Tag Archives: SNS Reaal

Smite the analysts

It is time to change the game. It is time to do a lot more than merely claiming to do something about fake news. I never claimed to bring the news, I have merely been in the process of nitpicking it as much as possible and the Guardian got my feathers plenty ruffled this morning, so it is time for me to be a little speculative of the matter.

We love our idiot products at time; it is something to laugh at or something to make a joke about; for the most harmless fun. Yet today something snapped. It might have been the abuse that Theresa May has been receiving, it might have been watching some poor sod holding a ‘We’re poorer without EU‘ sign, whilst like me that person is unlikely to have any economic degrees.

So when I see: ‘Theresa May’s Brexit deal could cost UK £100bn over a decade‘ by Richard Partington (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/nov/26/theresa-mays-brexit-deal-could-cost-uk-100bn-over-a-decade).

I hereby make my first demand (do not worry, no one will listen anyway).

In regards to: ‘People’s Vote-commissioned study says loss is equivalent to annual output of Wales‘, I DEMAND a full disclosure of the names of the people involved as well as a clear documentation of all sources used. this includes the names of those in the ‘People’s vote’ those who commissioned the study, the price paid for the study, as well as the names of those who made that report (not just the three who wrote it), the data sources used as well as how the report was set to the data and its results. I expect to find a dozen flaws in the very least. In this case any arbitrary choice (which at times is perfectly valid), should be seen as a flaw, unless clearly stated as such.

It is time to hold these people up to the limelight exposing what the Guardian (and many other newspapers) are giving voice to as being ‘the facts’. I would like to go as far as prosecuting (to some extent) the makers of these loaded and dubious reports by banning those names from any governmental research for life! When that happens, we will get all kinds of excuses and well phrased words or denial. Yet, I feel that we have come to a point where these activities can no longer be tolerated. Not by any government and not by any organisation with political aspirations, or connections.

The reality here is that the UK will lose income, lost funds and lose options for the short term. This has always been known. We always knew that things would get a little worse. Yet NOONE is making any call on the waste of three trillion euro’s by the ECB on their Quantative Easing and the waste of now close to three trillion that the taxpayer has to pay back, whilst people like Mario Draghi walk away with a ton of money, a member of an elite banking group of 20 and no accountability to anyone. The media refused to hammer on the ECB on any of it and the lack of clarity and transparency that the ECB has. This happened in full view whilst they all had 50+ articles on the death of a journalist no one really cared about (aka Jamal Khashoggi).

My larger concern is seen in: “Garry Young, the director of macroeconomic modelling and forecasting at NIESR, said: “Leaving the EU will make it more costly for the UK to trade with a large market on our doorstep and inevitably will have economic costs.” The NIESR report found May’s deal would not be as damaging for the economy as Britain leaving the EU without an agreement, which would cost the economy about £140bn over the next 10 years.” From my personal point of view, these people are in it for themselves, most of them are. Even as I will immediately admit that this report looks actually valid and good, issues come forward to a degree that might not have been seen at the beginning of it all, yet the scrutiny after the report is also lacking making the issue larger. What some call ‘lucrative European contracts’, we see a lack of investigation on both sides of the isle in all this, because as a Brexiteer, I will never deny a Bremainer to voice their opinion, or their opposition to it all. It is the acceptance of democracy that demands it from within me. The UK has not really profited from the EU, merely large corporations have and that is actually the biggest issue with the entire EU at present. When we look at the 68 million consumers, many of them have not been able to afford any of it. The bulk of all of us are dependent on moments like Black Friday to get the hardware we normally cannot get. It is a known issue that the quality of life is still low all over the UK and in many other places. The only true beneficiaries of the entire EU setting are the large corporations. The local grocer sees no real benefit, whilst the large supermarkets have all these deductibles that for the larger extent benefit its board members, not the customers. People like Gary Young are eager to make mention of ”inevitably will have economic costs“, which is a truth; I and many realistic others do not deny it. Yet in equal measure we can move away from a multi trillion bond buying scheme that has done nothing for the people whilst making the banks fat and rich. Never before in the history of mankind did the banks and Wall Street have such a large hold on governments and its citizens and we sat down and let it happen. Brexit is for the UK the first step to undo that damage and it will take time, we all get that. So as we realise that the ECB failure, in part to unmanaged ‘freedoms’, lack of transparency and accountability has greatly impacted the UK, at that point will we realise that there is a weighted and loaded stage against all of us, in every EU nation. The second part in all this is what some call: ‘the EU gravy train’, I have made mention of it on a few occasions and the lack of actions in that regard is close to sickening. Even The Times gave us some time ago: “MEPs are clinging on to lavish, tax-free handouts for travel despite publicly pledging to repay them, according to an internal report by the European Parliament. They have kept an estimated €6million (£4 million) after promising before the 2004 elections not to claim the money. “They get exposed, promise to be modest and then keep riding the gravy train. It is appalling,” said Hans-Peter Martin, an Austrian MEP, who has led a campaign against abuse of expenses. The €60 million-a-year travel allowance system is so generous that many MEPs admit it amounts to legalised embezzlement of taxpayers’ money. MEPs are paid a first-class air fare for travel to the parliament, even if they use budget airlines. They make an average of £20,000 a year tax free“. We can agree that in that meantime something was done, yet how much was done? The taxpayers have to come up with 751 times £20,000, giving us a total of fifteen million pounds and that is only the travel item every year, one of a lot more items, so how much extra are these people getting? The simple fact that many of these issues have not been adjusted for over 12 years is a clear stage that the EU is the goose for exploiting extra income and benefits, something taxpayers never signed up for in the first place. Even now (8 weeks ago) we see: ‘Details of MEPs’ €4,416-a-month expenses to remain secret, court rules‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/25/mep-expenses-eu-court-ruling) with in addition: “MEPs are also refunded first-class travel expenses and get a €313 daily allowance for hotel and living costs when working in Brussels and Strasbourg“, which in the most optional stage grants them an additional £60K each, adding fuel amounting to £46,562,000 to the tax payers fire. I think I have made my point, did I not?

When Brexit is done and we start seeing the impact, I predict it will be less than 2 years before the complaining starts, not from the UK, but from the other nations that now have to pay for the part that the UK will no longer be paying for and that is the ballgame here. When that happens, and it will we will see a rejuvenation by both France and Italy wanting to get out as fast as possible leaving merely Germany as the large economy to carry the weight of the EU and they will not be able to do this and it will all collapse. That is not a speculation; it is a certainty as I see it. It will only need one of those three to join the leave team and it will already fail. In light of all that is happening it seems to me that Italy is now the frontrunner before France, yet that might be what the horse lover calls a nose length photo finish. It was almost two weeks ago when French Marine Le Pen gives us almost the same view in the Daily Herald with: “French far-right leader Marine Le Pen is blaming the policies of the European Union for Britain’s exit from the bloc. “If the EU wasn’t what it is now, the United Kingdom would still have been a member of a structure that respects the nations, the people, that doesn’t impose migration polices and deals that have very heavy consequences on our industries and agriculture,” Le Pen said Friday at a news conference in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia.” It was for the most what pushed me into the Brexit field a few years ago; even as Mark Carney, Governor of the British Bank and his presentation in the House of Lords gave me reason to doubt that, the acts of stupidity by Mario Draghi and the ECB pushed me straight into the Brexit field, supporting Brexit. A situation that had been known for years, yet in light of 751 beneficiaries nothing was done to keep tabs on it and Brexit become a fact.

So as we accept the setting (via many sources) that Marine Le Pen is giving through “the EU wants to punish Britain by imposing “conditions that are unacceptable to a large majority of the people in the U.K. and to members of the British government.”“, we have seen several parts of that in the media. Is it not interesting how infantile the EU gets when you do not want to be a member? They threatened Greece to throw them out, whilst there was no legal option for the EU, and they demand the impossible from those wanting to leave. In that setting, who wants to remain a member? I would go with the speculation that the EU is for: ‘those who needs the power of exploitation‘.

