Tag Archives: Virgin

Tubing it along

There is news, news that has been about a few weeks and I have kept an iLook on it. In one part it is as techofreak as it gets, so I should be on board the moment it launches, it is so versatile that it has no other option than to change lives on a global scale, yet there is the issue that it is so new that it is a little scary. That is the reality of all new technology; consider the first 10,000 Facebook accounts, the first 100,000 internet users. It all starts in a small geeky way and this will be no difference. It had more presence in the Saudi Arabia Vision 2030, so that is why I took another look. You see, the entire matter is not merely where it is, but it is how the technology is adapted, that is the first part in all this. To set this in the proper light, we need to take a step back. In the UK they have the HS2. So when we see the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-16473296), we see “The initial plan is for a new railway line between London and the West Midlands carrying 400m-long (1,300ft) trains with as many as 1,100 seats per train. They would operate at speeds of up to 250mph – faster than any current operating speed in Europe – and would run as often as 14 times per hour in each direction“, so when we consider London – Birmingham we see ‘1 h 25 min’, as their fast option at present, which at 117 miles, makes the HS2 a 45 minute saving, so how many billions is that going to cost? Now consider that each one technical glitch will cut the 45 minutes. Now, I am all for progress, now when we go by two numbers we see “a projected cost of £56 billion, up from the initial cost of £32.7 billion in 2010“, we see that 8 years ago, they had it wrong by close to 100%, so we see a waste of £56 billion plain and simple. The UK could fix its schools for that amount of money and overall, there is absolutely no reason to go that distance, it is just too short. Now we get to the next stage of travel.

Welcome to Hyperloop!

Now as we see this in the Saudi Arabian setting it changes, you see when we look (at https://www.tahawultech.com/news/virgin-hyperloop-one-unveils-vision-2030-pod/) we see ‘Traveling from Riyadh to Jeddah would take 76 minutes (currently over 10 hours) utilising the land bridge for both passenger and freight movement, positioning KSA as the gateway to 3 continents‘ as well as ‘Traveling from Riyadh to Abu Dhabi would take 48 minutes (currently over 8.5 hours)‘, so here we see a clear forward momentum. Not merely 45 minutes gain, but gains that take away 90% of the travel time, now we are talking improvements! I never quite understood the HS movement, not in the UK (where there is some benefit) and even less in the Netherlands where the improvements are as shallow as it gets, all this ‘good for the economy‘ whilst I think it greased the careers of certain people, and in the end nothing for the citizens, and the less stated on the Dutch government joke called Fyra at a mere €11 billion loss, it is not a lot if you say the amount fast!

So even as we are burning ourselves all over Europe on high speed trains Hyperloop technology is different, you go by tube (as literally as it gets) and within that tube you have the option to truly accelerate, the nice setting that this will reflect on cargo and passengers alike, so it is also versatile. So when we read “The hyperloop-enabled transportation sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will stimulate economic growth and diversification of Saudi industries, according to Virgin Hyperloop One. It will also nurture the manufacturing and innovation sectors, and spur job growth in support of the country’s Vision 2030 plan increasing the GDP 1-2 percent across the Kingdom“, we are not seeing the whole picture. You see it is almost a lot bigger than that. The currently planned £380 billion mega city Neom would be an optional first as well, so Riyadh would be linked to Neom, which now is set to connect Egypt and Jordan, it also opens the doors almost directly to Sharm-El-Sheik as well as the Israeli city of Eilat, all golden opportunities which allows Saudi Arabia to grow the economy in Riyadh on a much larger foundation than ever before. In all this Cargo and passengers are set to near exponential growth, especially in the short term. So we have near direct connections between Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in the centre of all this. It will not take long for these nations to grow all kinds of alliances and commerce will flourish like nothing we have seen before and Virgin, with its Hyperloop One is in the centre of this growth. Even as Europe is trying to get something similar rolling, we see that France is alas out of cash for such an endeavour (at present) ‘Hyperloop gives cash-strapped French cities hope‘ (at https://www.thenational.ae/business/economy/hyperloop-gives-cash-strapped-french-cities-hope-1.726967), it is a stretch, but it makes a lot of sense for France to get involved in all this, in their setting Hyperloop makes sense, especially regarding cargo (cheese and wine settings anyone). So when I see “TransPod’s technology is based on magnetic propulsion and electrified tracks, moving pods through a vacuum tunnel designed to reduce friction. As with most Hyperloop projects, the bulk of the estimated costs are for deploying infrastructure. Co-founder Sebastien Gendron estimates his company needs €20 million (Dh88.1m) in financing to complete the Limoges project at the current stage, and says he’ll raise half of that from private investors“, in all this, I am surprised that no one there called Ubisoft (more specifically Christian Guillemot, Claude Guillemot, Gérard Guillemot, Michel Guillemot or Yves Guillemot), they have the cash and more important, to be the founders of something this futuristic that will be moving through France with the Ubisoft symbol would be worth its weight of a train in gold I’d imagine.

