Germany

Banker Buster?

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Before the GFC in 2008, bank shares across the globe were flying. Financial engineering promised a new paradigm of wealth creation and abundant profitability. They were unstoppable.

However 12 years later, many banks look mere shadows of their former selves. We are told by our political class to believe that our economies are robust and that a low-interest rate environment will keep things tickety-boo indefinitely. After all the wheels of the economy have always been greased by the financial sector.

If that were true, why does Europe’s largest economy have two of its major banks more than 90% off the peak? Commerz has shrunk so far that it has been thrown out of the DAX. Surely, Japan’s banks should be prospering under Abenomics so why are the shares between 65% and 80% below 2007 levels?

Ahh, but take a look at those Aussie beauties! How is it they have bucked the global trend? How can Commonwealth Bank be worth 6x Deutsche Bank?

Although we shouldn’t look at the Aussie banks with rose-tinted glasses they have mortgage debt up to the eyeballs. Mortgages to total loans exceed 62% in Australia. The next is daylight, followed by Norway at 40%. Japanese banks, before the bubble collapsed, were in the 40% range. CM wrote a comparo here. There is a real risk that these Aussie banks will require bailouts if the housing market craps out. It carries so many similarities to Japan and when anyone ever mentions stress tests – start running for the hills.

If you own Aussie banks in your superannuation portfolio, it is high time you dumped them. Franked dividends might be an ample reason to hold them, but things in finance turn on a dime and this time Australia doesn’t have a China to rescue us like it did in 2008-09. More details contained in the link in the paragraph above.

In closing, Milton Friedman said it best with respect to the ability of central banks to control outcomes,

“… we are in danger of assigning to monetary policy a larger role than it can perform, in danger of asking it to accomplish tasks that it cannot achieve, and as a result, in danger of preventing it from making the contribution that it is capable of making.

 

Despite all the problems at the gates of Elysee Palace, Macron torches 10 Downing St instead

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As the German 6th Army marched on Paris on June 14th, 1940 civil servants of Britain and France drafted a proposal for a Franco-British Union in the ensuing 48 hours. It wasn’t to be a mere military pact but essentially merging two countries. The document stated clearly,

At this most fateful moment in the history of the modern world, the Governments of the United Kingdom and the French Republic make this declaration of indissoluble union and unyielding resolution in their common defence of justice and freedom against subjection to a system which reduces mankind to a life of robots and slaves.

Churchill was surprised by the eagerness of the French. Charles de Gaulle embraced the idea of wanting immediate execution. However, the French quickly became disillusioned and disappointed when the British were pulling troops from Dunkirk. The deal collapsed.

Then PM Paul Reynaud wrote in his memoirs that, “Those who rose in indignation at the idea of union with our ally were the same individuals who were getting ready to bow and scrape to Hitler.

So it was a No Deal outcome. The British accepted it.

The British didn’t give up and abandon the French but vowed to liberate them regardless of failing to reach a ‘mutual’ deal. Surviving the Battle of Britain, the Blitz and U-boats destroying merchant shipping, the British, with allied help, played an instrumental role in defeating Hitler. We can soundly argue that Britain had little choice but to do as she did, but the liberation of France was a welcome by-product, not lost on the French in August 1944.

The sacrifices made by Great Britain to drive out those evil occupiers are not lost on the British either. So to have Macron issue an ultimatum is ignoring history. Perhaps Macron should ask his wife, who grew up soon after the war, about French attitudes of the time – how they deeply appreciated and embraced Liberté, égalité, fraternité.

However, all credit must be given to French President Emmanuel Macron for conveniently forgetting the past and embracing double standards to try to railroad and back the very foreign democracy – that essentially assured he was able to attain the position he has – into a corner. That is the EU operating to type.

As CM has mentioned multiple times, the negative impacts on the UK economy are effectively zero if common sense between nations prevails.

