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Questions that follow

Is it not an interesting day, for some Mondayitis is only just now setting in, for some the Mondayitis issue is just a ‘fab’ for others to avoid becoming active until Wednesday around after lunch time, and for another group, well, we never know what they are up to, so let’s ignore them for now. There is however a group that works 24:7 (please do not imply that those people are journo’s).

I am talking about the financial institutions, no matter how we oppose greed, it is the one motivator that will never stop being efficient in many walks of life. That consideration came to me as I read the article ‘HSBC’s response: ‘Standards of due diligence were significantly lower than today’‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/feb/08/hsbc-responds-revelations-misconduct-swiss-bank) this morning.

The article is to some extent a barrel full of laughs. Let’s have a look at some of the mentioned things. The fun already starts at the second sentence “Private banks, including HSBC’s Swiss private bank, assumed that responsibility for payment of taxes rested with individual clients“, you see the word ‘assumed’, in this case that translate to, the bank sets the responsibility so that it makes an ‘ass’ of ‘you’, banks do not work from the ‘me’ setting (ass-u-me). When was the last time when you received a letter from a bank (any bank for that matter) where the word assumption was used? Most banking contracts have two one-sided parts, what your responsibilities are and how you get charged the moment you make an error (like simply withdrawing a little too much). So are you giggling yet?

The next one is an interesting one for more than one reason “HSBC’s Swiss private bank has reduced its client base by almost 70% since 2007“. Yes it is interesting, because WHERE did those people go to? The fact that they moved away from HSBC is no indication that there was a sudden massive influx of taxpayers, was there? So was the exodus reported on? My bet is that this was not; the statement is likely to be ‘this account is no longer under our care‘. This hunt for tax evasion, sounds nice, but it also comes with a flaw, not that I oppose such hunts (I will forever be roughly $1,915,000 short from making that list), but did some of these ‘witch hunters’ realise that moving these funds would have a side effect? You see, it would all be good and fine if those accounts all resorted to their original nation getting properly taxed, but that is not the case is it? As these Status Quo places get upset the dynamics change, when the accounts can no longer be hidden on Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Switzerland or Guernsey. How long until we see a new circle of banks, now in Bahrain, Dubai and Jeddah? Do not think this will not happen, because it already is happening (at http://www.thenational.ae/business/banking/dubai-islamic-bank-confident-on-loans-portfolio-thanks-to-record-profit), so as we are reading on how a bank voluntarily moved from 78 billion to 45 billion, I have to wonder on the impact of the sentence at the very end: “However, providing client data to foreign authorities would itself constitute a criminal offence under Swiss law“. This than gives rise to the question how these changes are enforced. More important, the sentence implies that providing client data to local authorities is an option, and what they do with it, is not covered here, but it is an interesting question to consider.

The second article, which also came from the Guardian discusses more HSBC issues in ‘HSBC files show how Swiss bank helped clients dodge taxes and hide millions‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/feb/08/hsbc-files-expose-swiss-bank-clients-dodge-taxes-hide-millions), so is this High School of Business Concealers a real bank? Well, that is a moral question not a scientific one. This is where we see more ways to get a case of the giggles. “The Swiss arm, the statement said, had not been fully integrated into HSBC after its purchase in 1999, allowing “significantly lower” standards of compliance and due diligence to persist“, so if we consider the leak by Hervé Falciani, which happened in 2007, considering the fact that the Swiss bank had been acquired in 1999, the simple question ‘Were banking executives allowed to sit on their hands for 8+ years?‘, the question might seem unfair, but no alignment in a bank that was until doing 78 billion seems very odd to me. It almost sounds like a trial in equity. “Yes, sir, I have washed my hands of everything and I have made very certain that I am not being kept in the loop for anything“, might make for interesting academic considerations, but so is the story of the Mayfair prostitute with her Hymen intact (the moral is that neither is realistic).

