Sunday, 18 March 2018

Macro Levels Trends – (Return to) Brazil – The View From On High: WEF 2018 - Latin America : The Compendium of Thought.

The Latin American World Economic Forum took place recently with Soa Paulo as the host city, and as such, hardly surprising that the broad LatAm / Mercosaur region continues to inevitably look to the economic pulling power of Brazil as the region's panacea.

Discussions were held around the following numerous topics:

- A New Deal on Globalisation
- A New Era of Leadership
- An Insight, An Idea with Pele
- Boosting Latin America's Infrastructure
- Breaking the Cycle of Corruption
- E-Commerce: Expanding Trade Horizons
- Equipping the Smart City of Tomorrow
- Global Economic Outlook
- Start-Ups
- Latin America: Update
- Latin America in a Deals-Based Global Order
- Leading Business with Purpose
- Migration in LatAm: Between Economic Mobility and Humanatarianism
- Mixed Reality Behind the Scenes: 'Awavena'
- New Scenarios for Brazil
- Brazil's New Strategy on Industry 4.0
- Building Trust and Transparency through Technology
- Driving Gender Parity in LatAm
- Improving Competitiveness in Brazil
- Regional Integration: Full Steam Ahead?
- Re-invigorating Brazil's Investment Climate
-Scaling-up Innovation in Agriculture
- Shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution
- The Next Latin Unicorn
- The Politics of Misinformation
- The Post-Manufacturing Economy
- The Tide is Turning: International Trade in 2018

To follow will be general summaries and observations about these discussed topics, affecting a myriad of issues: from the continued need for deep-water oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico to help kickstart economies and ironically support green-energy's further traction, through to those potential new trade opportunities in the far distances of Kazakhstan and Central Asia.

Watch this space.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Macro Level Trends – (Return to) Brazil – Firm Domestic Foundations vs International Econometrics.

The recent S.Korean Winter Olympics, buoyed by the ground-breaking move toward apparent entente cordiale across the South-North Korean border, dims the positive memory of the previous Brazilian Olympics and Paralympics from 19 months ago.

The old adage is that any host nation pays twice over: once regards the enormous infrastructural costs, then by way of negative economic aftermath soon following the event. But likewise the theory is that such heavy spending creates new economic possibilities in terms of transport, housing and improved 'sports economy'.

[NB as regards advancement toward a more unified Korea, the progress made by the previous metamorphosis of parts of the DMZ (de-militarised zone) toward the current existence of the specific 'commercialisation-zone' would bode very well for major aspects of S.Korean industry. As any initial 'free-port' ideology would in time seemingly extend toward major public works and replay the beginnings of Chinese-style shift from Communism to increasingly mixed-economy Socialism].

During the 2016 event Brazil itself was already suffering in the midst of global economic problems, those tsunami waves not of its own doing but obviously having impact. (Though far lesser than compared to the West, for all the contraction data sets; given its central place in the burgeoning 21st century global growth story.

Nonetheless, to overcome a 'top-heavy' socio-economic model, remedial action was and continues to be necessary. President Temer's attempts to re-shape Brazilian industry, commerce and society with a rational and fair new model template seeking to re-orientate Brazil's increasingly recognised reduced competitive global position.

[NB full details illustrated in the previous web-log].

Those Reforms creating the new super-structure to the macro-economic foundations that have and are being laid.

So to expand the Brazilian perspective, and highlight the efforts already made, it is worth looking at 3 other pertinent aspects of the economy that may (beyond the centrality of Brazilian economists and western/worldwide investment bankers) may have over-looked given the North American and Asianic focus of recent times.

The Base Rate and Inflation Rate -

The Central Bank of Brazil has seemingly worked wonders in the stabilisation and decline of the key metric that is the (Overnight Interbank lending) 'Selic' Rate. At the turn of the century with distrust abound it stood in 1998 for a short time at an eye-watering 42%.

[This illustrated the damage wrought by both poor policy, seemingly unlimited money-printing (with various previous fiscal and monetary experiments and resurgence of rabid investment expansion even after the earlier Latin American Debt Crisis, itself fuelled by the same aspects of crony-capitalism that previously led to the ASEAN Tiger Crash a year earlier].

Since that unfortunate monumental high the Banco Central do Brasil has gained much rightful international respect by using the economic rewards of the previous Brazilian growth story very well, steering that transformation via its institutional dynamic levers, so as to 'about-turn' the previous short-term skepticism of domestic and international lenders and investors toward increasing long-term trust.

Major reforms in 1999 saw the SELIC Rate drop precipitously from 45% to 20% over that year, then to see trend-line decline – though in a much wavering oscillatory pattern – until the previous low in Q4 2012 and Q1 2013 of 8%. An upturn to 15% caused by Olympics spending in 2015/16 (and arguably some 'hot money' from China and elsewhere) has since been quashed; primarily via the sharp felt retraction of constructional spending and exports contraction, to the now historical SELIC low of 6.75% (set most recently on 07.02.2018).

That feat was the latest of eleven straight rate reductions by the COPUM Steering Group, taking the SELIC to a level even below the previously set target inflation rate. Given the emergent rebound of consumer spending and retail price inflation of near 3% in December 2017, mostly driven by non-disposable fixed-expenses through housing and transport rises; so upping what had been a more sluggish general Consumer Price Inflation over the previous 4 months, but more than broadly amenable to all given the previous 6.29% a year earlier.

Ordinarily, when climbing out of a recessionary period such costs would have an effect on more discretionary expenditure, typically brought about for a period because of the spending gap between static personal incomes and increased personal costs of basics; so potentially affecting sectors such as FMCG and Leisure.

However, mirroring the Chinese effort, there has been effort by Brasilia's economists to create B2B and B2C demand-pull, doing so via the much improved health of national credit markets and so availability to business and consumers.

This seen in two specific areas: the massive upward growth in new car sales (as exemplified by Volkswagen's 45% YoY rise), presumably to SME's and wealthier individuals, and the success of the relatively newly established e-retail realm that reaches nearly all levels of digitally connected consumer.

Hence overall there has been positive inflationary traction across two of the three types of inflation: Cost-Push and Demand-Pull, with expected absence of Wage-Push until possibly the long term, that economic gain stemming from the planned Labour Reforms that would overcome the stubbornly 'inelastic' labour capacity that had become a defective aspect of the system.

Presently the CBoB states that it will maintain an 'accommodatory' monetary policy, with interest rates below the 'structural norm'. This policy eased as the broad economy grows as forecast at approximately 2.75% per annum (the 'averaged consensus' of polled economists), so as to reach a broad relationship equation between overall inflation and interest rates. Whilst those economists also expect the SELIC to remain flat at 6.75% throughout the remainder of 2018; presuming the CBoB will maintain a reduced structural differential vs creeping inflation.

The Unemployment Rate -

The Unemployment Rate fell 0.2% between Q3 and Q4 2017, to 11.8%. Some observers expected greater decline, however undoubtedly this appears to indicate the cautiousness of still tentative business community regards new recruitment; awaiting instigation of what would be very beneficial Reform change regards recruitment bureaucracy, obligations and labour availability.

At 11.8% this is the lowest rate in 17 months and illustrates that the previous peak of 13.5% is well behind, but given the present attitudinal stance of business, it may be assumed that the present “aroundabout 12%” unemployment rate may be the 'static floor' until those critical Reforms are enacted.

The Political Slant -

Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles remarked on 27.02.18 that overall 2018 growth would be higher that the 2.75-2.80% estimated by economists, also believing that the 2017 measure of 1.0% may have to be revised (upward 10%) to 1.1%.

Exactly how Meirelles reached this conclusion is vague, but it appears obvious that the Temer administration is trying to enthuse both business people, the national populace and foreign investors and governments, by maximising the good news story.