Looking at the latest trade stats between the EU and Britain it is simple. EU members make up 7 of the Top 10 British export markets accounting for 37.4% of all trade. Top 10 accounts for 65.9% of trade. Trump accounts for £54.9bn vs £36.5bn from Merkel.

On the Import side, the UK matters much more to the likes of Germany £68bn. The Dutch at £42bn and France at £28bn.

In short of the UK ‘s Top 10 importing nations, 8 are EU members. The Top 10 account for 65.7% of the total. Those 8 EU nations make up 48.1% of all British imports. 7.13% of Germany’s exports end up in Blighty. One might argue that 10% of UK exports ending up in Germany is reason enough to back down. Yet why would either seek to make their position worse off? Germany is the UK’s #1 importer and Germany is the #2 destination for British exports. For Germany, the UK ranks #11 importer and #3 export nation.

Will Angela Merkel really work to ruin a trading relationship with the UK where the trade surplus alone is worth 1% of German GDP? Especially as the German economy is contracting?

Macron has once again revealed the EU’s utter contempt for sovereign state democracy. Ironic coming from a man who has seen his popularity collapse at home. If he can’t fix the will of those very constituents he represents at his own doorstep (yellow vest protests haven’t ended), what place does he have soiling the doormat at 10 Downing St? It reads like Aesop’s “Dog in the Manger.

In closing, wasn’t the whole point of establishing the EU to prevent tyranny from ever happening again?

AfD smashes the lights out

It seems that even among the younger age groups the right wing AfD is the most preferred party even though EuropeElects flatly misled about the youth preferring the Greens in its tweet. Sadly linking the AfD with Germany’s checkered past on nationalist parties no longer washes with the kids who can see what is happening to their country with their own eyes.

In Saxony, AfD came in second with 28% (+18%) behind Merkel’s CDU 32% (-7%). In Brandenburg, alliance party SPD beat out AfD by 26.3% to 23.5%.

Regardless of the end result when 1/4 of the population is backing a party that came to life only 6 years ago, Merkel and Co must be wondering where it has all gone wrong. Good job she is stepping down because it would seem AfD is getting stronger.

Lessons from Deutschland on why renewables are a bad idea – period

 New wind park projects face a significant amount of red tape. And then there...

The normally left of centre leaning Der Spiegel has put together two decent hit job articles on the failure of the energy transition in Germany. This is what happens when misguided altruism turns on itself and ends up costing a bomb for little result. Australia, are you listening? Germany has already done beta testing on renewables and as a culture is not renowned for doing half-baked jobs. Yet Merkel can add this to the list of failures.

Part 1 – Germany Failure on the Road to a Renewable Future

“But the sweeping idea has become bogged down in the details of German reality. The so-called Energiewende, the shift away from nuclear in favour of renewables, the greatest political project undertaken here since Germany’s reunification, is facing failure. In the eight years since Fukushima, none of Germany’s leaders in Berlin have fully thrown themselves into the project, not least the chancellor. Lawmakers have introduced laws, decrees and guidelines, but there is nobody to coordinate the Energiewende, much less speed it up. And all of them are terrified of resistance from the voters, whenever a wind turbine needs to be erected or a new high-voltage transmission line needs to be laid out.”

Germany’s Federal Court of Auditors is even more forthright about the failures. The shift to renewables, the federal auditors say, has cost at least 160 billion euros in the last five years. Meanwhile, the expenditures “are in extreme disproportion to the results,” Federal Court of Auditors President Kay Scheller said last fall, although his assessment went largely unheard in the political arena. Scheller is even concerned that voters could soon lose all faith in the government because of this massive failure.

There is also such an irony when these mad green schemes encounter scourge from animal rights groups. Former Green’s leader Bob Brown knows the feeling,

“The bird of prey [red kite], with its elegantly forked tail, enjoys strict protection in Germany…Red kites are migratory, returning from the south in the spring, but they don’t return reliably every year. The mayor would have been happy if the bird had shown up quickly so its flight patterns could be analyzed and plans for the wind park adjusted accordingly. It would have been expensive, but at least construction of the project could finally get underway.

