Saturday, February 21, 2009

The global revolution

Definition: A Revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.

Theorists see the development of revolutions as a two-step process:

1. Some change results in the present situation being different from the past.
2. The new situation creates an opportunity for a revolution to occur. In that situation, an event that in the past would not be sufficient to cause a revolution (ex. a war, a riot, a bad harvest), now is sufficient – however if authorities are aware of the danger, they can still prevent a revolution (through reform or repression).

Back to reality:

We have a financial crisis a lot bigger than anyone ever believed.
Following the financial crisis, we have an economic crisis, bigger and bigger every day.
These two together are largely enough to fulfill the criteria for a first step towards Revolution. Things are definitely not what they used to be one year ago. At this stage we are yet, still far from the worst.

Since few days ago, we have an event that could definitely cause major changes in the near future:

U.S. authorities forced UBS to disclose the banking records of 250 american clients suspected of fiscal evasion. After complying and paying some $780 million fine to the U.S. authorities, UBS is now summoned to hand in 52.000 records of american clients, suspected to total about $15 bilion of un-taxed assets.

So far so good, the tax laws should be applied to each and everyone, but...:

1. The US has long tolerated offshore fiscal paradises, for many objective or subjective reasons.
2. The UBS decision to comply came after a serious threat by the U.S. to cancel the Swiss Bank's license to conduct its hundreds billion operations on Wall Street.
3. Many other states that thrown huge amounts of money on financial markets in the desperate attempt to saving or relaunching their economies, are now seeking to re-balance their accounts by fighting tax fraud and tax havens by the same oportunity.

Let's now start analyzing the consequences of the above facts.

By accepting the US claims in spite of the Swiss constitution that guarantees the banking secret, UBS and the Bern government give a significant blow to the myth of Switzerland as a safe place for money of any kind.
The impact could be huge, as one third of worldwide offshore money (money hold in accounts outside their country of origin) is actually deposited in Switzerland and totals about 5 trillion dollars.
Typicaly, the holders of Swiss bank accounts are wealthy individuals or organizations likely to react and transfer their (significant) wealth to other destinations, more rapidly than the average person.

By taking such measures against a Swiss bank and especially blackmailing with the removal of Wall Street license (a scenario similar to Ukraine's blocking of the russian gas trafic), United States put the Wall Street stock exchange in a very bad light. It will be only legitimate for many institutional investors to think that their dependence on the NYSE is harmful in the long term and seek for diversification.
If transactions on the NYSE decrease, quoted companies could start looking for better financial markets, thereby further decreasing America's power on global finance level.
With an estimated $70 billion yearly loss due to tax evasion and several trillions invested by fiscal paradises in the american stock exchange, the game may not be worth the candle for the U.S..

At this moment, the major shareholder of UBS is the Government of Singapore (Singapore being a tax haven and banking haven itself).
With the American "attack" on UBS, there will certainly be increased presure for massive migration of funds towards alternative havens, like Singapore for instance.

The nowdays increased speed of circulation for financial information and transfers make it almost impossible to address the question of tax havens otherwise than at global level.
For as long as one single tax haven will remain operational in the world, fighting against the others will only be detrimental for the country who does that.

After all, the existance itself of tax havens and their enormous turnover, only prove that taxation systems and the management of state budgets are still far from being optimized in many countries, including the U.S..


Back to the Revolution:

If up to this moment the financial crisis was the result of bad financial management and lack of good regulation, the future economic revolution could be even more dramatic, with large amounts of capital fleeing from one region to the other and generating impossible to calculate effects.
The lack of trust and the greediness of governments to recover losses generated by the greediness of investors and banks which were not let die at the right moment, could throw our whole world in an economic war quite similar to a world war that we had over the last century.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Voteaza ca prostu' - Voteaza Apostu

Un mic gand, nu dintre cele mai bune, catre echipa de campanie a lui Sorin Apostu care in aceasta zi de votare impinge penibilul si ilegalitatea pana la maxim, dand telefoane de stimulare asa-ziselor "liste de sustinatori" ale lui Sorin Apostu - in realitate un spam odinar, unde "lista de sustinatori" este de fapt cartea de telefon a municipiului Cluj-Napoca.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

ImoMarket - the return to free of charge Ads

As of today publishers who post up to 3 simultaneous ads on ImoMarket will not be invoiced anymore.

When we launched ImoMarket in 2005, we followed the same principle of offering our services free of charge, for about 1.5 years, the time to develop a system able to invoice Ads per click and per day of activity.
During this period ImoMarket has grown to more than 10.000 visitors per month and about 20-30 new adverts were received every day.

We hoped that by introducing payable services we would manage to filter all old or multiple ads for the same property and position ourselves as a premium brand, on the online real estate advertising market.
To a certain extent our goal has been achieved but could not compensate the reverse effect of traffic drop, due to less advertisers coming in, thus less visitors looking for properties.

