Tag Archives: RABO

About that drink?

It has been a week now and I have to wonder how paranoid the week had made me. You see, the revelations of Natixis and how large its financial power is, still boggles the mind for now. This also has a lesser effect on my sanity. Whenever I see any political ‘advice’ from a bank, I wonder whether there is a Natixis link and for the top banks they are all linked. So, when I saw the article of the RABO show up, I just had to wonder (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/sep/16/scotch-whisky-scottish-independence).

So, how does yesterday’s news affect Scotland? Well, the issue now is how trade affects a new nation when it becomes independent. The first issue is “Whisky is Scotland’s second-largest export behind oil and gas and is worth £4.3bn a year to the local economy, but sales could be hit if the country loses access to the EU’s free trade area and to markets in the rest of the world where Brussels has forged trade deals“. First of all is that information true and/or correct? You see, we the people (most of us) want to drink Whiskey and real Whiskey comes from Scotland. If it does not come from Scotland, it is called bourbon (at http://www.woodfordreserve.com/)! The rest tends to make it to the menu as an ‘alternative’, as some might say.

So, should we have a go at the Rabo?

It is never a bad idea to have a go at a bank, but they do have a point here. What is a major issue is the fact that we see these 11th hour messages, of feigned pressure. Why is Scotland (if they select independence), not immediately allowed a temporary membership into the trade agreements the UK is already a member of? The quote “A new Scottish government would face ‘a mountainous task’ in striking trade deals beyond Europe. Scotch is exported to about 200 countries, with major markets in the US, Singapore and South Africa, while Chinese consumers are also getting a taste for it“. You see, this article sounds nice, but the term ‘Chinese consumers are also getting a taste for it‘ means that if they get the bulk of the shipment, European customers will not be happy at all. Instead of embracing a new European adult as it left the arms of mother Britannia is just good business. Legally seen, the Rabo is absolutely right; Scotland will be its own master now and as such will have to apply for trade agreements. Yet, if we look at several sources, we see that the US is the number one destination and Singapore (with all over Asia) is on number three, if these two markets could be ‘enticed’, we would see a shifting balance. With France in second place, Spain in fourth (but due to economic issues decreasing vastly and Germany in fifth position, we see a market in motion. The spirited market is not an easy one and the Chinese changes on ‘gifts’ would also hit the drinkable gifts department and as such Whisky will get a painful dip. So, is there an option for the golden juice of the highlands? I believe that if an economy is truly about improving then this unique situation should receive its own merit. The BBC view (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-26987262), which they made last April shows that this ‘stalling’ need is partially on economy and partially on events and none of them are linked to the independence of the Saltire.

But I am also a person who needs to take a step back. The issues for Scotland are not small and several are out in the open, but these issues should have been resolved or at least addressed to some extent long before the vote was days away. When I looked at the initial facts and wrote the blog ‘The cradle of Whiskey‘ the issues discussed and read from both Professor Sir Donald MacKay and Ronald McDonald show no issues on trade agreements whatsoever. With their golden ambrosia so high on the export list, I feel uncertain why there was no more visibility on this. I do not remember seeing it on any decently regarded news site. Now in the 11th hour a Dutch bank comes with this? Is this intentional demoralisation or is this a case of clear cut evidence that Scotland is not ready to be independent? I remain on the fence. I have been in the ‘stronger together‘ camp for several reasons, but that has always been for pressure from outside economic issues. This is a first clear internal reason for not going independent.

So, as we see the articles piling up in the papers in the UK, the Guardian foremost, how come that several serious issues did not get the forefront until now?

It is nice to see quotes like “Alex Salmond urged tens of thousands of yes activists to ‘get to it’ by seizing the extraordinary chance for a “new dawn for Scotland”, as the final batch of polls before the vote confirmed the referendum hung on a knife-edge” (at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/sep/17/scottish-independence-alex-salmond-david-cameron-resign), yet the issues of trade as well as the 11% deficit Scotland could face in year zero are no laughing matters. There are other issues that come to mind too. What happens to Scottish students in tertiary education? What of their international placements? If we look at the legal ramifications of trade, then we should also look at any long term plans that were there for the Scottish students, if they fall away, then Scotland will soon face economic bashing on more than one level. It is possible that these issues were looked at, yet the guardian piece as the Rabo bank is quoted implies that these matters seem to have been ‘stalled’ until after the elections, yet this impact has not clearly be shown on several fronts, which beckons the question, ‘why not?’.

Forbes have been active too (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/chriswright/2014/09/15/if-scotland-goes-a-mistake-as-big-as-the-great-depression/), they are showing other sides that did not make the news in several ways. One massive point is one that has definitely been kept from the Scottish voters: “Deutsche says the symbiotic relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK is older and deeper than the Yes camp dares to admit. Five, it says that the idea of replicating something like Norway and Denmark – similar population sizes, links to oil (particularly in Norway) – is disingenuous. Norwegian oil and gas fields are deeper and expected to last much longer than Scotland’s which are already in decline, and Norway has its own currency; Denmark’s economy is totally different, and has a better fiscal position”, so not only is Scotland depending on oil, which still keeps them 11% in deficit, but the decline of their fields will soon become a more visible issue, then what happens? So, I remain in favour of Scotland becoming one nation (just not now), but in light of these mounting issues, we must ask the question, why is Alex Salmond not openly dealing with the issues we see here and as such, why are these facts kept from the voters?

This gets me to the final point and perhaps the only truly unacceptable view that the Guardian is giving us (at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/sep/17/scots-final-call-rallying-political-engagement-votes). The headline “Scots’ final call: can rallying beneath the radar save the day?”, first of all, as this massive change hits 5.3 million wavers of the Saltire, this should be out in the open. Below the radar implies dealings for the benefit of a few, which is the one thing the Scots should not allow for. There is genuine anguish in the article as we see a few emotional turns, yet it is the end of it that should grip us all. “As Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Green party co-convenor, told Wednesday morning’s rally: ‘Nothing is going to be the same again, whichever way it goes.’”, I disagree,

I think that it is out in the open in new ways that Scotland is getting ready to be the new adult at the Commonwealth table, we the other members Australia, Canada, India and New Zealand should aid in setting in motion that transition, by allowing Scotland to sign trade agreements with all the perks of growing their economy to become solid. In addition, I still believe that India could be a large key player here, as I stated in my blog ‘the Cradle of Whiskey’ on the 16th of August. “As a solution, I still believe that India has options here. As the Indian generic pharmaceutical industry grows for Europe, it will need alternatives for both manufacturing, shipping (read distribution) and perhaps to a smaller extent research. Whilst everyone seems to stare blindly to London area’s where prices are through the roof, Edinburgh offers a much cheaper and no less sturdy solution”. This could still be a long term option for Scotland and if there is any truth in the statement that Scotland’s oil production was in decline, it is no longer a maybe, it is a given and an essential step to get several industrial changes going as well as opt for a few new ones. We just need to make sure that those ‘new’ players are not coming in under the flag of ‘friendship’ whilst collecting under the banner of greed, because that will never be a solution.

