The World, Europe and Greece – a political, economic comment from a shipping perspective – part 2. By John Faraclas
Firstly, I repeat, reiterate and quote in full the first para of last year’s comment (20 Oct.2012) that “All our previous analysis and views on the Shipping Markets and the world at large as same are in this site* as well as in live interviews of the writer, remain unchanged!” I will also add all my TV appearances and the contents of my views expressed to millions around the world also remain the same – firm and valid to all intents and purposes.
This comment coincides with the Chinese New Year which starts officially today and its worth to take notice too, as China continues to play an increasingly important role in shaping post Communism and “current” world affairs matters – Middle East, Africa, Far East, despite same being under the developing of its own way to full democracy. In trade and transport too, China has done well, but to the detriment of other nations and economies… The Year of the Dragon gives its place and pace to the Year of the Snake! Oppps!
Secondly, the Shipping Markets continue, as predicted, to be in very low levels with the BDI down to 748 points and we are far from the 3, 000 norm level. “Equally” the shipping stock markets are also on a downturn compared with 10, 5 and three years ago and I am sure will you soon find fewer shipping companies in the NYSE, NASDAQ, OSE and elsewhere – did I hear you say ASE..? Overcapacity, inability to pay the instalments leading to the vessels repayments, the environment and protectionism, watch out this protectionism as it will be the name of the game…. Shipyards and related business are in tatters. In China only, about 90 (ninety) shipyards are idle, others have seen cancellations or temporizing of orders. Same applies for Japan and Korean yards. As for Western Yards, and in particular European ones, things are sour too…
On a better note are the stock markets, the bubble markets as we all call them now, with the Dow Jones making strides and recently hitting above the 14, 000 mark, Nikkei above 11, 000, the FTSE above 6, 000. The oil is “stack” for the moment below the US$ 95 but one should closely watch the next happening here… the energy jargon is here to stay, Arctic shipping is the name of the game too, LNG will reshape things and Shale gas – well that’s another story. The sun too will play an important role, leading to the alternative sources of energy game, as solar power bears no imposition of 3, 6, 12 or 200 miles of EEZ; now the shit will hit the fun (on energy at last)…, I love it… Caracas and Montego Bay Law of the Seas Treaties and all that will look obsolete on the issue of the sun’s limits, prohibitions etc. I am going to have a good time… The solar power is like the mind: you cannot police it, hence you cannot confine the limits of your country’s solar power “stocks”!
We are not only in a deep recession worldwide but we are definitely in a long term recession which will last for sure until 2020; any punters please…? I know I am upsetting a lot of people, particularly shipping and business analysts, all short of analysts – basically political ones, but here you are: you have failed on all counts, on all fronts, sorry guys and dolls, you have “failed on purpose” spectacularly! In the geopolitical sphere, 2013 might be the year of conflicts or the beginning of years of conflicts in all fronts. In my view we are well in a ten year of economic turmoil and as said, in 2020, if people come to their senses we might see the silver lining on the horizon.
Thirdly, we are in the era of crooks, in a period of humanity where everybody has lost his (and her-correct me dear WISTAs) dignity; for those who object, I will be more than pleased to entertain them live on any of the world’s five major TV channels!
One group which bears responsibility for all these adverse situations, are the Media that should have been humanity’s whistle-blowers! First class journalists, some of them highly trained and well informed, continue to remain conspicuously silent! The Media scandals, hacking and all that jazz continue every day to distort our society in all fronts: shame on you; or better say, like Leonard Cohen’s song, which fully applies in todays’ happenings: “Everybody knows”! When you print something, or accuse somebody, just make sure it’s real!