So back to Saudi Arabia, the one part I do disagree with is ‘in support of the country’s Vision 2030 plan increasing the GDP 1-2 percent across the Kingdom‘, you see, once the line is in place, it will spur the economy in more ways, beyond tourism and beyond cargo, for close to double that prediction. A system that far ahead will also spur infrastructures growth as the rest of the world will be lagging behind, especially where engineering is concerned. They all claim they have ‘the technology‘ yet at present there is a lot more reliability that under these settings it will only be running in the KSA in a more serious setting in the foreseeable future and that is where the advantage grows, in addition, when the travel times are shifted to those degrees, emergency surgeries, medical disasters when Hyperloop technologies transfers and adjusts in more than one perk, we will see both the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centres in Riyadh and Jeddah grow abilities to attain options because they are now less than 2 hours apart. That transfers to all manner of services, when they are no longer separated by time to that degree, it will drive a lot more than the ones we see at present. and let’s not forget, this is merely the first degree of Hyperloop, as the engineers figure out a lot more than is currently possible, the growth will blossom further, and as we see forward momentum on this scale, we understand that there are risks, you when the gain is not 45 minutes, but 90% travel time is reduced the picture shifts a lot further on a larger scale. Even as we were introduced to ‘tube’ transport in Logan’s Run in 1976, we never imagined that it would be an actual solution, not until now do we see that there are places where it is more than a solution, it is the drive to move forward on nearly every field.

So even as I accept that we are not there yet and there are all kinds of issues down the line, movement is now a given, and even a some used the London underground map and added some Hyperloop fun to it, the setting is not that impossible on some part of those tracks. It is a part where all technology can move forward, we merely have to adapt parts of it. Consider that change as new venues of technology open will up, and there is serious cash to be made for all the players in this field, you merely have to find the niche where your solution fits.

That is where Vision 2030 is now becoming a driving force, not merely because there is $500 billion to be found, but because those who do get their working solution in place, for those there is a lot more to be made over time, Saudi Arabia is merely the pilot, it is the global setting where profit becomes a very serious opportunity, it will drive the now nearly born new Nouveau Riche generation to a very new level with amounts the previous generation never ever dreamed of.

When you sit down and consider the map, we do not merely see Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, we see that Saudi Arabia has the opportunity become the axial for those three continents, an option we never would considered as realistic when Vision 2030 launched 10 years ago, now that picture is shifting and with the growing technologies as Saudi Arabia is embracing these new opportunities we see a shifting picture, even as oil might be funding this, the reliance on it is fading a lot faster than we thought possible, not merely through Hyperloop, but through the changes all the technologies enable one another with and that also gives new directions, because it is no longer about volatility  (as Saudi Arabia was accused of by others in a previous blog), it is about stability and the enabled stability that these solutions bring.

For in the end making money will always win over waging war, that has been proven for the longest of times.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, Politics, Science

Finding inspiration

The act to incite, perhaps even a form of stimulus. Yet, when we go back to a more theological page we see: ‘a divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul‘. So what is wrong with inspiration? You see whilst inciting could be seen to encourage a positive term, incitement is for the most ALWAYS negative. When we see incitement we see: ‘the action of provoking unlawful behaviour or urging someone to behave unlawfully‘, why not see incitement an act as to encourage positive change? Even stimulus is now nearly always seen as a negative. The stimulus package being a foremost example.

