Tag Archives: Vulture Funds

When the cure is part of the disease

Have you seen that issue in your life, the claim that the cure is worse than the disease, or perhaps that the cure is not worth the disease. There are medical situations where this applies and they are usually used in cases of huge risks, but it is always in a stage where it is about optionally curing the person who got that winning lottery ticket, and the cure will hit him or her full on. It happens, yet what is the stage where the cure is the disease? I am not talking about a vaccine where we are making the body stronger by fighting a weaker version of the disease, no this is a stage where we give the person Ebola or Hantavirus to let the body cure it. The problem becomes that once you have the virus you are actually sick and the complications start from that point onward.

This is the stage we are confronted with in ‘IMF accused of ‘reckless lending’ to debt-troubled states‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/oct/07/imf-accused-of-reckless-lending-to-debt-troubled-states). It is not merely “the Fund broke its own rules by not ensuring sustainable debt burden“, I personally believe it to be a much larger problem in all this. It is also not merely: “encouraging reckless lending by extending $93bn of loans to 18 financially troubled countries without a debt restructuring programme first“, I believe it to be a larger play to push revenue away from vulture funds to create a systemic problem for these nations to become part of the consumer feeding frenzy to banks for generations. when we see: “Debt sustainability has come into the spotlight over the past year after the IMF controversially lent a record $56bn to Argentina even though its annual debt repayments far exceeded the Fund’s own limit” the given excuse ‘The IMF said Argentina, the second biggest economy in South America, was a special case‘ the handed excuse should be casted aside and given no value at all. the supporting evidence is seen in “The crisis intensified when, on 5 December 2001, the IMF refused to release a US$1.3 billion tranche of its loan, citing the failure of the Argentine government to reach its budget deficit targets” (source: https://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/11/business/argentina-scrambles-for-imf-loans.html). When I asked about the situation about 5 years ago from these so called Australian ‘economic reporters’, none of them had any level of a clear answer for me. The case was clear 5 years ago when certain vulture funds issues got to the surface, and now 17 years later they are giving out $56 billion, whilst refusing a $1.3 billion option 17 years earlier. There is a much larger flaw in all this and there have been whispers (read: gossip) that the IMF is very much into facilitating towards the needs of Wall Street and the financial operators out there. The bottom dollar line of Wall Street needs to be met and no one cares how it is done.

the stage becomes a lot less acceptable when we consider the stage Afghanistan; Angola; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Ecuador; Egypt; Ghana; Jordan; Mauritania; Mongolia; Pakistan; São Tomé and Príncipe; Sierra Leone; Sri Lanka; Tunisia; and Ukraine, all whilst Egypt, Pakistan and Ecuador are regarded as high risk, I personally feel that the risk factors of Ukraine, Sri Lanka and Jordan are also way above normal with only Jordan being in a better long term position however, if Jordan does not address its water shortage issues, Jordan could drop into the ultra-high risk group a lot faster than anyone could state: ‘Would you like a glass of water?‘, and in all this we see a larger failing.

It becomes a more visible issue when we see the IMF spin doctors at work. We partially accept the statement: “More than half that amount is accounted for by one programme – Argentina, which has unique circumstances“, yet I am much less forgiving when I see: “We have clear guidelines about not lending into unsustainable debt situations and all programmes require approval by the IMF’s executive board“. It is my response that they publish clearly all their guidelines (and policies), but we will not ever get that. In addition, the Argentina matter after the Vultures were done with it is also a failing of the highest degree, the fact that over 17 years $1.3 billion has required $56 billion implies more than merely 4,300% more funds needed. It gives rise that over 17 years a debt increase of 23% year on year was accumulated one way or another. It is a direct optional sign of complete and utter governmental financial malfeasance. It is a failure on a scale never seen before and the fact that no one stepped in shows the larger failure by the IMF. You see, the overall lack of illumination also constitutes evidence that the players wanted this to be kept out of the lime lights.

