The Watering Down of Wealth

September 1, 2015

federal_reserve_cartoon

Good luck to Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney attempting to persuade farmers the fall in commodity prices for dairy, beef and grain is only a temporary glitch in the markets. Good luck with his efforts to persuade the EU to grant €800ml aid to Irish farmers to build storage to take meat out of the market place and hold until prices improve.

IFA president, Eddie Downey, “accused Mr Coveney of making big promises about opening new markets in China and the US to Irish products when the reality had been completely different, with just €500,000 worth of beef sales to the US rather than the talked-about figure of €80 million-plus.”

The reality is that farmers, water protestors, and the general public see through the myth that prosperity is returning to our shores. Young people at the lower levels of the public services eg in education enter at salary levels lowered from scales paid to those at senior levels.

The economy is worsening except for those at the top.

Growth in senior management grades in the HSE has a counterpart in the scandalous and disgraceful cuts to services of some with the greatest need for support in terms of their disability.

For example, recent cuts have meant a group of 28 parents advocating for services for their care now aged 18yrs, from a mainstream provider proven in provision of adult services for those with the severe needs of autism, have been denied such services.

In place of dedicated, proven, mainstream services, parents have been redirected to another service without record or means to work in this area, to provide a cover of 3 days per week. This has severe impact not only for the parents and their care, but for the future development of services in this area.

https://www.change.org/p/minister-varadkar-department-of-health-hse-give-more-funding-to-gheel-autism-services?recruiter=767927&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gheel-2015-Parents-Support-Group/1656959147857152?sk=timeline

Such a predicament and scenario worsens when measured against the policy to provide free medical care to under 6’s and over 70’s for those who can well afford to pay. This is symptomatic of a generalised worsening in services for all but those who do not require such services.

In spite of this salary scales and levels of management at top of the HSE continue to grow. See inmo link below.

http://www.irishtimes.com/business/hse-ups-number-of-executives-by-10-despite-cuts-1.2013719

https://www.inmo.ie/Article/PrintArticle/6319

Irish Financial Services Industry/lending professionals at all levels

http://www.morganmckinley.ie/article/irish-financial-services-industry-ongoing-success-story

“Morgan McKinley August monthly Employment Monitor for July 2015 demonstrates an increase in professional jobs by 31% (July 2014 v July 2015) and 11% (June 2015 v July 2015). Focusing more particularly on the banking sector, as lending within the commercial, corporate and retail banking continues to recover, there is a growing need for lending professionals at all levels. The recent announcement of a pay rise by one of the country’s leading financial institutions will no doubt serve to make these roles even more attractive.”

The financial services industry and the banks who brought about Ireland’s economic collapse with their tooth and claws in austerity for Irish public services, are rebounding from their setback in 2008. While the economic prospects of those at the bottom of the tree decline further, those at the top of the tree, the 1% are mushrooming.

Forget services in education and health, infrastructure, product/service development, harnessing the creative energy required to develop the future of mankind, lets all print money and sell loans to each other. Lets have a system designed to pump all the wealth from the bottom 99% up to the top 1%. I digress.

All is not well with the financial sector. Consider the following:

“the World Bank’s three industrial commodity price indices – energy, metals and minerals, and agricultural raw materials – experienced near identical declines between early 2011 and the end of 2014, of more than 35 percent each, and will continue to contract this year. Prices of precious metals are also expected to decline by 3 percent in 2015, on top of the 12 percent decline seen in 2014. Again, ample supplies, weak demand, and a strengthening U.S. dollar have weighed on prices of these commodities as well.”

Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina are but a few of the Latin American economies facing economic decline followed by collapse due to the surging dollar and falling oil and commodity prices.

For six years, the world has operated based on faith and hope that Central Banks somehow fixed the issues that caused the 2008 Crisis.

QE adding $10 trillion in debt to the US system and the frenzied printing of money in Japan, Europe, UK adding more debt to previous stockpiles of debt, that has already caused 2008, has only one upside, to delay the inevitable collapse that in global market terms has potential to be far worse than that experienced in 2008. This has already begun.

The derivative market that uses the global bond bubble that has mushroomed from $80 trillion in 2008 to over $100 trillion today has grown to $555 trillion in size. Like a nuclear reactor in meltdown it is fast getting beyond the ability of central banks to control.

According to Graham Summers “Sovereign governments, large corporations and even municipalities have used derivatives to fake earnings and hide debt. NO ONE knows to what degree this has been the case, but given that 20% of corporate CFOs have admitted to faking earnings in the past, it’s likely a significant amount.”

“Corporations today are more leveraged than they were in 2007. As Stanley Druckenmiller noted recently, in 2007 corporate bonds were $3.5 trillion… today they are $7 trillion: an amount equal to nearly 50% of US GDP.”

“5) The Central Banks are now all leveraged at levels greater than or equal to where Lehman Brothers was when it imploded. The Fed is leveraged at 78 to 1. The ECB is leveraged at over 26 to 1. Lehman Brothers was leveraged at 30 to 1.”

In January 2015, the Swiss National Bank (SNB), backed into a corner by the ECB’s QE program, had a choice: print an obscene amount of money to defend the Franc’s peg or break the peg.

The SNB chose to break the peg. In a single day, the bank lost an amount of money equal to somewhere between 10% and 15% of Swiss GDP. More than that, it let the Franc appreciate… in a country in which 54% of the GDP is based on exports.

Central Bank of China is beginning to lose its grip as the Chinese economy succumbs to a dual property and stock bubble.

Turmoil on the markets with global currency volatility from the euro to the yuan driving a global downturn of unprecedented proportions is focusing minds on the obvious and emerging truism that the financial sector controlling the markets is not the solution to this global currency crisis, but is rather its principle cause.

The printing of monopoly money is skewing market economies across the world driving down the price of real commodities, impeding the creation of real and productive businesses and economic development. A global stock market and property bubble crash whose worst excesses are currently felt in China, but whose flames are fanned across Latin America and Europe, will soon be felt everywhere.

The rise of the value of the dollar pegged against other currencies with debt denominated in dollars as economies attempt to stabilise rising debt levels will inevitable lead to decline in GDP across the globe. This will inevitable lead to default eg Venezuela and Greece.

The effect of such defaults could lead to a tsunami effect the best outcome for which would be a switch back to a more stable global unit of currency based on a fixed exchange rate pegged to real commodities such as silver or gold.

The axiom that the development of the financial sector leads to economic growth has been shown to be a false truth and the sooner the reversal of the 1971 decision to take the dollar off the gold peg is reversed, the better for the world.

The stockpiled trillions in debt creation since then is a testament to the fact that currency bubbles in a fiat currency are about as helpful to economic growth in the long term, as daffodils are as a global reserve currency.

Till again

http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2015/01/22/commodity-prices-expected-continue-declining-2015-wb-report
http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/the-south-american-financial-crisis-of-2015
http://www.goldcore.com/ie/gold-blog/einstein-physics-gold-and-the-formula-to-end-economic-decay-2/
http://news.goldseek.com/GoldSeek/1441027854.php
http://www.irishtimes.com/business/agribusiness-and-food/coveney-hopes-for-800m-in-eu-funds-to-aid-farm-prices-1.2335340

Political Policing

An unfair, biased, or hasty judicial proceeding that ends in a harsh punishment; an unauthorized trial conducted by individuals who have taken the law into their own hands, such as those put on by vigilantes or prison inmates; a proceeding and its leaders who are considered sham, corrupt, and without regard for the law.

'And then he tied me down, your honour...'

‘And then he tied me down, your honour…’

Political policing has come to Ireland. Do you think if Joan Burton was actually imprisoned in her car or if their was one whif of danger to her safety, Joan would have rung the local gardai who would have descended in force to guard her safety.

Let’s hope a decent barrister will ask to see all mobile phone records and ask the relevant questions.

Perhaps the garda in charge of operations should answer the question as to how Joan Burton allegedly remained a prisoner in her car for 2 hours. Was police time wasted? Could she not have acted sooner to call a garda?

The whole matter would be ludicrous and laughable if not for its sinister side. Perhaps this is a prelude and warning of further kangaroo courts to come targeting protesters across the country.

Joseph Goebbels Hitler’s propaganda chief I’m sure would also have made similar opportunity out of the moment to mount  efforts to tar and feather water protesters with similar propaganda.

Perhaps police entrapment was involved.

We look forward to analysing proceedings.

It’s worrisome that the Director of  Public prosecutions has allowed water protesters to be victimised in this way. Apparently its one rule for farmers protesting another for working class people.

Burton’s remaining time in office would be better served going after bankers who’ve so far for the most part escaped the rule of law. Or indeed investigating possible collusion between regulatory bodies,  developers and politicians in Celtic Tiger years.

Apparently its never been easier to get away with white-collar crime in Ireland

Perhaps if Joan Burton were charged with wasting police time more resources could be given to this neglected area.

Doubting Thomas’s may even have reason to believe the ‘imprisonment’ was staged by both Burton’s entourage and the garda as a form of police entrapment?

The whole saga does not reflect well on the politician involved, gardai and the judiciary.

However, everyone who values free speech and democracy in Ireland should protest at this abuse of our democracy. Particular attention should be given in a public inquiry as to the role of the DPP in pursuing this matter.
 

Homelessness

Increasing the rent supplement will not end the Housing Emergency mushrooming in Ireland, it would in any case only be pocketed by buy-to-let landlords.

Young people are under attack from unscrupulous landlords with unconscionable rents due to artificially induced housing shortages created by the banks to protect wealthy clients and their developer loans.

Consider this scenario: Banks in Ireland remain in a fragile state. Large and outstanding loans to buy-to-let landlords during the boom years are not risk free. If property prices sink, these loans risk going into default.

FG/LB in collusion with the central bank decide on a policy of inducing housing shortages to fatten the sacrificial lamb of property developer loans held by the banks. Banks are already feasting on high rents and ridiculously high property prices.

It’s the old story of the rich 1% with enough political connections in FG/LB to pursue policies in their favour to the exclusion of the needs of the 99%. Such a possible scenario is worthy of consideration.

The price to pay is that some fall under the austerity wheels and face homelessness.

Enda Kenny has promised a package of measures to address the emergency. Ironically, he has known of this emergency for quite some time.

In much the same way he promised that measures would be taken to demand debt relief for our banks duly trumpeted and reneged upon since June 2012, Kenny has been endlessly announcing his ‘waiting for Godot’ means to address the emergency homelessness crisis due to worsen over the coming months and years.

At the stroke of a pen, he could impose a tax on tax-free development land forcing the end of developers sitting on their pot of gold and refusing to sell until the market
peaks.

He could immediately open a series of caravan/mobile home parks as an interim measure that would at least take people out of B&B’s and unsuitable hotels.

NAMA is withholding large property banks from the market and it too should be forced to divest its stake in rising property prices that risk return to Celtic Tiger mistakes..

Irish developers are being refused loans to begin construction supporting the housing needs of people in Dublin.

Kenny’s policies have not only goosed the construction industry but high rents are leading to the closure of viable retail businesses throughout Ireland while Kenny’s odyssey of own goals continue.