It is getting worse

In this we look back at Greece. Some might remember the big boast that Greece made. I mentioned it in my blog: ‘They are still lying to us‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/06/23/they-are-still-lying-to-us/), so when we were treated on June 23rd to ‘Greece ‘turning a page’ as Eurozone agrees deal to end financial crisis‘. Here Alexis Tsipras was happy to be quoted with: “Greece is once again becoming a normal country, regaining its political and financial independence”, we saw none of the EU reservations in a claim that was off by decades. I also commented in favour of the Greek opposition shown by Kostis Hatzidakis with: “The opposing party reacted to the credit buffer with ‘Kostis Hatzidakis said it reflected the lack of faith international creditors had in Athens’ ability to successfully return to capital markets.‘ And in this Kostis is right, the international markets have zero faith in their return, they rely on a small thing called mathematics and the clarity there is that the scales are not in the favour of the Greeks.” Now we see a mere four days ago ‘How Greece Is Scrambling to Save Its Banks — Again‘, the EU has become this short sighted, this convoluted in misrepresenting the facts to the people. So as we see: “Greece is scrambling to figure out how to save its banks — again. Burdened by bad loans that make up almost half of total lending, crippled banks remain one of the biggest hurdles to Greece’s economic recovery. There are even worries that the country may face yet another financial crisis if it can’t dislodge its lenders from their downward spiral. With bank shares tumbling, the government and the Bank of Greece are working on plans to help banks speed up efforts to shed soured loans” and this comes one day after: ‘EU: Greece has Not Implemented 16 Bailout Program Prerequisites‘, which we get from the Greek Reporter. We see: “The European Commission is urging Greece to proceed with 16 prerequisites that have to be completed by the end of the year, as agreed with creditors. The first report after the end of the bailout program in August that was released on Wednesday says that Greece is delaying to implement 16 important measures and reforms. Among them are the staffing of the independent public revenue authority, the repayment of overdue debts, the legislative framework for resolving the problem of non-performing loans and the development of the new primary health care system“, the article by Philip Chrysopoulos also gives us “Despite the fact that Greece’s 2019 budget meets the target of a primary surplus of 3.5 percent of GDP” will see a speculative setback (speculated by me) by close to 2% at the very least, in what will likely be a wave of managed bad news. The EU is now that useless and pushing down all the other European players. If only the EU legal setting had allowed for removing Greece from the Euro setting and EU economy settings in 2014, a lot of the issues (like Brexit) would never have been an issue. It is in my personal view greed driven EU stupidity that allowed for this. A blind faith in Status Quo that pushed the need of large corporations and that might become the downfall of the EU as a whole.

Do you still think that the EU is better for the EU economy? First Greece and now Italy are becoming the weights drowning the EU. Merely one hour ago, the BBC reported that: “Italy’s government says it will stick to its high-spending budget plans, setting up a potential stand-off with the European Union over its deficit.“, are you actually believing in fairy tales when you think that this will not hit back on the rest of the EU? Even as the Independent reported 13 hours ago: “The pound fell 0.19 per cent to €1.1284 off the back of reports that Italy is headed for a breakthrough with its budget, which would bring to an end weeks of wrangling between the EU and the Italian government.” we now get the reality that there was no breakthrough, we merely see more of the same and the impact of Italy is not immediately reversing and upping the pound against the Euro is it? In light of the revelation, the pound should be up by no less than 0.27 percent against the Euro (the gain and the 0.19 percent loss), we will not see that will we (or we will see it as late as possible so that the 0.27 percent can be largely minimalized. When you realise that the UK is getting unfairly hammered to this extent, would you want to be part of that group? And when (not if) the UK shows the improvements making the UK economy better, what excuses will the EU, ECB, IMF and Wall Street give the people of Britain?

To be part of any exploitative regime as the EU is starting to show it in a few ways. The evidence of this statement was shown by the Clean Clothes Campaign last June when we see (at https://cleanclothes.org/news/2018/06/11/complaint-lodged-against-the-european-commission-for-failing-to-uphold-fundamental-human-rights-in-trade-policy) ‘Complaint lodged against the European Commission for failing to uphold fundamental human rights in trade policy‘. Here we see: “Bangladesh has committed serious and systematic violations of fundamental workers’ rights. Conditions are unsafe for millions of workers in Bangladesh. Additionally, the labour laws of Bangladesh create significant obstacles to the exercise of the right to freedom of association, to organise and to bargain collectively. Further, the government has not effectively enforced even these flawed laws, and workers complaints to authorities are routinely ignored. Without bargaining power or legal recourse, workers have been forced to live in extreme poverty.” and when we realise that the lack of activities, naming and shaming those who are part of it all, whilst the EU remains inactive to a much larger extent, my case of large corporations being in charge of those acting in the EU parliament is close to well made, tailor made one could state. The lack of visibility given in the EU and the oversight on what is imported into the EU from Bangladesh is frightening. The Dutch CBS reported 3 weeks ago: “The average import price per vest exceeds 3 euros in 2018. With an import price of around 2 euros, vests manufactured in Bangladesh are considerably cheaper. Prices of vests from China (approx. 2.50 euros) are also lower than average, while vests from India were average-priced (around 5 euros) and those from Turkey more expensive than average (around 5 euros).” good luck trying to convince me that this is not about money and that there is a proper investigation into the Bangladesh situation. The fact that even China cannot match these prices is partially evidence enough. The fact that manufacture owners in Bangladesh are part of the 250% plus stage that we see with: “This is the largest quantity ever recorded and approximately 2.5 times more than in 1998“, the lack of questions by those gravy train people is just a little too weird and more questions are not coming forward. That is the European Union that its members seem to like and letting the UK out is also not an option. The analysts are merely the first circle we should go after (the first of several mind you). Any report that is not clearly documented with the names of all the people involved in this should immediately be disregarded and kept on record for prosecution and smiting afterwards (when those reports are proven to be incorrect) at that point I wonder how many studies we will get that are so overwhelmingly negative. And it is not merely the analysts. The names of the people commissioning for the report and the clear definition of the question that was asked will also be set to scrutiny. I wonder how many politicians and corporate figures will suddenly run for cover and darkness like a group of cockroaches.

Feel free to disagree or even oppose my view. Yet also remember, I merely want to see the names and all data on those so called ‘commissioned studies’. Is that such a bad question? When we are given the results, should we not wonder HOW they got there? Is that not a duty we all should have?

When we look at The National Institute of Economic and Social Research, we see a clear stage of names, Arno Hantzsche, Amit Kara and Garry Young (which is a proper thing, mindyou). We also see on page 7 and 8: “The Governor of the Bank of England estimated that by May 2018, UK household income was 4 per cent lower than it would otherwise have been as a consequence of the referendum (Carney, 2018): “one third of the 4 per cent shortfall in real wages reflects stronger-than-projected inflation, which is almost entirely accounted for by the referendum-related fall in sterling. The remainder reflects weaker-than-expected nominal wages, the majority of which can be accounted for by weaker-than-anticipated productivity growth“, which should not be disregarded.

Am I opposing my own view?

No, when you see the charts in that page, we see the UK not being in a good place. Yet considering ‘UK economic growth relative to other G7‘ and ‘UK inflation relative to other G7‘, the UK situation would not look great whilst this is staged up to 2018, and now we get the good part. The G7 are Canada, France, U.S, U.K, Germany, Japan and Italy. Now consider the Italian part dragging down due to the stupidity of their budget decision (which might be seen as their right). In addition the Greek issue will drag down the EU as a whole and the USA is in a trade war that will also impact the USA, all parts seemingly not taken into account and suddenly the UK already looks a lot better in all this. Now, we cannot completely fault the report called ‘The economic effects of the government’s proposed Brexit deal‘, yet there is already a non-negative impact for the UK (it is a stretch calling it a positive effect). In addition we see properly placed “We have assumed” in the proper places and only thrice, which is also a good thing and for the most utterly unavoidable. We also see in one place: ‘Sterling effective exchange rate (January 2005=100)‘, which is possibly merely arbitrary, from my personal view the fact that 2008 and 2016 have impacted it all might also be a stage where the UK had more hardship than before and as such the three stages should have been included. My final issue is on page 15; I do not doubt the numbers or the statement perse. Yet when we consider “Ramasamy and Yeung (2010) find that openness to trade benefits in particular FDI inflows to services sectors, much more than to manufacturing. Ebell and Warren (2016) survey the empirical literature and calculate that reverting to trade under trade arrangements similar to those between the EU and Norway would reduce FDI into the UK by 8–11 per cent, and by 11–23 per cent under a Switzerland-type relationship” that openness of trade also implies the open acceptance of the unacceptable ethical stage that Bangladesh is showing to be, we need to ask the tougher questions on EU inactions to the degrees currently seen. You see, when we accept one part, we need to accept that all these sweatshop articles are out of bounds. They are merely emotional banter pressed on those trying to meet budgets, there is no humanity left, we should not allow for that. In this way my statement is harsh, yet that is what the EU has become, a harsh proposer of status quo at the expense of whatever is coming next. If you do not agree, feel free to ban all Bangladesh T-shirts, leaving others with 215 million T-shirts to sell; was that example too direct?

