Medical

GE’s Angolan Kwanza exposure

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Sell-side analysts rarely read through the fine print of an annual report. Hidden away in the prose, one can find some pretty eye-opening paragraphs. From GE’s 2017 Annual Report,

“As of December 31, 2017, we held the U.S. dollar equivalent of $0.6 billion of cash in Angolan kwanza. As there is no liquid derivatives market for this currency, we have used Angolan kwanza to purchase $0.4 billion equivalent bonds issued by the central bank in Angola (Banco Nacional de Angola) with various maturities through 2020 to mitigate the related currency devaluation exposure risk. The bonds are denominated in Angolan kwanza as U.S. dollar equivalents, so that, upon payment of periodic interest and principal upon maturity, payment is made in Angolan kwanza, equivalent to the respective U.S. dollars at the then-current exchange rate.”

On that basis the marked to market figure is actually another $250mn hole in 2017. One wonders what the exchange rate will be in 2020? Furthermore at what level will Travelex or Thomas Cook exchange that for? It would be safe to assume the ‘bid/offer’ spread will be horrendous. GE might find it more useful to run a Nigerian mail scam to hedge the expected losses. For a company as large as GE, potentially losing $850mn should look like a rounding error unless the company is bleeding as the monster is. GE took a pretax charge of $201mn on its Venezuela operations.

We shouldn’t forget that “GE provides implicit and explicit support to GE Capital through commitments, capital contributions and operating support. As previously discussed, GE debt assumed from GE Capital in connection with the merger of GE Capital into GE was $47.1 billion and GE guaranteed $44.0 billion of GE Capital debt at December 31, 2017. See Note 23 to the consolidated financial statements for additional information about the eliminations of intercompany transactions between GE and GE Capital.

As 13D Research noted, “GE spent roughly $45 billion on share buybacks over 2015 & 2016  despite the shares trading well above today’s levels all the while ignoring the $30 billion+ shortfall in its pensions. Management disclosed in a recent analyst meeting that it would have to borrow to fund a $6 billion contribution to its pension plans next year, as well as chopping capex by 26% in 2018.

As mentioned yesterday, there are some who have faith in the sustained turnaround in medical. Indeed it has seen some top line and margin improvement but management seems more concerned with focusing on cutting costs than pushing innovation. Efficiency drives should be part and parcel of all businesses but one must hope CEO John Flannery has far bigger hopes for its market share leading product line (which GE admits facing pricing pressure in some segments) than trimming the staff canteen cookie tin.

GE remains a risky investment. Flannery has it all to prove and to date his performances have been anything but inspiring. GE feels like a business suffering from the divine franchise syndrome synonymous with former CEO Jack Welch. That dog eat dog culture seems to be biting its own tail.

 

 

US Healthcare bankruptcies surge 270% in 2018 vs 2017

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6 months ago we wrote of the growing crisis of hospitals declaring bankruptcy in America. While The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is often lauded by some as noble legislation, according to bankruptcy lawyers, Polsinelli, the changes made to reimbursements that used to help cover hospitals who treated uninsured patients that were pulled under ACA have sent many hospitals to the bankruptcy A&E ward. Polsinelli wrote this month,

The Health Care Services Distress Research Index was 455.00 for the first quarter of 2018. This is an increase over 173 points from last quarter’s record high, approximately 62 percent. The index has experienced record or near-record highs in seven of the last eight quarters. Compared with the same period one year ago, the index has increased over 333 points, approximately 270 percent, and compared with the benchmark period of fourth quarter of 2010, it is up approximately 355 percent.”

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Polsinelli also wrote in 1Q 2017 that,

“Unlike the public markets, the Polsinelli/TrBK Distress Indices include both public and private companies, creating a broader economic view and one which may show developing trends on Main Street before they appear on Wall Street….Health care distress is high and it seems to be getting worse…

…The business of health care is unlike other industries, such as manufacturing, real estate, or retail. Health care faces all the traditional business challenges, such as competition, the impact of technology on services, and increasing wages. But more, the health care industry is needing to adapt to increasing regulations, changes in reimbursement rates from government or private payors, and a shift from traditional fee-for-service to value-based models that impact profitability…There is unprecedented pressure of major systemic changes to the existing health care system, particularly the implementation of the Affordable Care Act over the last several years and the current status of the program, which is alternately being repealed, repealed and replaced, phased out, or simply defunded…The (Obama) administration’s recent decision to terminate cost sharing reduction payments will also directly impact the health care market. Insurance companies may continue to provide insurance at a higher premium or decide to exit the markets. Eliminating these payments and the resulting premium increases may increase the cost to the government through premium subsidies.”

