Archive for June, 2015

Hot Weather Reading

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

A gentle yet tense drama which will appeal to  readers of all ages who like a romance woven into an atmospheric thriller with engaging characters. Originally published as A Gift of Treason now available under the Tor Raven imprint at budget prices for both Kindle and Paperback.

The Hastings Option: Romantic Mystery             The narrow, ordered life of a gentle but  reclusive artist, Jane Block, is disturbed when a bequest, intended for her dead mother, passes to her. Mystery surrounds the nature of the inheritance and Jane is led on a sinister trail to secrets of the past, forcing her to confront her own fears and inhibitions. She finds herself caught in a frightening quest to unravel a mysterious cover-up from World War Two, and in so doing finds intrigue, love and betrayal.

Amazon UK       Amazon US

EU In Crisis : Not Just Greece

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

The Greek crisis is not only out of control but the means to control it are not there. None of the players has a viable plan. Tsipras threatens to resign if he loses but imagines that if he wins it will strengthen his negotiating position and force the Euro group and the IMF to agree to a realistic write down of Greece’s debts and a growth programme to rebuild the economy. There is scant chance of that. The Euro group and its allies have said that if the Greeks reject their package they will have to leave the Euro. But if that happens the cost will be huge and it will be the end of the Euro in its current form.  It will become little more than a currency peg on the lines of the ERM where national Euros are pegged against the German benchmark value and drop off when in trouble.

This might be a very good thing but it is not what the people calling the shots are trying to achieve. If Tsipras loses and the Euro group force a new hangdog Greek administration to accept the package, the Greek crisis will go on an on until it explodes and brings down not only the euro, but the EU with it. The reason that this mess exists is that certain fundamental principles are being violated. These are to do with the rules of capitalism, the rules of currency and the rules of democracy.

Capitalism has at its core the principle of failure. Any economic structure must be able to fail in order to renew. Businesses fail, banks fail and individuals fail. So do countries. Without this renewal is impossible, in the same way that old leaves have to fall off the tree before new ones can take their place. Greece is bust, but it is not being allowed to go bust in an orderly way and then enabled to renew.

A currency of paper is a measure of wealth; it is not wealth itself. It must therefore fluctuate according to the underlying values and costs within the economy it represents. It cannot simultaneously measure the value of several economies of varying characteristics, anymore than ten thousand square feet can be declared to be the floorspace in three separate buildings of which only one is actually that size. A currency is a token not a totem. A token facilitates exchange and trade. A totem is something people dance around in circles. You get the point.

Democracy requires that the people are sovereign and have the final say in who governs them and what they do. In the EU most people taking decisions have not been elected by the majority of those whom their decisions impact, because national leaders of widely differing countries are combining power in their hands which has no democratic mandate. The remainder of the players like the EU Commission and the IMF have not been elected by anybody. To use financial strength to subjugate rather than enable, is morally no more defensible that using the threat of armed force.

So what happens next will tell us what is happening next and no more. It will not tell us how it will end. There is mounting evidence that when that ending finally comes it will not be a happy one.

DQE: Resonance For Greece?

Monday, June 29th, 2015

An idea to stimulate economic growth without further government borrowing. Written in plain English and very easy to follow, this is the only really fresh approach out there to the intractable problems of the UK economy, and it is just beginning to be noticed in important places. Buy! Download only .99p Paperback £2.99Product Details

Kindle or Paperback  UK        US           

Greece: It Is Not Over Yet

Monday, June 29th, 2015

To recall Churchill’s words about the end of the beginning would, however, be apt. The gloves are off, negotiations are ended. The Greek government has rejected what it considers are unreasonable terms and has decided to take the issue to the people. Its banks are shut and tomorrow it will default. Many would imagine that is that. But as we have come to discover, in Euroland nothing is ever as it seems, nor like some everlasting soap, is anything ever over.

Whether they realize it or not the various authorities with whom Greece has been negotiating left the Tsipras government no option. It was elected on a mandate to end austerity and if it cannot it is right and proper in a democracy, to put the issue to the people. The Greek government has done the right thing. It plans to campaign for a No vote and its political position leaves no other coherent course open to it. Yet it may not win. Now cut off from such money as they still have and facing the possibility of a drachma of uncertain value, the majority may decide that while austerity is one thing, national bankruptcy is quite another. Unfortunately their government has not yet come forward with its plan B, which must explain what happens next if they do as asked and vote No.

