Tag Archives: US Treasury

Holding pattern

It feels like the world is in a holding pattern, it is awaiting events and there is no news on a few fronts. The first is on gaming; a little over two weeks remain until the E3 starts, which is when the actual (official) news is given. Part of me is sad, because there have been so many leaks that I fear we already know what is coming to the larger extent. In this I got confronted with more issues surrounding the Xbox One, and even as they proclaim it is going good, I am of the mind that good just is not it, it will not even be close to it. If the Business Insider is to be believed, there will be a lot more bad news coming to the Xbox One owners, the article (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/playstation-4-vs-xbox-one-e3-2018-5) gives us “‘Crackdown 3’ is an exclusive Xbox One game, meaning it will work on the One X and One S“, implying that this is the first game that no longer supports the Xbox One. Pushing people into upgrading to new hardware? I see that as one more nail in the coffin called Xbox. The information (at https://www.xbox.com/en-AU/games/crackdown) is equally sketchy, yet that game cover does not have the HDR part, implying that there might be two editions, one for the Xbox One X and one for the normal Xbox, which would be very acceptable, implying that they are soft pushing people to upgrade their console which is a fair and acceptable business practice. I wanted to be certain and no misinform you, so far there is no real mention on it, yet there seems to be a version on HDR (implying Xbox One S and Xbox One X only), in addition one source had another box art, yet Amazon did not, neither did a few other shops, so this could become a very large issue close to Christmas as the latest (unconfirmed) issue is that release is planned for later this year.

The PlayStation has similar holding patters, we know the four larger titles and that is it on the exclusive front, implying that both will be a little more dependent on the makers like Bethesda, Ubisoft and EA to hold the candles for unexpected news. I am particularly interested in what Ubisoft brings. I think it was 2 years ago, when they truly hit a home run at the E3, in that time we all got overwhelmed by Ubisoft that had cleaned up its act. AC Origin exceeded everyone’s expectations (including mine) and playing on a much higher level the second time around had been fulfilling in a way I never expected. In addition, even as I kept a distance from Far Cry 5, it shows, that for those who wanted more of the same, it did satisfy, in addition its first actual setting towards open gameplay was a true evolution, so those who wanted ‘more of the same‘ got a lot more than they bargained for and that is a good thing. So we have no real idea what Ubisoft is bringing and that is good, knowing all the things that matter beforehand is not good, it takes away the WOW factor in announcements and I think the French know that. In that same setting we also look forward to Bethesda, who apart from last year tends to make homeruns, they focused on the VR setting last year and when you are not into that you tend to feel left out a little. So here’s hoping for this year. Most are hoping for a new Elder Scrolls (non-online) game announcement, which is a stretch and unlikely. I am still proud of having made an initial setting for Elder Scrolls VI: Restoration, but it seems that Bethesda had other ideas. Fair enough, it is their IP. Yet we recognise that Skyrim was 7 years ago from initial launch, we should give the cautious setting that it is time to WOW us with a new one, especially after 7 years. Fallout 4 is getting towards its 3rd anniversary, yet with the season pass giving us so much, we still feel decently satisfied for now. I personally feel that a Fallout 5 is at least 2 years away from a clear announcement and for those overwhelmed Fallout shelter can keep your blood flowing on mobile and a few other devices, the fact that it is free and no real purchase is needed just makes it an amazing extra. And that is all for the games section at present.

Rocket Men

There is a man, a Rocket Man, it is not the man in the song, not the quote from the movie; no, as we see (at https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm0392), we are given the US Treasury setting: “the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated five Iranian individuals who have provided ballistic missile-related technical expertise to Yemen’s Huthis, and who have transferred weapons not seen in Yemen prior to the current conflict“, the issue I have voiced for a while, again I have been proven correct, and even as the media at large was all about calling Saudi Arabia names and just blindly staring at the victims (which is not entirely wrong), we are treated to “Treasury is targeting five Iranian officials who are associated with the IRGC-QF and Iran’s ballistic missile programs. Their actions have enabled the Huthis to launch missiles at Saudi cities and oil infrastructure. They have also disrupted humanitarian aid efforts in Yemen, and threatened freedom of navigation in key regional waterways“. I agree to some extent with Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, I do not think that he is entirely correct. To give understanding to my statement, we need to look at the 5 names.

Mahmud Bagheri Kazemabad and Mohammad Agha Ja’fari who were acting for or on behalf of the IRGC Aerospace Forces Al- Ghadir Missile Command. Javad Bordbar Shir Amin and Mehdi Azarpisheh who are members of a special forces unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards responsible for their extraterritorial operations, they report directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei. In addition there is Sayyed Mohammad Ali Haddadnezhad Tehrani, who is allegedly providing, financial, material, technological or other support for, or goods or services in support of, the IRGC Research and Self-Sufficiency Jehad Organization. I use allegedly because without the clearance levels I cannot vet the final part of data there. I believe that Sayyed Mohammad Ali Haddadnezhad Tehrani has at least partially and most likely fully deployed Chinese walls to isolate him away from that, yet there are at least three names missing, these people are part of the training and deployment side of the missiles. It is my personal opinion that Javad Bordbar Shir Amin and Mehdi Azarpisheh could not have arranged that by themselves, they are without doubt involved, but on that level they had higher level help, not merely the smuggling of the missiles, the deployment, training and smuggling of the missiles is specific knowledge, it is very specialist knowledge and in that (at least) three names are missing. That mess is actually growing. It is seem in the first part in Bloomberg (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-23/doubts-emerge-at-eu-steps-to-counter-u-s-iran-sanctions-threat), in all this we see at the end “The commission is also looking at creating special purpose vehicles to allow transactions with Iran, the people said. The effectiveness may also depend on whether the U.S. treats them as a circumventing tool, one of the people said. “If in the end jobs will be lost in Germany, one has to ask whether this is the right thing to do,” German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said in a TV interview last week“, it is an issue! It is an issue, because mere open source intelligence and common sense gave me the inside view that have been proven correctly, the entire Iranian mess as we see now, whilst the people in the Bloomberg article are all about acting or is that not acting) because jobs are lost, whilst the entire missiles on the attacks on the Saudi civilian population is just ignored as well as the plight to the Yemeni civilian population because of the acting of Iran, the EU has a much bigger problem and it is time that the people start thinking this through. From my (an admitted optional flawed view) is that the Iranian mess started with Sayyid Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini and never stopped being an issue, which amounts to January 1st 1980 being the setting for the mess we are in now. I am willing to admit that if the US and UK had left Iran alone in the actions of 1953, we might not be in this mess, but that is too much water under the bridge, what is the setting is that the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-44230983) gives us Ayatollah Khamenei’s main conditions.

