Foreigners

Austria proves again why the EU needs to listen more and talk less

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God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we’d listen more and talk less,’ so the old saying goes This is what the EU gets for trying to bully its member states. It wasn’t long ago that EU President Jean-Claude Juncker was telling Austrians that if they democratically elected Norbert Hofer of the right wing FPO then the EU would remove Austria’s voting rights and cut off any transfers. Well the Austrians have voted for a conservative anti-immigrant party (which wants a programme to get immigrants to assimilate with the local culture) with a 31yo leader, Sebastian Kurz. His People’s Party garnered 31.4% (+7%) of the vote with the far-right wing FPO coming in second at 27.4% and incumbent Social Democrat Party coming in third with 26.7%. The Greens will probably not make the cut off of 4% to make a party, So once again the EU has had yet another major repudiation of its totalitarian ideals.

CM has been making the point for ages that forcing one’s beliefs onto others must be done in a way that listens to the other side. Otherwise it delivers results like Trump. It seems the EU hasn’t learned a thing.

So what have we had?

-Le Pen garnered 1/3rd of the French vote (double the best ever achieved by Front National),

-the far right Freedom Party’s (FPO) Norbert Hofer still managed 46% in Austria farcical re-run presidential election),

-Geert Wilders’ 25% increase in seats for the anti-immigrant PVV in The Netherlands,

-the surge in the Sweden Democrats to the top of the recent polls, Elections in 2018.

-Italy’s referendum which turned into a backdoor vote to oust PM Renzi. Elections in 2018 likely.

Brexit (although PM May is handling negotiations in true British efficiency – Fawlty Towers ring a bell?),

the Swiss handing back a 30yr standing free ticket to join the EU,

-the AfD in Germany getting 13% of the vote (Merkel may have won but it was her party’s worse showing in 7 decades)

…these don’t look like promising trends for an EU which is already badly listing. Despite ample warnings the EU refused (and still refuses) to change its course or exercise due care. It just issues more threats.

While the left openly voices its rage at these ‘right-wing’ parties growing in support, they never bother to seek reasons why. The right are generally just dismissed as racists, bigots or worse.  Major party loyalty has never been worse. The fabric of the loyal party voter base is wearing thinner. Take Australia’s One Nation Party led by Senator Pauline Hanson. The popularity of the mainstream LNP and Labor Parties is at record lows. One Nation is now 10% of the vote from 2% several decades ago. While some parties may claim their loyal base has abandoned them the stronger case to be made is the clear shift of the parties away from their once faithful constituents. Why?

Incumbent governments seem to cower at receiving negative news from the 24-7 polling cycle that is social media. Being careful to avoid inviting attack, they pander to all of the socially acceptable agendas – climate change, gender fluid bathrooms, laws clamping down on free speech, open borders and afffirmative action.

However political correctness is clearly not the answer as these results across Europe and elsewhere show. People are sick of the brow beating by socialist activists. Tired of the constant protests and social justice bleating. The NFL might find that most of its fans are against police brutality but they aren’t wanting a weekly lecture in grievance politics with the price of entry or their cable TV channel. Growing weary of the idea that it is ‘free speech’ and anything against those ideals are deemed ‘hate speech’. It is not to deny some positions are not necessarily palatable but in the marketplace of free speech, ridiculous positions can easily be disproven. Better to give extremist voices a chance to talk and invite public opinion on them at their own peril. Shutting it down forces it underground., making it inherently more dangerous.

Too many mainstream political parties are moving off the policy reserve that defined them so their once loyal followers are actively seek ones that will. While Hanson’s One Nation or Senator Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives may not tick every box to existing LNP voters, they cover enough of the positions that matter to them that they’ll tolerate some of the more out there ideas. It is not uncommon to hear the left complain at One Nation’s is growing popularity at the expense of the Greens but it is a devil of their own making.

So will the EU listen to the Austrian call? Will it pay attention to the Hungarians who voted over 98% against accepting forced migrant quotas? Think through the logic. If you were an asylum seeker, would you think your chances of unincumbered settlement would be best placed where 98.4% of the population doesn’t want you? It is irrelevant whether we think the Hungarians are insensitive brutes not to extend a welcome to those that are legitimately in need. It is their country and their democracy has spoken. If Brussels assumes to dictate to Hungary how it wishes to protect its culture and whatever it holds precious, why shouldn’t the EU have the same rights to enforce income tax, housing benefits and anything else it sees fit? Of course it is a preposterous notion.

It will not be long before the EU will be front and center on Greece. Let us not forget that the EU colluded with Goldman Sachs to ‘fiddle’ the accounts to make Hellas much prettier optically than it was. Was this pig without lipstick it wouldn’t have gained acceptance to the club. So the EU is not in a position to claim innocence over a deliberate ploy to ram-road the Greeks into its federal state yet have no qualms treating it with disdain. Talk about double standards.

In all seriousness the treatment of the Greeks by the EU is despicable beyond words. So for all of the left’s blind love for the EU and its socialist agenda, 36% of Greeks live below the poverty line and 58% of the youth are unemployed. So for all of the EU’s shared sense of purpose and equality, that means many can’t access affordable healthcare because it is generally provided by corporates and when you lose a job you lose the healthcare. This means many are forced to use A&E of major hospitals which are now overcrowded and understaffed as more doctors are leaving to seek better fortune for their services elsewhere.

If that wasn’t enough, mothers who had given birth were being restricted from taking their new-borns home if they couldn’t pay the hospital fees. While the government has banned this practice they have introduced new laws to allow the seizure of assets (e.g. homes) if debts are not settled.

Shortly, the Greeks are coming up for discussion over its debt position and austerity. With just months left before Greece’s latest lifeline expires, officials directly involved in the country’s bailout say they don’t have the stomach for contingent aid program when the current one expires in August 2018. While the EU and Athens are battle worn after 7 years of this knife edge rescue,  Greece will need to show it can go it alone but it’s eurozone creditors will be reluctant without further strings attached.

Here is betting that the EU doesn’t heed the lessons that have been ringing loud and clear for years. Sincerely hoping Greece leaves the EU and lets market forces revive its economy. Better to die on its feet than live on its knees.

