Wednesday, 28 December 2011

A game of cards for 2012; the Union’s hand.

A new year is here, Hogmanay once again, and when the dust settles on the festivities perhaps it’s time to remember just how far Scotland has come in the last year as strategies are planned for the path to the referendum.

A referendum that was politically impossible just 12 short months ago, indeed until May 5th 2011 the Unionists consistently acted as a single party to block Scots aspirations. May 5th was when the Scots themselves saw and acted upon the need to remove that impediment to democracy.

With part of Scotland’s democratic deficit removed the next big issue faced by all who wish to see an independent Scotland once again, is structuring the independence debate.

2012 must be the year that the SNP and its supporters take charge of that issue or face the possibility, perhaps the probability, of a loss in the referendum.

Alex Salmond and his team must find a way to take charge of framing the debate.

The polls have shown us that words are powerful; simply the structure and content of the question in the referendum can produce as much as 20 point variation in the outcome. No team should ever be so foolish as to gift their opponents a 20% advantage.

The Union is fundamentally aware of this power of phraseology, it is Westminster’s ace in hand, and that legislature has been allowed to play it almost unchallenged. That must stop.

For the potential of a cohesive Scottish nation walking forward in a liberated and more truly democratic state, such a potential for propaganda and rhetoric in the hands of the opposition is quite literally allowing them the Ace of Spades.

Absent any presently unforeseeable circumstance, it is London’s only remaining ace unless another were to be magic’d up by such an event as an opportune second Falkland’s war at just the right time. Even such a colonialist style conflict could backfire in remarkable fashion in present day Scotland.

2012 must mark the year that we in Scotland counter certain words, for they have undeniable power. Ideally, we need a single word to refute all the negative connotations of Unionist propaganda. It’s time to get the last Union ace out of their hand.

A single easily repeatable word is required to counter Unionist cries of separation, break up, divorce, end, and the host of others that are deployed so effectively against humanity’s most basic aspirations in Scotland, that of free choice and true democracy.

When that word is found we must use it consistently, we must bury it into the psyche of our fellow Scots. Our countrymen and women must understand to the core of their beings that they are not stepping into the abyss but bringing back something that worked here for centuries and is enjoyed by countless other millions the world over.

RESTORATION could well be that word. It might just trump the Union ace; it works in almost every situation, there are no known negatives and it’s simply understood. Even Westminster argues for restoration – one word that is a unionist’s cleft stick.

The next strongest card that can be played in 2012 by the Union is the king. In the present UK the king is effectively the prime minister. That king is toxic to the Union’s case in 2012 and will remain so through to the referendum. The Union has no choice but to play its major face card or throw it out. The Union has a no-win situation in its king.

Scotland having more pandas than Tory MP’s leaves David Cameron in a position one might generously describe as “democratic deficit”. He is responsible for less than 2% of our elected MP’s.

The UK Prime Minister’s party is as welcome to most Scots as a nasty sweat rash.

In spite of this, the PM must head up the opposition to the referendum or he tacitly accepts defeat no matter the poll result.

If the PM turns over the reins of the no campaign to another he’s effectively saying the top minister of the United Kingdom shouldn’t worry about defending it – that the Union is fundamentally indefensible by the UK’s top elected official.

That puts David Cameron into one of two camps, he’s a coward and won’t fight, or he’s a realist and can’t fight. He acknowledges there is only a disunited Kingdom where he holds no fundamental democratic right of the Scots people to impose any policy.

Effectively, from the view of the referendum the Union king is part of a busted flush.

A queen is a different matter; Elizabeth II is a queen card in the union hand. She played a prominent part in the 1970’s, arguing consistently and strongly against Scotland’s voice in a referendum, a poll the Union still lost.

Elizabeth is no longer the force for Union she was decades ago. Scotland has moved on since then. Alex Salmond also largely stripped the Union of the ability to play its queen when he told her publically, in Scotland, that she would still be “Scotland’s Queen”. The Union queen was politely, but effectively removed from the deck on that day.

As we move down the pack we encounter problems, for who in the Union camp could represent the Jack. There is no potent individual that springs immediately to mind. There’s not even a political party. There is only a vacuum in Westminster.

However, there is an organization: the BBC. The BBC is apparently tasked to be the Union Jack, with the responsibility of playing the ace card to its best advantage. The BBC operates largely at the direction of its culture as defined by its name, and under the tacit puppeteering of the London establishment.

Under the direction of its culture and its master’s voice, its impact is as insidious as it is relentless. Without the one eyed Jack tucked amongst the spades the Union’s debilitating cause would have died many years ago.

This Union Jack is a card losing its potency with time, but without a single consistent useable ace word to neutralize it, it may not lose its impact quite quickly enough.

The Internet, social networking and independent news, radio and television are diluting its effectiveness. As 2012 opens this Union Jack remains very much the elephant in the corner of the room of real Scottish democratic aspirations.

With truly Scots news portrayed from a Scots first aspect, the referendum would be a 90/10 shoe in.

The rest of the cards in the Union suit are varied and specifically unidentifiable.

The mainstream media in Scotland may have been a ten, but that’s changing. The media have appeared more democratically open in recent months. They have not been doing this from any altruistic sense of supporting fundamental democracy, more from an apparent stance of attempted self preservation due to falling audience or circulation numbers. What is relevant is that the change is happening now, two or three years before the referendum.

If this media realignment continues, BBC excepted, then a semblance of balanced argument might just be possible in the final run up to the constitutional poll. If this continues we will certainly be closer to 90/10 than fighting for 51/49 in favour.

