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Brexit? Because Pizza!

Yes, it sounds nuts (honey covered ones), but that was pretty much the first thought that came to mind. You see, I have been trying to see beyond mere Brexit and Bremain, because comprehension gives insights that hopefully leads to wisdom. That is the path we need to be on in many cases (those who can). You see, we have seen one irresponsible side exposed in Brexit, that side is perhaps the majority reason why people are in the Brexit camp. No matter how clever Mark Carney was, the notion we see soon thereafter as Mario Draghi speaks of a willingness to spend another trillion plus to ‘jumpstart’ the economy is giving the voters even more reason to jump on the Brexit train. So no positive part there. No we get the European courts adding fuel to the fire that steams the Brexit train is seen (at http://www.theguardian.com/law/2016/jun/07/france-wrong-imprison-ghanian-woman-enter-britain-illegaly-eu-court-rules) in an article called ‘Imprisoning woman trying to illegally enter UK was wrong, EU rules‘. So these high educated judges are giving an outspoken ruling that it was wrong?

Perhaps this law student could give them something to consider ‘A person must not use a document which is, and which he or she knows to be, false, with the intention of inducing another person to accept it as genuine‘, which made it a crime as early as 1958 (actually long before that and not just in the UK). It is still a crime in most commonwealth nations. So perhaps this judge can explain to the people how having false identity papers is not a crime? It is speeches like these from the EU courts that makes people less interested to remain within the EU that the judges are trying to ‘non-enforce’. We have all heard the court stories about men who cannot get deported after a rape because he has the right to a family life. We tend to react really emotionally, which could be seen as equally wrong, yet the people who hear this will accept any verdict the victim gives, when she is voicing deportation, we all tend to shout it for the victim. In addition the case where a transgressor’s case is delayed for 2 years and in that time he has three additional children, so he can rely on article 8. I am not judging how appropriate the verdict is, I am merely voicing a thought most people in Britain tend to have. On the other side we see some statements that Bremain is the only option because of the damage to some profession when Brexit becomes real. There, the incomplete and incorrect statement that Metro gave recently (March 2016) ‘From April people will be deported for earning less than £35,000‘, whilst the evidence of this incorrectness is not correctly voiced does not help matters any. The fact that all media seems to ignore section 14(f) of the regulations that clearly state “In all cases, the pay must be compliant with National Minimum Wage regulations“, gives rise that unneeded stress is being created, making the issues muddy and stressful for all immigrants and it is in my view counterproductive. On that other side, we see misrepresentation voiced via the BBC, where we get ‘EU laws ‘prohibit UK from sending foreign criminals home’‘ (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36467725), we see the two speakers with the quotes “Mr Raab said British families were being put at risk – and argued leaving the EU would make the UK ‘safer’” and “Immigration minister James Brokenshire, who backs Remain, said the UK had deported 6,500 EU criminals since 2010“. In my view the statement from Mr Raab is a bit of a joke. Not because of the validity of the claim, but it is my personal view that in a population of 68 million, 50 are less than a blip on any radar, in addition when looking at places like banks like the Royal Bank of Scotland and accountancy firms like Pricewaterhouse Coopers. So when we consider the ‘swap victims‘ and Tesco, how many victims did that lead to and how many of those involved in those matters are currently in prison? I partially agree that an immigrant when intentionally choosing a life of crime has no business living in the UK (or any nation that they were not born in), but let’s remain a little bit more realistic, shall we?

This is exactly why people are confused and some are scared. The fact that the political players are taking this approach to ‘mis-communicate’ the issues is matter of concern. As we see statements that are regarded as ‘credible independent experts’, should enough evidence be shown that these credible experts have been on any agenda, or that any clear level of miscommunication is found, than these so called experts should be barred from any government contracts for no less than 10 years. See how that works! Here my reasoning is what we initially saw in Iceland (source: Inside Job), there were these so called ‘experts’ and their reports and actions made for a change that should never have been allowed.

I reckon that last week’s position that includes certain stated by Ipso MORI, should be published with the raw data. It is time to make it clear to all that misrepresentation requires addressing on both sides of the isle!

So when we see the BBC article (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36464905), ‘Don’t sit on the sidelines over EU, PM urges‘, which is a week old. Yet the quote “hailing warnings against an EU exit from Japanese multinational Hitachi and the chairwoman of the US Federal Reserve” instils within me the quotes “Would Janet Yellen be so kind to remain quiet and address the 19 trillion debt, preferably by actually solving the issues?” and towards Hitachi I would state “Yes, please consider moving away from a 68 million consumer base, and the moment the UK is progressing forward in an economy, consider the competitors that will then surpass you with 99% certainty. So the empty statement should be considered to be retracted at the very next opportunity!

