Calm Down At The Front

Each passing week sees the European referendum debate stepping up a gear and with it the rhetoric edging closer and closer still to the edge of the cliff signposted, 'barmy.' Last weeks offerings stretched credulity by offering both Hitler and Churchill in equal measure along with the not inconsiderable feat, from the Prime Minister, of including the dead of two world wars. Gordon Brown stepped forward to calm things down and instructed us in earnest Presbyterian tones that it would be un-British to leave the EU. Thank you Gordon. As it happens, one of the few quietly sensible reasons for Remain that I have yet heard is that the EU prevents some of the worst excesses of national governments, 'just think what Brown could have done to us had he been unleashed from the restrictions imposed by being part of the EU,' said my chum over a glass. 

Despite all the made up bilge that has poured out the polls remain remarkably consistent. They suggest that Remain have a lead of up to 10 points but are vulnerable to turnout numbers on the day and the 'fuck it,' factor. I don't use the phrase lightly. The backlash against the Establishment elites, which really started with the Arab Spring, has manifested itself across Europe and most prominently in the US with support for Donald Trump. National politicians and the media who get animated about Trump and sneer at his supporters are rather missing the point. Many if not most of his supporters are not Trump acolytes. They are simply fed up. Fed up working longer and harder for less. Fed up seeing their aspirations, ambitions and dreams being trampled on and fed up watching the relentless growth in the wealth gap between the super rich and the rest with no conceivable way of joining then party. The non stop lecturing from the inner circles of international finance, the Bank of England, (who mostly should at this point shut up), and supportive media like the Economist may just provoke a Trump like backlash from British voters that they least want. Such a backlash, and I do believe it is fermenting, would slice through that 10 point lead.

In fact, the Economist is becoming ever more shrill in it's warnings. Good thing the Economist rarely gets the big calls right then otherwise we'd all have Euro's in our pockets. No matter, it is to the Economist we look to find a letter from a reader in the United States who articulates rather well how the US election cycle has got to where it is. This is what Mr Mark Kraschel of Portland Oregon has to say,

You used so much ink trying to convince us that Donald Trump is not fit for office (“Time to fire him”, February 27th). Do you think the type of person who reads your erudite publication would ever consider voting for him? Not likely. The people who will vote for The Donald are the disaffected bitter-clingers whom the last candidate you passionately begged us to vote for—Barack Obama—disparaged in his campaign. Those same disaffected people haven’t been doing well over the past eight years, and in case you haven’t noticed, they are mad as hell.

Government isn’t working for us. There are few good jobs, we’ve been stuck with a joke of a health-care system, the few rights we still enjoy are under siege and the future looks dim for our children. We are powerless to foment a revolution while working two part-time jobs to make ends meet, so all we can do is register a protest against the Dickensian nightmare that the elites have created for us by voting. Apparently, nobody listened (Republican or Democrat) to what we were trying to say in 2012. Come November, you’ll be hearing from us again, louder and clearer.
— MARK KRASCHEL Portland, Oregon

From where I am standing, the Remain campaign would do well to take a big dose of humility and immediately stop hectoring from the pulpit. We don't like being threatened and no one likes a bully. Similarly, the Leave campaign must start explaining the positives of leaving and how the mechanics of extraction will work in practice and do so with calm authority and dignity. I'm obviously not holding out much hope for any of this to transpire and confidently expect proceedings to deteriorate into an unseemly squabble punctuated with more hysterical warnings of plague and pestilence from a political rabble who are increasingly detached from Planet Reality. Voters will take action accordingly.

 

I Quite Liked It Before Actually

Last week the diligent fellows at the Office of National Statistics happily informed us that our little Island is about to get a tad more crowded. The current population is around 64m, that's just over 10m more than when I was born or roughly 20%, half of which has happened since 2001. The ONS reckon there will be some 74.3m of us queuing at the doctor's surgeries in 25 years time. Happily, I for one will have no need of South West Trains then because given they can't cope now they'll never manage with those numbers but what about the pubs? With apparently up to 29 pubs closing every week they'll never fit us all in. That's a national crisis brewing right there if ever I saw one.

