TO BE OR NOT TO BE – THE PALESTINIAN LAND CONFISCATION SAGA

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TO BE OR NOT TO BE – THE PALESTINIAN LAND CONFISCATION SAGA

Israel reminds me of Sylvester the pussy cat (Puddy Tat) cartoon. He can’t make up his mind whether to gobble up and eat Tweety, the bird, and get whacked on the head by the Little Old Lady’s broom, or wait until a more opportune time appears. In all events, he is set on eating Tweety, but the question is when? Answer: When he can get away with it!

Similarly, Israel, which is built on Palestinian land, keeps expanding by gobbling up and confiscating additional Palestinian properties. The rate of confiscation increases and decreases according to the mood of international public opinion, but more importantly, according to US political pressure. If it can get away with it, Israel will gobble up Palestinian land quite happily. But if US pressure bears upon it, it ceases in appearance, while in reality delaying until an appropriate window pops up. Continue reading “TO BE OR NOT TO BE – THE PALESTINIAN LAND CONFISCATION SAGA”

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E-COMMERCE IMPACTS TRADITIONAL RETAIL BUSINESS

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E-COMMERCE IMPACTS TRADITIONAL RETAIL BUSINESS

The war of attrition between e-commerce and traditional retailing business just got bloodier.

Macy’s, the famous US department store chain is closing down 100 stores, which represents 15% of its total stores. Other US retailers are also closing stores by the hundreds. Walmart, the biggest, will shut down 450 stores. So far this year, some 44,000 retail employees have been laid off. A good part of this is due to heavy competition from the Amazon e-commerce machine.

Walmart just paid US$ 3.3 Billion to buy jet.com, an aggressive e-commerce retailer, to counter Amazon and expand its e-commerce market share, which is presently at the US$ 12.5 Billion compared to Amazon’s US$ 80 Billion. (Walmart’s total sales are US$ 482 Billion).

This represents a structural change in the US market, which will, sooner or later, impact commercial real estate and pull it down. Ergo, don’t expect US commercial real estate booms in the foreseeable future.

However, real estate is a long-term investment and, as long as landlords curb their enthusiasm and greed, to accept a theoretically realistic return of 5%, they should weather the coming storm – provided they had bought their properties prudently, i.e. not paid top Dollar at the cycle peaks and with borrowed money.

As all US trends eventually spread throughout the world (usually over a 5 – 15 years’ span), it would be wise for the rest of the world to prepare for the conquest of e-commerce over traditional retail space.

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OPEC not very optimistic for 2017?

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OPEC not very optimistic for 2017?

Summary:
OPEC doesn’t seem overly optimistic on oil prices in 2017. While it sees demand rising slightly, but to a record of 95.41 million barrels per day (MBPD), it is worried that this Summer’s expected demand didn’t materialize and that refineries are overstocked and may not increase their demand for the rest of 2016.

Likely Beneficiaries:
Oil Refineries: theoretically, they can continue to get cheap crude and sell refined products at relatively much higher prices.
General Consumers: They will not see rise in driving cost or utilities costs, at least for some time.
Oil Importing Countries: Such as China, India, Europe and other countries dependent of imported oil.

Likely losers:
Oil Producers: Especially to whom oil export is their bread & Butter. The oil companies in general as well as countries such as Venezuela, Mexico, Nigeria and Iraq would be biggest losers. To a lesser extent, Iran and Russia would be hurt. As for the Gulf oil countries, they are still flush with cash and need a longer period of low oil prices to really feel the pain.

Timing:
Announcing a semi pessimistic forecast would not normally have been expected from OPEC. One would have expected them to try and talk-up the price through bullish forecasts. But, if they really wanted to raise prices, they would have cut back a little on their production, or announced that they intend to do so.

So what is a possible reason for such an announcement?

Around now is the time when the oil hedging for future 2017 prices takes place. Such announcements could have a dampening effect on the hedged prices, which would be negative to such countries, as Mexico, that rely substantially on hedging a big chunk of their annual oil production. Also, it would have a dampening effect on the Shale Oil producers who have used hedging to stay alive during the past two years.

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Ukraine army on high alert against Russian hypothetical strike

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Ukraine army on high alert against Russian hypothetical strike

Summary:
Russia announced yesterday (Aug 10, 2016) that it discovered a Ukrainian terrorist plot in Crimea.
The Ukrainian government seems to have panicked and is calling up the leaders of Russia, Germany, France, the USA, and the president of the European Council. Also, it has requested an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the tensions between itself and Russia.

Likely Beneficiaries:
NATO: as it fits within its strategy of squeezing Russia and painting it as an aggressor vis-a-vi the Ukraine.
Ukraine Government: preempt a possible Russian strike and deflect attention from the foiled plot.
USA: It is in the driving seat of NATO.

Likely losers:
Ukrainian Citizens: The tragic war saga continues and they continue to suffer and go deeper into poverty.
EU Citizens: They continue to be herded into a corner that has only “Loss” outcomes.
World Peace: the continuous escalation of tensions by NATO, reduce the chances of avoiding a third world war.

Timing:
The discovery of the terrorist plot made necessary to immediately “Cry Wolf” lest the hypothetical wolf loses his patience and actually reacts. Does this reaction lend credence to the plot, which justifies this panic?

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THE WILY FOX

SATIRE : A SHORT STORY
THE WILY FOX

A sevFoxere drought hit the jungle, and the pastures became barren. The herbivores either died of starvation or migrated to greener leas. The carnivores also suffered as their prey shrank, and they verged on cannibalism. After a series of urgent meetings, the carnivores decided the immediate short-term solution lay in their invading the neighboring jungle and enslaving a stock of herbivores to last them until matters improved.

THE RAID

Accordingly, the next morning an army of carnivores set out under the leadership of the Lion. It was made up of six brigades representing the Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Hyenas, Wolves and a brigade for the rest of the carnivores. The Fox tried to obtain the prestige of a separate brigade for the foxes, but was rejected by the Lion who sarcastically replied: “Thank your stars that we classify you as carnivores, otherwise we would have had you for breakfast together with the two lambs we enjoyed. Go back to your brigade, runt”. The Fox had no choice but to accept the Lion’s decision, however it left such a bad taste in his mouth that he promised himself to pay it back, with interest. Continue reading “THE WILY FOX”

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