I’m Back …….Well Nearly

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Hi folks. Hope you are all keeping well. I’ve missed you. Hope you can say the same.

I’m back, sort of. I had a sudden enforced blogging break thrust upon me when I received an SOS from a good friend of mine. His company was in need of help.

desk full of files
I thought at the time that it would be a two week job at most, but when he said he was in trouble he wasn’t kidding. We’re still not done, but at least now things are looking a little bit better.

I’m in “Yurp” right now, watching the refugees take over. More of that in a future post perhaps. In the meantime take Trump’s advice a close your borders or you’ll end up like this place.

refugees europe
I could have done some blogging when I was travelling around, I certainly had plenty of time at airports, in between flights and wading through the dumbest security checks you could imagine, but I wanted to take a bit of time to prepare my next post. Hopefuly I’ll get to it next week.

Meantime, if you can believe WP stats, this blog has whizzed through the 200,000 views landmark without me and there are actually MORE daily hits now than when I was blogging almost every day.

Do you think the world is trying to tell me something?

Maybe I should stay away?

Actually I don’t know whether to be pleased that I have created something with a life of it’s own or dismayed that I’m not really needed.

puzzled
Now in an effort to get some of my dignity back I think I will indulge in a quick gloat.

This is not going to be pretty so feel free to skip over this bit if you haven’t got a strong stomach.

I’m having a laugh at the stupidty of the Fed again and the dumb financial journalists and fund managers who hang on their every word despite a mountain of evidence that should lead them to do otherwise.

Federal Reserve

The Fed has wimped out AGAIN. Lost their nerve. Promised and hinted and leaked stories to the financial press for months that an interest rate rise was imminent – and then they bottled out.

No surprise to me. At the beginning of May I wrote a post explaining why they wouldn’t put up interests despite all the pifle they were saying. (if you want to read it  click here.)

Then in mid-June I did another one ( click here for that one), saying there was no way the Fed could make good on their threats to raise the rate in September.

Of course nobody listened and the meeting on Thursday was one of the most anticipated Fed meetings of all time. And it all came to nothing. No interest rate hike.

And I don’t think they’ll do it next time either. There’s talk about December, but as far as I see the Fed’s hands are tied and rates are going to remain at zero or close to it for years.

Good news for borrowers. Not so good for savers with all the traditional yield opportunities such as bonds, Treasuries and bank CDs offering little or no returns. If you have cash to invest you should be looking at solid low risk undervalued stocks with a decent dividend. Otherwise your savings will be eroded by inflation for at least another year, proably longer.

Having said that, no rate hike is on balance good for the economy as a whole.

That will do for the gloating for now. Not sure when the next post will be exactly. Hopefully next week so if you’re interested keep a look out for that.

Meantime warmest regards to everyone who visits – even when I’m not around.

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Twitter Treasure

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Twitter logo transparent

Twitter is a good invention. It’s easy and fun. Much less demanding and intrusive than Facebook. So much so that many millions of people, from the famous to ordinary people like you and I, use it every day.

On the back of that success the Twitter company is doing very well. But recently it did even better when its shares jumped four per cent in a matter of minutes.

It all happened after a buyout story appeared on the internet that claimed that Twitter had received a significant offer. It started off, “Twitter is working closely with bankers after receiving an offer to be bought out for $31 billion…”

fake-twitter-story

Investors piled in. And not just the amateurs, lots of the ‘professional’ Wall Street guys too.

The trouble was, however, that the internet story was on a bogus web site and was completely fake. The site was called “bloomberg.market”. It was not “Bloomberg.com” the official name of the web presence for the Bloomberg financial organization.

“Bloomberg.market” was what they call a ‘mirror’ of the genuine “Bloomberg.com” website. Whoever designed “bloomberg.market” set it up to look like “Bloomberg.com”. They copied real headlines and linked them back to the real dot-com website. With one exception: the fake Twitter story, which was dressed up to look like a legitimate webpage.

The spike in the Twitter share price only lasted about 15 minutes before Bloomberg denounced the story as fake and the share price dropped back to its previous level. But 15 minutes is a long time in the world of finance and plenty of time for someone to profit substantially from the scam.

spike in the Twitter share price

No one yet knows who owns the dot-market domain – except the people who own it, of course –  but it was registered just days before the scam message, using a proxy service called “WhoisGuard”, based in Panama, that protects registrant details by offering its own address and contact numbers. But the details of “WhoisGuard” on its own website at “WhoisGuard.com” also appear to be fake, listing a telephone number that is disconnected. Emails to their contact address have not received a response either.

