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Friday, January 28, 2011

Why Arabs offer hope to the world

Tunisia has overthrown the dictator Ben Ali, who has absconded with their treasury of gold to the Gulf with his harridan wife and pampered children.

Now Egypt is on the streets, demanding the removal of the dictator Mubarak, who has long ruled the country with an iron fist and who intends for his son to inherit his Pharoahdom.

I hope sincerely that the Egyptian people can win their right to self-determination just as the Tunisians have. Mubarak is on the ropes tonight, having shut down the internet yesterday and received a stern warning from the US, which props up his regime, that his time is effectively up.

What's fantastic about this development of democratic protest in North Africa is that it is an unexpected victory from an unexpected source.

For decades now, those of us who believe in the right of people to rule themselves have been despairing as one populist uprising against a Big Man ruler after another was crushed by tanks, guns and the military.

Indeed, ever since Tiananmen Square, it seems like the norm has been for protests to be crushed, or at the very least put down with mealy-mouthed words about 'reform' and a shuffling of the ruling elite. Burma, Thailand, the central Asian states, Zimbabwe - too many peoples to mention have failed to secure their freedom, leading me for one to fear that it was perhaps no longer possible for a nation to liberate themselves.

And of all the places to lead the way and show that it is possible, the dictatorships of Arab Africa are certainly not where I thought this tidal wave of hope would emerge. Brutalised by their leaders, plagued by Islamofascist opposition, demonised by the Western world - these people were poor candidates to show us all what freedom means and how important it is.

I recall Egypt myself with great fondness - a nation of educated young thinkers, curious about the world, philosophers, hard workers. Cairo is a well-behaved metropolis where a woman can walk alone after midnight and not fear being harrassed. Partly, yes, this was the result of a police state. But also, it is the product of a culture which values debate over drinking, camaraderie over casual sex. An honourable people ruled by a dishonourable regime.

In Egypt, they have experienced millennia of tourists visiting the treasures of their country. And so, they are well-practised at haggling and hussling money from their visitors. I quickly learnt one useful word in Arabic that sufficed when all other refusals to bargain fell on deaf ears.

'Imshi!' is not a pretty word. It generally shocks those it is directed to. It generally makes them gesticulate angrily and leave. I used it often to get rid of begging children following me around.

Now the Egyptian people are telling Mubarak 'Imshi!' And in Libya, Algeria, Syria, Jordan, all over the Arab world in fact, dictators are squirming in their palaces, fearing that they will be the next one to be forcibly removed.

Mubarak should mutter and gesticulate if he wishes. He may even attempt to empty the Egyptian central bank like his thug brother Ben Ali did in Tunisia. But he must, in the end, go just as Ben Ali went.

Good luck tonight, Egypt. Hopefully no more blood will be spilt in the transition to democracy.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Comedy government continues

Long after it stopped being amusing and became a sick joke.

Cowen has quit as Fianna Fail leader, but not as Taoiseach.

Party before people, as it ever was with the soldiers of destiny.

"We must cast off the shroud of negativity and regain our national perspective," says Biffo.

You really couldn't make this shit up.

The last laugh comes on Wednesday with Labour's vote of confidence in the Taoiseach. Since he won't walk, it appears he has to be removed forcibly. The Greens are now hinting they will support the motion. I hope they do.

The crucial thing at this point is that the Finance Bill is not enacted into law, so that a new government, after the election, will have the room to renegotiate the bailout.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

They're out at last - now let's jail them

Some vote of confidence that was. Within a day, half the cabinet have quit on Cowen.

It's at times like these that the political clock suddenly accelerates, and more can be achieved in a matter of moments than might take weeks in normal times.

The criminals are running for cover, each rat seeking its own route off the sinking ship. These are the end times, the dog days of this evil, traitorous administration, and now, as they fall into acrimony and turn on each other, seeking selfishly to shore up their individual spoils and treasures, is the time that they should be halted in their tracks by the people of Ireland and held to account for their treachery.

Mussolini's end was swift and ignominious, as was that of Hitler, Ceaucescu and any number of petty tyrants and traitors who sold out their people to death, or war, or crippling poverty, or endless debt enslavement while they continued voting themselves pensions and pay raises, living like emperors, right up to the moment they realised the people now desired retribution.

And there must be a reckoning for what this shower of thieves have done to Ireland. There must be an accounting, omitting none of them. Let's not forget Bertie Ahern, the gangmaster of this current cabal, nor those who snuck out of the party early, McCreevy, Hoppity Cullen, O'Dea the perjurer.