In short many Americans saw a doubling of premiums (an average increase of 113%) under Obamacare inside of 4 years causing many to forgo the insurance. The reimbursements under the old system (which helped compensate hospitals administering emergency treatment for the uninsured) that were stopped on the proviso people would take up ACA plans backfired. Not enough people signed up and more hospitals running on a days cashflow have been forced to close because the reimbursements designed to protect them against uninsured patients disappeared. When Jonathan Gruber, the architect of Obamacare, testified to Congress he candidly said,

The Affordable Healthcare bill was written in a tortured way to make sure the (Congressional Budget Office) did not score the mandate as taxes…If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies, OK? Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage … call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever … that was really, really critical to get the thing to pass … I wish … we could make it transparent, but I’d rather have the law than not.”

Makes one wonder what the status of the medical equipment suppliers who lease equipment to these hospitals does with the machines they repossess.

GEzus Priced super far?

US Corp prof.pngIt is not rocket science. Generally higher interest rates lead to lower profitability. The chart above shows that quarterly pre-tax US profitability is struggling. We took the liberty of comparing the profitability since 1980 and correlating it to what Moody’s Baa rated corporate bond effective 10yr yields. An R-squared of almost 90% was returned.

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With the Fed moving toward a tightening cycle, we note that the spreads of Baa 10yrs to the FFR has yet to climb out of its hole. During GFC it peaked at 8.82%. It is now around 3%.

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Why not use the Aaa spread instead? Well we could do that but looking over the last decade the average corporate debt rating profile looks like this. We have seen a massive deterioration in credit ratings. If we look at the corporate profitability with Baa interest rates over the past decade, correlation climbs even higher.

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Corporate America binged on cheap credit over the last decade and given the spreads to Aaa ranked corporate bonds were relatively small, it was a no brainer. In 2015, GE’s then-CEO Jeff Immelt said he was willing to add as much as $20 billion of additional debt to grow, even if it meant lower bond grades. We can see that the spread today is a measly 0.77%. Way off the 3.38% differential at the time of GFC. Still nearly 50% of corporate debt is rated at the nasty end.

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We shouldn’t forget that the US Government is also drunk on debt, much of it arriving at a store near you. $1.5 trillion in US Treasuries needs refinancing this year and $8.4tn over the next 3.5 years. Couple that with a Japan & China pulling back on UST purchases and the Fed itself promising to taper its balance sheet. So as an investor, would you prefer the safety of government debt or take a punt on paper next to junk heading into a tightening cycle?

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In any event, the 4.64% 10yr Baa corporate bond effective yield is half what it was at the time of GFC. Yet, what will profitability look like when the relative attractiveness of US Treasuries competes with a deteriorating corporate sector in terms of profitability or balance sheet?

Take GE as an example. Apart from all of the horror news of potential dividend cuts, bargain basement divestments and a CEO giving vague timelines on a turnaround in its energy business things do not bode well. Furthermore many overlook the fact that GE has $18.7bn of negative equity. Selling that dog of an insurance business will need to go for pennies in the dollar. There is no premium likely. GE had a AAA rating but lost it in March 2009. Even at AA- the risk is likely to the downside.

Take GE’s interest cover. This supposed financial juggernaut which was at the time of GFC the world’s largest market cap company now trades with a -0.17x interest coverage ratio. In FY2013 it was 13.8x. The ratio of debt to earnings, has surged from 1.5 in 2013 to 3.7 today. It has $42bn in debt due in 2020 for refinancing.

