Friday, 30 October 2015

Chilcot announcement

Has the Chilcot report lost all credibility?

one - 2010
The credibility of the Iraq inquiry depends on witnesses telling the truth in its public hearings. Sir Roderick Lyne did not give Sir John Sawers warning that documentary evidence disproved his version of events. But Sawers, who used to be Tony Blair's foreign affairs adviser called his bluff.

The document is a letter written by Sawers in March 2001, circulating a revised version of a new policy paper. It shows that he was at the heart of co-ordinating the paper and that he sent it out for comment by foreign secretary Robin Cook and defence secretary Geoff Hoon.

When the inquiry was set up, there was a lot of criticism about the absence of an oath and therefore any real sanction against people misleading it. Chairman Sir John Chilcot reassured us: "If someone were foolish or wicked enough to tell a serious untruth in front of the inquiry like that, their reputation would be destroyed utterly and forever. It won't happen." Later, he said that the fact that "the stuff is there on paper anyway" would deter people from dissembling.

two - 2013
The Chilcot Inquiry is going to focus on the timeline of events through the Iraq War so we can clarify who knew what and when, and this lies behind their detailed approach to the Bush/Blair decision making timeline but also the Blair/Cabinet information timeline, however, overriding Chilcot and his fellow members is a power made by Privy Councillors and after the Maxwellisation device who knows what the final watered down report will say.

three - 2014
He wrote a letter that started "I am pleased to record that we have now reached an agreement on the principles that will underpin disclosure of material from cabinet -level discussions..." it had taken him five years to come to this conclusion, yesterday [Thursday 29-Oct-2015] he has announced that 2 million words will be available next summer for a security review.

Will it be worth it for the families of those who lost their lives?

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Investment fears

"We simply aim to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy when others are fearful."

The quote above is one of Warren Buffett’s most famous investment maxims. It serves to highlight the importance of buying low and selling high; or not following the crowd. The reason this works for him is most investors don’t follow these words of wisdom.

This is partly because it goes against our in-built human instincts. These instincts and natural biases serve us well when coping with many day-to-day choices, but can be a hindrance when thinking about long-term investment decisions. These biases cannot be cured, but they can be managed. A better understanding of the mind can improve our chance of investment success.

It is these natural traits and ingrained biases that lead us to seek safety in the crowd, naively assume stock markets will keep rising, invest in overpriced shares, or bury our heads in the sand and try to forget about the decision at hand. Being aware of them does not mean creating a rigid set of rules to guide investment decisions. All investors have different objectives and will manage their portfolios accordingly. Rather, understanding their effects should help reduce their influence and enable us to work around them.

The problem is, even with some knowledge of how our minds work, having the confidence to go against all our instincts when hard-saved money is at stake is easier said than done. This is why many investors choose to let professional fund managers shoulder some or all of the burden.

The solution is to seek financial advice carefully.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

European borders close

Yesterday [Monday 26-Oct-2015] European and Balkan leaders agreed on measures to slow the movement of tens of thousands whose flight from war and poverty has overwhelmed border guards and reception centres and heightened tension among nations along the route to the European Union's heartland.

The leaders decided that reception capacities should be boosted in Greece and along the Balkans migration route to shelter 100,000 more people as winter looms. They also agreed to expand border operations and make full use of biometric data like fingerprints as they register and screen migrants, before deciding whether to grant them asylum or send them home.

Do we really want to be governed by people like these?

Tax Credits

Tax credits were one of several measures to limit the amount of money spent on benefits which have allowed employers get away with low wages for too long.

The saving would have been about £4.4bn.

Last night [Monday 26-Oct-2015] the house of lords voted against the government and now the chancellor will tone down the tax credit changes and announce the revised version in the autumn statement in November.

This raises the larger question should we be governed by a group of unelected peers?