So the ten might be worth a three or four in a few years, and there’s no visible nine to move up in the Union suit. The nine might have once been a sense of “Britishness”.

Polls now show most in the individual nations don’t give a hoot for “Britishness” and a large majority in Scotland would salute the concept with a single digit for just a tenner a week. “Britishness” is effectively a non starter at the poll – and the starting gun is still to be fired.

With the numbered cards being largely unidentifiable and interchangeable, the only remaining question lies around the Union’s Joker. Presently there’s three chief candidates all trying to lord it over the position.

Messer’s Forsythe, Foulkes and Wallace, although it’s most likely to be a presently unlooked for dark horse that will get the position. The reasoning being: these are three lords who seem most adept at blowing off their own feet, and jesters that can’t caper are of little use to any king.

Entering 2012, it would therefore appear that the Union campaign is bereft of even a useable fool.

The Union party leaders in Scotland simply don’t even make it into the pack. Ruth Davidson is acknowledged as both a Tory and David Cameron’s favourite, doubly toxic to the voters and without credible experience in parliament. At least her message will be consistent – London first. Expect that message to get as much traction with the Scots electorate as a well greased ferret on a length of elastic.

Johann Lamont lost the popular vote of her party members, was “elected” by undemocratic means, has therefore no popular mandate and her replacement is already being discussed in London. Every appearance has it that Ms. Lamont and her new deputy’s role should have been reversed, and would have been if it was possible by Labour UK.

Ms. Lamont has been described as by others Iain Gray after a charisma extraction. With a political compass now decidedly to right of center, she leads a party as out of touch with its roots as a month old bleach job.

To give Willie Rennie credit, he almost made the jester card. After all his apparent policy spins and contortions in so many areas, he should be horizontal. Sadly, fool of the pack is a lofty aspiration for a person whose camp followers can fit into a London taxi, but then London taxis do belong in London.

The Unionist backed Scotland bill now resembles the Titanic three hours after she hit the iceberg. Following Holyrood’s rejection, the House of Lords and its ongoing amendments leaves us with the appearance they’re still yelling for more deckchairs as everybody else is paddling away in lifeboats.

That rejection was strictly along Union / Scots lines. This proved conclusively that if the SNP had no overall majority, the Union cabal would prevail. It was not a good bill for Scotland.

On the Scots independence side the Nationalists appear to be holding the other three aces of financial viability, energy resources and leadership. When it comes to face cards the story simply continues as Holyrood maintains the sense it’s got a viable, credible and talented governmental team working for Scotland’s best interest with a far higher degree of integrity than Westminster has ever credibly managed.

In fact, Scots ministers give the impression they’re doing it deliberately, and not just on some fools errand.

Monday, 26 December 2011

The ECB is tacitly acknowledging the euro is on life support. (Part 2)

Go to Part 1


A very strong statement by the European Central Bank [ECB], even if not made bluntly and directly on Wednesday is that it sees little hope for the euro, but it will prop it up until the bitter end.

In the short term it’s likely to have little impact in Scotland, but as Europe’s our largest trading partner it will alter dynamics substantially in the medium to longer term.

The immediate good news is that this effective quantitative easing [QE] in the EU puts Europe on a similar monetary devaluation slide as the UK. This helps to maintain equilibrium of sorts in relative monetary values and reduces the potential shock of either the cost of our imports becoming much greater adding to the deficit, or exports becoming more expensive.

The big loser is the average EU citizen, ourselves included, as rapid devaluation lowers the buying power of any resources we have, be it savings, salaries or benefits.

It has happened because this week the ECB effectively “caved” and announced QE in Europe. Not directly, but by the back door through mid to long term banking loans. 250 billion euro’s worth of loans was expected. These are loans with money its member states simply don’t have – they had to print it and loan it to the ECB so the ECB can lend it to the banks that will, hopefully, buy sovereign debt and lend it back the nations that printed it in the first place.

It is QE by the back door, as long as the bankers play ball.

The reaction in the financial world was surprising; the massive Societe Generale in France fundamentally blew off the announcement, stating "banks can't save the sovereigns." In essence they are telling the ECB that the banks have issues and that borrowing from the EU is borrowing from an entity they no longer consider creditworthy. Fundamentally, the banks and nations are both in a bind.

There is no guarantee the banks will do what the EU requires, even if they do decide to borrow the money made available. No nation has the authority to force private banking to do this and that led to Societe Generale concluding its statement that even with 250 billion euro being “made available” “the potential to repair the sovereign bond market is dubious”.

This will put 2011 down as the year that closed with the European snake eating its own tail.

Other banks and economies were also eying the total size of the loan package, too much indicated almost panic in the ECB, too little, pointless, the anticipated number was 250 billion, give or take the odd 50 billion.

There’s a need to put that into real numbers, that’s the equivalent of every Scot, man, woman and child giving Europe’s banks over £40,000 for Christmas.

In effect we in Europe are loaning fundamentally insolvent banks the money to re-finance or buy back our own debt, and to do so at a better interest rate, thereby paying us less for the privilege, while we ourselves are collectively broke and can only do so by mortgaging futures already so indebted as to be literally worthless.

In spite of this the Guardian quoted analysts reactions as “Given the ongoing stresses in the banking system, we expect there to be high demand for these loans”. The interpretation is simple – the banks have such a crisis of liquidity that they have no choice except to take near worthless bond issues from over-mortgaged peoples. They’re kicking the immediate need for a real solution somewhere past Christmas.

Jane Foley, senior currency strategist at Rabobank International held the view, “Eurozone governments will be hoping that a lot of the ECB's cheap money will be used by banks to buy sovereign debt. This remains to be seen”.

