Tag Archives: SNS Bank

This is not Sparta!

You might not realise it, but many of us have a Greek side in us. The gamers are all about ‘This is Sparta!’ as they slay their opponents Gerard Butler style (a Scotsman no less) in Diablo 3, more than a few of them would also consider becoming the consort of Lena Headey (Queen Gorgo), a woman who might be twice their age, but still looks better than the average 25 year old photo model. Some with a more academic approach will be confronted with the Socratic Method as they get through another Uni class. Some will love it, some will hate it. It seems there are no people in the middle ground here. Doctors still recite the Hippocratic Oath and we could argue that Prudence which comes from Phronesis, a Greek word, which got introduced by some old Greek with a beard. I remember the speech, this old guy suddenly making a speech, roughly 334BC, I was watching the Panathenaic Games and suddenly he starts deliberating (at himself) in a most bombastic voice. The man starts ‘ranting’ about something called Nicomachean Ethics, nice, but not while ‘I am watching a game!’ Someone told me his name was Aristotle. I reckon the fab never caught on. Let’s face it, public speakers and the virtue of practical thought, it will never catch on, I reckon. Guess what! It has been 2345 years and I was right! Take this Tsipras fellow, as I see it, he continues a long line of public speakers void of practical wisdom.

That we see in ‘Greece financial crisis: EU offers funds in return for urgent reforms‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/mar/20/greece-financial-crisis-eu-offers-funds-in-return-for-urgent-reforms). You see, this Alexis Tsipras has been in office almost 2 months now and as we can read in the article, he has nothing to show for it. He was supposed to show reform, he now has 10 days and the photo as printed shows away hiding his mouth behind his first. Is it agony, frustration, defiance? Is it all just theatre? The BBC with ‘Greece to draft new reform plan within days – EU leaders‘ (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31963952), which shows a ‘smiling’ Tsipras with the quote “Greece has agreed to come up with a new reform plan within days to secure the additional bailout funds required to prevent bankruptcy“, read those words carefully. It does not state, ‘will finalise’, or ‘will complete the current draft’, it states ‘to come up with a new reform plan’. So when we see the quote “I think that all the sides confirmed their intention to try to do their best to overcome the difficulties of the Greek economy as soon as possible“, I feel slightly miffed. You see Tsipras is all about the blame game. In one part, he has every right to be so, because the mess was not initially of his making. He did get into the elections as he saw he could ‘play’ the voters and now it is crunch time, he cannot deliver, because whatever defiant act he will attempt will cost the people of Greece dearly. As I see it, he’ll end up doing exactly what Antonis Samaras was doing, I wonder if that constitutes election fraud? Promising something, not doing it and doing what the opposition was doing all along. As I saw it (yes, a personal view), Antonis Samaras was a fine politician trying to decently play a really crappy hand that he got dealt. You see, in this regard, none of them have done anything  about holding to response the previous administrations that tailored the deal, that spend money an entire next generation did not have, not to mention the artful tax dodgers, none of that was as I see it done! I reckon that Tsipras would only have to arrest Kostas Vaxevanis to show that he is no better than any of the other previously elected politicians.

You see my emotion here is because I love Greece (Specifically Crete), I feel pain as I see that it is driven into the ground by elected officials, it is largely done so through inactions, which makes it even worse. It is sloth in its most profound form, not just spiritual and emotional apathy, it is done through additional decisive inaction. A form of treason of the worst kind. Almost like the captain of a ship who now INTENTIONALLY goes towards an iceberg expecting the iceberg to get out of the way. It reminds me of an advertisement where the captain of a cruiser (USS Montana) who decided to play chicken with a lighthouse (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYsdUgEgJrY), yet in this case it is not a person being handed ‘incomplete’ or ‘incorrect’ information. In this case we all know the object in front of the good ship Hellenic Republic and its captain(s) have not taken the measures they should have. This is how the news is reading to me. What should have been done is a list of continuing meetings non-stop with all parties. The Greeks were given a play, theatre of a mediocre level and soon they will not be left with any options. As I personally see it, politics of its very worst kind.

All this now reflects in a bad way, especially if we take the word of the NOS (Dutch News). Here we see “‘De verwachting was dat het goed zou komen’, zegt de Rabobank-econoom. ‘Maar het probleem is dat de Grieken steeds hun beloftes breken. Ze proberen steeds opnieuw over de voorwaarden te onderhandelen’” “‘The expectations were that everything would be fine’ said the Rabobank economist, ‘but the problem is that the Greeks break their promises and then try to renegotiate their deal again and again’{translated}” as well as “We zijn wel gewend van de Europese politiek dat oplossingen pas gevonden worden als we bijna in de afgrond stappen” “We are used that European politics will find a solution as we are about to step into the abyss {translated}”.