We have looked at shortages and surpluses for so long; it is time to see how those two can be connected to find the balance leading to progress. There has however been too many drum beating under the ‘honest’ statements on how bad it all is for others and how bad it is for Scotland, even the IMF weighed in on that. I think these people were slightly off the boil and I feel that the wording in Forbes was better, more sincere and a lot more correct “But if it happens, economies and investment patterns will adjust as they always have done. Deutsche is right that there are greater challenges facing the Scottish economy under independence than most people there have probably understood. But the idea of national pride is a powerful one, and some people are prepared to compromise a great deal to achieve it”. This is definitely true and it feels more sincere. It also seems to indicate how ‘flawed’ David Folkerts-Landau was when he stated “A ‘Yes’ vote for Scottish independence on Thursday would go down in history as a political and economic mistake as large as Winston Churchill’s decision in 1925 to return the pound to the Gold Standard or the failure of the Federal Reserve to provide sufficient liquidity to the US banking system, which we now know brought on the Great Depression in the US”, is that true Mr DFL? (the fact that he was stated in the Urban Dictionary was just a coincidence). We could see him, not as ‘flawed’, but as ‘shoddy’, ‘scant’ or ‘lacking’, but I leave that up to the readers. There were several issues involving the Great Depression of the US, and gold was there too, yet it was the inaction of President Herbert Hoover that were at the centre of this, he did set up the groundwork that led to the acts by President Roosevelt that would create the new deal and fix a lot of the issues that were around then. Now, as economies are a lot more intertwined the issue of trade pacts and the delay in signing up nations seem to be at the centre of this, so as Scotland ends up in the ‘stronger together’ field, we must acknowledge the need for change, the need for an independent Scotland, it is a side of freedom we all deserve. Is it so bad to help our sibling into becoming the stronger partner? That is what I find missing at the core of all the newscasts, the option to enable Scotland to become independent, preferably when economies are moving in a better direction, as to ensure the long term health of the land below the waving Saltire.

 

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Memory lane is a freeway

What do you do when you need to look better then you should? Well, the obvious reason some might grasp as is ‘to lie’. So how do you lie whilst remaining truthful? Well, here we get to grasp at the one of the smallest books with the power of a titan. It is called ‘How to lie with statistics‘ and it was the masterwork by Darrell Huff in 1954.

This book has never lost its charm, not even after 60 years of evolving news and economy, it still packs a wallop!

Let’s take a look!

The Dutch bank Rabo told us the following “Despite a downturn in the first quarter of this year, Dutch GDP volume is expected to grow in 2014 by ½%, largely due to a recovery in exports and investments. In 2015 economic growth is expected to accelerate slightly to 1½%, fuelled by a real rise in private consumption” (at https://www.rabobank.com/en/press/search/2014/20140612-Rabobank-Dutch-economy-continues-cautious-recovery.html). You know, this reads somewhat familiar. Ah yes! I remember now, it was May 15th 2013, and my blog called ‘A noun of non-profit‘ had something about the Dutch economy.

Where I wrote the following in addition to the information of the Dutch NOS: “The Dutch NOS reported the prediction that even though the Dutch economy will shrink another 0.5%, they do predict a growth of 1.1% next year. I personally join the group “Oh ye of little faith!” on that one and if they are able to get the economy up to 0.2% positive in 2014 than they would have achieved quite the small miracle

Guess what! A year later it turns out I was less confident by a mere 0.2%, whilst they were overconfident by 0.7%. Now consider that I am NO economist, but I saw the rain and the worry. So were these economists informing the Dutch NOS, brilliantly on the dumb side, or was this an event of managing bad news? I actually do not know and I personally think that this is one of many events where the placer of ‘news’ was not based upon ‘realism’ but on keeping moral high no matter what the numbers are.

Is this fair?

I actually will hold out the ‘do not know!‘ sign. Looking at murky numbers is at times more an art then a science and today’s prophet is tomorrow’s ‘pussy with balls of dough’. Is that even a valid expression? You see, I do believe that we WERE heading in the right direction, but now we get two new players on the market. Actually we get 4 new players in two teams. The first team is Team Anglican with in the South Corner the one, the only the true champion of the British Empire ‘England!’ (Please say it loudly in style of Michael Buffer) and in the North corner, the new contender for the global market ‘Scotland!’ (Repeat Michael Buffer voice). This duo is now at odds and at this point, independence of Scotland is still not a fact. In this era, under these conditions, I remain a ‘stronger together‘ person, not because I am against Scottish independence, but because team 2 and a few other factors could drag down both Scotland and England, especially once they are divided, which is a really bad thing. We as Australians would come to the rescue of both, if at all possible, but our economic gravitas, especially as the previous labour government had spent 627 billion it did not have, we too are bleeding and not in the best condition for any economic price fight.

Team two is the main event and the big potato (no, it’s not Ireland). It is team USA and team Japan. Together they have overspent their coffers by a whopping 28 trillion, yes readers, these two are down 28,000 billion, which exceeds the budgets of both the Commonwealth and the EEC with an uncomfortable margin to boot. So, even if we consider the dead drop of that amount, consider that they need 280 billion per percent per year just to pay the interest on this. This means that every person in the US and Japan need to come up with $636 per person per year, per percent that means if the Us and Japan need to borrow at over 1%, every person in these two nations need to deposit $1272 each year from their net income, in America over 12% lives in poverty, which means that up to 25% of the nation has absolutely no way of making that payment. This is not a new song, it is a song, me, myself, I and many others have been trying to bring forward to the people at large. As we are all trying to survive, no one seems to be listening and the wealthy apparently do not (need to) care. This makes for a dangerous precedent because as we look at the truth of the matter, we see that team two is in such dire economic danger that the entire economic map will be redrawn soon enough. Weirdly enough, the team one issues will give additional pains to both team two and the rest of the world, whilst other events are not helping either.

You see, what can we do? This is at the heart of the matter. I try not to be the one just complaining and then leave it to others, even though I am not sure that my methods would work, it seems that my predictions have been a whole lot more accurate than those from economists making 7 figures (I personally believe I am due a $750,000 bonus, where to send the bill to though?).

Although I see USA as a strong (disregarding their deficit) option, we need to take hard actions, especially as their pharmaceutical (and several other industries) have been, in what I personally regard, a state of mindless infancy. If the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) does not come through, which I personally hope it does not, then the USA would need to change strategies in massive ways, and that is beside several other companies on the list of 30 that Americans keep their faith on high (aka the Dow Jones Index).

