Category Archives: Europe

Is the current financial system at the end of its physical life cycle?

I do not know…

I have tried to compare the current financial system with a machine. A machine which after being used for a long time becomes obsolescent. I could however not find a reasoning that would satisfy an answer to the question raised in the title. Money has been used for a very long period of time and is still being used all over the world.

But money is an umbrella definition of a trade instrument (like a dollar and a euro which are created in a monopolistic environment). So I then tried to look at this question from a different point of view. I have tried to look for examples in history where there have been monopolies in sectors for a long period of time. In the end all these monopolies have seeded to exist. Sometimes due to human ingenuity, overproduction, other times by obsolescence and perhaps also after a period of time due to lack of existence/total depletion.

Can the current financial system be described as a monopolistic system? Is it different when the existence and continuity of a monopoly is enforced by law? In history there have been many examples of situations in which a monopoly has been misused to the advantage of the few. Is this the case with our current financial system as well? Is the current financial system misused by the few? Who has benefited from the monopoly? Who benefits from QE?

Perhaps the answers to the above will provide us the answer to the question raised in the title….

France & UK, a battle for energy

France, a country for 78% dependent on nuclear energy has had many faces in recent battles for energy. UK generates 45% of its energy from Gas, 32% from coal and 13% from nuclear power.

The UK and France have been supporting Turkey for many years via the EU funds. Turkey is key in terms of decreasing Europe’s dependency from Russian Gas. And perhaps the only reason they have been in talks to join the EU for many years.

Russia has two recently new pipelines to Europe being the North and South stream pipeline. The Nabucco pipeline sources Gas via Georgia And Iran through Turkey to Europe. With Iran as the second largest country in terms of proven gas reserves an important future partner.

It has been reported many times before, but Qatar (third largest country in terms of proven gas reserves) has tried at least from 2009 on to connect to the Nabucco pipeline. First with negotiations with the Syrian regime and when this did not work, through supporting the “Syrian freedom fighters” with multi-billion funds and weapons. The intended pipeline from Qatar was supposed to go through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey. This as a pipelines through Iran or Irak was politically impossible. France and the UK PM’s have always supported the Syrian “freedom fighters”. It was not until the UK MP’s voted not to support military action, that the US made a 180 degrees turn in its diplomacy.

Since then it seems that things have changed very quickly. Saudi Arabia seems to have a silent diplomatic war with the US. France just vetoed a resolution with Iran. I just wonder when Hollande will fly to Saudi Arabia to shake the hands of his new friends. Has France just secured its oil supply for the next decade, just as they did with their Gold supply when helping Mali. And then I wonder, where is the pay off for the UK? Has their insubordination to Saudi Arabia just backfired and are they now desperately looking for cheap gas from Qatar? The BBC just reported that energy prices are expected to increase with >10% next year in the UK.

We will see the development in the coming years….

Corruption and Prosperity

For me, one of the most important items for predicting economic growth and future prosperity is a countries increase in ranking or position on the below mentioned table:

The Netherlands ranked 7th in 2010/2011 and decreased to a 9th position in 2012. Lets hope this has been a temporary decline.

Please have a look for yourself how the GIIPS are ranked compared to Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Denmark etc. This is Europe 🙂

Euro crisis – no easy way out

I’ve talked about the Euro crisis with a lot of friends. Many know my strong feelings against the Euro as a political currency for many years. I always get the following question: “what I would do if it were me to decide which direction the Netherlands should take”. My strong suggestion has always been to exit the Euro and start a dual currency at first, where taxes and governmental expenses were collected and paid in the new currency. The current treaties do not say how such an exit should take place, they however do not oppose a country to exit.

Some economists suggest the best way forward is kicking the GIIPS out would solve the situation, this however would bring no solution to countries who have all their debt in the Euro currency. Their new currency would directly depreciate in value against the euro making repayment nearly impossible. (debt issued under local law would be eligible for conversion however).

Strong (hard) asset backing of the new currency would increase trust and therefore increase international acceptance of the new currency. It is likely that the new currency of the Netherlands will appreciate against the euro, this will have a positive effect on government debt repayment. International competition will likely decrease at first, but will likely return due to innovation and price/salary adjustments.

In time, the dual currency will be replaced by a single currency again, this can only be accomplished when cross liabilities with the ECB and other members have been cut. I strongly advice the DNB and members of parliament to start this process while we still can.

Guy Verhofstadt: My solution to the crisis….. | Today in FD

Today an interview with Guy Verhofstadt (“GV”) was published in the Dutch financial daily (Financieel dagblag). In this interview GV indicated that he worries about Europe becoming comparable to Japan. He provided 3 radical ideas to solve this problem:

  1. Pan European Banking union (depositor guarantee model)
  2. Increase mandate ECB (increase governmental debt purchases)
  3. European Integration (to enable Eurobonds)

Interesting to see that GV indicates that a “Pan European Banking Union” will not cost tax payers any money, one may wonder where banks earn money from (consumers??). In addition he thinks that increasing the ECB mandate solves the European crisis, he might be confused with the difference between a Bulldozer and solving something. Perhaps he tries to get a bigger Bulldozer than the FED. And then we have European integration, again we just talk about becoming “joint and several liable” to each other’s debt. Like with the European Banking Union.

I wonder why all of his “Radical” changes are not about “debt reduction”, taking losses on bad debt and cleaning-up governmental, company and personal balance sheets. As in my opinion this is the only real solution.