Monday, November 30, 2015

Greek Bank Hack Confirmed

FBI Assisting In Greek Bank Hack

Unconfirmed Greek Bank Hack

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Anarchists Detonate Bomb in Athens

Anarchists protesting about the bailout are believed to be behind this morning's bomb explosion in Athens, smashing windows at the Federation of Greek Enterprises.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Greece's Tax Debt

Until Greece brings its taxation system into the first world, it will never resolve its economic problems.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Greek Government Wins Bailout Vote - Barely

The Greek parliament approved a reform bill on Thursday to secure further bailout funds from the Quadriga.

However, Syriza's majority shrank to three seats after two dissenting lawmakers were expelled.

The bill, outlining regulation on tax arrears and home foreclosures, paves the way for the disbursement of 2 billion euros to pay state arrears and a further 10 billion euro to recapitalise Greece's top four banks.

This victory will not be the end of the story.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Greek Bailout Vote Hangs In The Balance

Yesterday I wrote the following:
"In theory the Greek parliament will pass the remaining legislative measures on Thursday. This will then pave the way for the cash release by the end of the week.

What could possibly go wrong?
Regarding what could go wrong, here is the answer as per Keep Talking Greece:
"Syriza lawmaker and former government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis submitted his resignation on Thursday morning, hours before the Parliament would be called to vote for the bill of prior actions and new austerity measures.

“Sakellaridis raised objections to the bill,” Greek media report adding that it was Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who asked the government spokesman of the first Syriza government and ex Mayor candidate for Athens to resign.

Sources from the PM’s office allege that Sakellaridis was not going to attend the voting tonight, after his requests for some modifications on the multi-bill were turned down.

Important to note that Sakellaridis returns his parliamentary seat to SYRIZA with the effect that the ruling party will keep the existing number of seats (145).

In the Parliament, Sakellaridis will be allegedly replaced by a Alternate Minister for Administrative Reform Christoforos Vernadakis who did not manage to enter the Parliament in September elections.
However, media stress that “there is not time for the new MP to take an oath today” so that probably the coalition government will go voting with minus one vote, that is with 144 MPs from SYRIZA and 10 MPs from Independent Greeks in a Parliament of 300 seats.

It is not clear whether there will be more rebels in SYRIZA or ANEL during the day.

The government needs at least 151 votes to pass a bill."
Will the Greek government get its 151 votes today?

Don't hold your breath!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Greece To Receive €12bn, Probably

Greece has reached an agreement to unlock the first major tranche of rescue money as per its €86bn international bailout programme.

Athens, seemingly, has successfully passed the 48 "milestones" demanded by the Quadriga, freeing up €12bn.

€2bn will go to the government, and €10bn will be used to try to recapitalise the country's banking system.

In theory the Greek parliament will pass the remaining legislative measures on Thursday. This will then pave the way for the cash release by the end of the week.

What could possibly go wrong?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Osborne Comments on -0.1% Inflation

UK CPI Remains At -0.1%

Monday, November 16, 2015

Greece Having Problems Implementing Program

It is hardly surprising that Greece is having problems implementing the Quadriga's imposed program.

Wise Financial Advice

Friday, November 13, 2015

£13BN of Northern Rock Mortgages Sold To US

The Government has sold £13bn of the mortgage assets it acquired after rescuing Northern Rock during the financial crisis.

The mortgages have been sold by UK Asset Resolution (UKAR) to US private equity firm Cerberus.

A total of 120,000 residential mortgages are included in the transaction, with an average outstanding balance of roughly £100,000.

The Treasury said in a statement that UKAR had sold the mortgages for £280m more than their book value. The sale means UKAR can pay back £5.5bn of its loan from the government.

Given how banks repackage debt and sell it on (the cause of the last banking crisis), we should not be surprised to see these debts back on the books of a British bank in the coming years.

Schaeuble Reveals Stubborn Streak - Surely Not?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Greece Goes On Strike

Syriza Calls For Strike Against Syriza

Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

UK Unemployment Falls

The ONS reports that the unemployment rate fell to 5.3% in the three months to September, down from 5.6% in the previous three months and the lowest rate since April 2008.

Employment rose by 177,000 over the quarter, meaning there are now 31.2m people in work, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Britain's working age employment rate now stands at 73.7%, Britain now has the highest employment rate and level since records began in 1971.

As with all statistics from the ONS, be aware that they are out of dated and invariably subject to revision.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Greece Fails To Impress Quadriga

Unsurprisingly the wheels are falling off the Greek bailout again, as Greece battles to secure the release of €2bn in bail-out cash.

Despite assurances over the weekend, based on hope rather than reality, by Greece that the tranche of money would be released, it hasn't.

It seems that Greek finance ministry officials have failed to convince Greece's creditors that their plans added up, delaying disbursement for at least another week.