This enthusiasm balanced by conjecture of “above 2.5%” for 2019.

Obviously seeking to manage expectations over the short and medium terms, with knowledge that the economic metamorphosis sought should allow for provision of a well-managed steep growth climb from 2020 onward. Hence his desire to buoy the here and now and beat the forecast beyond the next few years.

Debt to Gross Domestic Product -

Key for Brazil is the vital need to manage its national liabilities, the most prolific of which is its ageing workforce and the enormous burden of overly generous (early) pension availability and costs, with other issues pertaining to level of remaining state control of industry and commerce which itself because of Socialist past is equally mired in financial burden and inevitable operational inefficiency and under-investment.

Some commentators will relate the 'liability issue' to Brazil's notionally high Debt:GDP ratio at 74%, markedly above its previous lowest of 51%.

Compared to many 'top-heavy' Triad nations this appears mild. Presently we see Japan: 250%, Greece: 179%, Italy: 131%, Portugal: 126%, USA: 105%, France: 96%, Canada 92%, UK: 89%, EU Area: 89%....Germany: 68% the well managed exception (thanks to its education system, its level of high 'added-value' and its worldwide export-base as the enabler of other nations).

Hence Brazil seemingly sits comfortably here, but this is to compare “apples with pears” given the differing stages of economic progress between the advanced EM and arguably post-peak AM examples..

Compared to the measures of its truer counterparts in the BRIC, MINTS / CIVETS and a very different picture can be seen. Russia: 12%, India: 69%, China: 46%.

Hence seemingly metrically upon par with India, and with similar younger population-pyrimid. But critically India has enormous room for expansion thanks to population size of 1.34bn vs Brazil's 211m; thus Brazil sits in a comparatively negative position (simplistically by a factor of six). And whilst there is periodic western talk of China's own demographic crisis resulting from an ageing population and the effects of the previous one-child policy, its own pyramid is relatively balanced across the generations, it has 1.38bn people and it enjoys a substantially lower Debt:GDP ratio. Russia sits numerically in the apparent best position, but only because of the disparity between its enormous Oil and Gas income, under-investment in education and economic diversification and lacklustre public-spending programmes.

As per the MINTS and CIVETS: Mexico: 48% with 130m people, Indonesia: 28% with 263m, Nigeria: 18% with 192m, Turkey: 28% and 80m, with Colombia: 47% and 49m, Vietnam: 62% and 95m, Egypt: 92% and 95m, South Africa: 51% and 64m
Thus we see that presently Brazil sits in a precarious competitive position if its Reforms are not implemented. Specifically regards India and China over the near and medium term, and in the longer term Indonesia (given ASEAN: Japanese, Chinese and Australian interests), and possibly Nigeria (given Chinese, British and European interests), with a new era American soft-power influencing much of the remaining nations previously viewed as Pioneer regions.

In Summary -

The apparently improving relationship between S. Korea and N.Korea seen at the Winter Olympics (literally watched by the American Vice-President) well illustrates the seeming intentional renewal and expansion of a long distant Asia-pact ideology in its own form; something not seen for centuries. The China sponsored 'New Belt and Road' scheme encompassing a new growth stratagem centred upon the Far East, Indian Sub-Continent, Central Asia and the Near East.

With tie-in to the present ASEAN trade-bloc the stage is being set for a re-balancing of the global economic order. Even if progress appears slow to date, the promise of greater autonomy and socio-economic strength for many presently insignificant countries that once were vital to the over-land trading of yesteryear's 'Silk Road' (which ran Beijing to Venice) is undeniable. So much so that the modernisation plans and implementation seen in small-scale urban planning precedes expectations of economic planning and the previous post-ponement of the 'Economic Miracle' dream seen elsewhere; Brazil a shining example in the 1950s/60s and 1990s/2000s.

With an increasingly defensive and possibly insular USA (its metals manufacture protectionism hurting Brazilian exports) and a slowly growing but realistically North-South fractured Europe (echoing much of the 20th century experience), Brazil must more than ever look beyond its ethnographic roots and historical trading template associated with nominally titled AM nations, and better connect to its BRIC counterparts, the MINT nations, those of the CIVETS and indeed even further afield in Africa and vitally act with renewed vigour in Latin American leadership.

Brazil then must not only re-organise itself across its Foreign Relations front – this much improved over the last 20 years – but ensure its internal re-organisation via the raft of socio-economic Reforms are implemented as envisioned.

Any short-fall in making Brazil more globally aware, fit-for-business, better educated, entrepreneurial and so internationally competitive, would be to fall short of its massive potential as an EM leader across a myriad of fields which impact upon prosperity and ecology, from green-power generation to smart-cities and satellite-towns, to new nation-wide planning formulas to lightweight standard and autonomous vehicles to end-of-life recycling and ethical disposability.

Just as China has become the industrial powerhouse of the world, India the IT consulting hub and Russia still the eponymous lowest-cost fossil-based Energy centre, so Brazil must intelligently deploy its enviable spread of human, industrial/commercial and natural resources; doing so in a unified way that truly convinces, both at home and internationally across 2nd, 3rd and 4th Tier countries.

Brazil's central bank has long undertaken what was initially an onerous task to much improve domestic and international confidence in both the its currency, base rates and interest rates, the former previously massively affected by the extremely damaging historical syncronicity of the latter two, that unhealthy co-dependent relationship now essentially defunct with what might be deemed and broad 'structural normality' at amenable levels now in place.

The foundations of the economy then have been put in place over a long period. Precisely because the high costs, disfunctionality and so volatility as output of yesteryear's Socialistic Statist mantra has – and continues to be – recognised as inevitably inefficient and so dismantled.

Yet as illustrated by worldwide metrics, even though a beneficiary of late 20th and early 21st century global capitalism, the costs of this ongoing transformation have been costly as the expenditure public infrastructure projects of whatever colour and ideology still weigh heavy on the national balance sheet; even the gain of realised assets vs accumulated projects' debts.

Without addressing this paper-based imbalance, by exporting more products and services and importing more FDI and expertise and labour to better 'sweat' those physical assets, Brazil looks to be caught in the classic 'middle-income trap' – effectively the reluctance to improve its mid-level cost-base, which in fact appears overtly high to other up-coming nations who themselves seek the assistance of lead EMs for their own growth toward prosperity.

To this end, beyond Temer's vitally important raft of competitively transformational Reforms, the business community – historically led by the Sao Paulo Chamber of Commerce – must continue to deepen and expand its offering to both the nation and the world at large. New expansions of incumbent companies such as: Troller (specialist vehicles), Marcopolo (Coach and Bus), Avibras (military products), Klabin (recycled paper goods) and the rise of all-new entities from within industry and academia and indeed from the supported energies of the young, to befit a myriad of today's and tomorrow's needs, wants and desires...[and so brightly shine above the previous dark clouds associated with Petrobras, Odebrecht and JBS].

The Latin American adjunct to Davos 2018 takes place very shortly in Sao Paulo (13th to 15th March at the Grand Hyatt), with special note of the intersect between Brazil's upcoming elections, the need for Reform, the trade pipeline and springboard that is the increasingly important Mercosur-Pacific Alliance, and the continued unfolding of the digitally enabled '4th Industrial Revolution'.

Perhaps as never before have the eyes and minds of Latin American leaders been so avidly focused in 'Shaping the New Narrative' across a plethora of socio-eco-techno-commercial arenas.

If Brazilian business both old and young can acquit itself upon the worldwide stage as well as the former Olympic showcase, there is good reason for an increasingly synchronised EM-AM world led by fair capitalism and centrist moralities to be optimistic.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Macro Levels Trends – (Return to) Brazil – Re-Cap, General Considerations and the View From On High at Davos 2018

This weblog – at long last – returns to the subject of Brazil and its socio-economic present and future, and so overall investment potential.

