The Cyprus setback

Here we are, once again, facing the overheated financial markets. Ready to debate for days or weeks about a new economic crisis and all the perils for a new crash in the world economy. For what? Cyprus, no less.

A small island with a GDP of 24 billions USD. Less than a million of citizens. Safe heaven for money laundering and well-known for its policy of  “don’t ask, don’t tell” about capitals. It’s true, they’re bankrupting and another hard plan of recovery has been prepared to the rescue. Ten billion Euro ready to be deployed to save the national administration.

cyprus-map

In the last five years BCE and IMF erogated hundreds (if not thousands) of billions Euro to save or sustain national economies and/or european-based banks “too big to fall“. Why all the fuss about ten billions Euro? What kind of danger poses a small economy like Cyprus? It looks like smoke and mirrors once again, noise good for the media.

European finance advisors put up their hard face, dictate another batch of memorandums about where to cut in the welfare and in all areas of public expenditure. A massive drag from the bank accounts will be made (in Italy we remember quite well this kind of tax, it has been done in the ’90s) and, once again, a massive output of capitals already leaved the island, well before the drag. The bill is set on the 99%, never on the 1%.

We will have another week of bad news from the rating agencies, more or less the same from BCE, IMF and WB. As I’ve written before, it’s all smoke and mirrors. The real problem is how to get out of the crisis, how to restart the engine of an economic model that’s working no more. Remember the riots in the Eastern Europe, all the demonstrations in Portugal, Greece and Spain. Under the pressure of unemployment and the fears for a major breakdown, even the most pacific people are on a warpath.

Where are the plans for a better tomorrow? When we will see the likes of Angela Merkel and David Cameron explain the road for an economic improvement?

Top 5 – more great moments from old movies

You know how are the rules of the house, on Sunday it’s time for fun after a week devoted to serious matters (it’s my house and my own set of rules, got it?).

Today the topic are old movies once again, same with the feelings of a middle-aged grunt like I am.

#5 – The evil twin.

A plot device straight from the 19th century novels and the chance for double roles for talented actors. In modern movies it looks like that put the good guy behind bars is not politically correct…

The Grunt corner: A nasty trick, that’s for sure! The bad twin never wins and rarely survive the movie. That’s unfair.

the-man-in-the-iron-mask-original

#4 – Swashbucklers!

This is one of a kind, a true moment of fun for me. From every version of “The three Musketeers” to every “Zorro” ever made, going thru pirate movies and medieval stories.

The Grunt corner: Yeah! More steel please!

swashbuclker

#3 Air Aces

I’m mad about aviation and absolutely devoted to the memory of early air aces, people who manned aircrafts made mostly of wood and fabric. Movies about WWI are still my favorites in this subgenre, with their artisanal FX effects.

The Grunt corner: those guy got guts, no problem about it. Just cut the crap about romance, please.

hellsangel

#2 Dinosaurs!

For an adventure, what’s best of a lost world ridden of dinosaurs of all sizes? Giant lizards on rampage, damsel in distress and a group of savages for the sake of it.

The Grunt corner: yeah, add as many errors as you can when it came to represent dinosaurs, their habits and their chunk of evolution.

lostworld1925

#1 The femme fatale.

Dark and dangerous women, ready to kill at will to reach their objectives. Always with poison or a gun at hand, a smile on their lips and two magnificent eyes. Dames to kill for…

The Grunt corner: awesome indeed. A pity you will not survive a second after one of these women realize that you’re not useful anymore.

jane-greer

Pope Francis and the others

So we got a brand new Pope, an argentinian cardinal named Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who choose to be named Francis (in italian Francesco).  This is the first time that a latin-american becomes Pope, and the first time for a Jesuit too.

Former Cardinal Bergoglio refer his new name to one of greatest names in the history of the Catholic Church, Saint Francis of Assisi, a synonim for being humble and pius, a man who choosed to live in poverty to be near the weakest.

You see, I’m italian. We like to imagine plot over plot inside the Catholic Church. And the new Pope is a Jesuit, kind of a trademark for being far more clever than the others. So, I thought about Jesuits and the name Francesco (Francis) keep coming out.