In addition, when we look at the 17 nations, when we ignore the obvious three, we see a larger issue in Jordan. Jordan stepped up and towards the issue that there are well over 1.4 million refugees in Jordan and Jordan was not ready in any way shape or form to deal with that. In their current state the Jordan desalination plants will not be able to keep up (so far it cannot keep up) and the fact that the Jordan population grew by 14% in 2-3 years due to the refugees was never clearly illuminated and now Jordan has a larger issue, even if another desalination plant is added in the Gulf of Aqaba, the issue will not diminish and the loans towards Jordan would become unsustainable. In addition, when you consider Sri Lanka, the newspapers all gave the same quote a month ago: ‘Sri Lanka’s economy has shown a ‘fair bit of resilience’‘, they quoted that to the letter, yet who was feeding them that information? Only 14 hours ago we see: “Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals in September were down 27.2% from a year earlier“, those factors did not really change did they? When we consider a month ago, we see an economy that is getting hit hard, especially when Reuters gives us: “a sixth consecutive monthly fall“. It seems to me that Sri Lanka are betting on the required roll of the dice, when we get the clear indication that the dice are loaded and it seems that they are loaded towards the needs of the IMF/Wall Street and not in favour of Sri Lanka.

When we add the Reuters information: “Arrivals in the five months from May to September were down 44.4% to 468,737 from 843,569 a year earlier” we get a level of clear indication that the quote: ‘Sri Lanka’s economy has shown a ‘fair bit of resilience’‘ should be seen as media BS. And there is more regarding Sri Lanka, the quote less than 24 hours ago is “Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said all the money the current government has borrowed since 2016 was to repay the loans of the previous government of Mahinda Rajapaksa“, if that is true, then there are additional questions towards the IMF in regards to their spin doctors giving us: “Our decisions to lend to countries are not simply based on numerical thresholds, but on comprehensive debt sustainability analyses and policies needed to address economic imbalances and debt burdens“, which in the case of Sri Lanka shows a much larger issue, the fact that the quote on repaying from a previous government and that loan has been in place for 3 years shows a larger problem, so how much was given to them? In addition to this I wonder how much of the $56 billion is going to Elliott Advisors, so much is the IMF helping out Manhattan bad boy Paul Singer? In my view, the question becomes: ‘How much of the $56 billion goes to Hedge funds manager Paul Singer?‘ Under those conditions I reckon anyone could get their fingers on the penthouse in Sky Lofts building in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighbourhood. If it is good enough for Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis), it is good enough for the Lawlordtobe (Lawrence van Rijn), and I could do with a change of scenery, especially if Google buys my 5G IP portfolio.

So if my new address becomes 145 Hudson St New York, NY 10013, I promise that I will not consider the ’13’ in my zip code to be a bad omen and at least I will not have used the IMF to gain my fortune (although I will admit that I am perfectly willing to do that too #weallneedtoeat).

When we see these two issues and we see that I have not even looked at the 12 others (three were known issues) I wonder when any reporter will give us the entire down low on these so called analyses and policies that the IMF has in place, I feel with some level of certain ty that I will find a lot more issues under the waterline than the IMF spin doctors will be able to hide. Especially when we realise the quote in the Guardian: “concerns that a general election later this month will oust incumbent president, Mauricio Macri, in favour of the populist Alberto Fernández and his running mate, the former president Cristina de Kirchner, triggered a flight of investors, a run on the currency and sent the interest rate on the country’s publicly traded debts soaring“, more important, under that change the entire case which would have been part of the $56 billion ‘donation’ that we see through “Argentina agreed to reduce its fiscal deficit to 1.3% of GDP this year, down from 2.2% previously and a balanced budget next year“, especially when we see the required drop of 0.9% deficit, I cannot remember any elected official making that part of their campaign, it tends to leave them unelected at the polls, so in all this, not only does the JDC have a point, we see that Sarah-Jayne Clifton, director of Jubilee Debt Campaign should be considered to be a lot more serious and is in my personal view entitled to massive dose of limelight from the global media, so that she can ask the questions that the IMF would have to explain in a clear and transparent way, would you like to take a bet on the chance of that actually happening?

I believe that people like Paul Singer will set that bet to an estimated 250:1 chance (of it not happening), and as he personally was able to acquire $3.5 billion, I am not putting my hopes on high here. I merely wonder if the people in Argentina have any decent level of Christmas to look forward to this year and the many years that follow.