Treason in Ireland is a capital crime, one of the few carrying death as a penalty, and there is no doubt whatsoever that their indenturing the nation to debt slavery to pay off the losing bets of big bankers and their cosy circle of developer and banker friends amounts to nothing short of treason.

Don't let them sneak off into the night with their ill-gotten gains, not this time. Don't let them die in their sleep, in their mansions, like the crook Haughey did.

Let us hold them to account for their actions. For if we do not, if we tolerate this last outrage, what type of nation can we in any honesty claim to be?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

NAMA in Blunderland

Come with me once again down the rabbit hole well trodden by Irish property developers and their enablers in Irish banks and the Irish state bodies.

Our hero today is Killiney solicitor Brian O'Donnell, a man who somehow managed to leverage his business in just over a decade to the point where he was buying Washington skyscrapers overlooking the White House, entire buildings in London's Canary Wharf and Stockholm's biggest office block.

Of course, the money for these nine-figure purchases was largely borrowed from banks. And now they'd like it back. Bank of Ireland is looking for around €70 million from O'Donnell and his doctor wife. But that's dwarfed by their total property debts of over $1 billion.

So far, so Celtic Tiger collapse. But what's especially hallucinogenic about this case is not only the massive amount of money that the banks leant to a lawyer and a doctor to buy skyscrapers all around the world. What's really, really straining the limits of credibility is the fact that our hero is currently on a panel to advise NAMA.

Needless to say, like all good state agencies, NAMA is spunking absolute fortunes of state money at lawyers. The agency is expected to hand over €260 million to legal eagles over the course of the next decade. That's a quarter of a billion euro of OUR MONEY.

And who are these incredibly expensive legal advisors? Well, 64 firms have been appointed to a panel to share the booty. And unbelievably, Brian 'Billion in the hole' O'Donnell is one of them.

Let us pause for a moment to catch our collective breath at this audacity.

Somehow a lawyer managed to persuade the banks to loan him not a few hundred grand for a couple of buy-to-lets, nor even a couple of mill for an apartment block, but one BILLION dollars for skyscrapers.

Then it all went tits up for property, and now the banks want their cash back and are suing to get it. O'Donnell being a lawyer, is obviously fighting it. Fighting in court is what he does well, unlike investing in property.

Meanwhile, the state via it's impaired bank loans vehicle NAMA is doing the best it can to bail out the poor developers and the banks who got burnt went property went poof.

And of course, this is inevitably a bonanza for lawyers, as all state agency activities tend to be. But the incredible chutzpah, the sheer gall of all involved to appoint a lawyer to this advisory panel, which will pocket quarter of a billion in fees, who himself got spectacularly burnt and is in debt to the tune of $1 billion on property, is staggering.

Let's go over it one more time, real slow: NAMA has decided it is appropriate to take legal advice on handling their crappy property loans from someone who themselves owe a billion bucks to the banks on property deals.

They're either mad as a hatter, or they've been chewing on the wrong side of the mushrooms. And they've obviously stopped even caring about what they do or how it looks to us poor pleb mugs who just had our entire futures mortgaged to the IMF to pay for all of this mess.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

More false dawns than a transvestite conference

That's my impression of the ongoing farce that Brian Cowen finds himself in.

Another day, another 'momentous' speech in which he once again clings onto power at any cost, daring the Greens, his own party, the plotters in his cabinet to grow a pair and take him out.

It's becoming like Groundhog Day now. Each time, it's billed as a potentially epoch-changing moment. Mired in the shit he created, Biffo announces a speech. The meeja dust down their overtime slips and grab a cab to government buildings or whatever hotel, shebeen or outhouse Biffo has chosen this time.

Then out comes Cowen, licking his lips and blustering the same tired old bullshit about doing his best for the country, while some few remaining loyal colleagues simper alongside.

Then Pravda RTE announce that it was a strong and important speech by the Taoiseach, to gales of laughter from the public beyond the Montrose cumann.

And the proverbial can takes another kicking down the road, and the country remains essentially misgoverned by incompetents while the much-needed general election is once again delayed for the benefit of a handful of timeserving crooks in power.

Every repeat of this farce is costing us literally millions, costing us more of our rapidly vanishing sovereignty, costing us what little credibility we have left on the world stage.

Sure, the Opposition leaders will be cracking open the bubbly tonight at the prospect of Fianna Fail sliding ever further into obsolescence in the polls. But right now, none of this does the country any good whatsoever.