Even when we accept the part of ‘how the deal affects uncertainty and confidence‘, which is a topic that will remain as there will always be uncertainty, the entire report is seemingly staged towards the bad side, whilst any improves economic marker from the second year onwards are basically ignored. We can argue that year one will have no upsides, yet the stage of no upsides in year two is lose to unimaginable. Apart from the ‘EU donation‘, which has been significant, the downturn of Italy and Greece that will no longer impact the UK is clearly escalating and France is basically scared shitless of that part. France is so scared as it is in a much worse position than Germany currently is, who will also feel that impact to some extent.

No matter how this plays, it is a mess that will test the reality of a lot of people. My largest concern is not how good or how bad things get, it is the fake revelations by speculative analysts that are the impact of a lot of things and the moment when we see the managed bad news after the fact, we will also see the weakness that has become the EU, in light of an already weak USA, this merely strengthens the need for a segretative community (read: nationalistic approach to national issues). It is the one part where I see eye to eye with Marine le Pen: “the policies of the European Union as well as the lack of transparency and non-accountability” are the biggest drivers in this entire sordid affair.

I wonder how draconian the changes will become when others realise how correct my view of the matter was. I am less likely to facing the fact that I was wrong, there is too much documentation pleading for my view, especially as the Wall Street Journal reported “Greece’s Eurobank Ergasias SA said it will acquire real-estate company Grivalia Properties REIC, boosting its capital and paving the way for the creation of a “bad bank” to help deplete its pile of nonperforming loans” a mere 5 hours ago. So when exactly did the people ever benefit from a bad bank solution? We saw that in 2013 with the Dutch SNS and Reaal setting. So as Brussels treated us to: “The costs to the Dutch taxpayer were still substantial, resulting in a deterioration of the budget balance (excessive deficit procedure definition) for 2013 with 0.6% and an increase in EMU debt of 1.6%“, we see Greece doing the same 5 years later. As we look at the quote: “In fact, since the nationalization the Dutch press has regularly published pieces that show how the commercial real estate has been mismanaged for a substantial time period. Did this go unnoticed by the regulator? Why did it not intervene?” We now get to unite that part with the overwhelming inaction of the EU and the unacceptable actions of the ECB, so this will be a much larger thing that Greece is printing on the rest of the EU then the people are currently aware of and the impact will be felt much larger, the fact that the bulk of the EU states cannot keep a proper budget merely makes mathers worse (not a typo, it means ‘reaper of hay’), and now I am in a state of moments uncontrollable deriving laughter.

The lack of visibility to several parts (an issue I cannot blame the media for in this case) is just incomprehensible. In part this is due because there are so many elements interacting, yet the fact that the issues are not visible is still a matter of great concern, and also an additional reason to push for Brexit.


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The orchestration has engaged

It is nice when the world falls apart, when you look at the abyss in front of you softly stating: ‘It cannot get any worse!’, then you feel a foot pressing against the lower spine of your back as you lose your balance and fall down. The last thing you hear is ‘Guess again!’

This is how certain news events felt the last few days. I am not referring to the McCain family, who states that the press has not learned anything, post-Leveson. Was anyone surprised?

My issue is with Andy Street at the John Lewis department store (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/oct/03/john-lewis-boss-andy-street-says-france-finished). In light of Tesco, I wonder what drives this person. Yes, we all know that John Lewis is upper class shopping, yet is that reason for whatever you think? Apart from your freedom of speech, which I will not hinder, my question becomes, in light of your remark “He told the gathering of entrepreneurs that the award was “made of plastic and is frankly revolting”“, so not only are you a snob, the element grace is just not within you. Fair enough! Yet, consider that as you got recognised with an award, you should consider the 3 G’s, “Be Gracious, Be grateful, Get off!” (Thanks Paul Hogan for that jewel!)

I am all for freedom of speech, but I am also in favour of accountability. So when I read this: “Street advised his audience: “If you’ve got investments in French businesses, get them out quickly.” The eurozone’s second largest economy is struggling for growth under President François Hollande and the country’s finance minister admitted last month that it will overshoot the EU’s 3% budget deficit target this year. The French economy has been hampered by low growth and poor tax receipts in recent years“, I wonder how often Mr Street got hit with the silly stick in the hours before he spoke these words.

The second issue I see is also from the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/oct/02/warren-buffet-tesco-huge-mistake), this is an entirely different matter. We all make mistakes, so when a billionaire admits to this with the headline ‘Warren Buffett: ‘Tesco was a huge mistake’‘, it is not that big a deal initially, but then I went to think it through. Why is there such a massive overreaction in regards to Tesco? Yes, the profit was overstated; however, Tesco made over ONE BILLION! Can we please wake up now? In a year where most nations are doing worse than zero per cent, in a time when the straps are on so that we recheck every dime we spend. Tesco made over a Billion. Yes, I saw the statements ‘too big to fail‘, but in this instance I do not agree. In the case of the Dutch SNS Reaal, that place LOST a Billion, Tesco MADE a billion, so can we please wake up and not overreact?

So, when the response comes, ‘Well Lawrence, you seem to be overreacting here a little above average’, my response would be ‘darn right!’

You see, the initial events, of Blackrock moving out, whilst this is a drop on a plate, is what I personally see as a form of orchestration, a few big wigs who seem to be hoping on massive write offs for Tesco. There is something so darkly unethical about such actions, that these greed driven profiteers would endanger the incomes of tens of thousands just to get a nice dividend. This is what it looks like, am I right?

That remains to be seen, but overall the fight is not done yet. Tesco is not sitting still and the new Tablet as it launched just now could be another incentive, especially if we consider where Tesco could also be active. If this is the budget option, with Tesco Mobile in the Netherlands, This gem could find many happy homes during the Dutch Sain Nicholas feast (which is on December 5th), in additional to the Christmas celebrations, as many Dutch do both instances. Tesco is not done by a long shot and the activities that we see give me the impression that several actions do not seem to be about ‘cutting losses’, but as stated on many occasions that I am not an economist.

So, when I see this article http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/billionaire-mike-ashley-bets-on-tesco-bounce-back-30616710.html, where Mike Ashley, who owns Newcastle United takes a 43 million pound share believing that Tesco Shares will bounce back, I say “well done Mate!”, two thumbs up for this man. Now, let’s be honest, as this man seems to be a millionaire a thousand times over, 43 million will not seem like a big dent in his wallet, but the fact that this man is willing to enter more cash then I will ever make (even if I grow to the ripe old age of 14645), the entered amount will boggle my mind for some time to come.

This is one of the two parts where disbelieve is still on the front of my mind. Let’s be clear, I get the entire write off, loss of share value, yet the actual occurrence, especially with a billion in profits is too strong to be just a jittery action from the market. The fact that Blackrock moved out to this extent is still an issue. It left me with two options, either they know something Dave Lewis has not been told yet, or they wanted a curve so that they can make a sweet deal down the track. Let’s not forget that the value write off is just on paper, it is like a virtual event. Blackrock did not hand over these billions in gold or actual cash; we are seeing the fallout of virtual value (as I see it). And this all gets me to the final quote, which was also in the Warren Buffet article and had been mentioned in earlier articles. “UK fund manager Neil Woodford – who decided to sell his stake in Tesco in 2012 after its first profit warning – said last week it could be a long time before any of the British supermarkets became good investment prospects again“. Why?