The huge net increase almost all results from immigration, ('this is 6.6 million or 9.8% higher than the zero-net-migration (natural change) variant'), and the impact that has on the birth rate. While there are complicating factors, longevity being the most obvious, its clear that Tony and Gordon's social experiment of letting more immigrants in over a ten year period than came in the previous 1000 years is going to have social consequences although you can be sure, not for Tony and Gordon. 

There are positive economic advantages to the trend and we certainly don't have the grave issues of population profile which are threatening future prosperity in countries like Japan and Germany, although the Germans do appear to have woken up to the problem and in recent months have taken an industrial approach to solving it. No, our problems are more culturally orientated and connected to national and local identity. We've seen it be diluted in just one generation and its clear that the land that our grandchildren will be born to will be radically different to the one that we knew as children. It has I suppose seemed like a far away place for a long time as it is but I do retain a misty eyed memory of a country I saw the last vestiges of when a young boy. A place where men wore hats all the time, where courtesy came as standard and where anyone who collected his weekly pay in a brown packet whistled while he worked. 

Quite frankly, I would be back there like a shot if I could. So, just for fun lets take a quick trip back to the place where an ordinary GP with a curious and inquisitive mind could conjure up a world leading invention. 

There is nothing about that clip that I don't like. From the boffins in tweed suits, the GP with odd bits of Mecanno keeping his Heath Robinson contraption together, the ashtray by the telephone, the doctor doing house calls, the received pronunciation message, (IWOOT), and.... the soldering. Bit of a lost art, soldering these days. With built in obsolescence  manufacturers assume a 'use and replace withing 7 years,' marketing approach. Hardly anyone repairs anything. Not on my watch. Taking something apart in 20 mins and then spending 3 months figuring out how to put it back together is one of the joys of being a Dad, 'leave it to me son; I'll tackle this one,' or, 'no love, don't even think about buying a new one; I'll have that washing machine as good as new in a jiffy.' She did get a little anxious when I sent the little guy 30 ft under the floorboards when we wired the barn up but it was a moment of nostalgia for me; my own father sent me under the floorboards quite regularly actually when he was wiring up whatever was his latest project. Anyway, we got the young fella back and the place hasn't yet burned down. So, here we go, in praise of soldering, aforementioned youngest making an 8x8x8 LED Cube when he was 14...................... (don't ever start one of these btw... they are difficult, time consuming and a real baxtard to get to the complete programmed finished state).


Make it Stop!

So, the general election campaign starts today. You could have fooled me. Most of us reached the point of maximum saturation eight weeks ago and now are at the point of maximum irritation. Lies and inexactitudes piled on myth and fantasy; they breeze along making things up on the hoof and are stupid enough to believe that people take what they say seriously. Politicians are in their own game of tag with themselves and the media. When will they realise, the rest of us simply aren’t playing their silly little games?

Today’s “here’s another let’s pretend it’s a well thought up strategy,” comes from Labour, through Gordon Brown, recycling the old chestnut of taxing bankers bonus’s to pay for a long shopping list of things, in this instance to the benefit of Scotland. The irony of course is that it was the two principal Scottish banks that blew up in the crisis. Not to worry, because the politicians don’t, that the vast majority of bonus’s, on the rare occasions that they are paid, are done so with a minimal cash element, are paid in equity over a number of years with strict claw back provisions. As I wrote on this blog five years ago, the banks are way ahead of the Labour party, they long ago roofed basic salaries in anticipation of bonus’s becoming a political plaything.

What anyway are “bankers?” Is that anyone who works for a bank in any capacity? Is it all employees of all banks in the UK or just the British owned and listed ones? Is it legal to segregate a small portion of the working population? What about the law firms, the accountancy firms and all the other associated companies where in many, average earnings are higher than in banks.