  • European powers should protect Iranian oil sales from the US sanctions and continue buying Iranian crude.
  • European banks should safeguard trade with Iran.
  • The UK, France and Germany should pledge not to seek negotiations on Iran’s ballistic missile programme and regional activities, both demanded by Washington.

The supreme leader said that if the three counties were unable to meet these demands, Iran would resume its enrichment of uranium. this translates to ‘do not interfere in Yemen‘, which is a regional activity, the fact that EU politics seems to be very willing to do that makes for more concern, in addition, when we look at the newspapers in the EU, we are left in the dark on several issues, which is also a concern. They are all focused on the Saudi attacks, the Yemen events, but not on the Iranian support setting for firing missiles into Saudi Arabia, that seems to be off limits and that is a massive issue as I personally see it.

So here to is the beginning of a holding pattern, an issue that is stretched over time, allowing for non-activity to rule the setting. Now, there is a twofold part, one is positive, because there is a partial setting where waiting the next move makes perfect sense, yet the numbers give us that thousands are getting exposed to Cholera and famine, not a combination you want to see, because at that stage, even with medical hep, the chances for surviving are not that great to begin with. Even as the people on Facebook are hiding behind “Stop the Saudi-led war on Yemen that kills civilians and destroys the country infrastructure“, the bulk of everyone remains in denial of Iran’s part in all this and the fact that Yemen is used as a stage to attack Saudi Arabia whilst Iran relies on ‘I know nothing‘ is a setting that is much worse because those are the people who the EU are trying to keep their business alive within a nuclear setting, whilst there have been clear indication that Uranium enrichment is an event that will be happening in Iran. Yes, that makes all the sense in the world (implies sarcasm).

The holding patterns cannot be fought, because acting is not always the best thing to do, yet the entire Yemeni situation started in March 2015, well over three years ago, so I think it is time for the EU to actually actively respond to the actions of Iran, they have had enough time and intelligence to act. Their non-actions at present should be regarded as beyond cowardice, cowardice to facilitate to those who need a deal, who need financial blessing (read: greed). To illustrate this, WikiLeaks gave us in 2007,

In any case, France is prepared to “go beyond” multilateral Iran sanctions. A/S O’Brien suggested that the GOF make public statements about the risks of doing business with Iran and the recent decisions of major European financial institutions to cut off Iranian business. France is currently developing new legislation to criminalize arms proliferation and proliferation finance, above and beyond its criminal penalties for violations of UNSCR 1737 and 1747. O’Brien passed GOF officials two Treasury non-papers on Iranian state-owned Bank Melli’s proliferation-related activities and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and IRGC-Qods Force’s extensive use of the Iranian state-owned banking network. Regarding private sector outreach, A/S O’Brien met with senior officials at Paris-based Banque Natixis to discuss the risks of doing business with Iran“, for the forgetful, that was when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in office, so there had been a massive drive to get more ‘revenue’ for the Natixis board of directors. I guarantee you that it goes downhill from there, the settings we see are not great, it never was, yet the need for the EU to do something and not as a 27 nation block keep on sitting on their ignoranus was not what the people were signing up for. That evidence is seen at the UN (at https://www.un.org/press/en/2018/sc13225.doc.htm), in here we see “attacks against civilian targets in Saudi Arabia were unacceptable and raised concern over the Panel’s findings that Iran had provided short‑range missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, in breach of paragraph 14 of resolution 2216 (2015).  Urging the Council to stand firm against such violations, he said that while the United Kingdom had sought to ensure a balanced and impartial text, it also had not shied away from calling out those who had violated international agreements“, in that, Russia hid behind “The Russian Federation’s representative, also speaking before the votes, said he could not support the United Kingdom‑sponsored draft, as he did not agree with its inclusion of unverified information. Assessing the Panel of Experts’ work in the manner mentioned in that draft was misguided“, so whenever a Russian firm approaches Saudi Arabia for a Neom or Vision 2030 project, we should make sure that the Saudi officials are reminded of the SC/13225 meeting on 26th February 2018. I should see if I can get an opportunity there too, my bank balance is really really low at present. So in the end we all act on economic needs, the only difference is that I am doing it upfront (making it no longer a reality), but if I can stay honest, why not the elected officials that make well over 3000% of what I end up with?

Is that not an interesting question too?

Have a great day!

 

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The Validity of Targeted Killing

This is not some euphemism like the trials and tribulations of Ezio Auditore da Firenze. This is not a game, nor is it some romantic twist. It is the harsh reality of a government that didn’t get it to begin with and now as the body count ads up, it has painted itself into a corner and until it wakes up and gets active, its citizens will be placed into immediate harm. The undeniable consequence of a flaccid government set to inaction. The nice part is, is that governments at large are all on the same boat. The US, nominated as the most stupid one, followed by the European Community at large, the Commonwealth and a few more nations. It seems that in this specific case China is the only clever participant (in this specific case).

To give you the connections at hand, we need to realise what exactly is Targeted Killing. In this case it is the ‘Assassination by a state organisation outside of the judicial procedure or a battlefield’. Yet in this, the existing definition is not complete or correct. In this day and age, assassination is done in a multitude of ways, not always corporeal being lethal, but in some cases that might actually have been an act of mercy if it ended that way. So what is this about?

You might think that it started with ‘WhatsApp privacy backlash: Facebook angers users by harvesting their data‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/aug/25/whatsapp-backlash-facebook-data-privacy-users), but you would be wrong. This is not the start, but it might be the end of the beginning. You see, the one part that people forgot is that data once captured will be an entity onto itself, it will take on a life of its own, your shadow self, but a part you no longer have control of. You see, you still control your shadow, you step away from the light and it moves your shadow, when all the light is gone, your shadow is dead, because it only lives through your indirect interaction with light. The link we have initially is: ‘WhatsApp to give users’ phone numbers to Facebook for targeted ads‘, which the Guardian published 2 days ago. You see, the subtitle “Messaging service will begin sharing private information with Facebook and is preparing to allow businesses to message users” gives us the consequence. Our data is no longer our own, we gave that right up and as such, data is now starting to get shared with people we did not consider it could be shared with. So even if we see that this reflects on ‘phone numbers’ this first step is more than that as we see ‘sharing private information‘, when you consider the quote “They will have 30 days to decide whether to opt out of their information being used for ad targeting on Facebook, but will not be able to opt out of their data being sharing with the social network“, you might get a first idea of how bad things could possibly become. The quote “Whether it’s hearing from your bank about a potentially fraudulent transaction, or getting notified by an airline about a delayed flight, many of us get this information elsewhere, including in text messages and phone calls“, this quote seems nice, but that is not the information some are looking for. Consider how often you called a health professional. Now consider that the insurance agencies start digging into all the calls they can get their hands on. They can data-mine it by linking that to all the health professionals that work through them. Let’s put that into a state of reference you will understand.