 

 

 

 

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The new politics

I still feel shivers lately when people like Jeremy Corbyn refer to the UK as a democracy. We could overly vocal voice that leaving democracy to an anti-Semite is slightly too uncomfortable. To illustrate this I refer to the BBC (at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-45030552), The quote: “In April 2019, the Sunday Times reported that Labour had received 863 complaints against party members, including councillors. The newspaper claimed leaked e-mails it had seen showed more than half of the cases remained unresolved while there had been no investigation in 28% of them. It said fewer than 30 people had been expelled while members investigated for posting online comments such as “Heil Hitler” and “Jews are the problem” had not been suspended. Labour disputed the reports while Jewish Voice for Labour, a newly constituted group supportive of Mr Corbyn, maintained the number of cases being investigated represented a tiny fraction of Labour’s 500,000 plus membership.” is central here. I would accept ‘the number of cases being investigated represented a tiny fraction of Labour’s 500,000 plus membership‘, yet in political places, this is too much headway and too much festering, as such there is a debilitating level of mistrust when these issues are not investigated, and with almost one third not being investigated, the issue is a rather large one. Then we get to BBC Panorama’s “Mr Corbyn’s communications chief Seumas Milne – had interfered in the process of dealing with anti-Semitism complaints“, which in itself is a clear indication that the stage is much larger than we are led to believe. The BBC In August 2018 gave additional visibility not merely to his links with Terrorism, the quote: “critics have pointed out that a photograph from the event appears to show him standing opposite the graves of Atef Bseiso and Salah Khalaf, two senior PLO officers who were accused of links to the Munich attack and were assassinated“, we now have two options. Either Corbyn was played, or he is too sympathetic towards terrorists, in either case this is not some path to peace as the quote: “he had attended the event in Tunis as part of a wider event about the search for peace” was given. So either he got played (which I would accept to some degree), or he has too strong ties to extreme anti-Israel groups, either way the man should not be allowed in UK politics.

This is not merely about Jeremy Corbyn; this is a much larger setting. The setting is European. You see there is a shift going on and it is a very dangerous one. The UK is and should always be a Monarchy, as a monarchy the UK looks after ALL its citizens, rich, poor, well off and anyone not well off. This is opposing the European model which is overwhelmingly a Corporatocracy, more dangerously, it has in the last three years instilled a much stronger stage of corpocracy and these two are not the same. Let me explain.

A corpocracy is a corporate bureaucracy, characterized by ineffective management (EU Gravy train anyone?)

This is important, because this is a very dangerous stage, it affects democracy and more important deflates the long term chance that any democracy can be effectively applied. This is pushed by three parts; corporations, interest groups and what I call the Jackal gang.

I do not have to explain the corporations. The interest groups is another matter, here in one example we see in the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/04/no-deal-brexit-food-shortages-brc), in the example we get Andrew Opie, the director of food and sustainability of the British Retail Consortium telling us: “Our assessment is based on discussion with our members, who move fresh food every day, and the likely disruption“, as well as “We modelled that with our members who have told us there will be disruption to fresh food“, these statements were casually accepted. Yet WHO checked and critically investigated ‘We modelled that with our members‘, modelling implies algorithms, modelling implies a state of data analytics, dash boarding and optionally clear reports. Who checked those? Andrew Opie? He has one goal, to keep markings for his members as high as possible and Brexit gets in that way. He is not alone; there are dozens if not hundreds who have been playing that game playing the fear monger card again and again in the last three years. How much famine was there in the UK in the 70’s and before? This is not about supply, this is about expedited margins and the media is not telling the people this, they are not investigating this to the degree they should. The people are merely pushed into fear towards remaining in the EU and that gravy train is too expensive for all of us. The EU has well over €3 trillion debt and there is no path that leads to any exit, not for generations and this benefits the banks, it benefits the people on the EU gravy train, it does not benefit small businesses, it does not benefit the people and there is no end in sight. Brexit was the first clear step to make things better for the British people and the people in the commonwealth in the long term, yet the US, corporations and the IMF will not entertain it, they have too much to lose.