As seen previously, having enjoyed a record growth period for nigh on two decades from the mid 1990s onward, but inevitably suffered because of the negative chain reaction effects of: firstly the American created Great Financial Crisis, then the European Sovereign Debt Crisis and so inevitably the concomitant “Contraction Effect” to the BRICs and 'Next 11' nations.

Brazil like most was overtly exposed given its innate global inter-connectedness. But those previous twenty years of prosperity aswell as its socialist start-point means that – unlike others – by comparison Brazil enjoys a level of theoretically readily adjustable socio-economic leeway (and thus a buffer) by which to steer its future course; by 'trimming its fat' seen across heavy bureaucracy and generous social provisions.

As a recent FT graphic displayed, EM central and institutional banking sought to effectively increasingly de-couple from the US$ ( historic global reserve currency) since 2006, by generating core national debt precisely for domestic B2B and B2C banking purposes. Greater self-sufficiency to avoid replays such as the Latin American Debt Crisis of the 1980s and early 1990s in which ineffable close ties to the US$ both assisted stability yet also ironically created domestic collapses. So since 2006, EM central banks have effectively retained an overall near static lending level from the USA, and grown the presence of domestic currency based lending both at home and across EM nations. Hence for the MINTS and CIVETS a far greater portion of their own foreign debt resides in Reals, Rubles, Rupees and of course Renminbis.

Thus whilst EM countries are still much affiliated with the West and likewise “caught a serious cold” when America sneezed enormously in 2008/9, whilst the West still effectively experiences its 'New Norm' of slow growth within Main Street and thus very financial slow trickle-down to the masses given the massive over-capacity in capital and labour to be absorbed (labour participation rates still questionable), EM nations have been far better placed because of their changed stance toward domestic reliance and cross-EM cooperation.

So whilst the GFC debunked the previous ideology of secure EM “de-coupling”, whilst at the complex nexus of 'macro-led' international high finance it was not yet so, it seems that domestically from both national treasury budgeting and sector/company exporting perspectives, there is reason to believe – by way of delayed and lesser recession and more rapid rebound – that the strong foundations of ongoing “de-coupling” are indeed in place.

Those AEMs (Advanced Emerging Markets) with broader economic activity bases across varied sectors and well balanced Domestic vs Foreign Trade-based Current Accounts, have been typically well positioned to expect renewed growth through positive government incentives and yet stronger FDI interests in their own emergent commercial spheres.

As seen, China going through its own period of economic rotation from an infrastructure/supply and export-led model to that of an increasingly domestic/demand internally-led stance; so as to perpetuate its 'soft landing' transformation. In comparison to such a subtle and thus far well-managed economic shift, India with its far greater shadow-banking and black-markets economic environment was forced to undergo drastic currency reforms designed to both create better transparency and prompt an increase consumer spending. By contrast again, instead of seeking to prop-up a devalued Rubel because core Oil and Gas market reliance, Russia sought to await renewed global expansion, subtly expand FDI in other arenas such as agriculture, and vitally sought to expand its own geographical influence - to both typically distract its populace from its own economic woes in the period, aswell as seeking to gain a return to the Russian fold those ex-Soviet peoples whose lives had not been transformed by EU expansion, because of their location in the effective 'buffer-zone' between East and West..

Thus on paper, and thereafter seen in the sharp rise of the Bovespa, to domestic and worldwide investors, since 2016 Brazil stood-out as the sole “unencumbent” of the all too obvious socio-economic headwinds affecting the other other BRICs, MINTS and CIVETS.

And additionally as the pumping heart of pan Latin American/Mercosaur economies – themselves individually undergoing very visible socio-economic change, from Venezuela’s unrest to new Modernisation of the West Coast countries through much from rare materials extraction to direct 'low cost' oceanic connectedness with China – Brazil still leads the way as an economic model of the region and Central America.

So much so that the recent interest by America's Boeing into Embraer was hardly a surprise; to both immediately strategically off-set Airbus-Bombardier alliance efforts and to gain a large stake in the 'high-value' aspect of pan LatAm growth itself more reliant on air-transport to quickly cross the Amazon and Andes.

However, by 2017 that positivity had shifted somewhat toward temperate caution, with the combined negative effects of a concerning 2 issues.

Firstly, the specific effects of still evident foreign trade contraction, affecting aspects of both its primary and secondary industries. China's own ongoing shift in iron-ore, general metals, minerals and agricultural products meant that slower demand and less elastic pricing curves continued to be felt in primary sectors. Whilst in secondary sectors, activities ranging from food processing and sub-component assembly, still awaited meaningful new consumer and business growth in what were the still cautious Triad regions, likewise negotiating harder in procurement to buoy their own unit margins.

Secondly, the ongoing affect of the “Lavo Jato” (carwash) scandal, which unearthed widespread 'kick-back' contract corruption (in oil and construction sectors) across what should be independent, separate political and commercial realms. Allegations spread across both sides of the political divide, with the innate irony that a recent prosecution of people's favourite “Lula” (Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva) has not undermined his attractiveness; whether true or not, that judgement believed by the masses as politically driven to ensure tabled and unpopular necessary reforms.

Unsurprisingly given its long drawn out affair, “Lavo Jato” has created a quake of confidence across politics, industry and of course the general public; leading to one-day strikes and for a time apparent simmering mass unrest – since seemingly quelled.

All of this undid much of the good-work experienced over the previous 20 years that had led to fundamental 'bottom-up' social improvement, to the extent that in recent years the expanded middle-class has enjoyed better living standards than not just those others within EM nations, but also on-par and better than many Europeans and Americans.

With such political ructions there have been worries by some overtly 'nay-say' international investors that Brazil might possibly returning to its “dark days” and “lost decade” of the 1980s.

Though it must be recognised that precisely because of a more internationalist and equitable experience of 21st century globalisation – beyond the previous 'Washington Grip' - and the innate failure of centrally-planned Communism, much of Latin America is itself today the pro-markets counterpoint of its old 1950s – 1980s Red-Led self.

To try to dismiss such homeland and foreign angst about Brazil via a powerful new economic template, Michel Temer was appointed President in August 2016. (His replacing the impeached Dilma Rousseff) so as to serve-out the remainder of the Party's elected term, (until January 2019).

Since appointment he has indeed set-out the new governance template – and expectantly suffered loss of popularity for doing so. The vision to roll-out very necessary socio-economic reforms that seek to re-shape what is now (realistically on a worldwide basis) a Brazil that is notably less competitive than its former yesteryear self. From that of an overtly 'socially burdened' nation to a far more future-facing and dynamic country. Indeed to regain a competitive strength reminiscent of its 1950s/60s and 1990s heydays.

This can only be achieved via reforms virtually “across the board”, but with specific focus upon the endemically damaging and untenable budgetary costs of (globally comparatively) over-entitled elder citizens, who enjoy retirement at 54 upon overtly generous state and private incomes.

The off-set of this unpopular move is far greater support for the young by way of education etc, and critically including those much marginalised, the newer immigrant population (both legal and otherwise) that have travelled from neighbouring countries to seek better lives. (The sizeable regional impact of Venezuela's economic problems creating overland migration into Brazil).

In essence, to take from the 'comparatively rich' and give to the 'new poor'. Obviously many who have retired remember their negative experiences of the bad old days, which when added to their productive efforts over the last twenty years means that have gone 'from famine to feast', and see themselves as deserving of their awaited retirement benefits; even if regarded as 'Champagne Socialists'.

Foreigners appear then to question whether Brazil/Brasilia will continue to engage in what is now possibly a BRIC led new version of global capitalism; possibly operating as the guiding 'go-between' influence amongst AM and EM participants. Or whether the country returns to a protectionist stance akin to the 'ISI' (Import Substitution Industrialisation) paradigm of seventy years ago; itself now prompted again by Trump's 'America First' stance.