But we are not even close to the issues, mainly because this is not some anti-America rhetoric. Truly I am not against America, but against the change some executives want that nation to be, a nation that is no longer one for all Americans, but one where your return on investment and consumer spending decides whether you are allowed to live or not.

Europe as stated is still in a dire mess for several reasons. You see, there are elections in Sweden tomorrow, and for some reason, this is making many non-Swedes nervous. I did not get this at first, because I have lived there, I witnessed them and as elections go, they are as timid as you might think them to be. Watching submarines race underwater from the shoreline is a lot more exciting than the Swedish elections, so what gives?

Well, the first jolt of nervousness can be gotten from the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/11/swedish-elections-cracks-showing-nordic-model).

When we see Sweden, we focus on quotes like “it was Sweden that offered answers, having resolved its own debt mess a generation earlier. It is the only EU country that has lower public debt now than in 2006“, which shows Swedish Pragmatism is not confined to the furniture you buy at IKEA. When we think of the family bonds within Sweden (family is always seemed to be a Swedish trademark), we see “The care sector also suffered a privatisation scandal in 2011, when the Dagens Nyheter newspaper reported that an elderly care centre in Koppargården, run by the private company Carema, was catastrophically neglecting its customers, allegedly weighing their diapers to see if they could be used for longer, thus ensuring maximum usage and lower costs” so it seems that the care of the elderly does not have the safety of a Volvo, not to mention “Complaints about poor service and frequent delays on the high-speed train between Malmö and Stockholm also swung the mood against rail privatisation of the railways“. It seems like there is plenty under the covers that is not just upsetting the Swedes.

So how does this all link up?

This is indeed the question, on one side we see the worry of privatisation (which is really a common sense issue), because if someone wants to do it ‘better’ by taking it away from the government, then evidence of decades has shown us that this person is in it for the cash, which means the goal is to get it done cheaper, which gets us to ‘it will never ever be done better‘. At times I do not even comprehend how a population accepts such a fabricated story. But there is more (there always is, isn’t there). All this seems to impact on a European scale. Why? Sweden is not that big, as stated it is lowering debt. It is not a G-20 nation (only as an EEC member, yet not a Euro Zone), so why is there such a massive push here? They are in 7th position representing a mere 3% of the EEC in regards to the GDP, so this should not be such an issue, should it?

This is where it gets a little dicey, especially by the standards I try to keep. If we consider a player like Coface (Coface began to diversify internationally in 1992. Currently, the Group has global capabilities to support its clients’ growth in their home markets and with their exports by offering them credit insurance services tailored to their needs. Source: Coface Website). They stated the following in regards to Sweden.

The country is returning to dynamic growth in 2014, as household consumption will strengthen in response to higher disposable income, thanks to the fiscal stimulus in the context of an election year. Unemployment affected 8% of the economically active population in 2013 and is expected to fall slightly in 2014, in particular because of new jobs created in the public sector“, here we see the two united: ‘particular because of new jobs created in the public sector‘ and the rejection of privatisation. So is Sweden a risk or is this about setting the continuing trend of ‘investment’ which is now holds the taste of ‘exploitation for profit‘. This is at the core of the issues. The world at large is perpetuating a scandalous system that has no limit, will not discipline itself and the larger players will not stop overextending their reach. It is like an elastic band that can double in size and has been stretched long beyond its safety limits for half a decade, stretching more and more each year, increasing risk and danger each week. Sweden is a lovely place and it looks magical around Christmas, yet it should not have the economic impact that some give it. Is Coface the right instance? Well, that is less for me to say as these ‘risk assessors’ at times all seem the same. I did however notice that their CFO looked aged as a teenager, which made me a little nervous. Especially when you see the massive exposure Coface enjoys on an international level.

So why are they in this article? You see, Coface is part of Natixis and Natixis manages the public guaranties granted by the French Government. Yet, Natixis is not just a player, it is a financial Behemoth. Bernard Oppetit who is also chairman of Centauris Capital is on the board there. Who was visible in the past as Swedish Telecom Giant Tele2 was fending of Dutch Versatel. These facts are mere unrelated facts (or so it seems), yet there seems to be an almost incestuous relationship between some of these Hedge funds and Sweden (amongst others). How direct is Nataxis or its subsidiaries connected to some of these privatisations? The water is too murky for me to see, but it seems that Hedge funds have a three degree separation between them and pretty much any government is more than a worry. Nataxis has direct links all over America and has an office in almost every Commonwealth nation (apart from New Zealand and the West Indies). So here we see the first steps into memory lane.

There was a link with SNS Reaal as we see the following “The 5-year Note has a total size of € 1.6 billion and carries a coupon of 3.5%. The Note was issued to a widely spread range of national and international investors. Lead managers were Citi, JP Morgan Securities Ltd., Natixis, Rabobank en UniCredit (HVB)“, the bank that could not fail was before it was nationalised has links to Natixis. When I looked into SNS, I never noticed how deep some connections went, until last night I was not even aware of how far the reach of Natixis goes. Now consider the powers of their board “Any acquisition of a stake in another company or increases in equity investments, other investments, divestments (or the creation of a joint venture) by Natixis or one of its significant subsidiaries representing more than €150 million” as well as “Any transfers, mergers or demergers in which Natixis is involved” (source: Natixis website). So is this the first we see of the larger funds, now squeezing out the remaining coin of the smaller places, because if that is so, we only have to wait and see when Natixis opens offices in the West-Indies and/or New Zealand, because that might be an indicator that the other exploitation wells have truly run dry (a personal, and possibly wrong assumption).

It is of course likely that the true economists (me is not one of them), are laughing in regards to my naiveté, yet who else knew and how is a direct subsidiary of Natixis, setting the credit score and advice for customers, supporting them and securing their transactions by protecting them against the risk of their clients defaulting. As they themselves state it, whilst their ‘big momma’ Natixis, with an impact beyond belief has a vested interest. I would state that ‘incestuous’ does not even close cover the issue.

This is not a jump from whatever to Natixis, this memory highway, as some might recall the issues on the Royal Bank of Scotland, which I also took a look at. When we consider the news from the BBC (at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/business-15212476), we see another view where Natixis has links. The quote “Natixis assumes the following percentage writedowns (or “marks”) on Greek, Irish, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish debt, respectively: 70%, 40%, 40%, 20% and 20%. And then it assumes the banks would need to preserve a core tier one ratio of either 7% or 8% on these stressed scenarios by the end of 2012“, Is the writing on the wall or have we all (including me) ignored a tier of economy, or better stated a commissioned golden lining of profit as certain ‘providers’ remained behind the screens. “You take in greed from the customer and charge them all twice” (sing this line in the tune of Harry Nilsson ‘You put the lime in the coconut‘) and you charge the others in the morning.

