24 April 2017

Joan of Arc in the News




Marine Le Pen: From far-right fringe to presidential contender
20 Apr 2017
In France, the National Front has gone from fringe party status, condemned as bigoted and racist, to having the presidential palace in its sights. The woman who has led them there is Marine Le Pen. The 48-year-old has consistently been one of the top two candidates in opinion polls as French voters head into the first round of voting this Sunday. "Marine Le Pen is our Joan of Arc. She's the one who is going to save France, bring France back up, give hope to French people."

Marine Le Pen hails patriotism as the policy of the future
21 Jan 2017
French National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen has told a meeting of right-wing politicians in Germany that patriotism is the policy of the future. The presidential candidate predicted that voters in France, Germany and the Netherlands would follow their US and UK counterparts to reject the arguments of the political establishment. She said that 2017 would be the "year of the awakening" for European people.




French parties battle for Joan of Arc's legacy
11 Apr 2015
A new museum chronicling the life and legacy of Joan of Arc has opened in Rouen, France. The 15th century teenager was burned as a heretic after helping repulse the English army at Orleans, making her a national heroine. Now political parties from the far-right to the ruling Socialists are battling to claim her legacy.

National Front in patriotic fervor
01 May 2014
Every year on May Day the far right in France marches to the statue of Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc) on the right bank in Paris, to lay a wreath. The Maid of Orleans is the adopted symbol of French nationalism - though right now there's another they have taken to their hearts. She's the National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen. In the spirit of Jeanne d'Arc the backdrop for the traditional May Day speech was a picture of a woman dressed in a suit of armor. "No to Brussels, Yes to France" read the slogan.

French elections: Battle over 1 May
01 May 2012
French labor historian Stephane Sirot explains that more recent attempts to appropriate the day include the far-right National Front's decision, from 1988, to hold an annual 1 May rally. The idea was to make the day a nationalistic display of patriotism by linking it to the powerful figure of Joan of Arc.



12 April 2017

The Form of Money -- A Treatise


Money is the lowest common denominator of valuation amongst a society, the blood of trade, primary to societal interaction, and should be perfect in concept and form. If the form of money is not perfect in concept and form, societal stress will ensue with potentially horrific consequences if ignored. Money is not the root of all evil; however, flawed money is the root of significant evils.

Money has had many forms over the millenniums, extending long before written history.  Some remnants of those ancient forms of money remain with us today: the penny looks copper, the quarter and dime look silver, and nickel is supposed to be nickel, and the dollar coin looks gold, testimony to the endurance of the ancient forms of money. The transition from these ancient forms to the now dominant form, Legal Tender, birthed 2,600 years ago by King Croesus, has been a prolonged epic of consolidating monetary control by nation/states and has been the prime driver of Western Civilization expansion.

Legal Tender is a legal contrivance, and when issued in the form of debt is nothing more than a pyramid/ponzi scheme. The quantification of debt wrongfully applies the algebraic concept of exponential growth - compounding interest - upon money. The distinction between usury and interest is an arbitrary legal determination with no basis in mathematics. Nothing can grow forever at an ever-increasing rate. As time moves on, the emphasis of ever-increasing growth becomes omnipresent, is quantified and institutionalized in the societal structure, encouraging over consumption, over development, and excessive expectations, pushing economic stress to its upper limit of expansion, eventually inciting conflict and spawning War to insure growth.

Economic systems of capitalism, communism, socialism, imperialism, colonialism, totalitarianism, fascism, nazism, monarchism, corporatism, and all other centralist monetary-isms maintain the monopolized control of money, and hence the control of society itself, through their own brand of Legal Tender that excludes other forms of money from the Market.

Today, Legal Tender is a near global reality, an epochal consolidation of Markets, heading exponentially towards a global conclusion. Legal Tender is a severely flawed form of money, debt money, the Mother Lode of Law itself.

The eventual conclusion of this monetary epoch, the triggering event, and the ensuing transition to the next, offers extreme potential of good and bad, impacting everyone and rippling for generations to come. Beyond Legal Tender is a truly Free Market where money is adaptable and flexible, in balance with individual needs, societal needs, environmental needs, and the needs of the greater reality.