This all directly reflects back to the days of the SNS-bank debacle ‘too big to fail‘. It seems that Tsipras is taking the ‘let’s take this over the abyss, so I can blame someone else‘ approach. Not the most subtle path of the blame game, but a blame game tactic none the less. When did we see any serious step to address reform from Greece? It seems to me that the ‘let’s be nice one more time to Greece‘ is counted upon, yet no clear and decisive act from the Greek elected officials is coming. So as the possible mark of bankrupt is looming no more than 2 weeks away, did the Greek population consider that if the government is out of money, how much money is actually available at a bank? When the run on the bank starts, how quickly are those coffers empty and where will the people get cash to pay for the average need like food, water and electricity?

That part seems not addressed in any way!

Actually it is (at http://www.afr.com/news/world/greek-coffers-running-on-empty-bring-accident-threat-closer-20150320-1m3nym), the Australian Financial Review is not the only Financial Review paper, so there will be more, but for the most, we see little about this little part: “While Mr Tsipras isn’t saying what’s left in the bank, he acknowledges Greece is facing ‘liquidity pressure’. The country’s cash shortfall is projected to hit 3.5 billion euros in March“. So even if that part might be ‘virtual’ to some extent, how much money is actually available to banks? That part might be seen when we consider “The Bank of Greece has plugged cash shortfalls by tapping the reserves of other public sector entities, including pension funds, hospitals, and universities“, as well as “The Bank of Greece and the European Central Bank won’t report official cash outflows for January until the end of the month. But sources in the Greek banking sector have told Greek newspapers that as much as 25 billion euros (US $28.4 billion) have left Greek banks since the end of December“, which comes from http://www.cnbc.com/id/102439432. So in two weeks, how will things get paid for?

That is a question Greeks (the population at large) should be asking, because when the money is gone, how will they address the bills with the cash of their savings whilst the banks had pushed them in possible other none profit making endeavours? At least, if things really collapse, we can always opt ‘at least it was due to a radical left vision’, in the past (read 70’s), the radical left visions gave way in Italy to Brigate Rosse and in Germany to the Rote Armee Fraktion. Their economy was never this desperate, so I wonder what the Greeks will come up with, I am however sure that it will be blamed on the Germans (again).

In my view, I wonder, was I correct two years ago? Could an independent Crete have created at least a partial economic growth? Would Crete have been better off in a state of independence? I do not proclaim to have the evidence, but I feel that my feeling back then was spot on. Now the rest of Greece could drag down this island against their will.

It seems very unfair, but then in the politics of Tsipras (and that of politicians at large), fairness never had anything to do with it.


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The numbers we ignore?

Today is another day that the US government is in shutdown mode. This is not Episode 8 from season 5 of the West Wing by Aaron Sorkin (brilliant man). This is reality!

There is polarisation on many levels and even though we want to blame one side as we stand on the other side, there is a deadly reality playing out in the corridors of power. The Democrats refuse to cut their spending; the Republicans will not play soft or compromising. Today we see the Guardian with “Obama meets bank chiefs as economists warn of ‘deep and dark recession’” at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/oct/02/obama-bank-chiefs-economist-deep-recession. As we look at a few facts quoted “President Obama met bank executives including Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein“. The firm that helped many lose their house. I admit that this is unfair towards Mr Lloyd Blankfein, but the sentiment behind it stays in valid form (I will get to that later on).

A looming battle over the nation’s $16.7tn debt ceiling. Treasury secretary Jack Lew has warned that the US could default on its debts if the limit is not raised soon.

The second part is why the republicans are not budging. The Democrats are raising and spending and leaving it all to the next one in office. There is enough evidence to state that it is likely that the Republicans will return to the White house. In that regard, they have ZERO interest in cleaning up the Democrat mess, which will take several administrations. The fact, that the Democrats are not willing to cut their spending, whilst they spend a lot more than their budget allows. It is almost hilarious how things are spun. They claim it is all about affordable healthcare, whilst this option is increasing the debt by $100 billion a year. Now, it there was money coming in on the other side, there might be some level of case, but that is not happening. This current administration has added over 5 trillion dollars in debt during his first term. That is an overspending by 3.4 billion dollars a day. With Obama care this will be even more. Now, this administration inherited a sour deal. The economy had collapsed; there were issues with some financial crash in Wall Street and so on. Yet, the debt he has added to in one term is a lot more than Bush added in two terms. (So both sides have some of the blame). The republicans are not blameless, but they will not accept the continued addition of debt which is currently getting pushed. The US national debt is now well over 100% of its GDP. This is the part many seem to ignore. So if all taxation (which is only 26.9% of the GDP) is used to pay for the loan, then it will take 4 years to get rid of their debt. That works ONLY if the US government pays no wages, fixes nothing, builds nothing, buys nothing and heals no one. So for 4 years Americans must make due with nothing at all. This is not a realistic approach, I admit that! So you can only use to pay what you have left, however the government has been spending 120%-145% of the money they received and with Obama Care spending will increase. America is currently, in my humble opinion bankrupt!