Any person is likely to be connected to health professionals and pharmacies. Like your GP (physician), a Chemist and perhaps a Medical Clinic. Now consider that if you have called any of these places in total 4 times or more this year, your insurance could go up by 10%, and an additional 2% for any additional call in that time period. This will be worth Millions to that insurance agency, because they will get the data that involves 10% or more of their customer base. Now, this last part is a little speculative. The reason is that clear information is not out there. Some state that WhatsApp has 8% coverage in the US, whilst another source states 34%. There is no clear number we can trust because those behind WhatsApp are also aware that high numbers will cause concern, so we get bombarded with specific information, not giving us an exact picture. Yet for the US, we see that the number of users is between 26 and 79 million, which is too large a fluctuation, yet in other places like South Africa, where the usage is 68% and 72% in Brazil. Now we have another matter, because insurance agents, in these areas can form a health hazard image with much greater precision, it maximises their profits and changes a health entity into a ‘milking solution’ of healthy people, the others can sit on expensive bills and die of their own good accord.

That is what the article does not bring forth and that is what is only just below the surface. It is all happening because of two sides. On the one side, political players left too many backdoors open, meaning that in reality these players will never be prosecuted in any way. On the other side, a clear information pass to all people alarming them of the dangers that data collection brings was not in the cards either. Here, the governments get a little bit of leeway as no one truly saw the impact that social media would have, Facebook changed it in many unimaginable ways.

With WhatsApp now surpassing the 1 billion user market we now have a player that has global coverage, making that data worth a lot to some players, the insurance world is only one of them. Consider the interaction of Mobiles and the internet and what other information is being collected. That is now becoming clear and as certain cases saw in the past, data might be deleted, but will never be wiped, so as such we now have a massive issue and this is only the beginning. You see, even as the people at WhatsApp are trying to put your fear to sleep. The quote “WhatsApp said: “We won’t post or share your WhatsApp number with others, including on Facebook, and we still won’t sell, share, or give your phone number to advertisers.”” should not diminish that fear. You see, “we still won’t sell, share, or give your phone number” is not the art that matters. What does matter is what unique identifier will be shared and no matter what the foundation of that number is, once it is decomposed to its core and can be made uniquely identifiable, it will start the next push towards the epitaph of privacy.

So how does this relate to targeted killing?

You see the plain fact is, is that we no longer have a correct view on how politicians view ‘the long term’. You see, ‘for the good of all’ is now a hollow statement, especially when we consider the latest president of the US and more important, the impact that whomever comes next has. We can see that in the following links ‘Corporate tax reform is vital to boosting America’s growth‘ (Financial Times), where we see “In the intervening years, nearly every developed country has reformed its tax codes to make them more competitive than that of America. Meanwhile, the US has allowed its tax code to atrophy“, which is one way to tell the story. What is the crux is that for too long tax breaks were given to large corporations. Tax breaks that allowed them to operate for nearly free, making the revenue they obtained, to be ‘the profit they got’. In addition we see ‘Treasury Department Criticizes EU on Corporate Tax Probes‘ (at http://www.wsj.com/articles/treasury-department-criticizes-eu-on-corporate-tax-probes-1472059767), here we see “U.S. officials also see a potential risk to the federal budget. Under current law, U.S. companies owe U.S. taxes on the profits they earn around the world and get tax credits for payments to foreign governments. To the extent they pay more in Europe, they could pay less to the U.S. when they repatriate the money or when Congress imposes a mandatory tax on their stockpiled foreign profits“. Here we could go into ‘Yay, America, good for you mode‘, but the truth is that part of 325 American Consumers (many of them being non-consumer) is nothing compared to the billions of consumers companies like Apple are getting their profits from. The linked White paper (added at the end) states “Beginning in June 2014, the Commission announced that certain transfer pricing rulings given by Member States to particular taxpayers may have violated the EU’s restriction on State aid. These investigations, if continued, have considerable implications for the United States—for the U.S. government directly and for U.S. companies—in the form of potential lost tax revenue and increased barriers to cross-border investment. Critically, these investigations also undermine the multilateral progress made towards reducing tax avoidance“, a paper that comes from the US Treasury. Perhaps people there like Jacob J. Lew and Sarah Bloom Raskin should have realised the long term consequences that they thrust towards others and are now thrust back onto them. If the treasury would not have been so stupid to send a member of the USC (United States of Cowards), namely President Obama to make a presentation in The Hague in 2013, where we see a refusal to back international taxation laws to allow for tougher calls on digital companies. The official quote was “senior officials in Washington have made it known they will not stand for rule changes that narrowly target the activities of some of the nation’s fastest growing multinationals“. I dealt with this in my articles ‘Delusional‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/04/07/delusional/) and ‘Ignoranus Totalicus‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/04/24/ignoranus-totalicus/), which I wrote on April 7th and 24th of this year. So perhaps hoping for as they state it an “unforeseeable departure from the status quo” was not the best idea to have, especially as maintaining the Status Quo screwed up Greece for economic life and it got them Brexit! Two elements that will push taxation changes in the European Union even further.

So how stupid were they?

Well, from one side we could state ‘extremely so’, yet that would ignore the part that is ignored by many. The truth is that players like Apple, Google and Facebook now have powers that exceed many governments and they have the benefit of not being in debt. So it amounts to Facebook giving a presentation to these so called ‘Senior Officials’ in Washington with on the last slide they see ‘Monkey see, Monkey do!’, and the presentation, minus the final slide gets send around by so called senior officials. Our lives now firmly in the hands of non-elected officials.

That is the crux, because it can only stop with massive changes to the taxation system, with the dangers that it will break the back of national economies. It is that regard that made Brexit a necessary evil and when official discussions start in 2017 as Article 50 comes into play, the line of taxation will change even more. All because those who needed to advocate change were unwilling to clearly speak out and now hell comes for its pound of flesh.

