Tag Archives: Money

Ermm….

There are sheep in the driveway and garden of our temporary domicile this morning. No idea where they’ve come from, but they’re merrily lunching on the lawn. I suppose the neighbour who owns them will be along shortly with his dog to round them up and herd them back into their proper meadow. See picture below taken from the kitchen window.

They’ve obviously squeezed between strands of a barbed wire fence as the Ewes are missing chunks of fleece. The lambs, about ten of them, appear relatively unscathed. Sheep are great escape artists and will get out of anywhere.

Wincing slightly at the UK Chancellor trying to do something about high fuel bills by imposing a ‘windfall’ tax on the energy companies to give to the people currently suffering from fuel poverty who can’t pay their fuel bills.

Now I’m no economist, but what do you think the energy companies hit with such a tax bill are going to do? Got it in one! Raise their prices to the already hard pressed consumers even further, thus increasing fuel poverty for the most vulnerable. Never mind the ‘better off’ giving their four hundred knicker payment to charity, the ‘rebate’ will easily get swallowed up by the increased bills.

As a more sensible approach, the UK government could cut energy bills overnight by almost fifteen percent by cancelling all the ‘Green’ levies and not collecting the tax from the poor bloody peasants in the first place. That would make far more sense.

Why is it so obvious to me but not to the supposed big brains currently in power?

Any damned fool

Laid three new concrete hive bases today ready for their new stands. I’m told fifteen inches is about the right height to keep rats and mice out. So I built three stands of that height to place the hives on and oriented them south and east, like the books say you should.

There’s been a lot of ‘project slippage’ caused by unforeseen events. Supply availability, people not doing what you wanted in good time. Getting bees is proving a sticking point and I’m told that the next Nuc availability will be in a month.

As for the banks, the oft repeated words “We are experiencing extremely high call volumes.” have already reduced Mrs S to floods of tears twice this week and thus got me thoroughly discombobulated.

The money is all there, we just can’t get at it without the landline that the builders trashed. So until we’ve sorted out the phone access next week, I can only pay the trades guys half. Which should be an incentive for them to get us up and running, asap.

However, I’ve stripped out the last of the window glass intact, meaning I have plenty of glass panels for various projects like cucumber frames and citrus growing. Ever since I germinated my first lemon seeds I’ve had this notion to grow my own citrus fruit and store it as frozen organic fruit juice. Might even barter a little. We’re a registered farm business now, so why not? I’ve a location in mind and know how to build some hot water solar panels to retain some residual heat during the depths of winter to keep the frosts at bay. Some cheap half inch black plastic tube under double glazed glass over a black back panel is easy to make. An insulated hot water storage tank (or several) might be a good idea too. All do-able on a budget. Primitive but useful.

As for the outside world, the more I step away from the news, every time I have a brief peruse of the mainstream, the more I’m inclined to think; “Surely any damned fool could see that would happen.” It often reduces me to a near permanent state of “WTF!”

Which begs the question; am I ‘any damned fool’? Because I can see the harm done? By the very people we entrust with the public good? Real life measurable harm like (takes deep breath) Overt sexualising grooming of pre-pubescent children in schools by policy, interrupted education by lockdown, children (and adults) psychologically damaged by obsessive mask wearing and social isolation. People driven to madness by the incessant news media diet of fear. And people hate what they fear, so they are driven to hate. Because they are taught to hate by the very people squawking about ‘misinformation’. To name but a few. Yet who are the mis-informers? No pressure. Answer in your own time.

Not to mention the damage to the fabric of society. Despite increased institutionalised enforcement, under the surface we are observably more divided than ever before. There is more racism, more hatred, more intolerance. And it bubbles up from the poisoned wellspring of mandated ‘diversity’ and enforced ‘fairness’. The “You must think exactly this way – OR ELSE!” corporate mindset. Or else you will go on a list. A publicly visible list of the ideologically impure and unemployable ‘haters’. Available to hiring managers, credit agencies and local authorities to name but three. These lists should not exist in a truly civilised society, but they do. I cite the confirmed existence of the Non-Crime Hate Incident list in the UK, where people not convicted of any crime are put in an effective digital pillory.

Fortunately this matters little to me personally. Out here in the rural west of Ireland people are more down to earth, more in tune with the real world and the turn of the seasons. Social media is seen as the province of teenagers. And very few children have cell phones. Neighbours talk over their garden walls, do favours for each other, show unbidden kindness.

In my mind it is a fundamental truth that authoritarianisms suppression and censorship divides us all, while free, open and honest speech allows people to discuss, examine and challenge, not only the beliefs of others but also their own, in a roundabout way promoting ‘social cohesion’ more effectively than any other method. But then any damned fool should be able to see that, and if that is the case then I am happy to be so described.

Oh this could be…

Fun. Elon Musk has bought 9% of Twitter as everyone knows. Twitter tried to block his attempt to buy them outright by offering him a Directorship, with the proviso that his holding would be capped around 14%. Elon rightly refused as his stated objective is to take Twitter private and reform it to be a free speech platform with clearly defined boundaries. Now he has made a hostile takeover bid of $54.20 per share. Ten points above current market value.