Will it actually take riots to remove this government? Do we as a people have less backbone than the Icelanders, the Greeks, the Tunisians? I'm ashamed to say we do.

Tune in midweek for another repeat of Cowen's single transferable 'I won't go' speech. If you can stomach it, that is.

Edit: Fianna Fail meltdown gets more amusing and confusing after Micky Martin decides to hold his own press conference. Here's what he had to say (apparently without first convening a committee to draw up a report):

Bottom line: He offered his resignation and it was refused (Real men just resign without asking for permission first) and will oppose Biffo on Tuesday, but confusingly still supports him as Taoiseach. He thinks he should lead Fianna Fail because he introduced a smoking ban years ago. And even though he's holding press conferences, he isn't canvassing for the leadership of the party.

My only remaining questions after two car crash press conferences in a row are:

What in hell are the Greens still doing in Government tonight (other than waiting to claim full ministerial pensions if they can keep going la-la-la with fingers in their ears until May)?

How many more passive-aggressive disgruntled ministers will hold similarly confusing press conferences before Tuesday's vote?

Friday, January 14, 2011


Let's take this one slowly.

I'm out in the pub tonight, meeting an old friend I haven't seen in quite some time.

'I read this racist blog', he tells me. 'Skinflicks', it's called.'

He goes on to tell me how he was stunned by what this blog had to say about asylum seekers.

I was in turn stunned that he thought this blog was racist.

So to clarify, I'm not going to give it the old 'some of my best friends' argument, because frankly, that's not really important. Instead, let me simply remind everyone that I've been arguing for a new asylum system for years.

In that pro-active system, I've argued that we as a nation should send planes out to known warzones and patriate people who demonstrably deserve asylum, as defined by local NGOs, especially Irish ones like Goal and Trocaire.

I'd also add that the Department of Justice themselves have stated that the vast majority of asylum seekers from certain countries, especially Nigeria, are lying. IE They were refused asylum on first application. This isn't surprising, since Nigeria is an affluent African country which is not at war with itself or anywhere else. Sure, it has problems. So do we.

We cannot afford to accommodate all people who earn less than we do, and the asylum system was set up to save people from death, not provide a new life for those who earn less than we do.

I'd love to see Aer Lingus planes bringing people from the Congo, from Afghanistan to Ireland so that we could offer them asylum. What I didn't love was us accepting in fraudsters from the Nigerian middle class who burnt their passports at Heathrow or on the plane as asylum seekers.

I didn't love us accepting asylum seekers who subsequently got elected mayor of their adopted town in Ireland and returned to Nigeria for a ticker tape parade, when they had told Irish authorities that their life was at risk if they ever went back.

Now we have no spare money. Now the tidal wave of economic migrants has dried up. Now we can and should implement a proper asylum policy that actually offers asylum to those deserving it. There's sadly no shortage of such people. We have NGOs all over the world. We can find no end of them. Let's help them, the people who actually need and deserve it.

Because it is, in my opinion, frankly immoral to pose as an asylum seeker if you are actually an economic migrant. It is immoral to pretend to be at risk of death or torture when that is not the case, just to gain access to free housing, education and benefits. Those are provided for people whose lives were genuinely at risk, and those who claim for it fraudulently are eroding our ability to help those who really need the help.

I'm not against an asylum policy at all. I just wish we had a proper functioning one, because so far, we never have. I just wish that we had a system that allowed economic migrants to enter and live in and support Ireland on Ireland's terms, rather than a system that drove them to pose as asylum seekers.

That's where I'm coming from. I was sad to hear that my position wasn't clear to at least one reader. Hopefully now I've clarified what I mean.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2010 was the joint warmest year ever

According to the global warming freaks.

Strangely, according to the rest of us, it was bloody freezing. I've never in my lifetime known temperatures approaching the -18C we were seeing on a regular basis in Ireland during December.

But obviously, I'm wrong and actually the weeks of snow, the crappy summer and the record low temperatures were a hallucination and in fact I ought to have been out sunbathing.

Because of course, it was actually the warmest year we've ever had.

Meanwhile in other news, Marilyn Monroe is set to marry Elvis at his mansion on the moon, with Shergar as best man and Hitler as bridesmaid.

Monday, January 10, 2011


That's Ireland's per capita safety net if the euro goes belly-up. €46 per man, woman and child.

Let me explain. Ireland holds a mere 6 metric tonnes of gold. (This is an improvement on only a few years ago, when our gold holdings were a tiny 2 metric tonnes.)