I’ll stick with my instincts rather than fall for a Harvard study because it is from Harvard

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Harvard University is without question one of the top schools globally. It has an enviable reputation and having that on one’s CV is hardly a hinderance. It is a status symbol.  In a discussion over global warming an individual was trying to legitimize climate alarmism by citing a Harvard University study. Harvard by the way is ranked top 5 worldwide in Environmental Science. The study as it turns out had been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), a US government agency responsible for allocating 24% of science funding that had been raked over the coals by the US Senate for gross mismanagement, fraud and waste. The National Science Foundation: Under the Microscope” paper from 2011 documented some of the misappropriation of funds as follows,

An $80,000 study on why the same teams always dominate March Madness”, a “$315,000 study suggesting playing FarmVille on Facebook helps adults develop and maintain relationships”, a study costing “$1 million for an analysis of how quickly parents respond to trendy baby names”, a study costing “$50,000 to produce and publicize amateur songs about science, including a rap called “Money 4 Drugz,” and a misleading song titled “Biogas is a Gas, Gas, Gas”;” a study costing”$2 million to figure out that people who often post pictures on the internet from the same location at the same time are usually friends”; and “$581,000 on whether online dating site users are racist”.Ineffective management examples, cited in the report, included “ineffective contracting”, “$1.7 billion in unspent funds sitting in expired, undisbursed grant accounts”, “at least $3 million in excessive travel funds”, “a lack of accountability or program metrics to evaluate expenditures” and “inappropriate staff behavior including porn surfing and Jello wrestling and skinny-dipping at NSF-operated facilities in Antarctica”.

It is often a tactic to cite supposedly credible bodies to legitimize and seek to win an argument. However at what point do we view Harvard’s stance on climate change as balanced? On Harvard’s own climate change page it is littered with a predetermined view. It is not to doubt the intelligence of the professors and scientists within the university but intelligence and ethics do not have to be mutually inclusive especially when it comes to procuring funds.

One has to wonder that the  NSF, which dispenses 24% of all university grants (some $7bn) is best positioned to fulfill this role given its past. As the Harvard climate page reveals there does not seem to be much attention paid to the alternate view. The offshoot of that is if the NSF wants to get ‘green policy’ outcomes, best pour funds into those schools that will help give the results they’re after.

In 2015 a claim was made against Harvard for not disclosing financial conflicts of interest. A press release entitled ‘Clean air and health benefits of clean power plan hinge on key policy decisions’ constituted a gushing praise of a commentary entitled ‘US power plant carbon standards and clean air and health co-benefits’ by Charles T. Driscoll, Jonathan J. Buonocore, Jonathan I. Levy, Kathleen F. Lambert, Dallas Burtraw, Stephen B. Reid, Habibollah Fakhraei & Joel Schwartz, published on May 4, 2015, in Nature Climate Change

The claim (a letter to the Dean) suggested that “two of the co-authors of the commentary, Buonocore and Schwartz, are researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Your press release quotes Buonocore thus: “If EPA sets strong carbon standards, we can expect large public health benefits from cleaner air almost immediately after the standards are implemented.” Indeed, the commentary and the press release constitute little more than thinly-disguised partisan political advocacy for costly proposed EPA regulations supported by the “Democrat” administration but opposed by the Republicans. Harvard has apparently elected to adopt a narrowly partisan, anti-scientific stance…The commentary concludes with the words “Competing financial interests: The authors declare no competing financial interests”. Yet its co-authors have received these grants from the EPA: Driscoll $3,654,609; Levy $9,514,391; Burtraw $1,991,346; and Schwartz (Harvard) $31,176,575. The total is not far shy of $50 million…Would the School please explain why its press release described the commentary in Nature Climate Change by co-authors including these lavishly-funded four as “the first independent, peer-reviewed paper of its kind”? Would the School please explain why Mr Schwartz, a participant in projects grant-funded by the EPA in excess of $31 million, failed to disclose this material financial conflict of interest in the commentary?Would the School please explain the double standard by which Harvard institutions have joined a chorus of public condemnation of Dr Soon, a climate skeptic, for having failed to disclose a conflict of interest that he did not in fact possess, while not only indulging Mr Schwartz, a climate-extremist, when he fails to declare a direct and substantial conflict of interest but also stating that the commentary he co-authored was “independent”?”

While I do not pretend to be a climate scientist by trade or study, fraud is fraud. The supposed beacons of virtue such as NOAA, IPCC, the CRU of the UEA have all been busted for manipulation of data to fit an end cause. The lack of ethics in certain cases has been so profound that had many of these scientists been in financial services they’d have lost licenses, paid multi billion in fines and served jail time. One person commented that too few in financial services have been locked up. I replied name me one scientist busted for fraud and misuse of public funds has seen the inside of a jail cell, much less fined or barred from teaching? The answer – NONE

I don’t need to possess a degree in astrophysics or science to determine poor ethics generally mean the science papers put forward should be viewed with deep skepticism. Yet we’re constantly told that the science is settled. How so? If one has to lie and deceive in order to scare us into action, how can one say that it is legitimate work? In fact I have been at pains to mention that the scrupulous acts of a few only ends up undermining potentially credible work conducted by others. Yet climate change has become a purely political issue and there is no question that sourcing funding dollars is easiest met when supporting alarmism. After all why would people want to throw dollars at skeptics who may come out with an alternative view? Don’t debate it. Some have suggested sceptics are like pedophiles and even more extreme views have suggested jail sentences. When people think that the only way to win the argument is to jail non believers you can be absolutely sure that the data is completely flawed in that it can’t stand on its own as an argument. Hence the manipulation to try to bully the movement onwards. Some Aussie universities (state funded mind you) are refusing a climate think tank being established on their campus for possessing an alternative view. You have to worry if universities, the bedrock of free thinking, are trying to ban it. Then again if kindergarten schools are being taught they are gender fluid and cross dressing is acceptable then you know there is a more sinister movement at work.