Behind all of this farcical paper based economy is the dominance of the financial services industry driving the real economy to its doom.

The servicing of loans to the banks, the development of lending by the banks, has turned a real economy into a paper based exercise in financial Tom Foolery forcing young people to emigrate, the destruction of an economy through austerity.

The propaganda that the economy has turned for the better translated means we are at the point that by stealing from taxes set by the state to pay for social services including education and health, we have returned gambling debts of the rich to the rich to enable them relaunch casino investment practices while the rest of us still pay the tab.

Kenny’s castle is built on sand

The enormous downturn in the value of the euro against the dollar from 1:40+  to  1:10  dollar/euro exchange rate has been a great boon for exporters in Ireland and has lured more US holiday makers to Europe.

While this has been a boon to large business in the export area for the euros held by the 1%, this has been a hidden tax on the general population of 99% forced to pay higher for a range of imported goods from energy products based on oil to imported household items imported from China.

It’s a fragile recovery based on Zeppelin hydrogen rather than the oxygen of a real economy. Germans used hydrogen as a lifting gas that increased lift by about 8%.

Hydrogen fires had never occurred before the one that brought down the Zeppelin.

Let’s hope Kenny’s promise of a rise to pensions and free medical cards for the over 70’s will not further divide older people from the young  who do not  live in mortgage free houses and are not unaffected by the financial collapse.

That particular policy will need to be watched carefully as we approach the winter months with the possibility of doctor’s surgeries overwhelmed with young and old seeking free services while those in serious need go to the back of the queue.

Nama could immediately release large vacant property banks to deal with the crisis.

Kenny’s agenda is not to allow this to happen, to keep property prices high,
to inflate banking profits in this illusory paper economy of ours.

Growth of circa 5% has been promised for the economy for next year as the world enters into an economic disaster with parallels depicted in the movie A Perfect Storm. 

Unemployment levels down for June in spite of Summer month optimism.

There are increased unemployment levels for the young and proportionately 2:1 female to male ratios in those losing their jobs.

Higher taxes vat receipts can partly be explained by higher cost of imports.

Effectively the euro has undergone a massive devaluation against the dollar. In the short-term this has given us an economic boost mainly through increasing exports that benefit from a lower exchange rate against the dollar. Tourism from the US also gets a boost.

But there are negative sides.

Internationally

China could be reaching pay-up time for empty ghost cities built on disastrous lending to developers during its boom years built on lending. Currently it is attempting to brake massive sell-off of investment stocks with parallels to 1929 in the US. China faces the danger of imminent recession.

€86bn bailout to Greece is not without its critics.

Ironically, Kenny has attacked the proposal of debt relief for Greece (I kid you not) in spite of his own aborted failure to succeed in this area. The IMF is now strongly suggesting it will not be part of such a bailout if there is not debt relief for Greece as part of the bailout measures for Greece.

The coming Autumn will decide the fate of Greece if debt relief is not on the table. If it is, banks in Greece and France will take a large hit thus weakening the euro area further.

Meanwhile some argue that 12.5% of GDP as repayment of debt interest by Greece is sustainable.

What is more than sure is that the Zeppelin of recovery built on servicing the financial sector at the expense of the real economy is doomed to failure and will lead to more and more bush fires adding to decline rather than recovery.

Meanwhile young people are asked to pay the piper as they are led into the world of higher taxes and rent increase further eroding their standard of living while being denied the right to own their own property and raise their families in a world threatened by increasing exploitation of the 99% by the 1%.

Welcome to the new Orwellian world of financial paper based Zeppelin economies built on the fires of property and stock based  investment that threaten to burn out of control at any moment.

 

Till again

http://www.economicshelp.org/blog/1299/economics/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-devaluation/

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Kangaroo+Court

http://www.economicshelp.org/macroeconomics/exchangerate/effects-devaluation/

http://www.thejournal.ie/white-collar-crime-1727927-Oct2014/

FG/LB shambles re Irish Water continues. In 2013/14 investment in Irish Water dropped from €600m+ to €300m+. To balance this drop in funding FG/LB touted the notion that Irish Water would be able to massively invest in off balance funding of Irish Water with the costs of this to be borne by the new Irish Water entity. They went ahead and proceeded to fund Irish water with loans obtained on a commercial basis from Irish banks.

'Whoa! Half empty! Definitely half empty!'

‘Whoa! Half empty! Definitely half empty!’

““The ability to access private sector financing in order to invest in improving Ireland’s water infrastructure was a key reason for the establishment of Irish Water. The funds we are borrowing will be used to address decades of underinvestment. The signing of this facility demonstrates confidence in the Irish Water strategy and its ability to borrow competitively from commercial banks. Lenders understand the long-term and sustainable utility model that we have adopted,” said Michael O’Sullivan, group finance director of Ervia, Irish Water’s parent company.”

http://www.irishtimes.com/business/energy-and-resources/irish-water-signs-100m-loan-facility-with-ulster-bank-1.2101187

Phil Coulter “Cool Clear Water”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDuWhUpOqJs

In November 2014, I blogged:

“Irish Water mess deepens. Apparently the cost of installing meters was understated by €100ml or 25% over the original guesstimate. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/irish-water-parent-company-defends-100m-extra-for-meters-1.2012959 This came by the usual route. Once taxpayers are on the hook, another 25-30% can be leached from them with no one to say BOO. Don’t ask to what extent consultants costing extra €86 ml were involved in that decision.

Then it was decided we would not use the meters!

There was a time in this democracy when an increase in vat imposed on children’s shoes would bring down a government. Hardly an eyebrow is raised at the billions shovelled to bondholders, millions to consultants, with the prospect of further billions to be leached from taxpayers by Irish Water.

Have a look at this and look fondly back at the time we had democracy and not Endocracy a la Enda Kenny.

http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/1997/en/act/pub/0029/

“LOCAL GOVERNMENT (FINANCIAL PROVISIONS) ACT, 1997

AN ACT TO ENABLE LOCAL AUTHORITIES TO ENJOY THE REVENUES FROM DUTIES CHARGED UNDER THE FINANCE (EXCISE DUTIES) (VEHICLES) ACT, 1952 , AND FROM DUTIES AND FEES CHARGED UNDER CERTAIN OTHER ENACTMENTS, TO REMOVE THE POWER OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES TO MAKE CHARGES FOR THE SUPPLY OF WATER FOR DOMESTIC PURPOSES OR FOR THE DISPOSAL OF DOMESTIC SEWAGE, TO ENABLE STEPS TO BE TAKEN FOR THE PURPOSE OF SECURING THE PROVISION BY LOCAL AUTHORITIES OF SERVICES IN A MORE ECONOMICAL AND EFFICIENT MANNER, TO OTHERWISE MAKE PROVISION IN RELATION TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT (IN PARTICULAR FOR THE PURPOSE OF ENSURING THAT THE REVENUES FROM DUTIES AND FEES AFORESAID ARE APPORTIONED AMONG LOCAL AUTHORITIES ON AN EQUITABLE AND FAIR BASIS) AND TO PROVIDE FOR RELATED MATTERS. [20th May, 1997]”

Is Irish Water illegal and can it be challenged in court under the above provision.

On December 10 we need 10 out of ten people in Ireland to come out and object to the scandalous mess of Irish Water. Its reckoned the cost of setting up Irish Water will take 10 years of charges without one penny spent of the required billions to fund infrastructural development, that’s just to pay for the quango and the cost of keeping the mess tipping over.

http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/Environment/Water/FileDownLoad,38716,en.pdf

The funding model of Irish Water makes an interesting read. Irish Water will be funded not only by the water tax charges levied on taxpayers by regressive taxation forcing Joe Soap, unemployed, to pay the same charge on his home without a swimming pool, as that payable by Bono, a tax exile. But it will be funded by government taxpayers money.

” Government decided that it would provide annual operating funding to
Irish Water in 2015 and 2016 (“Operating Funding”)”

“The Minister for Finance has sought the approval
of the Government to provide such moneys to Irish Water and the Government decided that
it would provide an amount of equity in 2014 to Irish Water (“Capital Funding”)”

In order to borrow the billions required to develop the water infrastructure currently envisaged by Irish Water it must satisfy certain European requirements:

“In addition, the Government decision in relation to Capital Funding has been framed on the basis that the Capital Funding provided to Irish Water will be classified in Government accounts as an acquisition of equity (which would not impact on GGDeficit) as opposed to a capital transfer (which would impact on GGDeficit). This classification is only likely to be accepted by Eurostat if Irish Water is a market producer and the Government can show it is acting as a rational investor in providing the Capital Funding. If reasonable investment returns are not expected to be made then the investment will be considered as a capital transfer not an acquisition of equity.”

In today’s financial world where black is often termed to be white it’s not at all certain that Irish Water will fail the test to prove it a viable concern for European investment funding.

It’s transparently obvious to this writer that given the back-end funding of Irish Water by way of both Capital Funding and Operating Funding and the cap on increases in water levy charges into 2015/16/17, that Irish Water by no means can deliver a ‘reasonable investment return’ without Enron accounting practices.

Neither this state nor Europe should invest in this awful mess. Europeans pay water charges and do not pay through the nose for water with their taxes. We pay for both through taxes and quangos….

Enda Kenny has holed Fine Gael under the water line with this Irish Water debacle.”

At this point it is crucial to assess the damage to Irish taxpayer liabilities provided by this debacle.

“It is likely, therefore, that the interest rate to be applied on Irish Water’s €550m borrowings this year will be in excess of the 1pc applied to Government borrowings and also more than the 2.5pc rate applied to Irish Water loans from the National Pension Reserve Fund under the old financial model.”

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/water/irish-water-crisis/total-debt-at-underpressure-irish-water-now-tops-850m-31387172.html

It’s clear the establishment of Irish Water was designed by FG/LB to follow the road of privatisation with self-sustaining commercial borrowing as a foundation for future selling off of this state asset. The true extra cost of ‘commercial borrowing’ is not being released on grounds of ‘commercial sensitivity’. The Orwellian and dictatorial anti democratic nature of the Irish Water debacle has now come home to roost.

Eurostat decision to refuse to grant Irish Water take Irish Water into off-balance accounting must surely be the coup de grace for Irish Water.

It’s a pity Eurostat had not similar powers to refuse the Irish government’s guarantee taking over €440bn of contingent liabilities in the banking sector onto the shoulders of Irish taxpayers.

Even NAMA succeeded in passing the Eurostat tests and having its €67bn paid for matched by assets in bank property securities getting approval from Eurostat.

The extent of incompetence represented by Irish Water at the political level is rivalled only with the programme of Universal health care for under sixes blocking doctor’s surgeries with rich kids availing of free medical care while those with real medical need, the old, sick and disabled, lie on hospital trollies, or waiting lists awaiting important surgery or urgent medical reports/tests.

But Irish Water wins out as an Enda Kenny vanity project the scrapping of which would be a very smart move for FG/LB, little risk of that here so far.

The Irish people who’ve already rejected Irish Water will give their verdict on FG/LB and supporters of Irish Water at the next election.