Now we can complete the targeted killing part that was unclear. You see the definition should be: ‘The Assassination by a ruling organisation outside of the Judicial procedure or a battlefield‘, which now puts Facebook in play. You see, when Brad J. Bushman Ph.D. wrote ‘It’s Time to Kill the Death Penalty‘ (at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/get-psyched/201401/it-s-time-kill-the-death-penalty), he forgot a few parts. Now, this is a good article and seeing the sides he discusses in the frame it was written is well worth reading. Yet, when he states “The Death Penalty Models the behaviour it seeks to Prevent” is about the act of corporeally killing a person. Then we get ‘You Might Kill the Wrong Person‘ which is a valid argument any day of the week. Now consider those who would kill you in different ways. When Facebook bans you for life, it stops you from interacting and as such you become a social pariah, an outcast and you are withdrawn from social circles, yet their model is not about your limit to interaction. When they sell on your data you run the risk to get barred from certain rights. Rights to medical support as insurance agents find you a risk and make the monthly fee no longer affordable. It will potentially change your data as you are a risk to finances and limit or stop creditability for a house. Algorithms will stop you to move forward. You will be dead in the soul as the rightful interactions for your way of life are removed from you, mostly all from predictive modelling, an expected future, not a given fact. You become guilty until proven incorrectly processed. It is still targeted killing, but one of a different kind. And in all this Facebook would never be made accountable for any of this. That is the part that all seem to ignore. Those who do prosecute it will try to get a large fine out of it, yet the people wronged will still be regarded as ‘executed’.

Now in light of all this and all of you would have seen, consider the statement that the ACLU gave “The capital punishment system is discriminatory and arbitrary and inherently violates the Constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment. The ACLU opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, and looks forward to the day when the United States joins the majority of nations in abolishing it“, being excluded from healthcare as insurers make certain paths unaffordable is certainly discriminatory, especially as the true vetting of the data that is used against the people cannot be verified and is forced upon a ‘victim’. In addition, the isolation that results from these actions can be regarded as torture.

So how was there not a stronger level of protection? That part is harder to argue as it was your personal freedom to join up to these services and once the data is given, when the service changes its foundational work, we have no say over the removal of already collected data. So when we consider the quote “The service will not be merged with Facebook’s other chat-based service Messenger or photo-sharing service Instagram. But all services under Facebook will gain access to WhatsApp users’ phone numbers and other account information, and it can be used to suggest contacts be added as friends“, so now we see the dangers that professional contacts become social contacts (read: ‘friends’). I have seen that this could end up being a great way to kill your own career and in this day and age, those without a job tend to lose a lot more than just a job. An efficient and bloodless way to expedite targeted killing whilst not leaving any blood on the floor or a corpse. They are true fears beyond the death sentence in this day and age, a fear which cannot be altered as taxation dollar to support these people are not coming in any day soon. It is a potential nightmare to many registered users. If only the right laws had been enacted to prevent this from happening. So even as there might not be any validity in targeted killing, we are now in a place where it can happen, and it is not considered as such, as there is no corpse to process and in the corporate spreadsheets validity is not an actionable point, it merely is not illegal, making it valid and legal for all pushing towards an economy of data sales.

Have a great evening and do not forget to update your status to ‘it’s complicated‘, because it truly is about to become that for plenty of registered social media users.

White-Paper-State-Aid

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When a joke is too pathetic

This is the first thought that came to mind when I saw the ‘headline’ ‘IMF has ‘criminal responsibility’ for Greek crisis‘, which was in the Guardian Live part. So, is Alexis Tsipras just too stupid to be allowed as a politician? Let’s face it, after 6 months he achieved absolutely nothing, so is my question that far out of bounds? He created decline in diplomatic bonds by accusing everyone, except the ones really responsible, which were the Greeks themselves!

Let’s take a look at some of this, for this I am taking a larger step back, back in time. You see, after the Olympics of 2004, we should have seen an influx and a positive result for Greece, which it did, but only to the smallest extent. Compared to other nations that influx was not as strong as many expected it to be. When we look at the data the OECD (at http://www.oecd.org/) has, we see that the investment in Gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) was up in the year before the Olympics (that makes sense), then collapsed, only to go up steeply in 2006 and 2007, after that it goes down a lot, far below the average, guess what, after it hit a low (-26%) in 2012, suddenly there was a spike in investments, to minus 9.5% in 2013 and plus 2.7 percent in 2014. Yet, investments by whom? If we look at investment on % of GFCF by government we see that they represent 23.3% in 2013 and 20.7% in 2012. All this whilst corporate invested 34.9% in 2012 and 38.3% in 2013, households are in the basement, so the picture does not make sense (to me), when we compare this next to let’s say, the Netherlands, the picture looks even more distorted. Greece spiked its general government investment as % of GFCF far beyond the Netherlands, especially in 2009 and 2013. Greece has nowhere near that funding. Now, we see that it is just ‘% of GFCF’, yet spiking’s of 7% difference makes a lot more sense for the Netherlands than for Greece (the Dutch have dikes, harbours and plenty of assets to worry about). The Greek spending under former PM George A. Papandreou as well as spending by former PM Antonis Samaras, or should I say spending whilst they were in charge? Spending on transport equipment, other buildings and cultivated assets went up consistently, especially since 2012, whilst investment for dwellings went down from 2011 to 8% in 2014. These investment parts cannot be denied to some extent, yet the spiking implies that it is done at a moment’s notice, on the whim of emotion, lacking long term insight and stability. You only need to compare Greece to nations like the Netherlands and Sweden to see that the ‘spikes’ reflect what I would call: lacking vision and insight.

The questions only increase when you consider that Greece’s net trade never comes close to -20, -25.2 is the best they were able to achieve from 2003 onwards, and this is in billions of dollars, so as we see a decade of minus 20 billion or worse, it was -64 billion in 2008, questions should be asked, especially from the Greeks. A nation in trade deficit for ever a decade adds up to questions on WHY they were allowed onto the bond market in 2014, no one clearly asked those questions. In that light I need to add a blog (at http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2014/05/11/how-the-greek-banks-secured-an-additional-hidden-e41-billion-bailout-from-european-taxpayers/), the article called ‘How the Greek Banks Secured an Additional, Hidden €41 billion Bailout from European taxpayers’, so how come that these matters are not on the front page? So as I see it, these massive indicators are shown that when it comes to ‘criminal responsibility’, Alexis Tsipras should also knock on the doors of previous PM’s and Greek political bigwigs (if they actually have any). For the simple reason that massive austerity would have been needed in 2006 onwards, how much was cut? How was this achieved? You see 2005 was already a clear indication that overhaul of property taxation, tax collection and tax evasion was a clear given, especially when you come up short by THAT much. Yet in over a decade no achievements were made and neither was anything truly done in the last 6 months.