And this is not over, it is about to get worse. We see this in the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/0ff70e24-cef8-11e9-99a4-b5ded7a7fe3f) even as it seemingly starts low key with “Christine Lagarde has called on European governments to co-operate more closely over fiscal policy to stimulate the stuttering Eurozone economy” which changes tune as we get: “aimed at rich economies like Germany and the Netherlands, she said governments who “have the capacity to use the fiscal space available to them” should spend on improving their infrastructure“, she did not mention some balance of infrastructure and reducing debt, no reducing debt is off the table. And as we get: “The central bank could “direct” its corporate asset purchases towards green bonds once the EU and other regulators have agreed on a common framework for green finance“, which is the foundation for another Stimulus, a plan that failed twice is now again being used to create more debt and pushing what seemingly was once a democracy into a corpocratic Corporatocracy, a stage where nations are no longer in charge, corporations are and we see that push more and more, the fact that freedom of choice in the UK is no longer honoured, as well as the fact that freedom of choice is now regarded as a natural disaster is a clear stage on that road.

Voicing it into a stage where it’s called ‘fiscal stimulus‘ creating the regard that the ECB needs to be to be ‘agile’ in facing economic trouble is merely a relabelled stage where Wall Street and its banks are deciding what Europeans and Brits are allowed to do and short sighted politicians are actually handing them the national keys to do just that. In the age of an aging population that is even more dangerous, for the mere reason that the debts cannot continue a stage of retirement, making the validity of aged people almost obsolete. Again this is all in the view of Corporatocracy; for them the bottom line is margins and profits, to get that 100% needs to be an enabler or a consumer, the rest has no value and we are pushing more and more in this direction.

The Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/lagarde-defends-european-central-bank-stimulus-at-hearing/2019/09/04/17abb148-cf10-11e9-a620-0a91656d7db6_story.html) gives us part of the Corporatocracy setting.

In the line “uncertainty over tariffs has sideswiped the 19-country Eurozone as businesses delay investments and new orders“, the fact that any delay has that much of an influence on American needy people is almost too unacceptable. This is more than just the ‘turmoil from the U.S.-China trade conflict‘. We can (speculatively) consider the line: “it could disrupt business dealings between the U.K. and the 27 remaining members“, which in light of “Britain is currently scheduled to leave the European Union. If that happens without a divorce agreement to smooth trade” is not about ‘smooth trade’ at all, this is about managed maximised margins, something Wall Street relies on very fucking heavily, so the entire stage where the new ECB ruler is not one of the other banks, but the previous sceptre wielder of the IMF is a much larger issue, it is also a case that the US is a lot more in charge of Europe that we think. Consider the amounts of debts and the fact that no one has that much money. A stage where two banks lend each other on paper $2 trillion, whilst neither has the funds. It is one situation that will lose control more and more and the important questions are not being asked. When we see Francois Villeroy de Galhau (Governor of the Bank of France), Klaas Knot (ECB policy maker) and Madis Muller (ECB policy maker) are a few of a growing group of people opposing stimulus (read: massively sceptical), whilst the one in favour (former IMF) is now President elect of the ECB. The one doesnot imply the other, yet the stage where we see “resumption of bond purchases now would be disproportionate to economic conditions” is merely one option, there might be more, but stimulus is what the US and a corpocratic Corporatocracy requires to keep the margins and the people get to pay that invoice. More importantly the lack of oversight and the lack of transparency gives sway for the ECB bank to do whatever it wants, whenever it thinks it needs to.

In what kind of a democracy did Europeans sign up for that?

Corporatocracy

I mentioned that in an earlier blog, it is a state where corporations decide on matters and that is what we see to the much larger extent at present. It is an age where social securities collapse, housing is close to redundant and the age of age discrimination is at an all-time high. All issues visible to a larger extent. I mentioned a few other parts earlier in this article and that is merely the beginning. I needed to make this mention because it is time to explain another phrase I threw your way.