 

 

Till again

 

 

http://www.independent.ie/business/world/government-accounting-hides-scale-of-offbalance-sheet-debts-26647973.html

http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/opinion-eurostat-decision-on-irish-water-fuels-political-storm-1.2299965

Given Germany’s earlier negotiating position that Greece should be expelled from the euro zone for a period of 5 years, has Germany decided to opt instead for a set of proposals so unconscionable to Greece hoping Greece will find the terms so unpalatable, they would secede without the euro zone’s finger prints on the trigger.

Its a huge credit to Syriza instead of walking away, they have achieved terms they can put before the Greek people instead of the disenfranchisement meted out to Irish people including their parliament.

In a week when we listened to ex Taoiseach, Brian Cowen express remorse that we were bundled into a bailout without our consent; that our bailout was no so much negotiated as unwrapped and admired like an Xmas present from the ECB, it must have been embarrassing for our incumbent Taoiseach to witness  bruising efforts of Greece making a stand for its people.

On the other hand,  he did not have to appear before the Banking Inquiry to explain during the Celtic Tiger years why Fine Gael policies favoured even more deregulation of the banks and an even bigger mess with Fine Gael support for removal of stamp duty and other fuel-the-boom policies. Instead Enda Kenny decided to undermine and counter Greece’s negotiating position.

Suicidal Smiley

You might think that a bailout country would be an ally of Greece and express solidarity with its demands for a better deal. Not so.

Instead, we have been treated to an attack on democracy of unprecedented proportions by Enda Kelly and Michael Noonan and FG henchmen such as Michael Kelly MEP lobbying against Greek proposals for debt write down and a better deal.

Towards its conclusion, in spite of Enda Kenny’s visit to Italy to lobby against Greece, the only allies of Greece turned out to be Francois Hollande of  France with Italy, Portugal, Spain, in the wings. Matteo Renzi, the Italian Prime Minister, hosting a visit by Enda Kenny, must have thought Kenny’s views ‘quirky’ if not outright crazy.

Consider the following chilling interview in which Kelly rejects the ‘populist’ view, currently being amortized into a denigratory term  alarmingly subverting democratic political and institutional instruments and by implication attacking and subverting  the political affairs of a sovereign country and fellow member of the eurozone:

http://europarlradio.eu/interview-with-fine-gael-mep-sean-kelly-on-greece/

Measure also the involvement of the Greek parliament in debt restructuring and debt negotiation and compare with Ireland’s current Economic Management Council, where certain matters are not even allowed air before members of the Fine Gael party, outside this technical group; never mind, as in our bailout decision, put before parliament for debate.

Its clear from this interview Kelly would like a more compliant Vichy type technical group in Greece to replace a ‘populist’ Greek government. This group would be forced to pay reparations and extract odious debt from Greece including the selling off of private assets to the tune of €50bn, islands, ports, other valuables in return for another unworkable bailout.

Good deal, if you are a director of Germany’s Deutsche Bank, a global banking and financial services bank, who must have cracked open the champagne with thoughts of the private purchase of one of those Greek islands to celebrate  on news of the deal.

Kelly states the Greek government and not austerity should take the blame for the failure of austerity;  if in Ireland Fine Gael played the populist card, according to Kelly,  we would have ended up in the same position.

We must therefore logically assume FG who put policies before the previous election that included restructuring Ireland’s debt, namely, burning bondholders and demanding debt write-down, falsely claiming there was agreement for debt write down in June 2012, were at best hypocritical,  they were at worst lying to the ‘populist’ electorate.

We must assume FG/LB are not ‘populist’ parties claiming according to the Webster dictionary, to represent the views of the ‘common people’.

Debt write down is not supported by Kenny and Kelly.

In fact, supported by their satellites in the media, FG tout Ireland’s negotiation of its promissory note as successful ‘debt profiling’. ‘Debt profiling’ means ‘extend and pretend’, endless and laborious negotiations, clipping coupons, extending maturities. Both debtors and creditors factor in growth forecasts, inflation, and other economic permeable assets to pretend debt will be repaid.

 

liabilities

Its clear Greek debt will not be repaid.

There is another lesson some economists including Dan O Brien, whom I admire in many respects, cannot seem to get the head around.

When  a country goes into default, both creditors and debtors, must take the loss.

Otherwise, there is no incentive on lenders to end profligate and foolish lending.

Its a simple axiom that is foolishly being ignored also by the IMF involved in debt restructuring in the euro zone. For this legacy, Christine Lagarde and  IMF failure to insist on write down, the IMF will have to pay the piper eventually. It will fail to lure away with its magic pipe deflation and the worsening effects of decline of the euro fallen from 1:40 to 1:10 against the rickety dollar of a little more than a year ago.

If lending is owed to itself as in the case of a Japan or EMU, if debt hasn’t the means to restructure debt by way of debt write down in EMU, with powers of enactment similar to those in the Federal Reserve,  extortion and bullying of member states, comes into play.

In recent negotiations the EU has veered to a totalitarian version of the  latter.

France, Italy and Germany have all  avoided  both structural reforms and paying the bill for Greece. One rule for the rich another rule for the poor.

The euro zone is particularly vulnerable to deflation because of Germany’s insistence on too much fiscal austerity. Increasing the debt burden on Greece and adding austerity has as much chance of saving Greece as it has of saving the euro.

Debt write-down appears to make common sense and would appear recently in the case of Greece to have the support of France and the US. However, the truth is the financial services industry have so wired the global economy since 1970, that any canary in the mine such as Greece, can bring the global economy down. How is this so?

CDS defaults in the unregulated financial services industry have so trip-wired the European and global economy that a default in Greece dollar on dollar could cost banks in Europe in particular Deutsche bank, multiples in the 10’s of the actual discount or write-down these countries could negotiate.

Say 40% or €100bn were written off, actual cost to Deutsche Bank and other French banks could be in multiples of 10 of that figure in terms of the cost of underwriting the CDS default paper these banks are on tap for.

Unfortunately, the fiat money system that is entirely paper based since the dollar was taken off the gold peg in 1971, has been allowed to develop entirely without regulation since then to its present state and is currently a financial bomb primed to explode if set off by even a small canary.

The financial services industry has become the global casino spawning the global tapping of taxpayers money that should instead be earmarked for real economic development and social services instead of serf protectorates such as Greece funneling serf tithes back to anonymous bankers and bondholders.

Since 1970 power in the financial services industry has loaded on risk, got bailed out , blocking regulations, broken the law without accountability. TBTF banks and financial institutions have over ruled the real economy and replaced it with a virtual economy manipulating values eg in the commodity markets.

Its Achilles heel however, is that the real economy will always win out in the end. Gravity in the face of such manipulation is currently being experienced in deflation in the euro zone with slowing growth worldwide in currencies exposed to these same risks.

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news-campaigns-economy-budget/204483-warren-blasts-financial-services

If the deal with Greece goes ahead, kicking the can down the road, the euro itself has backed itself into a corner, austerity with its political and social negatives, will weaken the euro further.

1953 london debt conference https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Agreement_on_German_External_Debts

Creditors are currently threatening to bring the house down if they are not repaid. Its time not to pour good money after bad, bring the house down and rebuild on a solid foundation fit for human progress and end the fraudulent deceit of the current shambolic and unregulated mayhem looting and pillaging debtor nations such as Greece.

Greece should go it alone and rally its people behind its own currency. Volunteer groups within its own society should support communities in education and health. It should follow the path of Iceland.

On the back jacket of “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” 2004 is written, “John Perkins should know he was an economic hit man for an international consulting firm that worked to convince poorer countries to accept enormous development loans – and to make sure that such projects were contracted to U.S. companies. Once these countries were saddled with huge debts, the American government would request their “pound of flesh” in favours, including access to natural resources, military cooperation and political support.”

We need an audit of the debts of Ireland and especially Greece to examine where the money went, how much German companies were made rich eg Siemens, on money lent to Greece by Germany, how much was diverted to eg military spending in a country known for corruption and obedient compliance with profligate, looting lenders.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Agreement_on_German_External_Debts

In 1953, the Treaty of Versailles was revisited in the London Debt conference and Germany had its debt written down by over 50%. Importantly these obligations would only trigger on a trade surplus. This gave Germany the opportunity to rebuild itself in the post war years.

“The total under negotiation was 16 billion marks of debt resulting from the Treaty of Versailles after World War I which had not been paid in the 1930s, but which Germany decided to repay to restore its reputation. This money was owed to government and private banks in the U.S., France and Britain. Another 16 billion marks represented postwar loans by the U.S. Under the London Debts Agreement of 1953, the repayable amount was reduced by 50% to about 15 billion marks and stretched out over 30 years, and compared to the fast-growing German economy were of minor impact.[2]

An important term of the agreement was that repayments were only due while West Germany ran a trade surplus, and that repayments were limited to 3% of export earnings. This gave Germany’s creditors a powerful incentive to import German goods, assisting reconstruction.[3]

Its sad to see Germany impose its version of the Treaty of Versailles on a victim of the euro such as Greece with the obedient compliance of  euro zone leaders such as our own, Enda Kenny.

 

Postscript

 

Following his trashing of elected representatives of the Greek people, I never thought I would agree with anything Wolfgang Schauble,  German Federal Minister of Finance,  had to say about Greece.

But today on German radio Shauble has repeated an earlier position, that Greece would be better off with Grexit for a period of 5 years. This would enable Greece to negotiate debt write-down and do the necessary reforms to get its economy in shape. Within the EMU, debt write-down is not on the cards.

Returning to the drachma and having a parallel currency of the euro is not without its hardship difficulties.

It would require a mobilisation of a vast volunteer effort within Greece to offset the worst implications of this for its people.

Judging by their huge success in standing up for Greece at the political level, if the Greek people can mirror only a fraction of this effort, debt write-down with a quick return to order and return of Greece to markets is within their scope.

Austerity in Greece has already made their country competitive and has generated a surplus.

Their banking issues require debt write-down of the order of 60%. Devaluation and return to the drachma can turn around the fortunes of Greece in the shortest time possible.

 

till again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://news.goldseek.com/GoldSeek/1436288044.php

economyscrewed

 

The Greek economy is screwed. Its structural deficit reduction has been 4-5 times that of Ireland’s since 2008. Think of the austerity in Ireland endured by its population, multiply it by 5.

Court jester to the troika and the creditors, Enda Kenny thinks Greece needs to come up with some pro growth policies.

Look at Greece circled in accompanying chart. The debt burden is increasing, growth has collapsed. It cannot serve its own public service in spite of horrendous cutbacks, never mind serve creditors their interest rate repayments. Policies forced upon it by creditors have led to economic collapse. The troika is demanding more austerity for citizens leading to further collapse.

It would appear the only method in this madness is to destroy the Greek government, destroy democracy, make the country ungovernable and unmanageable, before sending in tanks with law and order provided from a puppet government such as the Irish government, friendly to creditors, at some point in the not so distant future.

Both Kenny and his cabinet mainly Noonan and Charlie Flanagan have been sniping at Greek efforts to secure a debt deal over the past week. Charlie Flanagan, minister for Foreign Affairs, has stated actions and comments by the Greek negotiators have been “provocative” over the past week.