In an age where hardship rules, we could use a positive force, yet when we see that projection of feigned wellness is combined with managed bad news, what positive force could be atoned? This is the thought that has been in the back of my mind as I am completing my current assignment. A choice I made in the past, whenever I get one step forward, the next instance I am facing two steps back. This is perhaps just a situation that exists between my two ears (as we refer to mental issues).

Greece is not even the foremost example on my mind. There are other issues where we see a change on what is for some and will never be for most. The next part seems a little repetitive as I have mentioned these parts in the past.

  1. How is it possible?

Here we see a side of the world that seems out of context as per last year. Forever the oil prices were going up and up until it went beyond $120. Profits were astronomical. Now, as prices are just below the lowest basement, we see the following parts (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/apr/26/bp-profits-down-still-in-deep-water). “It’s a big week for big oil, with both BP and Royal Dutch Shell reporting results. Despite crude prices hitting a 2015 high at the end of last week, they are still almost 50% down since last June, which means continuing trouble for the businesses“. Now consider the reality. Take a litre of crude oil, ½ becomes Petrol, one third becomes Kerosene and the rest goes into dozens of other products. Now consider the history of your shopping. Since 2008 (and since the oil drop of 2014), when did your petrol price go down and by how much? Jet fuel should go down, yet Virgin, Qantas and others are keeping the Jet fuel surcharge in place. So at present we have accounted for almost 85% of the crude oil, the rest goes into products like soap, Vaseline and other carbon based artefacts.  None have ever made a decent downgrade in price. However, the article claims on such hardships even though the price of the raw resource is still lower than ever. So what stories are we being told? Are the oil companies guilty of incitement to exploitation?

  1. How are we in this position?

Here are 8 mergers for last year, several more are to come and hundreds more have passed and a fair amount of mergers are set at mega billions, several in the pharmaceutical industries.

Lets take a look at a few of the 2014 mergers: Value: $67.1 billion, May 18, 2014, Value: $46.8 billion, June 15, 2014, Value: $46.8 billion, April 7, 2014, Value: $25.3 billion, February 18, 2014, Value: $23.6 billion, March 11, 2014, Value: $19.4 billion, February 19, 2014, Value: $17.1 billion, April 30, 2014, Value: $16.01 billion, January 13, 2014. Total $262 billion. Now consider that these mergers are for the most tax-free when they are seen “as reorganizations through acquisition. Under this model, companies must swap, rather than outright sell, assets and equity such that the two companies end up becoming one new company with an agglomerated store of assets and equity“, that is very nice for the boards of directors and as multiple borders are broken, many options (highly complex ones) open up to maximise non taxability. Yet, many governments have done next to nothing to curb this form of greedy exploitation at the expense of the local governments whose protection they enjoy and the exploited workers who are left at the short end of the stick in many cases, again and again. There is often little consequence for the acquiring party will soon find themselves in an upward reorganisation, but the other party is more often than not in a less positive position, which is the way of the world, I will not oppose the issue of reorganisation and acquisition, yet the laws have been bend beyond reasonable. In the near past there was a level of equilibrium, as the governments got a slice of that pie. Now, as too many levels of non-taxability are offered, we see a completely unbalanced view of life, to a smaller part in regards to rich industrialists, but to the largest extent to a whole score of enabling politicians with a limited sight to the future whilst blind staring to what was in the past the ‘now’ and never to adjust the future of what should be.

We are all feeling these shortcomings now, Greece a lot more than the others I might add!

Now we get back to Greece for one simple example. The one thing Greece had to do for well over a decade is the step only taken (if we can believe the press) only last week (at http://www.newsweek.com/greece-launches-frantic-crackdown-tax-evaders-ahead-repayments-324927), here we see the story of Leonidas Bobolas, arrested and not to be released until back taxation had been paid. Some might think it is a solution, for me and many others it is a final desperate act by a government that did not take things serious until it was too late. This must be a laughing moment for Kostas Vaxevanis, whose list must be very important at this moment, but there is every chance that the truly big rollers are getting away with it all and more important, the money that will be gotten here is nowhere near the amount required for the payments over the next 16 weeks. It is the final spasm of a nation that has every real danger of becoming extinct a second time. New Greece might soon join Ancient Greece as it becomes forgotten, slowly but surely.