The Jackal gang

This is a group of facilitators and exploiters. The Jackal gang is pretty much everywhere, the problem is that the intentional ones are not the same as the beneficiary players. Let me explain the difference. There are vultures, which are pure carrion eaters, they devour whatever is no longer living (or too close to death to see the difference), with vultures we see a group of people who drop down on companies pronounced dead, or basically no longer serving and they take the pickings. This is the foundation of Vulture funds as well, Argentina being an excellent example in the past and they are about to become a repetitive example soon again. The 2001 default is one stage where Vulture Funds swept in to get nice pickings. Let’s face it, the Argentinians decided to go this way (no one else was offering). Opposing the Vultures are the Jackals, they are like Vultures carrion eaters, yet there is another side, Jackals also take on the sick and the weakened, in a pack they can take down a larger opponent and because the opponent was not dead the pickings are a lot better. In this example the Gravy Train (a first class experience that is always on the road with all the amenities); the gravy train is a large behemoth, it has all kinds of connections. There are subsidised needs, there are research and grant needs and there are logistical needs as well as operational ones. In this stage we see the beneficiary ones; they are merely offering a service like a hotel, lunch services, dry cleaning and so on. They are merely services that a person needs to rely on, yet in another stage when it is a catering service that is ALWAYS called on, or a mother organisation that gets all the contracts, we see the Jackal group. These people are all linked in one way or another and that is how the Gravy train operates and there are large amounts of money involved. To get you a more apt example, we look at the ECB and its part in the Greek financial tragedy (definitely not written by Sophocles).

Here we need to consider that the Securities Market Programme threatens the ECB’s legitimacy as the potential fiscal role is an inappropriate activity for an independent central bank. Some actions are valid as well as appropriate. when we see “In the event of a wholesale creditor run based solely on self-fulfilling expectations, it is reasonable for a central bank to intervene and act as a lender of last resort to financial institutions that would otherwise be solvent” we see an appropriate act. Yet in case of “The failing of the institution is that it is not credible that it is willing to purchase enough of the debt to contain the run. Unfortunately, the ECB’s insistence on secrecy with respect to the programme is particularly damaging. It is widely believed that the average discount to face value paid for the Greek debt acquired (prior to August at least) was no more than 20%. The national central banks appear to have sought out the lucky counterparties. And, the ECB won’t say who they are or how much they paid” is a stage where there is no transparency, the gains are not disclosed, there is a failing on managing the debt and the matter goes from bad to worse (source: CEPR’s policy portal, Anne Sibert). The issue was also illuminated in ‘Buiter, Willem (2009), “Recapitalising the Banks through Enhanced Credit Support: Quasi-Fiscal Shenanigans in Frankfurt”, Maverecon, Financial Times, 28 June‘.

A matter that should have been dealt with to a much larger degree now as this goes all the way back to 2011, the fact that another stimulus is coming lacking transparency is a huge deal, it implies that trust in the ECB needs to be revoked and written off (read: discarded).

I grant you from the very beginning that the this is a very complex matter (and I am all out of Economic degrees as I never had one), yet I know data and a lot of it is not adding up, questions that should be on the front of everyone’s mind are seemingly not openly asked or the existence of the questions are denied. The entire issue of Brexit as it is playing out is less about democracy and too much about the politics of pleasing large corporations, there are too many questions and quotes are merely copied by the media and not questioned and that is a democratic failing of the largest degree. Jeremy Corbyn with: “Jeremy Corbyn became the first Opposition leader in history to block a general election on Wednesday night” (source: The Telegraph) might be the most visible example, but he is not alone, there are scores of MP’s playing the ‘remain’ card and as I personally see it they should all be investigated. Consider the direct description of treason: ‘the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to overthrow the government‘, is that definition and that is what we see here. It is the stage we see now and many sources in the media are all about ‘quoting’ and not about investigating, it is the failure that must be fixed. Well, perhaps the option is to award certain politicians with the William Joyce medal. I am offering the thought that Jeremy Corbyn is to be reviewed to see if he should get the first one, who is with me?

The new politics are not about claiming and presenting, but the need to show allegiance and give proper explanation on why exactly things were done. Would that not make political life a lot more transparent? The ECB could learn from that, so two herrings caught with one rod.

 

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Talking the Walk

Yes, today is an interesting day, in a time when we all have a notion of democracy; we must all wonder how much of a democracy is left. You see the freedom of choice and the choice in options means that the freedom given is also an inherent acceptance of accountability? If we make a small sidestep at this point, then I would like to take a step towards the Media Ethics as stated at mediaethicsmagazine.com.

There in the fall of 2008, T.L. Glasser and J.S. Ettema wrote an interesting article called ‘A Philosophy of Accountability for Journalism’, it is a good article to read and well worth reading (at http://www.mediaethicsmagazine.com/index.php/browse-back-issues/135-fall-2008/3639324-a-philosophy-of-accountability-for-journalism).

