Geopolitics is founded on two assumptions. The first is that a community’s location defines the community. Second, the leader’s decisions are shaped by that reality. On the most basic level, political leaders don’t count because the decision-making exists within the limits of the place you live in, and then some of us may carve their way out of their matrix, but we’re the outliers.
This comes to my mind just before the US election, and you may like one candidate or the other, but at the end there are bigger forces at play. The president is just the front man, giving a hint of what is coming at you soon like a freight train, and nothing can stop it. And what is coming is nothing short of re-arranging the way the world works. Trump understands it; Biden gets in the way of it, trying to delay the inevitable.
He is the obstacle in the way the world evolves and seems to have little clue about what is going on around him. He follows a trial of men with similar limitations – George W junior and Obama. Obama didn’t even attend security briefings during his second term. George W said that “lots of our imports come from other countries”. Shows you the level of engagement.
See, I don’t believe in globalization, in any way you can imagine it, business or ideology or faith. When the Polish pope John Paul II was trying to start the dialog with the leaders of other faiths, I thought that was wrong, terribly wrong. It was seen outside of Christian faith as a weakness, a sign of a doubt in what you believe. You either know what you believe in or you do not. If the Pope has doubts, we’re all in trouble.
There are serious issues, of course, like the covid scandal in the months leading to the election. Some people are making advances out of it for political gains, some just make it big in the bank (these are the honest ones). There doesn’t seem to be much more to it than this.
The common man gets trashed. The covid charade is sparking massive protests in major cities, which the media chose to not cover.
To be honest – what they could report? They have no depth in their thinking about the world.
Let’s talk business for a change.
Technologies that define an era usually come from a major geopolitical power. Roman engineering, for example, helped shape the Mediterranean world. British technology created and sustained the industrial revolution. These empires could absorb the cost of innovation because they had the money to do so and because they knew it would only reinforce their power. And because technologies are meant to reinforce power, even the most benign were invented for military purposes.
A few examples here. The first and most obvious is that the iPhone, an icon of innovation, is actually a composite of older military developed technologies; only SIRI was invented this century. To its credit, Apple updated those technologies, fused them into a single platform, and turned that platform into a brilliantly packaged and marketed product. Still, what is called “high tech” is frequently an older innovation updated for modern use. It’s evolutionary, but it isn’t revolutionary.
The military is the primary source of innovation in our societies, never forget that, and, by the way, China hasn’t delivered none of this.
Plus, maturity is different from obsolescence. The microprocessor cannot be considered cutting edge—it was put to practical use before 1970. It has become a foundation of society even though it is no longer being radically innovated. The same could be said of the automobile and the internal combustion engine. It was incredibly useful, but after the1970s it became all marketing, not much more.
I still like the Dodge Charger Hellcat, don’t get me wrong. I take an American muscle car over a German or Italian product any time of the day.
Put my foot down on the 700 horsepower engine and I forget that nothing gonna stop them as the day follows the night, right becomes wrong and the left becomes the right.
No matter, that’s my freedom.
Eddie Van Halen passed away the other day. He was not just a guitarist, he played every instrument, but guitar was his thing. And his brother Alex had his back playing drums, Eddie would not do an interview without mentioning him.
To hear the best of him listen to his solo in “Eruption”, and it’s so wild and fast and so all over the place, you’d think he would get out of key any moment now.
But he never does, just keeps you on the edge listening and that’s art for me.
He was the rocking machine and also a great storyteller.
So, here is my tribute to him - only the good die young.
I am hooked on good songs and the ironic thing is that I don’t listen to music anymore. I don’t really read books anymore either, the library in my house is deadly, but now I am done reading anything new – there is nothing they can tell me I don’t already know.
I subscribe to a news portal that insists that the next financial stimulus will consist of all citizens writing checks to the governments, $1250 in America.
That’s a joke.
All these ladies and gentlemen in governments couldn’t resist the extra spending and the central banks are now coming to the rescue because they have no choice.
That’s not a joke.
Money is a mental concept, it is not a real thing if not backed by anything tangible. And to be clear, I see nothing wrong with it.
When the economy was expanding, even exploding like in the internet age, if the money was tied up to something tangible like gold, it would choke all the progress fast. Gold only adds about 2% of stock a year, good part of it going into jewelry, and the economies back then were growing at a multiple of that. This is the problem with “sound money”, delicately called “the gap”.
Between fantasy and reality, my opinion.
The problems start when the governments go to far, like buying stocks and bonds outright in the market (with brokers front-running them), introducing capital controls or extending the maturity of bonds arbitrarily. Italy invented that, I think.
