Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Timetable of a grexit

MoneyWeek magazine have published a suggested timetable for getting the Greeks out of the euro. It goes like this:

A few years ago this blog also laid out a mechanism by which Greece could slide out from under the euro with very little drama.

It's here: http://britishnationalist.blogspot.com/2012/05/greece-leaving-euro.html

Monday, 29 June 2015

Can the Greeks print their own euro notes?

Opinions vary as to whether the Greeks could start printing their own euros. They certainly have a printing facility at which euro notes can be printed. And they have the steel plates used to make the notes - they made the notes in circulation in Greece in the first place.

But do they have paper and ink? Certainly they will have some in reserve but in the banknote world paper and ink are tightly guarded. The inks are made in Switzerland (not an EU or euro country!) and the paper can be made in various places but not it seems Greece.

So the Greeks would have to buy the ink and paper from abroad and realistically any ECB supplier is not going to damage their future commercial prospects by supplying the Greeks. So the answer to the titular question is: yes, but probably not enough.

Greeks run out of road

There they were, happily kicking the can down the road, the EU and the Greeks, dickering about how how to square the German work ethic with the Greek desire to snooze in the sun, all sides content that the talking could just meander on forever when Greek PM Alexis Tsipras had to go and ruin it by kicking the can against a wall.

Specifically, he called a referendum on the deal. On Sunday this week (5/July/15) the Greeks will vote and that is that; no more talks, the deal is done or not, but the show is over either way. Big mistake! Should have just kept talking. Seriously, the EU was providing a billion a week in "emergency liquidity assistance" (ELA) - why would you put the kibosh on that? And the more cash the EU provides, the deeper in the hole they are, the weaker their position at the negotiating table becomes.

Anyway, he did it. He pressed the big red button and all that remains is for the Greeks to vote Ney or Ochi. Ney means "yes" by the way, and Ochi means "No". The Greek word for yes sounds like no in every other European language. There's a lesson there, but blowed if I know what it is.

Another quirk of the Greek language (rendering in the Latin alphabet) is: kalimera means good morning, kalispera means good evening and kalinichta means good night. There's an obvious omission in that list. What happened to good afternoon? Ha! The Greeks don't have a word for good afternoon - the need has never come up.

Once Tsipras had drawn his line in the sand the EU decided the Greeks needed a nudge towards Ney, ie yes. How better to concentrate their minds than to put them on short rations for the week. So they stopped the ELA money pipe and now the banks are closed and Greeks can only withdraw €60 per day. The banks will stay closed all week and the hunger pangs should help the Greeks decide where to put their cross.

The government also closed the stockmarket for the week; not that much trading could be done with the banks offline.

Probably though, the Greeks are not going to suffer enough during the coming week to vote Ney. They have had several years to get their money out of the banks and have become quite used to removing their wages or pension as soon as it turns up. And with the banks closed they have the perfect excuse not pay any of their bills, so it's not all bad.

More likely they will vote Ochi and tell the EU to get stuffed. That would be bad news for the Germans, currently €60bn in the hole and the Italians, €40bn in the hole. So what will happen after the Greeks have voted no is that the Greek government will be invited back to the negotiating table for more talks!

Friday, 26 June 2015

UK must take share of Mediterranean migrants

Says the UN, also says Greece and Italy.

Apparently they cannot effectively police their own borders so now it's our problem. The French are also blaming us for the 2,000 invaders waiting at Calais, ignoring of course the irony that the reason the wanna-be illegal immigrants are blocked at Calais is because UK border enforcement is so much better than the French. These people wouldn't even be in France if the French cops were doing their job. (They don't even try to catch them in Calais, just chase them around a bit.)

"Dave" Cameron has sensibly said "non" to the Eurotrash. The UK is full and we don't want more parasites feeding off our taxes. Hom Sec Teressa May has given us another cheeky flash of backbone by saying, "send them back to Africa."

That's not going to happen of course. The Italians are far to lackadaisical to put the flotsam that washes up in a boat and drop them back on the North African shore. The UK could help here.

Check this out:

The Royal Navy has two of these!

Inside the amphibious assault ship (HMS Albion) shown above there are eight more conventional beach landing craft just waiting to come out and deposit the hoards back on their home continent. Each landing craft can hold 50 illegals. So the 60,000 who have arrived in Italy so far this year could be returned home in 150 trips; two ships; say two trips a day, job done in just over a month.

