Double Standards

Brexit – Jonathan Pie does it again

Whether you’re a Remainer or Leaver, Jonathan Pie explains in his trademark profanity-laced way why the Brexit deal of UK PM Theresa May is such a dud. What is the point of having a referendum which garners the highest ever voter turn out only to throw it back in the faces of both sides? In what world would a collective constituency want their parliamentarians to vote for a deal that makes everyone worse off? Why did May fold to every EU demand? She should have channeled the leader across the pond as to how to negotiate with Brussels.

Last week the Bank of England (BoE) ditched its independence charter to aid-and-abet the PM by producing a document stating a “No Deal” Brexit would hit UK economic growth by 8%.  What a joke. Would the EU seriously try to stitch up the economy of the second largest car market for German auto makers? It is preposterous in the extreme. Obama threatened in 2016 that the 5th largest economy would be at the back the queue when it came to trade deals. Trump would happily move it to the front. Canada and Australia too…can the BoE honestly come up with credible reasons why the ROW would spurn the UK in unison to get to an 8% slump?

Why only now has the BoE discovered this potential economic apocalypse? After all, the scare stories leading into the referendum about how the UK would plunge into the abyss should “Leave” succeed have simply not manifested. None of it. Why believe it now when its forecasts have been so off reservation? After all it did not advise the HM Treasury not to dump all of its gold at the very bottom.

Yet the Brits aren’t so stupid to see the deal being offered is the only one going. They have heard Minister for European Parliament (MEP) Guy Verhofstadt demand that member states hand over more sovereign powers to the EU. They saw EC President Juncker stagger blind drunk across a NATO stage BEFORE the dinner. There was little doubt in their minds when they checked the ballot square as to what was at stake. A No Deal Brexit is the one that should be pursued. The EU has so many disaffected member states that it is the one that needs to play nice with the UK, not the other way around.

 

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Take this chart, which shows the level of apathy member states have to show up and vote at European Parliamentary elections. Were the Brits so gung-ho to stay in the EU, why have only one-third of Brits ever shown up to express their love and affection for federalism? Is it any surprise that Italy, Spain, France & Greece have shown similar disdain over time as the EU fails to deliver for them? Surely the trend since 1979 has shown the underlying mood of member state constituents about how they value EU membership.

Perhaps Verhofstadt put the Brexit discussion into perspective (from 6:20) – after member states ratified the May plan in 38 minutes (a sure sign it is a great deal for the EU) – when he stated the hope that in the not too distant future, “a new generation of British…decide to come back into the great political European family

Tells us all we need to know. This week will show beyond a doubt about whether the island nation will have the very democracy it has shed so much blood to defend will be protected.

As Baroness Margaret Thatcher said of Europe,

 “During my lifetime most of the problems the world has faced have come, in one fashion or other, from mainland Europe, and the solutions from outside it.”

Poverty, poverty on the wall, the French aren’t even the worst of all

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Why are we surprised at the yellow vest uprising across France? Poverty/risk of social exclusion across Europe has continued to spiral upwards since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). There were 78mn living below the poverty line in 2007. At last count, Eurostat notes that number was 118mn  (23.5% of the European population). In the Europe 2020 strategy, the plan is to reduce that by 20 million.  37.5mn (7.5%) are living in severe material deprivation (SMD) , up from 32mn in 2007.

The SMD rate represents the proportion of people who cannot afford at least four of the nine following items:

  • having arrears on mortgage or rent payments, utility bills, hire purchase installments or other loan payments;
  • being able to afford one week’s annual holiday away from home;
  • being able to afford a meal with meat, chicken, fish (or vegetarian equivalent) every second day;
  • being able to face unexpected financial expenses;
  • being able to buy a telephone (including mobile phone);
  • being able to buy a colour television;
  • being able to buy a washing machine;
  • being able to buy a car;
  • being able to afford heating to keep the house warm.

The French are merely venting what is happening across the EU. The EU could argue that at 18% poverty, the French should be happy compared to other nation states. Europeans aren’t racist to want a halt to mass economic migration when they are the ones financially struggling as it is. Making economic or compassionate arguments aren’t resonating as they feel the problems first hand.

Is it a surprise that the UK, at 22.2% poverty, wanted out of the EU project to take back sovereign control? Project Fear might be forecasting Armageddon for a No Deal Brexit but being inside the EU has hardly helped lift Brits from under a rock. Why would anyone wish to push for a worse deal that turns the UK into a colony?

Why is anyone surprised that there has been a sustainable shift toward populist political parties across Europe? Austria, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, Sweden, Germany…the list goes on. Even France should not forget that Front National’s Marine LePen got 35% of the vote, twice the level ever achieved. Is is a shock to see her polling above Macron?