It was no surprise that Hurricane Irma has become Trump’s fault. Alarmists drew any data possible to connect Global Warming and hurricane activity despite the IPCC claiming several years back it  has little supportive data to prove it. So expediency is put before principle. Hopefully if no one has seen the IPCC climb down perhaps we can still convince them we can save the planet. All the meantime the IATA forecasts air travel will double in terms of passenger numbers between now and 2030 and SUVs top most vehicle sales in major markets.

To add to the farcical care factor for climate change by the masses The Australian noted, “On June 30 2017, after 12 years of “advancing climate change solutions”, the Climate Institute is closing its doors in Australia, a victim of the “I’ll ride with you but won’t pay” industry. You would think that Cate Blanchett, so happy to appear in the institute’s ads, could have taken the hat around her Hollywood A-list mates, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Bono, Emma Watson and Brad Pitt, to tip in a few hundred thousand a year for the cause….But alas, the caravan has moved on and the greatest moral challenge of our time is now the Trump White House. For celebrities who fly eyebrow groomers to the Oscars, climate change is kinda yesterday. Still, to humour the faithful and to keep the dream alive, the 10th anniversary of Earth Hour was celebrated last Saturday night. You didn’t notice?”

When I was a staunch opponent of Greenspan’s reckless monetary policy in 2001 and said his actions would lead to a financial calamity in 6-7 years, many laughed at me. I bought gold at under $300. People thought I was mad as did the Bank of England. Barbs were frequent – “how could you possibly possess the intelligence of Greenspan? Back in your box!” I was told. Of course as a contrarian by nature, speaking out against pervading group think was met with a constant wave of ever increasing vitriolic criticism. Of course the simplest thing would have been to roll over and join the band wagon but I stuck to my guns. GFC was the result. In all that time, people used to shame my thinking by citing Harvard or other Ivy League studies on new paradigms. Indeed many of the brains behind the CDOs which eventually brought the financial sector to its knees were brainiacs from the Ivy League. In the end my instincts were bang on. Nothing to do with education levels.

The same arguments were hurled at me during Trump’s presidential campaign. Many people defriended me because my data kept showing to me he’d win. I am not American, I can’t vote but casting my own instincts ended up being a no brainer. Not once were credible arguments made to counter why Trump could win. People would post NY Times polls, CNN polls and so forth to legitimize the argument. Then say I was blind, stupid, bigoted, racist and the usual leftist identikit used to demonise a view. Group think is so dangerous. What it is doing is suppressing real views which show up in the polling booth.

Everywhere I read, the media wants to throw Trump to the wolves and run the lunatic, racist white nationalist card. For 9 months now. To be honest I think he will comfortably do two terms because the media has learned nothing and anything he does is vilified. Most Americans aren’t looking to him for spiritual guidance. He is vulgar and his manner is far from conventional and sometimes not very fitting of the office he serves. However he gets no credit for anything. The latest UN sanctions on North Korea are in large part because Trump has told China to get on with it. Trump said on national TV that he wants “China to sort it out and to stop delaying otherwise we’ll do it for you”. Yet the media is drumming WW3 rhetoric.

Same goes for the Paris Accord. What a stroke of genius. Let France, Germany and other nations pick up the tab for their ‘green policy’ madness and make up America’s renewable shortfall. It is kind of ironic that none of these nations ever pick on China, India or Russia which make up 50% of CO2 emissions for their lack of adherence to actually doing meaningful things to abate climate change albeit signatories to the UN accord. I argue it is like NATO in reverse. US pays a way bigger share into NATO, why not collect a refund via other nation’s virtue signalling which actually helps America First by making other nations less competitive. Brilliant.

DACA – many Americans, including 41mn on food stamps, will welcome the removal of illegal immigrants from their country who in their view are siphoning their ability to get out of poverty. DACA to them isn’t about not being compassionate but realizing that a $20 trillion deficit and loading more onto an overcrowded system isn’t helping. Once again regardless of what people think of Trump he had the fewest white voters and largest share of black and Hispanic voters than Romney or McCain. Hardly the result for a white nationalist, racist bigot. At the current rate if the Democrats run Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Hilary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren or any other identity politician against him in 2020 they’ll lose. The mid terms won’t be as bad as many calling. The one midterm already returned a Republican despite massive Hollywood support even ferrying voters to booths.

Transgender in the military. I spoke to two dozen US military personnel last month to ask their opinions. The 100% response was, “we think it is inappropriate for the taxpayer to fund sexual reassignment surgery while serving including several years of rehab and ongoing drug therapy…it is taking the p*ss…we serve our country because we love it and we don’t have room to support social experiments to protect freedom!” There was no real issue of transgender per se rather a problem of providing funds in n already tightly allocated budget for such medical expenditure. Several even spoke of the stupidity of LGBT pride day in the armed forces. What has the ability to fight got to do with what goes on in the bedroom? One said “if we had a heterosexual pride day” we’d never hear the end of it.

So when you communicate with the real people you find the truth if you are prepared to listen. The beauty of social media and indeed Google (which happily acts as a Big Brother on what it considers acceptable) is that many people reach for articles they probably haven’t read properly and use them as ways to ram home an argument because they carry a brand name. Harvard is a wonderful institution but as we’ve seen it has run into questions of conflicts of interest.

I happen to think that social media is having the opposite effect on brainwashing to tell the truth. 99.9% of what I see posted has little thought to it. The more people I speak to the more they are ignoring noise. Many people share articles without putting some basis of why they post it. In many cases people are too afraid to face a doxxing or backlash. Bring it on. To me if you post things in the public domain then be prepared to invite criticism. On my site I do not censor, cut off or delete readers. They are free to come and go as they please. I only request they keep profanity to a minimum.

So in summary, the idea that we bow down to venerable institutions to seek guidance is as flawed today as it ever was. I’ll gladly stick to gut instincts because to date they have worked so far. Having said that I should put a disclaimer that was always plastered on financial services product, “Past results are no guarantee of future performance”

Hungary to be stripped of its EU voting rights?