The outcome remains to be seen, but given the massive shift in EM collaborative power, a retraction back to an inward-biased economy appears unlikely, especially since itself was between the 1930s and 1980s wholly based upon the advantages of foreign owned technology transfer, as well illustrated by the American, German, Italian and French industrial nameplates of its notionally domestic auto-industry, even if badge-engineered as homegrown.

Indeed, today thanks to past international cooperation, Brazil relative to the 'Next 11' countries and beyond sits as their industrial and commercial patron and mentor. So whereas once the domestic patronage system of the land was reviled by the underling workforce, today as 'EM Patron', Brazil sits in an enviable position; its increasingly privatised industries, array of private firms and new university spin-outs and incubators, able to take advantage of their highly competitive position; if given the freedom to do so.

Temer's government recognises Brazil's path toward gain from such increased global potential, one that would see the descendants of Brazil's own immigrants of a century ago, themselves seek fortune in the wider world.

But the fact remains that to do so the success of Temer's reforms are indeed still very necessary, and indeed provides an economic uplift for the most marginalised people.

Rationally compare these change in retirement and so pensionable age, which is not materially detrimentally on an immediate and personal basis, to the far more harmful actions of various Western governments. Whereby to reduce costs the already very minimal social security net is often wrongfully withdrawn; done so knowingly, and to the detriment of the recipient so creating further social marginalisation.

In contrast, Brazil is undertaking its budget balancing in a fair and open way.

The Reforms would allow Brazil to supercharge further transformative FDI (so allowing for further climb up the value-added/value-creation ladder) and allow Brazilians to re-embrace the very idea of positive globalisation.

And at worst, if a new ISI path is ultimately formed – no doubt centred on further imported IT and Digital Sciences knowledge – with New Protectionism, the Reforms would provide yet greater budget flexibility to encourage greater prevalence of domestically nurtured copy-cat industries and services across an ever broadening spectrum.

The President's Speech at the WEF -
(Davos, late January 2018)

To gain insight the remainder of this web-log summarises Temer's speech at the recently held World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland; introduced by Prof Schwab with the sentiment of new future “Smart Globalisation”.

Loose transcript...

“Brazil is back in business, with more opportunity for trade and business, following the most severe recession we have ever faced, yet returned to 'growth track' illustrated by the fact that inflation – once in double digits – was under control at 3% - very close to the base-line level. Interest rates likewise from previously 14% to 7%. SEOs in the past suffered losses in the billions, but now enjoy substantial profits, crop yields beating all records, the 2017 trade balance over US$60bn, and up until November 2017 the Net FDI totalled $64bn.

The 'country-risk' has dropped significantly, from over 500 basis points in Jan 2016 to today's 200 basis points - achieved in 1 year and 8 months by our Administration in Office; not 4 or 8 years (as might have previously been so). In this short time we have drastically changed the face of Brazil, reforms aimed at modernising and up-grading the economy and business environment, the labour market, public management practices and administratyion of SOEs. The current agenda the most serious of reforms for many dacades.

Five key elements (principles and objectives) underpin this historic journey:

1. Responsibility -
Dealing (in a straight-forward manner) with the inherited problems. A diagnosis of a serious Fiscal crisis requiring equally seriously matched Fiscal responses. Transparency of public accounts as opposed to half truths, no pretence or pretexts or excuses. A Budget-Cap ceiling extending to 20 years now operational, to ensure proper rebalancing of government accounts. Such consolidation efforts allowed the 2017 posting a Primary Fiscal Deficit well below the target and expectations.
The flip-side of the Fiscal coin being Social Responsibility – often empty rhetoric – and only truly tenable when public accounts are in good order, so giving the space to overcome still evident high inequality.

2. Dialogue -
It was absolutely necessary to join forces across the previously broken-down triumvite of Government-Administration-Judiciary (ie Legislative) to face enormous challenges. The ability to listen and to compromise. Doing this we have garnered support.

3. Efficiency -
Passing crucial reforms for Brazilian productivity and so the competitiveness of Brazilian products. An example is labour reform, previously stuck in the past from decades ago, now reflective of today's reality in the 21st century. To match international precedents, critically re-balancing the protection of employees against the legal certainty of employers.

We likewise reformed Education, particularly Secondary education, wherein an old, obsolete standardised curriculum has been reshaped and led by the needs of the job market, which far better directs students toward their professional call or vocation, from a young age.

And engaged the whole of the Public Administration to enhance the Business Environment, slashing layers of bureaucracy, red-taped stream-lined or removed. All aimed at Import or Export, Open or Close a business, via the automation of registration processes, computerising Tax and Customs procedures. After all, an entrepreneurs time is too valuable to be spent in queues, or government service counters.

4. Rationality -
Investors now find a Brazil with a legal framework that recognises that the state operatus cannot and should not do everything, adopting a realistic model conceptions and privatisations with a safe regulatory framework. In a year and a half we have tendered 75 projects to the private sector, with a further 75 likewise in 2018.

These include: Ports, Airports, Highways, Railways, Power Transmission Lines, Gas and Oil Deposits, which all offer opportunity to both international and domestic investment companies. Also strengthened the autonomy of Regulatory Agencies, whilst acting on a strong technical and independent basis.

A new Bill passed per SOEs and their professional management, objective rules per the Oil and Gas sector. Therefor releasing the state from obligation with Petrobras in specific operations.

5. Openness -
We live in a world where isolationist trends are gaining ground, yet also know that protectionism is not a solution. When closed, we are closed to new technologies, new ideas, new possibilities, and effective solutions to our shared problems. We are further opening Brazil to the global economy and positioning the country within that scene. By working with Mercosaur partners we have restored the Bloc's original intent for truly free markets, identifying trade barriers and seeking to remove them, investment agreements and even government procurement. We've drawn closer ties with Pacific-Alliance countries, and new trade agreements with Canada, S.Korea, Singapore and after 20 years the potential of a Mercosaur-EU trade agreement – wide ranging and properly balanced.

Brazil has applied to the OECD to formalise what appear aligned institutional and national standards. At the multilateral level, we support a rules based system, as set out by the WTO and the aspirations of the Paris Summit on Climate Change with ratification at the UN. A country like Brazil, with the world's largest forest and cleanest energy mixes and is an agricultural powerhouse whilst using less than 9% of territory.

This is the New of: Responsibility not Popularism, Dialogue not Intransigence, Efficiency not Red Tape, Rationality not Unrealism, Openness not Isolationism.

The international community will be asking itself if indeed this path will be followed, given the upcoming elections. I say “yes” we shall complete our agenda, voters know reforms provide growth an jobs and economic gains. All economic players agree that there is no alternative to the reforms currently being promoted and put in place. The 'set-back' potential is virtually none-existent.

After the reforms, the next step is brining the social security system into order. Brazilians have come to recognise that the current system is unfair and unsustainable, hence the push upon Congress to pass the Reform Bill....the latest of those so far passed by Parliament.

Beyond this a stream-lining of the Tax System, to facilitate life for Business, Workers and Citizens at large.

Brazil has come back, back on the Development Track and during this period of Global Re-growth, able to provide Contribution and Input.
Hence....'Brazil is back in Business'... and we invite you all to take part in this new chapter in our history.
To re-iterate the scale of the Brazilian turn-around the chairman Professor Scwab congratulated President Temer on actions to date and the path forward given the complexity of aligning the myriad of Brazilian stakeholders.

To Summise -

The World Economic Forum has in the past been vilified as the elite's self-congratulatory squawk-box, positioned literally from on high, illustrating the difference between the notional uber-wealthy and the rest of the world.

