Month: August 2018

The diet of eggs, the Perricone diet and … the diet of Queen Letizia?


A new diet with a name of its own was already jumping into the dietetic arena. Since the fall in disgrace (at least into oblivion) ​​of the previous one, the Dukan, it seemed that we felt orphaned of father and mother without a diet to which to attribute a paternity and, of course, to adopt in jubilant despair. It was late.

In all honesty, this diet, the new one, the Perricone (it reads “perricón”, read in normal plan sounds even worse) is not what you see a diet of slimming to use , but a way of eating to get a radiant appearance, a luminous complexion and an innocent look at the same time jovial as that of a milk baby . And of course, do not hesitate, with an own minutes in which certain foods are the protagonists and not others. Apparently in this dietary approach are essential eggs, salmon, red fruits and melon, but not any melon … in this one is the cantaloupe , so you understand, the weird in these latitudes, which is more insane than Iniesta selling ice cream … It goes that where a good melon from La Mancha in plan “piel de sapo” was going to tell Perricone what he could do with his cantaloupe.

The Queens’s Breakfast

Image result for eggsWell, but to what we were going. The case was to talk about this diet and why it has become famous . At least here in Spain has become known because some or a journalist shortcircuited to learn that apparently the Queen Dona Letizia breakfast egg , specifically (and I have not been able to find out if among other things) three clear and one yolk … and from there, with a somersault with triple pirouette, to attribute to Doña Letizia a diet with its own name: the aforementioned Perricone. This diet apparently includes this type of routine among its precepts to look lush / like August peach with pearly skin of fine morning dew .

And these things, whether they are the result of the journalistic imagination of some professional of the key or of the presumed consultation of experts that ABC shows (it would be nice to know the depth of those experts whose name they keep jealously torturingly ) are the ones that seem they are bringing to light the diet of yore … a diet that, as epitome of excellence, has people with a clear, logical and well-built head, wherever they may be as ambassadors: Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, Uma Thurman, Eva Mendes … abroad, and in the national panorama, Nati Abascal, Patricia Conde and Eugenia Silva. The truth is that it depends on the medium that you consult , that the list of these ambiguous ambassadors varies with not too much coincidence.

Breakfast three eggs and … zasca! they attribute a diet to you, a doctor, yes (we already know that all the doctors who put their names on their diets are respectable people) and hala … official ambassador! In this case also a Real ambassador , so that they do not fit too many doubts.

On the dietary particularities is not what I have come to know about this particular diet that I prefer that you are the one who consults on the web of origin . Anyway, I’ve already mentioned it; from less to more stand out: the salmon (or other fatty fish), the red fruits, the famous insipid melon and the eggs (at breakfast). But like any diet that deserves … as in all the diets of eggs , the thing does not end here . On the contrary, this only starts.

The real mother of the Perricone system lamb to present less wrinkles than Dorian Gray after a session of botox and Photoshop consists of … (I know you’re waiting for it) in buying the damned products that Perricone himself has been responsible for promoting!

Well yes friends, you see. It is not strictly weight loss but it is another diet with:

  • The famous criterion of authority of a “gentleman” doctor to grant him credibility (look that they have to be up to the very ones … the real doctors with this type of “companions”)
  • The famous string of supplements ad hoc (and especially expensive) to buy and in this case, rub them on the body (or take them) in addition to follow the boring and draconian dietary system.
  • The media making cartoons, palms and “stupendous” articles for the greater glory of undocumented charlatans but with a clear commercial vision.

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Banks in Montreal and Barcelona

Image result for banks in barcelonaOne of the things that caught my attention during a visit to Montreal last month was the role of financial institutions in years of ideological and territorial tension. Since the assignment was to explain what happened in Quebec in a Catalan key, I think the matter is very relevant in Spain. And the radical difference between the behavior of the savings banks and other Québec savings institutions and the Canadian banks then based in Montreal can demonstrate to what extent we will miss those cases erased from the face of the earth by the PP government under the instructions of the European Central Bank during the euro crisis

As explained in the article we published in La Vanguardia, when the meteoric rise of the independence party of the Quebecois in the 1970s was verified, the most emblematic banks in Canada vanished after that first clearly politicized coup , the so-called coup of Brink’s “in April 1970, when nine armored vans of the security company Brink’s filled with $ 1,000 Canadian dollars, left the historic headquarters of the Royal Trust bank and did not stop until they reached Toronto. In the next ten years 50,000 jobs in the banking sector would be destroyed.