When you read on you will see the sentence “We have opened a company account for him based in Dubai“, so is the interest of HSBC moving towards additional banks? That question is not asked and should some consider asking Lord Green (who was group Chairman of HSBC in those days), they are unlikely to get any answer.

It is so interesting to see the HSBC onslaught all over the Guardian, but this is not just about that event. It is also nice to see how last weekend, Yahoo reported on how the Swiss Franc is boosting business in German brothels, so in the end at least one party is getting screwed (the question is who of course). Weirdly enough, the Telegraph has a passable view written by Peter Spence (yes, I am surprised too). The end has the quote that mattered in my view “What has happened in Switzerland might be a sideshow compared with larger global players, but is illustrative of a world in which central banks are increasingly looked to for answers“, I am not sure whether this is entirely correct. There is a difference between incorrect and wrong, and this one skates on two sides, you see, the mess, which I discussed in ‘A seesaw for three‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/01/18/a-seesaw-for-three/) is still at the heart of this, there is a credit swap in play with many governments in play, it is a global dance act which includes the US, Japan and the bulk of the EEC nations, as tax havens are now under scrutiny, the people using them are looking for options, some will make a deal, but the larger part will be looking for an alternative, I reckon that the Swiss have been very aware with the move of those HSBC accounts and the question is not just where those 70% moved to, but who else will be moving sooner rather than later. When you consider that, we see the picture as it reshapes the issue. The Swiss are holding on for dear life and at some point the Franc will lose some of its value, but as this happens, we will also see a currency destabilisation. That part is seen (in my personal view) as Switzerland is no longer playing the ‘offset’ game for other loans, which means that the game will transfer to other shores, but which shores will they move to? That part is not a given, but when we see how new players are now willing to become a member of the banking secrets. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia would only need to adopt two rules in their banking laws (if they have not done so already).

  1. Providing client data to foreign authorities constitutes a criminal offence.
  2. Personal wealth can be declared via the bank, who will charge a fee of n% (where it is likely that n < 5).

After that, both the Oval office and Buckingham palace can kiss any chance of those taxable billions goodbye, which could spell a massive exodus from Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Guernsey and Jersey towards sandier shores, which will hurt the Commonwealth beyond expectations. All this started from the wrong viewpoint from the very beginning, the US became reckless on how it dealt with its 18 trillion in debt by going after non-taxed fortunes from American account holders, this drive (supported by many) started a new fire and now that the flames are getting higher, those avoiding taxation are moving to shores where not only is taxation an almost impossibility, it will also limit the other acts done by both the US and the EEC to keep their currencies high, which is an act that will backfire to some extent for a longer period of time.

Personally, I am all for holding the wealthy tax accountable; we all have to pay our taxation. Yet, at present, in this economy, we are now chasing those cars, whilst we have no parking lot, so even if one is caught, what to do with this person? The US, Greece, the UK and a few others should have seriously changed certain laws half a decade ago; this mess would not have been so complete. The fact that this hunt is so visible at present gives also pause for that what we do not see. Yes, we see that the US added 257,000 jobs in January, but how many are not shown as we also see that RadioShack is filing for bankruptcy this week with over 4,000 shops expected to close (2,000 went to sprint). A host of Shale gas companies will go the same way, whilst the mountain of companies going under in the oil and gas sector is a lot larger than many can fathom. These events have a clear bearing on the banks too. Shale gas operations, oil platforms, all these places will get hit and it will affect many banks who held onto debts with the certainty that black gold brought, now there is no blame here, yet the consequence of persecuting tax dodgers will also come with another negative boost as a league of them will move to the Arabian shores, when that happens, the little stability the Euro and the US dollar had, will go straight out of the window.