But if the bird doesn’t return, the project must be suspended. Spies has to wait a minimum of five years to see if the creature has plans for the nest after all. Which means the wind park could finally be built in 2024, fully 12 years after the project got underway.”

Part 2 – German Failure on the Road to a Renewable Future

An additional factor exacerbating the renewables crisis is the fact that two decades after the enactment of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), 20-year guaranteed feed-in tariffs will begin expiring next year for the first wind, solar and biomass facilities. Some of those who installed solar panels back then — often farmers and homeowners — are still receiving 50 cents for every kilowatt-hour they feed into the grid. Today, larger facilities receive just 5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The state has redistributed gigantic sums of money, with the EEG directing more than 25 billion euros each year to the operators of renewable energy facilities. But without the subsidies, operating wind turbines and solar parks will hardly be worth it anymore. As is so often the case with such subsidies: They trigger an artificial boom that burns fast and leaves nothing but scorched earth in their wake.

As Australia continues to expand the renewables portion of our power grid, the lessons from the Germans couldn’t be clearer – market distortions and misguided investments only lead to marginal results on the back of massive investment to stop something that can’t be controlled. German taxpayers have been swindled and Aussies are sleepwalking down the same path.

Brexit – No Deal is a No Brainer

Brexit 1.pngAs BoJo signs up more future FTA deals with the likes of America, Australia and Japan at the G7, where does Project Fear come from? What manner of spurious schoolyard bullying makes anyone think Britain will be thrown back into the stone age? Surely the exploits of Ben Stokes at Edgbaston shows only too well how the lion can roar when pushed into a corner. Plucky Brits indeed.

Looking at the latest trade stats between the EU and Britain it is simple. EU members make up 7 of the Top 10 British export markets accounting for 37.4% of all trade. Top 10 accounts for 65.9% of trade. Trump acccounts for £54.9bn vs £36.5bn from Merkel.

Brexit 2 Imp.png
On the Import side, the UK matters much more to the likes of Germany £68bn. The Dutch at £42bn and France at £28bn.

In short of the UK ‘s Top 10 importing nations, 8 are EU members. The Top 10 account for 65.7% of total. Those 8 EU nations make up 48.1%. 7.13% of Germany‘s exports end up in Blighty. One might argue that 10% of UK exports ending up in Germany is reason enough to back down. Yet why would either seek to make their position worse off. Germany is the UK’s #1 importer and Germany is the #2 destination for British exports. For Germany the UK ranks #11 importer and #3 export nation.

By all means play hard ball Brussels. Something tells me you’ll put the Brits at the front of the queue to do any trade deal. Especially Mrs Merkel. The trade surplus she runs with the UK is the equaivalent of 1% of GDP. Hardly something she will go out of her way to jeopardize given her economy went backwards last quarter.

No Deal is the best outcome. Start with a fresh slate. As soon as we start negotiating back stops and all manner of political trickery the disappointment will come thick and fast.

It is unlikely BoJo can get his Oct 31 deal done. It will take a partnership with Farage to do this. The lack of proportional represntation in British politics plays into the hands of Corbyn so there is a real necessity to ensure Brexit Party & Tory votes aren’t split like wthat experienced in the Peterborough by-election.

More stats to follow.

Macron talking utter bolloques on the Amazon fires

Jo Nova has done a cracking piece which undermines the hysteria surrounding the Amazon fires and how perfectly it fits in with the G7 summit angle on globalism. She tears shreds off Macron’s ludicrous claims and even more ridiculous antics at the G7. When the world needs to be focused on avoiding recession, these politicians are fixated on petty point-scoring issues where CO2 reduction will rapidly take care of itself if the world economy tanks. The peons will care not one jot about the climate once faced with economic hardship which is likely to be even worse than the Global Financial Crisis.

Jo Nova wrote,

“Global Fire Data shows this year is unequivocally a low fire season in the Amazon. But social media tears and outrage is running at 1000% driven by old photos and fake facts of the Amazon producing “20% of our planet’s oxygen”.