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The EU is voting to strip Hungary of its EU voting rights for consistent failure to heed their values, including migrant quotas. Last year an apathetic turnout to a referendum held on the subject said 98.4% of Hungarians were against forced migrant quotas. Putting to one side the altruism of the EU, trying to force a member state to tow the line is absurd, not so much for the country but the migrants.

Let’s not forget this is the EU making up for Merkel’s single-handed poorly executed thought bubble in the first place. She put forward a come one come all rhetoric on her own.

In a sense the EU can rant on all it likes about humanitarism (although 80% are economic refugees (i.e. not fleeing war zones) according to figures by Eurostat) but forcing asylum seekers into a country that doesn’t want them doesn’t seem optimal. We can snigger at Hungary and call them bigoted, racist or worse but the fact of the  matter is migrants on the whole won’t be welcome.

The EU forcing unwanted guests to a Hungarian dinner table has obvious consequences. The embittered host is likely to ruin the goulash and spoil the palatschinke in an attempt to get the visitors to leave.  Many are unaware the third largest political party in Hungary is Jobbik (won 21% of seats in the 2014 election) which has all the hallmarks of Roehm’s SA, right down to the uniforms. Jobbik has a record of roughing up Jews, Gypsies and Roma so before Brussels tells Budapest it must accept migrant quotas perhaps an assessment of the reality would be wise. Jobbik is left to do its ruffian business and Hungarian authorities turn a blind eye. That is the bigger issue at sort before imposing quotas.

Surely if refugees were asked Hungary is the last place they want to go after leaving their homeland. Refugees aren’t cattle but the EU is treating them so. Aren’t they surprised when the majority seek Germany as the end destination because of the relative generosity? Do the EU authorities think these migrants don’t have excellent internal information networks? Of course they do.

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To rachet this down a notch what are EU values anyway? The Brits are leaving because they don’t agree with EU values. The Greeks are being trodden on for refusing to accept EU austerity values. The Austrians were threatened with sanctions and punishment if they democratically voted in a right wing president. Are these worthy values? The Swiss handed back a 30 year free pass to join the EU presumably because they didn’t believe in EU values. The list goes on.

Sometimes it is had not to think of the EU as the Gallactic Senate from Star Wars trying to get aliens from different galaxies to agree on everything.

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We all know how unwelcome visitors are treated in the Star Wars Bar when different backgrounds and cultures literally don’t see eye to eye. The EU would do well to respect the diversity of its members, which includes diversity of thought and culture. It is not to say the EU doesn’t have a point from time to time they are dreadful executors of it.

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Japan fends off the Mongol hordes

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New Japanese Yokozuna (Grand Champion) Kisenosato has won back to back tournaments and his first in the top rank. Despite suffering a severe shoulder injury earlier in the tournament he fought on to win the lot, including the tie breaker. The Mongolian wrestlers have had a strangle hold on Sumo’s top rank for almost two decades since the Japanese yokozuna brothers Takanohana and Wakanohana retired. It is nice to see the pride Japanese have in reclaiming the title of a national sport. At 188cm and 176kg he is by no means the largest wrestler but he showed big heart yesterday.

Toshiba should be left to rot as a warning to others like Captain Kidd. Sadly Japan Inc is Captain Kidding

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In the olden days, pirates and criminals were left to rot and die as a gruesome warning to others. Japan should adopt the same policy for corporates which no longer reserve the right to function. I once conducted a study that showed that Intel by itself made more net profit over 25 years in aggregate than the largest 20 Japanese technology firms combined over the same period. Yes, that is right Intel made 40% more net profit than Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, Mitsubishi Electric, Nidec, Canon, NEC, TDK, Hoya, Nikon, Kyocera, Ricoh, Olympus, Konica Minolta, Sharp, Tokyo Electron, Advantest, Fuji Film, Ibiden, Fujitsu and Brother combined.

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Fuji Film once boasted that it was a better company than Kodak on the announcement of its bankruptcy. The reality is that as a shareholder the decade preceding Kodak’s bankruptcy had higher total returns (dividends, buybacks) than one who held Fuji Film. Not exactly a proud boast to say you’re superior only in terms of survival. That is the problem many corporates face. They do not properly understand the importance of shareholders.

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I have lived in Japan for too long to know that foreign investors remain right to hold such a negative outlook on corporate governance here despite the introduction of the Corporate Governance Code I wrote about in 2015. Toshiba is without a doubt a poorly run company that has become an uncompetitive mess of its own doing. It is decades of poor business decisions that has led to its demise. Not bad luck . The way the government is trying to protect Toshiba and its 200,000 employees is exactly why foreigners will stay away. All such rearguard actions do is send a strong message to all other large Japanese corporates that there is a safety net if they screw up.

Toshiba tried to appeal to investors after the initial accounting scandal that a majority of independent directors would prevent it happening again. Reality is that they were completely ineffective. To that point the Japanese stock exchange (JPX) asked me to fill in a survey on what I thought of corporate governance and whether it should be made mandatory instead of ‘comply or explain’. 98% of listed corporates have volunteered to hire two independent directors so I asked why would you make law what almost all are already in step with? Talk about not understanding what the point of shareholder needs are from the exchange itself. It is embarrassing. I made the point that the “quality” of independent directors was most important. I wrote in the corporate governance report the following,

“Companies must focus on qualitative aspects when hiring independent directors over quantitative parameters. Soft options to meet minimum regulatory requirements to protect the status quo is a recipe for failure. Independent directors should not be viewed as an ‘unavoidable cost’ but as a ‘wise investment’ for firms. Which company would rationally choose inferior staff for its operations? Would an airline actively seek unqualified pilots to fly its passengers? That is not the way of sustaining good reputation in the long run.”

Toshiba is to all intents and purposes insolvent. It bit off way more than it could chew in nuclear. Westinghouse looked a huge boon at the time and many analysts fawned over the Japanese giant becoming a monster player in nuke power. Now the massive costs of building plants, the delays, the requirement for trained personnel to build them etc has become too much to bear,. Yet the government sees the banks propping it up through syndicated convoy support is the way forward.

I wrote in Jan 2016 about Toshiba as its market cap slipped below Y1 trillion.

