger growth has been proven on several counts in several nations to be within the mobile and pharmaceutical industry and that could be the growing start for an entire next generation, because these two fields will have an almost exponential need for Patent lawyers, which means that the legal field will be pushed into revolutionary growth soon after that. Mind you, not merely a local growth, the IP field would enable global growth for Saudi Arabia as well and as this field is set in stone (or marble) it will attract even more foreign investors and opportunity seekers. All issues clearly set in this field and in this the Business Insider is still on the horse that states “The Crown Prince has staked his reputation on the success of an ambitious economic transformation plan, Vision 2030, to wean the country off its dependence on oil, but he needs to fund planned reforms and projects. He was banking on a part-floatation of the national oil company Aramco, which appears to have been postponed for at least a year. The ruthless purge and financial strong-arming could now deter the very western investors and regulators needed to move forward with the sell-off“, yet there is no given that other fields need to stop getting a foothold and as these two (or three) elements are grown within Saudi Arabia, other players will find options to get their own kind of fuzzy drink labelled ‘profit’ in their hands and as such they will still be fighting for a seat at this table called vision 2030. Even as the venue per plate is much higher than expected, the long terms gains are beyond what they are able to make now. With US deficits on the rise, the EU currently has 6 nations that are at risk of breaking the deficit rule (France, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Portugal and Slovenia), so there will be consequences there too, which would imply diminished profit, so those players are looking for seats at tables with loads of gain and that is where Saudi Arabia is one of the few that would accommodate their needs. So as such, Saudi Arabia has options if they have optional controls for greedy mobs. And even as there will be good news stories coming from Strasbourg, there will be eyes on the EU as it will likely dial down the consequences for these six nations. In addition with the Mario Draghi stimulus game where we will see a likely extension into 2018 yet at a lessened 30 billion a month implies that Europe will be diving into close to half a trillion of additional debt, with the likely result that there will be nothing to show for it, no actual economic growth, so in all this debt driven society, Saudi Arabia could have a larger windfall if it plays its cards right. Once certain plays are in place, Saudi Arabia would be more and more primed for export and exporting opportunities to places that ignored and neglected its own infrastructure. In this the US would have to cut costs and corners to a level never seen before as it optionally faces the ridicule for being at best at par and more likely to stray behind Saudi Arabia in the 5G mobile networking, a field they were once the only one dominating in. What a massive set back that will be for the old USA. In this Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman could have the forefront by preferring the Polytechnic sciences over Politics. In his role he cannot avoid politics, but by focussing on Science and technology he has the option to propel Saudi Arabia beyond what others thought possible. So even as it has its issues with deficits and treasury needs, can we rely on the Business Insider that it is so much worse than we expect? I for one am not convinced that this is the case. I might be wrong, but the fact that the larger players are still willing to sell their first born for a seat at that table makes me think that there are a lot more opportunities for investors than many perceive. the question becomes does the House of Saud feel safe letting these opportunities go beyond the national borders to other players? It is always a rocky road to travel. In the end I do believe that it is more about the speed of growth and less about who owns the growth. that should keep plenty of investors tallying their optional profits for some time to come.

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Egotistic Uselessness

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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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An outlying frame of prediction

The Guardian had another interesting article to present, it came online on Jan 1st, but I just read it a mere moment ago. The nice part that this is about data, it is a little bit more about statistics, but I am not a statistician, I am a Data Miner. The title ‘Alarmingly for pollsters, EU referendum poll results depend heavily on methods‘ gave me the jolt I needed (at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jan/01/eu-referendum-polling-results-depend-methods). From my point of view, the entire exercise is a failed event, no matter how you slice it. Before we go into the results, let’s take a quick look at the nations involved:

  1. UK, population 65,081,276
  2. France, population 67,063,000
  3. Germany, population 81,276,000
  4. Italy, population 60,963,000
  5. Spain, population 46,335,000
  6. Sweden, population 9,816,666
  7. Finland, population 5,475,000
  8. Denmark, population 5,673,000
  9. Portugal, population 10,311,000

Now look at two quotes: “It found strong support for the UK’s continuing membership, with an average of 53% of respondents favouring Britain’s continuing membership across nine other countries surveyed“, which might be fair enough, but then we get quote two, which is “Only in Norway, which is not a member of the European Union, would a slight plurality, of 34% to 27%, prefer to see the UK leave and join it outside the club“, this is interesting, because Norway is not one of the nine countries in the mix, which now implies that additional nations had been interviewed, so what happened, the others were less in favour?

