"One" is a thirty something caucasian male of English birth, Asian residency, mixed politics, a strong social conscience & an arguably overly opinionated mind. A champagne socialist, armchair environmentalist and an ardent future activist to a wonderful cause as yet unknown. Married to a gorgeous Floridian belle, Father of an amazing 12 year old daughter and a beautiful half English, half Welsh, half Scottish, quarter part Irish American made in Singapore boy.

As a product of some interesting genetics, untold maternal sacrifice and much good fortune the ramblings that follow may prove either of interest or objection to the casual reader. Sometimes I write often, sometimes not often at all but when and if I do in future I truly look forward to sharing my perspective through this new window with the world.

Monday, May 24, 2010

“Drill Baby Drill"

Oh Mrs Palin… How wrong you were, how ignorant you are and how quiet you and your imbecile supporters suddenly seem to be… Politicising environmental issues just doesn’t seem to be your strong point now does it… May I suggest that “Die Marine Life Die” or possibly “Starve Fishermen Starve” might be excellent mantra options for your next campaign ???

Can 14 days be better than these ?

To Follow...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

An ESP message to all my fellow countrymen on the eve of the General election...

Please please please please don’t vote for Gordon Brown tomorrow !

Its not that I find his politics particularly offensive its simply that as an individual he truly is !

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Michele Bachmann".. Tina Fey made this up right ?

So straight off the bat I have to admit that I honestly thought Michele Bachmann was a satirical creation of the very funny Tina Fey and not a democratically elected representative of the state of Minnesota. For this realisation I’m a little embarrassed but in my defense I do need to stress that a: I'm a Brit whose never been to Minneapolis and b: I’ve never had the courage to watch more than 20 seconds of Fox News without copious amounts of alcohol… With this in mind WOW, first impressions stick and this is a VERY scary lady! I always wondered how anyone with half a brain could take Sarah Palin seriously but in comparison to this lady good old Sarah looks almost as diplomatic as Henry Kissinger. I've just listened to a barrage of nonsense on how bailouts are “UnAmerican” and how “this socialist terrorist supporting gangster President” is single handedly destroying the American dream... Ok, pause for thought… How embarrassed must whomever this lady beat in her election feel right about now, he or she must have either been a close personal friend of Genghis Khan or otherwise been in a Coma the year the election took place !

In fairness I think I need to do a chunk of background reading and find time to watch the other 27,876 YouTube clips on offer before I consider myself in anyway educated as to this individuals politics or sanity however on the “We hate Bailouts” rhetoric let me just mention this… No one anywhere in the democratic world would of rational mind be in favour of putting tax payers money at risk to prop up failing private enterprise however for the US version of this global story 100% of why the economic world nearly stopped spinning was due to her own partys utter ineptness for 8 years at implementing any form of fiscal austerity. TARP (the program that started dishing out the money) was a necessary Republican creation that was cemented by Henry Paulson who as Michele should recall wasn’t a gangsta socialist democrat but rather her beloved George Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury and former head honcho of Goldman Sachs etc etc… How any of this is conceivably Obama’s fault I’m failing to understand as all he seems to have done is made sure that the bailouts that had already taken place and those that were sadly pending were actually carried out with some semblance of professional responsibility. As I say, in an ideal world these measures would never have been necessary but as sadly they were what exactly would she have preferred as an alternative ? Citigroup, AIG, Bank Of America, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley at an absolute minimum all gone to chapter 11, GM, Chrysler, virtually every auto related parts supplier & the entire US Home building business gone to Chapter 7, 4 – 5 million more Americans unemployed, un insured and looking for (heaven forbid) social welfare to help feed their children on a daily basis. Tax revenues at a 50year low, property values in line with Albania, the $ crushed by another 30% on the global exchanges and the last sliver of global respect gone the same way as that slashed over the last 8 years? To her credit one benefit I guess she might see as offsetting all this would likely be that immigration of nasty non Caucasians wouldn’t be such a problem as all the spare gardening jobs would be being snapped up by Harvard Law graduates leaving no good reason for any other unskilled labour to venture north.