Many people are slowly concluding that the personal compliance and reputational risk of working for a bank is simply not worth it. It is certainly becoming harder to recruit quality at board level and disenchantment is pushing further down the chain. The nonsense about much of this is that the very politicians chucking stones, like Brown, were complicit in creating the conditions that caused banks to founder in encouraging regulation lite leverage when they were in power.

I'm no friend of banks but all of these badly thought out so called policies are delusional, deceptive and downright dangerous.

I have just one question for every politician. Instead of telling us how you would spend money the country doesn't have or how you would move the counters around the board; how would you create wealth?  

Wo ist unser Gold?

Sorry Fritz, it's all been weiterverpfändung'd.

Sorry Fritz, it's all been weiterverpfändung'd.

“Rehypothecation : The practice by banks and brokers of using, for their own purposes, assets that have been posted as collateral by their clients.” Investopedia.

You’ll remember the fuss about the announcement from Germany that it intended to repatriate it’s gold reserves both from the US and Paris. It’s not moving very quickly, probably because it’s not there. Why? The answer again, probably lies in rehypothecation and is explained in this good clip by Glenn Beck. His premise is that Germany’s call to repatriate threatens what he describes as a Ponzi scheme.

We don't need big words like "rehypothecation," to explain why our gold isn't where it should be. We just say, "Gordon bloody Brown."

Brown Claims What?

 

Bloomberg reports this morning,

 "By Blanche Gatt

     May 17 (Bloomberg) -- Former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has told friends that he has global support for his candidacy for the post of managing director of the International Monetary Fund that could prevail over Prime Minister David Cameron’s opposition, the Financial Times reported, citing unidentified colleagues."
    
Well, he does of course have global support if global means North, South East and West Kirkcaldy, although Mrs McMinty at number 11 thinks he's a nutter.................

BP; Latest!

BP latest.

Interesting to note from in the flow blogsite, itooshaggedsarahferguson.com that the reason they can't plug the hole is that they actually drilled all the way through the Earth's core, coming out just South of downtown Merthyr Tydfil.

This is on good authority, and apparently no-one's noticed the 45k bpd flooding the streets there because they've all been in the pub since the election. Ramifications are huge as the Milford Haven refinery can be taken out of moth-balls and Wales will run a fiscal surplus from 2011, taking £33bn off the deficit in the process.

Gordon Brown has been quick to claim credit for the breakthrough, suggesting that it happened on his watch and as a direct result of his pleas to big business to dig a great big hole to bury that bigoted old dear he insulted in Rochdale.

A spokesman for BP said, "Bollocks, this is the last thing we bloody need. First the Yanks, now we're going to have to deal with the bloody Welsh. Drill the hole until you get to the oil we said but oh no, those bloody know all Texans we hired always know better and have to do everything bigger, deeper and faster than everyone else. Honestly, you could hammer six inch nails into their foreheads and it  wouldn't make any difference whatsoever. Well I'll be bollocksed if I'm carrying the can for this...... call Tracey in London, she can answer your questions with whatever we've made up for today."

No-one in Merthyr Tydfil could be found sober and coherant enough to comment.

.."In politics, stupidity is not a handicap…” Napoleon Bonaparte

On then to tonights debate. Perhaps, I might even make it to this one although on past form I very much doubt it. Having talked so much but said so little in the previous debates I can't imagine it will be any different tonight. They're all so scared of dropping a bollock, especially after yesterdays little fiasco, that I can't believe they will be in the least bit forthcoming.

They may in fact not wish to come out on top tonight  if they read remarks by US economist David Hale who told an Australian news outlet last week that Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank, said to him that given the severity of the budget cuts the UK must endure..... whoever wins the election will be out of power for a generation. Discuss!