Six metric tonnes translates into 192904.478 troy ounces. That amounts to around 0.0433 troy ounces per person in Ireland. At the current price of €1061 or so per ounce, that's a mere €46 of insurance each if the single currency goes boom.

Why does this matter? Because gold is real money. The euro is simply currency - fiat currency, created by the EU in an ill-fated attempt to challenge the post-Bretton Woods hegemony of the dollar as the world's reserve currency.

And why is that important? Because increasingly, fiat currencies are collapsing. The dollar is engaged in an almighty printing press operation designed to destroy America's overseas debt even as it erodes American citizens' personal wealth. The euro, due to the ongoing debt crisis in Ireland, Greece, Portugal and other member states, will inevitably follow.

The markets are well aware of all of this, and have been fleeing to safe havens for months now, such as the Swiss Franc and the Brazilian Real, both of which are so overvalued as to be harming their indigenous economies. But money has also been flowing into commodities. In a world where money is potentially infinite, only finite commodities can store value meaningfully.

Hence the upswing in oil, gold and silver prices.

Weimar Germany is the most memorable example of what happens when a currency ceases to be a meaningful store of wealth. But we've also seen it recently in Zimbabwe too, where hundred million Zim dollar notes became the norm.

In the current economic climate, all currencies are in a race to the bottom, as governments seek to devalue in order to restore competitiveness. At such a time, hedging wealth in real money - gold, oil, land, commodities, precious metals - becomes inevitably more popular, driving up the price.

Of those commodities, gold is the most important, because it has held the role of real money among humanity for over 5,000 years. You can't print more of it. It is non-inflationary. That's why all central banks hold it - as a hedge against currency fluctuation and hyperinflation.

To a lesser extent, silver, the former 'people's money' fulfils a similar role, or did until the last century when stringent efforts managed to remove most of the planet from a bimetal or gold standard and onto a fiat currency system that is now unravelling.

What does this mean for the average person? Well, there are only around 4.5 billion ounces of gold in the world, and more than 6.5 billion people. Gold has shot up in value in recent years, as the world economy began to fall apart. But this is not a bubble so much as the beginning of its rally.

What will happen if the world currencies continue to devalue at the current rate? More and more people will seek to hedge their wealth in the only non-eroding, infinitely divisible store of wealth there is - gold. And there's less than 3/4 of an ounce per person to go around.

Don't expect the government to be in any position to help you at that point, if paper becomes almost worthless and gold takes off for the stratosphere. Because, as we now know, they only hold 1/25th of an ounce for every person in the country. You're going to have to look after yourself on this one.

An even more interesting role is held by silver. Historically the money of currency (being of a lesser value than gold by an historical ratio of c. 15:1), silver has been undervalued for many years, partly due to price suppression by big banks like JP Morgan.

But silver is also in huge demand industrially, and there is even less of it available for personal investors than there is of gold. If paper begins to collapse as a viable means of exchange, we will see what is already happening in Zimbabwe - people reverting to precious metals as currency.

And in that context, the value of silver, currently nearly 50 times cheaper than gold, will rise even more quickly than the yellow metal. It will become again the means of exchange, as gold itself will be so valuable as to be unusable for small transactions.

For such reasons, I think it is wise for people to consider holding some gold and silver. Note, I don't say invest in gold or silver funds, such as GLD or SLV on the market. Those funds simply don't have the metal. They are fractionally leveraged in the same way banks are.

IE they hold only a fraction of what they trade (believed to be less than 1% currently). If you have such investments, I'd consider divesting them and seeking actual physical metal if I were you, as the price of physical metal and 'paper' metal already appears to be decoupling.

There are bullion accounts out there, where your money is stored as gold and silver in your name, thereby saving you the anxiety of stashing metal around your home. A quick google will throw them up if that interests you. I have an account with one for peace of mind.

Because if the euro collapses, then your euro savings go with it, and you'll experience the same poverty that Germans in Weimar did if you don't have some gold or silver - real money when the paper goes poof.

After all, the government only has 1/25th of an ounce with your name on it.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Can we now admit that they weren't refugees?

Irish economy booms. Suddenly, out of the blue, the place is swamped with hundreds of thousands of asylum applications, largely from countries which, though poorer than here, are not experiencing notable civil unrest or war.

Irish economy collapses. Suddenly, out of the blue, the number of asylum applications crashes overnight. Nothing has notably changed in the countries from which the vast majority of our 'asylum seekers' originate - Nigeria, China and Pakistan, in other words. Pakistan is no more unstable than it ever was, China is no more open than it was five years ago and Nigeria remains stable though corrupt oil-rich nation.