Chance favors the prepared mind.





07 April 2017

Prophets and Profits




Karen Armstrong [Catholic Scholar]
It has been suggested that Jesus was crucified by the Romans for an attempted rebellion. Some Biblical scholars have seen the account of his overturning the tables of the moneylenders in the Temple as a truncated version of a coup, by means of which he and his followers took over the Temple for a period of three days.

The Woman with the Alabaster Jar by Margaret Starbird, Excerpt
The action that led to his immediate arrest by the authorities in Jerusalem was the overturning of the tables of moneychangers in the temple of Jerusalem during the Passover festival. Scattering coins all over the temple floor was a radical attack on the religious establishment of the Temple priests and Sadducees, the ruling elite who collaborated with the Roman authorities to preserve peace and order in the province.

Muhammad - A Biography of the Prophet by Karen Armstrong, 1993, Excerpts
The Quraysh had become rich beyond their wildest dreams in the old nomadic days. They saw wealth and capitalism as their salvation, which seemed to have rescued them from a life of poverty and danger and given them an almost godlike security. They were no longer hungry, no longer plagued by enemy tribes. Money began to acquire a quasi-religious value. But aggressive capitalism was not really compatible with the old communal tribal ethic. It encouraged a rampant greed and individualism.

Instead of sharing their wealth equally, according to the old tribal ethic, individuals were building up personal fortunes. They were exploiting the rights of orphans and widows, absorbing their inheritance into their own estates, and were not looking after the weaker, poorer members of the tribe as the old ethos had required. Their new prosperity had severed their links with traditional values and many of the less successful Quraysh felt obscurely disoriented and lost. Naturally the most successful merchants, bankers, and financiers were delighted with the new system. Only two generations away from the penury of the nomadic life, they believed that money and material goods could save them. They made a new religion of money.

The new prosperity drew people’s attention to the disparity between rich and poor. All the great religious leaders and prophets had addressed themselves to these issues and provided their own distinctive solutions. The younger generation was growing disenchanted and seemed to be searching for a new spiritual and political solution to the malaise and disquiet in the city.

Chairman Alan Greenspan -- Monetary Policy Report to the Congress
16 Feb 2005
In a democratic society, such a stark bifurcation of wealth and income trends among large segments of the population can fuel resentment and political polarization. These social developments can lead to political clashes and misguided economic policies that work to the detriment of the economy and society as a whole.




05 April 2017

Plutonomy Basket





Citigroup Plutonomy Report, 2005, Excerpts

Our overall conclusion is that a backlash against plutonomy is probable at some point. However, that point is not now. As yet, there seems little political fight being born out on this battleground. So long as economies continue to grow, there is little threat to Plutonomy.

How do we make money from this theme? If you believe, like us, that the Plutonomy exists, and you believe there is no imminent threat to plutonomy, buy equities. There is however a more refined way to play plutonomy, and this is to buy shares in the companies that make the toys that the Plutonomists enjoy.

As the rich have been getting richer, so too stocks associated with the rich, have performed exceptionally well. If Plutonomy continues, which we think it will, if income inequality is allowed to persist and widen, the plutonomy basket should continue to do very well. Names in this basket that our analysts recommend as buys include Julius Baer, Bulgari, Burberry, Richemont, Kuoni, and Toll Brothers.