Here is the kicker, no matter how wrong the expression ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ is seen in light of the tax dodgers, we must wonder how much lower the coming negative financial waves would have been if the hunt for the tax dodgers would have been delayed. In the end, it was not a solution to not go after them, but the timing truly sucks. This situation translates to governments getting kicked in the head, just as they had just accidently stumbled through no fault of their own. Yet in all this, Greece has made ZERO clear steps in dealing with its own tax dodgers, so where to go next? More questions are to follow, but I am not sure if there will be ANY answers forthcoming as it seems that three parties have painted themselves in the corner, whilst the fourth was not in the room at all, in addition these four parties aren’t even clearly communicating with each other, their only goal is to meet their own needs whilst three cannot move and the fourth can’t get into the room, one would offer the thought that a mere pre teenager would have done a better job of it all. I am not sure if I could disagree.

 

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The Cat and the Bacon

I have written about the economy on several occasions, I always proclaimed that it was pure insight as I saw it and that I do not have a degree in economy, I am an analyst. Yet today these borders of non-knowledge might get stretched a little further than previously shown. Today is all about the Euro!

I personally never believed it to be a good idea. We saw how all these politicians were proclaiming on how ‘good’ it was for the economy. Was it? You see, it might not matter for the bakery on the corner, the grocer next door or the butcher across the street. It matters to the giants of industry and how it benefits there bottom line, the extra coin for the members of the board, not for the people in the stores, that image tended to be a virtual one, it virtually did not matter at all!

I saw how the change of coin, from the Dutch guilder, things suddenly seemed to be 50% cheaper (2 guilders equalled one euro), but the math is easily made there. What those people experienced that buying a chicken on the market was 6 guilders, it became 3 euro’s, but then what? In a little less than 4 years that chicken from the same dealer ended up being 6 Euro’s. An annual 25% hike in prices. The chicken example is a little extreme and many articles did not raise that quickly. Some will mention the issues of milk in the Netherlands, but that is an issue much more complex and the Euro itself is only a small fragment there.

So, could I be wrong?

That is centre in this debate. I could be wrong, but it is very likely that we are all looking into the wrong direction. It would be nice to blame places like Greece, and they are definitely having an effect, yet the issue is not the EEC, it is more and more pointing towards America. You see, we are all in a bad shape, no one is denying that, yet in American, things have not gotten any better for a long time. Let’s face it, some people are now shooting at the police for fun, or for reasons of aggravation and despair. The people in America are suffering in many ways, but the all holier than DOW keeps on rising in addition, their currency is massively on the up, which under the issues showing, seems a little too good to be true, it an assumption, but is it fair and correct?

That remains to be seen, when we look at the Guardian, we see (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jan/08/euro-dollar-1999-levels-deflation-oil), the following: “Recent data for the Eurozone has proved weak, with inflation falling and unemployment rising. Italy remains in recession while France has seen consumer and business confidence wane. Only Spain and Germany among the major economies have appeared to gain in strength, though Berlin has failed to kick-start GDP growth and Spain still suffers from an unemployment rate of 25%“, these are facts, they are not in denial, but where are the results of the UK (which were not great)? You see, these facts are true, but there is more to consider (besides Greece dragging the EU down). What about Sweden and the Netherlands? Not the greatest economies compared to the big 4, but still sizeable ones, we can admit that they are all struggling, yet the fact that we see a ‘propagated’ booming economy in America needs to be addressed too.

Who statistically has a job?

When we consider an article in Forbes last August, where we see “My friend and the waitress are victims of a massive but hidden problem called underemployment. Watching falling unemployment numbers being reported at 6.2%, down from nearly 10% four years earlier, is simply misleading“, attached to a headline ‘Tackling The Real Unemployment Rate: 12.6%‘ (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/louisefron/2014/08/20/tackling-the-real-unemployment-rate-12-6/), we get to see the picture that the people are living, Wall Street is ignoring and  the current administration of the US is misrepresenting. So is the Euro doing this bad, or is it dragged down by a misrepresenting nation carrying a 17 trillion dollar debt? By the way, did we not see something similar with Tesco and a few hundred millions misrepresented? How did THAT turn out?