Another group bearing the stigma of this situ is the world of Banking; too many scandals, exploitation and penalties here should be tougher. Closing down a bank will be the perfect example for others to come to their senses. We are going to see spectacular changes in the Banking World, but more problems and troubles are ahead. The Plastic Money Scam is yet to be resolved with trillons of Dollars lost, and more to be lost…
Bailing out Banks is one thing; bailing out nations yet another; but something is fishy and dubious here; “Everybody knows”. Somehow there is definitely a group of business hooligans calling a fast one on the 90 centum of humanity! Be on guard. Shipping in its entirety can be influenced from a bad banking sector, limited availability of funds and bankers who are biased – to whom they lend, as well as ignorant vis-à-vis the course of the shipping markets. Shipping Stock markets too are a bit cautious, although there are excellent companies with fantastic track record where the public can invest. Remind you that in 1979 when I’ve enter competitive Ships Sales & Purchase and Ship Finance, there were worldwide 400 (four hundred) banks and financial institutions lending money into shipping. In Greece though red tape governed the day… Today there only 50 (fifty) or so banks and financial institutions and thank God the stock markets for the great and the good to raise funds. I believe that funds should be allocated only to the most capable ones. Others should fit the purpose after vigorous checks. But who is making appropriate checks? Whose services the banks and financial institutions employ to tell them about the markets and the market projectabilities, not to mention the humans running these shows?
Don’t ask me about the politicians: blackmailers, crooks, irresponsible, liars, manipulators, traitors, vote-hunters, you name it…. The regulators, ah! that’s another group on the “birds of feather flock together” modus with the politicians… I mentioned these two groups (Bankers and Politicians) as they are totally responsible for this world’s worse financial crisis, which will bring incalculable repercussions to all; just wait and see as we are in the beginning of the crisis. Every month there is a major event and a nation, particularly in Europe goes under… Isn’t time we see a proper political and Banking Union in Europe? The the European Union Budget will be easy without any silly arguments; you know what I mean…
I remind you to read Greg Palast’s great account titled: “The best Democracy money can buy”, then you will understand some “home truths”… This investigative reporter exposes the truth about globalization, corporate cons and high finance fraudsters. I also recommend you to study the epic of its kind, that of Patricia Franklin titled “Profits of Deceit” where you will become familiarized with dispatches from the front lines of fraud. For the Greeks and Greece to whom I will refer further down, its worth recommending Andreas G. Lemos’ masterpiece “An account of a 20th century’s passer-by”. A lot can be learned, particularly on ethics.
Fourthly, we might see some corrections on world stage vis-à-vis reducing the financial problems, but unless we see Plato’s Republic work in practice, nothing will happen. Why on earth we study the classics for? What do I mean? Well, very simply “If the philosophers become kings and the kings (become) philosophers” ; do try to interpret this in today’s world! M.I. Finley too, in his excellent book “The Ancient Economy” has a lot to add into days disasters. Obviously we must also “see” the role, behaviour of the academics. Theory, Research and Development coupled with sheer rhetoric is all fine; the end result counts – see Greece’s former Prime Minister Costas Simitis who manipulated everything and few days ago requested another haircut for Greece… Also what did the latest appointed Prime Ministers of Greece did until the latest general election? What is happening now? They shouldn’t go Scott Free… Justice for all! What’s the definition and usage of Immunity for Greek Politicians and Bankers, add Tax officials!
Europe is the key to change the world economy for the better and the Greek case leads me to tell and remind you that this conspiracy against Greece and its people will have repercussions. Wait and see. Europe will change. Europe and the world should understand that Greece is the lock which should remained unbroken as the key belongs to the Greeks. Those who “appointed” and “brought in” the government of G.A.Papandreou in 2009 bare the stigma for bringing Europe to its current state of affairs with the possibility of seeing the European Union collapse, conversely the EURO and create hell! Karamanlis the youngster should be accountable! The case still goes on with Greece having leaders giving-in in the scam and I will bet you that sooner or later the events will surprise you. The big problem though continues to be that of Greece’s opposition parties still being in a mess and rhetoric governs the day.
Other European Countries, such as Italy, Spain and Portugal, Ireland not to mention the mighty Germany are in real trouble. We all know this, “Everybody knows”, so stop creating scapegoats like Greece, as this time the new Alexander the Great will go West; you dead well know why! Russia will continue to grow and to slowly re-event a financial and political base providing same with the international prestige that it has been seeking ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rest of the Iron Curtain countries.