“I once joked soon after Lehman shock that Apple’s overnight move of 5% was the equivalent of the vanquished Toshiba market cap. Now Apple only needs to move 1.29% to increase / decrease the equivalent amount of Toshiba’s mkt-cap. It shows just how far the Japanese tech giant (?) has slipped. When we look at reality, the accounting scandal, the appointment of 50%+ independent directors on the board and the likelihood of having to write down goodwill, the former tech giant faces further woes. Toshiba is in dire need of a ‘crisis’ manager to restore lost fortunes.”

I also argued in the same note:

“Toshiba may be trimming 16,000 odd staff into next fiscal year. Interestingly the decision to cut 6,800 employees from their overseas businesses highlights once again that domestic social harmony takes a front seat to shareholders. We’re not saying the action is not well intentioned but in a sense it is hardly the thing which will help get the supertanker turned around in the required time. Interestingly Nidec’s Nagamori has offered to hire software, communications and robotics engineers from Sharp and Toshiba to ‘help’. So the best engineers from Toshiba and Sharp will sign up for voluntary redundancy (aka tax effective bonus) and land a job with arguably one of the most profit focused Japanese tech companies, further gutting the ‘best assets’ from the ailing companies.”

Yet look at what Toshiba tried to do with fixing its ailing PC business. It’s independent directors voted to copy what abysmally failed in mobile phones, even worse teaming with an old partner. As I also wrote,

“One would have hoped that the independence of the majority of the board would lead to a heightened sense of urgency and crisis management. The recent news is that Toshiba is in talks with Fujitsu again to merge their loss making PC units where the two share 6% of the global market…There is a lot of precedent suggesting that this is a fruitless exercise. As one of my colleagues put it best, “two drowning men together don’t make a swimmer”. One would hope that Toshiba’s revived sense of corporate governance would see its board seek more severe action…

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“Japanese mobile handset makers have consolidated. Toshiba teamed with Fujitsu (surely a lesson in what a poor decision that has been), NEC with Casio and Hitachi, while Sony (albeit teamed with Ericsson until they merged) has had a rear guard action. Sanyo sold its handset business to Kyocera. Mitsubishi Electric just quit altogether in 2008. I remember a time when Japanese clam-shell phones were amazing. Friends from foreign lands would marvel at the designs, light weight and features versus the clunky Nokia and Motorola offerings of the time. They also were stumped at how these devices could get so much battery life. Alas, Japan kept them largely from overseas markets leaving them without the little scale efficiency from expansion abroad.”

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“As smartphones have caught on, Japanese handset makers have been left further in the dust. Sony has the highest global share among Japanese brands at 1.7% (Q1 2015), however even in the domestic market, Apple and Samsung command the leading shares. Japan’s market share in mobile phones globally has slid from 15% a decade ago to less than 4% in 2012. Japanese maker’s global share of flat screen TVs slump from 45% to around 20% over the same period. What magic can a Toshiba-Fujitsu PC alliance make?”

Alas Toshiba dithered and eventually knew that the government would throw out the emergency airbag to cushion its fall. How does throwing hands in the air and not taking more drastic action (selling cross shareholdings etc) sit with best in practice corporate governance and protecting shareholders’ best interests? Not a chance.

What Japan Inc should do is allow it to fail. Let the free market decide what assets they want. If Westinghouse is worth something to Hitachi or some other maker then so be it. Sharp was sold to a Taiwanese maker.  If Toshiba’s NAND flash business is only worth X to a foreigner or Y to a Japanese then that is reality. The market is there to match buyers and sellers. Somehow I fear that there is a ‘Hinomaru’ type structure that will form to absorb the chip businesses of several Japanese companies to form a burdensome partnership to appeal to social goals.

The government must understand that listed corporates are not there for national service. If that is the wish of the state then it should nationalise Toshiba. I’m sure the BoJ will be glad to add more toxic waste to its massive balance sheet which even dwarfs America. There is no way that foreign investors can glean any hope for true reform if protecting zombified atrophied elephants continues.

Japan is a shame culture. How is it that it doesn’t see that protecting Toshiba is in fact seen as so shameful to foreign investors and increasingly Japanese taxpayers.

Toshiba has till March 14th to find a solution before it gets put on the scheduled for delisting board. That I’d argue is even more embarrassing.

What Do Europeans Think About Muslim Immigration?

img_0254The majority of Europeans polled by a Chatham House survey of more than 10,000 people from 10 European states threw light on what people think about migration from mainly Muslim countries. It showed overwhelmingly that they want further Muslim immigration stopped. Majorities in all but two of the ten states agreed. It ranged from 71% in Poland, 65% in Austria, 53% in Germany and 51% in Italy to 47% in the UK and 41% in Spain. Those that disagreed with the idea failed to go over 32% (Spain) with the bulk in the 10-20% range. So while the press went full rage against Trump’s temporary ban it seems many Europeans agree with him. In Austria, Poland, Hungary, France and Belgium over 38% of respondents “strongly agreed” to stop more immigration. By  gender, age and education we see that the results show a skew. Males more for the proposal than women but over 50% for both. Only 18-29yo failed to have a majority but more in favour than not. The older  those surveyed the more in favour of the ban. Is it that they are bigoted fools or is it their experience on the planet that leads them to this conclusion. Those with less than a post grad diploma voted in the majority in favour while undergraduates and above only reached 48% but much higher than the 27% against. Rural towns were more in favour than city folk.

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UKIP MEP Nigel Farage said to the EU Parliament yesterday,

“I feel like I am attending a meeting of a religious sect here this morning. It’s as if the global revolution of 2016, Brexit, Trump, the Italian rejection of the referendum, has completely bypassed you.

You can’t face up to the fact that this bandwagon is going to roll across Europe in these elections in 2017. A lot of citizens now recognize this form of centralized government simply doesn’t work. … At the heart of it is a fundamental point: Mr. [name not recognized] this morning said, the people want more Europe.