Memory lane turns out to be more than just a freeway, as we are limited to walking down this road, the financial advisors and stakeholders are driving back and forth whilst limiting the views we have and the governments involved seem to be driven to not be too revealing on where the money is coming from. It is important to know that all this, whilst true is devoid of any crime, devoid of illegal transactions and possibly even devoid of misrepresentation, yet as I see it a massive misleading amount of presentation towards an audience of taxpayers. So what will happen in Sweden? I do not know, they seem to have an election in less than 24 hours and I find it interesting that it could have an impact. Another vote is soon thereafter on Scotland, which will have an economic impact too. My worry is why the impact is so far beyond the borders of the involved parties, which gives wonder to global statements in the trend of ‘Economic policies in isolation won’t lead to growth in Europe‘. I definitely feel uncertain to oppose such a view, but when we consider players like Natixis, is it perhaps possible that economic isolation leads to a few less dangers? Especially in Europe that issue should be deeper investigated by people who do not have a stake in the game. The writer of the piece I gave was Dr Bryony Hoskins. From what I read, I would categorise her as ‘a really smart cookie’. Yet one of her points is “Encourage collaboration and partnerships between different types of organisations, such as schools, local authorities, youth groups, charities and businesses“, I do not disagree with the generic view, but when we see the involvement on a ‘guiding’ behemoth like Natixis, is there not the danger of government enabling business to push for other long term changes that only serves the business and no one else? With assets well over 300 billion, this player has loads of pushing space, the question is: are they actually pushing?

There is of course the other side, is it fair to blame Natixis for anything (I have not been blaming them)? For example, if we watch all these computers around us with viruses and they are all Windows PC’s, can we state that Microsoft is making viruses? This is at the heart of it all, having your fingers in every pie, could give the thought that any bad pie was because of the fingers, we forget to look at who is making the pies. Yet as we see changes happening in Sweden and as hedge funds and retirement funds are going together, perhaps enabling one another, how dangerous is the stable view of Sweden at present? These searches led me to the attached document named “http___doc.morningstar.com_document_183a66452941e059812946b714604784.pdf”. I do not pretend to understand it. But the risk of ‘5’, when we consider retirement funds and ‘NSIO-OFM1403A’, would give me a reason to worry. LET ME BE CLEAR! I am not an economist!

I added the documents (at the end), so that perhaps those who do know, will know better.

So why am I here then? It seems to be silly, stupid and all other sorts of not bright in a place that I do not understand. The fact that a relative small nation like Sweden could have such stretching consequences on the market was beyond me, yet if I look at the Natixis annual report (at http://ngam.natixis.com/docs/812/834/AF58-1213.pdf), I am confronted with another question. “If one cog in the machine changes direction, what happens to the financial numbers of a behemoth like Natixis?” I am not stating that they are ‘hurt’ in any way. It might be less than a pinprick, but the fact that this company has stakes in all commodities and every large bank that had been slapped around in the last few years; it does make me wonder in light of the issues we faced in 2008. “What happens when a hedge fund bets on a nation failing?” is that such a leap? Only last month several made millions, betting against Banco Espírito Santo. Is my thought really that far from reality? Apparently not! George Soros is already doing this, betting on the collapse of the US stock and he put 2 billion where his mouth was, so was I right all along (at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/aug/18/george-soros-bets-2b-plus-stock-market-collapse-in/)?

http___doc.morningstar.com_document_183a66452941e059812946b71460478414_355_NSI_Bond_b9aeb, 14_355_NSI_Bond_b3c0c

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Two deadly sins

This is the second attempt to this story. I was still on the Sony horse when writing the first attempt. Yes, it will hurt us and it will have long standing consequences for many to come, but I realised that it was not really the story (even though the press remaining silent on it is).

Of the seven deadly sins (Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Envy, Wrath, Pride and Sloth) I only truly hate Greed! It is also represented in Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century epic poem ‘the Divine Comedy’, which actually introduces something I would like to call the 8th deadly sin, which is depicted in his 9th level of hell. It is Treason! These two sins are the most debilitating sins to consider. These sins are not against one, or against one’s self. These two sins are acts by one against many and we see the consequences every day. These are not just acts by people against people. They are also seen as acts by governments against people or even against their own nation. We must arms against these two, we must do so fast, because the liberties we lose as we allow this to go on will hurt billions and many care for one thing, they care for number one, they care for themselves!

Do not take the last sentence as an assault, I am not talking about selfishness perse, but we are in a life cycle where we are almost forced to survive. Greed and Treason pushed us there. The Dutch NOS showed us several parts in one newscast. It was the news of the 26th of November 2013. The first piece came from the news on the scale gas winning in the Netherlands. I had written about part of it in July 2013. The blog was called ‘The Setting of strategies‘ where we see that the Dutch are trying to get billions in gas using a technique called ‘fracking’. There were major concerns, but should you watch the issues, you will see that parties involved were trivialising it all to some extent. Now questions are called for a large investigation. The most interesting part is the quote they stated in the news [translated] “the NAM will not drill for any less gas as this is not a mandate handed by the stockholders“. In addition reported e-mails by the Dutch Gas drilling firm (NAM), which from their side, remarks and ‘interpretations’ seem to be taking a negative term. The mail showed that they knew that earthquakes in excess of 3.9 (on the Richter scale) were to be expected. This means that not only is this, the possible start of a class action in damages against the NAM, the NAM could be seen as a major contributor into damaging a unique Dutch landscape. Not just the land, but also the cultural heritage that the Dutch area of Groningen has. Many buildings, most of them predating WW2 are structurally damaged. It is an area that had been culturally unique for over two centuries, even by Dutch standards. Are you fracking kidding me? Stockholders are allowed to ruin the state of Groningen? So the government oversight knew this going back to 2012? So what were these investigations in 2013? Party favours? This is greed gone wild as I see it. The most important part is that the UK and the conservatives are facing similar issues at present. The conservatives are very willing to go this route. It was reported in the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/nov/03/uk-dash-gas). The question becomes whether George Osborne has been properly instructed involving the risks he would place Wales in? If he is briefed by stockholders, the UK should take another look at these proceedings. I understand that heating is hard and very expensive, but can people continue when they are faced with long term, perhaps even unrepairable damage to England itself? Can that be acceptable? I am not a geologist, so there are elements I have no knowledge of, yet it might be realistic that many Walesians did not sign up for Shale Gas experiments when it could cost them both Cardiff and Swansea, both containing the largest population in Wales. Is Britain ready to pay for 350,000 damaged homes? I agree, that is an exaggeration, yet the true damage will not be known for some time. Perhaps there will be ZERO damage. I am fine with that, but the Dutch evidence shows that greed trumped safety and health easily. Can the UK afford such a mistake?