With its record on debt negotiation hitherto regarded as successful by this government we are dealing with a level of self-delusion unprecedented in Irish politics. They will not delude the Greeks as they defend against the latest IMF smash and grab. One pro growth policy not acceptable to Kenny is debt write-down.

Broadcast on: June 26th, 2015 by RTE interview by Cathal Mac Coilla

http://www.rte.ie/news/player/2015/0626/20803011-time-running-out-for-greek-debt-deal/

containing a relatively lengthy and revealing interview with Yanis Varoufakis  economist and current Greek Finance minister.

Enda Kenny and his cabinet avoid such interviews preferring their handler’s glib soundbites that hide incompetence and groom the public to accept dictatorial dictates that may not be questioned.

We could benefit from a televised debate style open forum between him and Yanis Varoufakis, Alexis Tsipras and Michael Noonan that would instantly cast light on his lack of ability and idiotic contribution to debate on Greece.

Perhaps one on the lines of the BBC’s Question Time together with a live audience who also field questions.

We would soon see through to his clownish tilting at windmills that would lay bare his embarrassing contribution to the debate on Greece.

We are unlikely to get this. Apologies for this slight digression.

Approximately 6 mins into the interview with Varoufakis, Mac Coilla ran a Kenny interview in which Kenny was asked :   “Is debt relief something that Ireland would support for Greece?” “No”(Enda Kenny).

Kenny has campaigned for debt relief for Ireland seriously bungling the matter with claims he had commitments for same, which have since evaporated.

Here he is May 2014 reiterating such claims “Mr Kenny said the implementation of a pledge by EU leaders in June 2012 to ease the cost of the Irish bank rescue should be part of Europe’s response to the election”

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/taoiseach-makes-further-case-for-bank-debt-relief-1.1811734

Now both he and Noonan are sniping and attacking Greece for its attempt to vindicate its own requirements for debt relief.

In terms  of the politics of the absurd this is embarrassing to say the least.

How can we deny the Greeks their right to debt write-down and claim those same rights ourselves?

This is gross hypocrisy. Damage done to our own claims for debt relief on our shouldering of losses on saving German and French banks with tab sent to our taxpayers, is beyond belief.

It would appear Ireland supports Germany hegemony and its interference in the affairs of a sovereign country Greece.

Idiotic politicians from Ireland such as Kenny are jumping on the bandwagon and fanning the flames of opposition to Greece instead of supporting the Greek position.

These efforts are meant to destabilise the Greek government:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/07/jean-claude-juncker-angrily-accuses-greek-alexis-tsipras-lying-bailout-talks

Jean Claude Juncker EU commission president is not beneath trashing Greece and interfering in its political autonomy.  So long EU and welcome in GEU (The German EU)

Unlike FG/LB under Kenny  Syriza are committed to democracy and have called a referendum on Greek bailout. The Greek people can measure the heinous effects of bailout disguised in looting and pillaging of the public sector and can see through the lies told by Juncker.

Yanis Varoufakis in his interview stated Greece “Bent over backwards” to accommodate some “rather strange demands” from creditors and European partners.

Its ironic European ministers are not privy to these negotiations but are fed on propaganda from the negotiations given to them by the creditors.

Varoufakis noted Greece negotiating with the institutions, heads of state not negotiating with the institutions. They are kept in the dark as to the details known only to Greece and the institutions, but are willing to feed on the line/propaganda given to them by the institutions.

Yanis Varoufakis states if Noonan, Kenny were privy to those details, they would change their perspective.

I’m not sure he knows the level of incompetence he is dealing with.

As debtor nation under constant recession for the past 3 years they have responsibility not to make matters worse for the economy. Yanis states when he is asked to put his signature at the end of an agreement he knows is unviable, he is not going to do it!

Unlike Irish negotiators who sign anything they are asked to.

Kenny raps the Greeks over the knuckles for not having any pro growth figures before the ministers. The way Greece should go given Ireland’s example according to Kenny, “We did not increase income tax, we did not increase VAT, we did not increase PRSI, but we put up alternatives to those measures proposed in order to put up a pro growth policy and make our country competitive”. The lie is we did increase vat along with a plethora of hidden taxes.

Kenny increased vat and introduced odious austerity through the back door protecting the rich with unfair, hidden taxes, property taxes and water charges and public service salary cuts levied on the lower and middle class. He did what he was told to do.

According to Yanis Varoufakis Greece  has imposed 5 times the fiscal consolidation imposed by Ireland over the past 5 years. Greeks are the champions of austerity at this time.

Because of austerity measures the Greek economy shrank by 27% on back of pensions coming down by up to 48% and wages by 32%.

They have squeezed out of their public sector everything apart from low wages and low pensions. For 7 years quarter on quarter the economy is shrinking. Only 10% or 12% get unemployment benefit.

In Greece whole families with generations of the unemployed living on one pension there is nothing more to give.

For Joan Burton “Greece seems to prefer lecturing the rest of Europe”….So many critics of Greece in the Irish government.

Varoufakis has been excused of the heinous crime of explaining macroeconomics. Varoufakis, “It’s quite quaint that insisting on having a macroeconomic discussion at European level is considered to be condescending”.

On the contrary,  Varoufakis is holding up by his learned competence a mirror to the incompetence and quaint ill-informed if embarrassing position of Burton ilk.

Kenny and Burton are both against increasing taxes on corporations, on the rich, on large companies; they are both mouthpiece of a right-wing ideology. Strangely they ask for pro growth policies but refuse to countenance debt forgiveness as the only pro growth outlook for Greece. sinkhole

The Greeks have put forward a balanced proposal to their creditors. Perhaps we need to ask Kenny to outline his balanced proposals for Greece or justify his ill-informed nonsense?

Meanwhile in forcing Greece to the brink, IMF has breached its own mandate in partnering with the ECB and the EU.

It should immediately withdraw from the troika.

Classical way the IMF ingloriously worked  financial meltdown eg in Latin America in countries since its inception was, to support devaluation, debt write-down/relief with 40-50% losses born by creditors, re-engineering of the economy to support growth.

IMF’s meddling in the affairs of ECB and the EU under the principle of full repayment of unpayable bailout loans without devaluation or debt write-down has turned into an exercise in the excoriation and pillaging of a sovereign nation.

IMF should reexamine its own policies and mandate and consider whether its own leadership is up to the task of managing Greek fallout, or whether its own leadership under Lagarde is wanting another adult in the room to deal with this unfolding crisis.

High Five to Greece, go n’éiri an bothar libh.

 

till again.

Circling The Drain Hole

June 15, 2015

stock-vector-balloon-pop-vector-drawing-of-a-hand-popping-a-red-balloon-with-a-pin-147460817Congrats to Greece, who now, as predicted in this blog, are demanding an Icelandic type default, who’ve withstood pummeling by international creditor coalition led by Germany.

Congrats to Syriza not selling out their people as our government have. Incompetence and greed unfortunately have won the day in Ireland, see growing list of current failures of FG/LB end of this blog:

Ambrose Evans Pritchard in the Guardian:

“The radical wing of Greece’s Syriza party is to table plans over coming days for an Icelandic-style default and a nationalisation of the Greek banking system, deeming it pointless to continue talks with Europe’s creditor powers.

Syriza sources say measures being drafted include capital controls and the establishment of a sovereign central bank able to stand behind a new financial system. While some form of dual currency might be possible in theory, such a structure would be incompatible with euro membership and would imply a rapid return to the drachma.

The confidential plans were circulating over the weekend and have the backing of 30 MPs from the Aristeri Platforma or ‘Left Platform’, as well as other hard-line groupings in Syriza’s spectrum. It is understood that the nationalist ANEL party in the ruling coalition is also willing to force a rupture with creditors, if need be.

“This goes well beyond the Left Platform. We are talking serious numbers,” said one Syriza MP involved in the draft.

“We are all horrified by the idea of surrender, and we will not allow ourselves to be throttled to death by European monetary union,” he told the Telegraph.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/11673989/Syriza-Left-demands-Icelandic-default-as-Greek-defiance-stiffens.html

The consequences for default are far reaching and contrary to the snake oil bond salesman frequently brought on to RTE to talk down the crisis, who argue every bank in Europe has already written off Greek Debt, such is not the case.

Lets look at Deutsche Bank http://notquant.com/is-deutsche-bank-the-next-lehman/:

June 9: S&P lowers the rating of Deutsche Bank to BBB+  Just three notches above “junk”.  (Incidentally,  BBB+ is even lower than Lehman’s downgrade – which preceded its collapse by just 3 months)”

“The trouble for Deutsche Bank is that its conventional retail banking operations are not a significant profit center.  To maintain margins, Deutsche Bank has been forced into riskier asset classes than its peers.

Deutsche Bank is sitting on more than $75 Trillion in derivatives bets — an amount that is twenty times greater than German GDP.    Their derivatives exposure dwarfs even JP Morgan’s exposure – by a staggering $5 trillion.

With that kind of exposure, relatively small moves can precipitate catastrophic losses.   Again, we must note that Greece just missed its payment to the IMF – and further defaults are most certainly not beyond the realm of possibility.”

The chain of dominos that will fall if DB defaults is anyone’s guess and DB is but one bank in Europe. Banks in France and Germany are highly exposed to Greek style default.

Highly inflated tyres come with increased risk of puncture and it looks like Greece is one tyre that cannot be mended without default.

QE in the US, EMU, Japan and UK patched the burst tyre of the fiat monetary system debased by taking it off the gold reserve Breton Woods system in 1971. Since then the money supply has inflated the divide between rich and poor. Austerity has made the poor poorer and the rich, richer. In order to unwind the out-of-control path of our current monetary system, Breton Woods should be revisited.

Financial engineering concealing losses due to adjusted profit accountancy tricks will not hide the effects of Greek default.

A super inflated stock market rich only on the gambled investments of central banks printing money spent on stocks and shares not in real investment awaits the pin of Greece and a burst DB.

Omens are not good and parallels exist with the past:

“In 1715, France was insolvent. It had just lost its king, Louis XIV, and the Duke d’Orléans was named regent until the late monarch’s great-grandson came of age to rule. Familiar with Law and his unorthodox ideas, the duke established him as head of the Banque Générale in hopes that he might reduce the massive debt Louis XIV left behind.

To this end, Law began printing banknotes—lots of them—and flooding the economy with easy money. Doing so, he believed, would expand employment, boost production and increase exports.

It indeed had those effects—for a time. Paris was booming. The number of millionaires multiplied.

Unlike Palmstruch, Law made no claims that the notes could be converted back into gold or any other metal. He believed that a currency, whether gold or paper, had no intrinsic value other than as a government-sanctioned medium of exchange. Instead, his notes were “secured,” vaguely, by French land, including its colonies in the Americas. There was also no limit to the amount of money that could be pumped into the French economy. Like many of today’s central bankers, Law was of the opinion that if 500 million notes were good, a billion were even better.