Department of Justice figures have repeatedly revealed that the vast majority of such claimants are simply lying, and are nothing more than economic migrants. Now the economy is in the shitter, obviously the number of claimants is drying up, vindicating the Department's statistical claim that these are not, were not and never were political refugees.

So can we now admit that the bulk of asylum seekers were simply chancers on the make? Or will we continue squandering much needed public funds denying reality in the name of political correctness?

Such a strategy has finally become too much of a burden for one Irish council, it seems. For years, the Dun Laoghaire 'Festival of Cultures' was heralded as the flagship event of multicultural Ireland - a public festival that celebrated diversity and the rich heritages of the many migrant communities in Ireland.

Now that it's been scrapped, the council has revealed that actually the festival was a financial disaster, sucking half a million quid out of its much stretched budget and resulting in street violence.

Why couldn't they have told us this earlier? And why was the state paying for this at all? The Chinese community celebrate their New Year in Dublin annually. They pay for it themselves. There are St Patrick's Day parades all over the world. They are primarily funded by local Irish-descended community groups.

But here we have an occasion for public disorder, that cost the council a fortune annually, dressed up as a beneficial interaction of migrant cultures.

Over the past fifteen years, we have seen some seismic changes in Ireland, irreversible changes that have not all been beneficial to the state. After the Celtic Tiger rollercoaster, we find ourselves once again bankrupt and exporting our brightest youth to other shores, where they will not receive political asylum with its free housing, food and education. Nor will they receive 200 euro a week benefits or find the local council spending half a million to promote their culture.

A scan of the origins of PPS number recipients by nationality over the past decade or more reveals just how our immigration and asylum system was abused. How our good nature and hospitality was effectively abused.

Yes, there are a few Iraqis and Afghans. Not many Congolese, or Darfurians, though. No, what we received were primarily lying Nigerians, from one of the richest of all African countries, who circumvented the Dublin protocol on asylum to claim where the benefits were greatest.

Now, I'm the first to accept that they're not leaving. The days of a homogenous and pasty white Ireland are gone for good, and I won't particularly miss them.

But in our newfound poverty, can we also emulate the actions of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown council and introduce some honesty at last into the diversity debate?

The 'festival of cultures' was a money-sucking excuse for public order offences. Can we similarly now admit that the vast majority of asylum seekers to Ireland weren't actually refugees at all, but simply economic migrants who lied their way into the country?

Saturday, January 08, 2011

2011 predicted

Okay, here's my hostages to fortune for this year ahead:

1. FG and Labour elected in Ireland. No banksters prosecuted over the banking collapse. Further Irish debt servicing problems resulting in more pressure on the euro. I don't see the currency breaking up this year, but I do see moves towards a twin-track Europe and integrated eurozone economic policies (taxation, etc) picking up speed.
In short, we'll elect a government who can do nothing because they'll not have the bottle to renegotiate the IMF deal meaningfully (ie by burning the bank bondholders) and who will be ordered around by the EU under the terms of a deal struck by the FF regime who just left the building.

2. Muck and brass in Africa. The muck in places that remain a mess, like Sudan (about to separate under UN pressure), various West coast micro-countries (Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, for example) and the existing warzones in Chad and the Congo.
The brass in unexpected quarters, where African nations are quietly democratising, gaining Chinese investment and benefitting from a brain-drain reversal, thanks to returning economic migrants. Examples: Ethiopia, Botswana, Uganda.

3. The dollar looks likely to win out in the currency wars, if only because the euro is so flawed and weak, and the US economy is beginning a slow, faltering march in the vague direction of recovery. The Chinese will continue to diversify out of it, however, and many investors won't be fooled by the Dow's performance, resulting in at least another year of choppy growth for bullion.

4. Mass immigration from Ireland. It's already underway, so this isn't much of a prediction. But I have a feeling that the sheer scale of this, though it mightn't dwarf the levels from the Fifties or Eighties immediately, will be noticed due to the relative youth and education levels of those departing this time. We'll be left with an ageing, moribund, docile, ill-educated populace once again, only this time, many of those remaining in Ireland will be of Polish, Chinese and Nigerian origin too.

5. Nadal will continue eclipsing Federer, being hungrier for success. United will win the Premiership again. Barca will take the Champions League again, thanks to Messi. AC Milan for Serie A, and possibly a run in Europe too. More Irish soccer clubs will go to the wall, and attendances will be flat at Lansdowne Road as Trap realises that you can't polish a turd of a squad. We won't qualify for 2012.