Yet, as relayed, the efforts by Brazilian economists to better re-orientate their homeland toward another high-potential era within the expanding global economy – largely thanks to the trading mutuality of BRICs and Next 11 - actually illustrates fairly managed socio-economic flexibility for the mid and long-term gain of the many, not just the few.

President Temer's administration fulfils the national idiom : “Ordem e Progresso”

Sunday, 11 February 2018

An Alternative Valentine's Message – Countering the 'Dark Heart' of Modern Feminism with Yesteryear 'Big Hearted' Decency.

Before returning to the subject of Brazil – itself trying to balance socio-economic issues ranging from soya-bean exports to children's toy imports - a very timely social 'prescription' for the very socially shattered West, so as to halt what have become the vicious attitudes and cultural ploys of post-modern ideologues; which only serve to undermine brighter futures for all.


Anyone with any all too rare 'common sense' recognises that whilst all people should obviously have equal rights and be treated by one another kindly and fairly; people are not – through the hands of nature and upbringing – 'equal'.

Each person has their own innate set of perspectives, values and relative mental and physical capabilities, formed from childhood and thereafter, which (within general parameters of their environment: 'progressive' or 'prohibitive') may be nurtured and improved by that individual as part of their own temporal and spiritual 'growth path'.

The right to civil equality then (both in law and in interactions within general society) then has little to do with the innate idea of formulating an 'equalising society'. Some will be naturally better conceptual and academic thinkers at an earlier age because of the advantages of their lineage and home-life: the indelible 'nature – nurture' debate. Others like wise will seek to escape their limiting environment to become even better than those born and raised more fortunate. Others will have a natural proclivity, because of background or interests, toward the more practical, in turn learning about relative interactivity of any singular system's interconnected processes – so ranging from auto-mechanic to systems engineer to bio-mechanical transplant surgeon.

The point is that we are innately different, but can choose to be better people, and put the effort in to do so, no matter what the odds set against us.

When Ayrton Senna recognised he had 'touched the hand of grace' during his best ever drive (during qualifying in Monte Carlo), and that it would probably never be repeated yet proved him the best, he recognised that his next challenge was to put the same effort into growing as a human being, to the same extent as when he reached nirvana as a racing driver.

The story of Mother Theresa has been retold a million times, to the extend that she is viewed as a modern era Saint. Her life devoted to others, her 'spiritual lamps' little more than a bucket and bowl in the yesteryear slums of India, she was 'the hand of  grace' every day through her benevolence.

Creating such beings – or even striving toward such - amongst the majority however is almost impossible when the society itself is being torn apart by nefarious social agendas.

And the latest chapter of Feminism – in it's 3rd wave – through cultural impact is doing just that – now that men have 'awoken' (to deliberately use the uber-liberal term) to the fact that they are being disenfranchised via the power of the mainstream media and advertising.

This done because since the 1970s Feminism not only 'empowered' women to not only earn equal pay to men on a 'like for like' job basis, but fuelled their personal consumeristic habits, this 'pushed to the power of squared' thanks to the availability of credit cards, hyper status symbolism and ease of personal bankruptcy with limited consequences - arguably praying upon their ancestral roots as the 'gatherer' of the 'hunter-gatherer' social equation.

And let it be truthfully recognised that after centuries of economically empowered men looking after their partners and families, often to their own personal detriment, that the few generations of economically empowered women has seen many women seek 'individual liberty' with little or indeed no concern for their male partners or relations when the historical 'bread-winner' became socio-economically disenfranchised.

Feminism then fulfilled its societal role decades ago, yet the latest wave has obviously been about the creation of the idea that life still remains “unfair” to them and that the already heavily tipped power-balance between men and women – see the arguments of the MGTOW movement - requires further 'action', and so continued distortion.

Prime examples illustrated in TV series and TV advertising, where females have long been portrayed as the stronger sex to the belittlement of men, and not only in comedies, with the apparent intent that men start to believe their supposed subjugation through various forms of verbal and visual communication.

If as many men were as avidly and unashamedly sexist and passive aggressive in today's world as many of the supposedly 'empowered' women there would rightly be a female outcry.

But such everyday sexism was largely banished by the end of the 1980s largely because of the general workplace interaction experienced as industry turned to services, and indeed the beginning of female workplace bias, from schools to HR departments to call centres, nursing, retail etc.

The fact is that today the sociological 'war on men' has become all too obvious, stemming from the echelons of overtly liberal academia (ie far beyond the supposedly benign initial intent of 'gender studies') into the very centre of the mass media and so human consciousness.

One obvious appalling example being a recent advert in the FMCG space for 'Quorn' (soya) mince.

The advert sees a man returning home from work late in the evening, only to then be pressurised by his female partner to do the cooking of the evening meal – as an 'apology' for being late from work.

Truly unbelievable!

The man has obviously been working extended hours out of career or income necessity, or for the material betterment of his own relationship.

Yet his female partner expects him to also cook their meal, whilst she has obviously been at home awaiting his return. All under the guise that 'he wanted to make it up to her'.

Supposed female empowerment – for rights and responsibilities in society – has only become undermined by in too many instances the selfish and near psychopathic; a maze of wiley 'mind-games'. Such unfairness only ultimately creating a massive dilution of trust.

Examples of such innate inter-relationship and societal unfairness then only serves to undermine the astounding efforts of the Suffragettes, from speeches of Emmeline Pankhurst to the martyrdom of Emily Davison (who would undoubtedly be ashamed of the behaviour and hypocrisy of many 'modern women'), and those likewise later upstanding women and men who have fought the injustices of not just sex but race and caste etc.

Moreover it probably erodes the essential belief that many men have in the exemplary efforts that many women contribute in many vitally important everyday fields that keep societies 'civil', from education to the emergency services to the law.

It's about time the western world was rebalanced toward social betterment for all and not the disingenuous and increasingly obvious sub-text of Modern Feminism.

Televisual pro-female culture-molding, the enormous rise in financially-driven high divorce rates and the latest nasty issue of a seemingly likewise money-led “j'accuse” mentality.

[NB obviously these differ from possibilities of child abuse, which itself is utterly haenous, but even here it seems that money or other agendas play a role, as with those apparent victims who sought recompense from the late Jimmy Saville's estate]. 

Modern Feminism has shown itself to be an obvious female 'power-grab' of all that is financial by the instigators and promoters of the far left, who themselves use women's paradoxical proclivity for both the seeking of innate fairness, and yet endemic 'fury' when thought be 'scorned'...itself fuelled by the notion of brainwashed, group-think 'empowerment'.

Remember, whether female or male a Judge stands alone and deploy critical thinking, whilst a crowd, whether a mass of male football fans or indeed female and LGBTQ 'pink protesters' inevitably are swayed by the mentality of their surrounding crowd.

Whilst the idea of absolute social equality is a misnomer given the spectrum of people alive and their individual talents and failings, the basic element of equality is simply mutual civility and decency.

[NB with 'zero tolerance' for those individuals or cohorts who seek explicit or implicit advantage via apparent civil façade; when their objectives are anything but. This is why the passing of any supposed 'hate speech' law is enormously dangerous to the social stability of a nation, when portions of an affected, deliberately disadvantaged  populace are denied their own 'free speech' against the perpetrators of cultural and economic totalitarianism; aspects of which can be seen today. The truth can be very uncomfortable].

So this Valentine's – if we truly want a fair society, that starts with individuals and relationships  - beyond the usual welcome tropes of cards and roses and dinners –  think upon yourself and give the best of yourselves to each other.

This 'prescription' to be repeated ad infinitum into the distant future.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Alternative New Year's Message – Quiz – Supplement

The previous weblog ended with mention of the 'purist' heights of both the Swiss Alps and the desperate need for higher consciousness amongst all – with obvious allusion to recent Davos and the need for a reversal of the worst aspects of modern life.

As a shift in global power continues, any such change looks more likely to come from the positive 'old values' influence of the BRICs and beyond with what might be termed 'New Centricism'.