These are just my views, but consider in a global economy of margins, walking away from a customer base of 68 million is completely unheard of. The fact that Hitachi did what it could to expand in the Netherlands, which is small in comparison to the UK implies clearly that it requires the UK to keep its top position. That view is strengthened when we consider the quote “Mr Nakanishi said his firm, whose European headquarters is located in Berkshire, had invested £1bn in the UK energy and rail sectors in recent years. He said it was in the process of recruiting 730 new workers to build the next generation of high-speed inter-city trains“, that part remains and it will make money the same way, it is a good investment, especially when the UK economy gets past the first wave and especially in light of the European economy slowing down for 2 more years. When Hitachi walks away and other Japanese firms come in Hitachi will find itself surpassed in more than one way. It cannot take that chance as I see it, yet again, it is my speculation and I could be wrong.

Now, I am not stating that this view is the right one, I am merely in the personal believe that my view is not wrong! Let me explain the difference. Hitachi might leave, yet why? Is that because of mere commerce or due to corporate tax shelters (or tax havens) that could fall away? How is a firm an asset when it relies on non-taxation? I think that it is time to completely overhaul that system. Revenue sounds sexy, but when it is not required to be taxed, how are they a good thing? We can argue about the semantics of a tax haven versus tax shelter until the oceans freeze over. The simple fact is that the tax coffers remain too empty to support the British way of life! If you do not believe me, than consider the shortage the UK currently has, it is nowhere as bad as in the US and Japan, but it is not good, the amoral approach that corporations have remains unaddressed. We were too eager to accept the amoral route of taxation, now that the backfire comes, we become all ‘holier than though’, yet it is not too late to take a different course, the corporations not adjusting will lose out. In the end, they have a product that requires a customer base, no customer base, no revenue, no profit. I am oversimplifying this! Am I wrong?

As I see it both sides seem to be misrepresenting the case, Bremain and Brexit are both coming with issues and to some extent they are intentionally miscommunicating the issue, creating fear for all those involved. The question here becomes the issue we see. When is a presentation for one’s position misrepresentation towards the people at large?

I showed yesterday with decent clarity that Bremain is misrepresenting the facts and I believe that we can see at present that Brexit is doing the same. It is the Independent that is now adding fuel to the fire. ‘EU referendum: Poll reveals massive swing to Brexit – with just 12 days to go‘ (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/eu-referendum-poll-brexit-leave-campaign-10-point-lead-remain-boris-johnson-nigel-farage-david-a7075131.html). On one side we see no wrong “The survey of 2,000 people by ORB found that 55 per cent believe the UK should leave the EU (up four points since our last poll in April), while 45 per cent want it to remain (down four points)” is fair enough. Yet, who was asked? I showed to all clearly that weighting and responses was an issue yesterday. Now we see the responses (2000), which is definitely indicative, but from where? You see, this article is from the survey point of view good. It gives us the numbers and other elements, yet the one part not given is where they were from. Perhaps that information was not available? And in this case geographic location is most certainly a factor!

The part that I do find interesting and valuable is seen in two quotes “According to ORB, 56 per cent of people who voted for Labour at last year’s general election now back Remain when turnout is taken into account, but a dangerously high 44 per cent support Leave” and “Only 38 per cent of Tory voters endorse David Cameron’s stance by backing Remain, while 62 per cent support Leave“, which gives another light a part we did anticipate, it is the Conservative/UKIP side that has the largest Brexit sentiment. It is strengthened by 44% of labour voters. The fact that we see “the economy is more important than immigration” only gives additional value to this survey. If there is one issue with the article than it would be the ‘Take our EU referendum poll‘, because apart from Exit and Remain, the option ‘Undecided’ should be there, because that group remains too large and it will remain a significant group until the day before the election. In the end I would ‘casually’ predict it to be a 50.3 versus 49.6 result, because anything that is this important will nearly always be a close call. From a comical point of view it works, especially when we see the faces on Wall Street in the minutes after the results are announced.

What is nearly a given is no matter how it turns out, we will likely see the new version of Trivial Pursuit with an additional card. ‘What happened on June 23rd 2016?

The answer “Brexit, because Pizza!” or “Bremain, because Chicken Tikka Masala!” will be known in 12 days.

 

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Fine, Finer, Fined

My mother always told me (when I was young) that I was allowed to swear, as long as I did it grammatically correct. Little did I know that mommy made me paint myself into a corner! Ah well, the innocence of youth!

So when the board of directors of the Royal Bank of Scotland learned their usage of adjectives, comparatives and superlative was only correct in theory. First the bank was doing fine, then its position was much finer, only to get fined in the end. Did they realise that the year 10 student in the corner, the one who did not get it, was the one person making an accurate prediction? I’ll bet you tuppence that they never realised that Mr Dunsel was an actual fortune teller.