You see, if he sold his shares earlier, fair enough. Yes, we see that Sainsbury is lowering expectations and shares have fallen there too. I think that all supermarkets will have to change their entire approach. We see that places like Aldi and Lidl are growing, especially in Australia where Aldi is now more and more a common sight, yet over here Woolworths and Coles remain. The same applies to England, in the end people need food, so these places will remain locations where food is bought and yes, as Tesco mobile remains competitive, people will come for that options too. All that is a given, so why such a massive overreaction?

This is at the heart of my foundation for suspected orchestration. If you are in the UK, then take a look at the papers and the degree that they are looking at Pricewaterhouse Coopers. They did the auditing for Tesco, so why is not every reporter looking at PwC and seeing what links might be there, which is not an accusation, but consider all the redigesting we see on several papers, they all mention PwC in a casual way, when they have been auditing Tesco for some time. Only the Times (at http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/industries/banking/article4214689.ece) had done so, yet the full article is not available to me as I am not a subscriber (one of the reasons why I stick to the Guardian).

There are two more quotes the first is “Shorting Tesco has been a profitable bet” and “Traders gamble on falling share prices by borrowing equities from other investors and selling them in the hope of later buying them back cheaper – known as shorting” The latter quote comes from http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-2772107/Dont-shred-thing-new-Tesco-chief-warns-staff.html, so it is a way to make money, even though it seems unethical, the act is not, but one could call it questionable. This is the one moment where I need to ask the one question in regards to the given scenario. Let me first add the following quote “Lewis’s ‘no shredding’ order will be seen as a sign that he is determined to get to the bottom of the problem.  It also indicates that the group fears the errors – whether or not deliberate – may extend deep into the company“, as well as “Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Mike Dennis said: ‘A discrepancy of this size suggests this is not just the behaviour of a few individuals, but behaviour instilled by the senior management team“, which is where I was all along. Is this the case and if that part was known to 1-2 insiders, could this be the reason for certain action? What if Blackrock dumped its part to cause a stronger downfall, so that they can buy it again later with a much more interesting profit curve, which makes up for a lot more than the small loss they had, what happens then?

All valid questions, I just wonder if those who have actual answers are willing to give them, because it looks like a slippery slope of massive proportions. As this happens to the one place that feeds a nation, how will the people react should evidence of intentional tampering ever be shown?

Then how angry will the people get?


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Public naming

The title seems clear, but hat is linked to all this is not that clear. It all started this morning when we all (those who watched) got confronted with another round of bad news events and all linked to banks. Barclays is scrapping another 20,000 jobs between now and the end of 2016, which might be not that great. However, today we heard that the actual number for 2014 will 14000. That is an entirely different kettle of fish. In addition, the issues with co-op are going on and on which means that the drastic changes there could mean that we see an additional but different change, which will impact many. Although no one is likely to shed a tear when all but one member of the board of directors join the non working class. Lets get back to Barclays though. Here we were told that another change is happening too.  Sky News kindly informed us that Barclays might split up in a bad bank and Barclays, moving over 100 billion in assets into that bad bank deal option. So, when a company goes south, they shed the skin, just like a snake and they dump what is undesirable. Is it good business?

This is a thought that, as a non-economist, is harder to answer for me. Is this about top-level bonuses as well as the dividend for the shareholders? If their dividend is not good enough, make a drastic change. That in itself is not bad business, however, the fact that the top people get a deal after the bad bank deal and they still end up with a huge bonus whilst well over 10000 lose their job is not something anyone should consider as an acceptable act, not to mention the issue of where the bad bank invoice ends up getting paid. So again it is a factor of non accountability, the bad choices will not affect these high end bonus getting executives, it seems all nice to those people.

All this was seems to be just a prelude for the small text the people would see, if they read the text-bar under the interviews. The text “the euro commission expects 17 out of 18 euro zone economies to grow“. Really? I had already predicted that the economy would slowly get better, but not until 2015. Yes, the economies might make a little over 0%, yet the damage that still is (like unemployment), would not see any improvement until 2015 at the earliest and the people will not see any real improvements until late 2015, perhaps even 2016. This would of course depend on the nation where it was happening. The only bright light in that segment was the interview with Roger Bootle. He seems to have a handle on the events and as such, his new book ‘the problem with Europe‘ should be an interesting read.

Where is my issue? Well, that is as always a fair question. You see, Euro zone or not, there are levels of interaction here, so as some nations will start seeing improvements to their economy, others would not see those improvements to any extent this year, which is just the way things tend to be. This entire enterprise of 17 out of 18 economies going positive implies that this implies to be management on several scales, as well as the fact that there seems to be a level of ‘bad’ reporting. I will add to this stating that we all should demand the public naming of those commissioners who signed off on such a brash statement when this prediction does not pan out. If these people are so stating that 17 of 18 economies will grow, then we all should know the names of the people stating that as well as get insight into the raw data and the sources. Those involved, when the prediction fails should all get FIRED!

Reasoning? Well, we know where Greece is at, and as such, their economy will be only barely be getting by as austerity measures will keep on having a hold on them for some time. In addition, as many in Europe are in a bad shape, tourism will remain down for some time, which means that this will also remain a non-factor for Greece. Next to that Spain is dealing with a 25% unemployment rate. That would drag down ANY economy. The issues in Italy are still not that good and France is only slowly getting up, but they have unresolved issues. That is just three of the players, which already brings us down to 15 out of 18. The UK and Germany are above the nil line, but as we see the bank issues evolve, that nil line might remain a close call for now. If you think that one bank is not that big a deal, then consider the effect that 15000 seeking a job is going to have and it is not just one bank (or two for that matter). There is a work culling going on all over Europe. When we inspect the newspapers, we see that many are slinking down and many of them are not getting able to get a new job immediately.

Oddly enough, this all reminded me of the title of a science fiction story called ‘How much for just the planet?’. This is at the heart of what we face. It seems that the economies are taking out the people as a factor. In my view, the almighty need for every player to see the economy in a sterile place is like legalising slave labour. How can any economy exist in a vacuum without people? Never mind the 20,000 at Barclays! Spain where we see one in four people without a job and Greece as a nation still scrapping jobs and having hundreds of billions in debts.

Barclays is not the first one to play the bad bank approach, but these elements, these devaluated parts as we saw in 2013 with SNS/Reaal, these all have an impact and writing off these parts without impact is not just bad, it should be wholly criminal. Consider you as a reader own personal situation. Just dump your pet (preferably dog) in the street and walk away, leave your child as it did not read as fast as all the other kids at day-care and never return, or walk away from your mortgage as the house had devaluated for over 15% and the bank wants a huge payment down on the lost value. Do you think you can do any of these matters and not get held to account? So, why are the banks not held to account, moreover, those high bosses walking away in the past usually did so with a 7 figure bonus in their pocket.

So why are we not demanding the same for the euro commissioners, the bank directors as well as, to some extent, the shareholders? They made a ‘bet’, they relied on dividend, but alas, there will be no dividend this year. Adding a bad bank solution, so that they can still get some coin is just not acceptable. If there is a bad bank and it has the write-offs of Barclays, then we should see a diminished value of the bank value and as such, the shareholders, will alas lose out on this quarter (and perhaps additional quarters) dividend.


Because, as the bank drops it’s ‘assets’, the government (and as such us the poor taxpayers), should not be confronted with the fuck up of others (please pardon my French here). Here I see where what I partially proclaimed in the past, and what the book of Roger Bootle seems to instil is that the UK stepping out of the EEC might not be a bad thing. He does state that it will be a risky thing, but is that not what economies are about? A risk paying out brings wealth and the other does not. I have spoken out against the plans of UKIP in the past, but when we consider these brash statements by the Euro commission, perhaps this path should be explored in all seriousness. Those players are all about keeping THEIR Status Quo, but at what expense? That is at the centre of the issues no one seems to be able to explain. I wonder what happens when we tally the collection of these bad bank acts (all over the EEC) and we take a line of the values and in the end, who had to pay for it all, then take another look at the costs for all those without a job and see then how well these EEC economies are doing. My guess is that 7 (not 17) out of 18 positive economies would still be a really good result.