When we see this quote in Forbes we see the real danger “741,000 discouraged workers – workers not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them – are included within the list of marginally attached people. Another 7.5 million were not considered unemployed because they were employed part-time for economic reasons. Those people are also called involuntary part-time workers – working part-time because their hours were cut back or because they were unable to secure a full-time job“. The danger is twofold, how many of the 741,000 are over 50? It seems that companies, especially those with younger, inexperienced executives are afraid to hire people with skills and know how. In regards to the 7.5 million part time workers, does that include those Wal-Mart people, who need to rely on food stamps and all kinds of other support systems? I am not debating their need, more that the owners each walked away with well over a billion in 2013, whilst its staff was on governmental food stamps. How does that ‘boom’ your economy? It almost reads like ‘gangbang’ for your buck whilst the governmental administration bends over, a lack of fairness on more than one front, one could state!

Booking a balance!

You see, the unbalance goes a lot further, the US as a nation can float its currency, this is not a bad thing, normally every nations does it to some extent, to weather a really bad time, so that business and consumer is not hit with weird spikes, it is an issue that has happened for a long time and it will continue to happen, yet the Euro does not have this privilege, these economies are set to what is done in Bruxelles (Brussels), and as such, it is likely impacted by spikes to some extent. However, as their currency is spiking downwards against the Dollar, which seems to be decently overvalued, we get a new danger that the drag will continue, whilst no one seems to be looking and the bubbled version of the US Dollar. So is my non-economic view correct, right or wrong? Yes, there are three options, because, what is correct may still not be right.

Consider, that the Euro nations are not doing so well, which is true after all, that fact does not make the dollar better does it? It is correct that the dollar looks better because the Yen and the Euro looks less good, but the economy in America is not booming, if it were, we would see a lot more people gainfully employed without the need for government support, you see, here we get to the matter on what is correct and what is right. If the US is having a virtual boom, we are judging the US on merits of misrepresentation, which by the way might not be illegal, but should an economy not be held to its cost as well? The US debt is still increasing; the people (a large amount) are not paid to a level of being self-sufficient. We see an economy that had made the thirteen amendment in 1865, there we see “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction“, in 1867 the US got the Peonage Act of 1867, where Congress abolished “the holding of any person to service or labor under the system known as peonage”, as well as specifically banning “the voluntary or involuntary service or labor of any persons as peons, in liquidation of any debt or obligation, or otherwise”, now this all sounds pretty clear, and having a job is not this, but when a population is forced to work for scraps, whilst still requiring food stamps, it seems that we now have an issue. no one is a slave, but under the conditions where the very rich grow their fortune at well over 30%, whilst those on average grow less than 2%, we should clearly see that the balance of fair play is no longer anywhere in sight. I am not against making profit, it is a capitalistic form that has merit, yet when we see six members of a family, each making a 9 figure number, whilst the 1% of America it employs makes less than the line of poverty, we need to ask serious questions. In addition, as we see a group where they deal in articles that are from questionable sources (at http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jun/10/supermarket-prawns-thailand-produced-slave-labour), where the quote “A six-month investigation has established that large numbers of men bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats off Thailand are integral to the production of prawns (commonly called shrimp in the US) sold in leading supermarkets around the world, including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco“, we are confronted with a governmental issue, where it allows for profit at expense of its own industries in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. We can acknowledge that the oil spills have been detrimental to the health of the industry, but when the big players get their goods overseas, how can any economy recover, especially as these overseas players (as implied by the Guardian), can rely on profits through slave labour. This goes further than just the shrimps, other food items or clothing. It shows a disconnection from the people, you see economies are more than just behemoths, we could see them as parasitic in nature, which sounds wrong, but is actually very correct. The retailer lives off the people, but can only do so if the people can spent. It is a symbiotic relationship; it requires the host to remain alive. Large businesses have forgotten about that, they focus on where the profit is, not on the required equilibrium, so as places like India grew form a third world market into a super economy.