Say, you were holding a 5-year government bond, but the guys in Rome were running light on cash and couldn’t possibly redeem it. So they would tell you that you’re now holding a 30-year bond.
The Swiss National Bank (SNB) stands out as the biggest speculator in the world.
Its balance sheet is over $ 1 trillion, or 136% of Swiss GDP.
The Federal Reserve balance sheet is 35% of US GDP, so to compete with the SNB, the Fed would need to increase its balance sheet from the current $7trillion to $27 trillion.
Basically you can consider SNB a hedge fund and let’s hope the markets will hold (SNB is a major shareholder in companies like Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook).
What does that have to do with stimulating the Swiss economy may take some explaining to do.
I read that the revenue from covid testing kits is $2 billion per day and at some point the cost of the vaccine will kick in too, helping the revenues even more.
Once the money starts flowing freely, the system has a built in resistance to stop it.
We’re looking at the biggest money making run since the internet bubble of the late 90’s. Replace “run” with “grab” according to your level of sensitivity.
That’s the brothers Van Halen below. Someone once asked Eddie what is the rocking music all about, “sticking it up to the man,” he said.
I am no good in crowds, I‘m the walking definition of ‘Old School’, which means that I want to be free to do what I want, not harming anybody around me.
And I don’t intend to, I’m as sweet as a little puppy with big brown eyes.
Just don’t test me.
Let’s move on to business.
The covid vaccine is hoped to be here early next year and it’s beyond the media’s collective imagination to ask what that actually means.
I knew a good man in my previous life, actually pre-previous, as he is now retired, likely playing golf somewhere in Florida spending evenings on the beach, but he instilled in me that way of thinking.
“What does it mean, really?”
As I understand, the drug, when it comes, or if, will require extremely low temperature to be stored in. And by low, I mean LOW. There is no infrastructure to distribute it in a compliant way, and these storage facilities can’t be built quickly. Trust me on that one. By accident, I am a fine engineer.
Then there is the fact that any new vaccine has about 50% success ratio, historically.
So if you hope for a “change the world” moment early next year– you better don’t.
Back to the media: they represent the short-oriented mindset, like – “what do we do this afternoon, huh? anybody?” And it’s the army of ladies on the screen with their lips botoxed to the extreme, and also over weighted weird guys driving cars with very small displacement engines.
We’re talking about oligarchs here and the people paid by them, the ones on TV screens. They only think in concepts much like Klaus Schwab’s Great Reset (the one of the Davos gathering fame, and somebody please explain to me the purpose of this get together, except it costs the taxpayers a fortune – there is an army protecting the finest from the citizenry and nothing ever comes out of the meetings, never).
The practical application of what these people are doing is not there.
They don’t even understand it, which is very sad.
Simple example – in California they will force all cars to be electric real soon but they lack the infrastructure to do so as they don’t have the required power grid to support it.
Not to mention the budget that they won’t be able to accommodate to build it. So it will not happen. There will be not enough plugs to plug into. It’s actually the opposite, I mean, plugs, yes, but not enough places to connect.
Hell, my thinking is flying away now into dangerous territory.
Or the good one, no?
I will never support electric cars, because I don’t know where they get their energy from. Dirty coal fired power plants? Nuclear, in which case where is the toxic waste being dumped?
At least the traditional car has the catalytic converter, so you know what you’re blowing in the air.
Okay, it was like that until the Germans ruined it for everybody.
People miss the infrastructure part as if it doesn’t matter.
Example number two - there was all the rage that the big banks will move to Frankfurt or Paris if Brexit happens, and I hope it will.
But neither Frankfurt nor Paris have the telecommunication capacity of London.
Not even close.
There is no infrastructure to match London. And try to put it in – it takes years and an amount of money that is unfathomable on the bankrupt European continent.
Don’t you think that matters for business? Don’t you think the big players know it?
Scaling down now, sitting here on the patio on a beautiful day, I got some orders to do things around the house, but I have some serious hearing loss; my wife complains all the time.
She read this essay, how it’s full of opinions and just me being annoying.
“I had the feeling that you won’t let go.”
Living the Dream.
“You have the same eyes,” said the lady on the 787 Dream, somewhere south of Island on the long flight home.
The plane was cruising high above the clouds making its way to Canada. It entered through the Labrador, then followed the St Lawrence river, passed Montreal and finally hit the Toronto airport. And I know every moment of it, maybe 50 times by now. My little brother says it’s easier to fly up and down than square. And he knows, he is a pilot.
And I’ve been around too, you know, flown all over the globe.
And `Canada is home for me, nothing beats it.
“You know,” she said referring to my brother, “we flew together many times, he is the calmest pilot I ever met.”