At the end of the day, our whole Business Case comes back to the same question: "How to create acceptance for our online marketplace?"
The answer is as simple (or as complex) as answering the question of "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?".
In other words, if you don't have enough ads on your site, then why would visitors come to you and if you don't have enough visitors then why would advertisers post on your site?

There is probably no clear recepy for that, otherwise any online entrepreneur could end-up developing a new E-bay.

We therefore stopped asking ourselves philosophic questions and decided to go for a more pragmatic approach.
It has been said that "there is no free lunch" (an idea that I would very much like to further develop in a future post on this blog). Well, if in general "there is no free lunch", then it would mean that a free lunch is something very scarce, that could easily attract many consumers.

So, let's give "a free lunch" under the form of up to 3 free-of-charge advertisments on ImoMarket and publishers will hopefuly appear.
This will hopefuly attract more visitors and the "chicken and the egg" cycle is started-up.

We think that this is, by the way, the only way to go in the current online environment, with more and more sites striving to attract users that are less and less willing to pay for basic services.
Most Internet success stories over the last years - Google, Youtube, Facebook, Linkedin, Skype, E-bay, Virtual Earth, only to quote a few of them, are based on the same holy principle: basic services are free of charge.

Some people will now wonder - what about ways of getting revenues? Before getting into polemics on this subject, let's stick to the main idea:

Posting real estate ads on ImoMarket is now free-of-charge!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Banci romanesti - Internet Banking

Am ajuns sa testez si internet banking-ul de la Alphabank. Nu m-a impresionat deloc pozitiv.
Pe alocuri, pare copiat de la Banca Transilvania.
Ajungi in aplicatie si in loc ca primul lucru pe care il vezi sa fie conturile si soldul lor, vezi o bãlãrie de mesaj de bine ati venit.
De acolo incolo incepe arta cautarii acului in carul cu fân.
Totul este incalcit prin niste butoane de meniu din stanga, soldurile, extrasele de cont, tranzactiile efectuate, totul se face prin generarea unor rapoarte, in loc sa fie accesibile direct in pagina, cel putin pentru operatiunile mai recente.

Personal, sunt un utilizator infocat al internet bankingului si pana acum am avut de lucru cu aplicatiile de la Alphabank, BT, Volksbank si OTP.
OTPdirekt este de departe cel mai bun internet banking din cate am vazut in Romania. As spune ca, din punctul meu de vedere, devanseaza chiar si unele aplicatii ale bancilor straine (ex: Fortis).

Venind acum la originea lucrurilor, nu pot sa inteleg cum de institutii economice cu posibilitatile bancilor noastre se complac in a-si chinui clientii cu niste aplicatii de smuls parul din cap.
Nu inteleg de asemenea, cum clientii acestor banci se complac in a-si manca nervii cu astfel de programe. Nu inteleg, e un fel de-a spune. E oarecum similar cu satisfactia omului care in 1988 isi cumpara Dacia 1310 TLX, dupa ani lungi de asteptare si era fericit sa aiba un buton (de decor) in plus, fara sa-si imagineze ca la o masina adevarata butonul ala si face ceva.
Daca pe vremea lui Nea Nicu aveam de ales intre Dacie si pantofi Clujana, acum har domnului avem de ales intre vreo 40 de banci active in Romania, care mai de care bune si mai interesante (dupa spusele lor).

Ei bine, este uluitor sa constati ca pana si in conditiile in care nimeni nu îi tine legati de o banca sau alta, consumatorii isi aleg bancile pe motive extrem de subiective ca: imagine de marca, numar de sucursale, etc.

Linkuri utile in acest context:

SEOpedia forum - internet banking topic

ImoMarket - Banci romanesti

ImoMarket forum - Banci din Romania


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pusca si cu buza lata

Purtătorul de cuvânt al Guvernului, Rares Niculescu, s-a ales cu buza umflată in urma unui scandal la Romantic Club, in Cluj Napoca.

Urasc barfele de genul asta si nu comentez evenimentul in sine, dar nu ma pot abtine sa nu remarc ca atunci cand esti purtatorul de cuvant al Guvernului Romaniei si Europarlamentar, nu te duci la chefuri in Romantic (clujenii stiu de ce), iar daca totusi te-ai dus, esti capabil sa porti un dialog civilizat chiar si cu cel mai bolovan dintre bodyguarzi, cel putin la nivelul la care sa n-o iei peste ochi.
Nu vreau sa-mi imaginez ce s-ar fi intamplat daca in loc de o discutie cu un bodyguard, Purtatorul ar fi trebuit sa faca un anunt delicat in problema conflictului israelo-palestinian.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Conu Dinu fata cu reactiunea

Realitatea TV, Sambata 7 Februarie 2009, ora 20 - Emisiunea Zona de impact, invitat Dinu Patriciu.