“However, banks in the core are likely to be understandably reluctant to stock up on peripheral debt given fears that this could affect their reputations and their ability to fund themselves”. In summing up she could only say “The euro remains a very vulnerable currency”.

In simplistic terms this means that banks substantially rely on interbank lending, and much of these assets they obtain in this auction may not eventually be saleable or under writable. They’re buying a lemon, but they’ve no option.

If Ms. Foley’s was a lone voice this week it might be ignored or just put on note, it wasn’t, it was typical. Michael Hewson at CMC Markets raises similar concerns on how much of the money will be used to buy sovereign debt:

“Nobody is able to predict how much of the funding will be utilised to buy up sovereign debt and there is a strong possibility that banks will for the most part take the cheap money as replacement for maturing existing funding”.

Mr. Hewson expects the banks will do the smart thing; they’ll take the funds and use them to refinance what they already owe each other. That will cause a rapid implosion of the euro as the nations of the euro will no longer be able to get loans to finance their ongoing deficits.

Mr. Hewson concluded “the main stickler is that the 'solution' is assuming a liquidity problem, while the real issue of solvency and the lack of growth remains unaddressed once again”. Simply put, it’s a delaying tactic, and not likely to create a long delay. The world’s economies need growth, growth takes energy, and global energy supplies are currently contracting.

The Royal Bank of Canada has also weighed in with an opinion, “our rates strategists point out the range around the €250bn median estimate is €50bn to €450bn. Just where the "goldilocks" number is remains difficult to determine; a much larger than expected number in light of recent movements in short end peripheral yields would seemingly confirm that the carry in trade is in full flight (and that the European financial sector is taking on risk at a time when it is being guided to do the opposite). Our rates strategists therefore think anything up to their €250bn estimate would be positive in that rollover concerns should abate somewhat whilst providing limited sign that no unreasonable risks have been taken”.

The final number was 500bn euro, in excess of RBC’s high end estimate. It is a short term delay on a long term catastrophe in waiting, or in terms we all understand about £80,000 for every man, woman and child in Scotland, that’s what we have underwritten high finance in this week alone.

Any who think it’s just Europe should think twice, because we’re all interconnected and the UK is in worse shape than most of Europe, Westminster is simply a sick and tired old man that hasn’t made it to the hospice yet, the last rights are imminent with credit ratings anticipated to be lowered soon.

No nation will be immune from the tsunami that’s coming as a result of rampant unbridled capitalism, but those who can best implement damage control and limitation will be smaller agile nations that operate with a close to neutral or positive balance of payments.

We can be such a nation, the UK cannot.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Europe is failing because it lacks the energy to sustain itself. (Part 1)

Go to Part 2


Two decades past we effectively saw the common market die with Maastricht, given a rude coup de grace by its child the EU. We should be grateful a form of the old common market has lingered on in the European Free Trade zone [EFT].

2012 has the strong potential to see the death of the EU, its demise being shaped at conception, the final gestation now well under way. Expect a future history of the common individual not to lament its passing. However, high finance will certainly have cause for regret euros end.

2011 has been unique; we’ve seen much, from the Arab Spring half a world away to a situation where a Scot betting a couple thousand pounds on an SNP overall majority in January could have retired in May. The year then progressed into Europe’s greatest ever potential catastrophe, the demise of the euro. Everything’s connected.

It’s the situation in Europe that is of significant overall interest to Scots, as we watch the EU commence its imminent death throes with no present hope of resuscitation. Economic and societal upheaval was inevitable with the contraction of the carbon economy, Maastricht saw to it being pan-European and Lisbon delivered the knife across the collective EU throat.

To understand the sequence of events it’s necessary to look back to the formation of modern Europe, emerging from two world wars by mid 20th century.

A proposal for a “common market” arose, a trading zone across nations where cooperation would be much more advantageous than war and everybody would benefit. It was a great idea. It should have stopped there.

The EEC was successful simply because it was a cooperative society of relative equals, it dropped barriers between the comparatively prosperous northern European nations involved and allowed free movement of goods through a common market.

To expand the EEC would have been acceptable and desirable, as long as new nations fitted the socio economic demographic of existing countries. Freedom of human movement was also an acceptable enhancement.

There was no significant worth in the original EEC to a manufacturer moving from Germany to France or Denmark, but if Albania was admitted then labour rates could be quartered by crossing borders. That’s the short sighted American/City perspective, i.e. focus on the quarterly result and ignore the human impact.

The problem with such short term focus is when it occurs en-masse there’s few left in the original country earning enough to buy even the cheaper goods. Two nations fail instead of one just struggling. This is the China-US situation today, it may be a decade in processing but it will happen. It is the UK situation today, it has happened here.

Manufacturing and materials standards in a free trade community must be similar, so that part of sovereignty has to be relinquished in favour of overarching manufacturing standards legislation. That’s where central control of legislation should cease. The EFT to most appearances remains viable without the EU’s later additions and severely burdensome bureaucracy.

The big issue of our time came when the EEC evolved as national governments within it devolved. Nations devolved as more national sovereignty was gifted to or grabbed by Brussels.

The EU evolved and with it the inherent requirement of the euro. The nations of Europe were centuries behind the UK in this, but they had a model here if only they’d cared to look.

Only two things make any nation relinquish hard won sovereignty – they are conquered militarily or they are sold out from within by “a parcel of rogues”.

The EU, whatever its lofty declared goals is about nothing other than peaceful conquest of national sovereignty, and as the people of Greece, Italy, Ireland, Belarus, Spain, Portugal and other’s can now attest – it’s not necessarily good for their citizens either. The wealth of these nations is being siphoned elsewhere as they are being forced into a “one solution fits all” approach.