They don’t. The people want less Europe. We see this again and again when people have referendums and they reject aspects of EU membership. But something more fundamental is going on out there. …. No doubt, many of you here will probably despise your own voters for what I am about to say because just last week, Chatham House, the reputable group, published a massive survey from 10 Europen states, and only 20% of people want immigration from Muslim countries to continue. Just 20%. … Which means your voters have a harder line position on this than Donald Trump, or myself, or frankly any party sitting in this Parliament. I simply cannot believe you are blind to the fact that even Mrs. Merkel has now made a u-turn and wants to send people back. Even Mr. Schulz thinks it is a good idea.

And the fact is, the Europen Union has no future at all in its current form. And I suspect you are in for as big a shock in 2017 as you were in 2016.”

I don’t buy the premise that this is all down to bigoted views. I honestly think that the sharp rise in poverty since 2009 is driving people’s fears of sustainable financial security. I wrote the same about Trump and why he’d win for over a year, despite being laughed at. Take Eurostat’s latest figures on poverty across the EU. Although there has been a minor improvement between 2013-14 across the EU-28 (mainly due to inter-EU transfers) many countries including Germany, Spain, Greece, France and Belgium saw poverty rates grow.

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This is what poverty looked like in 2005 and 2007 across EU. I added in the 2014 figures to show clearly how poverty has risen in EVERY country since that time. The UK has jumped from 16% to 23%. Italy from 20% to 28%. Germany 14% to 21%. France 13% to 18%. Is it any wonder right wing parties are gaining traction from socialist governments who think they are going to win the battle by sharing in the pain. Gimme a break. People are already bleeding but EU parliamentarians think it is just a flesh wound.

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However let us suppose that it is all down to racist, bigoted intolerance. If you were an asylum seeker why would you want to have the EU divvy you up into countries that ‘especially’ don’t want you period. Hungary held a referendum where c.95% of those that voted against forced immigration. What prospects would you have in Budapest when citizens are so open about their unwillingness to accept? Canada on the other hand believes diversity makes it stronger so why don’t EU countries subsidise Canada to take more if they think it is a great deal. A better use of the 90mn euro being proposed by Merkel to get those asylum seekers not in any danger to go home.

Should these citizens by punished for holding a negative view given what they see and experience in their daily lives? Then again don’t blame citizens for holding these views when governments downplay or try to hide facts surrounding terrorist attacks, rapes, sexual assaults and acts of violence committed by migrants. Yes, citizens commit crimes too but when German women are told to dress more appropriately to avoid attracting unsolicited attention or well-intentioned residents charged with violating privacy laws for releasing a video of migrant thugs kicking an innocent woman down subway stairs, the people will seek their own security first. German vigilantism is up sharp double digits because the authorities are too ashamed to admit what a failure their policy has been.

The German police have reported a significant increase in far-left violence nationwide in 2015, with politically motivated left-wing crimes jumping 18 percent to 9,600. The refugee influx is a root cause with far-right groups have reacting violently and far-left groups attacking them in response. In January this year 211 far-right extremists were arrested for hosting an anti-refugee rally in Leipzig complaining Chancellor Merkel is ruining their homeland after the cover up after the new year sexual assaults in Cologne.

The Interior Ministry revealed that 39,000 (+19%YoY) politically motivated crimes were committed in 2015, with 23,000 having a far right motive. Crimes against refugees have soared from 199 in 2014 to over 1,000 in 2015. German courts are also doling out multi €1,000+ fines for online racial taunts. Pegida’s founder Lutz Bachmann, was ordered to pay €9,600 for describing refugees as ‘cattle’

Of course not all asylum seekers are bad but it is in their long term best interests to push for more vigilance by governments to ensure the actions of a few bad apples doesn’t spoil the rest of those who really want to have a fresh start and give back to their community.

I (reluctantly) watched the Australian ABC Q&A program which is often a tax-payer funded melting-pot of regressive politics. Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie fired off at the Muslim activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied about how Sharia Law will never happen under her watch and that Australian law is all that matters. She also made points about why she supported Trump’s proposals. Now I am not really a big fan of Jacqui Lambie on most things but I thought she was spot on and the audience surprisingly cheered. Abdel-Magied tried to sound sanctimonious over Lambie’s improper understanding of Sharia law and her uneducated views on the treatment of women in Islamic culture but she was having none of it and closed with “stop playing the victim, your ban got lifted, get over it.”

Instead of taking the point to heart, Muslim leaders, academics and activists are demanding the ABC apologise for airing Lambie’s “racist, Islamophobic and crude” views on its Q&A program.  First of all Islam isn’t a race and to accuse the ABC of breaching its own standards (which is the norm) may I suggest they join the back of that long line.

Once again, victimology is never the way to go. If people want to change the aforementioned statistics of EU, America or Australia who show to be in favour of ‘vetting’, understand the cause. Whacking citizens for expressing concerns to deaf politicians is not the way to go. In Australia 18-C racial vilification laws have already shown how easy it is to abuse free speech. In Germany Merkel is cracking down on any form of ‘hate speech’ (as judged by the thought police). In Canada laws are being proposed to protect Muslims. After first passing a motion that condemns Islamophobia, last month, Iqra Khalid, a Member of Parliament (MP) from the governing Liberals, tabled Motion M-103 in the House of Commons. The motion demands that Islamophobia be treated as a crime without even bothering to define the offense. Hang on? What if Christianophobia is prevalent? Will Christians get the same rights if such hate crimes are committed against them? How is that diverse? How does that encourage equality by singling out one religion create tolerance? It beggars belief.

If tolerance and diversity are at the top of the list, where are these Islamic leaders trying to dissuade those who fear them?

You see there in lies the problem. Not only are citizens fearing job security they are now being silenced by acts of law to protest at where they see the problem coming from. As I wrote in ‘Staring at the dictator’  people are growing concerned about how to put food on the table. They see unhinged immigration with poor vetting a terrible recipe for helping them climb out of the trap they are in. The last thing they want is the odds cut. So before we point fingers let us get to grips with the ‘true’ state of the economy. I am willing to bet that if the world’s economy was in full swing, we wouldn’t hear a murmur about citizens wanting to ban particular immigrants.