A lot of big financials, and the odd Saudi prince have become nervous as Twitter is their key to the communications kingdom. By controlling what is seen as ‘the public square’ they think they control acceptable public opinion. At least the greater share of it. So the share price is wobbling around the $45 mark (Down from $70 last year) as attempts are made to prevent Musk getting hold of it.

So. What is Musk going to do next? I have no idea.

However…… Anyone remember this scene from the movie ‘A Good Year’?

Honestly, I’m all agog. This could be epic.

Update: Viva Frei explains the outcomes below should Musk dump his 9% share of Twitter. Twitter stock will tank. Shareholders lose massively. Directors sued to bankruptcy by angry investors. Musk can do all this with a single sell order.

Anyone who thinks this doesn’t matter isn’t paying attention. The financial ramifications are enormous. This is a stone in a puddle situation. The ripples will get everywhere.

Mrs S and I are thinking of cashing out of our tech and property stocks, but where to go? That is the question. Finance and energy look like the only reasonable sectors. Maybe not even those.

Just thinking…

Staying away from the fakery in the news because I’ve got better things to do. Mrs S is spending more of our capital on the house than I’m happy with, but it’s either that or have it hanging around in a bank account waiting to be looted to pay for the politicians mistakes.

At least if we give it to the builders, sparkys and plumbers, they make an honest buck or five and we will get a nice snug and cosy home out of it. Big ticket items are the internal insulation, new bathroom, replacement windows and gas heating system with a years gas supply thrown in for swapping out our old kerosene based system. Good deal.

Talking of gas, I’m told we’re not far from some possible fracking potential. If that were true I’d be making the call and hosting the rig up in my top field, charging top dollar for the privilege. Sod the farcical warble gloaming that never seems to happen. Screw the idiot demonstrators too. Hope some of them catch a well deserved kicking this April 11th.

Anyway. Biggest guffaw is dedicated to Trudy Blackface talking about freedom being important. Well, apart from for Canadians that is. Civil rights for Indian workers and the Ukrainians, but if you aren’t a member of the ruling party Mac, you’re SOL. No wonder he got booed out of London UK.

Bad news for me is that I still have to file taxes on Canadian income in Canada, despite having filled out all the right forms to say we’ve gone for good. In order to be free of the CRA, I have to get rid of all Canadian income and investments, and by the look of things, ditch my passport and lose one of my pensions as well. So, two sets of accountancy fees every year. If I’d have known how tough it is to leave Canada, I’d have said ‘No’ to going there in the first bloody place. Talk about the ‘Hotel California’.

Still somewhat bemused about all the nutters banning Russian cats and taking vodka off the shelves, you idiots do know that Smirnoff is a UK owned brand, although I wish I’d had the presence of mind to snag a few litres of Russian Standard, those are going to be collectors items, changing hands in shadowy circles for fifty times the purchase price at least. As for bankrupting Chelsea FC because the owner is Russian born. Oh for heavens sake! You’re not at war yet. Although some people desperately seem to want a war.

Personally I don’t, but the media and politicians seem to be dead set on talking our way into one. Maybe they want to deflect from the COVID debacle, where a) they shut whole economies down for something akin to the 1957 Asian Flu and b) the vaccines were very little use and were promoted even though serious side effects were known about at the time. Look up that Pfizer report. 8 pages of possible side effects. Holy smokes!

Anyway. Today I spent a few hours in the top meadow working out the best location for my beehives and trees. I’m seeding the area this weekend with 8kg of wildflower seeds and preparing half a dozen fence posts for a windbreak.

Perhaps I will plant the words “Feckin eejits” or something suitably obscene in floral form to demonstrate my disdain for the current insanity, so some satellite photographer can have a giggle. Or a fit of the vapours. I’ll see how I feel on Saturday.

Better dig faster

So Putin has taken it to the wire? Not just a bite as I first thought, but trying to swallow the whole of Ukraine. Right. So we have a real live shooting war on our hands.

Predictably, the markets took a dive. Our broker has repeatedly sent out “Don’t panic” emails to us over the last 24 hours. Not that we’re going to, Mrs S and I are very careful about such things.

While others do headless chicken impersonations we tend to hunker down and make our own assessment. A policy which has served us well thus far.

Still a bit pissed about losing on the Canadian banks this week, but those losses are reducing day on day and we will recoup in the medium term. Even if that dolt Trudeau and his bunch of WEF sponsored f*ckw!ts remain in office. He’s so out of his depth he’s drowning and the actions of the Police after the Truckers Convoy has been pushed out of Ottawa are making him look like a bigger N*z! than the people he rails against.

As for the WEF, I wonder how many of those totalitarian scumbags have taken a cold shower over this Ukraine business? The Russian and associated markets have dropped like a hanged man, and a lot of people, not just Russians, may find their ‘wealth’ but a hollow shell of paper. May that put an crimp in their meddlesome ways.