The significance of this incident is not that some greedy and stupid people lost money rushing to buy Twitter shares on the back of this fake announcement.

The problem is that so many new dot word domains have recently been allowed – hundreds of them in fact – that the whole internet is becoming bloated and confusing. And expensive.

If you are a company that wants to protect your online identity and integrity it could now cost you tens of thousands of dollars to cover all the permutations. Not many companies, even huge affairs like Bloomberg, will choose to do that.

That leaves the way wide open for cyber criminals to take advantage of gullible internet users.

I am certain they will.

Like the Twitter announcement, it’s just too good a deal to refuse.

online-scam_gullible-investor-cartoon

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At Last A Little Good News About The Banksters.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Bank Logos-2

Don’t get too excited, it is only a little, but it is good news.

In a recent ruling by British regulators, the top executives and managers at banks operating there (which is practically all the major banks) could have their bonuses clawed back for up to ten years after any finding of misconduct. It will also prohibit bonuses for nonexecutive directors and for the managers of companies that are receiving financial support from the government.

The move, which is long, long overdue and still does not go far enough, extends a seven-year clawback period that one regulator, the Prudential Regulation Authority, (part of the Bank of England), introduced for so-called variable pay (read ‘bonuses’) last year as part of tougher accountability rules.

Prudential Regulation Authority

The new rules announced by the authority, which is part of the Bank of England, and by another regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, are the latest effort by financial regulators in Europe to hold the banksters accountable for improper actions that could play a role in precipitating future financial upheavals.

The regulators say they are trying to “embed an accountable culture” in the City of London, which actually means that the authorities realize that the banksters have learned nothing from their previous catastrophic frauds and thefts. They know when the chance arrives these greedy and immoral people will try to do it all again.

bankster caricature

The new British rules, which apply to banks, building societies and investment firms regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority, including British units of United States banks and other financial firms based outside Europe, mean that senior managers, risk managers and others at banks will also be asked to defer more of their variable pay for a longer period, making it easier for regulators and financial institutions to recover bonuses if misconduct is uncovered.

Other countries in Europe are also enacting new regulations for their banksters. Dutch lawmakers, for example, capped bonuses this year for employees in the banking, insurance and other finance sectors that limits variable pay to 20 percent of their fixed salaries. The Dutch have also banned bonuses for executives at bailed-out banks.

European rules already limit bankers’ bonuses to the equivalent of their annual salaries, or to two times their base salaries if the company’s shareholders approve it. But they know they are so greedy that they will try to find ways round that.

breaking the rules

Already some banks are making moves to get round the limits by introducing role-based remuneration and other payments, so the regulators have their work cut out for them keeping a step ahead of the thieves.

What they really need to do is confiscate ALL their ill-gotten gains, impose severe additional financial penalties AND throw these criminals in jail – for a long time.

America, which always likes to consider itself as the leader of the world, should lead in this regard too. It would be better than starting another war in some far off God forsaken country.

Unfortunately I think it will be an equally long time, and a lot more frauds, before they get to that much needed stage.

And you can take that to the bank!

Give a man a bank

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They Got Away With It AGAIN!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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banks admit forex manipulation

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Last week several of the ‘BIG’ banks – you remember, the ones that are too big to let go bust – were fined in the region of $5.7 billion for illegal manipulation of the currency markets.

The usual suspects were included, J P Morgan, Citibank, Barclays  and RBS all pleading guilty – but only after they were sure what the medicine they would be getting would be.

It’s a huge amount of money, there’s no denying that. And losing it will make the banksters hurt a bit. But only a bit.

And that’s the problem.

Yet again the United States government has failed to bring these criminals to justice after more of their deliberate fraud and theft.

In other words, they let them get away with it AGAIN!

Major Banks

Now, if I walk into a branch of, for example, Citibank and try to steal the money that their customers have deposited with them for safe-keeping, I would be videoed, photographed, and if I was lucky enough to get out of the premises, pursued by the police and even the FBI for as long as it took to capture me.

And I couldn’t have any complaints because that’s the way it should be. Thieves should be sought out, captured and after due process thrown into jail.