Monday, 26 October 2015

Begin of Spin

Tony Blair has made a statement on CNN which shows that the Chilcot enquiry report is close to publication. It is alleged to be over a million words and it will criticise those at the top who made the decisions. Will it be straight enough to start the trial of the war criminal Tony Blair?

Let us not forget the [murder] death of Dr David Kelly who in 2003 came under intense scrutiny over the Iraq war.

This spin is not new, Tony Blair came to power with 'New Labour' in 1997, with Alastair Campbell, a former tabloid newspaper journalist, and Peter Mandelson, a former television current affairs producer, working so closely with Blair, this was hardly surprising.

Spin and Tony Blair go together like strawberries and cream, don't get sucked in.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Kirsty Howard dies

This needs airing.

A girl born with a rare heart defect and given just weeks to live at the age of four has died, aged 20.

She was born in Manchester on 20 September 1995 with an exceptionally rare and inoperable condition that meant her heart was back to front, causing the misplacement of her internal organs. The condition required a constant oxygen supply.

That alone is one stunning statement, however there is more.

Kirsty Howard attracted world attention when she joined David Beckham in launching the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002. Throughout her life, Kirsty, from Wythenshawe, Manchester, raised more than £7.5m for Manchester's Francis House Children's Hospice.

Her fundraising efforts won the support of prime ministers, pop stars and Hollywood actors as she continued to defy medical odds. She also overcame her illness to study childcare at college, intending to pursue a career as a teacher for children with special needs, before she died just a month after her 20th birthday.

She was awarded the Helen Rollason Award by the BBC in 2004 for her courage and determination and has also received the Child of Courage award and the Pride of Britain award.

Kirsty Howard achieved more in a week that I will in my lifetime and she should be remembered.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Labour Leadership

Have you ever asked your self why a quarter of a million people voted for Jeremy Corbyn?

The answer is simple, there was no one else.

Four candidates, the other three were Andy flipperty flopperty Burnham, someone who on a weekly basis said the opposite of what he said previously, Yvette Cooper whose partner nearly wrecked the country with financial advice and Liz Kendall Labour's Tory member.

Previously on this subject

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

ECB next step

Is the European Central Bank about to make a move?

China’s economy is now as big as the US economy, and with its currency loosely fixed to the dollar, it is directly impacted by Federal policy, and forward guidance is much more important than the current rate setting.

A hurdle that central banks have to experience is raising interest rates from an extended period at zero [or very low], so they will have to learn through practice, without a full understanding of how economies and markets may respond.

The effect is stronger in the US, but the need for monetary stimulus is much greater in Europe. The problem is that Chinese growth is slowing and it is shifting toward consumer goods and services, which are mostly produced within China.

So what is the ECB's next step?

Monday, 19 October 2015

Home Secretary

The Radio 4 Today programme interview between John Humphries and Theresa May Monday 19th October, 2015.

John Humphries started off with the definition of extremism and the Home Secretary agreed with the definition that he had given although not every one in the Justice Ministry completely understood what they should be doing in connection with the new 2011 laws. The Home Secretary did not agree with that.

They moved onto the position of the Police failing to inform a victim [Leon Brittan] that no further action would be taken in a case, as Home Secretary Theresa May seemed conflicted as to whether she should reprimand the Police in this matter. It was left open ended as time was running out.

John Humphries finished with the question "should a senior civil servant be allowed to influence the government?". First Theresa May said it is not right for the civil service to lay down restrictions on what ministers can say, then when pressed change her mind and said cabinet ministers should not comment where there is a review taking place.

Theresa May repeatedly said during the interview that healthy debate is welcome in this country and yet when this question was asked, that idea seem to change as Theresa May continually changed her mind as to whether the civil service should dictate policy.

Theresa May finished with "as I said to a constituent of mine cabinet ministers should not comment on these matter as they are in line for a judicial review". In other words NO COMMENT, so what happened to healthy debate?

Friday, 16 October 2015

Kepler mystery object

The light of a distant star seen by the Kepler Space Telescope could be comets or an asteroid belt, but SETI now aims to point radio telescopes towards the star to listen for the distinctive radio buzz of life.