But to make it all work according to plan, he had to take extreme measures. Law outlawed the hoarding of money, the use of coins and the possession of more than the minimalist amount of gold and silver.

The system turned out to be untenable and the paper money became worthless. After only four short years, the currency bubble burst. Law was not only removed from office but exiled from the country. Until his death in 1729, he roamed Europe heavily in debt, making his way by his former occupation, gambling.

The incident had long-lasting effects. It sustained the country’s economic woes for years and contributed to the start of the French Revolution later in the century, as it stoked working class disenfranchisement.”

There are parallels between 1715 in France, The Central Bankers, QE, the  international shadow banking system and the bubble of QE printing money for the rich while printing austerity and debt for the poor.

We should know by June 30 if Grexit is to be.

Grexit will not end the euro’s woes.

In a badly designed monetary union the treatment of the outer core debtor nations such as Ireland, Portugal and Greece, has been appalling.

Austerity is not leading to growth in Europe. It has crippled Greece and done serious damage to Ireland attacking democracy, health and education services and the development of public infrastructure.

The EU has morphed into a dangerous hegemony controlled by Germany leading serf nations into the unknown.

Global currency led by the dollar in the US has turned its economy into a rentier financial paper led system destroying the middle class, destroying the possibility of property ownership for young people, burdening the young with impossible debt.

Is this a true model for human development and growth in a civilization tasked with developing a positive future for humanity, or a recipe for disaster dragging the world into the past.

Arguments made against Greece refer to its large shadow economy.  International creditors have pitted an international shadow banking system against Greece’s own shadow economy under the radar of taxation.

“As of 2013, academic research has suggested that the true size of the shadow banking system may have been over $100 trillion in 2012.”

“Based on estimates, Prentice notes that “given US GDP of $14.26 trillion, the world’s largest, that could still be as much as $1.2 trillion in taxable income that slips through Uncle Sam’s fingers each year”. Prentice quotes Austrian economist Friedrich Schneider, “Taxation and regulation increased in most countries over the past 10 years…reducing the tax burden is the best policy measure to reduce the shadow economy, followed by a lessening of fiscal and business regulation.”

Negotiations between Greece and its creditors have followed a rocky road. A large shadow economy in Greece unwilling to face taxes against a band of creditors wanting taxes to pay extortionate and unconscionable debt of no benefit to  Greek people innocent in driving up such debt.

Let’s hope in return to the Drachma or some parallel currency, responsible and competent government can bring Greece into a better place; where taxes will be levied to support services in education and health and infrastructure for the Greek people.

Meanwhile its time to rethink the very basis upon which our deregulated and dive-to-the-bottom global currency system works.

Humanity can come up with better than the pretence the global monetary system has clothes on.

Hats off to Greece in defending democracy against  rampant shadow bankers who’ve won out in Ireland and Portugal.

Grexit and Greece may yet to be a lesson for us all.

 

Local news:

Kathleen Lynch must have been joking on the radio. When asked about possible tsunami of parents with children under 6 wishing to avail of the free GP scheme flooding doctor surgeries, she replied, that she had taken this into consideration, working mothers would not be taking time off work to take their babies to the doctor when they are sick!

Perhaps she should sign an edict requiring doctor’s surgeries to be relocated to creches to avoid having whole creches descend on doctor surgeries? In a world where the completely daft and ludicrous becomes commonplace, I must point out I jest for sake of parody.

Those who are seriously ill will find it increasingly difficult to attend the doctor.

Kathleen Lynch has a favorite turn of phrase she uses to describe this policy, “this is part of the future”. The irony is its not, our health service through austerity is being dragged back to the middle ages.

The notion free health care for the under 6’s should equally be distributed to those who can well afford to pay for this strikes at incompetence of ludicrous proportions in a society that cannot provide hospital beds only trollies.

Along with Irish Water, the abysmal failure to address mortgage arrears, extortion of those on variable rate mortgages, absurd efforts to abolish the Junior Cert, and current proposals to hide the IBRC investigation under the umbrella of a commission of investigation they hopefully will anaesthesise the downside of negative findings of political incompetence, the mess grows by the day.

FG/LB have ensured the investigation will not be brought into the Public arena with no danger of the PAC getting hold of it as they did with the charities. Dirty washing will only be done in private.

Property mess, notices of intent to startup have dropped by up to 25% this month in Dublin due to the Central Bank’s loading of 20% deposit requirements for first time mortgages in spite of rearguard action to soften this blow to first time house buyers.

Huge landmarks of zoned land in Dublin are sat on by developers tax free in spite of emergency requirements to address homelessness and increase stock of available housing to avoid rentier and bank mortgage scalping.

Environment minister Kelly and Junior minister Nash have just circulated a document to local authorities in Dublin requesting that regulations on builders be softened to avoid impacting developers in such a way they may be deterred from constructing houses. I kid you not. Regulations eg such as minimum insulation standards. All this coming from Celtic tiger years where sub standard housing was built all over Dublin city.

Over 400 Clery’s workers given 30 minutes to vacate the premises with summary notice of liquidation and loss of their jobs, with many more feeder jobs from suppliers to be lost, no sign of blinkered Richard Bruton or Enda Kenny, hidden from it all.

 

Till again

 

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/creditdefaultswap.asp

http://notquant.com/is-deutsche-bank-the-next-lehman/

http://news.goldseek.com/GoldSeek/1434038487.php

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadow_banking_system

http://www.forbes.com/sites/benzingainsights/2011/11/07/rise-of-the-shadow-economy-second-largest-economy-in-the-world/2/

 

Democracy Under Siege

June 2, 2015

Oligarchs threaten Irish democracy 

In contrast to the extortionate rates of interest handed out to Irish variable rate mortgage holders, Dennis O ‘Brien has managed a more favourable deal perhaps under threat of withdrawing his money from Irish banks. But first:

http://www.newstalk.com/Creditors-hold-late-night-Berlin-meeting-as-Greece-rules-out-further-compromise

“Last night German Chancellor Angela Merkel held an unscheduled emergency meeting in Berlin with Greece’s creditors. In addition to Merkel, Francois Hollande and Jean-Claude Juncker, the IMF’s Christine Lagarde and ECB’s Mario Draghi were also in attendance.

According to the Guardian, The meeting took place from around 9.30pm until midnight, and though rumours spread that concessions would be agreed, the commission paper drawn up offered none.

Concurrently, a cabinet meeting was held in Athens and a “comprehensive proposal” sent to Greece’s creditors. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says it contains specific, realistic proposals, and that the decision on agreement now rests on European leaders, as Greece has conceded enough already.

Today various members of the SYRIZA government have been re-iterating that position – that they will not accept further austerity measures.”

This issue flagged repeatedly and most recently here on last blog, is about to reach final endgame.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/live/2015/jun/02/greek-bailout-breakthrough-eurozone-emergency-summit-creditors-live

Over in Athens, the minister of state Nikos Pappas has also racheted up the pressure this afternoon describing the proposal the Greek government has made as “complete, unified and solid,” reports our correspondent Helena Smith.”

This will have profound ramifications for the future of the EU. Key differences exist between the reforms proposed by the ECB and those proposed by the Greek government.

While relegating this story to the side line meanwhile RTE have other irons in the fire.

It’s all about Dennis O Brien and his challenge to the Oireachtas. At its heart is O’Brien’s argument that his banking affairs are private and his right to privacy trumps any effort by the state to investigate the affairs of IBRC or indeed any of his business dealings.

Right to privacy, commercial sensitivity have led to a rash of laws protecting NAMA’s right to cloak itself in secrecy.

O Brien has threatened to remove his assets held in Irish banks and like Bono take all his banking offshore….

Transparency and accountability have been to the fore in what this blog has called for investigating the fallout of Ireland’s financial collapse and bailout 2008-10.

In their place we have had obfuscation and coverup culminating in the mea culpa dirges sung by those before our so-called banking inquiry acknowledging mistakes were made and apologising if the complainant/defendant had any inadvertent role in same.

This blog has argued for an approach to follow the money investigating the 10 highest developer deals. Sadly developers and bankers trumpeting their right to privacy have tooth and nail like O Brien fought to prevent such examination of their ‘private’ banking affairs.

Contrast this position with the €67bn bailout of the Irish banks by Irish taxpayers whose right to investigate the banking collapse and vindicate their rights with criminal proceedings to prosecute wrong doing if required.

If no crime committed, there should be nothing to hide. There again if you consider it a crime that taxpayers were left to bail out a collapsed economy, they are deserving of knowing what exactly they are paying for.

If bonuses, brown paper bags, political influence, incompetence, under the table deals, skull duggery of whatever guise were the cause of collapse, taxpapers right to know trumps the rights of criminal concealment of crimes if committed.

To make this judgement we need to root out any wrongdoing hiding under false claims to right to privacy. With banking collapse normal banking claims to right to privacy are absurd if they cover up wrongdoing.

FG/LB and FF government have signally been remiss in changing the constitution to enable legislation if required to trawl through the records of financial affairs that led to banking collapse. See Deputy Catherine Murphy’s proposal to end this debacle below.

Collusion with bankers and developers is an extraordinary feature of this present government culminating in the appointment of KPMG to investigate IBRC and hounding of those who seek to get at the truth.

The O’ Brien saga cuts to the root of the problems that led to the ill-fated Celtic Tiger marriage of developers and politicians with bankers.

The O’ Brien saga if anything shows where we really should be looking to see the roots of Ireland’s financial collapse.

Siteserv deal or selling off by NAMA to bottom feeding vulture funds of discounted state assets, should warrant open public inquiry. This is  in contrast to ludicrous KPMG inquiry of the fox investigating the missing hens.

A real inquiry into our banking collapse should be enabled by constitutional changes re right to property. Such rights should be forfeit if proven to hide criminal wrongdoing or corruption favouritism given to political and/or developer oligarchs.

If such a right is shown not to serve the public interest, but to serve only the interest of eg developer barons looting this economy as tax exiles,  emergency legislation to examine the private financial affairs of developers and bankers, should make way for proper banking inquiry.

Squeals from O Brien show we are on the right track on investigation of shenanigans where the right to privacy is invoked over the right to free speech, what is in the US called the First Amendment.

Neither the right to privacy, nor the right to free speech, should confer the right to hide the truth taxpayers deserve to know:fingers

 

http://thebrokenelbow.com/2015/05/28/what-catherine-murphy-td-said-in-the-dail-about-denis-obrien/

“COMPTROLLER AND AUDITOR GENERAL (AMENDMENT) BILL 2015: FIRST STAGE

Deputy Catherine Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy I move:

    That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Act 1993 in order to make an addition to the First Schedule, to expand the areas under which an examination under section 9 may be conducted, and to provide for related matters.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Bill 2015 proposes to extend the functions and powers of the Comptroller and Auditor General to cover IBRC. It was the Taoiseach who first suggested that the Comptroller and Auditor General review the Siteserv sale process at which time it was pointed out to him that the IBRC does not come within the Comptroller and Auditor General’s remit. With this Bill, I am attempting to address that problem by broadening the remit of the Comptroller and Auditor General. The reason I anticipate the need to involve the Comptroller and Auditor General, if not a full commission of inquiry which latter might well be a better option, is that the Government has got this matter badly wrong. That is not least because most of the key players in the Siteserv saga have links with KPMG and the eventual purchaser and vice versa. It is a web of connections and conflicts that requires outside eyes to unravel.