By 2020, what will the interest rate differentials be? There seems to be some blind faith in GE’s new CEO John Flannery’s ability to turn around the company. Yet he is staring at the peak of the aerospace cycle where any slowdown could hurt the spares business not to mention the high fixed cost nature of new engines under development. In a weird way, GE is suffering these terrible ratios at the top of the cycle rather than the bottom. Asset fire sales to patch that gaping hole in the balance sheet. Looks like a $4 stock not a $14 one.

Unseen WW2 battlefield letters from North Africa

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This is an excerpt from a letter written by my grandfather S/Sgt Norman Peterson on 11th Jan 1941.

Dear Auntie Marie, (he always wrote to her the truth and sent happy versions to his wife)

“…I travelled by truck to a place called Ikingi Maryut where I caught a train at 2 in the morning to Marsa Matruh…but I couldn’t get a seat for drunks and others asleep on the floor all coming back from Cairo from leave. So I thought “bugger this” I’m not going to sleep in the cold on an observation platform so I walked the length of the train & eventually gate crashed the postal van, occupied by a real lime house cockney who told me, “Ee laad, ye carnt room in ‘ere.” I said “Like _______ I can’t!” So I unrolled my swag, took off my boots and slept on the mail bags…I soon made good friends with the Tommies who were a good crowd but were mystified by the way I rolled my own cigarettes. Apparently only the poorest classes roll their own!…

…Matruh is a very pretty place with wide tree lined avenues….but I wouldn’t give 2 bob for it now as it has been bashed and bombed into an unrecognizable rubble…while I was here I saw a gallant piece of action by two Tommies. A train was at the station full of stores and ammunition when two Italian bombers came over and commenced to lay their eggs around the place. The Tommies jumped into the cab and it was a thrill to see puffs of smoke from the engine as it slowly drew away from the station out of danger…

…I was here for two days when the word came through that our forces were pushing westward and I was sent to a post between Sidi Barrani and Matruh and did the wounded roll in. I worked on the wounded prisoners and saw some ghastly sights, One Libyan had a shrapnel wound under the left shoulder blade that had ricocheted on the bone and come out near the collarbone. The whole wound was crawling with maggots (which really isn’t so bad as they eat the putrified tissues)…

…We were here for 3 days…I was sent to the 3/3rd English 7th Ambulance. I went through the battlefield of Sidi Barrani and the quantity of material would truly astound you. Tanks, motorcycles, lorries and cars just for the taking. I had a motorbike and when she ran out of juice dropped it and picked up another….I picked up my first souvenir – an Iti tin hat – once owned by a field ambulance man. These lids are very rare…

…anyway to cut my own story short…I saw a grisly sight, a Savoia 79, a tri motored bomber had been shot down and the pilot had tried to pancake down but when he hit the petrol tank exploded thus incinerating the occupants. The pilot was a charred skeleton, both legs snapped like dry twigs, The foregunner was in two pieces, sheared in halves from the waist, the top part in an attitude of prayer though both hands were missing. The heat must have been terrific as the motors were fused together in a solid mass. The rear gunner was sprawled in his compartment, not so badly charred, his fingers stiffened in rigor mortis on the keys of the bomb rack and bullet holes in his Adam’s apple and temple. I took the builder’s nameplate as a souvenir…If I only had my camera I’d make a fortune but of course it is stowed away in Alex….

…Along the roads were truckload after truckload of prisoners who didn’t seem very dejected…however some who were told to dig slit trenches broke down and cried…the position was rather embarrassing until an interpreter told them they weren’t digging their own graves…they broke out in huge smiles and dug like hell…

…I was in a quandary as to where my own unit was…I attached myself to a section of Royal Tank Corps who had told me they saw an Australian Field Ambulance near Sollium. I spent three days with this crowd and spent a night at an Air Force refueling dump with beers and cheers and told them some bullshit about Australia…I at last found my unit to be greeted with the news A company was in Libya. Incidentally up to this time I had had neither a wash or shave and looked a fright from 9 Dec to 22nd Dec…”

 