This is the first European port of call for many migrants:

Lampedusa: Italian in name only
It's the Italian island of Lampedusa.  It's five miles long and Europe's front line. If the Italians wanted help to convert it into a secure holding facility for illegals that would be much more acceptable. They could designate it the reception and holding facility for illegals and the landing craft could plough backwards and forwards to Africa from there. It's about a 100 mile journey. No biggie.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Greece up for sale

Troika negotiations with the Greek government are going down to the wire. Some troika requirements are reasonable reforms, but others are naked asset grabbing. The multinational corporations are circling like vultures, ready to swoop on the mandatory "international tenders" the EU/etc is insisting on.

The claw of the bird is the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) which will handle the asset sales once the Greek government capitulates. The HRADF mission statement reads...

The sole mission of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund’s (HRADF) is to maximize the proceeds of the Hellenic Republic from the development and/or sale of assets. This should be construed as the virtual sum of the proceeds from the transfer of assets to the private sector and the economic benefits from ensuing direct investment in these assets and the opening up of the respective market sectors.

...which sounds almost benign.

So if you're an international asset stripper looking for a nation state corpse to feed on, place your bids here:


Airports, waterworks, power companies, transport companies, all must go at knockdown prices.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Dylann Storm Roof's manifesto

Dylann Storm Roof, suspected in the shooting dead of nine black people at a Charleston, South Carolina church, currently in federal custody, wrote a hurried manifesto before he embarked on the alledged killing spree.

You can read it here: http://lastrhodesian.com/data/documents/rtf88.txt

It is nowhere near as long or as detailed as that of Anders Breivik but it covers the essentials. It explains his motivation and has some novel thoughts, such as turning Jews blue for 24 hours!

300 paedophiles to be arrested in Rotherham

It has long been remarked at the trials of muslim paedophile rape gangs that the victims report being raped by hundreds of men but only five or ten men are actually in the dock.

But now the police (twenty years too late of course) are starting to get serious about this issue and claiming they have 300 suspects in the frame. Now, finally, they are taking the issue seriously. It's about time, but better late than never. Unfortunately with so much advance notice the flights to Pakistan may be rather packed.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Greek exit from euro

There seems to be general media amazement at just how long Greece has managed to cling on to the euro for. It has been eight years since people first started the countdown on the "grexit" and from one government to the next Greece seems to have defied the laws of gravity and hung on in there.

But think of it like this: if they quit the euro there is likely to be a 50 percent devaluation of their new currency. If Greece owed you three hundred and sixty billion euros would you let them go? I don't think so. They have to be kept at the table. The EU negotiators are playing a delicate game of applying pressure to get the debts paid, or at least the interest payments coming, but not so much that the Greeks throw their hands in the air and walk away.

So far the IMF/ECB/EU troika have proved to  be skilled fishermen. The Greeks keep making concessions but have never left the table. The new Greek retirement age is 67, applicable from 2025, that's up from a very generous 50 for "arduous" professions like hairdressing, and taxes on business are being put up. The Greeks have squealed and complained and looked like they were ready to flounce out but never quite have. That's skill, that is.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Free trade is a good/bad thing

The British Empire was founded on free trade. In "England", ie the UK, we made stuff and sold it to the empire, while the empire grew stuff and sold it to us, eg the Americas sent us cotton and we sent back clothing. Trade was free within the empire and everyone got richer as a result. The set up was a result of the industrial revolution. We had the world's first manufacturing economy, and they had slaves cheap labour.

Post-empire, after WWII, there was GATT - the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade which kept trade free for several decades at least within the former empire (now rebadged as the "Commonwealth").

Eventually GATT was not sufficient, more countries wanted in on the deal and the WTO (World Trade Organisation) was created as a subsidiary agency of the UN. This pretty fast turned into a talking shop where for no obvious reason all the talking took place in Doha, Qatar, despite the WTO being headquartered Geneva, Switzerland.

But now we have a new deal on the horizon: TTIP, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The idea of TTIP is to rope even more countries into a free trade agreement. The principals are the USA with its North American Free Trade Association (USA, Canada, Mexico) and the EU (28 member nations) with the possibility of bringing in other countries over time, mainly those with "most favoured" status with the USA.

If free trade is good then one might assume the bigger the free trade area the better. If every nation tried to be self-sufficient we would all be poorer. If the UK had to grow its own cotton we would expend so much effort trying to get a cotton plant to grow in a greenhouse than we would barely have time to to tend our sheep whose wool grows with little effort.

There is an economic multiplier effect if every nation concentrates on what it does well. There are downsides, notability the cost of transporting goods, and also decreased security of supply (this tends to be ignored until you are at war and then it is the only thing people talk about) but overall there is a net gain - all are richer.