Do you doubt this? This would be a fair enough position to take, consider any company being allowed to spend 120% of their annual revenue. How long until any bank will close the tap? In addition, there should be overall outrage that a company would work 100% of the time just to pay the bank. There is 0% job security in that regard, for if the annual +5%-+15% cannot be made, they will cut the costs that are not desired. In that scenario there will be no healthcare of any kind, because the sick do not contribute to the future of profit. That dangerous situation currently exists!

The article by the Guardian has more “But he warned that would be nothing compared to the Pandora’s box that would be opened if no deal on the debt ceiling was done before 17 October deadline. Congress must agree to raise the US’s $16.7tn debt ceiling by that date or risk being unable to meet its obligations.

That is the crux! The total debt will increase and the republicans will not stand for that. My earlier comparison to get rid of the debt in 4 years is not realistic, I said that. Only if spending is lower than American income can the debt be lowered. It will take more than 3 generations to get that done. Some disagreed with that number. This is fair enough. Yet, let us make a small calculation.

$17T is $17,000B. The interest due would be $340B (it is actually higher at http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/ir/ir_expense.htm, but it is about the example).

If we believe the census (as shown in my Blog ‘Biased Journalism on USA shutdown?‘) then the interest due is 13% of ALL collected taxation. How can ANYTHING get done after the interest is paid? And that is only interest, no decrease of the actual loan. So consider that all amenities, support and expenditure of the US must decrease by at least 16% to get this done. How can that ever be a realistic situation? This is why the Republicans are not budging. The more important issue is that the Democrats knew this. They knew that the train would stop and they ignored this. Not unlike in the Netherlands where everyone stated that the SNS Bank was too big to fail, the Dutch government nationalised the bank. Why the Dutch as an example? Well, they are in some similar predicament. They are not able to lower spending. They need to cut an additional 6 billion whilst their GDP was 700 billion last year. If they cannot cut 1%, how will the US ever deal with their debt? There have been words on corporate taxation left right and centre, yet what they are not mentioning is the issue that the UK has seen this year. Big business, like Google has been pushing their own booked revenue to other places. This quote from Bloomberg “Google’s chairman says he is ‘proud’ of the way his company avoids paying taxes ”It’s called capitalism,” Eric Schmidt told Bloomberg in a…” So, whatever money the US treasury has coming in, it is not from the big boys of business. They have the right accountants and tax lawyers. So here we get back to Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein.

When we see the acts of Google and how Goldman Sachs was involved in the Greek issues, people would wonder whether they (Goldman Sachs and the US government) are not working together in the same way. If so, then there are more questions on the entire setting of the article the Guardian published (from the link at the beginning). There is no way that someone like Mr Blankfein is not aware what the big boys of industry in America are doing. When we read in places like Forbes that Google is not alone in these acts, but that companies like Apple are doing the same thing, then raising a debt ceiling whilst the captains of industry are not paying anywhere near the tax they ‘should’ then we must ask other questions. All this becomes even more hilarious when we consider the information from the Financial Standard on July 15th (at http://www.financialstandard.com.au/news/view/33335431) where it is stated that “US delays tax avoidance law by 6 months“. So the big boys in that initial Guardian Article are all about gloom and doom, whilst the US treasury seems to be missing out on taxation by not acting on Tax evasion (which is actually not a crime at present). So they want to borrow more, but will not put in place legislation that would lessen the dangers of paying the due interest. That last part is shown in Forbes article last month by Steve Denning. (At http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2013/09/12/alan-blinder-six-reasons-why-another-financial-crisis-is-still-inevitable/)

  1. Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 hasn’t been implemented.
  2. The $5 trillion banking assets in derivatives are still off-balance sheet and unregulated
  3. The rating agencies are “still hired and paid by the very companies whose securities they rate.”
  4. The Volcker Rule forbidding proprietary trading by banks has not been implementedAnd I add;
  5. US tax avoidance laws not implemented.

From these parts we could come to the conclusion that the Obama administration has failed the American people almost completely, whilst unable to get spending under control.

American politics is a lot more complex, so there are other factors, but it seems to me that Steve Denning is showing us several dangers that are currently not stopped. So when, not if, they happen, the people as they walk away with nothing left, can wonder how that expensive affordable healthcare is helping whilst they have no house, no job and no food.

It is a sad day for many people, because in the end, not only America seems to be unable to control their budgets, they are only, for now the most visible one.

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