The initial line, as in any good academic article is right at the beginning, when we read “The problem of ethics in journalism, we want to argue, is not the inability of journalists to know right from wrong but their inability to talk articulately and reflectively about it“. I from the my viewpoint, for the point of view that many has seen as we see the ‘junk’ articles from Murdoch publications hit us is that the point given reads to many of us (roughly 99.32443% of them non-journalists) see the second phrased as “their inability to avoid accountability by speculate on the words of seemingly non-existent sources they will never reveal“.
What we get is gossip, branded as journalism, a speculative piece where no accountability will ever be required. This is for a lot of people at the heart of the need that the Leveson report would address, which is why Journalists in many nations, especially in the UK as a trade that had lost its integrity to many.
This is however not about the article, yet, I am mentioning it as the article is an excellent piece of work and the article actually is to some extent shows the moral compass within all of us. There is however one more quote that I will not go into now, but it has bearing on what comes next “which reminds us that discourse ethics does not involve a marketplace process which aggregates individual interests but a deliberative process which brings into existence common or shared interests“.

This is about today, the first day of a new day of default for Argentina (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/31/argentina-government-defiant-debt-default-axel-kicillof). We seem to have been all about the banks and their evil practices. I know, because I have been one of them. The question becomes, what happens when you accept doing business with a loan shark? I wrote about it in my blog ‘Changing the rules of Democracy‘ on July 27th.

When the IMF wanted to restructure debts in 2003, USA as stated stopped the IMF; I want to know the EXACT reasons why. Perhaps they are valid, perhaps not! I also reflected on the fact that someone went to the Vulture funds and signed a deal. What was that deal exactly and who signed it. You see, Argentina is not blameless here; at some point, there is a knock on the door and at that point, the bailiff will want his coin, which is pretty much what was settled in court.

The Guardian article raises a point through the following quote “Economists at the Washington-based Centre for Economic and Policy Research called on the US Congress to intervene, warning in a letter that Griesa’s decision to uphold the holdout investors claim could cause ‘unnecessary economic damage to the international financial system, as well as to US economic interests’“.

You see, in all fairness, is that acceptable? If a system is brought and evolves devoid of accountability, how can we ever get a better world? I have pressed for accountability on many sides. On the side of Journalism as I embrace the full Leveson report, on the side of the banks as their soulless acts have diminished the value of millions of account holders, yet here in this case, are they not on the morally higher ground? No matter how despicable Vulture funds might be regarded as, these people offered a deal on conditions of risk because no bank wanted them, or in the case of Argentina, as the USA seemingly prevented the IMF offering a deal.
Now, when the deal is due, the client requesting the deal is not willing to make payment. So, as the facts are shown, I have to be (alas) n the side of the vulture fund, who offered the deal. If not, then I myself must abandon the premise of accountability, which is pretty much not an option.
If we accept the implications of communicative rationality in the sphere of moral insight and normative validity as the setting for discourse ethics, then I would like to change it (mold it) into the following statement: “If we accept the implications of agreed contract terms of rationality in the sphere of moral choices and normative acceptance of a loan” then we are getting to the part why I added the Journalism article on accountability for journalism.
This I now link to the quote I mentioned from the Guardian article. This is the cost of doing business! Sometimes you win, sometimes you do not, but to go out in response to change the game, because there is a cost, then we have a new problem. Do not misunderstand me, if there is some kind of a bail-out deal, then that is fine, but it would be understandable if it comes at a cost, more important, it might have been avoided all together if the 2003 IMF deal had gone through, so why was the 2003 deal stopped?

I understand and I do not disagree that the Argentine government is stopping it all and taking the ‘default’ path, yet, that too will come at a cost. Accountability should prevail here too. Is it for the better or for the worst? That is a discussion that is speculated upon, but for now it is one that comes without a clear answer. So, I cannot, without clearly more evidence to agree with cabinet chief minister Jorge Capitanich here. You see, who signed for this all in 2003? It is the inherent consequence of governing. The bill is pushed forward, it is a dangerous game that the US is currently excelling at and so if you wonder on why I care about another deal for 1.5 billion dollars, it is mainly because this paves the way for America when it defaults on their 18,000 billion loans, then what?