With half way sensible management the US has come back from the brink of utter disaster over the past 12 months in a recovery Rocky Balboa would have been proud of. With stocks up 75% from their March 09 lows, 80% of S&P 500 companies beating analysts estimates in Q1 2010 and the $ having halted its global slide the US is looking again at a sunny potential in its mid to long term future. The VAST majority of tax payers money has either been already paid back with significant interest or those companies still carrying the IOU’s are looking look much healthier today and stand a much better chance of clearing their burden than anyone really believed possible at inception. Even AIG, that great pariah in the sky, will one day repay its debts in full and I’m sure the UAW must on reflection be happy that with Toyota’s demise GM & Ford are still making good old American cars in Detroit. Bailouts whilst never desired have saved the American economy from Armageddon over the past 2 years so seriously Ms Bachmann please consider the alternatives and the history before engaging your vocal cords once again.

US Healthcare... Seriously, whats wrong with helping people ?

Ok so I'm a little confused. If universal public healthcare is "socialist" and therefore totally Un American then so surely is universal public education and universal public defense no? As I understand it the US government through the collection of taxes at federal and state levels provides access to education for all US children irrespective of race, religion, wealth or the political persuasion of their parents.. If parents don't like the public school system and are fortunate enough to be able to afford a private option for their kids then no one vilifies them for making that choice. If a wealthy individual or a corporation on behalf of their staff doesn't think the local police and fire departments can adequately protect their family then they have every right to hire private security to shadow their every move. So this being the case why should the model be so different in the third core social requirement of healthcare ?

If America's ok with public schools and public emergency services then why then does the simple idea that the state should ensure a basic level of healthcare be available to all irrespective of means strike such an ugly nerve through the population? Sadly because “socialising” an already “for profit” system is a much harder mutation than adding a “private” option to an already established “socialist” frame.

If you want to stick with the current system yet curb medical expenses for all then stop being so litigious, curb ridiculous malpractice judgments that inflate the insurance fees that obviously filter down to all, cap the profit margin at healthcare and insurance providers or heaven forbid possibly make the whole system a non for profit enterprise run for the benefit of the people just as seems to work quite well with the non socialist schools system and the non socialist fire department.

Goldman Sachs.. A word for the pariah !

So when did America stop loving its winners? Growing up in a cold dreary corner of England America always seemed like a shining beacon, an amazing place, an iconic idea that radiated through every corner of the world. Anything was possible in America, it was the land of dreams, the land that stood up for those who couldn't stand up for themselves, the land of ultimate opportunity. The cultural difference to my little world was clear and portrayed through our TV screens each Saturday night, America was glitz, it was Dallas & Dynasty with a hint of Baywatch thrown in for fun, it was TV where the audience said "If I excel then that's how great my life can be" whilst in England the mentality was somewhat different. Coronation Street & Eastenders vied nightly to be more depressing than the other, the desired audience mentality? "Hey my life might be shit and depressing but Pauline Fowler's in a much worse way than me, that makes me feel better, i like this program !"... Fast forward 20 years and seriously what's gone wrong with the American dream ? Sure England's mentality’s still just as messed up as it was but over the past eight years America in so many sad ways has followed down the same wrong and worrying path. Watching the news everyone winges, everyone blames everyone else, nobody seems to think as once they so surely did. I'm sure in entries to follow I'll verbally scratch my head and wonder why the worlds premier society is doing all it can to fight its inspiring leader and to stand so clearly in the way of its own unrivaled potential, today however I'll raise comment on just one tiny spec where I feel comment is due.... Goldman Sachs.

I cant believe that my first entry through this new medium is a note that's going to be sympathetic to a bunch of self involved Goldmanites but hey, life's life and today I just happen to feel that given the evidence that’s been revealed to date the baying crowd is calling, as often it does, for the wrong blood. If we're called to Jury duty and presented with a defendant who's most certainly unpleasant but for the charge on which he stands trial he seems to have an iron clad alibi are we supposed to convict anyway to appease public outcry or do we have a duty to reach a judgment on the specific crime from the specific evidence that’s presented before us? I think we all know the answer to this.

So the SEC investigate the big GS for what a year and this is all they could find ? That a 31 year old French kid with an over inflated ego and the stupidity to brand himself with the title "Fabulous Fab" may or may not have misled two of the worlds most sophisticated investors in a single deal that Goldman themselves lost money on ? That’s it ? Are you serious !... So Goldman are back to making a lot of money, why ? because they're serial fraudsters ? no, because they hire the smartest kids from the best schools and pay the highest compensation on the street to keep them, its not rocket science its simply common sense. If you take complicated global financial markets, unprecedented global volatility and you have the sharpest minds working with the best technology then guess what, your more likely than not to make a very large amount of money. Was the collapse in the US housing market to blame for the global meltdown in 2008 ? I'd say largely yes... Are Goldman Sachs solely to blame for that as the hysteria would have us believe? Absolutely not.