Now we add the optional considerations “ICM also investigated the appetite in all these countries to call time on their own membership, in the event that their country staged an in/out referendum“, So ICM had another reasoning entirely, the ‘in the event that their country staged a referendum‘ is central to this, because that means that the questionnaire, the hypotheses and the methodology would be different from the get go, which is not even that central in my thinking process, but it is elemental to the entire event. Now, the question becomes whether this is all part of ICM Research a UK Market Research company, was it done as part of the umbrella called Creston Insight, or perhaps even a third part and I am linking the wrong ICM to the wrong company.

These are all valid considerations and in my case the assumption was done intentionally (and most likely to be correct).

You see the paragraph in the Guardian “Alarmingly for the polling industry, however, the result substantially depends on the method used. Nineteen of the 21 polls were done online, and among these the average advantage for remain shrivels to a dangerously slim two points. But the two telephone surveys that have been undertaken point to far bigger pro-EU leads of 17 and 21 points” shows the issue for me. The paragraphs result in the question, were 19 nations interviewed? If so, why are they not all mentioned, in another option, were two methodologies used in the nine countries? One via phone and one via online, which makes perfect sense, but then an even amount of polls should have been used. All the article does is wonder how reliable the approach is, and if at all, are politicians even interested in doing it fair and square?

You see, if the results can sway a lingering vote (which is a given fact) than we can see that the poll could be used to sway some to ‘follow’ the largest group (with a tie a much harder thing to influence), but influence is a given.

For me, the number one issue were none of these items, in my case it was the mention at the very end. The quote “ICM interviewed a representative sample of at least 1000 adults online in each of nine European countries on 15 and 30 November 2015. Interviews in each country have been weighted to the profile of adults living within it” this is the issue, because a sample of 1,000 can never ever be representative of a population of 81 million, not even representative of a population of 46 million, there is no amount of weighting that can give anything but the roughest of estimations. The more representative the sample is for households, the larger the interviewing sample needs to be. There might have been the slightest reliability if a sample of at least 10,000 was used per nation and I use the word ‘slightest’ in the most liberal of ways. The moment we introduce, gender, income and education 10,000 might not slice it either. You see, yes, weighting can be applied, but than a single response could represent a group of 50,000-100,000, how reliable do you think that one voice would be regarding the other 49,999-99,999?

1,000 might be budget based, but this would then reflect a budgeted population that holds no reliability at all.

Sampling can be a real science, but when we see frequency weighing to this amount, we can safely say that science has been replaced by educated guessing, which is not the way to go. Consider France for a moment. Consider that in regions people feel very different, the two regions where Le Pen are powerful, they will not be in favour of the EEC at all, the others regions might be (read: might be). Now consider that France has 22 administrative regions, so in fairness we get roughly 50 responses per region, 25 males and 25 ladies, so per education level en perhaps even per age group, how much remains? How representative are these 25 people for that region? Now consider that not every region has the same population, so the 50 people representing the 11 million that make up for get a very different weight from those representing the 4 million in Normandy. Are you catching on how utterly unreliable those numbers have become? And how is this done for the UK? Or did ICM decide to get in quick and fast so the capitals make up for the bulk of the votes, which in case of Sweden makes sense as the bulk lives in Stockholm, Goteborg or Malmo. So as there is a hint of truth that it might all be about methodology, the required setting can never be met by 1,000 responses per nation as I see it, in addition there is still the unlisted Norway. So ether the article made a few jumps (which could be fair enough) or the reference to ICM in all this should be answerable to a lot more questions than the article is currently giving.

I need to end this with one final quote: “if the huge differences between online and telephone surveys persist, one method or the other can expect to face a bruising referendum, because they cannot both be right“, from the parts I responded to, there is another option all together, neither are correct. They are not flawed, but wrong for the simple fact of sampling size and the quote given “in the event that their country staged an in/out referendum“, which means that there would have been a different hypothesis that needed answering and even then, the sample of 1,000 would never been have anywhere near useful.

A group of 9,000 can never be representative of a group surpassing a third of a billion that should be massively clear to anyone from the get go, even more so when you consider the different lifestyles and values held in Scandinavian nations versus most of Western Europe and that is just the tip of the statistical considerations.

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An Olympic steeplechase

Greece is at it again (or still might be a better word)! Let’s turn back the clock a mere month! On April 28th we get the following news (via several sources): “Greece has decided to pull Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis back from bailout negotiations, a move it describes as ‘clipping Varoufakis’ wings’ and ‘reining him in’ after three months of debt talks failed to produce an agreement”.

That move made perfect sense, several people (including me) saw him in some rock star presentation which was good for his ego and not too good for the Greek people. Of course, reining in does not mean ‘keeping him quiet‘, which I would not do (for the shear entertainment value alone), but also because he is the selected spokesperson of the Greek economy. So when we see the news in the Guardian a few hours ago stating: “Greek bond weaken after Varoufakis blames creditors“, my first thought was ‘can’t the man shut up?’