And this was all so avoidable. The Biden administration, in this memorable quote from a previous administrations military advisor;

President Biden and his failed foreign policy team set the table and sent the invitation and President Putin came and spoiled the dinner party.”

In the meantime, the Russkies are offering the Ukrainians terms of surrender. Their stated aim being the ‘demilitarisation’ of the Ukraine. Hopefully the Ukrainians and the Biden administration will see the situation as a nuclear car crash waiting to happen and tell the Russians to withdraw providing they in turn make the guarantees of neutrality necessary. If NATO takes it’s missiles away, says Putin, then the invasion will stop. Allegedly.

If they don’t, then I won’t just be buying a new spade, I’ll be hiring an excavator to dig a shelter.

Update: I was out shopping earlier, and while passing the supermarket ‘news’ paper shelf I noted that most of the front pages were beating the propaganda drum for war. Putin is the bad guy and NATO din’t do nuffin by sticking missiles into Ukraine. Which is what the Russki’s are complaining about. Right, phoning plant hire company,,,,

Another update: Apparently Ukrainian President Zelensky wants to negotiate, but the USA doesn’t want him to... Interesting. The low level proxy war which triggered the Russians has been going on since 2014 between Ukraine, NATO nations and the seceding Russian backed locals , with snipers and shelling from both sides in a nasty little tit for tat conflict. And the EU, in it’s push for ‘ever closer Union’ is partially to blame, using NATO as muscle behind it’s drive to expand.

There are commentators who say Putin has ‘lost his mind’. I don’t think so. He’s like a chess player faced with someone determined to play dominoes instead. And I don’t think the Western nations, particularly the current US Administration, come out of this mess looking all that good.

Must be a Thursday

Moved some of my assets on the recommendation of my broker into the financial sector yesterday. That was before those idiots in Ottawa decided they could invoke the Emergencies Act and use those powers to freeze bank accounts and call those donating to the Truckers Convoy ‘terrorists’.

Well, in response the banks share price is nosediving, so I imagine that the people who own the politicians will already be making angry phone calls to Trudeau’s party hotline. The financial powers that uphold the Liberals will be growling at him. The attack dogs of financial lobbyists will be let off the leash, which leads me to one inescapable conclusion; Trudeau is officially toast. Turn the feckin eejit over because he’s done. He can call them ‘ists’ and ‘isms’ all he wants because his fate is already sealed.

The people who keep the financial heart of Canada beating will be very unhappy with their lapdog PM, mostly at being caught with their underwear around their ankles, so I’m expecting little Trudy Blackface to be thrown under the bus very shortly. He’s already an international joke, and now he’s hurting the banks, which is something no sane Prime Minister of any country should ever do.

Sure, I have lost money already. I estimate about 3% of the trade in total, but the markets will bounce back and in the meantime we can use this loss as a tax write off. Not that we need to, but it’s always good to reduce tax bills when they come due. I’ll make it all back and then some when this whole mess is over.

Closer to home we’ve just had a bit of a breeze. I was out pruning trees in it yesterday. Despite all the ‘Orange warning’ drama the weather was absolutely average for a Mayo February day. Today it’s all calm and the rain has mostly held off. Tonight and Friday is going to get a bit noisy, but the house is shielded by trees, and there’s nothing big enough to fall and damage any of the buildings.

So I’m just going to take a day off tomorrow, curl up like a Dormouse and wait for the storms, real and financial, to pass. Like I say, must be a Thursday, never quite got the hang of Thursdays.

Another text

Another day and another message saying I should have a ‘booster’ jab. Another text message I will be ignoring, apart from writing about the experience here. Seriously people? Has no-one else got the memo that you get SARS/COV-2 regardless of whether you’ve been vaccinated or not? Or that the current iteration (The “OHMIGOD!” variant)is like a heavy cold? So what’s the point?

On the family side of things; ‘North’ was allowed to return to work on Monday after a second negative test, so she’s a lot happier. ‘South’ is happier now the fabled land of Oz is opening up once more and my Canadian Investment broker is getting twitchy over this ‘Freedom Convoy’.

To be honest I’d be more worried about what Trudeau is going to do. Rumours have been circulating of Police snipers deployed against unarmed demonstrators. Police have been arbitrarily confiscating fuel containers from supporters of the protests, and harassing people without obvious grounds, which is a bit dodgy, legally speaking. Nova Scotia declaring that supporting the truck convoys is a ‘crime’ punishable by jail time. The premier of Saskatchewan declaring that the restrictions will be over by this coming weekend. Alberta now making conciliatory noises after Jason Kenney’s outburst. The situation is fast moving, fluid, and events are on a hair trigger.

I think Trudeau has painted himself into a political corner and he will be forever damned if the Police take armed action against unarmed and peaceful (Albeit noisy) truck convoy protests. However, more trucks are coming. The point is coming where he needs to call a general election or double down. Personally I think he’ll do the latter because the Liberals will be trashed at the ballot box.