As we enter 2012 we can state, categorically, that the EU has benefitted the bankers.

Transposition from trading community to super-state may have functioned if it had been substantially limited to the original members, all with equal voting rights.

The evolution to superpower status was fast tracked to be completed within thirty years. The USA took three centuries and started with a common federal framework. The USA still struggles.

Even the Franco-German alliance driving the formation of the “new Europe” isn’t an alliance of equals; economically by almost all measurable standards France is substantially inferior to Germany.

The formation of a super-state is almost unthinkable without a single “super-currency”. A super-state with fundamentally differing economies between the constituents hadn’t ever been tried except through military conquest, all of which ultimately failed for the same reasons the EU was doomed at the outset.

It was increasingly clear as the millennia dawned that there would be three main central banks on the planet within 50 years if the carbon energy economy supported them, a European, an American and a probable Asian cartel. Sadly few governments are choosing to highlight what they will do as our “carbon age” draws down, Holyrood being a notable exception.

Two fundamentals are making the European super-state project come unglued. The super-state was pre-destined to fail through both the unsustainability of 20th century carbon economy driven consumerism, and the inclusion of nations that were not even close to having socio economic parity with the existing trading block.

The EU super state was predicated on constantly expanding economies. No economist has ever guaranteed constantly expanding economies.

The “credit crisis” that is being used as a pretext to force through undemocratic reforms within the EU simply doesn’t exist. It’s a liquidity crisis. The forcing is akin to the euro/EU being frog-marched to the guillotine. Then again the guillotine was always in the wings for the EU.

Credit means there’s money available and if you qualify and are trustworthy, you can get a loan. There is still money available; therefore there is no “credit crisis”. The money supply may now be super concentrated and credit restricted, but these individuals and organizations holding it still have a need to invest to increase their already considerable wealth.

If you can’t qualify for a loan it is only because you are not creditworthy, due to a liquidity or credibility crisis. That’s where today’s governments and interbank lenders find themselves. They are in a crisis of liquidity and creditworthiness.

The backdrop to the crisis appears a reluctance to acknowledge “Peak Oil” has come and gone, the perpetual expansion of markets and economies that took place under that system and sustained that system is now slowly contracting. The contraction will accelerate.

Throwing money at the dwindling sustainability of a carbon economy will not fix it. The tripling of population the carbon economy supported during the 20th century will need to contract without new energy sources being available.

Rising real energy costs and a congruent forced contraction of population equate to one thing, contracting markets. The EU isn’t so much running out of money; it’s running out of energy, and on several fronts.

Contracting markets equal ongoing devaluation, depression and recession.

It is no longer possible without new energy sources to grow our way out of recession or depression. The nations with the highest potential of new energy sources will be the countries best placed to ensure prosperity for their people. Nations in such a position can look for substantial economic boosts. Nations such as that can shrug off today’s curse of high finance because they operate in the black.

Scotland is such a nation.

As we understand crude oil consumption has outstripped discovery in every year since 1980, we comprehend the fundamental reason living standards in the industrialized world’s carbon economy are in decline. A perhaps simplistic verification is that the “credit crisis” of 2008 was tied to one thing above all, the energy markets.

Fuel in the USA went from $1.75 to $4+ inside a year. People were already stretched. They stopped buying discretionary items, the economy tanked. Layoffs followed and mortgages were no longer paid, house prices fell, banks failed and with a resultant depression temporarily lowered fuel prices. Bad lending practice certainly had its part, but it would have been largely masked without the energy crunch.

With the US being the planetary consumerism powerhouse the knock on effects as lenders turned upon themselves were rapid and global, it was a portent of things to come.

Between these two aspects and the EU’s refusal to recognize the same issues are here for the long term, the euro can’t survive and to a large extent the backers of the EU rely upon the euro.

Fundamentally the EU admitted far too many nations whose economies were simply not ready into an exclusive euro currency club, and it did so in a time of contracting global energy availability. For some odd reason the EU broke its own rules, possibly at the urging of the fiscal “technocrats”. It seems odd that one of the main technocrats who submitted allegedly inaccurate data to show Greece as viable nation for the euro is now a principle in running Greece.

With the demise of the euro, probably in 2012, the EU will have difficulty in surviving in its present format. The implosion of the single currency will be dramatic when it takes place. The only thing that might act to save it is that high finance can’t afford the euro to collapse. The euro is already arguably vastly overvalued after so many fruitless “save the euro” summits, and yet it remains relatively stable on apparent perpetual life support.

The constituents of many member nations will ask why the euro seemed like a good idea, the reality is that it was never a good idea and that the populaces of those nations were psychologically railroaded into it by vested interest.

This brings thoughts full circle as we return to the “Arab Spring”, contented and well fed people do not rebel or rise up, they grumble and squawk. These people had no option, the failure of the carbon economy and international speculation moved them to a position of near starvation. That situation is now spreading to Greece and the ripples can only be expected to continue at the present time.

Greeks are now being deprived of food and electricity as they see their safety nets removed; Italy, Ireland, Spain and Portugal are already in line for similar “Austerity”. As Europe runs out of both ideas and energy, one can only leave the future open to conjecture.

In Scotland we can take back our future after 300 years, we should retain it, and we should enter only trading agreements. For as we already know, and as Europe will demonstrate shortly, shared sovereignty will normally only benefit the dominant player.

The only EU answer still clouded is the true identity of the dominant player, Germany or international banking.