Domestic Violence & Child Abuse – a global issue

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Domestic violence and child abuse – inextricably linked to the breakdown of families. Two distasteful topics to be sure and the stats seem to be getting much worse. In 2015 authorities in the US recorded 3.4mn child abuse investigations from 3.1mn in 2011. For 2015, a nationally estimated 1,670 children died of abuse and neglect, mostly at the hands of their mothers. Alcohol, drug and other substance abuse has been a contributing factor. DV hotlines in America receive approximately 20,800 calls a day according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. In 2016, 57,335 URLs contained child sexual abuse imagery and 2,416 domain names worldwide were linked to this content. This is a 21% increase from 1,991 in 2015. Until recently, most child sexual abuse images were found in the US(57%), but Europe now hosts 60% of all material. 21,000 of these sites are run out of The Netherlands. Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) notes a 258% increase in new website domains being bought specifically to show the abuse of children.

Even in peace loving Japan, domestic violence (DV) has seen a very sharp upturn according to the National Police Agency this week. DV reached almost 70,000 recorded cases in 2016. Between 2010 and 2016, victims of DV have doubled and over 4x since 2005.  The Ministry for Health, Labor & Welfare (MHLW) has 208 child consultation centres which fielded over 88,000 cases in 2014, a 20.5%YoY increase or 22x the level of 20 years ago. Child pornography cases continue to rise in Japan too from 1,342 in 2010 to over 1,800 in 2014 . While a law was passed in July 2014 banning possession of child pornography, sentences only carry a maximum 1 year jail sentence or ¥1mn fine. Sexually explicit manga, anime and computer graphics which display child pornography are exempt because lawmakers view these as outside the scope of real children.

In Australia some 264,000 DV incidents were recorded in 2015.  In 2016–17, about 72,000 women, 34,000 children and 9,000 men seeking homelessness services reported that family and domestic violence caused or contributed to their homelessness according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The number of children receiving child protection services in Australia has risen by about 20% over the past 4 years—from 135,000 in 2012/13 to 162,000 in 2015/16. Nationally, emotional abuse was the most common primary type of abuse or neglect substantiated for children (45%), followed by neglect (25%), physical (18%) and sexual abuse (12%). Overall, just over half (51%) of children who were the subject of substantiations were girls (23,000 compared with 22,200 boys). Girls were almost twice as likely to have a substantiation recorded for sexual abuse than boys (16% compared with 8.5%). Boys had slightly higher rates of physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect than girls (19% compared with 18%, 46% compared with 43%, and 26% compared with 23%, respectively.

According to the American Society of  Positive Care of Children (ASPCC), 14% of all men in prison and 36% of women in prison were abused as children, about twice the frequency seen among the general population.

The Department of Health & Human Services notes that child abuse reports in America involved 7.2 million children. More than one-half (54.1%) of perpetrators were women, 45% of perpetrators were men, and 0.9% were of unknown sex. The majority of victims consisted of three ethnicities—White (43.2%), Hispanic (23.6%), and African-American (21.4%).

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children born with fetal alcohol syndrome may develop learning and behavior problems including hyperactivity, poor concentration, and memory problems. The National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health conducted a study on neonatal abstinence syndrome and determined babies suffering from opiate withdrawal were more likely to have low birth-weight and respiratory complications. 11,000 babies are born to crack dependent mothers each year and cost the state $750mn p.a. to treat. Victims reported with the alcohol abuse child risk factor during their first year, 87.9% of the victims were reported during their first month of life.

These trends are worrying. As an increasing number of countries make it easier to divorce by offering extra support to single parents, responsibility and accountability are being cast aside. The government essentially endorses families to split and get the single parent to marry the state. 40% of White and 70% of black households in America are now single parent. In Japan one quarter of families are now single parent. As we wrote last week, children that grow up in single parent households are far more likely to suffer emotional problems and issues with self-esteem.

Since 2007, the rate of suicide deaths among children between the ages of 10 and 14 in the US has doubled according to the Center for Disease Control Prevention(CDC). Most children under 13 who kill themselves are boys: 76% of those who died in 1999-2015 were male. Since 2014, suicide has become one of the leading causes of death in children aged 10-19 in Japan. 60% of the children and 46% of the young adolescents in the US who died from suicide had problems with friends or family members. School problems and recent crises were noted as common triggers.