As Alex Salmond discovered when he tried to waffle through a currency union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK which most said would not work, sufficient numbers of Scots put their money before his ambitions for their future, and he lost the referendum. Anything less than a workable plan to make a fresh start will risk such an outcome for Tsipras. His problem will be that a new drachma would be worth a good deal less than even the currently devaluing euro. Paradoxically Greece urgently needs a devaluation to re-boot its economy.

This then raises once again the muddle which is the foundation of what is fast becoming a cursed currency which threatens the very cohesion of the EU. Not only does the currency not have a government or a treasury, but it is founded on the unsustainable notion that once in it you can never leave. This is fundamentally as absurd as saying that once you get on a train you can never get off. So even if Greece were to go drachma, officially the euro would still be legal tender. This is all uncharted territory because no previous currency has ever been constituted on this basis, for the very reason that such a basis is unworkable.

But whatever the economic implications for the euro and Europe generally of what amounts to a financial war, they are as nothing to the political damage done to the whole EU project. Because the masses have been turned off Europe by undemocratic authorities using financial power to batter a weak state in dire trouble to fall into line and march in a direction its people do not want to go.They are gripped by record levels of unemployment and a flatlining economy. This is the power of capital over labour, of the rich against the poor of an unnerving aspect which, if you think about it, becomes chilling. It demonstrates a detachment by the financial and ruling class from the people they are supposed to represent and upon whom they finally depend. It stretches democracy so thinly that its meaning is lost; demonstrated by the fact that the European parliament has no voice at all in this drama and if it has any views the media do not even bother to report them, because they know they count for nothing.

Greece is bust, but whether it goes bust is in the air. Its economy needs a reboot but whether it will get one is uncertain. What is certain is that the euro is more troubled than ever in its short history and the EU, so recently a rock of timeless durability, is now riven with ominous fissures. The chances have significantly increased of the UK voting to leave. For the EU an even worse prospect is at hand. It will strengthen the campaign for the French right winger Marine Le Pen in her bid to become President on a manifesto to lead France out as well.

Browse My Books

Monday, June 29th, 2015


    Malcolm Blair-Robinson U.S        Malcolm Blair-Robinson

    Malcolm Blair-Robinson U.K.

Tunisia Deserves Support

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

The shocking news from Tunisia has stunned the country. One can only imagine the torment of those who cannot yet establish the fate of loved ones, or the anguish of those bereaved. The emotional scars of those who escaped will be long lasting. For Tunisia this is a disaster because it will frighten tourists away. This is the IS plan. A single gunmen can cause a ruined economy. If it does not work the first time, do it again. So few will dare go back and if they do they will run a risk which may not be worth taking.

I recall going to Mexico at a time when guerrillas were on the rampage taking hostages and committing atrocities. The hotel grounds  were patrolled by the military and all along the beach were tall watch towers manned by security forces with machine guns. We felt safe and there were not then and never were in future any outrages in that area. There may be a lesson her for Tunisia.

All the interventions thus far made by the UK and its allies have failed and done more harm than good. Yet Tunisia is the only Arab Spring country apart from Egypt with a functioning government and the only one which fully embraces democracy. It may be possible with the aid of UK Special forces and even some ground troops to create safe areas where the tourist industry can still operate in defiance of the IS threat. That would help the Tunisian economy and encourage its people to press forward. It is at least worth looking at.

There is something else too. IS is not the kind of organisation which can be destroyed in battle. It will morph into something else if it loses its power base and suffers a major reverse. The diplomatic reality, as this blog has pointed out before, is that our main allies in confronting it are Iran and Russia. We need to bring the nuclear negotiations with Iran along a realistic path to an acceptable compromise and conclusion. We need also to start mending fences with Russia. Europe is no longer in any condition to pick fights and withstand the effect of its own sanctions; it is has far too many problems of its own making to cope with. Sooner or later we will have to start talking to IS. In secret of course.