And the media experts reported the house was on fire in the lungs of the world or something to that effect. They didn’t check the data, didn’t ask hard questions.

Based on hyperbolic twitter pics French leader Macron is threatening to cancel a foreign trade deal. The hype serves the purpose of attacking the right-wing Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro in the lead up to a G7 summit this week…

Who’s feeding the twitter flames?

@EmmanuelMacron

The photo he used? It’s a stock photo from Loren McIntyre, a photographer who died in 2003.

Amazon Fires, Global Fire Count, 2019, graph

“US space agency NASA, meanwhile, has said that overall fire activity across the Amazon basin this year has been close to the average compared to the past 15 years.”

Remember when it comes to climate change, NASA are the definitive last word, but when it comes to Amazon fires, they’re just a casual addendum. “No comment”.

Jonathon Watts at The Guardian carefully words the panic. It’s almost as if he is aware of what is going on but not happy to make it too clear. With headlines like these, anyone would think the readers of The Guardian are 14-year-old girls.

Does this happen every year?

Yes, but some areas have suffered far more than usual. In the worst-affected Brazilian state of Amazonas, the peak day this month was 700% higher than the average for the same date over the past 15 years. In other states, the amount of ash and other particulates in August has hit the highest level since 2010.

Is the entire forest ablaze?

No. Satellite monitoring experts say the images of an entire forest ablaze are exaggerated. A great deal of misinformation has been spread by social media, including the use of striking images from previous years’ burning seasons.”

 

Bluescope to expand US plant thanks to cheap energy

Bluescope Steel Logo

Thanks to Australia’s ridiculous energy prices, Aussie company Bluescope confirmed the expansion of capacity in Ohio. In Feb 2019, the company CEO said, “much cheaper energy in the United States is a major driver of the company’s preparedness to invest in a $1 billion expansion in Ohio.”

Meanwhile, our lawmakers continue to behave as if they’re in control of power generation, pandering to pathetic ideologies instead of realities.

In 2017, Tomago Aluminium reported, “We have to grow to be competitive and to be ahead of the curve, but when the spot price went to $14,000 [per megawatt hour] we had to take that load off. It’s just not sustainable. You can’t smelt at that price. We have had to curtail or modulate the load [on occasions] or we get hammered by the price…We cannot continue to keep paying those prices. We have to find a solution. The prices are crippling”

Well done Australia. Home to the cheapest and best quality energy-producing assets around but saddled with the world’s highest prices. Beholden to being guilt-tripped into reducing CO2 levels that even if we cut to zero would have absolutely no impact on limiting global temperatures.

We only need look to Germany to see how well their renewables plan is working for them. What have the Germans done recently? Favour more electricity production from lignite (brown coal) and biomass which are the two highest emitting power generation bases. Furthermore,

“After the German government decided to reduce subsidies to the solar industry in 2012, the industry nose-dived. By this year, virtually every major German solar producer had gone under as new capacity declined by 90 per cent and new investment by 92 per cent. Some 80,000 workers — 70 per cent of the solar workforce — lost their jobs. Solar power’s market share is shrinking and solar panels, having outlived their usefulness, are being retired without being replaced.

Wind power faces a similar fate. Germany has some 29,000 wind turbines, almost all of which have been benefitting from a 20-year subsidy program that began in 2000. Starting in 2020, when subsidies run out for some 5,700 wind turbines, thousands of them each year will lose government support, making the continued operation of most of them uneconomic based on current market prices. To make matters worse, with many of the turbines failing and becoming uneconomic to maintain, they represent an environmental liability and pose the possibility of abandonment. No funds have been set aside to dispose of the blades, which are unrecyclable, or to remove the turbines’ 3,000-tonne reinforced concrete bases, which reach depths of 20 metres, making them a hazard to the aquifers they pierce.”

Canberra, please note that if you pursue common sense, voters will celebrate a reduction in power prices that current experience proves are NOT going to come through ludicrous renewable energy targets.