The success and growth of EU-skeptic parties across Europe will only get bigger. The mob is unhappy. Macron may have won on a wave of euphoria as a fresh face but he has failed to deliver. He may have suspended the fuel tax hikes, but the people are still on the street in greater numbers. He has merely stirred the hornet’s nest. Perhaps UK PM Theresa May should take a look at the table above and realise that her deal will only cause the UK to rise up. At the moment sanity prevails, and when it comes in the shape of Jeremy Corbyn that is perhaps a sign in itself.

Single use plastic bags- 80% cut to common sense

Queue the virtue signaling. The National Retail Association (NRA) claims there has been an 80% drop in the use of “single use” plastic bags in the past three months since it was introduced across supermarkets in Australia. The irony is that this claim is not backed up by the increased sales of plastic bags from “aisle 7” so consumers can dispose of household rubbish. All they did was substitute bags, not cut down on the total use. Spuriously quiet on that front!

Who cares when one can shout out their empty environmentalism that aren’t backed by facts?

Putting the substitution argument to one side, not one group has told us what the “correct level of plastic use” actually is. Perhaps we should ban takeaway outlets for the obscene short term use of plastic trays and cutlery!

In 2006 the UK Environment Agency did a study on the effectiveness of alternative packaging solutions to HDPE (conventional plastic bags) in terms of lowering environmental impact. It said,

The paper, LDPE, non-woven PP and cotton bags should be reused at least 3, 4, 11 and 131 times respectively to ensure that they have lower [impact] than conventional HDPE carrier bags that are not reused.”

So if conventional biodegradable plastic shopping bags are used to throw out garbage that means 6, 8, 22 and 262 days.

While we’re at it, do people realize that the majority of take away wax-lined coffee cups aren’t recycled even though you can feel good about yourself when disposing of it in the right bin? How many people elect to have their brew poured into a ceramic cup? Look next time – hardly any! The cost to recycle the 500 billion (and rising) coffee cups consumed annually is so astronomical (it is hard to separate the wax that stops the cup disintegrating because of the energy intensity involved to do so) that over 90% end up in landfill. No one talks about that 300 million tons of virgin paper used to make these cups! How many of us give it one thought when we need a shot of caffeine? Right?! Although Starbucks is trialing a 5p latte levy for those that elect to use a paper cup.

All this ban has done has inconvenience people. 60% of mismanaged plastic waste was from East Asia (i.e. China), 11% from South Asia; 9% from sub-Saharan Africa; 8% from MENA; 7% from LatAm; 3% from Europe and 0.9% from North America. Australia doesn’t even get a mention. Our impact is zero.

So much like the “save the planet” renewables movement in Australia with regards to electricity generation. Our efforts to push for less reliable sources of power which will cause higher prices will create zero impact in lowering world temperatures by 2100.

So our cutting of plastic bags will likely have zero impact on plastic waste unless we get the environmental vandals of China, SE Asia and Africa to lift up their socks. Why do we self-flagellate when we’re not the problem? Do we honestly think China cares what Woolies do inside supermarkets?

Why does the mass media not ask simple questions instead of regurgitate incomplete stats?

When the supervisor can’t follow the rules

Japan Exchange Group’s (owner of the Tokyo Stock Exchange) CEO Akira Kiyota has agreed to take a 30% pay cut for 3 months after admitting he’d broken internal rules on prohibited investment.

Surely as the supervisor of one of the largest stock exchanges in the world there would be sufficient systems in place to prevent such embarrassing events. A bit hypocritical to come down hard on listed corporates when the headmaster can’t follow his own rules.

As a former stockbroker, it was a sackable offense to make stock and bond investments without sign off from compliance and a manager to mitigate any risk of insider trading. It is a bit rich to suggest the JPX boss wasn’t aware of his internal rules and had he any doubt whatsoever it would have been an easy discussion had with the relevant department.

Corporate governance in Japan remains woefully inadequate. The JPX board has approved the ¥20mn (US$180k) profit made by the CEO on the initial ¥150mn (US$1.3mn) investment be given to the Japanese Red Cross. Will that be pre or post any capital gains tax? Why isn’t the board calling for him to resign? Why isn’t Kiyota resigning on principle to save the organization’s stained reputation as the vanguard of best practice?

Then again we should not be surprised. It took months for the JPX to remove/suspend Toshiba from the best in class corporate governance index (JPX Nikkei 400) after its accounting scandal became outed and there has been no investigation of Kobe Steel when blatant insider trading was visible to a novice. It leaked information about its fraudulent product specifications to customers three weeks before announcing to the market. All the tell-tale signs of heavy short selling positions on many multiples of average daily volume traded on the day of informing clients was evident. Yet nothing was even suspected, investigated or referred to the regulator.

Then take a look at the saga of Nissan. Documents have revealed former CEO Carlos Ghosn supposedly washed his multi-million dollar personal investment losses through the company as well as using Nissan money to buy several private properties in his name. That would still require the board to be willfully blind to sign off on such big ticket items or point to woeful internal controls. What governance structures could be in place when there is no board accountability over Ghosn’s actions? Being bullied by a dominant CEO is no excuse. The board should have tendered their resignations en masse.