In addition, we see the dangers of the title ‘Athens threatens to miss IMF payment‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/16/eurozone-greek-exit-athens-imf-grexit-tsipras), whatever the Eurozone braces for is an unknown to me, considering the large players downplayed the event. The quote ‘threatens to miss IMF payment‘ is also slightly misrepresented. As I see it. As I see it, Greece no longer has that much money at their disposal, I reckon the shift by using the IMF emergency funds was a clear given. There is also a ghostly silence when it comes to the bank run. No clear indication how strong that pull is, or are the banks perhaps already empty? That is not a speculation, it is the question, especially as political parties and banks are debating ‘Grexit’. The problems will only intensify when the bank runs are complete. Actually, I expect that escalations will occur a lot faster when people can no longer withdraw. There is presently no indication when it will happen, but as payments are missed, the dangers of banks no longer handing out cash (emphasis on ‘being able to’) after June 23rd is not out of the question, if the bank run continues, that date might be even before that date. It will be a new low in humanitarian economics, as retirees will no longer receive payments, how will they be able to pay, when the Greek government allowed in March for the dipping into pension funds. Depending on how many Greek bonds these pensions ended up with, when money is not coming, which is extremely realistic, the pension funds themselves will not be able to flood the monthly retirement pay out, which is due in less than 2 weeks, at that point, how will the population react?

I expect to stay away from Greece until that dust cloud settles as it will be a harsh reality for Greeks to watch tourists walk around whilst they can no longer afford to feed themselves. The escalation with refugees all over Greece (Kos being the most visible one) is not helping any. The fact that posters are appearing with texts like “I am an immigrant, I’m here to rape your children” is not helping any. You might think that they are separate issues, but they are not. You see, this fuel of hatred is hitting Greeks every day, the unrest is growing amongst both sides. The entire debt mess is hitting the Greeks, who now see that what is left would be lost to the refugees. We are all about humanitarian aid, but how many will give them your last sandwich? How many will give food to the refugees when it means that your children will not eat? You might think that this is an exaggeration, but after next week, that might not be the case. When the announcement of a default meeting is given, the banks will get overrun, people will take all their money out, they might already be starting that today, when THAT is gone, how exactly will groceries be paid for? All this, because the two players Alexis Tsipras and Yanis Vardoulakis have basically been sitting on their hands for 6 months. It is nice to see the headlines ‘No new reform proposals for Eurogroup‘ and ‘Varoufakis rules out ‘Grexit’, deal possible if Merkel takes part‘. Well, as we are seeing now, it is no longer up to Varoufakis and Tsipras. as they pushed away reforms, accused the IMF and as we see ‘Europe Struggles Toward Solution as Tsipras Rips Into Creditors‘, we have to wonder, the Greeks made these deals, a I see it, the acts of THIS administration is now killing their own options, burning the bridges behind them. At this point, as I see it. Greece can no longer state “Grexit not a possibility“, at this point, we have arrived at the stage that Greece gets notified that Greece will be ejected from the Euro, perhaps even the Eurozone. The latter part is not that likely, but in sight of the Greek acts, no longer an impossibility. Now, only 2 hours ago we see “US urges compromise after Greek PM attacks IMF” (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/live/2015/jun/16/greek-crisis-negotiations-deadlocked-as-time-runs-short-live-updates). Now we see “US Treasury secretary Jack Lew has telephoned Alexis Tsipras to urge him to reach a realistic compromise, urgently. In a statement, the Treasury revealed that Lew told Tsipras that the Greek people, and the global economy, would suffer if Athens can’t reach a deal with creditors

My cold war view (I miss those old days) is: “Jack, buddy boy! Did you miss certain facts? Did you consider that this is exactly what Alexis Tsipras wants all along? He is a communist! This scenario will have a massive impact on America, he is meeting Putin on Friday. Perhaps they will walk through the Hermitage on Saturday, a family outing, special tour and as they turn around the corner he gets his new golden future, if he can push Greece over the edge, massively hurting the US (please do not deny that it will not hurt the US), than he will have a nice future, he might even get the Star of Lenin on May 1st 2016. Instead of meeting with European parties, he is having another meeting with Putin. This guy met with Putin more often than the bulk of the Europeans together

This might look like my shallow view, but consider the past of Syriza, their foundations, is my view so far-fetched? He has done absolutely nothing to propel the debt situation in any positive way. Is all war not based on deception? (Source: Art of War). Look at all the photo’s the papers have, all posing moments and all presentations of the moment (which politicians tend to do), has Alexis Tsipras been anything but a petulant child? As he went on and on in the style of: ‘Just give me my cookie now!‘ (Reference to the 7.2 billion bailout). In 6 months no clear reforms, no clear mention in any direction that could have eased any kind of resolution. The icing on the cake would be if the US would now take on some of these debts too. It would be a total victory for Tsipras, he can tell the Greek population has been dealt with and he’ll be living next to the Kremlin for daily Caviar and Vodka, the new Russian superstar!

This is just my view, it is a view and there is no reliability on my view, but oddly enough, my view matches all the facts we see, so is it less or more likely? Consider yourself, when you are in deep water with your bank, would you not try to get a dialogue and understanding? Would you not plead ‘there is no money now, but as soon as some comes in, we start paying!’ of course, the bank cuts you off, but the bank realises that waiting is better than losing, especially when the client has sincere intentions. So pissing of your bank, accusing them of ‘criminal responsibilities’ and letting them pay for it all, how does that help?

When the fence between you and the tiger is gone, posturing seems pointless, even if it is the only thing left to you. So, are the Greek politicians in charge now the joke that is too pathetic?

From accusations to ‘trying to make up’ as Helena Smith of the Guardian reports, “Over in Athens the government’s spokesman has just released a statement attempting to douse tensions with EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker“. Is this part of the play, or have the members of Syriza lost direction and focus? This is the question for many, you see, accusations followed by carefully phrased corrections is about emotion, limelight and posturing, as I see it an almost empty gesture to keep a non-conversation going. In here, I mean non-conversation as a means to continue a dialogue that allows for non-actions to continue too. Will this go on for 30 hours until the upcoming near-fatal meeting to be? That will be a question to consider, because tomorrow might be the last chance before certain members meet separately to put Grexit to the vote. That last part is again just my view, but it is a distinct possibility, because the reality of Grexit has now been voiced, and the change from ‘if’ to ‘when’ Grexit commences needs a start date, Germany, France and Italy would want to keep control of that moment, just to make sure that they will not be terminally affected because of it, a consequence that is still an option!

As I see it, the game will change massively for France when Grexit happens, as such, France would want to champion that meeting for valid reasons of cost impact.

 

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Is it illogical?

Today the news is all about Greece, not because they are getting it done, but because they are now less than 24 hours away from a 450 million euro invoice and whilst Prime Minister Tsipras stated that they have the cash to make the next payment (at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-04/greece-has-cash-to-make-imf-payment-next-week-minister-says), of course, that statement is now an issue as we wonder why Tsipras took the fast plane to Moscow.