Europe is failing because it lacks the energy to sustain itself.

Two decades past we effectively saw the common market die with Maastricht, given a rude coup de grace by its child the EU. We should be grateful a form of the old common market has lingered on in the European Free Trade zone [EFT].

2012 has the strong potential to see the death of the EU, its demise being shaped at conception, the final gestation now well under way. Expect a future history of the common individual not to lament its passing. However, high finance will certainly have cause for regret euros end.

2011 has been unique; we’ve seen much, from the Arab Spring half a world away to a situation where a Scot betting a couple thousand pounds on an SNP overall majority in January could have retired in May. The year then progressed into Europe’s greatest ever potential catastrophe, the demise of the euro. Everything’s connected.

It’s the situation in Europe that is of significant overall interest to Scots, as we watch the EU commence its imminent death throes with no present hope of resuscitation. Economic and societal upheaval was inevitable with the contraction of the carbon economy, Maastricht saw to it being pan-European and Lisbon delivered the knife across the collective EU throat.

To understand the sequence of events it’s necessary to look back to the formation of modern Europe, emerging from two world wars by mid 20th century.

A proposal for a “common market” arose, a trading zone across nations where cooperation would be much more advantageous than war and everybody would benefit. It was a great idea. It should have stopped there.

The EEC was successful simply because it was a cooperative society of relative equals, it dropped barriers between the comparatively prosperous northern European nations involved and allowed free movement of goods through a common market.

To expand the EEC would have been acceptable and desirable, as long as new nations fitted the socio economic demographic of existing countries. Freedom of human movement was also an acceptable enhancement.

There was no significant worth in the original EEC to a manufacturer moving from Germany to France or Denmark, but if Albania was admitted then labour rates could be quartered by crossing borders. That’s the short sighted American/City perspective, i.e. focus on the quarterly result and ignore the human impact.

The problem with such short term focus is when it occurs en-masse there’s few left in the original country earning enough to buy even the cheaper goods. Two nations fail instead of one just struggling. This is the China-US situation today, it may be a decade in processing but it will happen. It is the UK situation today, it has happened here.

Manufacturing and materials standards in a free trade community must be similar, so that part of sovereignty has to be relinquished in favour of overarching manufacturing standards legislation. That’s where central control of legislation should cease. The EFT to most appearances remains viable without the EU’s later additions and severely burdensome bureaucracy.

The big issue of our time came when the EEC evolved as national governments within it devolved. Nations devolved as more national sovereignty was gifted to or grabbed by Brussels.

The EU evolved and with it the inherent requirement of the euro. The nations of Europe were centuries behind the UK in this, but they had a model here if only they’d cared to look.

Only two things make any nation relinquish hard won sovereignty – they are conquered militarily or they are sold out from within by “a parcel of rogues”.

The EU, whatever its lofty declared goals is about nothing other than peaceful conquest of national sovereignty, and as the people of Greece, Italy, Ireland, Belarus, Spain, Portugal and other’s can now attest – it’s not necessarily good for their citizens either. The wealth of these nations is being siphoned elsewhere as they are being forced into a “one solution fits all” approach.

As we enter 2012 we can state, categorically, that the EU has benefitted the bankers.

Transposition from trading community to super-state may have functioned if it had been substantially limited to the original members, all with equal voting rights.

The evolution to superpower status was fast tracked to be completed within thirty years. The USA took three centuries and started with a common federal framework. The USA still struggles.

Even the Franco-German alliance driving the formation of the “new Europe” isn’t an alliance of equals; economically by almost all measurable standards France is substantially inferior to Germany.

The formation of a super-state is almost unthinkable without a single “super-currency”. A super-state with fundamentally differing economies between the constituents hadn’t ever been tried except through military conquest, all of which ultimately failed for the same reasons the EU was doomed at the outset.

It was increasingly clear as the millennia dawned that there would be three main central banks on the planet within 50 years if the carbon energy economy supported them, a European, an American and a probable Asian cartel. Sadly few governments are choosing to highlight what they will do as our “carbon age” draws down, Holyrood being a notable exception.

Two fundamentals are making the European super-state project come unglued. The super-state was pre-destined to fail through both the unsustainability of 20th century carbon economy driven consumerism, and the inclusion of nations that were not even close to having socio economic parity with the existing trading block.

The EU super state was predicated on constantly expanding economies. No economist has ever guaranteed constantly expanding economies.

The “credit crisis” that is being used as a pretext to force through undemocratic reforms within the EU simply doesn’t exist. It’s a liquidity crisis. The forcing is akin to the euro/EU being frog-marched to the guillotine. Then again the guillotine was always in the wings for the EU.

Credit means there’s money available and if you qualify and are trustworthy, you can get a loan. There is still money available; therefore there is no “credit crisis”. The money supply may now be super concentrated and credit restricted, but these individuals and organizations holding it still have a need to invest to increase their already considerable wealth.

If you can’t qualify for a loan it is only because you are not creditworthy, due to a liquidity or credibility crisis. That’s where today’s governments and interbank lenders find themselves. They are in a crisis of liquidity and creditworthiness.

The backdrop to the crisis appears a reluctance to acknowledge “Peak Oil” has come and gone, the perpetual expansion of markets and economies that took place under that system and sustained that system is now slowly contracting. The contraction will accelerate.

Throwing money at the dwindling sustainability of a carbon economy will not fix it. The tripling of population the carbon economy supported during the 20th century will need to contract without new energy sources being available.

Rising real energy costs and a congruent forced contraction of population equate to one thing, contracting markets. The EU isn’t so much running out of money; it’s running out of energy, and on several fronts.