So, why am I going in this direction?

Well, consider the article ‘RBS share sale explainer: why has Osborne started selling taxpayer’s stake at a loss?‘ (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/rbs-share-sale-explainer-why-has-osborne-started-selling-the-taxpayers-stake-at-a-loss-10437095.html), whilst we heard that the taxpayer lost another billion, due to, I reckon you know what comes after this uncomfortable break: “RBS shares are still trading 33 per cent lower than the Labour government paid for them, which means selling them has incurred a loss for the government of around £1 billion on the first sale of 600m shares“.

As the Guardian reported last week that ‘RBS expects further fines with no let-up from regulators‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jul/30/royal-bank-of-scotland-expects-further-fines-dividend-delay), we see that not only is the selling of shares costing the taxpayers a billion, the £1.3bn of charges to cover fines and compensation payouts seem to sting a little more than we bargained for. A few of the reasons why the buyback of shares will not happen until 2017, with a decent chance that more hardship will be burdened upon them payers of taxation. So when I see a quote from Sir Philip Hampton stating “The industry as a whole has got a poor track record in predicting these [provisions]. We’ve consistently under-called them”. Can anyone explain to me why the people at RBS are allowed to nag? Consider the quote “the long list of mistakes from the past continued to catch up with the bank” and compare it to the BBC article (at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8392147.stm), which was from 2009 which gave us ‘RBS board could quit if government limits staff bonuses‘ with the quote “they say they have to remain competitive in the market in recruiting senior executives“, which is nice when it deals with the bonuses that go into the millions, but when we see that it is linked to years of inadequacy, mistakes, fines and prosecutions, we need to tailor a solution where some of these bankers need to be barred for life from entering the financial sector. So when we learned in February 2014 that ‘RBS pays out £588m in bonuses despite suffering £8.24bn loss‘, we need to ask a few really serious questions, now that the shares are sold at a massive loss and the total sale could result in total loss of  £15bn. I feel certain that I could do a better job, whilst not having any economic degree.

So as a large portion of the UK is in a state of hardship, the failing RBS constituency still makes over half a billion in bonuses. The aftertaste is far beyond bitter, so why get back to all these matters, which in some case is a repetition of events that had passed?

In the first, as I see it, these board members failed, the value of the company is down and as such, in sight of “We’ve consistently under-called them“, they are not due any bonuses until December 2016 and only if the value of the bank is back on par with the share value at which the government bought them. In addition, the news ‘Hedge funds make quick buck after getting wind of RBS stake sale’ from the Financial Times only adds to the bitterness of the taste of shares with pepper and salt. In my view another reason why the bonus of board members and RBS bankers should be set to £0. In addition, as Sir Philip has been around since 2009, whilst getting a not too uncomfortable £750,000. The need for not letting up on allowing the bankers any extras should be considered. So if they would like to retry their bluff of December 2009, where they stated “threatening to resign“, let them. Why does the RBS have any need for employees “consistently under-called them“, whilst at the same time fines for ‘rigging’ are banging the corporate coffers of the RBS, leading to damages that total into billions.

So when did you have a job where the company needs 45 billion from the taxpayer, they have not returned into a state of grace and they still get a 7 figure Christmas present? I never had a job like that. To change my luck, could Sir Philip kindly give me one? I need £8m over the next 3 years (for reasons of retirement). I am willing to do anything legal, including working my bud off to return the RBS to profit. From my point of view, I offer something more than the RBS board ever delivered (well, since 2009), so we can agree that my value is better than their value, ain’t it?

But this is not about me, this is also to a lesser extent not about the board members. This is about the engine behind it and the changes they are about to face. You see the sounds have been there, the rumours have almost forever been there and on the sidelines the links have been there, but what is this linking?