The Plutonomy Basket: Stocks That Leverage Plutonomy
1. Porsche - Auto
2. Dickson Concepts - Fashion
3. Beneteau - Yachting
4. Bulgari - Jewels
5. Burberry - Fashion
6. Coach - Handbags
7. Hermes - Fashion
8. LVMH – Louis Vuitton Fashion
9. Polo Ralph Lauren - Fashion
10. Richemont - Jewels
11. Rodriguez
12. Tasaki - Jewels
13. Tod's - Fashion
14. Toll Brothers – Luxury Homes
15. Wolford - Fashion
16. Four Seasons Hotels - Resorts
17. Kuoni - Travel
18. Mandarin Oriental – Luxury Hotels
19. Shangri-La – Luxury Hotels
21. Sothebys – Art Auction
22. Julius Baer – Private Banking
23. Vontobel – Private Banking
24. Tiffany - Jewels


Jewelry and cars seized as Dutch trigger multi-country tax raids
31 Mar 2017
Dutch prosecutors say they have launched co-ordinated raids in several countries against suspected money-launderers and tax evaders. They are investigating about 3,800 Dutch-linked accounts in an unnamed Swiss bank following a tip-off they could contain undeclared assets. Paintings, a gold bar, cash, a luxury car and jewellery have been seized. As well as the Netherlands, there have been searches in France, Germany, the UK and Australia. The Dutch government has passed information to the other countries about more than 50,000 suspect accounts at the bank. "The international reach of this investigation sends a clear message that there is no hiding place for those seeking to evade tax." The investigation will continue for weeks to come, Dutch financial prosecutors said.

Hermes reports record annual profits
22 Mar 2017
Luxury goods group Hermes has reported record profits for 2016, boosted by sales of its handbags. The French company, best known for its £8,000 Birkin bags and £300 silk scarves, posted a 13% rise in profits to 1.1bn euros (£952m). The results hint at a wider recovery in the luxury goods market. Last month, its French rival LVMH reported record sales.  Silk and textile sales, which earlier in the year were affected by terror attacks in Europe and slowing sales in China, picked up towards the end of 2016. They ended the year 1% lower.


Luxury retailer LVMH sees revenues rise
12 Apr 2016
Luxury retailer LVMH saw a 4% gain in revenue for the first quarter this year, compared with last year. Global sales totaled $9.8bn for the three months to March. LVMH owns more than 60 luxury brands, including the Kenzo fashion line and the high-end watch labels Bulgari and TAG Heuer. The company said the US market is strong, and Europe remains well oriented except for France which is affected by a fall in tourism. The Paris terror attacks in November last year led to a 50% drop at some store sales. The retailer makes 10% of all its sales in France. The company's headquarters is in Paris. The retail group used to enjoy double-digit sales growth in China. The Chinese government last year imposed a strict clampdown on luxury and ostentatious spending by government officials. That has led to a decline in luxury goods sales across the industry in China.


Luxury brands Hermes and Burberry beat expectations
http://www.bbc.com/news/business-34797242
12 Nov 2015
Luxury brands Hermes and Burberry have issued financial results that have beaten analysts' expectations. The figures come at a challenging time for luxury brands in the key Asia-Pacific region, including China. Last month, LVMH, the world's biggest luxury group, said the summer stock market collapse in China had hit sales, particularly at its flagship Louis Vuitton brand. Cosmetics giant L'Oreal has also warned that demand for its luxury products has suffered a slowdown in Hong Kong and at airports.

Rolls-Royce chief admits sales hit by Chinese slowdown
08 Sep 2015
Rolls-Royce has admitted that sales of its luxury cars have been hit by a fall in demand in China. Chinese buyers have been affected by the slump in the stock market, slower growth and a corruption clamp-down. Mr. Mueller-Oetvoes played down fears that recent events in China would last long, forecasting that sales there would recover in the next two years. "China has never been our number one market. Our number one market is the United States and due to the fact we are properly balanced we can cope with some of the downturn in China," he explained.

Luxury: Worth every penny?
24 Feb 2015
The growth of the global luxury market has been astonishing, and continues that way, from a collective $247bn five years ago, to $338bn (£224bn; €296bn) last year- a rise of some 36% - according to market data specialists Euromonitor. Much of that demand had been coming from Russia, China and other fast-growing countries. But slowing development and Russia's political situation has put a dampener on that, says Fflur Roberts, global luxury manager at Euromonito"Social unrest and political conflict will have a major impact on what were fast-growing markets." So, she says, developed markets will begin again to provide the growth. And that growth is impressive. Euromonitor is forecasting spending on luxury goods to be $463bn by 2019, an increase of 88% in 10 years.

