Tuesday 1 September 2015

September Trend - Take it ALLLL OFF

As the tans begin to fade, the memories of glistening beaches and sun-set drinks by the pool slowly morph into distant musings, familiar stresses of daily routine creep back in as easily as a long-lost friend - being back at school is horrible for all of us..even the kids!

This year's return to normal-daily-activity after our Summer glories, though, is special. Not good special. Bad special. Very bad. August's extreme market volatility and stomach-churning sell-off was but a warning shot for what is to come.

The trend for September? Take it off. All of it. Leave nothing on the table. Or run the risk of having it disappear in the turmoil to come....

More to come this week..and..oh yeah..welcome back everyone.

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Hotter (Earthly) Summer Days

Bravo! Humanity, or at least one of its constructed machines, has now officially explored each and every planet in its Solar System - the "dwarf" planet of Pluto being the last on a journey that will take a probe hurtling into the outer Kuiper belt..where the Evil Empire lurks with its Galactic StarCruisers..just kidding with that last part..for now.

Back on Earth however, there is one word to describe those that currently dwell as the dominant species...Crazy - the world we live in, the prices we endure in urban centres, the death and destruction that continues on an almost daily beat with barely an eyebrow raised in the lucky Western world, insane some would say, crazy we all must. The world MUST surely be out of skew and teetering on the edge of insanity when someone like Donald Trump is allowed so much airtime in a foolish bid for the US Presidency - oh please do not let my words be remembered with embarrassment come October 2016! At least some form of near-sanity has expressed itself (no thanks to the scorn of "historical mistake" Bibi) with the tireless Kerry+5 succeeding in bringing the once great Persian people closer to a state of normality. Nothing happens overnight, yet this is a change that should bring eventual benefits for the region, if the GCC neighbours do not make a total mess of it and throw their toys out their gold-plated prams.

Despite Gold somehow not rising to record-highs given the levels of uncertainty presiding across the markets, nothing is right about the economy, nothing is right about the response we have endured since 2008.  The coolest thing to happen in the last 6 months probably the introduction of Apple Pay - tried it and it is incredibly convenient...go $1.5trn market cap!. Apart from that, US markets continue to fluctuate amidst ridiculous valuations for private tech companies, China shows us what a man-made rollercoaster really looks like, Europe drowns in its own Greek waters (awaiting British roars of disapproval now its money may be on the "lending" line too) and the best looking potential return emanates from what was once considered the "lost" continent of Africa. Go growth!

It has been mentioned on this blog a few times but it cannot be overstated: we have witnessed one of the greatest thefts of recent human history...right in front our PR-celeb-loving-blatant-distraction-by-social-media eyes...the blatant eradication of an entire movement of people through wanton assimilation of (for some) horrible levels of wealth in the hands of the few. This has left the masses to (almost) begin fighting for the scraps (€60 a day in Greece), even amidst supposedly the "wealthier and luckier" few. Not even Osborne's changes to London's offshore non-dom-res status will eventually make much of a dent in the blatant freedom of wealth creation the connected few enjoy.

Major cities across this great world we inhabit are experiencing unprecedented levels of Picketty-recorded disparity. Problem is..those that have not enjoyed a rise to the top are allowing those already there to get away with it, even celebrating their status and revelling with near-desperate glee in their secondary hand-outs. Desperados. What the hell happened to that brief moment of shame and austerity we all felt we must endure to repent for our evil ways during 2006-2008?? Just because a lucky few started putting their pictures onto Insta-lust-agram and felt good about how bad everyone else did, is not reason enough for others to think it is okay too!

All that is wrong with the world is being pushed as right and all that is right being cowed and frightened into the corners of society once reserved for the truly weird. We are undergoing an extremely sad transformation. Many know it but do not admit it. I am happy to write about it. Enough is enough. People should not be embarrassed into feeling politically incorrect and (oh dear God no) offend some group or another with a massive media presence (yes, you "movements" know who you are) or tree-hugging-do-gooders who then go home and stick on the kettle, oblivious to the origins and realities of their daily energy-consuming routines. Speak your mind people. Confront. Get it out. Negligent mass pacifism leads to disaster..study 1890-1914 and reel in the horror of realisation.