The second link to greed, are the changes that Finance Minister Dijsselbloem is trying to push within the Netherlands. He is aiming for commissions not exceeding 20% of a banker’s income. I think that this is a good idea. I also believe that he is on the right track. Greed is debilitating to say the least. The Dutch Union of Bankers stated that this law is not needed; there are enough rules in place. The interview with Chris Buijink, who is the chairman of that union, is not in agreement. He is mentioning that with specialist jobs, temperate commissions are to be expected. You see! We all agree, so make it no more than 20%, which is temperate enough (in my humble opinion). I, personally think that a group of Dutch banks, after the SNS Reaal and other banking issues, including the RABO LIBOR fixing issue, need to expect much stronger measures. Greed must be stopped!

This is not what he called ‘a black page’ (as Chris Buijink stated), the banking issues from 2008 onwards show that there is a structural issue with the banking industry. The fact that the Yanks are too cowardly to act (see the non-passed tax evasion act and the Dodd-Frank act for my reasoning in this), does not mean we should sit still. That part gains even more weight as we read more and more about the ADDITIONAL issues the RBS is now facing (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/nov/26/mark-carney-rbs-deeply-troubling-serious). So on one side Conservatives are trying to get the economy going and the banks on the other hand… (You get the idea).

There was a video linked to this, which states “Bank of England’s Mark Carney ‘offended’ by Labour MP’s questioning“. Is Mr Carney for real? As Labour MP John Mann asked questions in regards to the ‘distance’ between the governor of the bank and the political wings. I do not fail to see that it is about quick economic restoration, the issue that it is now likely that small business got sold down the drain into non-viability to get this done is indeed an issue for concern. Why is there no stronger oversight on this? I think that it is time for governments to intervene in stronger measures. What they are? Not sure, but it should be somewhere between nationalising a bank and barring the transgressors from the Financial industry for life!

This issue goes on in another direction too. If we accept what was written by the independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/press/royal-charter-on-press-regulation-may-be-redundant-says-culture-secretary-maria-miller-8919775.html), we see that in the end the Press might not ever be held accountable for the acts they did. Not only are they advocated in their need for greed (as in circulation and advertisements), we see that they are in a connected center of treason against both their readers and the audience at large, again as I personally see this.

How?

Well that is a fair question. As the big papers have steered clear from the Sony issues as they became visible just over a week ago, they seem to remain extremely taken with their advertisement needs and less with protecting the audience. “£3bn: the total price-tag for Christmas gadgets” is a nice tag to have and even though we see news on Microsoft and Sony all the time, those messages are small and do not hit the bottom dollar. The small technology hit “Cody Wilson created a gun that can be download and built with a 3D printer – is he too dangerous for Britain?” is a small article and iterates something I wrote many months ago. He is now linked to advocating bit-coin, which is another matter. I have not taken a stance on it. I think it promotes white washing and I personally do not think that virtual currency has a foundation, once it goes bust in whatever way it does; these people just lose whatever cash they had in it. I reckon that these ‘victims’ when they come will have no turn back and the first case against any government should be thrown out immediately. The story how Sony (and Microsoft too) will hurt an entire industry and how they are setting up the events that could stop local commerce is completely ignored. How quaint!

I see it as a form of treason, because this is no longer ‘the people have a right to know’, but ‘the people have a right to know when we see fit’. That same application can be made for the banks. If we take the RBS case, then the people involved could be seen as committing treason against their customers. Is that not EXACTLY the issue we saw in the US where we see banks setting up mortgages and then betting on them failing? Why is this not under control?

The Dutch examples are their own version of treason. A company that seems to be betraying the people living there by submitting them to intentional dangers is no small matter. This is not the end by a long shot. Treason can go further, from governments towards allies. I am not talking about Snowden, that loon is a simple traitor for personal gains (in my view). The damage he caused will take a long time to fix. No, I am talking about the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership. I mentioned it in previous blogs linked to the Sony/Microsoft issues, but that is small fry. The big price is the pharmaceutical industry. You see, America wants it passed soon, because of the powers this partnership gives. I will not bore you with the patent law details; the issue I see is that America is afraid of India. Apart from being really decent in Cricket (a game America does not comprehend), the Indian industry had made great strides in generic medication. With a population of vastly over 1 billion, they simply had to. The changes are mentioned by IP experts like Michael Geist as Draconian. The Guardian covered part of the TPP (at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/13/trans-pacific-paternership-intellectual-property), the changes could impact this market into a damaging result which will go into the trillions. My issue is that Australia sides with America. Why?

America had been asleep at the wheel. Instead of opening a market, forcing affordability towards a population, we see segregation for industry against people. How bad is that? Canada kept its consumer driven approach, which is why Americans love Canadian medication. As America does not keep its house in order and they got passed by! Do not take my word regarding these parts; you should however take a look at what Doctors without Borders think. I reckon we can agree that they have always been about healing people. I consider them a noble breed. A group of physicians, who spend a fortune on an education, making less than the personal assistant for a middle manager in a small bank, which is not much to live on! At http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/press/release.cfm?id=7161 they state “Five countries—Canada, Chile, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Singapore—have put forth a counter-proposal that tries to better balance public health needs with the commercial interests of pharmaceutical firms” As an Australian I state that Australia need to take the high-road with Canada and New Zealand, not follow the cesspool America is trying to force down our throats. In the end, I suspect that this is about more than just plain greed.

Consider that the Dow index is based on 30 major companies. Now consider that 10% comes from pharmaceutical giants like Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Pfizer. After the issues we had seen in the last 3 years, I started to doubt the correctness of the Dow (and I reported on that in past blogs). It goes up and up, but with JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, VISA, American Express putting pressures on those numbers, the three big boys (drugs) could rock the boat in a massive way, which scares Wall Street to no extent. India had made great strides in affordable medication; the TPP is now a danger to affordable medication for people on a global scale.

Greed and Treason, it is all connected and it hits us all critically hard sooner rather than later!

 

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Crime still pays!

If the banks are any indication then there is plenty of indications that only amateurs become burglars, thieves or murderers. If you really want to move forward in strong financial ways, then one needs to become a banker. That is the message we read when we see the Dutch approach to their RABO bank in regards to the LIBOR scandal. The RABO received its 774 million euro fine. Part of the information is here at http://nos.nl/video/568494-rabobankbestuurder-schat-geschokt-door-renteschandaal.html

One of the issues is that they paid off the Dutch version of the CPS with a 70 million euro settlement.

The news mentioned that some got fired, some lost rank, and people lost commission (no explicit mention whether all lost it). This is part of the problem. Some got away and they can try again at some point. I personally found the mention that chairman of the board Piet Moerland’s departure to be a hollow one. Yes, this is just my personal view! He would have retired next year. Consider that the RABO puts a fine of three quarters of a billion in the books this month, which gives us that the next fiscal year the board is less likely to get any commission, which gives us the view that the RABO boss decides to retire and not work for free. Interesting is, that whilst the issues of LIBOR have been visible (for well over a year) that the final moment when the amount is known sends him to make a gesture resulting in his non-working near future. There is no evidence that the top knew what was going on. Yet another story by the NOS shows that even though traders got such lovely extras, no real internal investigation existed on how they got to these high commissions.