I have no doubt that the special liquidator is more than capable of carrying out such a review, but his direct involvement in the sale process, his relationship with the eventual purchaser of Siteserv and his current actions in the High Court in supporting Mr. Denis O’Brien against RTE place him in a position where there is, at the very least, a perceived if not an actual conflict of interest. The review is not confined to Siteserv, but that is the transaction that prompted a review in the first instance. I worry about the transactions that have been excluded from the review given what that we now know that in the final months before prom night, the relationship between the Department and IBRC had completely broken down. If deals were being done without the knowledge or input of the Minister, we must know what those were. We are now aware, for example, that the former CEO of IBRC made verbal agreements with Denis O’Brien to allow him to extend the terms of his already expired loans. We also know that the verbal agreement was never escalated to the credit committee for approval. I am led to believe and would welcome clarification by the Minister that the rates applicable to the extension were extremely favourable. I understand that Mr. O’Brien was enjoying a rate of approximately 1.25% when IBRC could, and arguably should, have been charging 7.5%. Given that we are talking about outstanding sums of upwards of €500 million, the interest rate applied is not an insignificant issue for the public interest. We also know that Denis O’Brien felt confident enough in his dealings with IBRC that he could write to Kieran Wallace, the special liquidator, to demand that the same favourable terms extended to him by way of a verbal agreement be continued. We now have Kieran Wallace, who has been appointed by the Government to conduct the IBRC review, joining with IBRC and Denis O’Brien in the High Court to seek to injunct the information I have outlined from coming into the public domain. Surely, that alone represents a conflict.

In documents released to me under freedom of information, the Minister, his officials, the Central Bank and even the troika acknowledge that IBRC – the former Anglo Irish Bank – is no ordinary bank and that there is a significant public interest as the bank was fully nationalised and was in wind-down mode. They all accept that this is the people’s money we are dealing with and that there can be no dispute regarding the public interest in this. The same materials obtained under freedom of information detail instances where the Minister can specifically intervene and issue a ministerial order that material matters have a significant public interest. Included in these material matters are instances that are outside the ordinary course of business. I argue that what I have outlined here regarding verbal deals and extensions etc. are outside the normal course of business and ask the Minister to exercise his right to intervene in the current proceedings to defend the public interest.

I have a motion on the Order Paper signed by the majority of Opposition Members calling for a debate on the proposed review. I note that 45 Members have signed and more are welcome to. When I tried to raise the matter on the Order of Business, I was silenced and told to take it up with my Whip. I am the Whip of the Technical Group and I had raised the matter at the weekly Whips’ meeting. The Government Chief Whip told me that the Government would not be altering the KPMG review and that it would not provide time to debate this issue. He suggested that we use Private Members’ time. This is not just an Opposition issue; it is an issue for the whole House. It is an issue of serious public concern involving public money. If the Minister opposite, Deputy Paschal Donohoe, got his hands on an extra €20 million, he would not have to think too hard about how to spend it. I urge the Government to reconsider this matter and to give the Bill and the motion the time they deserve. It is in the public interest to do so. ”

 

End

 

 

 

Europe’s Lehman’s

May 14, 2015

Spurred on by low-interest rates coupled with the expansion of the money supply through QE in Japan, Europe and US, inflation is looming. Savings and long-term capital investment are parked and replaced with speculative, short-term borrowing. So far inflation has confined itself to stock markets, both Janet Yellen head of the FED and Christine Lagarde at the head of IMF, are both worried. They should be.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2015/05/06/yellen-lagarde-conversation/70886172/

Banks and governments on bond buying sprees see more money to be made at the casino of the stock markets, than productive investment in the real economy on austerity shakedown.

With growth rates in Europe and US at close to zero in spite of QE, stock values have reached virtual heights inflated by QE  without reference to the disappearing real economy.bubbles

http://www.inflationomics.com/article.php?article=Keeping+Interest+Rates+Low

Bubbles are required to support the fungible inflation of stock prices and to keep  real economy and the shadow economy in business.

In Ireland, the real economy has been pillaged and looted  replaced by a virtual financial services driven economy dictated by  banks, government economic management committee, IMF and ECB and European Commission. Health care and education are under real attack and declines in services becoming more pronounced.

Developing in Orwellian Big Brother fashion Europe gains day by day more of the features of the defunct USSR in its relationship to satellite states with shots called by Germany leading inner core nations against outer core interests.

The lofty pricing model of property during Celtic Tiger years is being kept in place by banks and financial institutions to protect their asset base.

Shortages induced by NAMA and lack of investment in construction through induced shortages, has falsely inflated property prices. If property prices drop,  lending institutions on a knife edge regarding the servicing of their lending into the economy, face danger of default.

Banks now depend on a false bubble in the housing market!

The real economy with resources and assets siphoned out to pay eg extortionate variable rate interest rates and service unsustainable lending, is victim of the bubble.

Young people are priced out of the prospect of owning their own home. The future is ill- omened with imminent prospect of vulture fund acquisition of large housing stock and future extortionate rental rates driving serfs to emigrate.

In the US PE price of stock by valuations by share continue to rise to bubble levels.

According to Robert Schiller of Yale, stocks are very overvalued (markets extremely overvalued). Currently US stock market should be 50% of the size of the economy instead it is valued over 150-180%.

Margin debt, the economy divided by the amount people have borrowed to bet on stocks and shares, as percentage of the real economy, is at an all time high. Internals are weakening eg earnings are lower. Middle class is disappearing as wealth is more and more funnelled upwards where it lies dormant and unproductive. Unless spent on financial paper bubbles.

So far the shadow economy of derivatives has fuelled an internet bubble, and fuelled the 2008 crash. An ineffective Dodd Frank pr stunt has failed to curb excesses of the financial services industry through lack of regulation, QE has provided more fuel for the shadow economy dragon, to create more bubbles of fire.

Since 1970 the derivatives industry and the shadow banking economy have grown to estimated  $1.2 quadrillion: 20 times the size of the world economy. Its estimated that the world’s annual gross domestic product is between $50 trillion and $60 trillion..

2008 Lehman’s was a bank scapegoat for problems in the financial services industry. The Wall Street Crash of 2008 was executed by Lehman’s. But the real cause exploited by Lehman’s was lack of regulation. Remove opportunity and end the crime.

Bloating TBTF banking, burgeoning, bubbling. smoking, fire spitting dragon of unregulated out of control bush fires of the derivatives market, controlling, manipulating the shares market, welcome to Casino investment banking.

Instead of tackling the dragon, through austerity taxpayers are sacrificed to it; its worst excesses are refuelled to generate more havoc.

Lack of regulation of investment banking stocks and  gambling in shares led to the market crash of 1929. We are heading there again.

The problem is lack of regulation of the financial services industry now overwhelming  the real economy to the point where we no longer have a real economy, but a virtual one driven by virtual paper.

This is leading to a currency crisis. Triggers are in place. In Europe we have not only a Lehman’s, Greece, but we have sub prime lending and a bankrupt country whose extend and pretend prospects  fast running out.

 http://www.inflationomics.com/article.php?article=Keeping+Interest+Rates+Low

Forget all this ‘improving competitiveness’  emanating from EU and Central Banks across the world. Its only a mask for austerity and a cover to conceal the real problems effecting the global economy. If you want to improve competitiveness, dismantle the shadow economy and its financial services industry. Strict regulation of a gold standard to bring about stability and real growth.

Brexit and Grexit  loom  prospecting  imminent financial collapse of the euro under Europe’s QE race to hyperinflation. Germany should know better.

Werner Hoyer President of the EIB in an introduction to the European Investment Bank paper, begins well:

http://www.eib.org/attachments/efs/restoring_eu_competitiveness_en.pdf

“Europe’s competitiveness and long-term, sustainable growth potential suffer from a history of underinvestment in important areas, inefficient and fragmented financial markets, and institutional barriers. Seven years of crisis have undermined confidence, lowered aggregate investment, and further aggravated structural investment gaps. At the same time, limited fiscal space and the necessary regulatory response to the banking crisis are significantly limiting the ability of Member States and the European banking sector to take risks and catalyse valuable investment. ”

Thereafter, the paper rolls out a call to action with significant investment in key areas. But this paper fails to address the matter of problematic financial markets. Perhaps its been redacted.

The geopolitical interests of certain dominant inner core members at expense of the interests of outer core members, lets not delve into who will get the lions share of such investment.

Over and over we get these pious declarations of intent to fix  financial markets, but nothing concrete emerges.

Problems in the euro area are not due to under investment, nor will they be solved by over investment.

Problems are due to ‘  limited fiscal space and the necessary regulatory response to the banking crisis are significantly limiting the ability of Member States and the European banking sector to take risks and catalyse valuable investment ‘

Throwing money at the problem of under investment won’t cure the problem. The above paper names the problem but does not address it.

Let me try to put back and catalyse into that paper a missing chapter.

Both Janet Ellen and Nobel Laureat Schiller are aware of the problem. Stocks are overpriced. Property markets are overpriced.

Eventually this bubble in stock market pricing will turn into a bear market that will have to be controlled by a new financial formula to replace the low interest rate and QE formula that has led to the present bubble in stocks and property prices.

This may end in a global currency crash if matters continue to deteriorate as they have so far.

Low interest rates or negative interest rates cannot last forever.

http://www.bloombergview.com/quicktake/europes-qe-quandary

Market forces will eventually exert gravitational pull on bubbles bursting them. QE has generated bubbles, little else.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/102659042

Grexit is one such bubble  waiting to be cauterised. Its origin lies in the design of the euro itself with self regulation the norm. Its domino effect can bring the house down. For Greeks the choice is between accepting dictatorial austerity or some form of proto Icelandic Grexit.

Both these Hobson choices have an extremely negative side for the euro.

Future of the euro is on the table. Excision of the whole systemic economic failure of the euro, should be on the cards.

Failure to unwind the problems that have given rise to Grexit and Ireland’s massive default, should be of grave concern.

Lower interest rates and tax cuts wreaked havoc in Europe in the years following its inception when stability and growth pacts were watered down if not totally ignored:

https://www.ecb.europa.eu/pub/pdf/scpops/ecbocp129.pdf

“While the latest reforms go in the right direction, it is far from clear whether they will be sufficient to ensure sound fiscal policies. The envisaged common approach to stronger domestic fiscal rules is insufficient, and it is unclear whether countries will make meaningful changes to domestic arrangements. Under the preventive arm of the revised framework, the monitoring of expenditure will probably play only a secondary role. The proposed stronger focus on developments in government debt under the corrective arm is welcome, but the precise nature of the debt rule raises doubts as to its effectiveness. It is also questionable whether the changes adopted in order to strengthen statistical governance will be sufficient to prevent misreporting in the future, as experienced especially by Greece. Most importantly, the new provisions still leave a considerable degree of administrative and political discretion at each stage of the process. All in all, the changes envisaged do not represent the “quantum leap” in the euro area’s fiscal surveillance which is necessary to ensure its stability and smooth functioning.” (note this from 2011…no real progress since then)

As the real economy declines due to massive private and public over borrowing, the prospect of massive unwinding and fallout whether through sub prime lending collapse, or massive default in Grexit, looms.