SETI think it might be an alien ‘mega structure’ << erm! – a huge power station orbiting in space, harvesting energy from its parent star << uh-oh! and could be our first sight of extra terrestrial life, alien-hunters have suggested.  Oh Dear!

The Kepler mystery objects KIC 8462852, is not a planet and could be a huge natural object created by an as yet unknown method in deep space. Scientists admit they are puzzled. They thought it might be bad data or movement on the spacecraft, but everything checked out.


Thursday, 15 October 2015

Kids Company

This morning [Thursday 15-Oct-2015] the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee has interviewed Alan Yentob and Camila Batmanghelidjh in connection to the collapse of the charity.

It is clear from the start that neither of these two are in a position to answer the questions either because there are poorly prepared or Kids Company was a complete shambles as has been speculated.

The claims that Camila Batmanghelidjh had 35,000 clients is now obviously a gross exaggeration as there is no paperwork available as only 1600 files have been retrieved from Kids Company by the authorities. When asked about this discrepancy Camila Batmanghelidjh said a further 18,000 files were in secure storage, when asked to hand over these files she repeated that they were in secure storage implying that she had no access.

Alan Yentob describes the board as a very professional body that oversaw what Kids Company did, but cannot explain why it collapsed, however at the end of May 2014 there was a government review which advised that there should be no change in the ruling practice of the charity.

From January 2015 the board had to sanction every bill and transaction until the realisation of the collapse and now money laundering and corruption claims loom, this has not been helped by Camila Batmanghelidjh's delusional behaviour towards the authorities who have to clean up the mess.

Alan Yentob says he wish they had restructured earlier than March 2014 when the issue began but it was difficult as everything seem to be working fine, that does not seem to be a reasonable description of a professional trustee board which was put forward by Alan Yentob earlier in the hearing.

Camila Batmanghelidjh is in complete denial about the financial situation of Kids Company which reinforces the view that the CEO was totally incapable of running this organisation.

The committee asked about the staff resignations when the first news of trouble at Kids Company became public, the answer was a pair of blank faces from Alan Yentob and Camila Batmanghelidjh, eventually Alan Yentob replies that there were allegations at that time which have not yet been resolved.

At the summing up when asked about the phenominal sums of money running through the books at Kids Company you [Alan Yentob] had previously said were having trouble keeping reserves, Alan Yentob replies "on come on you have worked with charities, money comes and money goes".

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Deflation again

How bad can it get?

First what is deflation?

How has it happened?

The ONS [Office for National Statistics] said that a smaller than usual rise in clothing prices, and falling motor fuel prices, were the main contributors to the drop in the rate as the Consumer Prices Index fell to -0.1% in September.

This has now happened several times in the past couple of years and the base rate has been 0.5% for over seven years with no likely hood of rising, much to the chagrin of savers.

Deflation is inevitable anyway in the aftermath of the by far biggest credit mountain in the history of not just mankind, but of the planet, if not the universe.

What can the Bank of England do now?

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Tax evasion

Facebook has highlighted once again how the big companies couldn't care less about their responsibilities as long as their customer base doesn't get wind of it.

In their latest UK results Social network giant Facebook paid just £4,327 [$6,643] in corporation tax in 2014, this from a company worth £190billion and a turnover of over £2billion. I never realised corporation tax was 0.0000000002% I thought the rate for the year ending 31 March 2015 was 21%.

The latest revelations will reignite the debate about how much UK corporation tax companies pay at a time when several multinational corporations are being investigated by the European Commission over the tax arrangements they have with European Union member states.

Perhaps HMRC should come up with a new tax like a 'Point of Consumption Tax' which has been suggested via social media something Facebook knows about.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Bank failure

Which is the next bank to fail?

CitiGroup in New York, Barclays in London, or Deutsche Bank in Germany these 3 banks are fighting every single night to fight off insolvency and failure.