Indeed there have been countless corporate governance lapses overseas – Parmalat, GSK, Stanford, Enron, Tyco etc- but in Japan there is little or no punishment for most executives who break laws (internal or external). Throwing the book at Ghosn will be an exception. Most C-level managers in Japan escape with little more than wounded pride.

Cutting salary for misdemeanors is woeful governance too. The biggest way to force compliance is to threaten a Japanese boss’ company car privileges. The highest status for a CEO is to be whisked around in a personal Toyota Century. Stripping it would literally force corporate leaders to do the walk of shame.

Double Standard

After 20 years in Japan, there is a wish buried deep down that the locals consult foreigners when dabbling with the use of English to prevent misinterpretations, especially at a corporate level. The company, Double Standard has recently been promoted to the 1st Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Double Standard Inc. principally provides business improvement and supportservices based on the big data technology.  Let’s hope it doesn’t live up to the namesake when dealing with customers.

Japan’s Sun City once highlighted to foreigners back in 2008 that it was ‘puking property inventories’ in its English press release after it ran into financial difficulties after Lehman Brothers collapsed.

The ultimate irony of the misfortunate name of Double Standard is it accurately assesses the way the authorities continue to apply the law with respect to corporate malfeasance.

Obama solves climate change conundrum

https://youtu.be/fNrSEH4WVBw

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Obama has cut the Gordian Knot on climate change. Who knew?

“…the reason we don’t [invest in climate change policies] is because we are still confused, blind, shrouded with hate, anger, racism – mommy issues…”

Call me a sceptic, but even if I believe that 97% of scientists were correct on climate change, I should be more intrigued why the 3% don’t agree. Could I be missing something? After all 97% of economists believed it was a new paradigm right before the GFC almost sent us back to the financial Stone Age.

Perhaps Mr Obama should check the following study from Professor Valentina Zharkova. It might not be racism.

She explains and confirms why a “Super” Grand Solar Minimum is upon us:

Principia Scientific wrote,

Professor  Zharkova gave a presentation of her Climate and the Solar Magnetic Field hypothesis at the Global Warming Policy Foundation in October, 2018. Even if you believe the IPCC’s worst case scenario, Zharkova’s analysis blows any ‘warming’ out of the water.

Lee Wheelbarger sums it up: even if the IPCC’s worst case scenarios are seen, that’s only a 1.5 watts per square meter increase. Zharkova’s analysis shows a 8 watts per square meter decrease in total solar irradiance (TSI) to the planet.

The information she unveiled should shake/wake you up. Zharkova was one of the few that correctly predicted solar cycle 24 would be weaker than cycle 23 – only 2 out of 150 models predicted this. Her models have run at a 93% accuracy and her findings suggest a SuperGrand Solar Minimum is on the cards beginning 2020 and running for 350-400 years.

The last time we had a little ice age only two magnetic fields of the sun went out of phase. This time, all four magnetic fields are going out of phase. 
Would you ignore the 1 in 75 contrarian view whose model has predicted accurately or the 74 in 75 that have missed? It’s probably just racists with mommy issues that’s to blame…After all if Obama says it’s true, it must be right. Right?

Liar, liar bush on fire?

As the old adage goes, there are lies, more lies and then there are statistics. Never a dull moment when a natural disaster and tragedy can be tied to Trump. While CM thought his comments the other week were highly inappropriate, it seems that the press now want to throw a ‘climate change’ angle as the main cause of the bushfires.

A study in the journal Science determined the global burnt area from fires, rather than growing, had declined by roughly 25% from 1999 to 2017. California wildfire data reviewed by the USFS  shows a trend that since the peak in 1980, there have been fewer and fewer wildfires in California. So no smoking gun (no pun intended) with climate change.

As pointed out last week, the budget of the US Department of Agriculture Forestry Service shows monies directed at wildland fire “preparedness” and “suppression” have risen 32% since he took office.

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So how are these fires being caused?

The Australian Institute for Criminology (AIC) noted over a 5 year study period that half of fires were deemed suspicious or deliberately lit. Another 35% were accidentally lit. So 85% were down to human factors, not climate. The statistics were based on data comprising on average 54,000 bush fires per annum. The US Department of the Interior (DOI) notes that 90% of wildland fires are caused by humans, 49% of that being deliberate.  So there is consistency in bushfire data across nations.

If CNN and others in the mainstream media did their homework they could have taken their other favourite form of social justice by pointing out the following facts. The AIC sees that while the data is somewhat sketchy that the most common profile of arsonists was “white male, mid-20s, patchy employment record, often above average intelligence, but poor academic achievement and poor social development skills…56% of convicted structural arsonists and 37% of bushfire arsonists in NSW had a prior conviction for a previous offence.

Had the simplest of research been done, rather than tie bogus claims that contradict pet activist causes, they could switch to identity politics instead.

Above all the political wrangling, spare a thought for those that have died, lost property and those  first responders dealing with the problem.