Debt is the modern dragon stalking the land and burning all before it.

Problems besetting the eurozone in the past have now been repeated with QE. Massive government bond buying programme inflating the money supply can only encourage irresponsibility making governments prone to throwing financial investment down the drain as eg in Ireland’s ill judged and disastrous Irish Water setup disaster for Irish taxpayers.

To stimulate the US economy trillions were thrown at banks and financial institutions hoping to kickstart the economy and save it from depression. Many argue the experiment has been a success but  results are not in and omens  not good. Now the eurozone has joined the party printing money hoping to kickstart economic growth. Japan and UK have already gone down this route.

http://research.stlouisfed.org/publications/review/13/01/Fawley.pdf

“A remarkable consistency among the monetary expansion policies of all four central banks is that while all measures led to sharp increases in the monetary base, none led to sharp increases in broader monetary aggregates (see Figure 4). The broader aggregates did not increase because banks voluntarily held the increased monetary base as bank reserves—safe, liquid assets in high demand during periods of economic uncertainty”

“For example, this article details the circumstances under which the ECB and BOJ generously lent money to banks to inject reserves into their bank-centric economies, but the Fed and BOE injected reserves into the U.S. and U.K. economies by purchasing bonds.” The question of the retrospective capitalisation of Irish banks and failure to qualify for such lending to pay for the loss suffered by taxpayers re Anglo is a failure of government that will not be dealt with here.

The experiment has led to the curious anomalous rich growing richer while the poor urged to competitiveness under the flag of austerity have grown poorer.

Stocks and shares in a bull market have hit astronomic heights while at the same time market share, purchasing power in an indebted population have decreased. This shows the financialisation of the global market place has become out of kilter with the real market place. Anxious remarks of Christine Lagarde to Janet Ellen regarding the policy of the Fed to lower interest rates leading to stock market bubbles….

How are we doing locally here in Ireland. Well, banks have returned to profit by raiding those unfortunate enough to have been fleeced and forced to take out a variable rate mortgage with them over the past number of years. Banks borrow from ECB at 2% approx and lend out at 100% profit to fleeced property owners.

Are banks lending into the real economy, no!

Money that could be spent in the local economy is sucked from the banks out of the domestic economy to pour into the black hole of bank losses.

Absurd rents, high value property, fears by banks the bull run is over and they won’t lend for such prices! How could they, with high rents how can young couples save 20% of €400,000 which is €80,000 and pay back an extortionate mortgage set at 4.7% interest rates with nothing left over to be spent in the real economy. This so-called real economy becomes more absurd by the day.

You guessed it, the financial system we live under has turned into a crazy bubble in need of immediate lancing. Financial sector want it fuelled.

It needs to be lanced before further damage and political, civil strife ensue.

In Ireland, according to the Irish Times ‘Rich List’, April 26, the Dunne family, owners of the retail chain, have entered the billionaires club. This must be on foot of their zero hour contracts provoking mass strike action from its workers. Even pilots at Ryanair are on these infamous contracts that profit at expense of uncertainty and exploitation of their victims.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-stock-futures-rise-1430914380

Its clear fallout from 2007-9 and Ireland’s financial crash has meant the buck to pay for it has successfully been transferred off the shoulders of the rich via austerity onto the shoulders of the poor. We are not alone in such trends.

Steps to even the balance however small need to be taken. One small step would be to legislate against tax exiles who exploit laws to have dual residency via off shore accounts and Ireland. Figures like Dennis O Brien and Bono avoid Irish taxes because of their tax exile status while sick people cannot obtain a hospital bed in an evermore compromised Irish hospital system.

Such tax exiles should have their passports removed and be forced to pay taxes in their country of real domicile. A government tax strategy group has recommended: “there should be a “place of abode” test and a “centre of vital interest” test, According to the report, this would mean taxing individuals based on where their main economic activity is rather than where they reside.

A judgement based on a percentile measurement of what weight to give to “place of abode” and “centre of vital interest” should be made by Irish tax authorities. Those who flout such laws should have their passports removed and exiled.

This would prevent exploitation and looting of economies to serve the interests of the rich. It would criminalise such activities.

The question is can an economy re-engineer itself from the ground up to pay back its debts and not impose severe and growing austerity on its citizens.

Curiously there are no plans available for public scrutiny of such plans see below. Indeed. eurozone leaders have been adamant Greece must produce such plans fortwith, but still we have none. We do not know the detail of what austerity measures are being considered.

http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/02/05/new-government-overhauls-greek-tax-system/

On the one hand, there is a tiered society with insiders holding the reins of power who do not want to lose their position. On the other hand, there is the squeezed middle who cannot give anymore. There is also the growing numbers of the severely impoverished.

Some argue it may be the time for Greece to remove itself from the EU and negotiate a better deal with its debtors. The benefits of such a deal are autonomy vs growing Big Brother control of the economy led by the troika. Time for Greece to do an Iceland.

Repercussions of a Grexit could be huge. Bond yields, negative interest rates, massive default … Will a Greek exist burst the current global bubble?

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/ccd73f38-ec2f-11e4-8604-00144feab7de.html#axzz3YWLpw22u

Big Brother of financial interests is growing more autocratic and dictatorial by the day:

“Greece’s dire financial position is forcing euro zone authorities to look beyond
Mr Varoufakis to Alexis Tsipras, prime minister, much like in February when Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who chairs the Eurogroup, brokered an extension of the current bailout programme.”

“According to two eurozone officials, Mr Dijsselbloem phoned Mr Tsipras from Riga in an effort to mend fences after Friday’s feisty eurogroup meeting, where Mr Varoufakis was rounded on by his eurozone colleagues.
In a sign that Mr Varoufakis’s combative approach is prompting concern in Greece as well, a senior Athens official said the Riga meeting was likely to lead to him being sidelined as Mr Tsipras and his deputy Yannis Dragasakis take a more hands-on role.
Amid the acrimony, differences over a new list of reforms that is to be agreed by Athens were barely discussed at the meeting, putting off indefinitely a deal to unlock access to the funds left from Greece’s €172bn bailout.”
“All the ministers told [Mr Varoufakis]: this cannot go on,” said Luis de Guindos, Spain’s finance minister.”

In such a situation calls to competitiveness are a hoax. Some debts cannot be repaid.

Lancing of global financial markets and decoupling of banks and financial services interests from politics with politicians willing to tackle the dragon required.

Financial markets are rumbled and they must be fixed. The growing threat posed by derivatives and the shadow banking sector need to be fixed. The world economy needs more sustainability than that provided by bubbles.

We do not even have proposals on the table from a global currency think tank to examine and report on problems in the global economy.

Perhaps Greece will be in Grexit the dose of reality that will cure the real problems in financial markets.

If not Grexit, then Euxit followed by a global currency run by Big Brother.

With zero interest rates and tax on any remaining  money,  its hide your money under the mattress time again. At least until hyperinflation hits.

 

till again

 

Postscript

Turns out you are not one of the inner circle unless you have appeared at the Banking Inquiry, did your Mea Culpa, and bounced through the limpid questioning with the requisite, prepared, obfuscations and denial of responsibility.

Perhaps more political show casing and hand washing can be avoided if the committee contain themselves to just one question:

“Do you know who put forward the proposal of ‘The Guarantee’.

Has that question ever been asked of anyone before the banking inquiry?

Siteserv is Busted

April 25, 2015

Mr Dukes on the Business programme RTE Saturday 25.04.15 was expressing anger that Dept of Finance officials had amplesideways
opportunity on a monthly basis to express any concerns they had re the Sitserv sell off by IBRC.

It has emerged recently that Dept of Finance officials had grave concerns re the fire sale sell off of Siteserv to Dennis O Brien. Eight companies had expressed interest in the sale. This was whittled down by IBRC to three.

Better late than never!

According to Dukes, there was a history of conflict between Finance and IBRC based on distinction between day-to-day running of a programme of deleveraging sell off of IBRC assets to yield maximum return to the state and ‘overall policy’ informing such sales.

This blog has highlighted on many occasions re the banking inquiry: it has largely become compromised due to its remit of confinement to the latter concentration on policy alone, rather than  minute investigation of key transactions, each witness before the inquiry sings their own song of rueful abstract meaninglessness.

Dept of Finance officials had many concerns related to the specific details recording the sale of Siteserv.

Dukes was unhappy that DoF officials wanted to engage at the level of control related to ongoing day-to-day management of this transaction.

Siteserv was sold to Denis O’Brien-owned Millington by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank) in 2012 for €45 million.

Siteserv provides a wide range of services to public and private companies, such as scaffolding for construction projects and the installation of satellite TV boxes.

Businessman Denis O’Brien took possession of the company that won the contract to install meters for Irish Water.

One of the points a full independent inquiry could investigate, is whether Siteserv knew in advance of the likelihood or not of the awarding of such contracts.

IBRC had given Siteserv a loan of €150 million, meaning the bank wrote off €105 million and the State got back less than €45 million. At the same time, shareholders were paid €5 million.

According to Walter Hobbs (

http://www.rte.ie/news/2015/0423/696349-siteserv-sale-expert/  ):

“Walter Hobbs says the initial bid from Denis O’Brien was the highest, while others had multiple terms and conditions”

Ignoring the claims by Mr Hobbs let’s not suspend our disbelief and follow his view that the €45ml on the table by Millington, an O’Brien subsidiary, was the best offer and that failing to accept it risked the taxpayer getting nothing back.

Any estate agent worth his salt would delight in eight companies interested in a house for sale. Incredibly, Hobbs who was managing the sale:

“He said he believed the higher bid that came in from the French company Altrad was designed to disrupt the bidding process, because of competitive concerns that the company had.

Mr Hobbs said initially the bid from Denis O’Brien was the highest and was accompanied by a three-page letter, while other offers had multiple terms and conditions attached to them.”

Let’s set the scene for this Jacobean farce.

By now you may have questioned my analogy to a sale of a house by an estate agent. You know those in negative equity in dispute with banks do not get similar write downs and kickbacks when the sale of their house goes through.

Instead they are likely to suffer eviction and have their assets seized. Not so these shareholders.

These companies were sold in a loosely regulatory business friendly and taxpayer hostile world.

Extraordinary powers were exercised by Hobbs and his team making judgement calls when no interference should have been allowed to steam roll potential bidders off the scene .

Rules of engagement mean different strokes for such folks:

Hobbs had a remit of returning to the taxpayer as much of the €150 ml loan losses incurred by IBRC in its lending to Siteserv.

In this farce  eight interested parties appeared on stage and immediately  5 sent packing.

Dubiously Hobbs notes:
“Mr Hobbs said a number of other bidders were excluded because of the nature of the Siteserv business.”

Firewalls can be put in place if a company requests specific information and withdraws because it has not acquired that information.