In other news (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/06/varoufakis-extends-washington-charm-offensive-after-talks-with-lagarde), where ‘rock star’ Varoufakis is smiling all over the place. the quote “The hope is he will gain the support of Treasury officials in persuading lenders to cut Greece some slack” seems highly misplaced as the Greek elected officials have been sitting on their hands in feigned acts of ‘activity’. Yet the article shows two interesting quotes. The first one is “it has been openly critical of a German-dominated Europe pushing the country too hard on austerity and fearful of the effects that might have on European unity. A Grexit would spin the markets out of control. It is the last thing Washington wants“. It seems that the US might have issues with the German approach of reducing debt. You see, that hits the bottom dollar, the US can only partially recover if THEIR banks get the slice of the multi trillion dollar debt Europe has, once the debt goes down, their income slows down by a large margin.

The second part here is the market response to Grexit. Yes, the US has a fair point trying to limit that event, but this implies the following:

  1. I had been correct for well over a year in my statements that a tumble of the Euro would massively hit the Dollar and the market.
  2. The fact that the Greek exit, with 500 billion in debt has SUCH an impact, whilst the Greek economy makes up for less than 2% of the European economy implies that the European nations at large are borrowed up to the max and this first stone falling, gives us a domino effect that will wound the market for a longer time, which means the US holier-than-thou DOW will also feel the massive impact one way or another.

If economies at large are THIS dependent on that Dow Jones Index, then what failures are we going to see in addition to Greece?

The second quote that is interesting is: “Varoufakis, was scheduled to meet Nathan Sheets, US Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, two days before Tsipras heads to Moscow for talks with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday“. This is interesting for the simple reason which is found in the question: Why?

You see, when we look at Nathan Sheets, the treasury page (at http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2640.aspx) gives us: “Sheets will lead Treasury’s Office of International Affairs, which protects and supports U.S. economic prosperity by strengthening the external environment for U.S. growth, preventing and mitigating global financial instability, and managing key global challenges“, so why was Varoufakis meeting Nathan Sheets? Is he not all up in arms to protect Greece from collapsing? Which might be the same goal both have, but that gives extra weight to second implication I mentioned, the Greek debt has far fetching consequences, so why would a flight to Russia have any positive result for Greece, it would suit Russia just fine to see the DOW tumble. So unless Greece is making a deal that includes the option of a Russian base on Greek grounds, we should consider the possibility of watching a linked smoke screen we see here.

That conclusion (the smoke screen) is given weight by the following quote we see in another Guardian article: “Mrs Lagarde … stressed that, in Greece’s case, the Fund is willing to show utmost flexibility in the way in which the government’s reforms and fiscal proposals will be evaluated“, as well as “It added that in separate meetings, US Treasury officials who also met Varoufakis expressed the willingness of the US government to play the role of an ‘honest broker’ in helping Greece to strike a deal with its lenders“.

The question becomes, flexibility in which direction? That question follows the ‘honest broker‘ offer from US treasury officials. If this was (very likely), the Nathan Sheets meeting, then we get a new issue, not just who gets the brokered deal and at which percentage, we now see a second instance where IMF and US needs meet hand in hand. Did we not see a similar evolution with Argentina? If that is so, then who is catering whom and how much will it cost the Greeks, when the actual full invoice is revealed after a massive black out through smoke screens, miscommunications and incomplete data. Yes, those are presumptions on my side, but when you recall the Argentinian debacle, where they were pushed towards vulture funds, after IMF help was denied through a request by the US, many press members did not properly follow up that part and no clear information was ever published, so are my assumptions that far out of bounds?

Now we get to the interesting part. You see, he Guardian has another piece by Phillip Inman titled ‘IMF needs to see the bigger picture – that debt can choke off growth‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/apr/07/imf-needs-to-see-the-bigger-picture-that-debt-can-choke-off-growth). Here we see the following parts that are a decent chunk of sizzling debate that we can charcoal grill in an instant. “Yet the remedies outlined by the IMF to counter the threat of persistent low growth in Britain and other developed world economies, as documented in that report, show that debt influences growth and in extremis can choke it off” as well as “the IMF says the world’s major economies risk a long period of low growth unless governments do more to overcome the after-effects of the financial crisis and the longer-term problem of ageing populations“.

I do not deny the correctness of the statements, but the statements are all extremely short sighted, especially when you consider that the people making the statements are on high 6-7 figure incomes. Let us not forget that these governments decided to get themselves in debt and that for well over a decade, no proper budget has been pushed through. It was Germany and Germany alone, that tightened their own belt by a lot and as such they have been enjoying lessened interest payments, which is now saving them billions each year. The second part is that ‘overcome the after-effects of the financial crisis’ is all about proper budgeting, which has gone amiss all over Europe (not just in Greece), in addition ‘longer-term problem of ageing populations‘ is not completely a valid concern as this had been known for well over a decade, which means that plans should have been in place for a long time.

Now we get to the interesting part. As governments on a global scale were so eager to be the bitch of large corporations, the involved governments painted themselves in a corner. Yet, the IMF is not innocent here either, I had a go on their numbers in 2013, when they had published ‘World Economic Outlook April 2013‘ (at http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2013/01/pdf/text.pdf), where they stated that advanced economies would be performing at 1.2% in 2013 and 2.2% in 2014. I pretty much labelled the group behind that piece of ….paper ‘bonkers’, now we see “Looking forward, the IMF said potential growth in advanced economies was expected to increase slightly from an average of about 1.3% a year in the last six years to 1.6% until 2020, but not reach the 2.25% average seen between 2001 and 2007“, So this means I was right, my simple use of an abacus got me numbers more precise than they did with their ‘economists’ that they bunched like grapes in an analytics department. I did expect numbers to be a lot better in 2016, but that was based on the limited information I had, irresponsible elected officials did skew my numbers more in a negative way, silly me for having hope that elected officials would keep a level head in all this. Serves me right!

Yet, behind all this is a little more. It is the quote “But growth is not the only way to diminish or pay back debts. Cancelling them is another. Banks do it with their worst performing customers. Unfortunately for Greece, the IMF refuses to use the same criteria as Lloyds or RBS would when confronted by a failed business” that gets to me. As an assumed speculation this path is not a bad option, and any Journalist has my blessing to entertain such a thought in the proper context. But this article does not do that, it is left in the air at the end of an opinion piece, without proper merit. This makes me wonder why Phillip Inman economics correspondent added this. Just to give visibility to his book? I seriously doubt that, the statement in the air is the issue in this, perhaps like me he is postulating that the ‘forgiving’ of debts is what certain banks are hoping for, because it puts them in the clear and leaves the debt with the underwriting governments, a step Germany is opposing rigorously (and rightly so).

What is in my view decently clear is the prediction I made earlier, that Greece is playing Possum in the 11th hour is coming to fruition, my issue becomes, why is the Greek population accepting this and why is there no proper investigations in lighting up all the sides on how previous Greek administrations accepted tons of debt without any decent exit plan. In my view, Antonis Samaras was sailing the only path that had the option of keeping the Greek population independent and proud, a plan that is certainly becoming less and less a reality under Tsipras, because no matter what happens next, whether it is feigned forgiven debt or any Russian deal, there will be consequences for the Greek population at large, an issue ignored by most players involved, especially their elected officials.