Goldman Sachs employs some 35,000 staff in offices all around the world, in 2009 they paid these 35,000 staff $16.14 billion dollars or nearly half a million bucks per employee whilst the world around them fell into unemployment and recession, this makes bystanders angry but in its self it doesn't make Goldman Sachs guilty. Goldman were but one of many Wall Street banks crying out for raw mortgage product from the turn of the millennium till the big bubble burst in 08, this demand certainly tooled armies of irresponsible mortgage brokers and local lenders to loan too much money to those they should never have approved in the first place knowing that Wall Street would buy the risk off them quicker than they could blink so who cared. This demand in its self was fueled by global investors craving blind returns on granular product that the ratings agencies told them was “Riskless”… So who was to blame really… Greedy and ignorant investors the world over buying securitised rubbish at insanely tight spreads? Ratings agencies that did a terrible job an representing risk to all? Banks & Investment banks that securitised raw product and thus encouraged more and more outrageous lending further down the pipe? The local banks and mortgage originators who simply knew they were making less than stable loans? Or unpopular as it may be how about ultimately those individuals that have since defaulted on loans that in all honesty they should never have taken out in the first place as they knew they were too big to support? "I've lost my home cuz the bank foreclosed" well maybe the bank should never have lent you the money to buy your home in the first place. Is Goldman Sachs more guilty than all the others combined simply because they spotted the dangers and hedged their books better and quicker than the rest of the greedy heard ? Surely not, if housing prices had continued to go up, this hedged or “short” position would’ve lost significant money and Goldman Sachs would’ve been singled out as the only Wall Street bank that lost money during the housing boom.

But just as the Jury in the murder case lets get back to the specific sound bytes we hear today on CNN. It amazes me how time after time smart US businessmen manage to sit in front of ignorant US lawmakers and answer their retarded questions without shaking their head and saying “Seriously, do you have any idea what your talking about ?”… How do some of these people get elected? Some of these questioners don’t know the difference between the chairman of the Federal Reserve & the secretary of Treasury (Marcy Kaptur, Jan 08) and others after investigating a specific problem for over a year obviously still have absolutely no idea how a synthetic CDO works !... A Synthetic CDO isn’t a stock or a barrel of oil that’s bought, owned, sold or brokered, it’s a synthetic agreement where one party takes one side of the bet and the other takes the other for the life of the trade… Simple as that… When Goldman or anyone else issued a synthetic CDO to a buyer who wanted to take risk in a specific area then they (Goldman) are immediately left with only 3 options… 1, Sit on the short themselves for the life of the trade and loose money if the trade performs, 2, sell or broker the short risk to someone else who has an inverse view to their original client or 3, short something else to keep their net exposure as flat as possible… Whichever they decide the buyer knows one of the three is happening so seriously ACA get over it… The next point that’s baffling me is this… Lawmakers sit there and piously say “How dare you sell something you don’t believe in to a client”… Well what the hell else are they supposed to do with it ? Blindly sit on the risk indefinitely, erode their shareholders capital and ultimately fire their 35,000 employees like Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual, Citigroup, Bank of America, Wachovia or any number of others.. Is that what lawmakers and taxpayers would have preferred?.. No, GS had a fiduciary duty to manage their risk and if that means selling assets at prices that obviously reflect the fact they’re not healthy to institutional clients who are some of the most enlightened investors in the world then that’s just disciplined business. Trust me I don’t think I’ve ever met a Goldman employee who I really liked but hey, credit where credits due these guys didn’t really need the government investment that they were pushed into taking so Citi didn’t look as individually awful as they were in October 08 , they paid every cent back at the earliest opportunity with a large chunk of 23% interest and now they’re back doing what they’ve always been very good at, making money, paying taxes and stimulating the economy of their local Mercedes dealerships (that they probably own as a side bet :) !)

I’m not a lawyer, but the case against Goldman as presented to date seems weak. Who cares if Goldman thought the housing market would turn? This isn’t grounds for denying a sale or not facilitating a trade. If Goldman policy forbode them from executing securities transactions for clients because they felt one side was more likely to make money than the other, then Goldman would never execute a transactions for anyone and they’d be as out of business as their friends and Shearson Lehman.

From the information in the public domain today Goldman Sachs made all of the right moves. From an ethical perspective, I’m not convinced they did any wrong. From a public relations perspective well perhaps in today’s George Bush poisoned America it would’ve been easier and smarter to have been like the other banks and just lost their Savile Row shirts during the housing downturn.