Staring at the dictator

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I read an FT article today and questioned why I paid $300 for a subscription. The author, most certainly Jewish, wrote about how we should remember our recent history when it comes to Trump. As someone descending from the same faith I find the moral equivalence irrational and irresponsible. It all stems back to the victimhood culture which is at the very root of what divides. When President Trump simply enacted the identical policy of vetting seven countries selected by President Obama the outrage showed the height of double standards. Is it a pleasant topic? No. Still had Obama done it how they would have cheered his bravery and leadership. Almost 60% of Americans polled by Rasmussen approved of Trump’s vetting process. Period.Yet media reports nothing but tired narrative.

During the election campaign, the majority of group thinkers totally dismissed Trump as a credible candidate. He was very open about his policies and made no politically correct overtones. He was crass, brutal and direct. No mincing of words. In the three debates he made exactly the same statements. The public was well forewarned. Had people who were gravely concerned of a Hitler-esque dictator potentially ruining their lives taken their own constitutional rights responsibly they could have easily got to a polling booth and voted to guarantee Hillary Clinton romped home. They didn’t. They have themselves to blame. Instead they ranted about the popular vote which is irrelevant because everybody knows it is decided by the electoral college system. Then they tried to force a recount and when that failed they tried to coerce those in charge of the voting in the electoral college to see reason and vote against their constituents wishes. However not once did they accept that they were 100% responsible for their own fate. What arrogance to try to force some sort of intellectual superiority over these bigoted white fools. However these supposed white bigoted fools were not swayed by propaganda. At the very least they were getting sick and tired of the liberal left constantly throwing barbs at them. If you call someone an idiot to their face long enough they will shut down and reply to your inability to listen at the ballot box. You are still not listening though.

To turn the argument on its head, had these same people not fallen for the type of propaganda concocted by their own biased mainstream media and understood the underlying issues really affecting heartland America they may have paid attention to Trump’s spot on the money analysis. Instead they stuck to the narrative churned out by the White House echo chamber that the great chief Obama helped put 15 million ( a dubious figure) back to work post the ‘Great Recession’ ignoring the fact that he also added 10 million (+33%) more Americans to the poverty lines. Was it all his fault? No. Did he have obstruction in Congress? To a degree. However we must not forget that Obama was responsible for passing more pieces and pages of regulation than any president in history. Obama also used executive orders with regularity. Suffice to say had his ‘legacy’ been so pitch perfect, the same bigoted white voters that twice put him in power had the opportunity of continuing it in the form of Hillary Clinton who offered the status quo. However among the 48 million Americans now on food stamps a growing number realized Obama was a failed experiment. He highlighted that career politicians were no different regardless of partisan politics. That under his leadership, America became even more divided. Even the hard line Farrakhan launched an explosive speech about how Obama had totally let down his people. Yet there was Obama at an African-American black tie dinner reprimanding the audience that if they didn’t vote for Hillary they’d insult his legacy. When I heard that the first thing that came to mind was the fact he was insulting them for it was indeed they in large part who supported him in the first place. A debt of gratitude might have been far more appropriate.

I’ll be the first to admit that President Trump is unconventional which at the same time can be unsettling for many. However he has done nothing but enact upon very publicly announced election promises in very short order. Yet, the victimology goes on. The irresponsible mainstream media that has learnt nothing went out of their way to paint an ‘anti-Muslim’ narrative which was not written in the executive order had many even bothered to properly read the document. Trump the Nazi they protested. However if people actually knew their history, the Nazis made best efforts to stop Jews, Gypsies and Roma from ‘exiting’ not ‘entering’. Think of the Warsaw ghetto in the1940s. The Final Solution was much to do with concentrating these populations in order to commit mass genocide. I have visited Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Bergen Belsen, Theresienstadt, Treblinka, Majdanek, Sobibor, Auschwitz-Birkenau and I’ve read extensively on that period because my own family escaped Poland in 1931 to flee anti-Semitic sentiment. I have wept at the photo of 5yo Renia Kohn (pictured below) who was exterminated at Birkenau. I have tried for over a decade to trace the genealogy of my great grand-mother whose surname, Immergluck, is the same as two of the survivors of Schindler’s List. They came from the same town in Poland. So many records were destroyed given 90% of Polish Jews were murdered so it is personal, make no mistake. Making links to dictatorship and oppression is something that I take great interest in refuting without proper evidence.

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It is a deep sense of wanting to understand my own history. I have even read Mein Kampf cover to cover to get inside what drove Hitler’s megalomania. Trump has nothing of the mindset although the disrespectful media is now running a narrative that his hair growth tonic has mental disorder as a side effect. Seriously, people wish to read such ridiculous click bait? How can people put any faith in anything published by WaPo, NY Times and CNN with any level of authority especially given the abysmal track record in the lead up to the election.

Here is the bigger problem. The ones complaining of a dictatorship are the ones creating this toxic environment. For publicly beating up people who wear Trump hats. Even if these people are on the fringe. Why do these people wear masks? Own your protest because hiding behind a mask means you actually know you are doing wrong. Burning flags? Why do they destroy Starbucks stores when the CEO is on their side of victim based identity politics? Isn’t that an own goal? The problem with the liberal regressive left is that they have no capacity to listen. If you do not fit their narrative you are a bigot, racist or white trash. They seldom if ever open themselves up to alternative views.

To make that point, Nancy Pelosi exposed the pathetic level of the agenda at the time of the immigration executive order. She was caught on a hot-mic saying to a Democrat congressman Andre Carson “tell them you are a Muslim. Tell them you are a Muslim.” Had Carson thought personally as a Muslim that it was relevant to the discussion and his personal grief, surely he would have raised it unsolicited. That Pelosi had to goad him proves how hard regressives have to push an agenda which is the reason why Trump is in office. A growing number of Americans have got tired of identity politics. They want jobs and a sustainable future not spend countless hours debating transgender bathrooms, non-gender military titles and being forced to surrender their culture to somehow attain some sense of state-sponsored acceptance. If we keep pushing the “poor me” line on every issue we’ll get nowhere.