The biggest luxury goods companies by brand value:

Louis Vuitton $22.55bn
Gucci $10.39bn
Hermes $8.98bn
Cartier $7.45bn
Prada $5.98bn
Tiffany $5.94bn
Burberry $5.59bn
Ralph Lauren $4.98bn

Rolls-Royce breaks sales record again in 2014
06 Jan 2015
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars sold a record number of cars last year, breaking through the 4,000 mark for the first time in its 111-year history. The luxury car maker sold 4,063 cars, up 12% on last year, and marking the fifth consecutive year of record sales. Sales in the US increased by almost a third, by 40% in Europe and in the Middle East by 20%, the firm said.

Luxury carmaker Bentley set for record sales in 2014
09 Jul 2014
Luxury carmaker Bentley has said it is on course for record sales in 2014 after a 23% increase in deliveries in the first half of the year. Bentley delivered 5,254 cars in the first six months of 2014, up from 4,279 cars in the first half of 2013. The firm's new Flying Spur drove up sales by 61% in China, which saw more than a fifth of Bentley's deliveries. Bentley's sales echoed rival Rolls-Royce, which saw a 33% boost in sales in the half year to June. The Americas region, which includes North and South America and the Caribbean, remained as Bentley's largest market, with 1,388 cars delivered. China followed, then Europe and the Middle East. A Flying Spur typically sells for around £150,000, while a GT V8 sells for about £130,000. Bentley is a subsidiary of Volkswagen, which also owns the Porshe and Audi brands.

Rolls-Royce sees record 33% boost in luxury car sales
08 Jul 2014
Engineering firm Rolls-Royce has seen a record 33% rise in luxury car sales in the half year to June compared with last year. Sales shifted up a gear to a total of 1,968 luxury cars worldwide, the company said. Rolls-Royce cars can retail at around £350,000 for top-of-the-range a Phantom model. Germany's BMW, which owns Rolls-Royce, saw vehicles sales across the group rise almost 7% in the period. Sales were up in Europe by more than 60%, and up in Asia Pacific by almost 40%, the company said.

Burberry sees strong revenue growth in Asia-Pacific
15 Jan 2014
Burberry, the UK luxury fashion brand, has reported a strong rise in sales over the Christmas period. Revenue rose 14% to £528m ($866m; 635m euros) for the third quarter to 31 December 2013, the company said. Burberry is famous for its red, black and camel checked patterns. Outerwear, such as its trademark raincoats, and large leather goods contributed about half of the growth, it said, while men's accessories and tailoring "grew strongly". Burberry opened five new stores in the period, including two in China and the first Burberry Beauty Box in Covent Garden, London. The Asia-Pacific region delivered "double-digit comparable sales growth", the company said, while other regions' growth was in single figures. Its shares are up nearly 13% over the past year.

Jaguar Land Rover posts record car sales figures
12 Jan 2014
Car maker Jaguar Land Rover has posted record sales for 2013 with 425,000 cars sold worldwide. This was up almost a fifth for the company. The figures came amid a resurgence in the wider vehicle market as the economy recovers both in the UK and in many key markets overseas. The Land Rover brand sold 350,000 vehicles worldwide last year, accounting for over 80% of Jaguar Land Rover's total sales. Jaguar itself saw sales volumes increase by 42% in 2013 as customers in the US, India and Germany bought its luxury cars. Jaguar Land Rover is hiring nearly 2,000 extra people to meet demand, bringing its total staff in the UK to more than 26,000. Volkswagen announced last week that its luxury brands - Porsche, Audi and Bentley - had achieved record sales in 2013, aided by demand for high-end cars in emerging markets such as China and India.