Cycles of equilibrium

The people outsourcing, seem to forget that its own population is every bit as important, so as that group falter, so will businesses slowly but surely. As we see that cycle progress, is it not strange that the US Economy remains booming? A nation with many people unemployed; even more people in a state of poverty; 15% in poverty, this gets us a little more than one in seven in poverty, meaning that big business is now relying on revenue based on the remaining 5 out of 7. It looks nice in a statistical model, but as the overall quality of life goes down, that group of 5 will dwindle down too, when that happens, the economy will falter in new unprecedented ways, leaving the only option that a few people walk away with all the money they can carry to their own island and the rest is left without anything. This can be read as misrepresentation as well, but is it far-fetched? that part is not a given until we see an actual economy that truly improves, which means that the poverty line descents, people will start having a liveable income, that will give rise to shops needed and more jobs created and all that opts for the US national debt to go down by a lot, something that this administration has not achieved, more important, it might take 2-3 administrations for that debt to be addressed in any way, shape or form, which only fuels the wealth of banks and financial players. If it is addressed too quickly, the poverty line could soar far further then 21%, giving an instant crises in the US that goes beyond the imaginations of many and will be one nightmare Wall street did not foresee to this extent. Yet how would that affect the Euro? Well in two ways, as the US people will become more and more desperate for jobs, suddenly the economy looks even better on our grass, but it is an ‘economy’ for the wealthy living, the rest will see a further drop in living conditions (an assumption on my side)

So as big business ties the cat to the bacon (meaning: opportunity knocks), we must wonder how these elements call for a booming economy as an economy is reliant on people spending money, buying items and none remain to do just that.

You see, there seems to be a fluctuation on what an economy is (seriously!).

The first one we see is: “the state of a country or region in terms of the production and consumption of goods and services and the supply of money“, which is what we all believe it to be, yet the second meaning “careful management of available resources“, which we can take as “offering good value for money” and “a financial saving” last there is “the cheapest class of air or rail travel“. Weird or not, they all apply. I got them straight from the Google dictionary.

Now when we mash them we get: “the National state in terms of the production, the cheapest way possible, whilst advocating good value for money, whilst ensuring the highest efficiency in regards to managing our available resources, whilst optimising consumption of goods and services, ensuring the best supply of money through contribution“. Does that not sound very familiar? You see, it seems like a booming economy, if you are getting the money. The consumer is left with the option, whilst not guaranteeing a pool where such sufficient income can be maintained, almost a death pool of discontinued certainty.

So, how did we move away from the Euro? Well, I actually did not, you see, these elements have been a factor with American companies all over Europe, now consider how much taxation they did not have to make due to tax havens and specific invoicing? You see, a government is depending on its coffers to be filled so that there is a growth and continuation of an economy, whilst these corporations are now stating that this inherent side of the symbiotic relationship was not theirs to care for. Now we see and a loss of balance as well as a first glance on how dislodging an economy can have long lasting effects. As the Euro has less ‘floatation’ options and as some unbalanced it even further, we now see no options on the Euro side, whilst the Dollar has legal options to float its currency, unbalancing the amount further, the upped representation does the rest!

Blame Game

Now, it is important to see that I am NOT blaming the dollar for the Euro, yet it must be said that those behind the Dollar (businesses) have presented themselves overly good, so there is a secondary effect, whilst we see more and more often a changing scale of what is to be reported on. Let us be clear, several EEC nations have done this in the past, but the balance is now changing further and further, giving no one a clear view of what is real, we see presentations that are all a little out of whack, so as Europe starts its plan of credit easing, we will see the numbers jump, yet in what direction cannot be predicted (not by me at least), because, if investors walk away ‘en mass’, no credit easing will do any trick, if you doubt that then look at India, is it not weird that NTT DoCoMo / TaTa, the big winner of 2013/2014 suddenly wanted to dump its one billion share? Is it not strange that in this ‘booming’ economy, all are looking on the inside? Is a booming economy not about growth? So as we ‘see’ a growing economy, is that not (usually) a sign of growth? So why are the mobile providers T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon all steering clear of the Indian market that is seemingly up for grabs?

So is the US economy booming, or is it going boom-boom?

 

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