By the end of January and early February any New Year's item is typically long forgotten; however, investment-auto-motives wishes to highlight two very adroit connections that the featured 1954 film 'Sabrina' has serendipitously raised.

For very good reason.

The first concerns the matter of the morality of economic growth – for the good of all - as opposed to any overt no-holds barred greed regards the maximisation of profits at any social or natural/ecological cost.

In effect for the 'Societal Good', expanding the hopes and ambitions of the many.

The second regards the matter of very well constructed and highly complex actions of criminality by cohorts of co-conspirators who target an unknowing and essentially defenceless individual for financial gain. This typically done during economic downturns when the attention of the nastiest people (within families, external to those families and often a combine of the two) are drawn to the plights of those individuals who are created as “easy targets”, or the “dumb patsy” because of their ignorance, innocence and open, good nature.

In effect the 'Detriment to Society', which in some instances, massively damages the ability of the overtly optimistic yet naïve learned people to effect positive change for broader society.

The Social Good -

Herein once again a return to the script of 'Sabrina', this time the words of the character Linus Larrabee (the responsible workaholic brother) as played by Humphrey Bogart with David Larrabee (the irresponsible spendthrift sibling) as played by William Holden.

The scene takes place in the fictional Larrabee Conglomerate headquarters on the top floor of a New York skyscraper at 30 Broadway  over-looking the Hudson river, with conversation centred on the proposed marriage of David Larrabee to the daughter of a sugar-cane mogul; so as to create a notional new 'wonder plastic'.

[NB pertinent here since the sugar-cane subject and the idea of continued EM development used as a segue to return to the topic of Brazil in future weblogs].

DL: “It's all beginning to make sense. Mr Tyson owns the sugar-cane, you own the formula for the plastics and I'm supposed to be offered up as a human sacrifice on the alter of industrial that it?”
LL: “You make it sound so vulgar David, as if the son of the hot-dog dynasty were being offered to the daughter of the mustard king. Surely to don't object to Elizabeth simply because her father happens to have $20m...that's very narrow-minded of you David” (with knowing sarcasm).
DL : “There's just one thing you over-looked...I haven't proposed and she hasn't accepted”.
LL : “Don't worry...I proposed and Mr Tyson accepted”
DL : “Did you kiss him?” (to return the sarcasm)
LL : “Now look, Elizabeth is one of the loveliest girls around...sooner or later you're going to propose anyway, I'm just trying to help you make-up your mind”
DL : “Then why don't you marry her?”
LL : “Me!”.
DL : “Well what's so want to die an Old Maid?!”.
LL : “I was just thinking, if were ever to get married I'd have to take a dicta-phone, two secretaries and four corporation counsels along on the honeymoon. I'd be unfaithful to my wife every night of my married life, with Vice-Presidents, Boards of Directors, slide-rule Accountants. This (his office) is my home. No wife would ever understand it”.
DL : “Well neither can've got all the money in the world”.
LL: “What's money got to do with it? If making money was all there was to business it would hardly be worthwhile going to the office. Money is a by-product”.
DL: “So what's the main objective? Power?”
LL: “Arghh...that's become a dirty word”
DL: “Well then what's the urge? You're going into plastics now...what will that prove?”
LL: “Prove?...Nothing much” A new product has been found, something of use to the world. So when a new industry moves into an undeveloped area...factories go up, machines brought in, a harbour is dug and you're in business. It's purely coincidental of course that people who never saw a Dime before suddenly have a Dollar, and their kids can have shoes and have their teeth fixed and faces washed. What's wrong with the kind of an urge that gives people libraries, hospitals, base-ball diamonds and movies on a Saturday night.
DL: “ make me feel like a heal...if I don't marry Elizabeth (a marriage of industrial convenience) some poor kid in Puerto Rico is going to barefoot with cavities in his teeth!”.
LL: “Here, look at this stuff” (standing next to a sheet of the 'wonder-plastic'). You'll be able to fly in a plane made of it, wear a suit made and before we're through you'll probably be able to eat it. We're organising Larribee Plastics, Larribee Construction is ready with the blueprints, Larribee Shipping has got nine more freighters to handle the traffic”.
DL : “You mean the wheels are in motion already?”
LL : “That's exactly what I mean”

This excerpt of the film illustrates the might of the industrial conglomerate in the period, so creating much of the post-WW2 US-led globalisation effort, beyond Latin America and into Asia, utilising Japan and S.Korea as industrial, technology transfer and thus important new economic bases.

Hence, the mid 20th century saw American conglomerates span much of the then slowly developing world, this replicated by Japan's Kereitsu in the 1970s and 80s, then S.Korean Cheabols of the 1990s, and in the 2000s China's foreign expansion efforts, utilising SOE and affiliated companies to do so.

The initially Dutch, then British, then German, then Anglo-Indian, then American ideology of the conglomerate had become the standard model for growth up the value curve and across new borders for all aspirational globalist countries and native companies.

Today, as regards 'old industries' such as mid-level manufacturing, America appears to be on the opposite side of that ideology with recent announcement of its instigated protectionist stance against the importation of washing machines and solar panels, so as to resurrect what were previously considered yesteryear domestic activities, and the expansion of domestic shale gas now that worldwide light and crude oil barrel prices make it feasible. This assisted by what may be a new era of 'de-conglomeratisation' as the likes of GE undergo divisional divestments to re-focus upon specific activities.

Contrast that possibly expanding closed-door policy by the USA to the aspirations of growth ambitious EM companies and indeed the efforts of the EU members to increase foreign trade.

In what appears the next re-growth phase of what might be termed WTO/TPP-1 enabled 'collaborative globalisation' we may well see the BRICs and industrially affiliated CIVETS and Pioneer nations operating in a well structured symphonic form to maximise mutual gains; from the extraction of oil and aggregates to build new and updated common infrastructures to the expansion of mid and high-value industries and services.

Lead AM nations deploying their largely service related capabilities in all things digital to 'map-out' the Internet of Things around the world. The recent Google-Tencent cross-licensing and innovation patents deal creating probable massive mutual advantage regards tie-in and cross-over possibilities.

Where we simply once had industrial conglomeration, the world at large now looks to gain from inter-national conglomeration; with each nation specifically placed to gain from its own comparative advantage and its own policy-led induced advantage.


The second item references their chauffeur (Sabrina's father) Thomas Fairchild as played by John Williams.

British born in 1924, he moved to the 'Big Apple' in the mid 1920s and over the next 3 decades he acted on both stage and screen.

The moralistic movies of the 1940s and 50's buoyed both America and indeed a post-war recuperating and resurgent Europe, with legendary films like 'It's a Wonderful Life' helping to re-strengthen the personal belief systems of so many who's lives had previously been devastated by WW2 and previously the problems of the 1930s.

However, typically lesser known are the films which convey a darker tone of real life, all too often set in the bad times of severe economic depressions and recessions.

John Williams was in the 1936 feature 'Mr Deeds Goes to Town', which itself stars Gary Cooper as Longfellow Deeds who as a decent 'middling' member of a small-town neighbourhood (seen in his managing of a tallow-works and artistic pastimes) happens by chance to inherit a large fortune from his late uncle.

Apparent 'professional assistance' is given to by a scheming attorney who, with the collaboration of others, undertakes a deplorable connivance to shatter the self-confidence of Mr Deeds with ploys to try and drive him mad, to then have Longfellow Deeds labelled as mentally unstable/unfit, gain a power of attorney over his client and have him put into a mental asylum.

Longfellow Deeds is a trusting decent “backwater boy”, effectively separated and alone, set amongst a pit of vipers in New York City - an innocent lamb to the slaughter.

