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Poly….what? Politics!

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

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

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

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Where we fail again

There is an issue, the issue is in Greece. This issue is not because of the Greeks, it is not because of anything they did. They are just unfortunate to be the second nation on the route of refugees. Here we see failings on multiple levels, none of them are Greek! You see, this is all due to a youngling named Sebastian Kurz (the Austrian Foreign minister). Extremely bluntly stated, as I see it, this man looks like a teenage boy hoping to get his first gob job! From the Deutche Welle (at http://www.dw.com/en/austria-not-waiting-for-a-european-solution/a-19071556), we get “if Greece refused to protect the EU’s external borders and continued to let refugees travel to Europe, and the EU still had no common solution for the problem, Austria had no choice but to deal with the situation on a national level“. In this regard, my still fuming mind goes: “Well Sebastian, once you stop thinking like a teenager and actually start focussing on the elements, you would see that is Turkey and not Greece that has been the problem. That nation, that had no issue shooting down a Jet after an alleged transgression over Turkish airspace for a mere 10 seconds, that nation seems to give clear passage to refugees any way they can, they even get their hands on boats so that they can make it across to Greece, at which point Greece can either let these people drown or let them ashore.” Did you consider that even once?

Where was Austria and a group of other nations to support Greece in dealing with these refugees? Did you consider that Bassie boy? No, as I can see it, you did not. You just held a one day conference with all the trimmings, so that you could show Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia how important you pretend to be, so is that important or impohtent? Greece has a lot to deal with. One article (all from the Guardian) states ‘Up to 70,000 migrants ‘may soon be stranded in Greece’‘, which will trigger the Greek Army, but they are equally impaired to the task. The second one gives us ‘Double crisis deepens despair in Greece’s ‘warehouse of souls’‘ and the third one gives ‘We can’t allow refugee crisis to plunge Greece into chaos, says Merkel‘. All true, all factual and all incomplete!

Only now do we see in the SF Gate (at http://www.sfgate.com/world/article/Turkey-pledges-to-slow-enormous-tide-of-refugees-6859342.php) ‘Turkey pledges to slow enormous tide of refugees‘, where we see “Turkey all but turned a blind eye last year as more than 850,000 people, most of them Syrians, slipped into Greece from Turkey on smugglers’ boats. Now it’s promised the European Union that will change“, can anyone explain why we tolerate the political joke Turkey has become? The nation that had no issues with a Russian Jet is unable to stop Turkish smugglers. Perhaps the Turkish navy is still relying on equipment from WW1? I am just asking!

Yet, Sebastian Kurz has made no allowance for this at all. He is perhaps hoping on an anti-Greek sympathy vote? From all we see, is the fact that not Greek, but Turkey seems to be a massive problem in all this and now the smugglers got their gains, everyone points at Greece. It is unfair, incorrect and lacking justice on many levels. And in this age of humanitarian need, why do we read “In return for trying to stem the flux, Turkey is to receive a $3.3 billion fund to help it deal with the refugee crisis, a much-awaited easing of EU visa restrictions for Turkish citizens and sped-up EU membership talks“, so apart from not doing their jobs, we see that too many events fall on someone else’s job list at the premise that Turkey is getting something out of this for themselves. How is that anything else then a continuation of selfish needs against the backdrop of the EEC? First we could not deal with Greece (the part that was their responsibility), in all this we have the unacceptable acts by Turkey and now we add to that the immature acts by the Austrian Foreign Affairs Minister hiding it away as a mere conference. Now on the other side, there is no doubt that the pressure is on Austria, but blaming Greece for something that has been out of their control is, as I see it is a total sham.

Greece needs to do more, yet that is not possible and equally unacceptable with massive funds from the EEC and IMF. Turkey might have been strategically a better solution, but it has shown from 2001 onwards that it could not be trusted, and an ally that will only stand by others for a price is not an ally, it is a courtesan at best and a mere mercenary at the worst. There is another benefit, with this change, with these registration systems, it could lead to economic options for Greece. These registrations need to happen, which means jobs for the Greek people and data for the other EEC nations. An idea that came to me months ago, it seems such a simple solution that solves a few issues, yet politicians seem to be immune to solutions, they much rather have one day conferences and leave an ally out of it all, whilst ignoring the acts that could have helped the EEC as a whole. Minister of National Defence Panos Kammenos would have a central role in this. Together with Germany they could instigate a new identity card that holds biometric data, a card that could start the changing path of refugees into a slow path to a future, wherever it could be in Europe. The more confirmed identities there are, the better the options become and the pressure over other nations would start to diminish as solutions are created, one step at a time. A mere solution I saw last year, all we now see in the papers is how close to nothing has been achieved. This all escalated a mere moment ago when we got ‘Teargas fired as refugees try to breach Greek-Macedonian border‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/29/teargas-fired-as-refugees-try-to-breach-greece-macedonia-border), the danger is that a mass of people pushed into a corner will do what it needs to survive, and this is close to getting out of hand. In all this Greece now needs to step up to the plate, which they might be willing to do, but if the EEC does not do anything in massive support, the actions will not be realistic. A situation that now develops was clear that it would become unmanageable almost a year ago. How interesting that those relying on ego and presentation will remain in denial until the first casualty comes, right Mr Kurz?

In all this, I do acknowledge that Austria has a problem, it has had one for a while, but the simple story is that those refugees never saw Greece as a Destination, they are aiming for Germany, France and the United Kingdom. That too has been known for a very long time. Which gets me to one part that does fall onto Greece, that is seen in the quote: “Volunteers described scenes of mayhem at passenger terminals in Piraeus and the arrival hall of the former Ellinikon airport in Athens, where up to 4,000 have been housed. “We should have resorted to using the armed forces long ago,” said one. “[But] being [a] left wing [administration], there was hesitation. There were humanitarian values we wanted to uphold.”“. You see, I agree, the army should have been deployed, yet everyone forgets that an army can be deployed for humanitarian purposes. You (in an oversimplified way) replace his rifle for a clipboard and you give him a pink or light green armband (or a white one with a red cross and a red crescent), so that the refugees can see the difference. So that they see that help is no longer a dream but an option.

I apologise for oversimplifying the matter for Austria and its small one day conference, where it remains debatable if anything useful evolved from that expensive event.

 

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