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Satellite Killers

80 milligrams. A bit more of a grain of sand. Still more than enough to damage a Russian satellite in orbit, as stated by Center for Space Standards & Innovation of Colorado Springs. The main factor is speed. An almost invisible debris hit the “Blits” satellite doing thousands of miles/hour. The energy release of the impact causes a shift in the satellite rotation and a change in the relative position of 120 meters.

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About bully companies

There will always somebody who will try to use economic crisis to get unfair advantages, people or companies that are absolutely indifferent to any good marketing practice or simply don’t care about their reputations. Like bullies in a school’s courtyard they use their sheer size or their economical weight to get what they want, no matter what will happen later.

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A day for trivial posting

postbanale

March, 13th is the “trivial post day” (see image above), a time devoted to write and post about something trivial (of course!). This is a way to stigmatize how boring blogs could be and to raise an issue about the need for a more quality-oriented blogging.

Today is a rainy day here. It’s pretty boring and we’re approaching 85% of humidity. A week like that and I will mutate, developing gills. Rain all over again, for days to come if you listen to weather forecast programs on TV. They do not have a clue, of course. Tv people are nothing but nuts. I’m sure that will rain for my headache, I always have headaches when it’s raining.

It’s so dull when it rains like that. No thunders, no bolts, only water everywhere. Croak, croak! I swear I can see frogs across the street. My umbrella plainly refuses to dry, it’s too much damp around here. I have to check my own hands from time to time, looking for the first membranes to develop between fingers. In days like these, reverting to an amphibious form looks possible. There will be rain until Saturday. A toad told me that, they know this kind of things.

Italy as a business opportunity

This week will be about italian economy, with a focus about some worrying factors or trends that are under way.  There’s a basic statement to do: due to the current economic crisis, Italy offers very good investments options with a fair range of prices. Name a business sector or a specific activity, I’m almost sure you will find what you need for sale.

Bureaucracy

As an investor you have to be smart and be sure about all the concurrent issues about your project. You have to consider bureaucracy for instance; it’s always a problem and in Europe you will need to remember that there are at least three levels of bureaucracy: local, national and european. The problem is that sometimes that three different levels collide, with uncertain results. So, the first move is to hire an italian law firm, better if it’s located in the same place you want to invest.

aziende-banche-credit_crunch

The second step is about financial coverage. In Italy the words “credit crunch” have become a kind of barrier, even for little operations or for everyday money transfers. The biggest banks are dominant and not a lot open to consider new business so it’s a wise move to explore if there are medium or little bank operators located in the place you want to invest. A medium or little bank is often more costly but it can be  far more flexible to accommodate your special needs and/or to put your business in relation with local authorities or local companies.

If  you want to start a new business or acquire an old one it’s better to think about local taxes. In Italy there is a very complex set of laws and rules about national and local taxes (that’s a good reason to hire an italian consultant), a number of areas in the country got a set of special instruments to use, that could mean a heavy local tax cut for years and/or access to special financial loans. Using a bit of diplomacy you could set up fair conditions for your business with minimum extra effort.

It’s better to avoid direct business relations with politicians, no matter how high they are placed in local or national government. In the last twenty years we got a lot of major scandals related to politics and more are on the way. I strongly suggest not to barter short-time advantages with medium-time issues with the law. Once you enter in an italian tribunal you have no idea about when your troubles will be over, with all the legal expenses to be paid year after year.

giustizia_tribunale_toga_web--400x3001

For a more easy access to the Italian market look for the Italian bonds. They still got interesting prices and good rates for the medium period. Stay away from the stock market but keep a close eye about chips like ENI or other state-controlled companies. Look for the few that are considering foreign markets to debut, like Ferragamo in the 2012, or for the spin-off companies from the likes of Pisa University (robotics and such). For long-term investments consider real estate, Italy is one of the few countries where you can buy a real castle or similar high-prestige buildings.