The worst case scenario for him will be if an armed policeman shoots one of the children of the demonstrators, or ironically hits a counter demonstrator. Then all hell will cut loose. Canadians may have the reputation of being overly polite, but there is a point past which even they will not go.

Not that I’m worried myself here in Auld Ireland. The earnings on our investments have slowed to a trickle over the last two years, but what we lost we made back with a little bit more into the bargain last year, so we’re keeping ahead of the game. However, through not panicking we still have a modest cash reserve even after the various market hiccups. Many others have not been so fortunate, I hear a lot have taken a cold bath over the last two years.

Anyway, it’s not a bad old day up here in Mayo, so I’m off out to shift some foliage while the rain holds off. The world will have to do what it does and I will adjust my actions accordingly.

Update: Alberta will lift all restrictions shortly and a number of other provinces are following suit.

The UK has dropped all restrictions. Ireland are going to drop theirs shortly. They think it’s all over.

I think it is now.

Oh-oh

There is a new (What? Again?) financial scandal underway in that capitalist paradise, the People’s Republic of China. Apparently someone has been issuing duplicate Yuan. Specifically the Chinese minting companies. See news item below.

Corruption is so endemic that the Mint’s management have been printing one set of banknotes for the public, then another with identical serial numbers for kickbacks to CCP officials. Estimated impact; several Trillion dollars. Finds of cash by the authorities aren’t being counted, but weighed.

Just as a thought experiment, how much is a ton of Chinese 100 Yuan banknotes? That’s in tonnes, multiples of 1000 Kilo’s. Given the Chinese habit of not trusting banks and using cash as a direct commodity, literally stuffing it under their mattresses and floorboards, what is this doing to the ordinary Chinese persons financial security?

The authorities have two main choices. Seeing as it’s their officials who have been taking large kickbacks of genuine duplicate currency, they can arrest those found with large hoards of bribes under existing anti-corruption laws and destroy the duplicates. Alternatively they can brush it all under the carpet for a while, but as this scandal is going mainstream right now, the value of personal savings in China will be turned into a haunted wasteland.

The thing is; the Chinese mint, under it’s ‘belt and road’ initiative, prints currency for countries as far afield as Brazil. Now this isn’t in the report above, but any currency that has their currency printed by China may, and I say this advisedly, may be subject to the same duplicate banknote problem, where Chinese officials, paying with ostensibly kosher duplicate cash, buy up property and all manner of commodities in the local currency, thus undermining the cash value of same and create large inflationary bubbles anywhere these corrupt Chinese officials and their families are financially active. The property market all around the Pacific rim for one, and all the major trading centres around the world. Anywhere that does large cash transactions. They all have to ask themselves “Did I just get taken?”

Yeah, yeah, okay, you might say, Bill, all this may be true, but what’s it got to do with us on the other side of the world? My response to that is, so was SARS/COV-2 back in 2019.

Sometimes I feel like a fisherman far out at sea, who, hearing a submarine rumble and feeling the gentle lift of his boat, recognises the sound of a big undersea earthquake and the beginnings of a tidal wave racing off toward land. He does know what will happen when the wave arrives, if it ever does, but he will warn, he can radio the shore so they may prepare, but that is all he can do.

That is, if anyone is listening.

Done

Well that was easy. We’ve signed on the dotted line and have a completion date. Deposit is paid. Finally. All fairly painless. Now I’m getting ready to rush around like a blue arsed fly trying to get the new place ready for the movers to come and do their stuff while I attempt to make the place liveable. All this and Christmas too, eh?

There’s not much of a time window between New Year, collecting the keys and taking possession. However, the cleaners are booked, the Internet, power and water will all be connected four days ahead of our worldly goods arrival. There’s an oil delivery to organise. Heating to get going. God alone knows what will happen because it’s going to be a cold one. Then there’s the insulation company and a chat with the builders and delivery of washing machines, tumble dryers and the electricians inspection. Not to mention getting the Engineers to sign the place off. It’s just a question of organisation.

Of course there are a thousand things that could go pear shaped and we’ll be skating the edge of a disaster curve all the way but Mrs S and I are a well rehearsed double act and used to covering each other’s arses. I play the stupid Englishman card to her put upon Canadian wife. It’s been a surprisingly effective tactic. I play the game to put the object of our intentions into thinking my wife is hard done by, and so she normally gets preferential treatment and then invites me along when they’re not looking. We’ve done this all over Europe, the USA, Canada and Australia. Now we’re about to unleash the full force in Ireland. This, as they say, could be fun.

Speaking of bullshit tactics, you know Farcebook’s ‘fact checking’ sites that claim to verify what everyone says on their platform? Well, in their defence to a defamation lawsuit, a couple of these companies have downgraded, in their own legal submission, their ‘facts’ to ‘protected opinions’. So these fact checkers are, by their own admission, purveyors of opinion, not facts. Therefore they can safely be ignored as they’re just as full of Sierra Hotel India Tango as the rest of us.