Watching the car crash in slow motion that is Greece and the rest of Club Med who are doing a fairly decent reprise of the Lehman/Bear pile up, I can only reflect that if we were in the Euro, as Cleggie would wish us to be, the long suffering British taxpayer would also currently be facing a bill for some £20bn something to bail out the tax dodging, lying Greeks. If I were Cameron tonight; I'd be focusing in on this with laser precision.

In fact, old Cleggie's had a fairly decent run of things. He's getting along swimmingly just by letting the others cock things up. In fact, he's even had the odd day off which on current political form appears to be just the right thing to do. Things though are about to change.

I said last week that things were about to get dirty; after tonight they're going to get downright ugly. I strongly suspect that the rabid Attack Dogs of the press, who have been working furiously over the past weeks, are going to let rip this weekend and nothing, but nothing, will be out of bounds.

If I were Cleggie, I'd be prepared for forensic public scrutiny of his expenses and finances going back to his MEP days and his attitude toward education amongst other things. His policies will be shredded, which won't be difficult given how flaky they are, but I fully expect Europe and immigration to be close to the top. If I were him, I'd be rattling any skeletons in the cupboard and dragging them out before it's done for him.

Anyone wishes to avoid a broken TV set at home might consider SKY 1 and the return of the brilliantly written comedy Modern Family. No contest really,

How To Win A General Election With A Landslide; No 1

The analysis of last nights leaders debate is, of course, mostly a self perpetuating discussion between the political and media establishment, neither of whom can truly be said to represent the electorate who have long since been disenfranchised from any meaningful input. I've yet to talk to anyone who was left feeling upbeat and enthusiastic about any of the candidates but the real gloom and despair is left  for Tory supporters who are badly in need of a combative uplift.

Some observers feel that Cameron had a better debate, others think Clegg buttressed his positive position. So what? Well, the real winner is Brown. Whichever way I look at this thing, Brown is coming out on top. He must be overjoyed that he is still in touch with Cameron and could very possibly form the next government, coalition or otherwise. Who knows what tricks the Dark Lord has up his sleeve for the final run-in but you can be confident that there will be some upside surprises coming from Brown in the next 2 weeks, that's for sure and for certain.

Meanwhile, Cameron, who departed from the script very early on that said he should have an unassailable lead at this point, in fact I doubt he ever opened it, should be flapping and if he isn't, now would be a good time to wake up and start. Whilst I'm still of the view that the Clegg fire will burn out and the Tories will be returned with a majority, it's always a mistake to underestimate the bovine stupidity of whole legions of voters. The fact is, there is little sense of purpose or conviction to the Tory campaign. Actually, we all know it's been absent for years. There is no intellectual philosophy underpinning manifesto commitments and the "be nice to one, be nice to all," approach only leaves an impression of vapid weakness.

Moreover, the obvious inclination to downplay the Etonian thing only increases suspicion that Cameron is more spin than substance. He ought to stand up and be proud of it and note that we're quite used to having an Etonian at the helm every twenty or so years; it's been happening for at least the last hundred and fifty so I don't think anyone cares particularly. Competence is more of an issue.

So, we're all in rather a pickle because the last thing we want is more wanton destruction of our way of life and social engineering on an epic scale by Brown. It's time then, to go nuclear and deploy Hunk of Junk's manifesto.

Given all three "leaders," and I use that term very loosely, have displayed a total lack of understanding or just ignorance of the big picture issues facing people, I'm going to take everything down to a simple level that even David Cameron can understand. We can only hope that he might connect with at least some of the voters out there, who at the moment are bewildered and bemused at the sight of these manufactured individuals talking at manufactured events with manufactured arguments which are devoid of passion and emotion. It's all just a bit too American for most people.