I am referring to the following events ‘Auditors go high-tech to win new business‘ (at http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/183cb13c-2557-11e5-bd83-71cb60e8f08c.html), where we see “Auditors have a newfound zest. Rapid developments in digital technology and new rules requiring large companies to invite bids for auditing work at least once a decade have forced accounting firms to refocus on winning new business” and ‘Accountants warn on audit market reforms‘ from last November where we see “Within the “big four” accountancy firms, market share has been shifting. EY has overtaken Deloitte as the third biggest auditor to FTSE 100 clients, behind PwC and KPMG in first and second place, respectively. This month Royal Bank of Scotland announced it had appointed EY as its auditor from 2016, ending a 14-year contract with Deloitte” (at http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/f22383ca-6410-11e4-bac8-00144feabdc0.html). This is actually more than just the shaking of the trees and the stirring of the gravy bowl. You see this is a shifting picture where the big four are now pushing for data analytics, the Wall Street Journal have been slowly filling the spaces in that regard. The headline ‘Accountants Increasingly Use Data Analysis to Catch Fraud‘ states it, but what do they state? At http://www.wsj.com/articles/accountants-increasingly-use-data-analysis-to-catch-fraud-1417804886, we see “When a team of forensic accountants began sifting through refunds issued by a national call center, something didn’t add up: There were too many fours in the data. And it was up to the accountants to figure out why“. Yes on the night of St. Nicholas the presents are handed out to all and especially the bankers, because analytics are here, the secret sauce of the needy to quench those who want to solve and hide those in the shadows. You see Benford’s Law is here and everything will be OK now! Is that so? Let’s take a look at ‘The Irrelevance of Benford’s Law for Detecting Fraud in Elections‘ (at http://www.vote.caltech.edu/sites/default/files/benford_pdf_4b97cc5b5b.pdf), where we see: “Detecting and measuring fraud is much like any criminal investigation and requires a careful gathering of all available data and evidence in conjunction with a “theory of the crime” that takes into account substantive knowledge of the election being considered, including the socio-economic and geographic correlates of voting“. This is about voting, so how does this apply? Consider the quote on page 23 “The operant clause here, though, is “in otherwise homogeneous data” since this indicator is intended to detect the heterogeneity introduced by a specific form of fraud“, now we get to those two parts, when we see “In statistics, homogeneity and its opposite, heterogeneity, arise in describing the properties of a dataset, or several datasets. They relate to the validity of the often convenient assumption that the statistical properties of any one part of an overall dataset are the same as any other part” (quick Wiki reference). So as we contemplate “the statistical properties of any one part of an overall dataset are the same as any other part“, ehhh, when has that ever been the case in keeping financial books? It is a balancing act, which means half on one side, means half on the other side (does that not prove the point?) No, because they are two sides of the same coin, double elements so to speak, so what to include, what not, the formula becomes unbalanced even further. Consider that banking is all about specifics, I will stay away from that element for a while, because the element of specifics is the issue, consider the graphs below.

Benford

 

I can tell you now that I violated loads of rules. It comes from a list of 400 movies, their revenue. So, it spans several year, 400 numbers and those are the most visible reasons why Benford does not apply. The books of Tesco have similar issues. Dozens of accounts, interactions, loads of numbers spanning a time zone, but at times those numbers are also of a small count. Could this work with a ‘grocery’ store? Consider the amount of articles at 99c and £1.99. The amount of special offers going on, day to day (Tesco example), from that, if we use EVERY transaction, we will see skewing, giving us the problem, banks have similar issues, but now more often with seriously large numbers. If we ‘Benford’ the hell out of all the commissions, will they stand the ‘fraud’ test? If not, will the bank see that cash returned, or will we suddenly see a ‘rationalisation’ of non-valid application?

 

 

This is at the heart “in otherwise homogeneous data“, which gave the Call-centre a ‘ding-dong’, yet I feel that overall numbers could have shown the issue as well. Too many issues do not hold water here, yet the end of the article gives us what matters “Benford’s Law isn’t a magic bullet. It’s only one approach. It isn’t appropriate for all data sets. And when it is a good tool for the job, it simply identifies anomalies in data, which must be explained with further investigation“, ah the common sense. That did not take long did it?

So as there are serious options for investigating Fraud, the watchers of Tesco are still not in the limelight of the press, they have been given the ‘shade’ by the press at large. In one moment we see Tesco getting replaced by DeLoitte and recently we see Santander bank replacing DeLoitte for PwC and the SFO is nowhere to be seen. So are the Elves of Statistics and the Serious ‘eff’ Ogres in a state of non-war? Perhaps the SFO is too busy and whilst those auditors give new presentations on those yummy statistics, but as I personally see it, it is basically another presentation to lull groups of people to sleep. There is a mess in front of the people and those who should look and act, seem to be too busy and many can slightly fall asleep again.

Just 6 weeks ago, the UK got the message ‘RBS, once the world’s largest bank, is using analytics technology to go back to the era of personal customer service‘, with a promise to invest £100m in data analytics technology. I personally believe in analytics, it is a great tool, but in light of many factors, unless you get the people who have been consistently under-called them a job with a competitor bank, the institution will be paying a lot by those currently not doing their job right.

That final statement can be easily proven.

In the first, if data analytics was key, those involved should have known this for well over 3 years, some in charge have been there long enough, which means that no action was taken and they should not be in a position where they remain idle.

In the second, if data analytics is not key in solving some of the matters, why are they buying it? It could be for very valid other reasons, but that does not solve the ‘under-calling’ issue, it does not solve several other issues, even though it solves some, so at best, data analytics will diminish losses, which is good, but should we not get rid of the dead weight (read significant reasons for large losses).