Per our previous post, the police department that encouraged school kids to walk up to and communicate with outcast kids as opposed to walking out on school would have far more positive long term impacts. Yet authorities seem more keen on policing political correctness. Running school programs that reinforce ideals of celebrating identity politics that openly discourage traditional families.  Reading through the many years of warnings both school authorities and law enforcement/intelligence authorities had prior to the Parkland, Florida shooter, Nikolas Cruz, committing his schoolyard rampage the egg-shell culture of not tackling his issues head on led to a potentially avoidable tragedy. Yet in today’s culture shaming innocents, scapegoating unrelated organisations, vilifying corporations and pushing expedience after the fact take priority to taking responsibility and looking at ways of preventing the root cause rather than the method.

After reading through these depressing statistics, it is not too hard to envisage things going from bad to worse from here. It isn’t just an American issue but a global trend that only gets harder to treat the longer it festers.

Await the witch hunts from #METOO

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Perhaps the saddest side effects of the METOO campaign will be the witch hunts that ensue. Already we are seeing such a movement in Australia to out the sexual predators in our own entertainment ranks. We don’t need to labour the point that sexual (or physical for that matter) harassment or assault is abhorrent and true offenders should be dealt with according to the law.  Sadly with a witch hunt some of the claims will be unsubstantiated, knowingly consensual but cause otherwise innocent people to defend things that aren’t true. Im sorry but if you are accused by an ambulance chaser seeking a payout making up about things that never happened then careers could be ruined in the process even if the defendant wins. It’s dangerous ground.

I made the point the other day that people that have PTSD from such sexual crimes do not need campaigns, especially started by Hollywood stars who knew full well the predators in the midst but chose to put career, fame and fortune ahead of other’s misery. It demeans them. Each person who has suffered a serious traumatic event in their life  has to deal with demons in their own way. There is no set manual to coping. To think that ‘raising awareness’ for something that some people have spent a life time trying to suppress or at the very least contain do not need to have the spotlight. Shame is perhaps one of the strongest emotions for sufferers among anguish, anxiety, anger, despair, hopelessness and suicide so putting Me Too in neon lights does them no good at all. You’ll find that most PTSD sufferers have problems with elevated risk taking whether alcohol, sexual or drug addiction, extreme sports activities (motorcycling, skydiving, off piste skiing etc) and so on. Yet someone had the nerve to say “How f*cking dare I?” In all honesty she speaks volumes about the victimhood industry, that I, an innocent casualty  of a sick mind, am told to shove it in order that someone who suffered at the hands of a wolf whistler somehow deserves equal outrage.

There is no issue with people who wish to come out and tell stories of things that happened in the past. However people need to be allowed to come out with their issues at a time that suits them, Indeed different things affect different people in different ways but this Me Too (if you honestly read the majority of posts) looks little more than unbridled activism which sets out to achieve something yet gets diluted by the people making petty claims they personally dismissed 20 years ago who now get a free kick on a social media platform so they can receive oodles of attention, likes and soothing words about bravery. To many of those that sought attention through Me Too, there is a likelihood the stated issue never really bothered you more than a day or two. Think of how someone bothered for decades views a cry for attention?

I have made this comment till I am blue in the face – the real sufferers are the ones who want the least exposure and least attention drawn to them. It is hard enough to cope, We aren’t reaching out for hand holding or singing songs by a campfire. We are in need of understanding, not sympathy or empathy.

So to the witch hunts that are surely coming. I pity the poor (majority of) males who will be unfairly dragged before courts (or out of court settlements) to defend something that never happened. Do not mistake this with an absolute desire to punish real offenders that break laws. What this activism will do is dilute the cause. Just like we saw with the witch hunts encouraged by the Australian Human RIghts Commission, even innocent students can have their lives ruined by people claiming utter falsehoods. Why should we expect anything less in the quest of some disgruntled people to use Me Too to destroy the lives of people that they willingly consented to be in a position to come in sexual contact? That to me is a sickening way to turn a cause that was supposed to help the innocent turn into one that unfairly frames the truly not guilty. But, how f*cking dare I?

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.