Another worthy point of news is Amazon will refuse to take UK VISA credit cards after 19th January. This is because post BREXIT UK VISA as been scalping transaction fees at a higher rate than those of the rest of the world.

Not sure what will happen before the 19th. VISA may blink, Amazon may blink, but as Mrs S and I have both UK and Canadian credit cards, we’re covered unless the spat escalates, in which case we’ve all got a problem, especially as I’ve just signed up for an Amazon business account. Hey ho. There’s always other platforms.

High blood pressure finance

Moving money internationally is always a pain. The myth perpetrated by Hollywood is that arranging wire transfers just requires a computer and an internet link. Yeah, right. My experience, over the last week, was a drawn out process with multiple layers of security and ID verification which took my cell phone, landline and Internet connection in combination with a VPN. It also involved, at least as far as the retail level banks are concerned, long waits on hold via occasionally fuzzy transatlantic phone lines.

This week was a case in point. I had to shift a six figure sum from Canada to Ireland via my currency brokers. In three tranches, because retail banks put limits on this sort of thing to prevent all manner of dodgy doings, so they say. That and charge like a rhino with a bad migraine and a land rover fixation, and give a lower rate than my brokers.

The first amount on Monday was only five figures, because that was my account limit. The second and third however, required extra, in-person verification and couldn’t be done online alone.

On the second transfer, this being the largest slice of capital, I was handicapped by interference on the line from a solar flare. Such is the nature of transatlantic phone calls. The more links you have to go through, even at the speed of voice communications, the more likely things are to fall over. Solar flares make the international phone links fuzzy. Hence my second episode.

Ten minutes after dialling, entering my account details and getting multiple verification codes I spent a frustrating twenty five minutes battling against a fuzzy line and an English as a second language call centre person. I swear I thought I was going Mutt and Jeff for a while there because I could not make out more than one in three words. But through sheer bloody minded persistence I was able to get through another three layers of verification and get the transaction pre-approved. The rest was fairly routine, including a call from the fraud department early yesterday afternoon, just to check it was l’il old me shifting large amounts of cash around.

For the third transfer on day three I got repeatedly cut off by ham fisted call centre people twice after spending over thirty minutes plus on hold on each occasion. Good job I have a low cost international package on my phone account. Even so, I’m not looking forward to my next phone bill.

All I wanted was to confirm was, yes, I have the funds to transfer, no I’m not under duress, it’s not going to the UN or foreign ‘charity’ to unlock some hidden funds, no I’m not a terrorist (But at this rate I’m thinking of becoming a gorilla) and would you mind letting me move my own bloody money if you would be so kind. Yes it is a large amount isn’t it? Yes it is mine and I want to move it to these people, no, not those, I have a brokerage account to send to because I’m buying a house in Ireland. NO! I do not need a mortgage or financial advice. I just want to move what is mine and no I do not want you to ‘protect’ me. Yes I’ve already cleared this with fraud prevention once today. You should see that they’ve already put a mention in the notes. Just authorise the sodding transaction for f*cks sake. DO NOT put me on hold yet AGAIN. Tell me what details you need and I’ll verify my personal details and the account to which I want the money sent. Yes it’s on my list of authorised payees. Here is the name of my brokers and their escrow account, here is the IBAN (International Banking Number). I’ve done this twice already this week. Yes, I do have a tax free savings account, I also have a financial adviser, and he’s very good. NO! I do not want to change, I’m not giving you his details for a cost comparison. Just authorise the transaction FFS! Thank you. No I wasn’t being sarcastic, honestly. Have a nice bleeding gender neutral day.

These are truly the times that test your blood pressure.

Commercial and non-retail banks by contrast use differing protocols and have better and more competently manned call centres. My experience with them is totally different. So long as you maintain a six figure balance they are a delight to work with. Staff are usually better trained and well motivated with a good grasp of several languages and accents you could use to cut glass. Retail banking, not so much.

So yes, I’ve had a day. But have come through triumphant. Matters proceed toward their hoped for conclusion. I hope. Now I need a beer.

Another day

….Another day struggling with Canadian Banks. I have a question here, why the hell do Canadian banks behave like they’re still in the 19th Century? You know, restrictive practices, refusal to deal with certain companies and generally being patronising towards their customers? It’s my bloody money and I’ll do with it as I wish. I am breaking no laws, at least that I’m aware of. They’re very happy to take money from any source, but when it comes to moving that money out using the self same brokers as I used to pay it in, result; radio silence, evasiveness and behaving in a way that makes me distrust them, and banking requires trust to operate. Although I prefer to trust, but now I have to verify everything first. Which slows the job up.

Oh yes, and this is getting tiresome. Another digital book burning, and the defence of that deletion by ‘blue checkmark fact checkers’, who use weasel words and lawyers tricks to defend the book burners. Who funds these ‘fact checkers’ anyway? Whenever I read one of these ‘fact’ checks, their reviews are only true for a given version of ‘true’. Heavily conditional and couched in language so slippery a greased pig would look sticky by comparison.