The quote given is “The problem is simple: Greece’s creditors insist on even greater austerity for this year and beyond – an approach that would impede recovery, obstruct growth, worsen the debt-deflationary cycle, and, in the end, erode Greeks’ willingness and ability to see through the reform agenda that the country so desperately needs. Our government cannot – and will not – accept a cure that has proven itself over five long years to be worse than the disease

In my own view I state that he squandered 95% of the time he had with posturing, he forfeited the game buy thinking that Greece is too big to be ‘Grexitted’. Guess what Yanis! The Dutch SNS bank thought that very same notion! It did not pan out too well for them either!

Now we get the second quote, this one from Dimitris Stratoulis. He states “If we decide that there is no money left for the IMF, we have repeatedly said that our priority is to pay salaries, pensions, health, and education”. To be honest, I cannot completely oppose that! Although my priority should state Pension, Salary and Health, with a question mark to what salaries are to be paid, but I understand that the people should normally go first. I do not oppose this! Yet Syriza has been playing what I regard to be a pissing contest with people who did not need to play that game and had no interesting in playing that game. There is additional evidence. Perhaps you remember the case of Leonidas Bobolas, who got arrested in April 2015 for 1.2 million in tax evasion? That short term theatrical play just as the ‘negotiations’ were going on. I reported it in my blog on April 27th in the article ‘Finding inspiration‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/04/27/finding-inspiration/).

How many arrests since then?

The news is awfully quiet around it. There has also been zero visibility on praising Kostas Vaxevanis on his findings and his reports. It seems to me that the members of Syriza have absolutely no intent of doing anything constructive at all towards their creditors. So when we see the statements “Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has apparently pledged that Greece will meet its €305m repayment to the International Monetary Fund” by Yanis Varoufakis as well as “Tsipras instructed officials to act speedily as his government sought to defuse tensions saying it would do its best to honour its debts – even if it failed to reveal how, exactly, it would find the money to pay €1.6bn in loans to the International Monetary Fund next month” (Helena Smith, the Guardian).

Yet these two parts are already ignoring the 750 million pushed forward because the invoice of May 12th was not ‘paid’! It was settled using the IMF emergency funds, which means that this money is also due. In addition on May 12th, 16th and 19th are the amounts of 348, 581 and 348 million due. That is just the IMF, the maturing bonds as well as the ECB have not been taking into account in this matter. In addition, more bailouts are already known to be needed, so as Varoufakis is boasting, threatening and claiming, I notice that many are ignoring the observation some made “the creditors’ insistence on even more austerity, even at the expense of the reform agenda that our government is eager to pursue“. This is at the heart of the matter, because Greece is facing a 22 billion annual interest invoice, which it has no way of paying. A fact many are simply ignoring. So as non-actual payment of three quarters of a billion were made, we must wonder where that comes from. Let’s not forget that on June 12th 3.6 billion in T-bills mature!

Another non-reality comes from that same Guardian when we see: “Traders are also blaming Klaus Regling, the head of the European Stability Mechanism, for today’s euro selloff“, which is specified in “There is little time left… That’s why we’re working day and night for an agreement. Without an agreement with the creditors, Greece will not get any new loans. Then there’s a threat of insolvency. There are a lot of risks contained in that”, which is a reality I have pleaded for, for some time now. The funny part is that the New Democracy HAD it for the most sorted and the Greek people were suffering, no one denies that! Yet the courts have not made any attempt to hold previous administrations accountable, the tax evasion schemes had one trial so far and 1.2 million does not go far.

There is one final part that is an additional danger. It is not reported on, because in all honesty, the actual danger is not known yet. But did you consider how tourism will do this year? How many thousands of tourists will consider avoiding Greece (the Germans being a first nation that comes to mind)? You see, no matter how we regard the Germans, they for the most had jobs, had incomes and will desire a warm vacation. The Greek approach will work out nicely for Spain, Portugal and Italy I reckon, but with the acts of alienation Greece is cutting itself in the fingers. In addition, the dangers of drying ‘wells’, like the fear of empty ATM’s and other means not operational give added fear to the tourist population. Even though Crete should remain reasonably safe, the reality is that no part of Greece might be safe if clear progress is not booked within 2 weeks. I do hope that it will not pan out to be too bad for Crete, Stavros Arnaoutakis has been an active fighter for the prosperity of Crete for a long time and it was his birthday yesterday, so: “Happy belated birthday Stavros!” He was born in Archanes, due South of Iraklion. You might wonder why I bring this up. I will repeat the issue I voiced well over a year ago. It is becoming more and more visible that the power of Crete might reside in its independence. Crete has a founded tourist base, it has a functioning harbour for commerce and functioning airports for commercial ends too. This independence would not break their Union with Greece, but unlike the independence of Scotland, Greece has a much better chance to setup its independence at present, without too many nasty negative sides. Whatever options Syriza is currently destroying, Crete could set up a working base of minimal credit and continue for now. It will be hard, no one will deny that, but if Crete can sway a few services towards the Cretan island, it would for the better part be decently self-reliant.