When we see people hide behind statements like ‘too big to fail‘, you should also consider the fallout when things go wrong. Consider what once happened to the Dutch SNS bank and is now happening to the Argentinian economy, both impacts were felt in large ways and they are not even anywhere near the scale of the debt the US and Japan have. And as we mentioned Japan, is that not the fear many brokers have? If we see the text from Moody’s (at https://www.moodys.com/research/Moodys-Japanese-RMBS-and-ABS-default-rate-declined-in-April–PR_302652).

Someone or something seems to be pushing Japan along, holding them on the safe side for now. Yet, this economic high-wire act is nowhere near done and it is a long walk to go for now. When we read “For CMBS deals, Moody’s outlook for the next 6-12 months is negative, as it will be difficult to refinance defaulted loans with high loan-to-value ratios“, so as refinance is now getting harder and harder, consider the US bonds. Part of the US debt is also the ‘Interest Expense on the Debt Outstanding’ (at http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/ir/ir_expense.htm), this is set for 2014 (up to October) to be almost $355 billion dollars. This is just the interest. At Bloomberg we see “The government will reduce net sales by $250 billion from the $1.2 trillion of bills, notes and bonds issued in fiscal 2012 ended Sept. 30“, this is clearly incomplete, as there is not mention of WHEN these bonds mature, but the overall sell of bonds will hit the US at some point. If we consider the CNS headline “$2,472,542,000,000: Record Taxation Through August; Deficit Still $755B“, so taxes are coming in, they are not enough as the deficit is around 30%, now consider that the due interest is going to be 15%-20% (because two months are currently not known) of all collected taxation. When the bonds are due, how much larger will the debt become?
I have mentioned it many times, but now as we see the reaction of fear as Argentina defaults, we cannot continue without seeing the threat and fear of Japan from defaulting, which will clearly push the US over the edge of that abyss too.

Here is where the issue becomes the dangers we fear. We seem to always mention that those who talk the talk should be walking the walk too. This has not been done by large by many, so now we talk the walk but no one is really accountable, making for a massively dangerous situation. If you even consider thinking that there is no danger here, try calling a Syrian hospital by telephone and ask them how they are doing. It might open your eyes really quick.

If we are to walk the walk then Argentina will default and we have a new situation, yet the unnamed danger is that ‘some’ deal will find its way, which is great for the Argentinian people, yet it also impacts the cost of doing business for all the other players. Have you consider the costs that this will bring everyone else?

 

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Changing the rules of Democracy

An interesting thought isn’t it? It was CNN that gave me the idea in the first place. It all started with the article on the upcoming Argentinian default (at http://money.cnn.com/2014/07/25/investing/argentina-default/index.html). I have skin in the game here. Part of my family comes from there, which is why it caught my eyes in the first place. This is not the first time that Argentina has been in such a problematic state. The last time was in the late 90’s when it faced the great depression.

So, why is this event such a big deal?

Let us not forget that apart from soccer, many regard Argentina, no matter how beautiful it is, as a third world nation. So why is it allowed on the International Capital markets in the first place?
That was not an offensive question, but I need to ask it so that I can answer the questions many of us have in the first place. Argentina is in second place when it comes down to South American GDP, after Brazil (who is in first place by a massive margin), it is followed by Colombia and Argentina has a GDP that is 50% better than the nation holding position three, Colombia. So, within the ‘third world’ Argentina is pretty high up there. The second fact is that Argentina has the 21st position in regards to GDP, so this gives a massive view to how big its economy is. So why is it about to default on a 1.5 billion bond?

Well, Argentina is playing hard ball, a statement that seemed weird, because in the light of Argentina it seemed like worrying about a shave on route to the guillotine (a fake fear many former French Aristocats had, pun intended).

My first thought was the ‘worry’ why the IMF was not speaking out on all this. It seems so outspoken on a little place like Cyprus (no insult intended), yet is remains silent on an economy a hundred times larger?
What gives?