It is the growing numbers of impoverished that want their country turned around. They fear that open borders and boundless refugee intakes cut those odds. It is NOT racist or bigoted. The responsibility of any sovereign nation is to look after its citizens first. Period. If Canada wants to talk about “diversity is our strength” then all power to them. Yet the day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he’d take anyone rejected in the US into Canada, a lone-wolf shot up a mosque in Quebec. The media’s first hook – Trump supporter, the insinuation that he was a fair representation of the majority not the minority. Disgusting. What a smear. He isn’t even American so he is not legally allowed to vote (are you listening sanctuary cities?) so whether he likes Trump or Le Pen is completely irrelevant. I think Trudeau is the epitome of identity politics but he was democratically voted in by Canadians and I am happy to accept that fact. My opinion of Trudeau is irrelevant.

However when Trump berated my Prime Minister Turnbull, my opinion does matter. I believe Trump was correct. When our Obama fawning selfie obsessed Turnbull decided to cut a deal on refugees with him a week after Trump won the election that was plain stupid. He knew full well that Trump would never have allowed it under normal circumstances so undermining a future leader with the self belief he’d carry the weight of world opinion was poor judgement.

Additionally Obama’s last months in office highlighted his true colours. Things he could have easily achieved in his 8 years in office were rushed through in some kind of bucket list to stifle Trump. How unpatriotic. I doubt George W Bush tried in his last days to stuff Obama. What did Obama do? Did the deal with Turnbull, threw Israel under a bus and signed a check for $211mn dollars for Palestine. While you can argue he still was the president at the time, there is no excuse for laying landmines in the White House lawn to humiliate your successor. I was always taught that how you leave a job is far more important than how you join. I believe his legacy is a mere fraction of what he is praised for but his last days were built on spite, Watching him on comedy TV programs during the election campaign showed his total arrogance, patting himself on the back at every turn. His loss was not just because Clinton had been selected by the DNC as the chosen one, it was a repudiation of his failures to restore America.

Some people are complaining at Trump’s heavy handed treatment of Attorney General Sally Yates. What she did was insubordination. It is irrelevant what her political views were. Trump was not breaking laws. Her job is to follow the boss says on a legal basis not inject her personal feelings. Sacking her was 100% correct. If he’d broken the law then I’d be sympathetic. As he wasn’t she got served. Had she defied Obama we wouldn’t have heard the end of it. Such is the nature of identity politics that the side matters more than the principle.

The same goes for public websites and Twitter feeds sponsored by the tax-payer. The employees of these government agencies may hold personal opinions that conflict with the President but it is not a violation of free-speech for him to ban them venting on taxpayer funded media. If you think it is then I implore you to send a company wide email telling your boss that his policies are stupid and see how long your last. Insubordination and free speech are different,

Back to the immigration ban. Celebrities and protesters ganged up on Uber for offering a freeze on surge pricing to help their customers alleviate the stress of delays at JFK. Instead of allowing a company to exercise sensible commercial business practice, protesters and celebrities (who most likely ride in private limos) launched a #deleteuber campaign. For what? A company chooses not to get involved in your affairs and you choose to punish them. How regressive is that. Such is the level of hatred and bloody-mindedness, Uber’s CEO has stepped down from Trump’s business council. Even evangelical Elon Musk who is on the same board has had a wave of customers cancel Tesla Model 3 orders because they object to him serving his country. Instead of regressives looking at such an appointment as a way to perhaps bring Trump to a more even keel, they put so much pressure on Uber’s CEO that he resigned for the sake of his stakeholders. How conditional are liberals for love of country? Ask yourself who is causing division?  Companies can’t act commercially for fear of being attacked? Sorry who is behaving in a fascist fashion? What about 1st in SEO CEO’s brash statement of asking his staff divulge whether they voted for Trump and to resign if they did, not to mention demanding the same from their customers. What has voting preference have to do with ability? Nothing yet the regressive left prove their intolerance.

Then the same type of people light fires and beat people unconscious for wanting to listen to a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, They call an outwardly gay white man with a black boyfriend a white supremacist, Get real. He is a provocateur for sure but he does often make lucid points worth making albeit done in a poison tongue fashion. Yet because he doesn’t tow the victimology playbook he is vilified as a hate-preacher. Hello?

So while I read reams of social media posts about Trump and co’s Nazism I say take a long deep look at reality and stop the over-dramatization. It isn’t just Trump. Brits got tired of the incompetence of the EU and feared a future of having to kowtow to a supranational body of unelected officials. Brits weren’t racist or bigoted. They sent a message that politicians need to wake up and take care of problems at home before searching for noble misguided causes to cover up domestic issues.The guy and girl on Main St aren’t stupid. They’re hurting and tired of having rosy stats thrown in their face when they’re living harsh reality all the while those who espouse stats are chewing on $100 steaks.

The regressives must wake up and understand the very people they proclaim to protect aren’t listening anymore. They are tired of hand outs and freebies. They are sick of protests and the inconveniences caused by it. They want a future again. They want to live in a manner which doesn’t cause panic at the end of the month when the overdraft arrives. Make America Great Again wasn’t a catchy slogan but a deep down desire for a growing number of Americans to feel proud of their nation once again. So grow up and stop your victim culture at every turn. Judge Trump on his merits. Stop dividing your country and actually see what Trump is trying to do. The guy is a billionaire. Saying he is just pandering to his billionaire mates is a lame attack. Look at Clinton or Obama and their advisories had stacks of Wall Streeters. Look how many Dems voted against cheaper drugs coming from Canada because they had their snouts in Big Pharma’s trough.

I honestly think for all the bravado and noise behind Trump the biggest flattery to his ego would be to succeed in turning his country around. Nothing would give his Twitter fingers more joy than to succeed legitimately and have his fellow country men and women actually credit him with it, You’ll never get that from the mainstream media but be prepared for a second term if his health holds out. Of course the media will tell you its impossible but why put stock in their predictions when they have such a terrible track record on understanding voters. By the way your protests and demonstrations are actually pissing off the very people you think you’re representing and your dictatorial style is exactly what you accuse Trump of. On second thoughts don’t look at yourselves in the mirror. Your inability to change is exactly why he’ll win a second term. Keep up the good work! You’ve earned it!