There is something to be said about Sipko Schat, who was in charge of the traders in that period and who remains with the RABO bank. That part is not negative. There was no indication of any sorts (or so it seems at present) that he had any idea what was going on. We can doubt that, yet considering the structures of the other involved banks, the viewpoint that Sipco Schat seems to be innocent and unconnected is a rational and acceptable one.

So why the issue on crime that pays?

It seems to me that if we consider the Dutch Banking law of 1998 that at present, there do not seem to be enough handles in place to successfully prosecute these transgressors and this issues goes vastly beyond the Dutch borders, which is the one part that truly bites the people of many nations (not just the Dutch). It is my conclusion that the Dutch prosecutions office was willing to settle for 70 million, for the realistic reason that the chance of getting true legal justice for the transgressors seems to have been unlikely and for those who got to feel the axe, the proceedings for the crown would have been a lot lower. Yet prosecuting them might have been a better option. This is because many are now seeing and feeling the same sting of the years of building frauds for the Amsterdam International tunnel (to name one of several events), where three constructors settled for 1 million each, even though the transgressions showed inaccuracies of well over 30 million. This was in November 2001. There were additional building fraud cases in 2002 and 2003. Isn’t it interesting how builders and banks seem to get to settle for the fraction of the transgressed amount?

Even though much of the actual damages will get returned, not all of it will and it seems to me that profit margins remain to be too good for people not to try a roll at the high yielding criminal slot machine.

I see the issue in several nations that non-violent crimes are not correctly weighted (so, not just in the Netherlands). Too many judges seem to remain oblivious on the consequences of non-violent crimes, often these events get trivialised in courts (not just the Dutch). Not enough power is placed on improved legislation and successful convictions against financial crimes and no one seems to be willing to rock the stable boat in these regards. Until the cutting knife of the law shows unreservedly that traders and bankers could lose their professional licences and qualifications for such transgressions too many remain willing to give the slot machine of ‘hefty returns’ a go, as $1 might give them $xn if they can roll the bars to F-RAU-D, because even if they get caught, there seems to be a decent chance for them to hold onto a fair share of the unfair gained amount.

 

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Bankrupt or failed? It’s all the same!

This topic applies to two events that are hitting two groups. The first one is about one of the final nails that are getting hammered into the coffin that is laughingly called the US economy.

Yet, what is actually in play? On one hand there are the mentions that the US economy is on the rise, so why is the debt limit such a strong issue?

The second issue is one that is playing in the UK, but about that later.

For these issues we need to consider a few chess pieces, that had been ignored in the past and there is only so much you can do before those ‘forgotten’ pieces rear their ugly head. Yes, I agree that there are signs that the US economy is again slightly on the rise. More jobs are offered, people are getting back onto the horse of labouring enterprises. There is however the other side. The government seems to ignore the need to get their budget in order, they ignore that there is a consequence to non-stop borrowing. Excuse upon excuse, story upon story and where does this lead?

The issues got visibility after Sky News reported on a story that involved the interview with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. Reuters quoted him stating “We cannot afford for Congress to gamble with the full faith and credit of the United States,” Lew told the Economic Club of Washington, a business forum. Yes, he is correct in that, yet the strong story to hunker down on excessive spending is not loudly voiced. That same situation is what the Dutch government is currently facing. The story there was that it will never be like is was ever again is the story in the Dutch case. The pre 2008 life style is gone and likely gone forever. It will take a small nation like the Netherlands 5-10 years to get their spending under control, but it will never be as good as it was before. Why mention the Netherlands? With 16 million people they are at 5% of the American population. Their debt is around 430 billion. This is less than 2% of the national debt the US has and they have now announced austerity measures to reduce their deficit. The measures will be a helping of bitter fruit to nearly all Dutch. The total US debt is said to be around 60 trillion dollars, which boils down to $9000 for every person on the planet.  Basically, the annual US Currency degradation is larger than the total debt of the Netherlands and the Dutch are looking at the next 10-15 years of financial hardship, and then only if the economy has picked up to the smallest extent by the end of 2015. If not, then those 15 years might not be enough. So the summary ‘the good times are gone forever’ seems amply put. More important, as the US debt devaluates quicker than the annual interest payments, is there any way out left for the US but bankruptcy?

The RABO bank director had made a comment that ‘all will have to tighten the belt’. Sounds nice, but let’s not forget that financial institutions playing fast and loose with other people’s money was cause to most of these issues. The second link is that he is not just mentioning the massive debt, yet a small mention on how the Dutch have such a good retirement treasury. It is another first attempt to get their fingers on the one place that was supposed to keep a population safe. (at http://nos.nl/audio/552545-directeur-rabobank-we-moeten-met-zn-allen-de-broekriem-aanhalen.html)

The US seems to ignore again and again that there is a limit to spending, so the lesson the Dutch are learning the hard way is one that American is currently not ready to face. They might say yes, there is a limit, but then state that they are nowhere near these limits. I disagree! I reckon that the point of no return was reached in 2011. The outstanding debts are now a matter of more than just multiple generations. The fact that we are given stories about returning economies are one thing, the part on how taxation must be paid (and is not) is silenced again and again. the rich move away their fortunes to the Bahamas or other places that will keep it ‘safe’, in addition corporate America is doing the very same thing by moving their ventures to places like Ireland, which allowed several corporations to pay less than 0.2% in taxation. How can the US survive when people without jobs cannot pay taxation and the super-rich move outside of the reach of the US treasury so they do not have to? These steps are socially undesirable and in my mind it is a form of treason. How can a company hide behind the US as a shield stating they have rights and then move away as they shun their own duties? These ignored elements are part of the problem that is likely to soon leave the US in a state of bankruptcy.

The US claims to be a nation of laws, which is fair enough. I think that they forgot that when greed calls the shots, the law becomes a shield for criminals, whilst becoming an anchor for those they are supposed to protect. It is a topsy-turvy world indeed.

So as we move towards the next 8 weeks of uncertainty, as the Democrats and Republicans are moved into a space that is more polarised then sunglasses, we will see that some will get a few coins from the jittery movement of the markets. Also take notice on how some of these people proclaim on how this is all so much unfair and how spending just a little more will save the people. No! It will not. It has not been a solution for almost 2 administrations. It is time to look for an actual solution, instead of prolonging an absolute failure.

So time to take a look at the UK now!

They have their own deficit, but more importantly, they do have a different set of problems. The NHS was at some point to have some kind of system that would record some forms of information. (Or so it would seem).