However, if I am a bankster, have good government contacts, and ply money and favors to those in government, then I am treated very differently.

big banks get out of jail free

I can embark on insider trading (which is essentially what the banksters were doing when they were illegally manipulating the currency markets), I can sell loans to people that clearly can’t afford them, then take their houses away or sell on their debt wrapped up in a ‘AAA’ bundle to my richer customers, and after all that steal even more of the money my customers have entrusted to me by awarding myself and my collaborators big bonuses that none of us have earned or are entitled to.

In this scenario am I pursued by the police and FBI?

Nope.

Am I thrown in jail to be the bitch of Skull-cracker Jones or Scarface Smith?

Nope.

Will I have to personally pay back the money I stole?

Nope, again.

So what will happen to me if I am a bankster?

At worst I will get a slap on the wrist and told not to do it again. Even though recent history has proved that this is no deterrent and I will do it again at the first opportunity I get.

And, of course, I don’t have to personally pay the government’s fine no matter how big it may be. Instead my company has to cough up on my behalf.

Not that the company is much bothered either because when it runs out of money it goes back to the government which hands it back at least the value of the fine and usually much, much more.

Think this system is fair?

Neither do I.

jail the banksters

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The Only Way Is Up, Unless It’s Sideways.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Federal-Reserve-Seal-logo

It has been nine years since the ‘Fed’ put up interest rates in the US. Not a day goes by when some pundit or other is explaining why an interest rate rise is imminent whilst yet another is warning that the US dollar is about to collapse in a heap.

There’s even a fed funds futures market for people to bet which way they think it is going to go.

For what it’s worth, I think the US dollar will weaken from its current position because a lot of the support it is getting lies solely in the belief that interest rates are about to start going up.

Much of that dollar support is created by continual talk from Yellen and the Fed about raising rates. But the fact is that every time they reach the point at which they said interest rates would rise, they chicken out.

us dollar

So why does the Fed keep making big promises that it hasn’t the nerve to keep?

Good question, I’m glad you asked.

Although it might make them look a bit foolish, what their continual rate rise threats also do is to help to discourage speculation in US stocks and bonds – not a healthy thing for any economy.

If they do, do it, I don’t think they will until very late in 2015 – maybe not until 2016.

2016?

But wait.

2016 is an election year.

2016 US Election year

Will Obama deliberately burst Hilary’s Democrat Party bubble by allowing interest rates to rise? He might do it out of spite I suppose. There’s no love lost between them since Obama beat her for the candidacy and then won the Presidential election eight years ago.

But I think the election year may mean we are looking at 2017 for those rate hikes.

So who is right, me and people who think like me or the great unwashed of the media who are still predicting an imminent rate hike.

I wouldn’t bet the farm on it, but I think I might risk a few zero interest dollars that they are wrong and I’m not.

Stay tuned for some gloating or a big spoonful of humble pie come June this year.

humble pie

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The Banksters Balls It Up Again!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I wrote a post a few weeks ago about the effect that low oil prices would have on the banks. (Click here if you want to read it.) and another the week before last about the reasons for the decline in the oil price (click here if you want to read that)

As they always do, the idiots that run these financial institutions saw something they thought was going to last forever and threw their money and their clients’ money at it without reason.

Nowhere was this type of recklessness more apparent than during the sub-prime fraud when the banksters lent money to people who clearly could not afford it and then sold on those loans as bogus ‘AAA’ securities to their wealthy customers and other buyers who mistakenly thought that the banks would not try to con them.

cartoon happy banker

Well the banks have done more or less the same today.

Banks have been lending hand over fist to oil companies and those who service the energy sector. They have lent billions of dollars that  –  now the oil price has plummeted  –  has no chance of being paid back. They have underwritten bonds, lent money on expensive fracking operations and even financed the speculative building of homes for oil workers.

It was good while it lasted. But it didn’t last long!

In the 1980s something similar happened when energy prices also slumped. Texas was particularly hard hit and many banks either collapsed or had to be rescued because of their bad loans to oil companies and to local real estate developers speculating on the oil boom.

It’s going to happen again.

The bankster’s greed and stupidity means that their banks are going to take another financial hit, they are going to lose more of their customers’ money. Time for another round of big bonuses, if the last disaster is anything to go by!

Obviously they have been too stupid to learn from the past. Not surprising really.

cartoon sad banker

But the big question is what will government do this time?

Has it learned anything?

Will the government let the banks suffer the consequences of their own stupidity, as they should have when the sub-prime catastrophe hit?

Or will they again use OUR money to bail the banks out, making some nonsense excuse that these companies “are too big to allow to go under”?