OK, I admit that this future is unrealistic (not to mention vastly exaggerated), but is that not how the Greeks currently feel? A system so broken that the people are suffering. The place where Democracy was born by the mind of Aristotle. It was the foundry where the Olympic Games were devised, yet in all its social paths, the one path forgotten was the safety of the Greek future. Why will this tax evasion path fail? Well, consider that Leonidas Bobolas is ‘regarded’ as one of the large evaders, now consider that his due taxation was less than 2 million Euro and add to this the following quote: “Government data suggested that some €70bn was owed in unpaid tax at the end of 2014. Transparency International found the country’s opaque tax code and corruption of tax collectors meant evasive tax arrangements could be set up for as little as €100“. To get to 70 billion, they would need at least 55,000 tax evaders, all due 1.5 million, now consider the Kostas Vaxevanis list that covered less than 2100 names. The amount due cannot be met, not even close through this way. In addition we see even more posturing of inaction. This comes again from Yanis Varoufakis who stated: “one of the key reforms the government was proposing was the creation of a fully independent tax commission to tackle the problem“. I would personally translate this into a delay of up to 24 months with no actual actions at all. This one arrest is just for show as I see it, a few more will make headlines, but in the end, the funds will not be there on time and we can state that clear evidence of inaction from the Greek government is a mere display of fact.

Why mention Greece?

Greece is at present the extreme example, but not the least of the issues. It shows a governmental failing that is present all over Europe. Greece in its position is only the first one to visibly no longer manage its upcoming bills. The majority of European nations have maintained an inability to manage budgets, which is the second tier in this. As these governments make new mentions of ‘stimulus’ as a solution, it only masks an inability of forward momentum, whilst on the other side of that formula we see governmental spending sprees that cannot be covered in any way, shape or form. One example is the Dutch Stimulus package of 2009, one document (at http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/economic_governance/sgp/pdf/20_scps/2009-10/01_programme/nl_2010-01-29_sp_en.pdf) forecasts a GDP growth of 2% in both 2011 and 2012, a number that would never be achieved, in the end, the growth would be -0.2% and -0.6%, the year after that it was -0.8%, we can speculate that without the stimulus it would have been worse, which is a likely result, but the fact remains, how well are the people off? Let’s not forget that stimulus packages are basically loans, the interest on those billions go somewhere, so in the end the people pay! France with its 26 billion package in 2008 would not see a positive jump until late 2013, then only 0.6%, after that until 2014, France only marginally kept its head above water. Italy does not even get close to those numbers and only had one moment in 2013 where they were positive at 0.1%, the rest is all negative. They pushed in a mere 9 billion. So with three nations, Europe has spent 44 billion and no real results to show. It could be debated as I stated earlier that the state of affairs for those nations would be a lot worse, I could agree with this on the mere premise of the thought. Yet, the one issue that should have been done, namely proper budgeting has not been achieved by any of these nations for over a decade and debts are stockpiling. This has been at the centre of my considerations for a long time.

 

Whether this is mere bad budgeting or a completely unbalanced system where corporations have been uber enabled, whilst their rights are not questioned is another matter entirely. In that regard we have the HSBC view (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/apr/24/hsbc-warns-it-could-leave-uk-over-eu-referendum-uncertainty), where the option of the UK leaving the Eurozone would make HSBC move offices to other shores. Yet, when we google this bank we see articles on how they pay millions and millions less than expected. Now, these articles are not the ones you should have too much faith in, but with this much smoke, the question becomes, were tax bills burnt? I am willing to partially ignore the Swiss scandal as this is only one instance, it is the overall picture that goes far beyond just the HSBC. When we consider Libor, the fines of billions that followed with banks all over the world, we see that populations all over Europe, even on a global level are denied the funds for their support that they should be entitled to. Yet, the paths taken now are also questionable. I support to the larger extent both the Conservative path as well as the Australian Liberal party. Here we see a protection against naming apparent tax-dodgers. My reasoning? If a company engages in legal paths for revenue and investments whether on shore or offshore where the tax laws allow for it, the companies who are creative enough to exploit the loophole shouldn’t be punished. This is at the core of the issue, the tax system has to be fixed and altered. Yet, as we see with HSBC, politicians are often too scared for their own political hide (as I personally see it) and will push forward any tax change. This has gone on for over a decade and many changes are yet to be properly addressed. This is at the heart of the matter.