The NHS IT system is a failure. So much so, that it is the biggest failure in UK history. I reckon it is big enough to be the biggest failure in European history, but that seems too much like splitting hairs. The program had cost 10 billion pound, which makes it a 0.5% of the total British debt. That takes some doing to be such a failure.

Why are these two events connected?

Apart from the usual suspect that both involved politicians, it seems to me that both situations require a clear vision of what needs to be done. In both places they are lacking. It actually goes further than that, however for that part, let us take a look at the NHS laptop.

The Guardian is giving it some attention at (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/sep/18/nhs-records-system-10bn)

To do this, we will need to look at a few quotes that were made in this regard.

MPs on the public accounts committee said final costs are expected to increase beyond the existing £9.8bn because new regional IT systems for the NHS, introduced to replace the National Programme for IT, are also being poorly managed and are riven with their own contractual wrangles.” This is one of the stronger quotes. We are looking at three distinct parts.

1. ‘Own contractual wrangles’ looks to me that the wrong people were involved in the contractual parts. Too much baggage or too little know-how, no matter how you twist this, when the contract is about ‘disputes‘ the people are not linked to a contract, but driven apart though paper (not unlike less successful marriages). This all makes for a nasty ‘separation’.

2. ‘new regional IT systems‘ and ‘being poorly managed‘ means that this is again a track of issues that are set to how good one’s PowerPoint presentation looks, not on how well an infrastructure can be managed. It is a fatal flaw in any IT project.

3. ‘Final costs are expected to increase beyond the existing £9.8bn‘ Like that is a surprise? This means that the costing’s were never properly done. Even in an age where the UK had a 3 year bad run with the economy, it seems to me that proper setting out a charter was never done. No charter, no limits and no results. It is again the same story we see too often when interested parties see the government not as a customer, but as a gravy train with no end in sight.

The IT is no different from any other business, when they see a governmental place where the gravy train just runs through it and they hope they are the station the train will stop. In my mind I see these places as a spot with too many managers and not enough workers. This is often the situation in many organisations. When it is in a commercial organisation it is a nuisance, and if they do not bring home the bacon, they are often let go at some point. With governmental organisations it is a different thing, more important, when it is done on regional area’s where they all want to be ‘in charge’ it adds up to nothing less than a death sentence to any structure that does not have commercial goals. It will collapse onto itself.

Here is the comparison with the US government. Like the NHS both are spending huge amounts they do not have to reflect upon. Not unlike the US their incomes are going down fast as tax havens take away the annual incomes the UK/US used to have. So in all, we are a looking at an engine that is supposed to run whilst we allowed the fuel tank to be external and no longer attached to the car. How stupid is that approach?

Richard Bacon, who had co-written a book on failing government projects, said that the NHS’s particular problems stem from the original contracts signed before 2002.  It comes from a book he wrote with Christopher Hope called Conundrum. I am not disputing his view; it does however show that 10 years later a situation is holding the UK back. Perhaps a better contract team is/was needed? This all reads like my first item I mentioned. Nice that someone from Norfolk can see the issue that the London bigwig’s can’t be bothered to identify on a good day.

The issue I see is that the contracts might have been OK or acceptable at that time, but government situations require a different scope, and signing something that is holding back the UK 10 years later is really a bad contract (from the NHS point of view). So people were hired who lacked that same insight. It is not just on what they were instructed to do, I am questioning whether the right people were ever asked to question the outstanding approach to the long term extent it was needed to be looked at.

Too many are trying the same approach to other scenario’s, which is fair enough, yet those who should be in charge are NOT thinking this through. The mind is lazy, when something works, use it again, I get that! In this case it was not a solution and neither is it when it comes down to spending again and again to shove forward an economy that requires $10 for a return of $0.10. It is bad business through and through.

The one quote from the Guardian article is the crux ‘The government was keen to distance itself from the problem.

That is just not an option. Moreover, if it wanted that, it should have never gone near this issue to begin with. If we look at the BBC in 2011 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15014288) the following quote comes forward “Health Secretary Andrew Lansley will say: “Labour’s IT programme let down the NHS and wasted taxpayers’ money by imposing a top-down IT system on the local NHS, which didn’t fit their needs. We will be moving to an innovative new system driven by local decision-making.

Whilst in July 2010 the issue stated by the BBC (at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10557996) was: “Mr Lansley also announced he expected all NHS trusts, which run hospitals and mental health units, to get foundation status by 2013.” So what did get done? More important, it states nothing about abandoning this ‘new’ system at the moment of release.

It all gets a little more hairy when you consider the quote in that very same article ‘Professor Chris Ham, chief executive of the King’s Fund think-tank, said: “It is a very radical programme. We have never seen anything like this since the inception of the NHS in 1948.“‘

It seems to me that this was another PowerPoint approach by those who talk nice but have no idea where the keyboard is stored. Certain quality questions should be asked from those who can only think in election terms. These systems are supposed to outlast them all. This is an issue which has, not once been properly dealt with in either the US or the UK.

How much more tax money will be spent on trains that lead to a place called nowhere?

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You might soon be sold by the banks!

I have heard often, in many situations the ‘that is not how it works’ was stated. How it was all in my mind. No, this morning issues were not just confirmed, I reckon that things are even worse than you think they are.

You see, for the most I do not trust ‘Financial Institutions’. They came in a time when there was an abundance of all, when people, as they were turned away from banks, they were willing to take a ‘chance’. For one part, this is Capitalism at its best! (Or at least that is how it was in the beginning.) Now they have grown, more margins more abilities and as we saw them grow in many fields they gained perspectives the banks in their conservatives states did not.

So, whenever I can, I stay away from financial institution. The main reason, they do not have the muzzle to keep them in place when needed. You think this is strange? Well, read on and prepare for the rudest awakening in a long time.

In the Netherlands there is a company called Equens. Today they temporary abstained from a plan to sell on their financial information. Equens is a payment provider. It processes pass (credit cards, bank cards and so on) transactions. They do so all over Europe and they are not the smallest. With 15 BILLION transactions they own well over 10% of the market. The plan is indeed decently brilliant, but dangerous as hell. They almost pulled in the banks to take their transaction data to market. It would have been quite the revenue, but it is the most dangerous one you will ever personally experience, and the issue with ‘temporary’ means it remains a danger. The initial report on this matter drew too much criticism, even though RABO and SNS Nationalised were interested, they crawled back when certain legal issues rose. It had been raised by the Dutch consumer society and the Dutch political party Democrats 66. I feel certain that this delay is a temporary one, as the issues involving legalities might be resolved over time. This is exactly the issue with financial institutions. Banks have power, but as such they were limited in freedom of movement (as it should be). Their commercial corporate brother named ‘Financial institution’ does not have these strict limits, which gives many of us the dangers currently at play.