But they did not leave the mutual societies, nonprofit entities that in the United States would qualify as credit unions and, saving the distances, in Spain they would be called boxes. The network of Québec savings banks, Desjardins, for example – a mutual society that does not respond solely to market criteria – played a critical role in the creation of a new local and French-speaking business fabric, a new class of Francophone entrepreneurs that created companies Cirque du soleil or the game company Ubisoft, inventor of the game “Assassin’s creed. A good image of the change is the Crew workshare in the old headquarters of the then hegemonic Royal Bank of Canada, in a deco style imperial building in Old Montreal, where hundreds of young entrepreneurs design their start up in the old bank space that He left Montreal. In addition, Crew serves excellent bagels with smoked salmon.

Image result for quebecQuebec managed to implement an industrial policy that protected its economy from the danger of corporate and banking relocation – whether for political reasons or for reasons of corporate profits – and these semi-public financial institutions were essential. The most important was the gigantic semipublic pension fund Caisse de depot et placement that manages assets for more than 230,000 million euros. “La Caisse serves to protect our medium-sized companies from hostile takeovers,” explained Alain Gagnon, professor of political science at the University of Quebec. The fund has invested in Québec companies such as the Provigo supermarket chain and the Domtar paper mill. has prevented any relocation caused by economic or political factors.

Likewise, the network of savings banks, Desjardins, mutual entities that do not respond solely to market criteria, supports local companies. “It is unimaginable that the Desjardins boxes had left and set up their headquarters outside as happened in Catalonia,” said Gagnon. One of the reasons why ultraconservative think tanks like Fraser Institue in Vancouver – cited by PP ideologues like Esteban Gonzalez Pons to defend their positions of denial of the right to decide in Catalonia – have lashed out so harshly against Québec policies, is the success of these industrial policy programs led by the semi-public banks and the Caisse de depot. They have been very effective in allowing a spectacular reconversion of the Québec economy after the departure of the big banks and other giants of the “Anglo” economy. And that worries the “Anglo” neoliberals in Canada who prefer the model of the wild West of Alberta with its free market, speculative financing through the Toronto Stock Exchange and large oil sands mines that have mutilated the environment.

Given all this, perhaps it is convenient to make a thought experiment, an intellectual exercise, of those that are scarce in the demagogic debate on the crisis of Spanish power. Let’s say that, instead of October of 2017, the clash between Madrid and Catalonia occurred two decades ago for the right to hold a referendum on Catalan sovereignty. (In Canada, there have been two referendums on the sovereignty of Quebec and, if Quebecers wanted, a hundred more could be held). Let’s say that the great Catalan crisis had occurred in 1987 or 1997 or even 2007. Then, the Caixa de Catalunya, with its Miroa logo, was still an institution that did not respond only to market criteria in its decisions to invest and lend money .

La Caixa, when I lived in Catalonia in the eighties, was more like a hybrid between Caisse de depot et placement and the Desjardins box. It had a huge portfolio of investments and the ability to curb hostile takeovers in companies considered important for the project to create an economy adjusted to the needs of local development (national if you will), and also a network of small offices whose goal was provide credits for Catalan SMEs.

Imagine, then, that the extra constitutional referendum on independence had been held in those years and the extraordinary performance of the Civil Guard in Catalonia had taken place, as Mario Polese, an economist at the Culture and Society Urbanization Center in Montreal, told me “never It could have happened in Quebec or after the assassination of the Canadian politician (by the Liberation Front of Québec). ” Would La Caixa have taken the same decisions to implicitly support the Government’s policy in Madrid by withdrawing its headquarters in Catalonia?

I would suggest that, even if it is a box, maybe Caixa would have acted more like Caisse de depot et placement and the box Desjardins that remained in Quebec even in the darkest moments. . If this were the case, it is worth asking why la Caixa became a conventional bank, governed solely by a profit motive, as well as those large Anglo-Saxon Canadian banks that took the money of many Quebecois customers in armored vans before the boom of the Québec separatism.