 

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About America, chapter 11

This is a short story; it is not part of a novel where you have seen the first 10 chapters. This is in all seriousness an issue when we consider Code of Laws of the United States, United States Code, number 11 deals with bankruptcy.

So why take my word for this? Why am I right, when every journalist, every economist claims that this is not the case? How diluted am I to think this?

These are all valid question. Now consider the facts. The US treasury (from various sources) had collected in 2013 around 2,700 billion dollars. This seems like a lot, yet the budget as President Obama stipulated in 2012, the budget had spending set to around 3,800 billion dollar, so the US is already 1 trillion short. If we consider the total US debt at 18 trillion, meaning 18,000 billion, then the total debt would need 100% of all taxation for 6 years, an act that is totally unrealistic.

Now take this to your own homestead. I remember that I could never get a loan for a mortgage for more than 4 annual incomes. Now, this is like comparing apples to oranges, but is my train of thought so far out of bounds? It is my view that these seemingly ‘clever’ economists have been rolling their gambling dice in several ways for too long.

Consider the Dow Jones Index. We get fed the line that the economy is good, because 30 companies are doing ‘well’. Ever since the ‘dip’ it took in 2009 to 6547 (at http://stockcharts.com/freecharts/historical/djia1900.html), the Dow has ‘restored’ itself to 16743 (as per now). So, in the time when all was well, before the first economic collapse in 2004, when the Dow was 11722, and until the second collapse in 2008 when the Dow went from 14164 to 6547 in 2009, we now are in a time when many in the US are down on their luck and finances, when many all over the world are feeling the brunt of recession and other financial calamities, the almighty Dow is at 16743.

Is anyone considering the notion on how dislodged the entire Dow Jones concept is in regards to the reality of life?

Consider the following information:

– Amazon is buying Twitch for a billion Dollars in cash (at http://www.theverge.com/2014/8/25/6066509/why-it-makes-sense-for-amazon-to-buy-twitch)

– Roche to buy U.S. biotech firm InterMune for $8.3 billion in cash (at http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/24/us-intermune-roche-idUSKBN0GO0PI20140824)

These are two of several (read dozens) of large shopping sprees, throwing cash around like it is nothing and as these billions come into the other parties’ hands, what taxation ends up getting paid? This is at the heart of the founding issue that should keep our minds busy ‘Is America Bankrupt?

There are two sides. First there is the Sovereign Default. No matter how you twist or turn it, if a nation cannot pay its debt, it will default and should be seen bankrupt. A good example is Greece. After Europe bailed out a nation with 11 million people, by ‘giving’ it well over 300 billion, it is still complaining. The reality is that it should have been allowed to go under in bankruptcy. Not because I like it, or because I have anything against Greece (in all honesty, Crete is one of the loveliest places I ever saw). The natural cycle of economy has been ‘arranged’ (I would call it mismanaged) into cycles of only good news. You talk to any farmer, they will all tell you that no field can survive on spring and summer alone, nature is all about balance and as we threw away balance, we started to undo our own prosperity.

It is said that a business is stated as ‘insolvent’ when its debts exceed its assets.

Is that not the case here? I have stated in the past that I have reservations about the true value of LIBOR.

If we continue the question: “How much money they need to borrow from their peers to plug any holes in their balance sheets and if they have an excess of available cash, how much they can afford to lend“, which is at the heart of LIBOR (at http://citywire.co.uk/money/qanda-what-is-libor-and-what-did-barclays-do-to-it/a600479), considering that the margins had been played with in the last two years, is the idea that the total valued amount has also been tweaked?

This is all based upon an availability of actual existing Cash. But the entire system is based upon a certain value of assets and goods, as I personally see it, I do not trust that list as it is dependent on the ego of honest bankers, which seems an impossible concept and no one can produce at any given moment an exact list of it. So what value exists in all reality (not in the eager mind of a commission driven banker)?

We now get back to the Dow Jones Index. If we consider the past (when life appeared good) and the now where most of have lost a lot (if not all), then is that index not artificially driven upwards? This is not just my view; several parties, including USA Today (at http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/03/04/federal-reserve–quantitative-easing/1963539/) are showing us a view that shows an economic system that is driven upwards in artificial ways. So we now get a different view. Are all these mergers and multi-billion dollar deals we see regularly now on TV about growth, or about the top of the US industry that seems to leave the sinking ships before the system collapses.

This is at the centre of a few issues, where the US is rallying for ‘support’ whilst not showing one iota of accountability to get its budget under control. The last part is at the heart of the need to call the USA bankrupt (not because I desire it). It will cost many a lot, but is growth not depending on the downfall of others? If we consider that all together we are 100%, does our growth not depend on the need that someone else does less? That intertwining, where we ignore basic foundations that growth is not eternal, we see that there is a consequence to overinflating (yes, this also applies to my ego).

Yet, economists have time and time again stated that there is more here and there (whilst they point to virtual spaces). Now we see the heart of the problem, who has the actual 18 trillion that the US is down for? If we look at the oil links, should USA perhaps mean ‘Unionized Saudi Arabia‘? If we consider the real wealth, are they not the ones holding the oil reserves (one of the big four) and as such, the outstanding debt? I know it is not that simple, it never is, but when we ask a summary of where the debt lies; we will get some clever list from a highly educated economist and some excuse ‘that it is all a lot more complex then it looks‘.

He is not incorrect, but he is also not telling you who hold the 18 trillion the US had been spending in one way or another and as such, the realisation should now be upon you. If America is bankrupt, then what will happen next? Japan will pretty much be permanently out of commission and I reckon the UK will be in very deep waters, but we the Commonwealth must find a way to go it together if we are to survive.

It seems to me that America never realised that lesson, like several others, they all used to max out a credit card in virtual space whilst the actual, supporting currency is not there, so why has America not been declared bankrupt?

I reckon soon enough we will get more and more long winded talks, but in the end no one is sayng anything because those who will be making the speeches are at the heart of what went wrong and no one wants to hold on to that guilt when those left without their house ask them the question ‘where are my savings?‘.

 

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Growing the deficit?

I stumbled upon a small piece in the Guardian by Dean Baker (at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/feb/08/us-deficit-obama-grow) this morning. He wrote it in 2013, yet in light of several events this story still holds some visible issues, even though I completely disagree with it. It was however a nice piece to read. Dean Baker is the co-director of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research, which means that he has degrees in economy and I do not. So, why do I disagree?