All this comes to blows soon enough, because if the RBS does not get its results, new articles will appear all over the place regarding ‘miscommunication’, times of deployment and infrastructure issues, in the meantime ‘managed bad news’ prevails and more waves of issues will be swept under the covers of a dark carpet. As accounts are handed over between the 4 big auditors, the sum in the end gives us that overall none of them will make any serious losses. Slightly beyond the short term it evens out for the big four, which might be the largest miscarriage of justice of all.

 

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The outspoken lie

This is the issue we have seen many times in the last months. The lie perpetrated by people (including journalists) to keep them in some fake shape of ethical non-prosecution. The clearest one was shown by the Guardian Yesterday (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/may/22/secret-bank-of-england-taskforce-investigates-financial-fallout-brexit), it is not the first one, it will not be the last one and until some individuals get out of their lazy chair, it will never improve. The quote “News of undercover project emerges after Bank staff accidentally email details to the Guardian including PR notes on how to deny its existence“. This is not even close to an accident, you do not ‘accidently‘ add journalists to confidential e-mails. This is almost like me going to Lucy Pinder (famous UK Presenter) stating: “Can you please stand there, now bend backwards a little and please keep your legs spread and without knickers, so I can ‘accidently’ land my penis into your vagina” (sorry about the graphical intensity Miss Pinder)! Either event does not happen accidently, only intentional or orchestrated as I see it! We will likely hear on ‘accidental’ typos, on how names were the same, but the cold reality is, is the mere fact that some people are trying to be some misguided whistle-blower yet the other group are doing that intentionally, some to warn ‘friends’, some to influence the market. And this event is nowhere near the only one. I wrote about Brexit yesterday in my article ‘Is it all Greek to you?‘ there are several issues in play. There is the link to Natixis, regarding their over half a Trillion Euro issue. Is that information not really handy to have? So in my view what is currently ‘regarded’ as an accident is possibly a simple case of either whistleblowing or corruption! The next quote is another one we need to take issue with “The revelation is likely to embarrass the bank governor, Mark Carney, who has overhauled the central bank’s operations and promised greater transparency over its decision-making“. The issue is, is that there is no issue. The Bank of England has a clear responsibility to investigate economic impacts, this means that both Brexit and Grexit are to be investigated. You see, if Brexit becomes a necessarily evil, those making the decisions would need to have all the facts, not just ask for the facts at that point. So, 30 seconds after the Guardian revelation, Natixis and all its links, Airbus, HSBC and a few other players will now be preparing their own kind of noose, threatening the UK government on the consequences of going forward on Brexit, the equations as per today will be pushed in other directions, including by the US, who would get into deep insolvent waters the moment Brexit becomes a fact. So, the accidental mailer is in my view an intentional traitor to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. That person is an even bigger traitor as this is not about where the freedom of choice for a sovereign nation lies, but the fact that it is no longer able to get the true facts ready for the people to freely make a choice on, so when the referendum does come, the people are likely to get misinformed because powerful players do not like it when their profitability is on the line. It is of course every little bit useful for the large industries who believe in keeping the status quo of exploitations high, dry and mighty. So even though Mark Carney will likely be under fire of questions as per Monday, we must also see that in this case our Canadian Marky Mark is totally innocent (in this case). He did what a responsible governor of the Bank of England did. He made sure the correct facts were collected (tried to do so without kicking a fuss), a task that is now less likely to be successful. So as we look at what happened, according to the Guardian article, we see “The email, from Cunliffe’s private secretary to four senior executives, was written on May 21st and forwarded by mistake to a Guardian editor by the Bank’s head of press, Jeremy Harrison“, so as I see it a mail from Sir Jonathan Cunliffe went to 4 senior executives. Now we suddenly see that Jeremy Harrison had it. Was he one of the 4 recipients? It seems unlikely as the text would have stated something slightly different. It is the formulation that gives way to the notion that it is likely (read: possible) that one of those executives forwarded the mail to Jeremy Harrison and he did give it to the Guardian. So we have two issues. Who gave it to Jeremy and was the release to the press more intentional than not? That question remains an issue. Is this orchestration or blatant treason. Let’s not forget that treason means: ‘The betrayal of someone’s trust or confidence‘, in this case the trust AND confidence of the British parliament. So the people are confronted with a spokesperson who likely spoke out, against the wishes of the ruling governor. So this event will have consequences from Monday onward. The markets will react and after that we will see more events into escalations as the British people will get to see over the week how the Greek fallout will hit the markets and the European economies as a whole. The non-actions, or any act regarded too small by the people will shift political allegiances fast, yet that effect is less likely to be felt in the UK and more likely to impact France at present. And these