Contracting markets equal ongoing devaluation, depression and recession.

It is no longer possible without new energy sources to grow our way out of recession or depression. The nations with the highest potential of new energy sources will be the countries best placed to ensure prosperity for their people. Nations in such a position can look for substantial economic boosts. Nations such as that can shrug off today’s curse of high finance because they operate in the black.

Scotland is such a nation.

As we understand crude oil consumption has outstripped discovery in every year since 1980, we comprehend the fundamental reason living standards in the industrialized world’s carbon economy are in decline. A perhaps simplistic verification is that the “credit crisis” of 2008 was tied to one thing above all, the energy markets.

Fuel in the USA went from $1.75 to $4+ inside a year. People were already stretched. They stopped buying discretionary items, the economy tanked. Layoffs followed and mortgages were no longer paid, house prices fell, banks failed and with a resultant depression temporarily lowered fuel prices. Bad lending practice certainly had its part, but it would have been largely masked without the energy crunch.


With the US being the planetary consumerism powerhouse the knock on effects as lenders turned upon themselves were rapid and global, it was a portent of things to come.

Between these two aspects and the EU’s refusal to recognize the same issues are here for the long term, the euro can’t survive and to a large extent the backers of the EU rely upon the euro.

Fundamentally the EU admitted far too many nations whose economies were simply not ready into an exclusive euro currency club, and it did so in a time of contracting global energy availability. For some odd reason the EU broke its own rules, possibly at the urging of the fiscal “technocrats”. It seems odd that one of the main technocrats who submitted allegedly inaccurate data to show Greece as viable nation for the euro is now a principle in running Greece.

With the demise of the euro, probably in 2012, the EU will have difficulty in surviving in its present format. The implosion of the single currency will be dramatic when it takes place. The only thing that might act to save it is that high finance can’t afford the euro to collapse. The euro is already arguably vastly overvalued after so many fruitless “save the euro” summits, and yet it remains relatively stable on apparent perpetual life support.

The constituents of many member nations will ask why the euro seemed like a good idea, the reality is that it was never a good idea and that the populaces of those nations were psychologically railroaded into it by vested interest.

This brings thoughts full circle as we return to the “Arab Spring”, contented and well fed people do not rebel or rise up, they grumble and squawk. These people had no option, the failure of the carbon economy and international speculation moved them to a position of near starvation. That situation is now spreading to Greece and the ripples can only be expected to continue at the present time.

Greeks are now being deprived of food and electricity as they see their safety nets removed; Italy, Ireland, Spain and Portugal are already in line for similar “Austerity”. As Europe runs out of both ideas and energy, one can only leave the future open to conjecture.

In Scotland we can take back our future after 300 years, we should retain it, and we should enter only trading agreements. For as we already know, and as Europe will demonstrate shortly, shared sovereignty will normally only benefit the dominant player.

The only EU answer still clouded is the true identity of the dominant player, Germany or international banking.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Cameron starts and loses the second Battle of Britain, Brussels sprouts a new EU.

In following the ongoing euro / EU crisis it is clear there are several basic issues that are not being resolved.

The EU like the UK has a fundamental problem; it has too much money in circulation that isn’t underwritten by anything tangible. The governments standard solution has just been to print more money, effectively devaluing what’s already out there by the percentage of “new money” they print.

More printing will be in the pipeline as this week saw an apparent contradiction with most banks stating they’re now operating in the black. However, the banks are in worse shape as a group, by almost 10 billion euros since October. They claim they’re in profit, pay bonuses and yet lost billions in stress tests. It’s all down to how they are allowed to crunch numbers.

More immediately important is quantitative easing or QE, where more money is printed without more wealth being created. Put simply if the wealth backing the euro is valued at 100 billion, but they print 10 billion additional euros or 10% extra to “aid the banks” then very quickly the price of everything an individual buys will increase by 10%. The same amount of wealth backs more currency so the currency devalues.

The City and the banks get bailed, the average individual gets butchered.

This is the background that led to the Brussels summit this week, with Merkel and Sarkozy, now known as “Merkozy” in much of the EU, proposing massive changes to the Lisbon Treaty without any relevant fundamental democratic representation.

In its purest form the proposals were for an unelected body of European technocrats to be in charge of every national EU budget, starting with the 17 common currency nations, or soon to be former nations, but almost without doubt expanding to the entire EU in a relatively short time.

The need at the summit, driven by “Merkozy” was for a quick agreement to “save the euro”. They needed unanimous agreement to alter the Lisbon Treaty and fundamentally allow the EU to grab national sovereignty across the euro-zone. That is not too strong a statement because they who control the currency supply and spending ability control the nation.

Against this overwhelming need by mainland Europe’s euro zone nations to resolve an impending fiscal Armageddon, stood the apparently lone voice of David Cameron.

The UK PM went to the summit sworn to protect his paymasters, the City of London’s financial institutions, from more EU incursions. The inhabitants of “The City” are often the Conservative party’s largest donor’s year on year.

Cameron’s major promise to the City of London was to exempt it from the “Robin Hood Tax”, a proposed EU levy that will tax large interbank or financial transactions.

He also had to deal with his back-benchers ongoing rebellion against EU incursions into Westminster sovereignty; he would “repatriate” powers to Westminster. This is a rather hypocritical stance for someone sworn to prevent the same at Holyrood.

Cameron also said his first loyalty was to the survival of the euro, an obvious internal conflict of interest; and with unknown consequences at the time as no individual or national leader can have two masters. It would be interesting to watch whether unfolding events declare the PM was the City’s poodle, or leaned towards the EU.