Remy Cointreau hit by China slowdown
26 Nov 2013
French spirits group Remy Cointreau has said that its full-year operating profits will see a "double-digit" decline after slower growth in China. It blamed the fall on China's "sharp slowdown", together with an "uncertain economic environment" in Europe. Meanwhile, German fashion house Hugo Boss has said the slowdown in China is a "particular concern". "Strong momentum" in the US and Europe failed to offset weakness in China, the firm said, where distributors were still trying to run down high stock levels. Sales of Remy Martin cognac fell 10% in the half-year to 327.2m euros, mainly as a result of the problems in China.  "A particular concern is China," Reuters reported chief executive Claus-Dietrich Lahrs as saying. "Compared to what we were used to, the long period of low-hanging fruit, China came down to a rather disappointing growth rate for the luxury industry in 2013."

Hermes profits boosted by global luxury goods demand
30 Aug 2013
Luxury goods firm Hermes, famed for its celebrity favorite, the Birkin bag, has reported a jump in profits. Net profit jumped 14%, while sales increased by 11% for the first half of 2013, compared with the same period last year. The group said that demand for silk scarves had leapt. The Birkin bag, which is named after the actress and singer Jane Birkin, has a starting price of £4,500. The record price for a Birkin was set in 2011, when a red crocodile skin version sold for $200,000 (£129,000) at an auction in Texas. It reported a 17% increase in demand from Asia, excluding Japan. The company said that the Chinese market in particular continued to "display great vitality". Despite continuing economic problems, European sales were also robust, increasing by 14% outside France and 13% in the company's native country.

Bentley's new luxury car to create 1,000 jobs
23 Jul 2013
Bentley says the development of a luxury car will result in 1,000 new jobs in the UK. The carmaker is investing £800m at its headquarters in Crewe to develop and build the sports utility vehicle (SUV), which will compete with cars like the Range Rover. Bentley's owner, Volkswagen, considered making the car in Bratislava, Slovakia, where it already builds SUVs. Chairman of Volkswagen Martin Winterkorn said: "Together we will make this new Bentley another true Bentley - powerful, exclusive and successful." It will be Bentley's fourth model joining the Flying Spur, Continental GT and the Mulsanne.

Jaguar Land Rover roars ahead to record £1.67bn prof
29 May 2013
Profits at Jaguar Land Rover have roared to an all-time high. Total world sales at Jaguar Land Rover were up 22% to almost 375,000 vehicles.

Jaguar Land Rover to create 800 new jobs
14 Jan 2013
Jaguar Land Rover has announced the creation of 800 production jobs at its plant in Solihull. The news came as the firm announced record sales of almost 358,000 cars in 2012, up 30% from the year before. The car-maker, which is owned by Tata of India, said vehicle sales in China rose 70% to 71,940, overtaking the UK to become its biggest market. Sales in the UK rose 19% to 68,333 and in the US by 11% to 55,675. The company said it was active in 177 countries in the year. The Chinese market - where sales of Jaguar Land Rover's vehicles have risen 80% in the past year - has been rising in importance to the company.

Porsche breaks car sales record in 2012
12 Dec 2012
German luxury carmaker Porsche has said it has already beaten its annual record for most cars sold, last month alone was up 39% on November 2011. Demand came from China and the US, where there was 70% more demand for Porsches last month than in 2011. Premium carmakers, such as Porsche and BMW, and budget manufacturers, such as Hyundai, are doing relatively well. Indian-owned luxury carmaker Jaguar Land Rover said on Wednesday that it sold 324,184 vehicles during the first 11 months of the year, up 32% from the same period last year. But mid-market players - such as Ford and General Motors' Opel and Vauxhall units - are having a torrid time, suffering falling sales, profits and market shares.

Asia drives BMW to record third quarter profit rise
06 Nov 2012
Booming sales in Asia have helped German car firm BMW shrug off the gloom in Europe to report a record third quarter pre-tax profit. The world's largest luxury carmaker saw sales in China and Japan rise by 33% and 21.5% respectively in the nine months to the end of September. In Europe, sales rose 2.6%. Overall BMW sales, including its Rolls Royce and Mini brands, were up 9% to 434,963 for the three months to the end of September.