Brexit revelations are not the first ones. That Greek tragedy called insolvency is riddled with ‘leaked’ documents all over the place. In February 2015 we had ‘Leaked documents reveal what Greece had to say at the Euro group negotiations‘, in this view, I agree with blogger Raúl Ilargi Meijer who wrote less than a week ago “Whenever secret or confidential information or documents are leaked to the press, the first question should always be who leaked it and why” (at http://www.theautomaticearth.com/2015/05/the-imf-leaks-greece/), but that is not what orchestration is about, is it? So are the events from the Bank of England orchestration too? If so fine (well not entirely, but that would not be my call), if not then please fire Jeremy Harrison and give me his job. I have no proper degree for the function, but at least I will not be leaking any documents. These events go a lot further then just Greece of course. The Herald Scotland gives us ‘Civil servant who issued RBS leak email links with Better Together leader‘ (at http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/revealed-civil-servant-who-issued-rbs-leak-email-links-with-better-together-leader.120666908) gives us “THE Treasury civil servant who issued an email leaking sensitive information about Royal Bank of Scotland’s plans to leave the country in the event of a yes vote had links to the head of Better Together campaign, it can be revealed“, so again the question regarded is, is this not corporate treason? Consider the quote “Now the civil servant who issued the communication can be identified as Robert Mackie, the son of Catherine MacLeod, who was a special adviser to Better Together leader Alistair Darling when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer“, was he preparing his own more comfortable future? Getting himself into the proper future setting with friends of Alistair Darling? These are questions to be asked, for sure. Of course, a valid question might be, why would the Royal Bank of Scotland, leave Scotland if it becomes independent? Is it about the lost power of image of its board members? I do not proclaim or imply to have the actual answers, but the truth is not likely to come out, which means we end up living an outspoken lie, does it not? My own little island Australia is not without its own negative merits here. The title ‘Leaked documents reveal problems within Air Warfare Destroyer program‘ should give cause for concern, because that is not a mere commercial/political issue, it is a military issue, where one might expect a little more bias into ‘disclosing’ classified information (me going out on a limb here). we see the information (at http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2015/s4232702.htm), where we get the quote “But documents obtained by Saturday AM reveal the alliance is now worried continued cost blowouts and delays are harming its shipbuilding reputation“, of course ‘cost blowout’ usually means that the leaders of those projects did not have a proper clue to begin with and the amount of 9 billion gives a lot more weight to my statement (the UK NHS IT program being a nice piece of 11 billion pounds in evidence), but that is not too unexpected. The quote “MARK THOMSON: With an alliance contract where you don’t have somebody clearly in charge, you can rapidly find yourself in a situation where things go wrong and people are looking at one another passing blame, not taking responsibility, and decisions aren’t made” is precisely to the point. Our own Marky Mark (not the one running the Bank of England) shows the major influence, a person that is clearly in charge. I would add that quality of communication tends to be a solid second one in these projects. You see, as these elements go back and forth the e-mail (read Memo) goes on and on. When someone is in charge we get that defining moment when they hear (or should hear). ‘Shut Up! This is what we have decided on!‘, yet military contractors (like Raytheon and Northrop Grumman) are very trained in encapsulating questions within answers, adding premises so that the water is murky, as this is all about their continues consultancy as those people are like lawyers, they bill by the hour per project (as I personally see it), so here again, we see the outspoken lie, now not by telling, but by omission through non-clarity. So as the article ended with “Last year problems with the AWD program prompted former defence minister David Johnston to warn he wouldn’t trust the government-owned Australian submarine corporation to build a canoe“, on one side it seems odd to bite the hand that feeds you, on the other hand the question becomes what evidence did he have access to? Was this a political move to shelter individuals or signal true issues? So now we get the news (less than 2 hours ago at http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/first-air-warfare-destroyer-launched-at-asc-osborne/story-fni6uo1m-1227366174513) ‘First Air Warfare Destroyer launched at ASC, Osborne‘, which should be a huge reason for parties as well as spoil a bottle of bubbly against the hull of that beauty. Yet, the article is not all good news. We see that in the quote “The occasion was overshadowed to a degree by Friday’s release of a Federal Government audit claiming the destroyers cost three times as much to build in South Australia as they would if they had been built overseas. It also found the total cost of the project had blown out to $9 billion“, so here are my questions in this:

  1. Could we ever rely on our defense by getting things build overseas?
  2. Who kept check on the expenses?
  3. If I go over the books and If I can cut more than 20% by invalidating time wasted on drawn out lines of ‘communications’ (I mean those long winded memos from these military contractors), will I get 10% of the 20% saved? (This should amount to 180 million) not bad for a few months’ work! You know, I had a dream where I ended up with 160 million and bought a nice house on Guernsey. I am willing to settle on 20 million less!