Well, my faithful old Yahoo had a nice part on this (at https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/impact-argentine-default-100849473.html).
I particularly liked the following quotes: “The IMF proposed an international debt restructuring mechanism in 2003 but the plan was abandoned under pressure from the United States, the institution’s largest stakeholder, and the major emerging-market economies“, so the USA needed to keep Argentina as a cash cow or what?

The second one was “Under a US court order, Argentina has until Wednesday to either pay hedge funds demanding full payment on of its bad debts — or face a default that could have serious economic consequences“. So is this another USA hedge fund game?

If we consider the generic statement “Hedge funds are made available only to certain sophisticated or accredited investors and cannot be offered or sold to the general public. As such, they generally avoid direct regulatory oversight, bypass licensing requirements applicable to investment companies, and operate with greater flexibility than mutual funds and other investment funds“, we see the fear that governments are financially no longer run by governments but by those holding the credit bill behind the scenes.

This gives us a lot more fear then we should have to deal with and as such, it seems that democracy is no longer in the hands of the people, but in the hands of those managing the hedge funds. As such, did US District Judge Thomas Griesa buckle under internal pressures or is there something else in play? We should ask this question as we see that the response we see (at http://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/us-judge-orders-argentina-and-bondholders-to-agree-deal-1.1875547), which is quotes as “Jonathan Blackman, a lawyer for Argentina said even with around-the-clock talks ‘it would be unlikely, if not impossible, to result in settlement. It simply can’t be done by the end of the month’ he said

This feels like a game played with millions of households on the butcher’s counter, with the meat cleaver already raised up high. There is not enough information in these sources to clearly state how the game was played up to now, or the involved players behaved and how the international justice courts (not just the US) as such have been behaving on the given facts. The fact that the IMF has warned that an Argentine economic default could not only hurt the country’s economy, but also the global financial system is another fact in the entire game as this is currently playing out. What is FACT, is that we have seen hedge funds cash in at the expense of close to a billion people, they played a game that made them wealthy and left the rest in destitution, yet now we see more and more that these players are implied not to be held to rules of oversight and it can bypass licensing in apparently too many flexible ways. Yet, it must also be clear that Argentina is not blameless in this game either.

Not unlike the USA, when we compare debt to GDP (governments seem to love that comparison) USA is currently set to 101.45%, whilst Argentina is only at 45.6%, which implies that Argentina has an economy twice as solid as the US has (a false statistic, I know!). So when we play the numbers game, this default, or even to allow for this event to occur seems massively stupid in my books. The question becomes why Argentina is continuing to play such a level of hardball, the debts will not go away, Argentina would lose its place as a G20 member and beyond that the foundations of the Argentinian economy will be shaking for a long time to come, opening additional doors for investors to bail out of Argentina, take the first row boat across the Rio de La Plata and set up shop there. This in the end will be a massively good thing to Uruguay and the economy of Montevideo for the next 10 years.

So, how is this all affecting democracy?

In my view if we want to remain true democracies, then it is time to regulate Hedge Funds and their managers. It will require a level of oversight that is beyond reasonable, as the economic fall of the USA in 2008 has proven to require. In that regards the term ‘Vulture funds‘ seem very appropriate. The US and in particular its FBI are all about hunting down Loan Sharks, whilst at the same time they ignore a 2.4 trillion dollar market right under their noses.

Yet, in all this Argentina is not without blame either. Someone approved these debts. If we accept, no matter how repulsive that these funds, referred to the behaviour of vulture birds “preying” on debtors in financial distress by purchasing the now-cheap credit on a secondary market to make a large monetary gain, is as such opening a market, which is high risk and also at time high yielding, then we must accept that Argentina stepped, willingly or not, into a field with their eyes wide open, as such they largely have themselves to blame.

If these are matters of fact then we see the acts on both sides of the isle to allow and even mandatory pursue the need for a change to the democratic standards we see in monarchies and republics. If you wonder why I made the reference to the Guillotine, than consider the History of France, its bankers and the change as it brought order through Napoleon Bonaparte. The statement ‘War never changes‘ seems highly appropriate here, it is a quote from a Videogame, yet the truth behind it is as solid as the writings of ‘von Clausewitz’ and ‘Sun Tzu’. The question remains in these economic wars, who are the warring parties and who are the people behind the screens. You can be certain that those names are not the names of any elected official. Does that not change the premise of both economic war and democracy?

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