I must say that these implementers of ‘cancel culture’ are quite creative in finding a source of ‘offence’ over which books were cancelled. Who would have thought that Dr Seuss was ‘institutionally racist’ or that a Captain Underpants spin off ‘mocked’ Chinese culture by celebrating martial arts as a plot device? Seriously people?

As for the latest iteration of the WordPress editor. It makes me want to migrate to another platform. It’s that crap. Can we have the ‘classic’ editor back please?

Out here in the wilder west, we’ve been scootling around Clare and Galway looking for properties via the back roads that the Gardai ignore. That said, I was at the south end of Ennis yesterday and the regular checkpoint coming off the M18 had disappeared. All the cones, everything. We were north of Tuam, County Galway the day before that on the motorway, expecting to get stopped at the checkpoint at the end of the motorway. Nothing. A couple of patrol cars passed us by, but no-one was getting stopped. The only precautionary notices we saw were the temporary lit signs reading “Protect each other” and other such patronising idiocy.

I think there’s been a union meeting and the coppers are refusing to stand around in the Atlantic drizzle asking damn silly questions.

I can imagine the rainy morning Gardai briefings “It’s O’Hallorans and Murphy’s turn at the checkpoint. Err, where are they? I don’t see them here.” Says the duty sergeant.
“Sick.” Comes the laconic answer from the back of the room.
“With what?” Demands the sergeant.
“Standing around freezing their arses off.” comes the reply.

We’re told that things will begin to open up again around 12th April and guest houses and hotels will be allowed to open in June, despite the ‘mathematical certainty of a fourth wave’. That mathematical certainty being the results of a predictive model, the kind that have totally failed to reflect reality so far. So there won’t be a fourth, fifth or sixth wave, no matter the wishful thinking of the doom mongers.

Hi ho, another day……

What’s next?

I’m fed up of hearing about COVID, so I thought I’d post a few observations about what’s going on internationally with the EU. Now we source a lot of our material needs from non-EU countries, including the UK. One of the things I’ve noticed is how much more expensive shipping and customs costs have been since December 31st. In essence they’ve rocketed. The US into the EU is a case in point. For example I bought a two year supply of one particular item from Illinois yesterday. The item itself is not cheap at forty plus quid (USS65) a litre, but with customs fees the cost essentially doubled. Normally shipping and customs is 50% on top of the purchase price.

It’s the same all over. Shipping costs into the EU from the USA and elsewhere have shot up like they’ve had a Saturn 5 up their arse. Into the UK, not so much, so we’ve cut back on ordering online for a few weeks while the EU, whose top down, one size fits all model of sorting out tariffs settles down. All the while the EU are trying to ‘punish’ the UK for having the temerity to leave their club for bureaucrats, taking all its money and fish with it. Yet in all the EU’s flailing around they’re not just shooting themselves in the foot, they’re doing through knee amputations, which makes them a market I shifted my investments out of some time ago.

Fortunately for us expats in the Emerald Isle, the Euro is depressed at the moment, which makes my life a lot more profitable. The exchange rate is good, so I’m taking advantage of it.

End result; I just made a ‘killing’ on one tranche of shares (On paper anyway), which should start a second bounce when things start opening up, hopefully in June 2021, when dear reader, there will be a great cashing in and loud rejoicing in the Sticker household. Even if the big market bounce doesn’t happen then, we’re still quids in. As an active investor, I watch the markets carefully and did a fair bit of share buying in March / April 2020 when shares bottomed out due to these pointless lockdowns. Mrs S got a bit shirty with me for the purchase, but since she’s come around to my way of thinking, even if she did scorch my ears at the time.

Now I follow this guy on YouTube. He talks a lot of sense, even if I’m not financially in that league. Well not yet anyway.

It’s easy to demand that ‘the rich’ pay for everything as Andrew rightly points out, but what happens when governments run out of ‘rich’ people? As they will. Very quickly in fact. Who do they come after? Well, people like small business owners, or at least the ones they haven’t already forced into bankruptcy. Plumbers, Electricians, Builders, farmers, Amazon traders, shop owners, tradespeople in general and all the self-employed. They’ll be the ones taking the big tax hit. The magic money trees paying all that lovely ‘furlough’ money will exhaust the nutrients in the financial markets, and without putting extra roots into ordinary people’s reserves, will die. Which is what will happen. More taxes on those who aren’t able to move their money fast enough.

Ironically all you lockdown cheerleaders are in for such a financial pounding. Not so ‘the rich’ who can threaten to cut off the politicians money supply and lobby for tax breaks. They won’t be hurt at all.

The politicians can pass what laws they like. The ‘smart money’, as I have often said before, will have already gone where it’s most welcome and treated best, leaving a fading Cheshire cat smile where it had once been. And it won’t be their fault that all is left behind but a wasteland. The blame should be laid quite firmly on the doorstep of spendthrift politicians who wasted the public taxpayer dollar in the first place. Wasted it on giving free stuff to people so that they would vote for the politicians in question. Wasted it on boondoggles instead of infrastructure.