Europe was on the verge of an agreement in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

David Cameron then fought and lost for “The City”, his backbenchers, the euro and the UK.

This was a man who’d earlier described what was to take place as a chess match with 27 opponents and him not being very good at chess.

No other result should have been expected under these circumstances. As events emerged, they showed Cameron clearly lacks the ability to separate or prioritize national and international requirements from those of special interest groups in a world changing crisis situation.

This lack of leadership caused Cameron to dig in his heels, wield his veto and put concessions to the City of London ahead of the fate of the euro.

It was better to protect one business sector in one town against the common weal of an entire continent; this was how our European neighbours clearly interpreted the PM’s actions.

David Cameron lost, and he lost big. There was no other foreseeable outcome.

For most of the rest of Europe the UK’s actions are unforgivable. The EU's worst ever crisis and its perceived resolution were held to ransom so Cameron could please the City and his euro-phobic backbenchers.

David Cameron single handedly stopped the EU from following the German-inspired route of renegotiating the Lisbon Treaty to impose a decade of austerity on the euro-zone. The UK isn’t even in the euro-zone.

This also means the United Kingdom lost big because most of the 27 EU nations - the 17 euro-zone countries with at least another six joining them - are ignoring Cameron's objections and set to strike out on a separate treaty anyway.

There will be a two tier Europe, and the UK will be firmly on the lower level. This is an absurd national result from an individual who puts such an emphasis on “having a voice and being able to influence policy at the top table”.

The immediate downside of all this for the EU is that it will result in a weaker fiscal union in today’s euro-zone, there is no immediate treaty. The summit will underwhelm the markets, and fail to substantially shore up the currency. Much will depend on what happens before the new treaty between euro-zone and its allies is ready in March, a treaty the UK will not be party to.

Expect treaty exclusion to be only a part of the retribution for Cameron’s intransigence.

These were actions which were so un-required.

Cameron could have ratified rather than vetoed the proposals and made it pending a referendum on EU membership within the UK. We vote to stay in the EU the vote is ratified, we vote to leave and the vote remains ratified. The PM’s EU upheaval can only be viewed as a failed horse trading exercise on behalf of “The City” undertaken by an amateur poker player. Europe did not blink.

Despite playing his ultimate card, the veto, Cameron won nothing. He did not get his financial regulation exemptions and concessions. He repatriated no powers.

He has literally made a pariah of himself and all on this island, failed to achieve any of his key aims and shut the UK out of the negotiations on the future shape of Europe all in the name of the Great British national interest, or more specifically the City of London and her bankers.

Whether or not this summit has saved the euro remains to be seen, without David Cameron it might have, irrespective the summit in Brussels looks set to go down as a defining event. It will be remembered as the night the second battle of Britain was initiated and lost by a single man, signaling the end for the UK in Europe.

The Guardian quotes “There are senior experienced UK officials who believe this is a disaster for the British national interest”.

Michael Farage of UKIP was decidedly upbeat on the impending demise of the UK-EU relationship, making reference to probable repercussions.

How does the world view our supposedly top diplomat? The responses were typical but possibly the best response echoing many others was from “Der Spiegel” who took the position “Bye-bye Britain” and followed up in the article with “Europe Can Work Fine without the British”

Monday, 5 December 2011

When a pound simply isn’t anymore.

A pound hasn’t been a pound for almost 80 years. It provides another reason we need a referendum, a YES vote, then a decision on our future currency. We live in a time of “Austerity”, the present pound in our pocket devalues daily, real wages are falling and society’s living standards appear ready to drop off a cliff.

It’s against this background that we have the likes of Mark Tenant of Scottish Financial Enterprise [SFE] adding his voice to the Unionist backed clamour that “uncertainties” over the future currency and constitution of Scotland are inhibiting investment, specifically that it might be bad for his sector at least.

His was simply the latest voice added to the already discredited Atherton of Citibank and others. Mr. Tenant does however appear correct that the uncertainties may be bad for his sector. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t good for the rest of us.

With the devastation financial services have wrought, that industry’s proponents would do well to remember an old adage: “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt,” or indeed invite analysis of your sectors achievements.

The reality of our current situation is that Scotland would require a cataclysm of near biblical proportions in order to achieve the same dysfunctional levels Westminster and the financial industry have engineered.

The Union and its fiscal bedfellows have failed so disastrously, it’s easily arguable they have effectively devalued the pound in our pockets by a factor of 252 since the 1930’s. Not 252%, but to 1/252nd. The facts speak clearly.

When the 1930’s began one UK pound was tied to the purchasing power of 12 troy ounces of silver, almost a pound of silver. Effectively a pound was a pound of “sterling” silver, hence the name. It was an ancient bond.

The pound was no empty promise, but a tangible thing and in theory any individual or market body could exchange paper pounds for a like weight of silver. With today’s price of silver hovering around £21 per troy ounce that makes 12 ounces of silver worth around £252, not £1. The value of the pound would have tracked the value of silver.

Less than eighty years ago decoupling and devaluation of the pound in our pockets by Westminster was required to make up for the Union parliament’s mismanagement of our money.

House prices are a relevant area to demonstrate Westminster’s fiscal ineptitude. An average house cost about £600 in 1930, when paper cash was tied to silver bullion. If a Scot had invested that £600 in Bank of England notes and stuck it under the mattress it would hardly buy the mattress today. If they had swapped it for silver and put that under the mattress it would be worth £150,000 – one could still purchase a house.

The inflation adjusted price of silver has been reasonably stable. 12 troy ounces of silver today buys largely what 12 troy ounces of silver did in 1930. What a pound of silver can be exchanged for hasn’t altered much in 80 years; the same cannot be said for the Bank of England’s notes. Examining relative worth, the contrasts are damning.