But Deeds eventually recognises that his good, trusting nature is being taken advantage of thanks in part to a news reporter who herself has been caught-up in the ploy. But only after he has fallen into deep depression because of the effects of him being an unknowing target of a complex scam.

To have Deeds inturned, the duplicitous attorney seeks to have a Judge declare him “mentally incompetent” using the testimonies of others involved in the scam and of those who have seen Deed's planned mental decline.

The aim was to ensure Longfellow Deeds – though aware - was too depressed to defend himself, so that the enormous sum put into the attorney's hands could be divided amongst the co-conspirators.
But his emergent love-interest saves the day by telling all to the Judge.

The Judge declares Longfellow Deeds to be “the sanest man who ever walked into this court-room”.

The film ends with Deeds retaining his enormous inherited fortune and accordant to his own ethics seeks to help those in dire need of assistance to rebuild their own lives, previously decimated by the 1929 Economic Crash and 1930s Great Depression.

NB. -

In the real world the 2008 Financial Crisis brought about changed fortunes for many who had previously been in the middle-classes; and with it the emergence of an insidious criminal mentality either masquerading as friends/associates of the decent enduring troubling times, or indeed as pernicious strangers.

The enormity of the Anglo-sphere property bubble and rebound meant that in a low growth economic environment criminal attention has been directed to those in very vulnerable positions with outright property holdings or with much gained property-equity. These are typically the mature/elderly/aged but also stretch to those who may have inherited yet of limited physical or mental capability - in effect unable to properly assess the modus operandi of those around them who appear sincere, but are not.

It has been and will continue to be such people who have been and will be deliberately targeted; with sophisticated, subtle yet powerful deceits against them, often over a matter of many years, so as to shatter the target's self-confidence and innate 'self-defense' capabilities.

[NB though it must also be recognised that some 'old folk' are undoubtedly only elderly versions of their own manipulative/evil/criminal younger selves].

This is nasty story of 'Mr Deeds Goes to Town', replayed in the modern-day by criminal elements amongst even the nicest locales of cities, suburbs, small towns and villages across the UK, Europe and USA; where the downfall of the middle-class has been greatest. No doubt a similar story across the BRICs given the respective rise in asset prices (especially urban properties) since the mid 1990s.

The criminal group will hardly appear as such, but as supposedly nice people - often behaving far too nicely so as to gain the trust of the target to gain information.

Elsewhere, personal information is collated and gleans by the aggressors from a myriad of what should be illustrious, properly managed and vitally confidential institutions. But unfortunately the observations of Prof JB Peterson regards the infiltration across the public services by left-leaning' clannish' peoples in low and mid level public institutions means that the 'database systems' of such institutions can and is accessed to gain highly private/confidential information- has made the gathering of such information even easier by the criminal element that appears to have eyes and ears everywhere, even deep inside the state machine.

Such details used by others at the local level, within a neighbourhood, against the socio-economically 'trapped' target.

A plethora of disturbing psychological tactics are used. This including their patterns of home-life, local movements (timing/places) such as food shopping, their confidential medical issues and even childhood fears - which illustrates that such nasty people may/will have been family members or past friends (passing on information) to their associates. To disguise any collusive connections to origins, it is complete strangers to the target who then undertake the harrassment. This done in in public surroundings - from in the street, to supermarket, to local pub, etc, so as to get physically close (within ear-shot) and to have seemingly separate conversations amongst themselves - that critically include very pertinent undermining threads - to be deliberately overheard by the target so as to psychologically weaken that person.

This ploy operated time and time again as a 'grinding-down' mechanism.

Specific use of psychological association with TV programmes of that day is used - changing specific facts so as to create self-doubt/confudion, or even directly mimicking aspects so as to merge televisual and real worlds, done before transmission. This done with the knowledge that an isolated personal will inevitably watch TV for 'company' and to distract themselves from the social war set against them. To both inflict serious mental harm and to conversely and paradoxically try to depict the nasty mind games as light-hearted fun; this in itself a tactic to distort the truth of the nasty matter.

The depth of such mind-games played is truly appalling, and could have only originally stemmed many years ago from those well versed in the subject of the human mind. It also suggests that such knowledge emerged from initially amateur schools of psychology  and later the professionalisation of psychology and sociology.

[NB Modern 'Viennese' psychology (Freud et al) was born during the period that the Austro-Hungarian Empire was collapsing. Given the above, it appears very likely the sizable assets of old aristocratic/wealthy families were sought by criminal forces. This done via the targeting of those idealistic 'progressives' from specific families who had been lured into overtly liberal, exciting social circles; often utilising drink, drugs and sexuality to draw-in the target and in such open atmosphere gain deep insights into their private matters]..

NB This tactic obviously also used by cult-leaders from the infamous Alistair Crowley of the period, to David Koresh in Wako, Texas.

Thereafter the isolated individuals, within the grasp of the group's leader, could be either persecuted so as to be driven away from their inheritance or ownership, or deliberately unsettled so as to seek further closeness with the duplicitous actors. At its worst, the individual would seek the new 'professional' help of then emergent psycho-analysts for supposed 'pyschological healing'. But within that process vital personal information would be sought and gained - and given freely in the trusted couch environment. This information passed on to criminal associates for group gain. Much of today's modern social ills appear to derive from the "Viennese influence"].

Such instances no doubt occurring throughout history when major socio-economic shifts have happened, as one power and wealth seeking class seeks to subtly over-power the old monied or asset-owning classes.
In recent years much of the West has itself undergone a repetition of that Austro-Hungarian experience; with the elderly and incapable (by birth or criminal action) the prime targets.

Then as now it appears the actions of the now engrained far-Left - with many people drawn together through either mutual interests or ideology and so operating in unified tandem - that are the voracious culprits. This subtle social-war a sign of the times and further fracturing society.

In a proper world with adequate police resources, criminal prosecution resources and penal systems such criminals ought to be quite literally made to “live in hell”, both mentally and physically. Having made the lives of their naïve targets utterly unbearable; likely over many years on a very frequent basis.

Indeed in a truly balanced 'cause and effect' world, to ensure proper deterrent, there should indeed be not simply a metaphorical “an eye for and eye”, but a proportionately relative “two eyes for an eye” approach. So as to deter such repugnant actions by those who are themselves truly evil, and those easily led through greed, to deliberately and consciously shatter the lives of others.

Those others who then inevitably as a result pull-down their own 'mental shutters' to keep the conniving world at a physical and mental distance and so very rationally beyond the social reach of any further life-damaging harm.

Perhaps we ought to return to the supposedly archaic systems of yesteryear in old civilisations, where-in the victim could choose the punishment of the aggressor(s). The potential perpetrator(s) would then recognise that any officially sanctioned revenge exacted upon themselves would be far beyond their own horrible actions; and so s/he would think twice and thrice and more about their evil intentions and actions.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Alternative New Year's Message - Quiz - Answers

We live in an age when at the tap of the screen-based finger-touch keyboard the answer to nearly everything can be obtained. Yet, like the modern 'hook-ups' of Tinder App users, such readily available immediacy whilst providing an immediate satisfaction, ultimately leaves a person bereft of the enticement of curiosity, anticipation and discovery.

The previous short quiz deliberately exemplified the best of the 1950s precisely because of the then slow pleasure era – before smart-phones moulding not so smart people – when nuance and delayed delight were the norm in life, from general knowledge quizzes to the flirtation of romantic relationships.

But of course, very few have an encyclopaedic knowledge of Hollywood cinema, and so a few scant red-herrings were used to momentarily delay the electronically sourced answer; the multi-coloured silk hat-band (so inferring a colour film) and the addition of a second 'n' in the stated location name, and likewise the absence of the background musical “leit-motif” of 'La Vie En Rose'.

Of course, the answers were:

1. 'Sabrina' - 1954 Paramount Pictures.
2. Audrey Hepburn and William Holden (and Humphrey Bogart).
3. The Nash-Healey Mk2 Roadster .