So here we see the outspoken lies! Political, commercial and even military, lines of miscommunication drained through ‘leaked’ documents. Is it all orchestration? Is orchestration not the same as treason when we consider the allegiance those people were supposed to have (in opposition where ‘leaked’ documents are a tactical move)? It would be for a court to decide, yet we will soon learn that these matters will not make it into any court, and as the cost blowout of 9 billion is shown, this leaky path will pay handsomely into the hands of businesses like Raytheon and Natixis, and what do you know, there are links between these two as well! So is this last statement my outspoken lie? Or can we agree at least to some degree that these companies all talk to one another? So in the end are governments getting played and who is actually in charge? That would be a very valid question as the bill got pumped by 9 billion, where 10% of that 9 billion could have solved the Australian legal aid issue (as well as a few other issues), so will any investigation into that issue result in a new outspoken lie (read: carefully phrased political conclusion without further accountability by anyone)? Time will tell!

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Rated into immorality

Can anyone explain something weird to me? The news is given (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/nov/14/twitter-given-junk-credit-rating) to impress upon us a combination of values and steps that are beyond immoral. Consider the tweet, tweet twitter engine. I use it almost every day, it is the one unbiased part where we can follow events, people and companies so that we keep up to date, small messages that bring the actual information. A company that had a massive idea, is making money, when we see the quote “Jim Prosser, a spokesman for Twitter, pointed to S&P’s own words as comment: “Twitter will continue to experience very strong growth and not encounter a significant increase in competitive pressure.”“, we see issues, but is anyone seeing the question behind it? Then we see the one little gem hidden in all the text “The rating is unsolicited“, is this part of the issue? You see, as we look at companies, their revenue, their profit and some might consider their contribution, so as we look at it why is S&P suddenly decided ‘Twitter given junk credit rating‘? It seems to me that there is an economic shift going on. As companies are doing well, they are now getting downgraded for not meeting the expectations of some analysts.

Yet, where is this world going to?

Consider the application of morale (a word not found in a financiers dictionary) and reasoning for my thought train at present is the following: ‘Forex-rigging investigation: George Osborne gives full backing to SFO‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/nov/14/forex-rigging-investigation-george-osborne-sfo). Libor, Forex, Tesco and there is absolutely ZERO indication that this is just it. At the edge of reason we see the quote ‘Because I don’t want you to see any of my wobbly bits‘, which sounds ample and applicable as the financial district of happily ‘screw everyone over‘, it is all about the wobbly bits, according to Bridget Jones!

Consider the Forex articles. The second one is http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/14/us-banks-forex-crime-idUSKCN0IY0LV20141114. The issue is not just the events, the quote “Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, JP Morgan, Citigroup, Bank of America Corp and UBS were hit with penalties. Barclays is still in talks with authorities over a settlement“, which not just how far the issue has overstepped, but the issue is where banking laws are falling short, short to the extent that we have in access of half a decade. The issues continued after the banking collapse as the financial population continued to be nothing more than an eager courtesan to the bonus they so crave. The end result is a malignant decay of morals, standards and all this now (as I personally see it) on the standards as the poor are left with less than none, so Standards & Poor it is!

We now get back to what I regard to be a new level of exploited levelling. Consider the hidden simplicity that Libor held; now consider that debt ratings Moody’s, S&P, Fitch and the relative newbie Egan-Jones decide on ratings. Combine ‘how to lie with statistics‘ (a famous book by Darrell Huff) and the need to manipulate the market for 23 billionaires and we see the light of junk status made Twitter in a whole new light. Consider the basic state of an economy. A company sells, makes profit and pays taxes, a nation flourishes! This is a naive (remember my non-economic degree?) approach towards the worlds cloud of business. Investors, shareholders, analysts and raters are a cog within a machine of cogs. Yet this inner circular machine is different. It inflates, malleably changes and coaches towards a change that seems to be intent on syphoning and draining virtual cash flows into a different premise of profit, which is then turned to actual money. In an age of debts that go beyond the total of all treasuries, virtual numbers that have little to no foundation. The foundations and the levels they have been compromised towards are of a dimension we never imagined possible. Consider that the big banks have been fined in excess of 2.3 billion (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/halahtouryalai/2013/12/04/big-banks-fined-2-3b-over-illegal-libor-cartels-more-fines-on-the-way/), I wrote about it in ‘60% confiscated and counting in Cyprus!‘, on April 1st 2013, yet do not think this article to be a joke. I stated “If this is what frightens the US, then consider the consequences of a system like LIBOR being manipulated through the total value of trade. If that would have been off by 11.2%. Out of $1000T (UK and US combined) then that difference would be $112T“, several people laughed out loud then, yet now consider not just Libor, but the audited events of Tesco, the $5.3 trillion market of Forex and the fact that morality might be found in a church, but as we see the evidence, morality is not found in banks and financial institutions, where will it end?