The Greek “debt” which is one of humanity’s biggest continuous frauds, must be thoroughly investigated. The outcome will bring the correction and the correction the road to Global recovery. Greek politicians and their accomplishes within and outside Greece should be named, shamed, punished by being paraded on all TV channels and all squares of the world’s cities and villages. This is the only way out as an example. It goes without saying that thousands worldwide will be punished. If a revolt happens, I am telling you it will be sudden, and speaking shipping-wise, the tsunami will be hell. I bet you. So let Greece go free, do punish all these bankers and their accomplishes who make everyday news on all media means, with fixed LIBOR and other financial crimes and then be clean to talk. Until this happens, expect the unexpected with worldwide repercussions. Greek data were manipulated and one cannot imagine what will come next. Figures on the Greek economy, as we all know now from what is happening, have been falsified. Bring the politicians and their subordinates here and now to justice.
The political instability of Greece these days derives from the sins which have to do with the country’s shipyards. The Attorney General of Greece and his counterpart in Brussels should investigate the Greek Shipyards scandal; it’s not just the submarines, it’s not just the subsidies given without any result, is far more than that. The Greek Governments should also investigate who is behind the closure of its major shipyards, who is demoralizing the Perama shipyards and workshops, why Greeks do not built anymore in their country’s shipyards, why they don’t even repair ships and many other issues. You “had to bribe” to get a slot and repair your ship in Perama or Elefsis or Syros or Khalkis, even in the Hellenic Shipyards (Skaramanga) despite the state of he market, and now all are idle/ empty and getting rotten… Not even war ships for Greece’s, European, and NATO defence are allowed to be built! Hey, what’s up! Those regulators who prohibit the construction of naval ships, why they haven’t closely followed the case? Greece and its shipyards sector has an excellent know-how to support the ailing European shipbuilding/shiprepair and ship conversion sector, as Greece’s dockers include many from the seafaring profession alike no other nation in Europe and the Med/Black Sea region able to work out miracles with reliable work. Pricing is one thing, performance and reliability yet another.
There is a worldwide shipyards scandal and same should be rectified before the entire world economy collapses; analyse this and then email and will respond; fancy also a shipyard live debate? We are ready to attend same. Remember that after life the mst expensive item are ships!
The Ports and Terminals issue too is very important for Europe and Greece. For over 10 years now, all efforts to do the right thing failed particularly in Greece. The Political cost still counts in Greece… Again, the Attorney General must step in! The country can become the logistics hub in the entire area and beyond. The Marinas too can play another important role. Mentioning Ports and Terminals which also leads to cruise shipping, the Cabotage should be lifted to all intents and purpose and hub ports should operate with Greek and other flag ships. A law should come also from Europe, a directive, stopping an opposition which might get in power and change this law, as same jeopardises the holiday business sector of tourism in the entire European zone and Europe itself! Cruise Companies make their plans, they have seafarers working on board – they create all short of jobs, tourists to have a good time, and no way any silly unionism should spoil their projects as well as deprive Greece from extra currency and money in the state’s and peoples coffers. Add to all this the proper development of the Harbours Corps and the Hellenic Coast Guard to safeguard not only the Aegean, but a far wider area given the North Africa, Middle East upheaval and then you might come up with another “idea” to punish those who destroy this body.
As far as the Ministry of Shipping, Maritime Affairs and the Aegean is concerned its structure will only become viable and productive once Greece either has a power-party who wins an overwhelming majority or a leader/manager to set the record straight and bring in results. Respect to all personnel, officers and political personnel of the Ministry is of paramount importance. It’s about time we see a real catharses there too. The Ministry of Shipping, Maritime Affairs and the Aegean is the best Ministry that Greece always had; imagine the sate of other ministries…
There should be a uniformity on both a European and World level with respect the name and number of Ministries a country has in order to better serve the industry. The IMO should lead this issue too. It is about time to have a European Coast Guard and also an International Coast Guard to guard and support all issues happening in the high seas. Immigration is an anathema, particularly when we give in to asylum seekers all over Europe, branding them as such to allow the “Human Rights” operate better. Indeed there are Asylum Seekers, but this is only a maximum two centum; the rest are immigrants seeing jobs and nothing else; “Everybody Knows”. If proper European safeguarding existed, if Europe’s south eastern frontiers was in order, we shouldn’t have so many coming over from Turkey. Add the North Africa upheaval and see if we were ever ready to tackle this problem.