One of the main sticking points centre around laws to ease the process of home repossessions for indebted Greeks. The Quadriga are demanding that Greek residences valued above €120,000 be subject to the country's foreclosure laws, from the current level of €200,000.

However, Syriza has resisted the demand for fear of exposing thousands more people to the threat of losing their property.

Additionally, Greece does not want to impose a 23% tax on private schools and other issues surrounding VAT.

As Pascal Saint-Amans, director of tax policy at the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD), warned there are no “quick fixes” for Greece's endemic tax avoidance problems. He is also very sceptical about Greece's ability to reform its third world tax system.

He is quoted by the Telegraph:

"The challenges in Greece are so big.

It's about the complete lack of compliance, it's about a very weak tax administration, it's about the fact that paying taxes remains something that people don't want to do because they don't see how the money is spent.

Very often as tax people we lose sight of the fact that tax is just a means to fund a society. The reforms must take both into account”
Thus until Greece fundamentally reforms its tax collection system, it hasn't got a hope in hell's chance of moving forward. That will require a radical change of mindset by the Greek people, something they are probably not prepared to do.

Friday, November 06, 2015

#ManOnTheMoon - John Lewis Christmas Advert Tops Twitter

Kudos to John Lewis for successfully managing to trend on Twitter today with their Moon On The Moon Christmas advert, which was released (after much media hype and teasing with an earlier hashtag #OnTheMoon) at 8:00AM today in the UK.

The advert is schmaltzy to say the least, but does make a good point that Christmas can be lonely for many people (especially the elderly). John Lewis' message that it is important to let your loved ones know you're thinking of them this festive season.

John Lewis has also partnered with Age UK in the campaign, to raise awareness that many elderly people will be lonely this Christmas.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

The Price of The UK's Green Energy Fetish - Blackouts

As per the Telegraph Britain was forced to rely on new "last resort" measures to keep the lights on for the first time on Wednesday, after coal power plants broke down and wind farms produced less than one per cent of required electricity.

National Grid used a new emergency scheme to pay large businesses to cut their electricity usage, resulting in dozens of large office buildings powering down their air conditioning and ventilation systems between 5pm and 6pm.

The scheme, which is paid for through levies on consumer energy bills, was introduced last year but had never been called upon before.

For why was Britain on the verge of a blackout?

"Multiple plant break downs” among Britain's ageing coal-fired power plants, coupled with wind farms contributing bugger all power as a result of low wind.

This situation is not sustainable, there needs to be a radical rethink wrt Britain's green fetish.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

#VWGate - Fake Emissions Scandal Spreads To Petrol Cars

As if things were not already bad enough for Volkswagen it appears, not unsurprisingly (given that one fraud often begets another), that the fraudulent manipulation of emissions data was not just confined to diesel cars but now also appears to have affected petrol cars as well.

Shares in VW have fallen 10% this morning after it reported "irregularities" in carbon dioxide emissions levels, which could affect around 800,000 cars in Europe.

The firm said the problem could cost about €2bn (£1.4bn).

Brands including VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat could be affected. Whilst the issue mainly affects diesels, it could also include petrol models.

As yet Volkswagen has not said whether or not it believes those irregularities were caused by deliberate action, and it also has not specified which models are affected.

Whilst VW is currently feeling the heat, I would wager good money that other car manufacturers also fiddled their data emissions.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

#VWGate - Porsche Dragged Into Scandal

Unsurprisingly Porsche has been dragged into #VWGate, after environmental regulators confirmed they had found suspected "defeat devices" on a new engine range.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has told the Volkswagen Group that it is now looking at a 3.0 litre engine which is shared between Porsche, VW and Audi.

In a "Notice of Violation" posted on its website, EPA said it had discovered 2014 to 2016 models have equipment to turn off emissions systems when the are not being tested.

The end of diesel is nigh!

How The Chinese Breach China's Capital Controls

An interesting case study in avoidance techniques!

Monday, November 02, 2015

IMF Insists On Greek Debt Restructuring

Those of you who thought that the Greek tragedy had melted away are wrong.

The IMF is sticking to its guns that the eurozone must commit to a formal restructuring of Greece’s debt before the IMF will lend anymore money to Greece.

Bloomberg quotes David Lipton, the IMF’s first deputy managing director, as saying that pledges to review Greece’s debt servicing won’t be enough unless they’re accompanied by specific terms for paring back the borrowing burden.

Greece received an 86 billion-euro bailout in August from the eurozone, which now wants the IMF to provide further support.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has requested a new IMF program, which would replace a dormant one that will expire in March.

Germany, and other eurozone nations, wants the IMF to play a financial and technical role in shoring up Greece’s economy and restoring the nation’s access to financial markets. Unfortunately the IMF won't play ball until there is debt restructuring, which is an anathema to the eurozone.

The result will be stalemate, until Greece is on the edge of financial collapse again!