As previously mentioned, the car itself the result of cross-continental commerce to crystallise a new politically unified Trans-Atlantic age; though only lasting in all four years between 1951 and 1954, by the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation.

(The company itself was a merger between Nash Motors and a consumer/commerce appliance firm, with the aim of procuring larger volumes of sheet and bar steel and to better deploy the costs of management and engineering staff; to realise improved economies of scale across the board.

The IL6 power-unit and drive-train of the car were shipped from Kenosha, WI, USA to Warwick, UK where it was received by Donald Healey's company (famed for his prewar and immediate post-war rallying prowess and its niche manufacturing) for the addition of an aluminium cylinder head, alternative intake and outlet manifold, provision of SU and Carter carburettors, and vitally, fitment into the racing-embued, much altered, “Silverstone” chassis.

[NB Healey had styled and also built, from aluminium, the Mk1 body, but the Mk2 saw Italian involvement to add greater prestige – with manifest front-end, rear-end and body-side feature-line restyles, including subtle tail-fins - so as to better substantiate the high retail price with a premium associative 'sub-brand'].

Once assembled, tested on the track and further fettled, each rolling-chassis was then shipped to near Turin, Italy for its new body. The contract given to the famed carrozzeria of Pininfarina, who had over the past two decades secured strong styling and body-building stature. Not only did they style and build the new Roadster but also gained the avant-garde styling work for the larger saloon and wagon model-lines.

[NB Done so to compete with famed Loewy's competitor designs – both later believed as too stylistically advanced for the period – removing the visual importance of the wheels by way of near fully enclosed fenders – and with competitively under-powered motors compared to Ford and GM V8s].

Thereafter the cars were transported back to Nash HQ back in the USA for quality control and onto Nash dealerships. However, the target market of well-healed East Coast weekend Cads from old families, and the less flambouyant Euro-aspirational set of Central Coast California, were not convinced. The 'mongrel' pedigree and high price seemed mismatched, even if ironically wholly representative of their own oft Euro-American backgrounds. For that money (over $5,000) they could soon buy cheaper (Corvette and Thunderbird) or wanted status assured European pure breeds.

[The commercial failure of the 'mongrel' or 'jigsaw' business model would be seen again in later decades with the likes of Iso, Bizzerini, de Tomaso, De Lorean and Vector; though the cars themselves have since obviously become collectible. Interestingly - and hardly coincidentally - the name Vallelunga was both model name for de Tomaso and a side-actor in Hepburn's 'Breakfast at Tiffany's']. 

The inclusion of the Nash-Healey in the 1954 film 'Sabrina' was undertaken as an obvious form of product placement for a by then struggling auto-maker, with even the name-dropping use of Bentley and Mercedes by Holden's fiancée character to draw a notional perceived parallel to the Nash-Healey. The producers going so far as to have Hepburn wear an haute-couture white head-cap to subtley mimic the white helmet worn by a racing-driver in the Roadster's PR photos. (Thankfully no reference to any religious garb).

But the combination of Nash-Kelvinator's declined revenues, its 'unbalanced' balance sheet and the reality of unobtainable projected cost-savings (in part because of the additional costs of part-funding the post-war “GI Bill” - which itself supported a new generation of American engineers) took a massive toll. Ultimately leading to merger with likewise ailing Hudson and so the creation of a supposedly rational-based American Motors Corp.


The noted obvious reaction to the weblog quiz came from Jay Leno and his Garage production team.

This done with his subtle yet prosaic showcasing of a 1971 240Z / Fairlady Z; with the accoutrement of the 'subway handle' attached to the rear tow hook. In a typical Japanese subtly referential manner to the reverence of Hepburn - since she embodies the Japanese way of courtesy above all to display honour - it both mimics Ms Hepburn's pronounced circular earrings as seen throughout 'Sabrina', and infers that the passengers of such cars should "Hold On".  

As may will know, the Z was given its “Fairlady” name for the Japanese market by a senior Nissan executive because he was so impressed by the Hepburn-Harrison film 'My Fair Lady' and believed the then Nissan-Prince-Datsun corporation to be like Eliza – going through a massive learning curve to become a new competitive force in the global auto industry. First was the original 1959 IL4 Roadster, then applied to the 1969/70 IL6 Coupe.

Another interesting parallel was the way Eliza became as independent (in Prof Higgins words) as “a consort battleship”, when it is rumoured that much of Nissan's sheet-steel in the 1960s and 1970s came from recycled battleships, and instigated the belief that the new Coupe must include independent rear suspension to be 'best-in-class'.

That Datsun 'retort' was followed-up by the appearance of Mike Simcoe – relatively recent new Head of GM Design, kindly providing sight of the renowned (Harley Earl era) 1953 concept cars : by way of Firebird I and III.

That cross-country transportation to LA in a way paid homage to Earl, since the city itself was the starting point for Harley Earl, who himself began in theatre and film set design).

The subtle pun was that Australian born Simcoe himself started at GM-Holden, at the Fisherman's Bend Engineering and Design Centre in Melbourne; with obvious namesake to the Sabrina co-star William Holden.

The point of that short quiz, was to promote the idea that we should all return to the values of a bygone age – albeit even if overly romanticised - when prosaic yet obvious subtlety in all forms of life took civilised precedence over overt 'empowered' aggression and nasty passive aggression, as so often seems the case in the oft poorly advanced and societally misdirected 21st century.


Since we seem to live in an age which because of identity politics and tribal member affirmation many believe themselves to be intellectual superwomen and supermen – the ability to 'connect the dots' making them the supposed modern equals of Professor John Nash.

This especially seen in the self-referential entertainment industry, and so because of media saturation, all too often in broader society, which itself is media now wholly saturated by formal and informal media-feed.

A pertinent example herein being Madonna's cross-referencing of Sabrina content in her 2015 'Rebel Heart' show.

The spiral staircase seen in the film is used as a centre-piece as is the inclusion of the song 'La Vie en Rose', with a supposedly subtle reference to Nash Motors' Rebel model. But in today's milieu all subtelty is lost and what was a depiction of less is more (as seen with Hepburn's ankle on her ascent of the spiral staircase), the 'empowered' hyper-liberal crowd are instead fed the old tropes of BDSM, bare breasts and a phallic-crucifix stage disguised as a heart and cross. Hence Madonna's celebrity still reliant upon the supposed shock of sex, today tied to a new generation with sexuality based LGBTQ identity politics.

Sex itself (especially when mixed with alcohol and drugs) has always been the easiest social currency to manipulate the masses, even if they believe themselves to be of greater intelligence than past generations of the overtly conventional middle-ground.

Whether true or not, in the film 'A Beautiful Mind', Professor John Nash deploys an example of everyday Game Theory, with his observation that competitive male participants in the dating game are better off avoiding the obvious self-absorbed Marilyn-esque peroxide blonde, so as to achieve a fair and satisfactory mutual outcome.


The lesson for life....instead become 'empowered' by the words of the Audrey Hepburn...

“Nothing is IMPOSSIBLE...the word itself says I'M POSSIBLE”!

“Merci beaucoup” Sabrina, and “Hartelijk dank voor alles” Audrey.


And lastly throughout 2018, when possible, so as to think critically for ones-self, periodically avoid the internet and broad media and regain unfettered reality amongst authentic people and places – away from the all too common slave-like 'social actors' (who think themselves 'in the know' but just in fact other's pawns) - to places in the mind, heart and soul within this world where the tentacles of the now near ubiquitous 'web-octopus or web-spider' or cannot reach.

We can't all retreat to the heights of the Swiss mountains as Audrey did to avoid the Hollywood 'Rats Nest', but we can regain our all too rapidly declining higher consciousness if we choose to do so.