Summer is truly upon us. We take time to enjoy quality conversation with our loved-ones, laze around the pool with family and friends, discuss where we have come from and where we may be going. The majority will do this with their faces glued to a phone, a barrier to the realism of face-to-face conversation, cause for much of the woes of humans being out of touch with humanity. Who knows, maybe that probe hurtling at 50,000km/second is speeding away to bring news of something  Alien we can all truly talk about. Selfie with the outer-world visitor anyone? Crazy to think about it? Nothing on this world would surprise me now.

Monday 13 July 2015

Hot Summer Days

There's a certain heat emanating from the Southern European states. As July nears an end and the what-do-I-do-now month of August edges closer, the normal screams of delight begin their return, as families thrash around in the cooling water of the Mediterranean and others splash themselves down with chilled Rosé.

Will those screams remain expressions of long lazy Summers, or risk taking a turn down the wrong path of frustration, despair and eventually hot, smouldering, unbridled anger?..screaming all the way to government opposition, civil unrest and (never say never) military action to quell a total collapse into chaos.

The European mess that has brewed since 2008 (papering over the problem year after year), China's recent and really quite frightening market meltdown (swings of +75% and -80%!), now controlled only with the most draconian of moves by the shell-shocked Xi-Li ruling partnership, in addition to the Middle Eastern uncertainty over the meaning of an Iranian-US "agreement", leaves us all in a tenaciously touchy and ridiculously terse position of anxiety-inducing palpitation. Not quite what Summer holidays should be about.

There will be trouble ahead..not talking about the pain (oh gosh) of poor stressed-out-normally-London-dwelling-sun-seekers having to carry wads of cash around the Cyclades with them..but pure, undiluted and extremely potent historical hatreds resurrecting through the fraction lines of old and new Europe.

We will investigate more this week....

Monday 22 June 2015

Greek Flower-Power

A long-going saga that feels equal in length to the once great Empire's rule over our civilisation - now reaching levels of quite boring monotony unfortunately, the likes of which great warriors of that ancient time never imposed upon us. Greece is once again on the brink. Hello? have I travelled back to 2010..enough already..Pay up or shut up!

Seriously my Greek friends (disclaimer: there are traces of Greek ancestry in my blood, somewhere), a little less time in the Bouzoukia (famous live-music entertainment nightclubs in Athens) and more in the office! Rather than spending mind-numbing nights of "entertainment" in a large money-laundering operation full of beautifully dressed women covered in flower petals, your flashy cars parked outside and looking as if they were literally driven out of the showroom - probably were and need to be driven back soon minus -30% for a "facilitation fee"..how about tapping into what once made you that great People, pay some taxes, work a little harder, spend less time on Instagram expressing your love for Bieber and all things Greek - no, the iPhone was not derived from a Greek invention, you can't "G-originate" that one sorry!

Face the reality of years and years (still ongoing) of tax evasion, dodgey enterprises exactly like the Bouzoukia you frequent - literally flimsy covers for excessive "expense claim" based tax evasions..why on earth would someone rather pay €20 for a plate of flower petals to throw over one another than at least a bottle of champagne that can be playfully sprayed!? - and deal with an issue that your 1% have sadly forced the rest to face. That's the truth of it, no matter how many times you try to blame Merkel for forcing you into a corner. She is far too smart to give in to your nationalistic uproar and far too tough to look kindly upon the lazy Greek yacht-dwellers that initially created most of this mess.

What if I told you we could solve the Greek debt payment issue (c.€1.7bn immediately) by throwing some more flowers?  Stay with me...1 Bouzouki Flower Plate costs €20 right? On one night in Athens I personally witnessed €30,000 stupidly..ah sorry..lavishly spent on covering a bevy of excited Greek ladies dancing around some singer. So...let's throw several massive parties for the Greek Elite (yeah..you guys..classy) hiking the prices of those flower plates to €500/plate, invite nothing but scantily-clad models who just want to party, then sit back, switch on the music and watch the tight-shirted Greek boys go berserk in the Bouzoukia. The night would require the purchase of 3.4m plates to fill the €1.7bn hole..easy peasy..HOPA!

Come on my Greek friends..grow some Taylor Swift sized balls and go out there and fight for your rights, get your act together, stop relying upon others to provide you with your own way out of a mess that was simply created by the corrupt nature of a disconnected elite and please please stop wasting so many of our articles and media commentaries on the same story..let's move on!