Falkland Islands – the right to vote

falklands islands

Today we will know exactly what Falklands Islands population voted about their rights of sovereignty; a referendum is on the run, a signal will ge given by a 2000-sized population to the national governments of UK and Argentina about what the islanders want for their future. The question posed to the voters is the following:

Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?

And this is the statement that explain the question above.

The current political status of the Falkland Islands is that they are an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom. The Islands are internally self-governing, with the United Kingdom being responsible for matters including defence and foreign affairs. Under the Falkland Islands Constitution the people of the Falkland Islands have the right to self-determination, which they can exercise at any time. Given that Argentina is calling for negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, this referendum is being undertaken to consult the people regarding their views on the political status of the Falkland Islands. Should the majority of votes cast be against the current status, the Falkland Islands Government will undertake necessary consultation and preparatory work in order to conduct a further referendum on alternative options.

For the “kelpers” (that’s the name adopted by the local population) it’s a matter to set a point in the struggle between UK and Argentina about who will be in control of their territories. For the Argentinians their claims dates back to the 1833 and the Islas Malvinas (that’s the name they use for Falklands Islands) are part of their nation, no matter if they have to fight for it. As you may remember there was a war in the ’80s, following the invasion of this little islands by Argentinian troops. For the military junta this conflict was a matter of populism, a way to have their people overlook to a foreign enemy instead to think about economic recession and being under a non-democratic rule. Today’s matters are a bit different.

FalklandIslandsMapOil_0001

See the picture above? The new factor is about oil and gas. There’s a good-sized oil field, right next to the Falklands Islands, a potential good source of income for who get to drill in it. Easy to say that UK and Argentina share a strong interest about it. Plus, both governments needs a strong argument to be shown to their internal audiences. David Cameron as a political leader is under heavy criticism and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Argentinian president, is already walking on a thin line to assure her nation about the economic collapse.  Recent polls held in UK and in Argentina shows strong responses about this struggle, not to mention the choices for a new war.

Note: about the 1982 war I strongly suggest to read “Sink the Belgrano” by Mike Rossiter.

Top 5 – favorite moments in old movies

You know how are the rules of the house, on Sunday it’s time for fun after a week devoted to serious matters (it’s my house and my own set of rules, got it?).

Today the topic are old movies and bits of their magic, with the feelings of a middle-aged grunt like I am.

#5 – The shoulder injury.

It’s an all-time classic. The hero is hit by a bullet in the left shoulder. He got it with a grin and goes on fighting.

Grunt corner: goes on my a$$! Even a small calibre hurt like hell shortly after the initial shock.

mad love

#4 – The scream.

Another great classic, usually in the first part of a movie. A lady (or a girl) discovers the body of a victim, raises her hands to the mouth and screams. Possible variant: she could faint shortly after.

Grunt corner: A scream? In the real world people goes right into shock, then puke all around.

bette davis

#3 – The explaination of evil.

Another scene repeated many times; the hero is down or costrained, his enemy stops before killing him to explain with great detail his evil masterplan, usually with the names of all his accomplices.

Grunt corner: no idiot in the world will do such a thing.

Crimson Ghost

#2 – The long brawl.

Finally the hero and his archenemy comes to a show-down, usually starting with weapons then to the bare hands. Each one delivers enough strong blows to kill a dozen men and/or performs any incredible gimmick to deliver an hit. The hero is almost defeated by a vicious attack but find a last effort to save the day.

Grunt corner: if anybody could take such a punishment he will be made of concrete, no less. It’s funny anyway.

lee marvin

#1 – The dark Lady.

Admit it, it’s of your favorites too. The first moment the dark lady shows up, dressed to kill and with a cigarette in her hand. Even the most hardened hero blinks for a second and all the other characters are left with their mouths open.

Grunt corner: …ooh…

rita_hayworth

What if Iran find a way to stop UAV?

Last november, in 2012, Iran captured an advanced american UAV (RQ-170 “Sentinel“) on its territory; that was quite embarrassing for USAF, the unmanned aircraft was captured intact ant the potential for a technological leak was a real threat. Many hypothesis were considered about how Iranians could get their hands on an intact drone and no official statement has been done from USAF about it.

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