With the Twitter events that question becomes more debatable and the impact that rating companies now impress upon profit turning companies have. Is it just about profit, or about the stated ‘anticipated statement of profit’? As certain ‘analysts’ claim that events are not exceeded, stock becomes junk, waves are created and as such, the welfare of companies are tweaked into a state of artificially changed state, some are inflated, some deflated, but always towards the claim of raters and analysts. The bottom line set towards an algorithm. Consider these states as we have seen not just the change of Tesco, but the events as they also gave way of downgraded profits with Sainsbury, which was not so vocally seen before that day in September. Interactions on many levels, based upon foundations that no one seems to question. Consider how the expectations were set by ‘analysts’ based upon data given to them and data available to them, now consider how Tesco had a quarter of a billion inflated and how the Pricewaterhouse Cooper auditors were ignorant of the inflated condition, now consider how Analysts used that element in predicting waves, the raters predicted and set the value and they are now setting the anticipation of investors and shareholders, an artificial pool with tidal wave creating capacity, and the two elements that have the ability to set the power and size of the waves. So how is your view of financial morality now? Consider the final part in this story. When we consider a story on Fortune titled ‘Twitter is junk, while Alibaba is class, ratings agencies say‘ (at http://fortune.com/2014/11/14/twitter-is-junk-while-alibaba-is-class-ratings-agencies-say/), why is that? Twitter is still holding its own, is it perhaps that the waves of Alibaba can be more easily influenced? Companies valued at the ability where the waves can be decided by the financial cogs, the stability of Twitter is less interesting to them, so they make way for whoever can aid in creating the waves these financial people want. (The last part you read is all speculation on my side), yet speculation or not, when we see the waves of Libor and Forex, are my thoughts so far out of bounds? How Twitter making millions is downgraded, how Tesco, beyond the inflated profits, still made a billion, it’s downgrade of 90% seems excessive beyond punishment, but Tesco is not a good example (because of their own internal manipulation), Consider the Fortune quote “And the fact that Alibaba is 90% dependent on a home market that is slowing, while acknowledged as a risk, doesn’t seem to scare the agencies“, it does not scare them, or it appeals the dependency of Alibaba to make certain decisions down the line? There is a side that seems ignored by all, I personally still have a hard time believing that (as my calculation went in ‘Price Waterfall Blooper‘ on October 25th) the price for 199 auditors could not find two events of inflation of each well over 100 million. Are my suspicions in regards to manipulations that far-fetched?

I wonder how long it will take for the law to catch up, for the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) or Crown Prosecuting Services (CPS) to get a handle on these events and deter these actions to such a degree. There should be additional questions as the raters are all American, in light of their shortfall that approaches 18 trillion at present. It seems that the US has no options, no solution and no resolution strategy, yet we see that the big four give ratings are all American. The last part is not an accusation in any way, yet the fact that the Auditors need new oversight, especially in the light of American auditing firm Pricewaterhouse Cooper as they will face questions regarding Tesco. As the 4 largest auditors include UK and Netherlands, why are there only American raters (of the proportions of the large 4)? With the risk of manipulation, should there not be a British and even a French or a Dutch rating service? Let’s not forget that PwC faces possible investigation, not because they are more likely than not guilty, but because their innocence needs to be proven beyond any doubt, especially in light of the amount of companies audited by them as well as the issue of 199 auditors (as I calculated them) not finding anything. When we consider the length of time that PwC has had Tesco as a customer, yet, these are two separate issues, there is no inkling of suspicion that auditors are part of any manipulation, yet the auditor’s data is essential to such steps.

Where is the solution?

Not sure if I know of one, laws can be made draconian to give much harsher sentence to the transgressors, but the issue is not the transgressors, the issue is that these ‘manipulators’ have by definition of law not broken any rules. Yes, we see the fines of Libor and soon Forex, these transgressions are seemingly clear, but what of the raters and the analysts? The issues of data are at the foundation here. That what is raw data and how it becomes processed data is now at the centre of it all. That what is construed to be the creator of waves through analysts, raters and auditors; Auditors collecting the data, analysts to manipulate (which is what they might see as a simple application of personal preference and weighting) and raters to set the pace for investors and shareholders.

So tell me, how wrong is MY view and why have these influential cogs not been dealt with through legislation?

 

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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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Exploitation fears for tax-payers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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RBS of the Clan Goldman Sachs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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