This view comes through the following quotes. “First, the United States has large deficits because the collapse of the housing bubble sank the economy“. That in itself does not sound incorrect, yet when we look at the definition of ‘deficit’, we should accept this simple one: “The amount by which expenses exceed income or costs outstrip revenues“. So how is this housing bubble a US deficit problem? Houses are built through real-estate people, developers and such. So, there is a little truth in there. As these people made a huge loss, they would not be paying any taxation, which means the US is not getting money through taxation, which means that they get less money for their budget. So, in that regard we are all fine. The linked 2008 economic downfall was due to several idiots (or geniuses depending on your viewpoint) in Wall Street and Financial districts who were playing with all kinds of mortgage based hedge funds and in that way ‘lost’ about 8 trillion dollars, which comes down to devaluating 32 million houses from newly built to the instant value of $0. This comes down to the housing value of 27% of the US households became null and void with the instant snap of the fingers.

So, yes, we can agree that this impacts the deficit as taxation goes down, however should we consider that part of these events is because the US treasury failed completely? Consider that there was a recognised housing bubble at the time that Henry Paulson (who was at that time the big boss of the US treasury). The deficit grew to such an extent because the elements were not properly monitored. So in this view the quote “First, the United States has large deficits because the collapse of the housing bubble sank the economy” should be “The United States diminished its income as the US Treasury did not act preventive, proactive and in a timely fashion in regards to the housing bubble“.

The second quote we see by Dean Baker is “Second, if we had smaller deficits the main result would be slower growth and higher unemployment“. Well, that is one bubble we can pinch through. If taxable amounts increase deficit goes down, if expenditure goes down, then so does the deficit. Neither forces us into the view that this will result in higher unemployment rates, neither prove that there will be a slower growth.

This all depends on the application of the tools available. Yes, taxing extensively is a massive downturn, but is that the approach that should be taken? Am I against taxing the ultra-rich? That depends on the way taken. I do not think it is fair to just tax the rich, yet removing some of the tax shelters would be a very acceptable approach. Consider the following quote by the NY Times (at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/opinion/stop-coddling-the-super-rich.html)

In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent“. This is less than people making $36,251 – $87,850, they pay 25%. So, there is a massive imbalance here, which leads to the approach that a smaller deficit could be gotten by properly addressing a flawed tax system.

This is where we get to the news of January, (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/04/bill-de-blasio-new-york-mayor-inaugurated), where a quote is given that reads like an incorrect act. “But the most controversial element is to extract an extra $530m (£323m) in taxes from those earning more than $500,000 a year to pay for universal pre-kindergarten education and after-school programmes“, so New York wants to get a little more cash. I have mixed feelings, yet I do understand this move when the top 1% of the people in New York makes up for 39% of all income. Those objecting to this better understand that the tax increase amounts to an annual rise of $973 for those making a million a year, which is less than the price of a coffee a day. My issue is the fact that tax deductions allow for millionaires and billionaires to pay 4% less than those on an average income, which adds up to massive amounts of dollars. Dealing with these factors will not slow growth, it will not lead to a higher employment rate, it will however allow for a smaller deficit as the US grows its collected income from tax donations.

The third quote by Dean Baker was “Third, large projected long-term deficits are the result of a broken health care system, not reckless government ‘entitlement’ programs“. In my view it is both. I have a hard time speaking out against certain entitlements. Not because they exist, or should exist. The reason is that the 2008 crash left a massive population in an unfair position. A large group of people lost their house and homestead and these people had to be protected in some extended form. The fact that those who caused it walked away with amounts in that year would be beyond what the victims would earn in an entire lifetime is just obscene. Consider that in 2008, the year of the crash, Merrill Lynch handed out over 3 billion in bonuses (at http://www.forbes.com/2009/01/28/wall-street-bonuses-business-wall-street_0128_bonuses.html) and it happened just before they merged with the Bank of America. When we look at this all, we see entitlements, who largely impacted the US government due to what should be seen as high stakes poker games played by the commercial sector, which was loosely ignored by the US treasury. When we see the broken health care system, it seems that there is an issue there. We see the massive amounts of issues on all kinds of newscasts where we see that Obamacare will cost the people. Their premiums will double and in some cases triple. Now, on the side of the people there is outrage. I get that, but look at it from the other side. Does this mean that for decades, the people got medical care, whilst not getting properly charged for it? It is nice and easy to lash out at President Obama on this, but is this his fault? The actual costs, the investigations and as such the in-activities would play into the hand of President Obama. I might just casually ask whether the US treasury should have looked at this. Was this an area that had been ignored for way too long?

So in the end, Dean Baker makes one point that holds ground to some extent.

So why was I looking into this article 405 days (actually 4926 hours and 17 minutes) later? This is all due to an article that the NY Times published (at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/20/business/us-current-account-deficit-is-smallest-in-14-years.html). Let’s not get fooled here. This article is about trade deficit, not the US deficit or the US debt. The quote “Big gains in exports and overseas investment income narrowed the United States’ current-account deficit in the fourth quarter to the lowest level in 14 years“. So for one quarter they were only short a little north of 80 billion. It reads like when you have debt, flaunt it!

The valid question that you the reader might have is how the articles and the issues are linked. Well, they are not, but the issues of data behind them are. We are offered information by those who should give us clarity and information, yet, we have been ‘bamboozled’ for some time with an overly deep view in information, so the overview is gone for nearly all readers. When you want something to pass unseen, you just make sure that you give the people everything. It is something some researchers do. When the initial results lead to that one question, you just give them all 1247 result tables; there is a high chance that the certain question ends up not getting asked.

The last point to leave you with is the small issue that is playing thanks to some Ukrainian disagreements. How will these numbers impact when the acts of the EEC and the US will result in Russia closing the gas tap to Western Europe. As the Dutch NOS reported earlier this week, the Rotterdam Harbours are ready to switch and get their energy through the provision of liquid gas from the USA, the trade deficit will get smaller even still, yet the 20% hike the consumers in Europe face is something the people will only read about after the fact.

The US has a long way to go, with a national debt of well over 17,500 billion and a total debt of around 61,350 billion, being short by 80 billion seems like a pinch not worth mentioning, yet consider that the US is forecasting an total income of 3 trillion (before expenses), in 2013 the deficit ended up being $680 billion, which makes it unlikely that 2014 is a turning point for now, which means that the total deficit will grow for at least one more year. Then and only if severe cuts are found, it will still take up 70 years for the national debt to be gone, there is no way to predict how long the total debt of 61 trillion will take. So when you read all the upbeat articles on how there are three issues with the deficit remember, it will take 3 Generations (3G) to get rid of the national debt, the USA, now a 3G nation, how happy can anyone in the free world be for the foreseeable future?

 

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The numbers we ignore?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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