There is one, usually unspoken, condition: trade must be balanced. If cotton is moving one way across the Atlantic then clothing must be moving the other way. If trade is unbalanced for an extended period of time then the net exporting nation will end up owning the net importing nation.

From a UK perspective this is not a problem in TTIP. We sell more to the Americans than they sell to us so the trade imbalance is in our favour. It is not such good deal if you actually are American. And TTIP, not surprisingly, is a British initiative. The Americans seem to be going along with it though.

But all is not what it seems. TTIP is not actually just a free trade agreement, not in the classical sense. It does not just open the ports to raw materials and manufactured goods. It is also "free trade" in "services" and "investment". This is new, and rather sneaky. It is one thing to buy and sell goods openly in the world marketplace, and quite another to let services slip under the trade barrier.

When you sell a service, eg an insurance policy, to another nation, nothing of value moves across the border. Cotton can be worked into clothing and sold back to the cotton-seller. An insurance policy is a dead-end piece of paper, it cannot be improved and sold back, it is not the basis of "trade" in any meaningful sense. It is a one way deal where the buyer hands over money they would better have kept at home. Even if the buyer country immediately sells an insurance policy back at you, it is still zero sum. It can never be more than zero sum and so is pointless. And it is likely to be far less than zero sum for some members of TTIP.

Trade in "investment" is equally bad news. Exporting clothing is fine, selling the actual clothing factory is a stupid idea. Once you have sold the factory no matter how hard you work and how much clothing you export you are still enriching someone else.

So TTIP is not something in any nation's interest. It does, though, favour a rootless oligarchic class which owes loyalty to no particular nation and is happy to see them all suffer for the profit of the few. TTIP is portrayed as an old school free trade deal but it is really more of a Trojan horse.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Greeks not bearing gifts anymore

The Greeks have decided to skip today's €300m payment to the IMF. They've had a peek at the small print and it turns out they are allowed to do this so it's not a default. In fact, they are going to skip all their payments due this month and roll everything up until the last possible payment date, June 30th, when €1.5bn will be due. Then they will probably skip that.

Government doing right thing

George Osborne has announced that the planned £30bn cuts in public spending are going to happen sooner and faster than previously planned. Labour has predictably accused him of panicking, but really it's the right thing to do.

The government is in the first month of its guaranteed five year term. Anything and everything they do now will be long forgotten by the next election in 2020. Now is the time to impose the pain by taking the tough decisions. Meanwhile the opposition is literally leaderless and in no position to mount any kind of defence. So now is the time for the Tories to make hay, and that is what they are doing.

Monday, 1 June 2015

The world of the blind

And now for something completely different… imagine that the Earth’s space program progresses nicely and we continue to explore space, venturing farther and farther afield until one day we discover an Earth-like planet populated by people just like us with one critical exception, they are all blind; so completely blind from birth that even the concept of vision is meaningless to them.

How would this world differ from our own? They would have technology and culture of course, but both would perforce be primitive compared to ours. They could build things by touch, carve wood, collect food and maybe farm to some extent. But despite being just as intelligent as us they would be backward; their science stunted by their inability to see.

Perhaps very occasionally one of them would have a flash of vision and this would be thought of as a paranormal phenomenon and the person claiming the vision would be dismissed as a charlatan.

Culturally they would be much different. They would have art; music, singing, sculpture, but they would have no painting and drama would focus on the audio. They may well have developed certain art forms to a much higher level than us purely due to being denied access to other areas. They would certainly have developed language to a much higher degree than us. They would be able to able to convey sense and meaning much more efficiently than us. If we taught them our language it would seem like little more than vague grunting to them.

They might have developed some form of continuous narrative produced by every person all the time. For example any person entering a room would announce their identify, their position, their purpose and would learn from the narratives of the other people in the room who they were, the layout of the room, the location of other doors and obstacles in the room.

But do not think they would be nice people on a nice planet. Their morality would be very different from ours, and much more brutal. Murder would be commonplace, for the simple reason they would often get away with it. A silent strangulation would be impossible to attribute to any particular person. In a crowd one could kill another and walk away. Other crimes would be equally easy, and the ambient morality would reflect the lack of accountability.

We visitors from Earth may well be horrified at the casual violence and the disregard for each other’s welfare that these people showed.

As we walked down their streets we would see the venality on their faces as they planned murder, rape and theft and their smugly confident looks as they got away with their crimes, secure in their anonymity.

We might be disinclined to have much to do with them. We would be unable to change the mentality of a planet with billions of blind people on it. We could hardly go in and tell them that we were going to police them from now on and we could see everything. They would not believe us or even comprehend what we were saying or believe it if they could be made to understand.

It would be a planet to be avoided.