The Seafarers must also be looked after and the pensioners. Remember this is an analysis on the crisis from a shipping perspective and one must cover the respective matters. Austerity and taxation strangulates seafarers and conversely the Greek Nation and as I have numerous times referred to this matter, this crime must end here and now. Nemesis is ante portas and you will see one day overage pensioners, men and women, laughing, when those who bring them via taxation and austerity to this misery situation of the worst kind, are punished. Revolt should not be excluded. Greece’s is history is “rich” with people from inside and outside who embezzled the nation and its pride citizens, Europe too as the entire World. Having said that, the respective Greek Authorities should firstly bring the politicians in the dock to return the money they embezzled and stop acting in this inhumane hooligan-style way to attack the Greek People with austerity, tax-checks etc. Time please! I wonder who governs Greece…. and who governs Europe… Unless we settle this, Democracy and Justice are the real offenders. We all know how to trace embezzled money; it’s like when we go through the IT and trace all phone calls done and the secret services produce miracles on this issue – Greece has some lovely examples on this issue, but with silly results, as other issues where exposed, shame!
The Marine Environment will bother us quite for some time; but it is about time to address it openly without manipulations and stubbornness. I guess the shipping industry has the best record from all the other industries put together, yet being accused. This envy must stop. There will be many to tell me about scrapping of ships; well things are getting better, but it a matter of the states which allow inhumane practices that should be punished. I have my own agenda on this matter, published same in Lloyd’s List buck in the ’80’s and yes, I can talk and provoke.
Piracy and Terrorism: Two important issues which must also be properly addressed as we don’t want to see more victims from all sides in the maritime family; from seafarers to armed/non armed guards, as well as shipping companies, particularly tramp-shipping ones suffer from extra costs, despite the market conditions. Loss of human life under the duress from piracy and terrorism must end here and now! There are many complaints which come to us and I guess we must end all injustice to these matters.
Human Recourses in our industry need some more attention; let’s stop pretending: this applies for both sides. In Greece though there is a conspiracy and once this matter is settled you will see who was behind the curtains. Greece’s Coastal Services latest problems etc. should be settled for the benefit of all, once and for all. Maritime education and training, particularly now with top of the range technologically improved vessels should be the number one task of all Nations. Europe to must create something for all nations of the European Union. Greece, obviously the number one shipping nation world-wide, should focus on maritime Education and training. Unions, stay out of it. Mind me as I have numerous time said live on SBC TV, I fully support the appropriate and right Unionism, the one that really furthers seafaring, dockers and others in our industry and conversely the world at large. Health and Safety issues are number one, our firstpriority.
Women in Shipping, WISTAs, rise to the circumstances. In general Women should peacefully “revolt” and put things right; we need modern Lysistratas. You dead well know what I mean!
We have to mention Sports, Marine Sports, such as Rowing, Sailing, Speed boats, Surfing, Swimming, Water Polo, Yachting, were Greece has a history and now the economic crisis deprives the Clubs and their athletes to perform; I guess that is about time to short this out. As an example, Keep on Rowing Greece is trying hard as well as all other sea-oriented sports clubs and organisations to survive, and its best to allow benefactors to offer their money than to tax them unreasonably, just to justify and please Greece’s crook lenders. The Greek State has nearly abandoned these sports and nearly all other sports support as, although sports helps a better society – sending youngsters to sports rather than to other undesirable habits, they are deaf. It is these sports which keep mostly the Greek Olympic ideal alive! There should be an unsolicited contribution from all shipping companies, particularly from the Coastal ones to offer funds for the sea sports, rather than being unreasonably taxed.
Lastly, saying about tax, an issue lately all over the news, tax dodgers and the lot including tax evasion and avoidance, isn’t time to put in public the real tax dodgers and if now, after all these years of silence, why the Greek Tax Authorities where not performing the respective laws and appear now to kill the Greek people. Who did they were really hiding and serving?
“Of course there are skeletons in every historical cupboard. Intermediaries have often been corrupt, criminal, greedy, abusing almost every profession, exploiting almost every class, and it is foolish to idealise them. There is no occupation, no relationship, which has an unblemished record; there have even been saints who used their influence to manipulate others. No institution has ever remained honest without personal virtue, which each individual has always had to cultivate carefully like a rare plant liable to become extinct at any moment. But being an intermediary does provide the opportunity for people who feel that they have limited talents or resources to add something positive to the world, particularly a world which seeks equal respect for everybody” (Theodore Zeldin “An intimate history of humanity”)
Look forward your written comments.