Reap the whirlwind

The Twitter share price has been in a forty five degree nosedive since 4th January, long before the current round of de-platforming and account deletion hit. So obviously the clever money is on the move. Fortunately, for those who bought in during their October dip, there’s still time to get while the getting is good.

Personally, I still regard the Alphabet / Twitter / Facebook shares as ‘bubble stocks’ And forgive me for not being a stock market expert, but I would have put in my sell order on Friday when the news of deleting Trumps account hit. I mean, how thick do you have to be to let your politics get in the way of profits? It wasn’t that long ago when some opined that Twitter et al were like betting on a three legged horse in a steeplechase. And if you bought in earlier in the year, there is still time to cash out while the cashing is good.

Might even stop using Amazon too. If Mr Bezos wants to play politics with his companies share price, I’ll be going elsewhere for my online purchasing. Don’t get me wrong, I was quite a fan of Amazon marketplace, but now? Not so much.

Tech stocks are proving, like in the first tech crash to be ‘surfer’ stocks, and the wave is about to hit the beach. Some will ride it out, many, lured by promises of big gains, may be about to find out how tenuous those gains are.

Then there’s the whole ‘clap’ thing people are trying to bring back, which just serves to embarrass many medical professionals. If you’re having issues in your locale with people getting raided because they’ve been snitched on, the most enthusiastic virtue signallers are likely the folks who are the informers.

Maybe it would be fun to snitch right back at them. Let them reap the whirlwind of their own actions.

That all you got?

Sorry to hear the news about Arecibo by the way. A useful tool in it’s day, but superseded by more modern arrays. Still, as a scientific icon it was wonderful to behold. See Scott Manley’s commentary on the collapse below.

Hi-ho, another day on Youtube comment threads, another raft of insults. Oddly enough not here. I keep on posting polite, well-informed comments on YouTube about the efficacy of masks and lockdowns and keep on getting insulted. Just a little light flak, so I must be close to the mark. Good to see that some of my old infection control and aseptic training has come in useful for raising the blood pressure of the partisan and ill-informed.

For those who use name calling as a debating tool, all I can say is; “is that all you got?” Or in the words of much-cancelled philosopher Stephan Molyneaux; “Not an argument.”

As many bloggers have pointed out; if you think surgical masks work outside of a controlled environment like operating theatre, just read the packaging. “Will not protect from airborne pathogens” is one of the texts I’ve read on surgical mask wrappers. Must get some pictures tomorrow when I’m out. Never mind that your street clothes are a regular petri dish of infection, so the moment that mask comes off, you are exposed to all the icky pathogens you’ve supposedly been dodging, so you might as well not have bothered. Never mind that you’ve been re-breathing the bacteria and virus ridden contents of your sinuses. As well as lowering your blood O2 saturation levels.

The only way to be sure of not spreading or catching any disease would be to wear full Hazmat with a full decon unit at your front door to a positive pressure air conditioned home. But that’s a bit extreme. Far better to ensure your immune system is up to snuff. Simple measure like getting a little sunshine where possible, unmasked exercise out in the fresh air. Balanced diet. Maybe some Vitamin D supplements.

Surgical masks at this stage of the game are little better than a totem, a fetish object or idol to hang on to. In a non-surgical environment they’re a placebo at best. Besides, the worst of the pandemic passed months ago. The pandemic proper has been effectively over since late May. No matter what the mathematical modellers say. I say; How often have they been right? On the fingers of one hand… Never? Their predictions of doom are normally out by a factor of ten, which says a lot for any ‘science’ based on their prognostications. As far as I’m concerned they are looking at the numbers wrong. Too many assumptions based on bad premises.

As for the UK vaccine rollout planned for as early as next week. Bad idea. Not enough testing. The BioNTech/Pfizer mRNA vaccine will probably be foisted on UK hospital staff and the public sector first. Me, I’ll just avoid hospitals and needles as much as I can for the time being.

If the vaccine works without too many casualties, and that’s a big if, then maybe I’ll think about getting the jab, just so I can actually bloody well travel to the UK and Europe. Until then I’ll be watching carefully as we have shares in Pfizer, and at the first hint of trouble will dump the lot. Must talk to our broker today. Put contingencies in place. Our exposure isn’t huge, but if our drug company investment went completely down the pan we stand to lose about four figures GBP. A small enough sum, but it would still sting.

On the upside, Mrs S has finally got her new Irish bank account and other financial paperwork sorted out at long last. Which has taken over a month longer than it should. However, here we are. We’re no longer bleeding money hand over fist and our investment portfolio is almost back to where it was. We will pay no capital gains for at least the next two years at this rate. Not unless the markets do something miraculous in the next 28 days. Which is highly unlikely. Seasonal patterns alone indicate a depressed market or ‘market correction’ across the board over New Year.