Even so, Equens did make the promise that the sold information could not be tracked to any individual. This is where they are (intentionally) wrong in my mind.

You see, this goes beyond their system (and that is how they ‘focussed’ their view. Let me show you how. You buy an item at your usual store. That store processes your payment. You remain anonymous. Yet, your usual store has given you a discount/loyalty pass. NOW there is a connection between the bank card and your personality. So, as Equens data is sold on and on and on, more information can be added as the shop cash register (and therefor their data) has your bank pass and your personal details in the form of a loyalty card. Two numbers that could be connected with the greatest of ease and these cash registers have been collecting numbers for years and years. Now the link of two numbers separates their claim of anonymity and total financial and personal classification.

So look at those facts, now check your wallet and look at those cards you have. Are any of them for the Cinema? A book store? A game store? A fashion store? Do you get mail to your home from any of them? You’ll likely have at least one, and with every addition, you will get classified more and quicker. Soon you are nothing more than a product number. This is the ultimate marketing move! Availability of products, per person, per location. This is not such a future event; this is about to happen to us all.

I reckon that whatever happens will happen fast, and not just in the EU. If Equens is so willing to make this leap with only +10% market share, then who are the bigger players? This is a mega million market and if the Netherlands with 19 million people are so desired, then what about the UK with 68 million? Consider the meeting Equens had and a document they presented in June 2011 (source: http://www.paymentscouncil.org.uk/files/payments_council/npp2011_-_consultation_docs/22.06.11_equens_se.pdf).

The statements like: “However, the single largest criticism of the NPP is that it lacks an overarching business vision on which to drive a coherent strategy that delivers the various elements of the Plan.

So, the National Payment Plan was even more in need of a business vision? To consider those consequences we would need to look at Q42 of that document on page 14. Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is under scrutiny where it was stated that ”The adoption of SEPA standards and formats should be introduced as quickly as possible. Whilst this will impose a cost on Corporate UK, the benefits of these new standards will take some time to reach fruition if standards migration is done on a phased basis.” So what adoptions exactly, and as such, which ones are less documented but not prohibited? From an IT point of view ‘formats’ reads as changes to interact data on more levels more easily. Why? Costs on Corporate UK! When have they EVER been willing to accept costs without tenfold falling back into their laps? It is simple basic capitalism. I have nothing against it, yet the part where most others get sold is not in those papers, yet it is not prohibited either. Welcome to the open world of financial institutions where we are about to become their product. Even though Equens is now visible, I wonder where a big boy like Schlumberger (Axalto) is at this point, who has a sizeable share.

The NOS reported on their website (www.nos.nl) today that these moves are for now of the table. Quoted was “Aanleiding voor dit besluit is de maatschappelijke onrust die is ontstaan.” (translation: ‘reason for this decision is the social unease that rose‘). I think that they have business concerns which will not allow them to endanger their 10% market at present. Yet, if they thought of it, then so did the other players and as such the next step is only a matter of time, and I reckon that we do not have that much time left before we are part of a sold system.

From there our world of what we need will be transformed into our world as THEY see we need. A small change will become a world of difference for us all.

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The ugly unspoken truth

It is nice to get your thoughts confirmed. So, my ego was taking a nice leap forward when I saw how ministers all over Europe agree with my views on blogs I had written in the last few months. Foreign ministers Margallo from Spain and Westerwelle from Germany as well as French Minister Moscovici from France voiced pretty much literally the issues I had on several finance issues plaguing debt driven Europe. The Italian election is not as much a solution as it has now become an issue of less trust and security then before the elections.

So, it is nice that they agree however, the issue I have is that the Italian population seems to ignore that THEIR predicament comes from massive irresponsible spending. The other part is that Germany, when needed did tighten the belt and therefore they are now in such a strong state. Other nations are still fighting with issue they have (like the Netherlands). This is not because they are not doing anything, but because, from my humble opinion, they started too late, and as such they are now in this ‘mess’. They still have more issues to come. As they reflected that 2014 would bring a 1.1% increase, my thoughts are nowhere near that optimistic. I cannot vow on the issue that they are wrong, yet, over positive thinking is a hampering Anvil for them. I would think that if they could pull of a 0.3% positive growth in 2014, then that might be nothing less than a decent miracle.

Whether they get this through ‘clever’ bookkeeping is to be seen. Even in the most optimistic events. This means that the Trade ministry would need to get their International options like in Qatar and Bahrain. This would definitely help towards the 0.3% growth but not the 1.1%. In addition, the issues currently plaguing the gas winnings in the state of Groningen could hamper income for the Dutch government. They reported over 11 billion euro revenue from gas. However, as areas in Groningen were disturbed by Quake’s that seem to grow in intensity due to the method of extracting, could have two effects. First it is not inconceivable that revenue from Gas might fall below 10 billion, as well as the fact that damages from these quakes mean that payments well into the millions would be added as costs. In addition, there have been newscasts that current events are NOT events the current industry buildings are protected against, so not limiting gas extractions could have far fetching consequences. Not just to the revenue, but also to an area with culture and architecture that is quite unique to that nation.

The final straw is the involvement of the RABO bank in the LIBOR scandal. They have been given a penitent company donation of 330 million Euro. Even though they are not state owned like the SNS, there will be consequences. The first one would be whether Moody will adjust the bank even further. It was downgraded in June 2012 from AAA to AA2. Will the fine as well as the implication of lessened revenue and profit (as resulted from the LIBOR effect) mean this bank is downgraded even further? That part I do not, and do not claim to know, but it stands to reason that additional drops in government donations (read paid taxes) will dwindle a little. All these facts mean that the target of 3% budget deficit is not likely to be achievable. This links of course to the issues in Italy. As they miss their targets we are now with 2 players who become a question mark and Italy being number 3 on the ranking list of Europe, THAT impact will be a prominent one.

This European cart which is in definition pulled by the current two champion stags (France and Germany) will only slow them down too, meaning that a strong European economy (or at least less debt driven) is not likely to become a reality before 2016. If I had any faith in my predictions (remember, I am not an economist), then I would speculate that 2014 will be Europe’s hardest year. Not because of the economy as it gets through 2013, but because the drag from 2011 through to 2014 will have exhausted both people and companies to the brink of collapse (of financial exhaustion). For those thinking that I am so far of the mark, consider the greying population and the issues they are already in a group that cannot make ends meet in January 2013. The issue here is that this is not limited to places like the Netherlands and Spain. A fear of clear shortage is also hitting France, Italy and Germany. It will be hit on both sides of the equation. On one side, there is a clear danger that less money can be paid towards pensioners and stronger on the other side is the ever increasing cost of living. Whether it is because of food, Electricity and/or gas/fuel prices. Retiring before 2018 does not seem to be a healthy option, and NO guarantees are forthcoming any day soon.

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