In this article I made an earlier mention of ‘legalised slave labour‘, I think it is fair that I explain that part. We cannot just make a rambling accusation like that and let it slide.  If you are in the EEC and you have a job, then consider the work as you have been doing it for the last 5-8 years. How many of you are now structurally working overtime and not getting paid for it? I am not talking about the odd job where we put in an extra hour. No I am talking about on average working around 45 hours a week whilst only getting paid for 40. The boss is not giving you part of Friday or Monday to make it square with you. No, you hear the remarks on how the job must be saved and if the job is not complete another firm will get it, often enough those bosses end up having long lunch meetings to offset the hours they make. In this economic environment, pretty much everyone is accepting those odds, as they are afraid to lose their jobs. It is simple and plain slave labour. It is also likely that these people have been on frozen incomes for some time. So when we look at indexes like the DOW and see it rising whilst the unemployment rates remain too high, you better believe that legalised slave labour is a real factor. It goes far beyond the banks, when you look at the news all over the UK, the number of messages where a few hundred jobs were shed by almost a dozen companies in 2014 alone is staggering. This is not me judging whether these lost jobs are valid (it is their choice to do so), but the impact on the UK economy is far above negligible, which keeps the UK economy fragile for now.

Those claiming that the workforce got a whole lot more efficient should re-examine themselves. I wonder if those weeks when they are investigated are ‘suddenly’ less efficient later on. Whether these ‘enterprisers’ rely on part time people for half a day, so that those people will not get a coffee break or lunch break, or that the full workday people end up working a little late regularly is of no consequence to the bosses. As the humanity factors have left the workplace, the statement that the economy is growing just more then an incorrect statement, it is flat out wrong!

Any economy depends on people as consumers, as service providers and as result creators. As we look at the implementation of “how much for just the economy?” we now see an incomplete and inaccurate picture.

By the way, if Barclays has used bad banks to write off the value of these assets to NIL, can I please get one of those divisions? Even at 0.1%, the division should be able to make well over 10,000,000 pounds, which is more then I have ever made in half a century. Growing big in small strides is not beyond me and it would allow me to settle comfortably.

Opportunity is where you find it, which is also part of any economy!


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Two deadly sins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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The Jay-Z talk

Today’s inspiration comes from a source, slightly right of the middle. It was an interview that aired on Bill O’Reilly which he (or his team) placed on Facebook. Jay-Z was warning for the dangers of escalating violence as the gap between haves and have not’s increases. This is a viewpoint I agree with, especially as I had come to the same conclusion many months ago. More important, that is a reality that is in play in both the US and Europe.

What is to blame? Well, the Financial Institutions started it all and as such they need to be mentioned. I reckon you have all read enough of this, but down the track, this will issue will pop up again. More important are the issues that have been more and more visible over several months. The Obama administration might claim that they have added 175,000 jobs, yet as you would see, this level of misrepresentation will get an ironic side soon enough. The massive spin at present is coming from the industrials. If we see the Dow index, then we look at 30 companies who ‘seem’ to be setting the trend, especially my American readers, have you noticed how 1 out of 6 in America lost their house and an even larger population lost their savings? So, if the economy is so high, then how is it that the damage remains so severe? Well, I am about to answer that.

Those 175,000 jobs, well the bulk of them are only part-time and they are mostly minimum wage options only. To be honest in such a bad economy that could not be the worst, but from my viewpoint there is more, which makes this a lot worse.

It was a little while ago on how some expert spoke with a level of pride that the Dow was so strong, and remained growing due to an increase productivity managed by a declined workforce. So basically, a 90% workforce was achieving 110% result and no one questioned it? The fact that even though these companies are getting record results, no long term hiring has commenced?

Well, here it is. The view I have is that the banks allowed for a shift of policies, which has pretty much introduced a legalised form of slave labour (a harsh reality, but not false). It is a nice irony that this has occurred during the time of an African American president. The first question I should answer whether this assessment is fair. Yes it is!

The reason is that neither President Obama nor President Bush did ANYTHING truly successful to hold these Financial Institutions accountable for the damage they bestowed on the American population and the rest of the world. The fact that even today in most nations strong bank regulations are still not a fact means that this can all happen again. So, when we get to 2020 and we all think that we are back on track, these players could play the same game all over again and we go back to nothing overnight. We might not even have to wait that long as banks all over the EU are now trying to loosen up ties with those controlling pensions of people all over the world.

So Jay-Z is correct. The gap of those who have and ‘the others’ is widening and it is widening a lot faster than you all realise. Consider the enormous debt that the American people got stuck with, with the due compliments of companies like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Do you remember on how ‘something’ was going to get done? Well consider the house resolutions

H.R.1227 Latest Title: GSE Risk and Activities Limitation Act of 2011
H.R.1225 Latest Title: GSE Debt Issuance Approval Act of 2011
H.R.1223 Latest Title: GSE Credit Risk Equitable Treatment Act of 2011
H.R.1221 Latest Title: Equity in Government Compensation Act of 2011
H.R.1182 Latest Title: GSE Bailout Elimination and Taxpayer Protection Act

All these bills have been left untouched since 2011. The story does get a little worse when we consider the article from Bloomberg as published on May 8th at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-07/new-regulations-are-strangling-community-banks.html

The starting quote: “The wave of new banking regulations that Congress created to deter and punish Wall Street’s misdeeds is landing with much greater impact on the U.S.’s almost 7,000 community banks than on the too-big-to-fail lenders.

This gives us the question whether there is a foul stench coming from the big boy enabling group, which is supported by the quote “Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. show that large banks have both the lowest credit quality and the lowest cost of funds in the industry.” If the American people depend on their day to day issues on those community banks, then why are these regulations pushed out in this way? Well, in my view the banks ‘own’ the politicians and the banks decided a let them all suffer until regulations are dropped again, so we can do this one more time approach. This is how I see it.

Yes, banks definitely need regulation and not only in America. However, the need to strangle certain services that caused the bulk of all the grief could be choked more efficiently without placing these community banks in a vice. That would make sense, unless those community banks go the wrong direction of course, so better options could have been found, which makes us wonder where political levels of competency currently are.

Supporting evidence can be found in this article at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-20/bank-of-america-and-the-tragedy-of-foreclosure.html

It is as analysed as a he said/she said situation. I think it is a ‘they said’ and ‘it claimed’ situation, but let us not revert to a black letter wishy washy job.

Where the bank claimed “These allegations are absurd, patently false and contrary to Bank of America’s long-standing policy only to foreclose as a last resort when other available options to help keep people in their home have been exhausted,” can be read as true, but that does not give way that this tactic has likely been used and to include the tactic as quoted “stall applications for loan modifications“. One does not exclude the other and as such it seems to me that as more facts become visible, the failed regulations and more important a wrongful push to pressure the entirety of banking, instead of certain services and strangling certain monetary reward schemes (read bonus structures).

So again, Jay-Z has a point!

This goes beyond America. The Dutch SNS Reaal bank is still in levels of turmoil, as can be read at http://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2013/06/06/sns-reaal-verliest-netto-972-miljoen-in-2012-16-miljard-in-eerste-kwartaal-2013  (Dutch source), it boils down to the last paragraph [translated]The Netherlands must submit a plan within 6 months for restructuring the SNS. The real estate branch must be placed in a separate organisation. On these submissions the commission will take a final decision“. This was in February and the final decisions are due this month whilst political Netherlands is on vacation.

My prediction is that these politicians will make an 11th hour decision with the humble stance that includes ‘alas’ and ‘we are forced’ and ‘this is by far the best solution’ and they will then push the real estate branch into a bad bank, which basically mean that (please pardon my French) ‘Banking Wankers’ high and low got away with it again and the Dutch tax payers will end up coughing up another 2.4 billion Euro, which comes down to every Dutch tax paying citizen paying a 175 Euro each for a mess that politicians are unwilling to control on several levels. So, these politicians are allowed a vacation whilst there is such a mess? My vacations got cut short twice by two previous employers and these politicians go on vacation making twice as much? Talk about dedication (or lack thereof).