In fact, and it grieves me to say it, the only people out there who are articulating the concerns of Joe Public are the BNP with UKIP trailing some way behind. That the main parties have left so many voters behind that the BNP are picking them up is horrifying. The BNP though, are smart. At a local level they take care of the little things that improve the community. Their local councillors make sure that broken windows are fixed, that playgrounds are fixed and that street lamps work. Smart but insidious for this is exactly how Nazisim began. Still, I'm not proud, if it works for them lets just nick it and get DC some traction.

So, over the coming days I'll be drip feeding some smart thinking which will turn the tide, reconnect DC with the voting public and bring the Tories back with a landslide. None of it is complicated but it will bloody work.

How To Win A General Election With A Landslide; No 1

Say this sentence on national television, "If you as a householder request it, I guarantee that your wheelie bin will be emptied every week, at no extra cost."

There, job jobbed.

Brown, Banks & Bonuses

Constantly Furious highlights some comments by Gordon Brown at the Royal Institution about bankers bonuses, "“This year we have seen a welcome reduction in the proportion of revenues global investment banks have paid out in bonuses." CF has his own take on that; I'm going off in another direction.

It's absolutly hard coded in the psyche of people who work for investment banks to work for, secure and protect their bonuses. This ingrained instinctive behaviour is as predictable as watching a thirsty animal be drawn to water.

Correctly assessing that there would be a fuss over bonuses, partly promulgated by Westminster to deflect criticism of MP's, banks started to adjust pay scales more than 12 months ago. That is, basic pay rates were ramped up by multiples which were not seen even during Big Bang in the eighties. It is now not unusual to find jobs on trading floors paying basic salaries between £200k-350k which eighteen months ago would have been at the £80-150k level.

The quid pro quo here is that there would be less employee dependance on bonuses and therefore a dampening of risk. I'm not so sure about that and anyway, the core issues which led to the crisis have yet to be addressed. The compensation thing is, at best, a red herring and even then it's being spun by the Prime Minister who appears to look but cannot see.

Many banks simply can't believe their good luck. Having driven themselves into brick walls at 70 mph they now find themselves astride the biggest "carry trade," in history. That is, banks have been able to take almost unlimited loans from Central Banks who have in turn purchased many of their toxic assets. Much if not most of the loans have been used to purchase government bonds to allow governments to give their economies some oxygen. This then, gives the banks a guaranteed profit and allows them to rebuild their balance sheets. Without the inconvenience of having to lend to small businesses at anything except draconian rates, and keeping zombie projects and businesses limping along so they don't have to make write offs, the banks can look good, justify the lofty salaries and still have a bonus pool. This is a giant shell game.

The disadvantage is that their fixed costs have gone through the roof, they've hired aggressively to position for an upturn, which is highly suspect, and there have been no meaningful reforms.

Having been through one round of rescuing banks that are, "To big too fail," you might be forgiven for thinking that the solution would be to make them smaller and increase competition. Well, we've made them bigger in fact........ much, much bigger. Little has been done to increase transparency or accountability. Swaps and SIV's are used to hide leverage and true capital structures and nothing has yet been done to regulate over the counter derivatives which must be traded on exchanges, no ifs, no buts.

The bottom line is that banks have used the tools available to them to stabalise and in many cases improve individual compensation from pre crisis levels. This however, is not the right subject to focus on. Shareholders and the taxpayer have not been rewarded with either meaningful reform or protection from future systemic risk and that should be a worry for us all.

Meanwhile, check this out..................... Save Greece!

 

 

Follow the bloody Germans..

You may or may not have been following the debt crisis in Greece. No matter, the broad brush summary is that the Greeks have been living way beyond their means and the clock is ticking against imminent debt repayments. To make those payments the Greeks must borrow money through bond sales which they can only do at a higher cost than other European governments may borrow money at. That premium prices in the additional risk of lending to the Greeks in case they default.

Intense discussions have been underway and at the end of last week the EU agreed to offer the Greeks assistance but only when the Greek government reach a point where the international markets are effectively closed to them.