I think Deutsche Bank and its constant overnight risk of failure is somewhat tied to derivatives related to LIBOR, and also a risk related to their FOREX derivatives. In other words, derivatives that the banks use to balance off the currencies.

The important thing to keep in mind about Deutsche Bank is that it won’t go down alone if it goes down at all. If it fails, it will take along with it as many of the other banks it can! It will be 1 or 2 quickly, then a 3rd and 4th a few weeks later, another, then before you know it, all the major banks would be kaput.

The big immediate threat for Deutsche Bank though has to do with their problems in hiding debt for the Sovereign nations applying for the Eurozone. For example, Greece and Italy couldn’t have their debt ratios over certain levels, so what Deutsche Bank did was they turned nice big chunks of Sovereign debt into currency swaps.

The big banks are so criminal that they have converted fraud and criminal activity into a small cost of doing business!

We had events in April, May, and June in which 5,000 metric tons of gold were lifted out of London. In the derivatives world, gold is treated like a currency. Isn’t that ironic? The FOREX derivatives that the banks are involved in are very much tied to gold. The London banks used the Easterners’ gold as equity for futures contracts that went bad- like in Spanish, Greek, and Italian debt.

Fast forward to July 2013, and now we are seeing several Deutsche Bank Vice Presidents being indicted under various fraud charges, and they are almost all cooperating with Interpol! They’ve flipped to cooperate with the serious fraud division of Interpol.

Deutsche Bank is involved very closely with all of the Eurozone currencies and bonds, and they have massive swaps interwoven with all the major Western banks. Deutsche Bank has their fingers in a lot of different pies! Lehman Brothers was involved in numerous mortgage instruments.

Deutsche Bank owns $25 trillion in OTC swaps with the Central banks and other major banks, so expect a daisy chain of derivative failures for the $1.6 quadrillion derivative market if it were to fail! Deutsche Bank cannot break down by itself. It would result in the complete breakdown of the European Monetary Union!

In today’s world when a big bank dies, they merge them with another big bank, as seen by Merrill Lynch becoming Bank of America Merrill Lynch which was pointless as both Bosses lost their jobs [John Thain - Ken Lewis].

Saturday, 10 October 2015

EU re-negotiation

This is the four point plan that David Cameron and the cabinet have drawn up for the EU re-negotiation, is it good enough?

Forcing Brussels to make “an explicit statement” that Britain will be kept out of any move towards a European superstate. This will require an exemption for the UK from the EU’s founding principle of “ever closer union”.

An “explicit statement” that the euro is not the official currency of the EU, making clear that Europe is a “multi-currency” union. Ministers want this declaration in order to protect the status of the pound sterling as a legitimate currency that will always exist.

A new “red card” system to bring power back from Brussels to Britain. This would give groups of national parliaments the power to stop unwanted directives being handed down and to scrap existing EU laws.

A new structure for the EU itself. The block of 28 nations must be reorganised to prevent the nine countries that are not in the eurozone being dominated by the 19 member states that are, with particular protections for the City of London.


Friday, 9 October 2015

Cruise missiles

What actually happened in Iran yesterday.

Russia had already received approval from Iran and Iraq to fly warheads through their air space to reach Syria. Wednesday their first attack had been successful, Thursday however, there were some issues, namely not all the warheads made it to Syria.

Russia launched 26 cruise missiles from warships in the Caspian Sea, 4 of them never made it and landed in Iran, there have been no reports of casualties or structural damage. Naturally Russia has denied this incident.

Does this make a difference?

Iran and Russia are on the same side in Syria, both supporting Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, but there have been growing reports of tension and competition between them over Syria's future. And there is a long history of bitterness between Russia and Iran, the latter of which has not forgotten Russia's imperialist history in its country, nor Russia's support of crippling UN sanctions.