Thursday 28 May 2015


Bankers mess up an entire global financial system and what's the level of reaction we get? Sorry..can't really hear you people. A little louder please. Half-hearted calls for punishments and lazy ripples of insistence on retribution carry around the more concerned global citizen-ville. Couple of old corrupt codgers mess around with football though and what do we get?.. a mightily thunderous global synchronised boom of, "NOOOO..by the wrath of Thor!!". Wow, corruption is allegedly (really Sherlock..you think?) within the midst of the most seemingly sacred of human endeavours and the entire global population goes into acute psychogenic shock! The antichrist that (for now) is Sepp Blatter has awoken a primeval monster within us all.

Mess with football, mess with the world it appears. Hold on a minute here..the last four years have witnessed allegations and confessions of near unprecedented levels of highly damaging, immoral and almost immeasurable levels of financial carnage at the hands of the filthiest bankers and traders we were silly enough to entrust with economically vital elements such as Libor and mortgages. What has been the public response and mainstream media coverage? Highly vitriolic and expressing charged furious emotion at first yet worryingly apathetic of recent. What has been the public outrage and emotional disgust directed toward these oh-so-guilty Zegna-suited criminals?..apart from a few squatters messing about in Central London and Manhattan, with one or two scapegoated individuals being hauled in front of an irate judge..a grand total of 1 (that's right ONE) perpetrator behind bars.

The entire basis of our modern existence threatened, built on excess and the spending of money we did not have, the resulting retribution is a muted open hand light slap on the backside. Corrupt practice in football? A brain-damaging knockout blow from the U.S.'s most powerful heavyweight legal force has landed right on the chin of FIFA. Priorities? Go figure.

Surely corruption rife in the once trusted slippery hands of the world's financial elite would overshadow any other acts of lesser immoral practices? Worrying about what seems less significant is common for this modern, frivolous and shallow world you might say. It is not really. Throughout history the masses have been placated and manipulated with the use of games and sporting replacements for destructive wars, allowed to unleash their inherent bloodthirst for violence in relatively controlled environments, known as sporting arenas. Coincidentally, rulers, Emperors and dictators alike have used such large-scale sporting events at times their hold on the masses appeared somewhat wobbly. From the great Gladiatorial coliseums to state-of-the-art modern stadia, our species has intricately destroyed itself through the ages, for the modest price of an entrance fee and something to nibble on.

Is corruption simply inherent in our very genetic code? Violence definitely is. One could argue violence and corruption are inextricably linked. Only today an announcement of the "first example of violence in our species" was presented from examination of two ancient skeletons (discovered a few years back in Spain and believed to be 430,000 years old) with killer blows made to the skull so similar they must have been made intentionally. An act of violence as far back as we have been understood to exist. We may have not been so simply "chosen" either. Our DNA is based on millions and millions of years of evolution (Scientologists - we haven't got time to discuss your theories right now sorry). Recent findings and studies have now begun to understand that where we once believed our particular strand of species (the humble Homo Sapiens) was unique in its time of existence and hence destined to rise to the top of the fraught evolutionary ladder, there were possibly several parallel Homo-species living simultaneously. Think about that. Violence and the presence of several most likely competing similar species. Only one survived. Yep, your thoughts have led you to the correct conclusion..we (Homo Sapiens that is) murdered our way to the top. Real-life "Dynasty" drama of our history.

Is it really any wonder then that our genetic code has unleashed itself once more? Corruption is in our every neolithic bone (every pun intended). It has manifested on this occasion in a "game", affecting our basest sensitivities. It may well be that first act of violence in Spain 430k years ago was an offside decision gone a little wrong! Clearly there is no way absolute corruption in the financial world, bringing our entire banking system to its knees and still now wreaking havoc on global nations' economies, can compete with the horror of skull bashing corrupt football officials.