Burberry confirms weak China sales figures
11 Oct 2012
Burberry has confirmed that demand in key growth market China slowed sharply. In early September, Burberry shares slumped 19% after the company issued a surprise profit warning related to the downturn in China. Worldwide sales in the last three months at comparable stores open at least one year rose 1%, the firm said, compared with a 6% rate in the previous three months. Business in Hong Kong, Germany and France remained robust, Burberry said. The retailer said it continued to expand its presence, with a 14% increase in floor space planned. In the last six months Burberry opened 13 new mainline stores, including in Milan, Rome, Hong Kong and London's Regent Street.

Ferrari sales and profits surge to record highs
13 Sep 2012
Ferrari has reported record sales and profits for the first six months of 2012. The company made 100m euros ($128m; £80m) net profit, up 10% on the same period a year earlier. Sales and profits remain strong, so 2012 could be another record year. The carmaker has enjoyed strong sales growth in new markets in Asia - China in particular, and in Russia, the Middle East, and South America.

Jaguar boosts profits at Tata Motors parent company.
09 Aug 2012
A 34% rise in sales by luxury carmaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) boosted Indian parent company Tata Motors' profits during the April to June quarter. JLR sales rose 34.4%, bolstered by strong demand in Russia and China.

De Beers annual profits jump 62%
10 Feb 2012
Diamond producer De Beers has announced a surge in profits as Chinese and US shoppers snapped up its gems. Underlying profits were up 62% last year to $698m (£443m). "All luxury goods appear to be holding very well, and as a result, the luxury goods companies are showing there is still strong demand," said Philippe Mellier, the company's chief executive. The price of rough diamonds rose 29% last year. But the firm warned that trading slowed down in the second half of 2011 and it says that trend is likely to continue this year.

Rolls-Royce car sales hit new record
09 Jan 2012
Sales at the BMW-owned luxury marque grew by 31% from the previous year, although the growth rate was weaker than in 2010 when sales jumped by 150%. Rolls-Royce's £165,000 Ghost model, which is smaller and less ostentatious than the £235,000 Phantom models, has been the main driving force for sales. The market for Rolls-Royce models grew particularly fast in Germany and Russia, where sales more than doubled last year. Sales in the Asia Pacific region rose 47%. In the UK they were up 30%, while in the Middle East they rose 23%. The US and Chinese markets are the most important ones for the company, though it has not released detailed figures about how many cars it sold in individual markets.

Luxury carmaker Bentley sees sales rise 37% in 2011
03 Jan 2012
Luxury carmaker Bentley has reported a 37% rise in sales in 2011, saying demand has returned to pre-recession levels. The US continues to be Bentley's number one market with 2,021 cars sold in 2011, an increase of 32%. However, China took second spot with sales almost doubling to 1,839, surpassing the previous year's record. December's figures were the best since Bentley's record year of 2007 and the second best month in its history.

Tiffany profits rise showing strength of luxury sector
26 May 2011
The upmarket jeweler announced a profit of $81.1m (£48.5m) for the three months to April, up from $64.4m a year earlier, and ahead of market forecasts. Tiffany had previously said it expected sales in Japan to fall 15% during the quarter following the March earthquake and tsunami. But while same-store sales in Japan fell in March, they rebounded in April. The firm said all the stores that had closed due to the earthquake had since reopened. Revenue grew in all regions, with net sales worldwide climbing 20% to $761m. Looking ahead, the company said it had "exciting plans" this year. It intends to open 19 new stores, introduce new products and increase spending on marketing and advertising.

Euro crisis boosts sales of luxury goods overseas
28 May 2010
Since November, the euro has lost a fifth of its value against the dollar, a trend which boosts profits for companies which export to the US and the Far East.And luxury goods companies, from watchmakers to dress designers, which source their products in eurozone countries, have seen their costs fall sharply and revenues rise. This week Britain's Burberry, famous for its classic check-patterned accessories, said that profits for last year rose 23%. Richemont, Swiss owner of the Cartier and Montblanc brands, saw April sales rebound by 24% after a difficult year. Sales have also been rising for France's Hermes and Italy's Prada.