And we are talking about BIG banks. Wells Fargo, for example, a huge financial powerhouse, made approximately 15 percent of its investment banking revenue from the oil and gas industry during 2014. Another biggie, Citigroup, was much the same, with this sector accounting for around 12 percent.

And it’s not just in America that the pain is being felt this time.

In Canada, which largely avoided the worst of the sub-prime debacle, some of their leading banks could face an even sharper decline in revenues, so reliant is the whole country on the energy and resources sectors. One of Canada’s biggest banks, Scotiabank, derives approximately 35 percent of its investment banking revenue from oil and gas companies, according to 2014 figures.

wall_street_crooks

Then there’s Wall Street.

Usually they make loans like these and sell them off to unsuspecting investors, however, with the very public fall in oil prices that everyone knows about, firms that financed energy deals are now finding it harder to offload this debt.

As an example of their problems, according to a recent NYT report, Morgan Stanley, was among a group of banks that made $850 million of loans to Vine Oil and Gas, an affiliate of Blackstone, a private equity firm. They are still trying to sell on that debt, but no one is buying. Goldman Sachs and UBS led a $220 million loan last year to the private equity firm Apollo Global Management to buy Express Energy Services. Not all that debt has been sold to other investors either so they are left holding that baby too.

That’s only loans to the oil companies and speculators. Some of the worst loans made by the banks have been to a multitude of companies that provide services to the oil industry. Some of these services companies, lured by the oil boom, are relatively new and/or small and probably under-capitalized so their debt burden can quickly drag them under when projected profits fail to materialize.

Naturally you can expect that the banksters will use all their lobbying and political power to make sure the government steps in again.

But the truth is the government really does not need to (they didn’t the last time either). The ‘to-big-to-fail’ banks may lose on their energy bets, but they will recoup a lot of that money from ordinary people like you and I.

Lower oil prices means that we need less cash to fill up our gas tanks or heat our homes, so the chances are we will feel a bit freer to use that credit card or maybe even take out a mortgage.

Of course, for the banksters that’s a slow way to riches. They want that business for sure, but they will also want the government to write off their other bad loans too.

Let’s see what happens this time.

collapsing bank sign

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Time For Some Crude Talk.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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$200 per barrel oil

It’s not so long ago that I was getting bombarded with emails about how great an investment oil would be.

At that time the predictions by those in the ‘know’, who really know nothing, was that oil would hit $200 per barrel – maybe much, much more!

Well, they almost got the number correct, except that oil actually hit $20 per barrel, not $200. As these things go it was a pretty good guess!!!

declining oil price

So why has the oil price declined and, although it has recovered a bit, why are the predictions for today’s low prices to hold long term?

The simple layman’s answer of course is that the oil price has declined because supply is greater than demand. When there is a surplus of a commodity the price falls and when it is scarce the price rises.

The supply of oil has increased relative to demand for a number of reasons.

The most obvious one is the vast reserves of oil found and now being recovered in the massive shale-oil fields in the United States of America and the tar-sands in Canada that have added more than 5 million barrels per day to domestic oil production since 2008. Able to produce more at home, North America has been able to reduce its demand for imported oil.

OPEC

The effect of this, of course, is that the OPEC countries have seen their annual revenues fall sharply during the same period. To try to rectify this fall in income, which they need to provide for their own citizens, they have been trying to replace lost revenue from North America by increasing production of their own oil supplies.

In other words, they have created even more over supply in the market, which helps to keep the oil price down.

Then there was the ISIS or ISIL terrorists in Iraq who had taken control of most of the oil fields and were dumping oil on the black market as fast as they could to help finance their war. Recently they’ve lost control of a lot of those oil fields so that part of the equation may no longer be in play to the same extent.

However, if there is a deal ever done with the Iranians and they are able to trade without restriction again, no doubt they will be adding their oil to the market glut which will also help to keep the market over-supplied and the price suppressed.

burning off gas at oil well

Then there is the increasing use of compressed natural gas or CNG. This is the natural gas that used to be burned off at the oil wells, but that is now collected, compressed into tanks and used to power vehicles and in drilling equipment, meaning less diesel is purchased.

Despite all these over-supply pressures, the thing that is keeping the oil price from collapsing completely is the continued demand from China. This is a good thing because a long-term collapse in the oil price, whilst it may make life a bit easier financially for many with decreased heating and fuel bills, also has detrimental secondary effects on some parts of the country where the oil industry provides a living for a great many people.

I haven’t had an email about investing in oil for a long time and I don’t expect them to start again soon. Now you know why.

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