This all boils down to Financial Institutions and Industrials are given the leeway to widen the gap of ‘those-who-have’ and the others, yet politicians remain silently in the background showing the spine of a paperback, not one hardcover amongst them.

Let us to get back to Bill O’Reilly where today’s blog all started. Many do not agree, but I admire the man. He can be right, he can be wrong and I have not always agreed with him, but he has always shown clarity of what he thinks was right. No half-baked answers! The issue with him is that he is another item of proof on the US failing levels. You see, he has a website, a talk show and he has a good (read very good) income. He donates all the profits of those website sales to what he sees as worthy causes, mostly Veteran and serving military and I am all for that. Now, as stated, his income is really good, yet nowhere near what some get. This is clearly shown as annual bonuses on Wall Street rose to a total of $20,000,000,000 (20 Billion) in 2012. So the challenge for Bill O’Reilly is to find 100 people donating to the community on that level, whilst they are not allowed to make over 15 million a year to be allowed on that list, in a population of over 325 million he will fail. So basically he makes less than a mid-level banker and donates a truckload. This man stands almost alone!

That is the evidence, that even though one can be found, many are destitute beyond their control and the people in financial institutions keep on being enabled by the very people who should be protecting those in such an economic state of destitution.

Jay-Z spoke a true word!

When we see what people like Jay-Z, Will.i.am and Bill O’Reilly contribute to communities in such a degree there is evidence that there is still a level of humanity in this world. It would however be nice if the politicians in many nations step up to the plate to make their places a lot better without enabling greed.

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The Age of ‘no retirement left’ is coming

Another day and another play for one of the last foundations of wealth. As the Dutch NOS news reported, the Dutch pension funds are willing to invest in its own country. The Netherlands is currently an investment location that is receiving a very small part of that fat fund. Yet, pension funds want a level of government guarantee for these risky investments at present. That guarantee will save them for a certain amount of losses should they occur. As such the government has a level of objections. As the news reported, this plan has been a year in the making. Basically the pensions will be doing all the tasks banks are supposed to do. There is a level of risk that the pensions are not willing to carry at present. And why should they?

The reporter Jeroen van Dommelen stated “the government does not have the funds to invest, it is poor“. This is part of all the mayhem and issues on play. When the government could have stepped on the plate, they refused to do so. They pushed the bills forward. They relied on certain numbers of bettering the economy. A game played since 2006. And every time the Dutch CBS, which has government stakes and are prone to certain levels of censoring presented them. Those numbers have been downgraded quarter after quarter and as such no issues were resolved. Now this government is pretty much at the edge of viable as they received invoices from past administrations, and now, the one cauldron of cash that remains, and needs to be kept safe is being tapped on. This is not a cauldron where money renews (you know that realistic 100 coin leprechaun model), no it is like a simple soup cauldron, what is taken out, is lost forever. Starting a grab from that last cauldron that keeps an entire generation fed is not acceptable. It is too dangerous. When there were options, we were not allowed to touch it. Now that there are no options they want to touch it against our wishes and diminish it?

This is why pensions what the government to accept levels of losses, and why the buck is not passed forward, but to another person. Why should these funds be used to renovate rental properties? The rental agencies have been making a killing, or at least bosses in these places were. As examples we have the Amsterdam Rochdale scandal (Source, Dutch Parool http://www.parool.nl/parool/nl/1284/Affaire-Rochdale/index.dhtml). The Rotterdam corporation PWS, where fraud was a massive tool to offset the rental market (source: http://www.volkskrant.nl/vk/nl/2680/Economie/article/detail/766332/2006/02/10/Baas-PWS-ontslagen-om-fraude.dhtml). The examples do not even end there. The issues of preferential treatment and other calamities have given these issues a bad taste. In this environment there are grounds for calling the risk of these investments too high, in addition, these expensive dwellings should be providing for its own invested renovations. None of that seemed to have been happening. If we would investigate the issues as the Dutch SHC is investigated in 2011, where fraud was a factor, then we see that these events led to fusions which ended several steps, including in my humble opinion the prosecution of several people. The fusion left Miss Hedy van de Berk in charge after 25 years of service to clean up a mess her predecessors left. She had to lean on ‘lessons learned’ and interesting that Councillor for the City of Rotterdam Hamit Karakus (US equivalent of Alderman), who was present at that meeting seems not to have been that vocal on certain issues. This is not an accusation towards either, yet the foundation of pushing forward seems to be a clear given, and as such investments with retirement funds should be classified as a definite risk. As such we should wonder why these funds have to chip in in the first place. When we look at the responses from Henk Knoop (VVD) as MP of economic affairs, we see that he makes a clear good case where politicians want to make it more interesting to invest in Dutch events. I personally have the view that risk factors currently remain too high and until certain guarantees are added until there is clear evidence that sound investments are proven to be sound investments, the current level of risk should be considered too high.

The fact remains that they want certain levels of guarantees from Finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem. His view is that returns are founding certain levels of risk. This is a fair and realistic view. The issue that many have in this regard is that the risks are unrealistically given. That view has weight if we accept the faltering views SNS Reaal brought forward as it needed to be nationalised. Those are levels of lost investments, especially in commercial enterprises that are too unacceptable. Until those issues are resolved and dealt with, it seems that retirement funds have no business in a field with so much risk.

In addition the message by Jeroen van Dommelen at the end stating “resolving these issues would give way that on the day of princes there will also be good news” is way too thin to base the risk of retirement funds on. For the non-Dutch, the day of princes is on the third Tuesday in September when the Dutch government through a royal speech announces the new annual budget.

These dangers are not just visible in the Netherlands, yet in a place where they have been one of the most secure in Europe, the fall-back might be larger than anywhere else. In the UK, there is the case that Simon Cox of BBC4 reported on in regards to the pension liberation scheme last March. (Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21844955)

The options for those before retirement could access some of this cash. The issue is not just whether people select this, it is about the dangers that the acts comprises. What people do not realise is that a person’s retirement is mostly built in the last 5 years of ones funds. At that time, the interest is so rewarding that those years are the days when a retirement almost doubles making it a good thing (read enough to survive on). To lower these amounts, means that people either work a few additional years, or fall short by a chunk of what they would need. So it is a danger one should not consider. My thoughts are not as full on extreme as those of Shaun Richards of “Mindful Money”. He is more into the question whether an economic war between the saving retirees and the youthful left with nothing (something according to those lines). I do not think it is that far, yet, the greedy and their prying eyes on those untapped resources are out there, so there are dangers. His story makes for a good read, so check it out at http://www.mindfulmoney.co.uk/wp/shaun-richards/is-there-a-danger-of-an-economic-war-between-pensioners-and-the-young-in-the-uk/

If there is one note of criticism from my side on this article then it is the focal view as he looked at the groups, yet outliers from those groups and whether they moved from one group to another is slightly ignored, so a possible factor of skewing from those evading the credit crunch and those who got pushed out into destitution all together seemed to have been ignored, that group might have remained too small (however, still unillustrated).

His views should not be discarded. It seems to me that his views are partially adopted by Peter Hain of the Guardian (alternative is that they came to similar conclusions). Peter was quite adamant on the loss of cohesion as he describes it. Where I disagree is the Nick Clegg view where the better off retirees should ‘abolish’ their tax benefits. Is that fair? Those who remained cautious are now better off, whilst those who ‘partied on’ need additional support. I see no reason for those who did give out those extra few bobs to benefit now should give that up again. The social structure is all good and fine, yet those who did not keep their responsible part are now, as should be suffering a little more. A model was long term agreed upon, as today’s irresponsible spending’s should not be charged to those who got charged and worked all their lives. This is where ‘the Clegg principle’ falls short in my view. Peter’s words strike goal at the end where he writes “Cutting or means-testing pensioners allowances risks turning young against old and rich against poor while making negligible savings for the Treasury“. That is a risk we should not allow. Not because of the unfairness of this, but for the risk that the young will allow the exploiting of funds that should not be touched. In the end it is not just a negligible saving for the treasury, there is every indication that this will propel certain additional costs forward. Especially considering that these costs could have been avoided all together.