6. Natalie Portman will get an oscar for performing lesbian sex on another hot Jewish brunette. It will be probably the most deserving oscar win all year. The music industry will continue to be dominated by corporate creations gleaned from Cowell's 'talent' shows. Labels will continue to decline in importance. It will get ever harder for bands and singers to gain an audience outside of viral internet gimmicks.
Similar will happen in the worlds of books (ongoing domination of celeb ghost-written trash, celeb and sporting biogs, novels by actors and singers, etc.) Media standards will continue to plummet as opinion replaces reporting, having the advantage of being a lot cheaper to produce (when not actually free).

7. House prices will continue to fall in Britain, Ireland, the US and Spain for some time to come. Expect ever more desperate fortnightly calls of the bottom by vested interests in the media and the estate agency industry.

8. David Norris will be nominated for the presidency but then won't win because Ireland would rather elect another lemon-sucking, platitude spouting timeserver than a gay man.

9. At least one developed country (or part thereof) will fully legalise and tax cannabis usage.

10. 3D TVs will turn out to be this generation's betamax. Tablets, on the other hand, will take off and begin an inexorable rise to passing out laptops as the personal informational device of choice, except perhaps in the Third World.

Friday, January 07, 2011

That crystal ball thing

Happy New Year (assuming you don't live in South East Asia, where it's the middle of the year, or East Africa, where it's still Christmas).

It's well past that time of the year where I make predictions for the forthcoming 12 months and assess the quality of my predictive abilities for the previous.

Let's get to it:

1. I can haz double-dip recession? ... In short, more red lines on the charts, more capital flight to precious metals, more lost jobs, more housing price decline, more negative equity, more foreclosures, more unemployment and more excuses from those responsible.

Result: Ding, ding, ding.

2. South Africa 2010 will see predictions of violence against the occasional drunk affluent visitor sadly fulfilled. Stadia will be full of white people flown in for the occasion. A European team, likely Spain or Italy, will win, though an African team, likely Nigeria, will get to the semis.

Result: SA pulled off the tournament without major incident. I can honestly say I'm extremely impressed. Spain did win, but the stadia were half empty and the African teams again underperformed.

3. General election in the Republic of Ireland.

Result: Well, we're getting it soon enough now, but I'm frankly baffled why it didn't happen last year, and I suspect history will record a nation regret that we didn't get one before FF and the Greens sold out the nation to international banksters, represented by the EU and IMF.

4. Result of election? Fine Gael and Labour, that unhappily married couple, back in the saddle again, this time minus the self-exploded Greens.

Result: This still looks very likely.

5. The toff Tories to edge it in a surprisingly close-run thing after an initial rally of the British economy in the Spring. But they will claim no seats in the North, leaving their alliance with the UUP in tatters.

Result: Pretty much correct, albeit the SDLP opted for Ritchie over McDonnell. A wise choice.

6. Post-Lisbon, the EU will grow ever more important... The twin-track Europe does begin to finally emerge. Eager to push on with the long march to federalism, the elites of Brussels will seek to seduce an inner circle to move faster.

Result: Just the one ding for this, because I didn't also foresee the EU becoming vilified locally after pushing to bankrupt our nation.

7. Poor ole spook kid Barack just won't catch an even break in 2010.

Result: Yup, though the predicted upswing in international terrorism seems to have been postponed until this year.

8. China realises its dollars are worthless and we don't want their tat anymore, and there's only so much African resources and commodities you can stockpile for future good times, so it belatedly decides to spree its dollar mountain on Western assets.

Result: Assets, and commodities, and land, and ...

9. Chelsea for the league, Barcelona for the Champions League, Rafa for Real and Mourinho for Anfield after an Arab buyout of the bankrupt Yanks.

Result: I admit to wishful thinking here. Man Yoo took the title, Mourinho took Real, Rafa took Inter, and more Yanks bought out the bankrupt Yanks, bringing in Woy the distastwous.

10. Russia will play silly buggers with the gas pipeline to the West again as it tries and largely succeeds in splitting both Georgia and the Ukraine in two.

Result: Vlad's stayed relatively quiet this year, with most of his naughtiness restricted to settling old scores via the secret service, rather than the large geo-political muscle flexing he preferred in 09.

Overall, another largely accurate assessment in a year of black swan moments, I feel. Next post will look at the year ahead.