The Unionists of our society are arguing that we continue with this failed model. They argue that we put our faith in Westminster which has devalued our currency, since decoupling, to such an extent that it is almost without any comparative worth. They fundamentally argue that although we now have a world where the richest 225 individuals on our planet have a wealth equal to the poorest 4 billion, we should perpetuate it.

The other £149,000 plus pounds of value or worth also went somewhere; an official accounting would be appreciated.

London couldn’t easily manipulate the value of the currency if it was tied to bullion. Currency manipulation principally benefits two entities. It benefits bankers or traders and it benefits incompetent governments. It can make big Capitol wealthier with additional room for market fluctuations and speculation and mask the catastrophe’s of poor government policy.

This simplified perspective of London’s policies clarifies the reason for these nonsensical statements by financiers and those Unionists with vested interest in the status quo. That otherwise stable wealth didn’t go away, it became severely concentrated in a system these individuals and organizations benefit from perpetuating.

With currency tied to commodity it’s difficult to create massive value swings. Severe instability is harder to engineer; and instability is where profit, or masking it, is to be had. It is difficult to gamble and win big when the odds on offer are moderate.

With promissory notes gambling is much simpler, especially when the gambler can significantly influence the real value of that note.

This same system has the Euro teetering in a crisis of liquidity, if the Euro was tied to a commodity there would be little issue as each nation would have been required to maintain its own reserves. This same system now has Greeks seeing their property taxes soar and their tax bills being legally coupled to their electricity supply.

Greeks are not only disenfranchised, they are being removed from the electricity grid in their scores of thousands to pay for the mismanagement and excesses of the government and banks. Greeks must now pay their electricity and their increased taxes on the same utility bill. Greeks are close to complete civil unrest.

The Italians have also just been informed general taxes are to increase; it will be interesting to watch the collection method unfold as we ponder the next nation to fall to the technocrats.

The Scot’s – English situation with a common currency is similar to, but not quite as pronounced as that of Germany and Greece within the Euro. Unless we decouple from Bank of England issue we will exchange our bright future for a blighted one, because we are tied to another Greece.

The reality is that a Scots currency would, by Westminster’s own commissioned reports, be amongst the hardest in the world, one of the least volatile, one of the safest.

A hard currency, unlike the Bank of England’s increasingly worthless paper, is not open to much speculation. It is therefore arguably less valuable to “financial services”. A hard currency is most often linked to economic stability, to prosperity, to stable and consistent wealth generation.

Scotland already has its own currency, the pound, linked to Bank of England issue. Our fiscal coupling took place in 1707 as part of the Union Treaty. All Scotland requires is to simply de-couple her currency from the Bank of England and tie it to Scotland, a natural process with treaty termination. No different to any Euro-zone nation walking away from the Euro, a concept few seem to be having difficulty envisaging - until it applies to Scots.

There’s an issue with de-coupling which Westminster is keen to hide. The Scots pound is likely to rise in value even more quickly than the English pound will fall; and the English pound will fall.

De-coupling Scotland’s currency and net worth is to be fought at all costs by Westminster because that sudden loss of value in Bank of England issue can lead to a situation where governments topple and markets crash. Money is the fundamental cause of the Westminster fight against Scotland having her own voice.

“The City” and Westminster fear Scotland’s currency will be welcomed in the larger world. They know it will be stronger, McCrone told them so over thirty years ago, and the balance since has only improved in Scotland’s favour. Having to buy one pound Scots with two pounds English is unthinkable to London, it must be avoided.

By their actions it is the self evident opinion of the financial services industry and many within Westminster that the prosperity of countless future generations of both nations must therefore be set aside when weighed against the vested interest of today’s political and fiscal power brokers.

This is why Holyrood would have Scotland’s currency tied to Sterling for a little while after the referendum, just long enough to permit a measured adjustment rather than severe upheaval. It is a good approach. It is an olive branch for our neighbour, a perhaps undeserved demonstration of intergovernmental friendship, not hardship.

Another fear of individuals like Misters Tenant or Atherton, both in financial services, is that this new Central Reserve of Scotland will not be on any stock market, that it will be the property of the realm.

The unvoiced fear in the financial services world is that with a competent new Scots government operating in the black there is a strong possibility that Holyrood will pass a bill enacting this Scots Reserve. We might even pass balanced budget amendments and, lord forbid, permit financial institutions to fail. The “sovereign fund” proposal is a potential precursor to such a move.

The days of public underwriting of private gambling in Scotland would come to an end, a perceived “right” of the financial services industry that took many long years, substantial cash and significant lobbying to win, will be gone overnight.

For financial services, a Central Reserve of Scotland operated for and on behalf of the people of Scotland whose revenues and profits directly benefit the people of Scotland is not to be contemplated. It would set a precedent that other nations might follow.

The news of recovery in Iceland after debunking the bankers has been effectively muffled, the resurgence in Scotland will not be so easily quelled and the ripples would be much harder to contain.

Ultimately the Euro and the Pound Sterling are both examples of the same failed model; the Pound Scots once decoupled can herald a new template for national finances.

Only a YES vote in the upcoming poll gives Scots an opportunity to stop the perpetuation of a failed financial model, YES is opportunity to change an otherwise bleak financial future.

We are almost unique among nations in our ability to achieve this because we already operate at a national surplus, and the energy boom underwriting it might change, but its potential isn’t going away.

It’s our choice, it’s our future, and it’s our potential. We can make it a bright one.