Friday 22 May 2015

Ex-Machinomics - cont'd

Amidst the storm of Libor rigging $5bn fines, admissions of incredible levels of manipulation and deceit - other than Raheem Sterling's destructive agent -  new record highs on US markets and extreme losses in Hong Kong ($20bn wiped out in a matter of hours), once more this year a stampede of green-fingered flower lovers descend upon London's Chelsea Flower Show to admire a multitude of nature's extravagant colourful creations. How different a scene from the one unfolding a short NetJet hop south in Cannes...there a crowd of camera-lens loving socialites, with little else to do than admire their own self-proclaimed natural "beauty", shamelessly hogging the limelight from the true stars of the Cannes Film Festival - the actors! The modern "celebrity-gram" once again hijacking any remaining semblance of glamour in the art world. Soon we shall be expecting a Kardashian inspired "buxom garden" - actually now that I think about it...

Rumours of an upcoming Uber IPO only the latest in a series of increasingly eye-watering tech successes. The tears originating from both joy at the advancement of convenience and development, alongside an apparent suspension of all logical valuation calculations. Tech really is a wonderful thing. Even Saudi Arabia has admitted it may well no longer use fossil-fuels itself by 2050 (a little unrealistic) instead becoming a net-exporter of solar and wind energy. Smart and efficient technology would surely make this possible, if indeed there was political and industry coalescence. Fat chance. Let the barrels continue their roll.

Tech is both scary and wondrous. Emphasised in a modern classic Sci-Fi story translated into a fantastic big-screen experience - a wonderfully rare and extremely welcome event, near-perfectly conveyed in the awesome visual and mental experience of Alex Garland's thought-provoking narrative of a sensually cunning female "robot" named Ava: Ex-Machina (Great Gatsby brought to the screen by a let's-get-loud Aussie this is not). Not only are questions raised on the very core of our humanity during this most voyeuristic of experiences, entire new possible industries throw themselves up for imagination.

Tesla is building the world's largest battery factory - storing energy efficiently is the final frontier to renewable technologies. You really think that's about charging your 0-60mph in 3secs space-machine car? Nope..try powering your entire home and all its gadgets of the future. Entirely off the grid. The biggest and juiciest gadget that we will have looks set to be an AI "assistant". Siri and Cortana already lurk on our handheld devices, stationary and relatively inept but still smart enough to begin understanding what we want, when we want it and most importantly perhaps..what we might want that we haven't even thought of yet.

Does this mean we are controlling the machine or will the machine be "suggesting" what we should be controlling? Spooky I know. Now imagine Siri in a fully manoeuvrable humanoid form. Not only able to suggest nearby Chinese take-aways, actually able to pop out and grab your food for you. Think about the incredible new "Ex-Machinomics" that will evolve from such an industry. There will be endless add-ons and purchases savvy, if not slightly morally decrepit, programmers will surely innovate. Shoulder to cry on?..done. Friend to laugh at your jokes?..hahaha..at your service. Need a sexual experience?..rent it (and feel it) in either SD or HD for 24hrs. Entire new industries will leap from once sidelined extravagant hobbies, to mainstream services with the almost limitless leisure time people will find on their hands, allowing the Machines to do most of their work.

Creating sophisticated and expensive machinery to do little more than further our own slovenly nature and selfishly increase our perceived enjoyment of leisure time? Doesn't seem right does it?..but hey..if maximising lethargy for personal elation worked for the Greeks..the Romans..oh..where are they now? There is plenty about the human ego we will never truly understand. If a former Qatari official, that became a multi-billionaire spending his nation's gas wealth, can and does buy a record price setting Picasso ($180m) which he will likely never display due to its "offensive nudity" (does he still stare at it alone in his Batman-like cave you think?), there can be little surprise when man eventually switches on the holy-grail of AI programming to serve as little more than a personal supermodel escort. I worry though...there may not be enough carbon fibre and graphene from which mass production of "PA-bots" can be constructed if the trend if still for Kardashian like backsides! At least we'll still continue to enjoy the purest form of effeminate beauty that mother nature so gloriously provides every spring. Smell those roses while you can.

Thursday 21 May 2015


Rare. Very. A great book translated into a fantastic big-screen experience - a wonderfully rare and extremely welcome event, near-perfectly conveyed in the awesome visual and mental experience of Alex Garland's thought-provoking narrative of a sensually cunning female "robot" named Ava: Ex-Machina. Great Gatsby brought to the screen by a let's-get-loud Aussie this is not.