In the end, what is the wisest of actions? To cater to HSBC and mind liking parties that seem to pay the minimum in taxation, whilst at the same time, the millstones of debt are dragging down all European nations? The UK might have the highest European debt (1.7T), yet the path that the conservatives have taken its population has the best options to lower the debts whilst offering a modest growth. The inability of the other European nations to adhere to this is only one of several factors. Greece is now becoming a larger issue as their timeline of pushed from April to May and now we see the mentioning of June by Yanis Varoufakis: “We wish to merge the current review with the June agreement“, which is now a more pressing issue as the voters in May would steer fast into a direction many will not like, this is the danger, as emotion drove Greeks towards Syriza, that same dangerous move could push the UK voters stronger towards UKIP and the Euro exodus that could follow. Another version where we see a legal incitement away from the Euro, there is no inspiration, just a need for what could be regarded as ‘false sense of security‘. That danger only increases when we consider the next quote: “Tsipras said he was optimistic an interim agreement would soon be reached. But Greeks know another bailout will be needed even if the short-term €7.2bn is secured“, that part and the inability of the Greek government to seriously commit from day one is at the heart of all this.

A need to incite a tax system that works more honest towards the nations that give ‘free’ protection to the corporations that seem to shun a moral refinement is needed. Not just for the UK, but for all European nations. Yet, will this happen? This is the question we should ask when we look at the papers from the IEA (Institute for Economic Affairs), where we saw on December 1st 2014 the following quote: “Despite the Conservative’s pledge to raise the threshold to £50,000, over 5 million taxpayers will pay the higher rate of income tax by the end of the next parliament. Indeed, it is likely that the number of higher rate taxpayers will continue to increase even if the threshold is raised“. I question the spirit of this. You see, the groups are 24.1 million in the basic rate and 4.5 million in the higher rate (source: UK Statistics Authority). I do not deny these numbers, yet, raising the threshold will force other measures too. A more immediate and more just move would be to increase the 0% rate from £10.6K to £13K, which will also benefit the higher rate to some extent (£2.5K less taxable), after this I personally advocated raising both groups, the Basic rate +1% and the higher rate +2%. he reasoning is simple, in the end a budget has to be met, even though we see these ‘holier than thou‘ groups all moving for more tax breaks, yet, in the end, until tax loops and tax havens are dealt with, the tax coffers will remain massively underfunded. Let’s not forget that the UK has to meet a 1.7T issue, all using official bank notes with the ‘£’ symbol (replacing IOU’s in place). If the IEA really wants to push certain tax shifts without properly balancing the equation, we will see a push for drastic austerity sooner rather than later. It is not a mere guess, it is an outcome of mathematical certainty. Only after a serious dent has been made in the total debt, then it would be possible to consider a change. All this is now endangered when we see ‘promises’ by Ed Miliband as he states: “Labour will pledge to deliver a surplus in the current budget as soon as possible in the next parliament. This could allow the party to borrow to fund capital investment for infrastructure projects“, so a surplus and MORE borrowing? So basically he will likely spend his budget and the budget of the next administration in one go. The UK is still dealing with the borrowing acts of a previous governing labour. I see at the heart of ANY government at present, the need to borrow ZERO, whilst still reducing the overall debt to some degree (not possible to state by how much), this is the only way to incite true growth, to inspire a growing economy and to stimulate some version of ‘quality of life’. There are a few steps that any of the elected parties could do, but that requires vision, I have some answers, but filling that solution will take a different view, not one of borrowing, but one of an adapted vision that allows for new growth by changing the equation of costing, a different approach to a changing world where the UK moves ahead stronger still, which will be good for the entire Commonwealth at large!

An act to incite stimulus through Inspiration, a positive wave not based on pre-spending.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Finance, Law, Media, Politics