These issues also raise a few questions when we look at the Swedish system. A system protected by government and is totally untouchable by people until they retire. This quote came from the Swedish national bank this year. The question on the safety of retirements as such what return on investment has been achieved. the statement was “The major Swedish banks’ liabilities in US dollar amounted to just over SEK 1,600 billion at the end of 2012. Approximately 20 per cent of these liabilities consist of deposits, above all from large non-financial and non-bank financial companies.” So at 1.6 trillion Kronor, the outsourced risk that adds up to almost to SEK 226,000 for every Swedish citizen, all those funds in one investment? That looks like a very dangerous investment indeed, as that makes it the bulk of all the retirement investments all in one fund. When I look at my Swedish retirement savings then I have seen it go up by less than 5% annually (because I have annual costs, but I no longer live in Sweden and therefor no longer add to it). So what dangers are there for retirement investments all over Europe? France is in a peril no less dangerous, especially as President Hollande is asking the retirees to fill the French Coffers. Perhaps he will add a “s’il vous plait” (‘please’ in French) to that request at the end, but the message is rather clear. (Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/05/france-pension-reforms-hollande_n_2810024.html)

There is a European issue with retirement incomes, and it seems that the push it forward routine, as I started with in the beginning of this blog has been a blanket policy for many nations. Should they blame former president Nicolas Sarkozy? He tried to up the age of retirement by 2 years. I do not think it is fair (mainly because dangers were not reported in time). Not unlike the Dutch system as I mentioned in previous blogs. The push-it-forward routine has been employed for too long in several nations.

These retirees all worked hard until they retired. The fact that the younger generation holds those to account and not those who refused to act is unfair. We should add the question on issues that banks had like rogue trader Jérôme Kerviel. A person who decreased French bank values by almost 5 billion Euros. Even though he was convicted and he was supposed to pay this back. How much was actually paid back? Was all this money returned? It is so tearful to somehow this poor poor man has lost it all. Did he? He never owned 5 billion, so it was not his to lose. So if we see all these international trading shortfalls in France, UK, Netherlands, Italy and a few other nations (I reported on those issues in previous blogs). Those sums are more than the combined retirement funds that are about to get endangered. I think these governments should get those coins back before they go after the somewhat defenceless retirement funds.

Still today governments are setting out costs that they cannot foot the bill for. To now address retirement funds is an unacceptable step. Consider the initial Dutch version were in their own admission plans had been in the making for one year. Look at cutbacks that have not yet been met. These events show clearly that these events should have been stopped yesterday, whilst allowing them tomorrow has every realistic view that they could leave the entire upcoming retiring generation destitute.

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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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Are banks now too much in control?

I mentioned some of this yesterday, some people are just too unwilling to learn and they are very willing to sell you a too pretty a picture. This is what is now starting to become clear and in a dangerous way. Again, not unlike previous events, this blog was inspired by the Dutch NOS (www.nos.nl).

Political parties are now starting to ‘panic’ and are quickly grabbing to solution wherever they can. The issue is that the Dutch economy is apparently even worse then was initially predicted by the Central Bureau of Statistics (www.CBS.nl). Their initial prediction of -0.1% is now -0.4%. Interesting fact is that I predicted something like this in my blog ‘A noun of non-profit‘ on May 15th, just over a month ago. So is this bad news management? To me it seems to be more and more the case.

Diederik Samson of the PVDA (Dutch labour party) is now trying to kick-start the economy by offering alternative sources to spend from. Well, Mr Samson, there are two issues with that idea. The first one, most people do not trust bankers and politicians, now they are seemingly joining hands many have reason to trust both of them even less. The second reason is that the unreliability of the current economy is stopping people to spend anything as long as they are in debt.

The basic issue is that there is too much uncertainty for the next two years. As such people pay their mortgage and essential bills as much as possible. The people are paying off their debts as banks cannot be trusted to play nice. This is the consequence of not containing the massive wave of simply put insane investment sprees. Perhaps some will remember how SNS Reaal needed to be nationalised?

So as the Dutch need to cut 6 billion in expenses, they now seek other way to find spending options to raise the economy and next on their list is the attempt to use pension funds to do this.

Basically, quoting Arjan Noorlander from yesterday’s NOS newscast “The people managing these funds are often investing abroad to get their dividends. This does not help the Dutch economy” He then further states “These funds should invest tens of billions by taking over mortgages from banks, so that they can offer new mortgage investments“.

How is this anywhere near a good idea? Banks, remember them? They are not to be trusted at present, or anywhere in the near future for that matter!

As we have all these bad bank mortgages out and floating, relieving banks from these burdens by losing upcoming retirement funds is more than just a bad idea. Arjan Noorlander did continue and did end with the fact that this is dangerous and retirement funds might get lost in this way, and that it might be an option if the government underwrites these loans so that they will pay the losses if those occur. To me it reads that in the end that another bill will be given to the taxpayers one way or another.

The issues of keeping the retirement funds safe was also mentioned by Alexander Pechtold (D66 = Democrats 1966), he continues by saying that first and foremost there should be clarity on how and if this should proceed.


You see, there are two sides to that part. In the first part the Dutch officials shot themselves in the foot for a long time by keeping housing too expensive for way too long a time. It was left to certain groups to keep the prices artificially too high. I myself viewed it as an artificial push to keep housing prices beyond acceptable as it increases the capital position of banks. Then there was the issue of preferential treatment for some places, as there were ways that the ‘right’ people got into those places. I myself experienced these events first-hand. Too many issues played and in a time when incomes were good, people got what they could and as such they are now stuck in a solid position, where moving away will cost any person a fortune. To illustrate this, my former, small, 2-bedroom apartment in Rotterdam would buy me an apartment almost twice that size in Stockholm, Sweden. So considering these facts, moving is not an option for many, which means that people are paying of their mortgage as much as possible.

The second part is that up to 2005, it was way too easy to get all kinds of credits and payment deferrals. These options all come at some percentage expense and as incomes were good, no one really cared too much. Now, to not end up in a situation where these people will have to eat their mortgage, or sell their house (making them destitute), they are now all paying off their debts as much and as fast as they can.

These two factors add to the fact that people will not spend money. Not unlike the government, too much money was taken in advance, and unlike the government, they are not getting to push it forward, so there is no spending. These factors had been known for a long time (at least 3-5 years), so when politicians are all so amazed that economic infusion plans are not working, then that amazement seems somewhat disingenuous to me. The fact that the Dutch are so about housing corporations, to be given the funds to grow is tying the cat to the bacon in more than one way.

This is not allowed to become an ‘opportunity knocks’ situation, especially when they are playing with retirement funds. If they really want to do something that adds up, then give people the option to use their retirement plan to pay of a mortgage of a new house. Those young enough will then have a building future. And it should be managed by a banking branch of those who keep those funds at present. Yet, I reckon that it will raise voices that this is not opening the economy enough. So is this about the banks, the people or the economy? I wonder how quick objections will loudly rise when banks are kept out of the equation. It would give rise to my suspicions that the banks are in more control then people realise.

Again, that risk is very real in the UK as well. Instead of keeping a decent flow of affordable housing, we see an economy in neutral whilst the hill it is up against seems to be rising more and more.

This was discussed in the Guardian, April 27th (http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/blog/2013/apr/27/pensions-system-failed-what-answer) When we look at this in regards to a failing amount of retirement savings as the predicted cost of living has been incorrect for at least a decade, likely closer to 2 decades, we now see a dangerous development. This is a market where over 40% of those approaching their elderly need will have to sell their residence to afford future care.

Suddenly ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel‘ doesn’t sound like the worst idea for people to consider.

This again brings me to the idea of solutions. It is always nice to kick a parliamentarian (a therapeutic form of soul food), but we should consider options and opportunities for solutions.