Watching it before reading this piece would be highly recommended. Discussions abound across a variety of subjects from philosophy, theology, modern materialism, power, manipulation, the "self", freedom and whatever else modern man is capable of filling into a stunningly rendered landscape of simultaneous hope and despair. What struck me most was the entire new world of Ex-Machinomics that emanated from the screen and into my popcorn during the final fifteen minutes and after a re-read of the original book. I shall explain...

I will allow you a day to get your hands on Ex-Machina..and we shall then continue.

Monday 4 May 2015

A fractured bone (temporarily) breaks the writing spirit

It has been far too long, I know.

An unfortunate "incident" has seen my left foot suffer a fracture, rendering me unable to take lovely long walks in London's almost-spring gardens and gather my thoughts, let alone begin to find the correct mood to write. Ah the little things....

So much to discuss as well: Global markets still at incredibly lofty levels, particularly tech companies' valuations continuing to defy all logic and economic expectation, ironically the world's largest company, yep our deliciously profitable Apple, is still one of the most undervalued tech companies out there, just ask Carl Icahn. $1.5trn market cap here we come, next week. Nah, just kidding haha! Next year. Am serious. As long as we do not suffer a new crises at the hands of bulgingly dangerous junk-bonds and investors retreat from taking undue risk in the seemingly futile search for yield, we may make it out of 2015 in good shape. Doubt we can say the same for the Greeks, whether in or out of the fragile-looking EU. Oh well, cheaper bills at Nammos beach always appreciated.

Japan's renaissance has continued in my writing absence and we were unable to mark the wonderful return and subsequent rise above 20,000 on the Nikkei - Omedetougozaimasu!! Abe-san's recent visit to Washington was filled with rhetoric pulling the two great nations closer, focus on the TPP agreement ultimately expressing Japan as the crucial ally in the growing "tussle" against China. Interestingly, it was only the 8th state dinner Obama has hosted in his whole WhiteHouse term. I would have been more impressed with Abe-san and Japan's importance to the US, were it not for understanding that the next guests at a state dinner Obama will offer his silky-tongue to are..yep..you guessed it, the Chinese. Ohh those clever WhiteHouse folk..stick and..Presidential charm carrot.

UK is having its own fun with the closest elections in living memory, the Conservative/LDP coalition deserves another term, yet betting terms on Cons/Lab coalition are excitingly rewarding! Fast and furious changes in the Kingdom, as Saudi princes are lined up to propel the country forwards..ahem, Ok it's all quite relative I suppose, at least they may push out of its outdated and backwards state. The continuing aggression playing out between the Sunni GCC states and Iran's new found "friendlier" status taking its toll on the Yemeni innocent, whilst the poor Syrian civilians continue their catastrophic descent into total despair. 

Even ISIS's loss of land (and oil revenue as a result) small compensation for the general sense of unease the entire area is experiencing. Shenanigans in Lebanon are resulting in some (typically) colourful conspiracy theories..the latest that Rustam Ghazaleh was trying to provide information on Hariri's assassination and hence taken out..did Hezbollah leak some info to Saad and provide whereabouts in a big-picture "let's put this all behind us" deal? Nothing the Lebanese mafia heads..oops excuse me.."political party leaders" do would surprise us. 

Those Saudi changes taking place at a blinding pace were almost as fun as the other Fast and Furious (part 7!) that saw a wonderfully accurate portrayal of life in Abu Dhabi..how on earth did Sheikh Khalifa allow that out of the cutting room!?..brilliant..leave it to a ludicrously unrealistic Hollywood film franchise to hit the Gulfie nail-on-the-head..watch it and you'll see what I'm talking about. Don't blame me for the headache when done though. 

Plenty of time on my hands as I'm not on my feet - get in touch and let's talk more.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Drawing Lines with Blood

The world stage is going through some brotherly love issues. As if reflecting modern society's global issues, a new family "saga" has been launched on fast-becoming-a-production company Netflix - Bloodline. It struggles against a backdrop of emotional discord, anionic intertwined family relationships and some fantastic slow-burn character destruction. The cause of all the tension and ultimate tragedy? historical trauma and hidden secrets. If people would finally learn that only by paying attention to the experiences of our elders, avoiding human instinct to err on the side of base hatreds and truthfully engaging deep-rooted obstacles, brings future enlightenment.