Iran might not be fully up to date with Putin’s land grab programme as he secures his deep water ports in the Mediterranean and consolidates his position in Syria, Putin will not mind who runs Syria as long as they are tied into to Russia.

Another point to realise is with Russia in Ukraine, Crimea and now Syria, Turkey a NATO ally must be feeling a little squeezed.

Thursday, 8 October 2015


The VIP Paedophile Ring: What's the Truth?

The recent BBC programme Panorama has tried to update us with the current position into child abuse [Operation Midland] where we stand and what is likely for the future for victims and suspects.

However one point that was raised either intentionally or subtly was the reaction [or over reaction] of the police since Saville. Saville was different in so many ways but the most striking was the response from the public after release and it was emphatic. Hundreds if not thousands of people got in touch when they realised that public opinion had changed substantially.

This was unheard of before. Believability was the new black and people who had suffered in silence now wanted the opportunity to speak out.

It has become clear through Panorama that this recent case is not having the same impact and as statements are checked and verified it appears there is more, what should I say here, confusion over the facts. How do you expect people who were teenagers 30-40 years ago to have crystal clear memories. CCTV outside Elm guest house would have been useful but did not exist.

Has the pendulum swung too far?

Does this mean that from now on investigations will return to the [I don't believe you/we have no time] state or?

National Poetry Day


Winter has snow,
Winter has frost,
And everyone's trying to keep warm at all costs.

Winter has robins,
Winter has snails,
And during winter we see ice in the pails.

Winter is bare,
Winter is cold,
And so winter makes people really feel old.

I wrote this at school in 1968

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Where is the money?

A study released this week by Citizens for Tax Justice used the companies' own financial filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission to reach the following conclusions.

The 500 largest American companies hold more than $2.1 trillion in accumulated profits offshore to avoid U.S. taxes and would collectively owe an estimated $620 billion in U.S. taxes if they repatriated the funds. They found that nearly three-quarters of the firms on the Fortune 500 list of biggest American companies by gross revenue operate tax haven subsidiaries in countries like Bermuda, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Technology firm Apple was holding $181.1 billion offshore, more than any other U.S. company, and would owe an estimated $59.2 billion in U.S. taxes if it tried to bring the money back to the United States from its three overseas tax havens.

The conglomerate General Electric has booked $119 billion offshore in 18 tax havens, software firm Microsoft is holding $108.3 billion in five tax haven subsidiaries and drug company Pfizer is holding $74 billion in 151 subsidiaries.

Fifty-seven of the companies disclosed that they would expect to pay a combined $184.4 billion in additional U.S. taxes if their profits were not held offshore. Their filings indicated they were paying about 6% in taxes overseas, compared to a 35% U.S. corporate tax rate.

Tax evasion is the illegal evasion of taxes by individuals, corporations and trusts and it appears that no government can deal with it.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Confusion surrounding Syria

Turkey opened its borders after the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011. Nearly two million refugees are currently registered in the country, of which about 200,000 are housed in official camps, mostly in the south. A growing number are seeking a better life in the EU and are crossing over to Greece by the thousand every day, causing severe anxiety in parts of Europe and creating tensions along borders farther north.

EU leaders have turned to the Turkish government for help to stem the flow of migrants.

Instead Turkey calls for the establishment of a security zone along the border in northern Syria where refugees could be resettled. This would require clearing the area of Islamic State [ISIS] fighters and, Ankara suggests, handing control to moderate Syrian opposition groups.

The plan would neatly serve Turkey’s separate aim of reducing the influence of Syrian Kurdish fighters. Many Turks are more worried about Kurdish rebels than IS. Yet Germany’s Angela Merkel has expressed doubts that the refugees’ safety could be secured inside Syria. Not entirely by coincidence, the Turkish authorities have generally turned a blind eye to the refugee flow to Europe, though they have repeatedly prevented refugees from crossing the land border to Bulgaria and Greece and driven them back into Turkey.