There was an idea in South Australia several years ago that was quite remarkable. To solve housing, the government gave away land on loan. So basically, you got to buy a plot for $1. The conditions were that you had to place a house on it, and the value of the land was payable when you sold the house. So basically you had a house on free land as long as you lived on it. This solved two parts. One, the housing issues fell away for some, second a house needed to be build, so that was good for jobs and economy. I always thought that was a good idea to get people into their first house. The second part is the retirement issue. Now many prefer to remain where they are. This is fair enough. Yet, consider that instead of eating your house, you are leasing it away or renting it out. Consider that live in places like Greece, Spain and even India could be more rewarding (and warmer) as you live in a place where the cost of living is a lot lower. Lower cost means a better quality of life. I am not stating that this is an option for all, but perhaps it could be an option for a decent amount, giving breathing space to create new ideas and options. Whatever people choose, I hope it is one people will be able to live with in a comfortable way.


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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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Wanna buy some Junk (stocks)?

OK! I admit that I am slightly over the boil at present. Not only have we seen several banks with their ‘why would I care what happens to others’ attitude, now we see the message that Co-op bank has now ‘ascended’ to the status of Junk!

Several things are happening, yet, let us take a few steps back, so you can see why this upsets me so. The year was 2009; Britannia (building society) gets added to the Co-op bank group. This happens around the same time SNS Reaal had a property finance group dwindle its value by a quarter of a billion Euro’s, and that was not a bad day for them. 2010 would then become the massive body blow to the SNS as their property group would increase its 2009 damage by 300%. So, at this point, is there anyone out there not wondering why this continued for 3 years?

Whilst all these property issues were happening all over on the EU side, the Co-op bank thought it was a good idea to continue in their footsteps? Consider the issues, which are NOW stated as issues, must have been known then too.
That in itself means that more than just a small investigation needs to take place. There is every notion that the involved parties require investigation. If we see the waves continuing from 2009 onwards, we see a wave of mergers, left right and centre with a shifting of ownerships and a shifting of losses over and over again. At the middle is a small group of people who seem to ‘make’ their quota and getting a nice 7 figure commission in the process. Poor Prime Minister Cameron was admitting defeat in the papers at that time. Whilst well over seven billion pounds in bonuses were granted to less than 3000 people. So in this age the noble art of thief, burglar, prowler and cut-throat is gone. Instead, some become bankers, you get the idea.

So, we saw the Britannia merger in 2009. The consequence was that Co-op acquired a company (The Britannia) ‘worth’ 35 Billion, yet, when we look at the value of Co-op, those numbers seem to be completely off the wall. Can anyone explain to me how a bank, who in their financial results of 2008, stating an operating result of 85 Million, with 64 Million of profit before taxation sucks up a company with a stated worth of 35 BILLION? No one seems to be asking the questions many should be asking. Now, as stated before, I am no economist and my degrees do not include economy, yet the Co-op/Britannia combination makes as much sense as me walking into IBM HQ, walking up to Ginni Rometty’s office asking her ‘How much for just the company?’, paying her for IBM, take over her office and have it redecorated. And trust me when I say that her weekly allowance is a lot higher than my pre-tax annual income.

So, as this happened, no one seems to be asking the tough questions. In the meantime to the next time-slice, the following issues occur. Our trusty Dutch nationalised SNS, now values at minus 127 Million and its property market is now reported at minus 600 million Euro. At this time, alarms should have been singing, ringing and clinging on many levels, not just at Co-op banking group. For those thinking that they are just separate banks then I would state that this is not entirely accurate. Consider that RBS took part of ABN AMRO (former one of the big four banks of the Netherlands). In the time (pre purchase of Britannia), Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, Lloyds TSB and HBOS Plc needed a massive bailout by the UK government. Soon thereafter Co-op suddenly goes fishing for a great White, using nothing more than a Dinghy and a $9 bamboo fishing rod?

In that same period Co-op is involved with the purchase and annexation (to coin a phrase) of Somerfield stores. It was reported to have a net income of just more than 220 million pound a year, yet, it was purchased for a 1.5 billion pound. That part makes decent sense as the net profit is a little over 10% of the purchase value. Yet, in light of Britannia and other events taking place, I add some serious question marks with these methods of vulture growth through acquisitions. I have seen this happen over the decades, and overall it rarely turns out well. This story turns that way as we see the Co-op food group (name after the merge of Somerfield stores) had reported in 2011 (as stated by The Guardian on 25th August 2011) a 21% fall of profits. Suddenly, the 220 million pound profit shrinks and looks less appealing. The Guardian in the same article also reported: “The Company has committed to investing £2bn in the business over three years, with £280m spent in the period.

So the initial spending outstretches a full year of profits, with investments stretching beyond the 130% of the purchased value of the food stores. With refitted shops, additional refitting and new shops, the total number of shops seem to go beyond 550 stores. This is happening at times when caution is the only way to go forward.

The additional cost of getting these systems to run and align in an infrastructure would require massive amounts of resources. That part became clear if we look at the story from Computer World (http://www.computerworlduk.com/news/applications/17614/updated-co-operative-bank-losing-customers-through-system-problems/). This story is set to the Bank itself, yet the issues of so many sides and so many systems, and therefore the enlarged infrastructure required is not a relief of costs, but a pressure added to it.

Another side of pressure was displayed by Reuters (http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/02/27/uk-cooperativebank-lloyds-idUKBRE91Q00E20130227). On the 27th of February this year it was stated that Co-op was somewhat short on cash. They were 1 billion short. (oh, let me get my wallet! Duh!) This seems to be the major reason that the addition of 632 branches of the Lloyd’s Banking group could not be purchased.

These facts are more than worrying. The vulture acquisition game is worse than a game of Texas Hold’em Poker. First there is the fact that the board of directors is gambling with other people’s money, the second part is that the circle of damage increases with each acquisition. Consider that the UK only has a 0.3% economic gain at present and that the economy is extremely fragile for now. Allowing these mergers to continue until a solid block of stability is gained should be disallowed on several levels and not just with co-op. Until the economy bounces back and the costs are more stable, this bank should clearly be placed under scrutiny of the most conservative nature.

It is said that the Co-op banking group consists of almost 125.000 employees. Now consider that any hardship hits this group. A thought that is not too unrealistic, especially as they are on shaky grounds for now. I am not just talking about their Moody status, to which their response was on May 11th 2013 as ‘Disappointing’. I am talking about infrastructure issues, weather related issues and any issues that will drag the rest down if additional write downs will be required to the property group from the Britannia acquisition (consider what happened to SNS Reaal in the Netherlands), a mere 5% write down will come down to over 1 Billion, whilst their cash reserves is already 1 Billion too low. So if that result in shut-downs and lay-offs, then a 10% loss of staff is not unrealistic, which means another 12,000 will be out of a job. That must be prevented at all cost. Such damage could push the UK 0.3% increase down to a lower than 0.1% decrease soon thereafter. In addition, those cut downs will hurt their non-aligned infrastructure even more and that might even start a snowball effect on people and infrastructures. I admit that the previous paragraph is all speculations on my side. I have however seen these kinds of reorganisations and crushing results first hand. I had faced them when the economy was good, under current conditions; these events are a nightmare to consider.

Is there any good news here? Well, I feel that I am not that optimistic on the statements they made, yet, overall Co-op could be in a worse place. The only proper solution for them in my mind is to dig in and weather the storm for now. Getting by the next 2 years is more important than allowing one rash acquisition to endanger it all. You will wonder about my evidence?

That is a fair question!

Many businesses are in a bad shape, and there is every chance that some will fail. Now consider the Property acquisition (Britannia). No matter how high their assets are set. Part of their acquired branch was commercial lending and mortgages. Last December Reuters quoted this, a real issue taking in regards the high pressure on lacking stability funds “At this rate it will take another decade to return to normal – and I’m not sure there is much anyone can do about it.

So increasing more pressure could in the end result in the taxpayer getting a hefty addition to the outstanding national debt. A national debt, that is currently in excess of 1 Trillion Pounds.

So, from my point of view it is important to consider the story we saw recently in the Netherlands. The SNS Reaal board counted on Government bail-outs as they regarded themselves too big to fail. We need to make sure and make it clear that the Co-op banking group is not allowed to be this arrogant, or allowed such a way to a bail-out.


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