Image result for caixabankWhy did La Caixa end up being Caixabank? The answer, of course, is the euro crisis. Despite the fact that this crisis was caused by banks in the US that, following the slogans of their mandate to optimize profits and globalize as they had speculated to unknown limits in financial history, Europe’s response to contagion in the euro area was not to dismantle the big banks and make them act on behalf of the public good at a more local level. No, the answer was to convert the boxes into Anglo-Saxon banks …

When Spain looked at the abyss of insolvency, the recipes that came from the European Central Bank in Frankfurt said: “the boxes are politicized instruments must be closed or converted into banks.” Of course, this strict German conditionality applied to the rescue program came from pearls to those who in Madrid always preferred the Banco Santander model to the Caixa model.

Moving even further in the experiment, perhaps, we can postulate that is why European governments have closed ranks around the government in Madrid with so much enthusiasm in their pulse with those who defend the right to decide in Catalonia. The position for Madrid, after all, is politically complicated for European governments because, as anyone who reads the international press knows, public opinion outside of Spain is clearly against the intransigence of Madrid.

From the perspective of the experiment, the European refusal to the Catalan referendum was not due to the fact that, as urged tax evader Jean Claude Juncker insists, nationalism always ends in wars. No. It would respond to the fact that the EU already represents a financially neoliberal globalization project in which the protection of local space (national, if you will) is not permissible.

All of which confirms what many have said with great success in the Catalan and Spanish left, whether they are supporters of Catalan independence or not. Public banking is already a key claim to defend against centralizing authoritarianism compiled with a neoliberal globalism. Quebec solidaire, the party of the pro-independence left that begins to take votes away from the Quebecois Party knows this very well. “We are talking a lot about the importance of public banking and the protection of public services such as health or education and housing,” said Andre Frappier, retired postman and trade unionist who works for Quebec Solidaire. “We remain convinced that to achieve this we need an independent Quebec.”

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Elections in Greece: Tsipras, more Obama than Lenin

Image result for greece

“Hope is coming, Greece is advancing, Europe is changing”, say the Syriza electoral posters, the party of the neo-Marxist left, as some call it, hanging next to the graffiti in the center of Athens.

It is not exactly a call to take the Máximus palace (prime minister’s office) and hoist the red flag instead of the blue and white of Greece. Even the most attractive face, by far, of the multiple candidates in these elections, that of Alexis Tsipras, student exactivist, tanned in the Greek Eurocommunism of Sinapsismos, which, according to the latest polls, will be the next first Minister. “They go low profile, quiet, so as not to scare people,” said Mikel Grigoriadis, who was attending a Syriza rally in the Vrilisia neighborhood in northern Athens.

When elections were called at the end of December, many foresaw a campaign of aggressive antitroika rhetoric on the one hand and horror movie stories about the red danger on the other. But Tsipras has opted for a campaign more Obama-style than Leninist while the current conservative Prime Minister, Andonis Samarás, has moderated the discourse of fear.

Even the Greek media – owned by big magnates, shipping companies, builders and bankers, directly threatened by Syriza – have lowered their tone. “A few weeks ago the media said that a victory for Syriza would be the end of the world, that bank accounts would be confiscated, that there would be dinosaurs hanging around the ruins of Athens,” says Stelios Kouloglou, director of Internet TVXS. It has worked, Syriza will win. ” The influential daily To Vima and Ta Nea have even come to support Tsipras after qualifying him two weeks ago as a “Russian bear”.

More technical warnings about danger

Image result for warningsThe ruling party, New Democracy, has not thrown in the towel. He will choose to issue more technical warnings about the danger of a capital flight if Syriza wins. Gikas Hardouvelis, the finance minister, criticized Syriza for underestimating the risk of a depletion of funds in March if there is no agreement with the troika, in statements to the Financial Times. Two Greek banks have requested funding from the European Central Bank (ECB) to shield themselves in the event of a “bank flight”. A Syriza MEP specialized in finance described these alleged contingency measures as “politically motivated acts”.

Syriza has learned a lot since 2012 when a fear campaign (with the help of Wolfgang Schauble and other European leaders) erased the advantage of Syriza and opened the way to the New Democracy-Pasok coalition government that has just fallen.

Then Tsipras chose a rather visceral antitroika speech to channel the anger of the Greek people against Germany, the ECB and the IMF after a program of shock therapy that has placed half of the population on the verge of poverty, according to new data. But the fear of grexit (exit from the euro) and a flight of capital from the Greek bank defeated Syriza.

This time Tsipras has opted for a more positive campaign. A year ago, he announced that he would tear up the troika’s third memorandum-more adjustments, more tax increases-in the courtyard of Parliament. Now he says that the end of austerity will be negotiated amicably with the European powers and that the restructuring of the bulky debt would never be unilateral but negotiated with the troika.