It should have been a company decision to withdraw, not Mr Hobbs’ decision.

The absurd idea that Mr Hobbs should decide to exclude interested parties based on his biased preferences, is anathema to best practice and should be considered grounds for investigation.

The irony is the above is standard business practice. Its as anathema as gazumping meaning there is one rule book for Joe citizen, another for cosy insiders.

It gets more absurd: “He said he believed the higher bid that came in from the French company Altrad was designed to disrupt the bidding process, because of competitive concerns that the company had.”

There is enough prima facia evidence to contradict Hobbs and  believe the opposite: that Hobbs feared Altrad was disruptive of Hobbs bid to accept a lower offer from Millington.

Let’s set the scene for what should have happened:

1. All bidders should have been invited to bid at auction with a reasonable time ceiling of eg weeks/months to conclude a deal.

2. All bidders should have been made aware of each other’s bids.

3. All bidders should have been allowed to raise their stake to compete for the sale.

4. A contract of sale should have been awarded to the highest bidder subject to the lodgement of payment.

5. All bidders should have similar information with agreed protocols on information/data sent to bidders.

6. All documents and video evidence related to the above should have been logged and minuted and made available to Dept Finance in exercise of due diligence on behalf of taxpayers.

Are there other matters that should concern a proper independent investigation of Siteserv sell off by IBRC?

Davy Stockbrokers and Arthur Cox solicitors acted for both sides.

Dare you imagine there could be a conflict of interest here? Forget about Chinese Walls for a moment.

Let’s just consider the fact that IBRC and Millington, O’Brien’s company, were aware that their firms acted for both sides.

There could be a tendency there to maximise profit for the legal side and the broker side, to keep the deal inhouse so to speak?

Where incompetence ends and malpractice begins is a matter for investigators. Other questions need to be raised and further investigated independently in a process not hobbled and compromised by conflicts of interest.

There are lessons to be learned. Alarming business practices are accepted as normal. They feather the beds of an elite insider group who want to play the game inhouse.

These business practices, none the least in the manner the way affairs relating to the disposal of taxpayer assets, need reappraisal and change.

Perhaps taxpayers through DoF need to hire special units with expertise in white-collar crime with powers to oversee and investigate day-to-day business of a dubious kind.

Were these sales rushed, was the bottom line getting a sale in a given period over maximising profit in itself a gift to incompetence over expertise. Or was malpractice involved?

Should different protocols regarding sale of such assets be followed in the future?

Should there be a cooling off period of 5-10yrs before ex politicians are allowed to pursue further careers in banking?

Was undue haste the prime motivator behind such sell-offs with Dukes extolling the virtues of successful completion of all sales by 2016-2018.

Such matters need to be investigated in an open and impartial manner by special investigators hired by Dept of Finance to exercise expertise and due prudence on behalf of taxpayers.

The wild west of loose business practices and cosy cartel banking needs to be brought to heel by DoF on behalf of all taxpayers.

This was a rigged game with flawed and broken rules perpetuated by a cosy cartel of insiders feathering their own nests.

No change there.

till again

We should give praise for the existence of Irish Water. Given the amount of public opposition to its inception and continuing existence any political party supporting it should deservedly be called  the Lemming Party in terms of its political chances for re-election. At least it ensures  the present incumbents will not be re-electedwaitingLists

No doubt the troika when it was first mooted by Enda Kenny would have cannily supported the notion of a device that would take water out of the Irish deficit spending contingency fund thereby allowing such funds to flow more freely to bondholders.

Common sense should have warned the Irish electorate were not in mind to waste valuable resources on a quango that was built to make a mess bigger on their tab.

We recall in 2011:

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/greek-bondholders-to-take-50-haircut-2011-10-26

“Charles Dallara, managing director of the Institute of International Finance, a Washington-based trade group that represents the world’s largest banks, said the group would work with Greece, euro-zone authorities and the International Monetary Fund to develop a concrete, voluntary agreement that should set the basis for a decline in Greece’s debt to GDP ratio to 120% by 2020.

“The specific terms and conditions of the voluntary [private-sector involvement] will be agreed by all relevant parties in the coming period and implemented with immediacy and force,” Dallara said, in a statement. “The structure of the new Greek claims will need to be based on terms and conditions that ensure [a net present value] loss for investors fully consistent with a voluntary agreement.””

In a disastrous move Irish authorities in 2008 decided on a bank guarantee that brought the Irish state to the brink of insolvency. Compounding the idiocy the Irish state went on to assume ownership of a €67bn bailout whose terms in odious and penal interest rates were radically worse than those offered to Greece and Portugal.

Some amelioration of rates subsequently were watered down in amortization of a promissory note €30bn for Anglo-Irish Bank and other extend and pretend legally enforceable Irish coupon clippings.

Instead of lobbying to vindicate rights to a voluntary agreement requiring debt burden sharing among senior bondholders, Irish authorities never even fought this battle instead insisting with its opponents that such losses to be levied on bondholders, were unacceptable!

It could be argued that the wealthiest section of the Irish financial world agreed to rigorous austerity for the electorate in return for special privileges protecting their wealth. Indeed evidence is there that the dichotomy between rich and poor in Irish society has grown since 2008 with greatest burden of austerity falling onto the shoulders of the poor.

You might wonder that a plethora of means to address the tsunami of a possible 50,000 Irish mortgages in arrears with upwards of 30,000 homes facing repossession, would focus and address this crisis in a meaningful way. You would be wrong. Instead we find an industrial army of professionals working through individual cases based on rules of divide and conquer extraction of resources from already burdened borrowers.

One measure imposed by the banks is extortionate interests rates of 4.5% imposed on Irish variable rate borrowers who are managing to pay back their borrowings, that compared to comparable rates of 2.5% provided by banks in other European countries giving them a healthy return on their Central Bank borrowings of less than 1%. On €250,000 average mortgage for some borrowers means they are paying in excess of €6000 margin over what their counterparts in Europe have to pay.

Did I mention rocketing rental rates in Dublin and countrywide because of a housing shortage when we have vast numbers of builders unemployed but willing to contribute their resources to growing our economy.

Banks oppose construction and release of the Nama stockpiles because it would lead to falling asset prices. The anomaly of austerity induced restricted lending practices created by banks and financial institutions further eroding economic development, but adding to their bottom line as they gain from the uptick as well as the down swing, ponder.

The Irish economy is in a state of chassis. Perhaps the credit union movement can mobilise and create its own public state bank to provide competition against the worst excess of banking bad practices.

The case for a single best case scenario solution ameliorating the problems for the individual and society would appear to be compelling.

http://www.fininc.eu/gallery/documents/efin-newsletters/stuart-stamp-efin-article-final-dec-2013.pdf

The Icelandic debt relief programme.

From Iceland, we have reports of a governmental mortgage debt relief programme which would involve the write-off of €24,000 from individual household mortgages at a reported cost of around €1.2 Billion. The government contends that the measure will enhance households’ disposable income and thereby “kick-start” the economy by boosting the capacity of consumers to spend. The measure, which has a political dimension to it (it is reported to be a pre-election commitment from parties now forming the Government), has been criticised by international institutions such as the IMF and the OECD on the basis that it will negatively impact on the economy, on government debt and on the ability of Iceland to attract foreign investment. ”

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/11/30/uk-iceland-debt-idUKBRE9AT08Y20131130

“The government said it would finance the measure through tax hikes on financial institutions and a haircut on around $4 billion in debts owed to overseas investors in Iceland’s failed banks, which collapsed in late 2008.”

Haircuts to troika bailout to pay for a similar exercise in Ireland are not being considered. Instead of which we have a myriad of competing solutions competing to waste time and expense while causing the most amount of stress to borrowers.

Government will of course deny any of this is true pointing to Ireland’s alleged recovery.

A falling unemployment rate based on the quick sand of dodgy statistics that do not take forced emigration into account or the abuse of zero hour contracts amounting to hard to fathom phantom jobs in, for example, the Jobbridge programme where internships amount to free labour in private companies and in state public services, all together make idiots of us all.

There is of course a rump of financial services consultants, bankers and politicians and an army of legal paper merchants doing very well out of this delusional mess.

http://www.rte.ie/news/2015/0410/693154-health/

“New waiting list figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund show there were over 405,000 people waiting to be seen at an outpatient clinic for the first time at the end of March.

The number of adults and children waiting for a day-case or inpatient treatment is also up to 66,800.

A contributory factor is emergency department overcrowding, which has led to cancelled planned operations.”

Another contributory factor is the diversion of resources from hospital wards to deal with the crisis of patients on trolleys who await a hospital bed numbers reaching over 600 on one day in January last.

You would imagine all available resources to manage such a situation could be marshalled at once to bring down such terrible waiting lists.

Instead we have a proposal to provide free universal healthcare for the under 6’s. As an anxious parent myself having raised four children through the early years, it took some discipline coupled with experience to avoid taking each of my under 6’s to the doctor on every occasion they looked pale before a Winter cold.

That problem should inundate GP’s with unnecessary visits. With medical cards being refused for 7yr olds with a diagnosis of cancer, we are not only required to suspend our disbelief at the scheme, we need to be total idiots and abandon all common sense.

You would think education could be spared. Huge cutbacks in research funding in Irish universities mean continuing loss of jobs and negative impact on further research for PhD programmes and further drops in standards.

At second level under the mask of reform comes a proposal to scrap the Junior Certificate and remove regulation and erode objective standards in Irish Education. Proposals exist to have teachers set the examinations and correct them thus taking away real-time for actually teaching children.

To have teachers correct public examinations set for their pupils would appear to be ridiculous? But teachers set examinations and homework on a regular basis.

However, the  thought of exposing teachers to parent/pupil pressure and face retribution from schools and principals hiding poor results, bias, makes no sense. But this is the educational currency of the moment, folks. Defies belief until you find hidden cost cutting measures and austerity at its root.

Teaching standards are further eroded with a plethora of part-time teachers providing lack of continuity for students and lack of security and stability for the future of this teaching cohort.

Yesterday, Eamon Lillis, a convicted wife killer, walked free  having inherited well over 1 million € from properties jointly owned with his wife. He spent 5 yrs in prison for this crime. The legal profession have known for 5 yrs he would walk free and inherit the results of his crime.

“The Law Reform Commission is looking at whether judges should have the discretion to decide a killer’s entitlement to property jointly held with the victim, such as in domestic violence cases.”

I kid you not, they are still looking at it.

“Senator Quinn”, according to Maeve Sheehan, Irish Independent, p5, 12 April 2015:

“His succession (Amendment) Bill 2015 proposes that where one joint tenant kills another, not only would the offender have no entitlement to the victim’s share of the property, he/she won’t be entitled to avail of his or her own share in the property either”

There are another 1000 repossession cases listed for the courts next week. Presumably taxpayers will need to pay for their homeless needs at some point. But no one can pay for the amount of stress they are put under.

The mess is growing bigger and if you can point out an example of any idiotic measures of a political nature, feel free to add it to the comments section.

Don’t be afraid to say ‘The emperor has no cloths on’.

 

till again.

 

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