The looming debt crisis has created a great deal of stress within the EU and the hard line attitude of the Germans has shocked not only the profligate Club Med countries but also the core EU states like France. The German government however has simply been reflecting a hard line German taxpayer view that they should not be put in a position whereby their hard work and productivity is exploited by idle tax evading beach bums. In fact an important result of last weeks negotiations is that the German government has sent a strong message not only to the rest of the EU but to their own people which implies that not one single German euro will be spent until all other avenues have been explored.

This hard core message of fiscal discipline has strong resonance for the average German voter.

Contrast this to the British voter, whoever he or she is and in fact it wouldn't be unreasonable to ask if they exist at all. If they do, they suffer from a collective virus of bovine lethargy given after all that the current shower of corrupt and incompetent muppets have done, there is barely a whisper raised in protest. The Cabinet must sit down not quite believing their luck - they've almost bankrupted us, financially and morally and they've got away with it - only a few points behind in the polls and growing in confidence as the election approaches. They're beginning to think they might actually pull it off; you can smell it.

So why is there such a dramatic contrast between the German people and ourselves and why does their government listen and ours don't? I genuinely don't know. I can only guess that people have simply given up, that they've decided that whatever their view is it won't make a blind bit of difference. That whatever actions citizens take They will still be there and They will keep on coming, no matter what, there is no way to finish them off. 

 

Even more sad, at times.......... I feel the same way.

What of the opposition? Just like many, many others I simply despair. No backbone, no courage, no idea. I sat next to a lady last evening who had every reason to vote Tory in May. I listened to her reasoned critique of Labour and then asked her about the Tories. "No way am I voting for them," she said, "I have no idea what they're policies are." Nor do I.

In fact, David Cameron rather reminds me of the captain of this ship.........(yes, I know we've all seen it before but it makes the point and me laugh at the same time so it's in..).

 

 

Gordon.... Listen to Homer.

"A weak currency arises from a weak economy which in turn is the result of a weak Government" (Gordon Brown 1992)

"The pound fell the most in more than a year as foreign-exchange markets reacted with shock to the prospect that a hung parliament will fail to tackle Britain's deficit. In a dramatic morning's trading, sterling fell 4 1/2 cents against the dollar to trade below $1.48 for the first time since May. By lunchtime it had recovered some of its poise but was still down 3 1/2 cents at just over $1.49 and on course for its worst day since at least February 2009." (Telegraph, 1st March 2010).

"Trying is the first step towards failure." (Homer Simpson)

Bloody Hell

I should be sitting here on Friday morning anticipating a bright weekend and looking forward to the newspapers on Sunday celebrating a weekend of hard, close run and exciting Six Nations rugby.

Unfortunately, and I don't particularly want to rain on your parade, we learn from Guido that BBC political teams have been told not to leave town this weekend. The implication being that there might be an election announcement pending. Bugger it.

One thing is for sure and for certain, the BBC's political teams are unlikely to be on standby to report on what is rumoured to be another deluge of salacious scandal from our footballing friends. The problem with the Attack Dogs of the News of the World and the rest of the trash is they don't know when to switch off. I'd happily shoot the lot of them. John Terry would probably like to shoot the lot of them too or if he doesn't he will by about 8am on Sunday if any of the rumoured stories are true. I was half joking about teenage girls the other day. The premature retirement from international football by Wayne Bridge yesterday may look a wee bit hasty by Monday morning.

Someone else who I'd never heard of until this week is going to be wasting newsprint on Sunday. Much to the delight of delusional teenage boys up and down the country, Cheryl Cole who is also married to a footballer with over active glands, is getting divorced. She's so upset about it all she's apparently signed up to share the grief with the nation on that talentless twerp Jonathon Ross's show. To prove just how distressing the whole thing is she's been seeking solace with her new special friend in LA as opposed to her old special friend in LA. Keeping up...? No, I couldn't give a toss about any of them either.

Lets ignore the bloody lot of them and look forward to a good weekend of rugby.