Conu' Dinu este unul dintre putinii oameni foarte bogati din Romania, pe care criza i-a prins calare pe un purcoi de bani. Probabil nu intamplator ci ca urmare a unor cunostiinte si a unui fler remarcabil in afaceri.
Omul vorbeste in cunostiinta de cauza in domenii precum economia, managementul si comertul international.

Ei bine, eu nu inteleg ce il impinge pe omul asta sa mearga la Realitatea TV, sa se aseze intre o proasta si un rârâit, ca sa fie intrerupt la fiecare fraza, in cel mai pur stil al jurnalismului de cacat practicat de Realitatea TV.

Poate ca unii telespectatori chiar ar fi vrut sa-l asculte pe Patriciu, nu pe o proasta sau pe un rârâit care nu au nimic de spus.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Deblocarea pietei imobiliare - posibila opera a guvernului Boc

Citesc astazi cu interes urmatorul articol pe, care spune in esenta ca, pe langa alte masuri gandite mai mult sau mai putin cu capul de catre eroul Boc, taxele pe proprietatile imobiliare (cladiri si terenuri) vor creste anul acesta cu 24.3% fata de anul trecut.

Dupa cum spuneam intr-o postare din luna Mai 2008 pe ImoMarket, unul dintre motivele principale ale scaderii preturilor pe o piata imobiliara sau de crestere a volumului de tranzactii este costul fiscal al proprietatii, adica impozitul pe care proprietarul trebuie sa-l plateasca statului, pentru proprietatile imobiliare detinute.
Astfel, daca pana acum calitatea de proprietar imobiliar presupunea plata unor impozite, incepand cu 2009 aceste impozite se vor majora cu aproape 25%, ceea ce este un lucru relativ bun, avand in vedere nivelul scazut al fiscalitatii imobiliare din Romania.
Aceasta majorare a impozitelor ii va forta pe unii proprietari (aflati deja sub presiunea devalorizarilor generate de criza economica si financiara) sa vanda unele proprietati nerentabile, la pretul pietei, contribuind astfel la deblocarea pietei imobiliare.

Iata cum, din dorinta mai mult sau mai putin constienta de a drege busuiocul la nivel de deficit bugetar, prin marirea tacita a uneia sau alteia dintre taxe, Guvernul Bãsenel & Bocãnel va avea o contributie pozitiva la deblocarea pietei imobiliare prin fortarea unui numar mai mare de tranzactii.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Prost sa fii noroc ca existi - partea a 2-a

Ca urmare a inceperii derularii recente a programului rabla nemteasca Hotnews ne informeaza ca Dacia este pe locul 2 in topul preferintelor in Germania, in cadrul acestui program.

Pasul urmator este o sedinta de infatuare publica a romanilor: vedeti bah, ce tari suntem? (noi cei multi si prosti care am facut tot ce ne-a stat in putinta sa dam in cap industriei auto romanesti, incepand cu salariatii care anul trecut cereau majorari salariale de 60%, continuand cu iRealitatea TV si campania lor impotriva taxei auto si sfarsind cu Basenel si Bocanel care nici acum nu au inteles ce se intampla).

Prost sa fii noroc ca esti si ca traiesti pe acelasi continent cu nemtii.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bancul cu Nica:

Ni care-i ministru' :)

A se clasa in categoria "Guinness Boc" of records, a celei mai mari frecvente de rotatie a cadrelor la nivel de guvern.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Viitorul presedinte al Romaniei

Potrivit unui sondaj INSOMAR citat de Realitatea TV, daca maine ar fi alegeri, 59% dintre romani ar vota cu Basescu, 13% cu Geoana iar 8% cu Oprescu.

Am o mare nedumerire pe care tot am incercat sa mi-o explic, fara sa reusesc: Oricata lume ar pleca/fugi din Romania, acolo ramane un procentaj constant de prostime - 80%. How come?

The Blaxi girls they like to party like nobody, like nobody...

That's it, Romania has the right recepy for winning Eurovision 2009. The song is simple to remember and enough of a kitch, to stire the attention of all neighboring countries from the Balkans. Elena is more than good looking and together with a full set of famous Elena's (one, two, three) that Romania has or is ready to export as a brand image, they may well come back from Moscow not only with a trophy but even with the ammended plans of the South Stream project.
Since the times when valuable artists like ABBA, Céline Dion or Toto Cutugno were winning Eurovision are long passed, the Romanian choice seems most reasonable and will only delight millions of European viewers, of what has now become the least of a music contest - Eurovision.

Blaxi girls (ranked 2 with "Dear Mama") - you didn't lose anything.