FROM the Bodrum peninsula in Turkey the Greek island of Kos is only four kilometres [2.5 miles] away. European tourists can make the 45-minute crossing comfortably for £12.50, while those fleeing evil in Syria and elsewhere must pay smugglers a minimum of $1,000 for a perilous night journey in a crowded boat.

There are so many separate issues in this zone it is a wonder that anyone knows what is going on.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Interest rates

Most economists have until now maintained that the economy isn't able to cope with higher rates, which could reduce demand and stifle the UK's fragile recovery. Companies might struggle and this would have a knock-on effect on jobs. In terms of personal finance, a rates increase would be bad news for many mortgage borrowers who would feel the pinch.

Then there are the 'hawks' calling for a rise, who cite falling unemployment as a sign that inflationary pressure might be building up in the background. In any case, they add, the markets are being distorted by rates being too low for too long, and this reduces incentives to save and forces people and businesses to take on more risk in the hunt for returns.

Commentators have been watching out for statistical signs that would either bolster confidence that a rates rise was on the cards or definitively kick the issue into the long grass.

The Financial Times notes that figures from the Office for National Statistics have revealed that productivity rose at the fastest rate for four years in the second quarter and passed its pre-recession peak. The figures also show a rise in labour costs of 2.2 per cent. This is far higher than expected and above the Bank of England's inflation target, an early sign that maybe, finally, inflationary pressure is beginning to build.

On the other hand, industry figures show that the manufacturing sector is seeing waning expansion and actually recorded a net fall in jobs last month for the first time in more than two years, according to the BBC.

Savers have had a tough time since 2008 and it does not look as though there will be a change this year, if the government wants to encourage saving it should consider it’s position.

Friday, 2 October 2015

The Referendum

Sometime in 2017 there will be a referendum in Britain concerning Europe, it was yes or no to staying in, now it is leave or remain as if words will make a difference.

However, the bigger issue must be what happens if Britain votes to leave? Will it cause a domino effect and then most of the other countries leave too, anti-EU feeling is growing everywhere. What then? How small can Europe be politically before it does not exist?

The Dutch are showing, by a recent poll that they too want  changes in the relationship they have with Europe. I am sure that most countries are thinking about their position within Europe at the moment, it started with the Euro and is continuing with the migrant / refugee crisis.

It will only take one country to leave, will it be Britain?

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Russia moves in

I am having trouble trying to get the west to grip the situation around Vladimir Putin’s land grab programme, so I have decided to move onto finance.

Putin is allocating unprecedented amounts of secret funds to accelerate Russia’s largest military build up since the Cold War, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The part of the federal budget that is so-called black -- authorised but not itemised -- has doubled since 2010 to 21 % and now totals 3.2 trillion roubles [£50 billion], an independent think tank in Moscow, estimates.

Stung by sanctions over Ukraine and oil’s plunge, Putin is turning to defence spending to revive a shrinking economy. The outlays on new tanks, missiles and uniforms highlight the growing militarization that is swelling the deficit and crowding out services such as health care. Thousands of army conscripts will be moved into commercial enterprises for the first time to aid in the rearmament effort.

Russia is assembling S-300 anti-aircraft defence systems to start shipments to Iran.

Since bringing the country back from the brink of bankruptcy a decade and a half ago, Putin has increased defence spending more than 20-fold in rouble terms.  Defence and the related category of national security and law enforcement now eat up 34 % of the budget, more than double the ratio in 2010.

After years of chronic funding problems for weapons makers, Russia has started to prepay for the goods and services it buys from the more than 1,300 organizations and 2.5 million people that make up the defence industry. About half of this year’s defence budget was dispensed in just the first quarter, though most of what was paid for is classified.

Russia also has about 2.5 million active reservists out of a total population of 143 million, according to Global Firepower, which studies the conventional war making capabilities of 129 countries. It ranks Russia No. 2, after the U.S. and ahead of China, India and the U.K.

Russia wants to expand and Syria in now in view.