Greece: Patience Snaps

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

So the Greeks themselves are to be given the chance to approve or reject the bailout terms. The flabbergasted combination of the ECB, the Euro group and Greece’s creditors have overplayed their hand. This blog has repeatedly warned in various posts that there is a social limit to how much financial authorities can impose solutions upon populations before the people turn against them. Essentially this is now what has happened in Greece. Elected on a mandate to bring an end to the worst elements of austerity the Tsipras government expected some significant movement by Eurozone leaders to cut a better deal in the negotiations, so as to give them something to keep the Greek people on side. They did not bend and were dismissive of the proposals put by the Greeks; Christine Lagarde of the IMF was insulting in her comments and called for grown ups to be in the room.

Well now it has gone pear shaped and the end cannot be predicted. The euro in its present form and its process of governance are now in deadly peril because events are now out of control, like a ship in a storm which loses its engine power. Nobody even knows whether the Greek economy can survive the week. Repayment of its loans are now a pipe dream unless the Euro group come up with something acceptable and do it fast. Merkel has been anxious to protect the money of German taxpayers. It is now on the cards she will have to tell them she has lost the lot.

DQE: Learn About It for .99p

Friday, June 26th, 2015

An idea to stimulate economic growth without further government borrowing. Written in plain English and very easy to follow, this is the only really fresh approach out there to the intractable problems of the UK economy, and it is just beginning to be noticed in important places. Buy! Download only .99p Paperback £2.99Product Details

Kindle or Paperback  UK        US           

Europe: How is Cameron Doing?

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Cameron’s position on Europe is interesting. It is reported that he now accepts there will be no treaty changes until after the in out referendum and that those treaty changes will have to be agreed by all the other national parliaments and by referenda in three countries as well. How on earth anybody can be certain that everything will go through after we have voted to stay in makes a Yes campaign on such terms ridiculous, and if we vote No and leave the whole project will be abandoned anyway.

So what is available? Let us first get rid of a false hope. ‘Legally binding’ undertakings to change treaties later are pointless because nobody has the authority to do it. As stated above treaty changes would be subject to both parliamentary and referendum processes and only one country has to stall to wreck the project.

So Cameron has to work within existing treaties and the flexibility to adjust at their margins, to achieve cast iron proposals which he can put to the country. To satisfy the No campaign these would have to be dramatic; but to bolster the Yes vote to victory would require a good deal less. Stopping benefit tourism, improving governance and separating the very necessary ever closer union of the Eurozone from the working of the wider EU would be enough. Countries within the EU using national currencies would enjoy a good deal more authority in their national parliaments than those bound to the common currency. These countries would be lead by Britain, whereas Euroland would bow to Germany.

The fact that the latest meeting of Heads of Government went on till 3 am with furious rows over migration unresolved (a formula which is voluntary and only covers 40,000 is meaningless and was a device to allow people to get to bed), Greece and the Euro still in the air, and a speech by Cameron merely formalizing what he had already explained to all of them individually hailed as progress, is confirmation in spades that not only the Euro, but the EU itself has a doubtful future if it carries on like this. The heads of government are not fools, although there are times when one wonders, and they see that change is needed. Indeed most are supportive of change in principle, but nobody agrees on the substance.

And this is the problem of the dysfunction of the EU. Everybody agrees the principles, nobody agrees the details and no one is authorised to decide. All of this can be made much better within the existing frameworks without treaty changes, although greater improvements can be incorporated into new treaties which will be needed to draw the eurozone into closer union. If nothing is done there is now a much stronger possibility, because of the mounting intray of unresolved issues which are kicked like a can down a road to nowhere, that Britain, in spite of Cameron’s efforts, will vote No. If that happens France will be next.

Spooky Holiday Reading

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

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A Gift of Treason

The narrow, ordered life of a gentle but almost reclusive artist, Jane Block, is disturbed when a bequest, intended for her dead mother, passes to her. Mystery surrounds the nature of the inheritance and Jane is led on a sinister trail to secrets of the past, forcing her to confront her own fears and inhibitions. She finds herself caught in a frightening quest to unravel one of the greatest cover-ups of World War Two, and in so doing finds intrigue, love and betrayal.

Stanislaw’s Crossing

St.John Whilloe is the black sheep member of a wealthy legal family, whose firm of solicitors looks after the affairs of many of the top families in the country. He is consulted by a young woman who claims to be frightened by her husband. Things are not as they seem and St.John finds himself drawn into a complex web of intrigue and murder. He is soon in a race against time to solve a mystery with roots in a tortured family history, with sinister paranormal undertones.