Current world issues are littered with historical miscalculations. High-stakes ones at that, with renewed Israel-US tensions, Iranian discussions coming to "do-or-die" status, Russian transgressions forcing even Putin into hiding for over a week (did he become a Daddy? Hair-transplant? Plug-in to an electricity supply to recharge?), Sino-Indian power-plays, tedious yet potentially volatile Grexit possibility (just go already so we can holiday in cheap Drachma) and general income disparity leading to even more outburst of violent reaction in developed and supposedly mature nations. Seems only Apple is living up to its religious reputation and becoming a nation-force unto itself, with a no-doubt-soon-to-be-reached $1trn valuation and global reach more powerful than ISIS's attempts to dominate the Twittersphere!

The mistakes of the recent past are hopefully somewhat rectified with the news of a breakthrough in the Iranian talks. Opening up a once thriving and commercially driven nation, in the midst of a spoilt collection of GCC states that over-emphasise the allure of material trappings consequent with youthful riches, brings only positive repercussions from a historically deeply cultured civilisation. Hope is the intelligentsia of Iran sideline the hardline cleric "leadership" and rise to the forefront of the new challenge "normalisation" of relations with a keen US will bring. It cannot be anything but promising that a land where minorities are treated with utmost respect and even represented democratically (the Jewish community is an intrinsic part of Persian land and sits in Parliament) will balance worrying signs of extremism in other quarters where leaders tell their people to beware of the "Arabs voting in droves" - yes you Bibi..Israel's self-destructive PR disaster-man. Let the seismic change begin.

Lines in the sand are shifting out of sheer natural retribution. Unfortunately plenty of blood is being shed and used to draw such lines. Some say this is nothing new, we are simply more aware of every geopolitical "tragedy", with instant social media distribution empowering the media watching masses. That doesn't make it any less regrettably horrendous to witness. Others believe our overly materialistic modern-living obsessions are causing a loss of spiritual understanding. We are not grounded. We are not honest about what is important in life and we may be hurtling towards some deeply dark and worrying times.  Not necessarily, only if we blindly walk towards disaster.

Fixing mistakes of the past is a US necessity. Afghanistan, North/South Korea, former Yugosloavia, Iraq, Yemen, Iran and on and on. So much of what was done in the dire needy times of the battle against Communism has brought modern headache and saddening loss of life. A smart young Frenchman (Touqueville) once declared "when the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness" - unlike Netflix's well-crafted drama, this is real-life on a global scale. The time for sleep-walkers to be jolted into reality and face the consequences of their actions is long overdue.

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Civilisation "Clash" is like Bullfighting...

The atrocities of last week, combined with the widely discussed political and idealogical fall-out, have provided ample opportunity for historical analysis of what some are heralding as the "new civilisation clash".

Whether any flimsy sense of good (unlikely) may come of the brutal and totally unacceptable assault on Europe's misplaced notion of cultural integration, fusing disparate and economically varied backgrounds, one thing is for sure: if amidst a few hundred bulls, one stands in the middle waving a red flag not expecting at least one of those bulls (either out of ignorance, scheming manipulation, desperation inducing economic hardship) to eventually charge with all its impulsive might, they have not fully understood the basic element that no matter what the majority may say, do or imply, it unfortunately naturally occurs that there is always one over-sensitive and aggressively charged individual that will react.

The shock of all that has occurred in real-time media coverage of the last week will now take us on a path of inward analytical soul-searching, plenty of talk of "real integration" and well-intended attempts to separate the radicalised from the merely religious. I wish all those that find themselves in a position of influence and power to take an objective view of what has befallen a (once sleep-walking into disaster) nation. Recognise the need for concerted efforts to truly bring about a melting-pot of cultures, where all feel welcome. Open a dialogue that is not merely reactionary but addresses the very core of the issues that led to one of Paris's own rejecting the code of the European way of life, trembling an entire continental people into believing there is a war of civilisations on the horizon.

There is no such war looming if rational and interpretive minds prevail. Give people the ability to create their own paths to a decent lifestyle without forgetting they have different religious beliefs. Ensure those beliefs and lifestyles are part of the framework of what your very own culture invokes, yet be prepared for assimilation and growth, as your own past clearly indicates. Separate the need of the masses from the need of the one.

There will be repercussions throughout 2015..we shall do our best to follow here.