It is a change of tone rather than content. Syriza continues to oppose the program of adjustments agreed in exchange for the granting of loans for 270,000 million. He also remains committed to negotiating a moratorium on 50% of this debt. “The troika has already recognized that the Greek debt must be restructured, we just want to advance it,” said Yorgos Stathakis, the economic adviser closest to Tsipras, in an interview with La Vanguardia.

The economic plan of Syriza announced to date includes spending 2 billion euros of humanitarian aid to reconnect thousands of families without electricity and provide food aid, economic reactivation measures and job creation through public investment and State reforms.

It is not known how this program will be financed, but Tsipras knows that in a country where one out of every three families receives less than 10,000 euros a year and 55% is in danger of sinking below the poverty line, the Government of Samarás will fall by its own weight.

Tsipras and Stathakis have focused their attacks on the national oligarchy rather than the Troika. Dropping expectations even before the electoral victory, Yanos Dragasakis, another economic spokesman close to Tsipras, has publicly acknowledged that the best that can be expected in the negotiations with the troika is an “incomplete victory”.

Although the so-called left platform of Panayotis Lafazanis, which has the support of 30% of the Syriza militants, is opposed to the permanence of Greece in the euro, Tsipras has managed to convince the majority of the Greeks that there is danger of grexit.

The optimistic and dialoguing discourse seems to be working. The polls go in favor of Syriza – it already has 31% to 35% of the intention to vote – although the absolute majority still seems difficult to reach. In the international arena, Tsipras already has the support of many Social Democrats in Brussels. The Italian Prime Minister, Mateo Renzi, has defended the “right to decide” of the Greeks.

Although Tsipras is already using an Obama-style speech, of hope, in search of 10% of undecided voters, he keeps winking at the anti-American left of Lafazanis. Publicly discards a coalition with the small parties in the center, either with To Potami (El Rio) – the centrist party of the charismatic television personality Stavros Thodorakis, with 7% in the polls – either with what remains of the Pasok or the new party of the former socialist prime minister Yorgios Papandreou. Nor do the conservative Greek Independent Nationalists seem very compatible with Syriza, although they do oppose the Troika.

Tsipras astonished more than one commentator last week by saying that he prefers to have the parliamentary support of the still pro-Soviet KKE, staunch enemies of the euro. “I support the proposals of Stathakis regarding the oligarchy, but Tsipras prefers to ally with the communists,” said Pavlos Eleftheradis, To Potami’s candidate in Athens.

They are the subtleties of a plural discourse of Alexis Tsipras, considered a tactical habil. “Syriza is the party of change for a young middle class, very punished by the adjustments and the system of oligarchs and clientelism in Greece but which is not very left-wing,” said an adviser to Nadia Valavani, possible foreign minister if she wins Syriza .

But Tsipras knows that the great asset of Syriza is that it is a party of the claiming left in a moment of serious crisis of the model of privatization and liberalization with a base of militants of the old guard. “This neighborhood is destroyed, we are fighting against the black cloud of Angela Merkel,” said a resident in the chaotic working-class neighborhood of Kolonos where the neo-Nazis of Aurora Dorada – with 6% or 7% in the national surveys – compete for the vote of rage with Syriza and the KKE communists.

Many of these militants would prefer that new elections be convened rather than agreeing with To Potami or Pasok. An agreement with To Potami that supposed to accept the demands of the troika “would be a kolotoumba (a somersault)”, writes in his blog Hugo Dixon, correspondent in Athens of Reuters, “the left of Syriza would hardly accept it”. 

Image result for Evangelos MeimarakisThe president of the Greek Parliament, Evanguelos Meimarakis, admitted yesterday that the troika exerted strong pressures on Athens to advance the elections. “The creditors were aware of the political uncertainty and, as we approached the expiration of the rescue program, they demanded more things, they gave us to understand that we are not a strong government and that it was necessary to put an end to the uncertainty,” he said. local radio Parapolitiká. Asked if there was blackmail of the troika, he replied: “That is what you are saying, but it is clear that it was about that”. “When we explained that it was not possible to reduce pensions even further and they insisted, the negotiation could not conclude,” said Meimarakis, a member of the ruling New Democracy party. In September, the troika (European Commission, ECB and IMF) interrupted negotiations with Athens after demanding 19 measures of immediate application, such as the end of the moratorium on evictions of first homes and the reduction of pensions.