And I thought: “he is the coolest guy I ever met.”
She looked at me as if waiting for an answer.
So I said: “he is the better looking brother.”
She took her time sizing me up.
So before all that, I spent a few days in Warsaw, and Warsaw is always good. The views, the history, restaurants, parks, people, you can’t beat that. There is nothing like this anywhere else.
I parked myself in a superb restaurant, had a light meal on the patio, a glass of a good wine under the sweet October sun.
Plus hey! It’s my native language. I can pick up all the nuances. And I am a storyteller and I can make people laugh, or at least interested.
There was a polish writer back in the day, Jerzy Kosinski, and he made it big in the US of A, and then he killed himself in his Manhattan apartment.
His demons came to close one evening.
Back in the day in Poland he would tell stories on a train and people would miss their stations just fascinated by what he was saying.
I am sure he was making most of it up, as I do. This is how art works, you steal from others but you add something to it.
Read his book “The painted bird”, it is something for the ages.
And I talk to people, “chat them up” is the expression. I can’t work the iphone for the life of me, but I can talk.
Then I had to leave Warsaw, with the covid scandal they want you to leave contact information exiting the plane in case of I don’t know what. Honestly I don’t.
I may have misspelled my name, I’m Michael Jackson now, I think that’s what I wrote. Also the last digits of my phone number may not be right – but hey, I had a big stroke a while ago and the right side of my body doesn’t function as it used to. My writing is bad and my mind wanders. More and more.
But I will follow the quarantine procedures down to a “t “.
I will do my part, just don’t want a clerk with a commanding voice calling me to check how I got my shopping done today.
I’ll be fine.
Former Chief Science Officer for the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer says "Second Wave" is based on faked false-positive COVID tests, "Pandemic is Over".
The "Big Pharma" insider asserts that false positive results from inherently unreliable COVID tests are being used to manufacture a "second wave" based on "new cases."
Dr. Mike Yeadon, a former Vice President and Chief Science Officer for Pfizer for 16 years, says that half or even "almost all" of tests for COVID are false positives.
Dr. Yeadon also argues that the threshold for herd immunity may be much lower than previously thought, and may have been reached in many countries already.
In an interview last week Dr. Yeadon was asked: "we are basing a government policy, an economic policy, a civil liberties policy on, what may well be, completely fake data on this coronavirus?"
Dr. Yeadon answered with a simple "yes."
Survival rate of COVID is now estimated to be 99.8%, similar to flu.
Another argument made by Yeadon et al in their September paper is that there has been no difference in outcomes related to lockdowns.
"The shape of the deaths vs. time curve implies a natural process and not one resulting mainly from human interventions...Famously, Sweden has adopted an almost laissez faire approach, with qualified advice given, but no generalized lockdowns. Yet its profile and that of the UK’s is very similar."
In Germany, an organization of 500 German doctors and scientists has formed, who say that government response to the COVID virus has been vastly out of proportion to the actual severity of the disease.
It helps to put this “pandemic” in an economic and geopolitical contest as well.
In this sense it’s a gift that will keep on giving.
Issues with EU disintegrating and strong separatist movements? Just turn up the media dial on Covid and people will stay home. Monetary easing and negative interest not working for years now ruining pension funds – do the same, just scare everyone, divert the attention.
The airlines are in a rare situation – BA chief executive Alex Cruz said this “last week we flew 187,000 passengers. The same week in the previous year we flew almost a million. We remain worried about the virus in the winter season. People are still afraid of traveling.”
What he didn’t say is that the major carriers burned tens of billions of dollars on shares buybacks in recent years in an effort to lift the stock value. Now they’re coming to the governments, hat in hand, asking for taxpayer money for comparable amounts that they incinerated earlier.
Then we have more serious things brewing.
There is a looming confrontation between the Europeans and the Russians. Normally the Americans would take care of all this because of the deal they had during the Cold War – we provide security, you side with us against the Russians. That deal has collapsed – Americans are going their own way and Europeans are their own, but the problem is they’re not of one mind. European policy making requires that all countries have to agree and one veto ruins the deal. So the Russians have a Trojan horse in terms of Greece, Cyprus and Hungry and that leaves it up to the rest of the Europeans to act independently.
The country that really matters here is Germany – they are desperate to have good relationship with Russia, this is where they get most of their energy from. In case of conflict escalation, they will need to massively re-arm, which will bring some memories in Europe.
Aside from all this, I am taking a week off starting Monday, need some break and first stop is Warsaw.
I talked to my sister, and she doesn’t take the Covid story as easy as I do.
“Go careful,” she said.
Tom Kubiak is the author of The Traveler