This is a much better position than the position Greece had in the past, which team Tsipras/Varoufakis efficiently destroyed as I personally see it.

I also believe that the dedication Stavros Arnaoutakis has shown for a strong Crete could go a long way with whatever creditor conversation might be needed. As Crete moves straight into the Drachma, which would then be called the Cretan Drachma, would start to build on a future for both social enhancements (within Crete) as well as built on the decent foundations that Cretan housing has as well as a shift towards a services oriented future. Consider the mild climate Crete offers with water views all around that island, how long until 2-3 retirement villages would rake in jobs, commerce and income from retirees who would like their last few years in decent sunshine?

It is not enough to warrant full independence, but it is a start, if only to make the reliance on tourism 10%-20% smaller. Consider call centres that could work in that time zone and the better weather conditions. Before too long, students from all over Europe will seek a call centre all day and party all night vacation. I admit it is not the business call that matters here, but good commerce is where you built it!

Now, this might not be a great idea (perhaps not even a good idea), but I am trying to find a solution! I hope that there will be options for the Greek people, because Syriza is quickly and as I see it possibly intentional discarding whatever solution is left for the Greek people. If you doubt this, then consider the following facts:

* Less than an hour ago, I see in the Guardian, the following release: “Mujtaba Rahman, analyst at Eurasia Group, reckons that Greece will probably reach a deal with the Eurozone in time” (I am not convinced), in addition we see “We continue to believe Tsipras will lose around 5-10 lawmakers from his coalition when the package is presented to parliament (potentially attached to a vote of confidence). But we suspect he will lose less than 12 MP’s allowing him to keep his parliamentary majority“. As I see it, this should be about protecting the Greek people, now we see the cold reality (not an invalid one) that this seems to be more about playing with votes and keeping a ‘parliamentary majority‘!

This is why I felt that Antonis Samaras was the better option. He was trying to find solutions, not be ‘the popular guy’! You think Antonis Samaras was making friends when he was in office? No! He inherited a 400 billion invoice (very rough estimate) with no way to pay for it. With floating the credit ceiling and pushing non actions, Tsipras in his short time (with of course support by Varoufakis) has added close to 20% to that total debt. Now, in all honesty, he did not cause that 20% directly, but by sitting on his hands and playing theatrics he has not helped resolve any of it.

But we must also adhere to reality. The following we get from Bloomberg if Greece misses a payment: “A missed payment date starts the clock ticking. Two weeks after the initial due date and a cable from Washington urging immediate payment, the fund sends another cable stressing the “seriousness of the failure to meet obligations” and again urges prompt settlement. Two weeks after that, the managing director informs the Executive Board that an obligation is overdue. For Greece, that’s when the serious consequences kick in. These are known as cross-default and cross-acceleration“. This is a true reality, yet is that per payment?

Consider that this happen on June 5th and we get to June 19th? At that point two T-bills will have matured for the total amount of 5.2 billion, the second one of 1.6 billion on the 19th itself. When the 5th is missed, what will the markets do then? In addition, on June 19th a total of 910 million will be due too (16th and 19th of June IMF payments). In addition, what will happen to the interest levels when the two week term passes?

No one denies that the payment pressure is too unreal, but the Greek government themselves was cause to all of this (not Syriza)! That is at the heart of the ignored facts (read: unmentioned). These facts are exactly why Crete should consider protecting the Cretan population if at all possible. In addition, the separation could give additional credit to the Greeks on Crete and it might (not a guarantee) instil a lesser negative impact on tourism, which would be a massive plus. A few extra options could be set up there, but that would be up to Stavros Arnaoutakis and his peers to decide.

So how will we see this steeplechase unfold?

The ‘die hard’ positive proclaimers are singing the same song again and again, the doomsayers are hammering on what cannot be and both are interestingly avoiding key issues. Whether they feel repetitive on them is beside the point. I try to remain on the fence (which is hard with Syriza), yet I do try to find solutions. Will they be useful? Not for me to decide, but at least as a non-Greek, I might be one of the few trying to find a non-exploitative solution, which puts me ethically, morally and spiritually ahead of the pack.

 

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