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Is the ground clause fair or unfair?


Professor Oscar Elvira asks through a story if it was really an abusive condition

To understand well the issue of the judicial ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union on whether the ground clauses are abusive, I would like to explain a story to see what they think about it.

Year 1998. Fernando and Marina want to buy a flat in Barcelona. Since the purchase price is high (250,000 euros), they need bank financing, and their bank offers them a mortgage of 200,000 euros. When setting interest rates they offer two alternatives: it could be a fixed rate of 5.5% at 20 years or a variable rate Euribor + 2% at 25 years, reviewable annually (that day the Euribor was at 4). %).

What does it mean? That with the first option they know what they have to pay during the life of the loan , in contrast with the second, what they have to pay will depend on how the interbank interest rate is on the revision date. If the Euribor were at 4% they would pay 6% or if they were at 5.5% they would pay 7.5%, on the other hand, if they were at 1% they would pay 3%.

Fernando and Marina had done a market study, the prices offered by the other banks, and they think that the 2% differential is excessive, so they ask if there is any economically more favorable alternative for them. The bank says there is a third option, reduce the spread as long as they agree to pay a minimum interest rate. Specifically receive the following offer: Euribor + 0.50%, with a minimum of 3.5%.

What does it mean?

What does it mean?

They have just reduced the interest rate they will pay during the life of the loan, because if Euribor is at 4%, they would pay 4.5%. But if the Euribor is at 1%, they would pay 3.5% (and not 1.5%). Fernando asks why they charge a minimum of 3.5% and the bank responds that it must cover a minimum of infrastructure expenses (offices, salaries, and general expenses) like any company or family.

They think about it and see that it is coherent and that it is a good deal since, in exchange for improving the differential, they accept a minimum that is below the fixed rate of the mortgage that they offered to 20 years. Finally, they accept the minimum interest rate in exchange for improving their differential.

Well, this 3.5% is the floor clause , the minimum interest rate that you have agreed with the bank (remember that they had two initial offers that they rejected).

The years pass and on December 21, 2016 the Court of Justice of the European Union invalidates the ground clause for lack of transparency. And I ask myself: Can all families really say that it is an unfair clause and that in their contracts, signed before a notary, there was not enough transparency? Did not they sign it because they improved the initial interest rate? Did not they find out?

In this case I do not see the explicit “bad faith” of the banks as it did in other products such as the preferred shares of the years 2009 and 2010. It would have been different if a bank had offered a variable rate mortgage with a competitive spread, and that at the time of going to the notary to sign the mortgage it would not be clear that the price had a floor clause.

That is to say, as you all know, when getting into debt before a notary we are interested in verifying three things: amount, term and price or interest rate . If at the time of referring to the variable interest rate, a clause was placed in an annex that was difficult to understand and was clearly on a page of writing away from the paragraph where the interest rate is agreed, we might think that we want to hide a clause that is detrimental to the client.

That’s why my question is:


Did all the mortgages try to hide it ? I do not think so. And what impact

does this have on banking? Exactly nobody knows. The Bank of Spain figures in about 4,200 million euros the impact of the sentence for banks. It would be the additional provisions that banks should make. According to the ruling, 1.5 million customers are obliged to compensate, and banks have to return to clients what they have overpaid throughout the life of the loan. This means compensation for the period from 2009 to 2013.

For now, a first impact has been the drop in the price of the shares of listed banks. The most penalized were Liberbank and Banco Popular . The final impact will depend on how many affected claim before the courts because the bank is not willing to automatically compensate all customers. The Supreme Court has only nullified those that can be proven to be non-transparent. It will be resolved case by case before the courts. Thus, those affected will not be only those who have a current mortgage loan. It will also be those who have already paid 100% of the debt, who can claim what they have overpaid.

The final bill will depend

The final bill will depend

on whether the courts end up considering all the ground clauses abusive and not just those that were established in an opaque manner and without transparency towards the client. For example, Banc Sabadell has already stated that the resolution does not affect them because the application of the clauses was completely transparent. From Brussels it is expected that Spanish banks have been prudent and have recognized the losses with provisions already made and that the impact is less than what is thought. I believe that the impact will be much less than the 4.2 billion. In any case, it will not be a short way. The banks will have to be sued, case by case, and a judge will agree with the client.


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