Until these lockdowns and pointless tiers are removed everything will take an unconscionable time to sort out. Then there is a massive nascent backlog of follow up, which the politicians and so-called ‘experts’ don’t seem to appreciate. It’s just not only civil liberties or economy or mental health of the population, it’s everything. The tax take to pay for all the stupidity will be significantly reduced. So the politicians will have to raid already depleted savings and pensions accounts to make good the shortfall. On top of an estimated reduction in the overall economy of 10.3% (And then some). The July figures say that it’s 17.2% down on February. Add to that the latest round of lockdowns and tiers and we’re looking at something like 25% down overall on 2019. Even though the stock market is significantly up.

Personally, I think that any major uptick will be just a temporary rebound, or “Dead cat bounce“. If the restrictions continue, the overall decline will, too. This isn’t just my opinion by the way, this is based on personal investment experience. Not government figures, but the end result in cold hard cash where we’ve dodged major financial bullets.

On the subject of cash Mrs S and I were fortunate in that we had money put by to pay for our transatlantic move, which has cost us around 50% more than it should because of delays and cancellations due to lockdowns. I reckon we spent somewhere in the region of CAD$10,000 (about GBP5,800 at the time of writing) over budget. Which is about my tax bill for 2018-19. Because of lockdown caused losses my tax liability for 2019-2020 should be a negative value. No idea what 2021 will bring if matters continue. I’d put my resources offshore again if that were possible, but just try and open an offshore account as a civilian with less than seven figures to shift around nowadays. If you’ve forgotten your Grandmothers inside leg measurement you haven’t a chance.

Wall Streets man

Unpacking the last of our personal belongings on Saturday and noted that DJT is fuming over getting beaten in the electoral college that is the US presidential election. Which gave me pause for thought. If massive electoral fraud is not proven and old ‘Sleepy Joe’ Biden is the next US President, I look at it this way. Wall Street and the big corporates got what they wanted.

It doesn’t matter that Biden’s as corrupt as all get out. It doesn’t matter if he’s been picking the public purse through influence peddling. It doesn’t matter that he likes little girls and fondles them in public, and maybe much worse in private. It doesn’t matter that the vote has or has not been been rigged. Biden will do what he’s told because when push comes to shove, he’s Wall Streets man.

Obama was Wall Streets guy, which is how an activist with a minimal Senate term came from almost nowhere to the US Presidency. There was big corporate funding behind him. Clinton was Wall Streets candidate in 2016. Which is why her crimes were glossed over by a suspiciously quiet fourth estate. Trump, on the other hand, might get thrown in the jug on some spurious charge, although I doubt that the Supreme Court, now heavily Republican and constitutional, would allow that. It would take a couple of untimely deaths to shift that balance of power, although Judges that cross the big corporates are known end to up as targets.

All the Green New Deal stuff Biden and Harris talk about will have holes in it big enough for any corporate lawyer worth their salt to drive a truck through. The restrictions will only apply to the ‘little people’ anyhow. This is the reality of the situation. Trump was fun, he annoyed all the right people. However, unless he can prove that the vote was rigged, he’d be better off pulling in his horns and buggering off to play golf. He’s on a hiding to nothing. The US election has been bought and sold by the people who own the world, and BREXIT may well follow it because the corporates and trusts don’t like people doing what they want if it doesn’t make a crooked buck for them.

Besides, Biden hasn’t the intellect, just avarice and low animal cunning, and Wall Street likes that. It means he can be made to dance to their tune. And a merry little jig it will be. Like Trudeau is the corporates man. He does what he’s told and bugger the electorate. Not sure about Johnson, but I have a feeling he’s under heavy pressure to keep on giving the EU second chances. Because the corporates don’t like independence. They like things they can control.

The thing is, all these mainstream politicians are bought and sold. You can always tell who isn’t because a well-oiled propaganda machine is wheeled into action against them. The minute a politician of whatever stripe starts getting the idea they can do what the electorate wants, the boys with the balance sheets go to work. They have margins to maintain. They have NGO’s to do their dirty work and throw them money for this very purpose. Whole tribes of idealistic idiots at their behest, and it’s not just Soros funding them. He’s just the obvious fish in the pond that no-one likes. These activist NGO’s get their money from the big corporates and trusts who use the NGO’s activism to move markets and make money. They even own people within government itself. Which makes me half way surprised that Trump has lasted as long as he has.

So as their funding dries up, all the BLM and ‘hard left’ activists will have to scale back their activities. Less rioting. Less disruption. Because they won’t be needed any more. These activists don’t know, or want to know, that they are the unwitting tools of corporatism, but it’s where they get much of their funding. Because Wall Street and the corporates will have their man in the White House.

Cynical, moi? But of course. I listen to the money men and how they talk. Doesn’t take an Einstein to figure it out no matter what one’s personal feelings are. By way of illustration, there was an interesting (But paywalled) analysis in the UK Times Saturday which tweaked a neuron. About the growth of stocks and bonds under various administrations. One journalist ran the numbers which confirmed my suspicions. A US President of limited impact with a congress and senate in opposition is the best possible outcome for the corporate balance sheets.

Wall Street and the big corporates won this US Presidential election. The rest of us? We don’t really count.