About the End of the Stock Market (6-10-2008).

The Amsterdam Stock Exchange was the first stock exchange to introduce continuous trade in the early 17th century. The Dutch pioneered short selling and every other “modern” instrument. Until the sixties Government and the Big Companies were controlled by about 200 Rich Dutch Families (including the Royal Family). They controlled Society and took care of Stability.

In the 17th century the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was introduced by the Dutch Government. The VOC was the first multinational in the world and the first company to issue stock. It was the first mega corporation possessing quasi-governmental powers, including the ability to wage war, negotiate treaties, coin money, and establish colonies.

In the 17th century about 200 families, the so called Regenten, were in control of the Netherlands. The families promoted their members in every influential position available.

The Democracy of the Netherlands was in reality an Oligarchy. The “oligarchic way” of decision making, the Dutch Polder Model, is still the most important way to reach consensus in the Netherlands. Everything happens “behind closed doors”.

Until 1917 only the Rich people were allowed to Vote. The Rich Voted with their Money. In the beginning of the 20th century (1917) the universal suffrage for male citizens was introduced in the Netherlands. Two years later (1919) the female part of the country followed.

The Rich not only voted with their money they were also the most important owners of the Stocks. With the power of their stock and their money they helped their families to acquire important positions in the State and the Companies.

Until the Sixties the Rich maintained a very powerful social network based on reciprocity in the Netherlands. This network was not a local network. It was an international network. The influential Dutch Families were connected to comparable networks all over the world.

Around the Seventies the power of the Rich Families went down. They lost their influence in Parliament and in the Companies. The Flower Power Generation took over the Power at every Level of Society. After some time most of them lost their Ideals of Peace and Harmony.

They started to buy houses and shares and were helped by the Rising of the Economic Kondratiev Cycle. In contrary to the Regenten the Baby Boomers acted on their own. They were very Individualistic and never created a Social Network that could support Society.

Around 2000 the stock market started to vibrate and to go down. The same happened in politics. Many voters are now moving from party to party.

Who is controlling Society?

At this moment nobody is controlling Society. Society is taking its own course.

Who is controlling the Stock Market?

At this moment nobody is controlling the Stock Market. The Stock Market is taking its own course.

Not only the Stock Exchange but also the Political System and the Weather System are taking their own course.

Is there and end to this all?

I don’t think so.

Why?

We have entered the Downfall of the Kondratiev Cycle. During this Downfall the Old Institutions are destroyed and New Institutions take over the Power. We are in an “In Between State”. In this state everything is On the Move. Everything is Moving Up & Down, Left & Right. What many people don’t see that even the Center is Moving. The State and the Stock Exchange are not able to cope with the excessive amount of Movement.

What will happen at the End of the big Shake Up?

There are two possibilities. The first one is the return to an old center.  My guess is that we will move back to the State of the Renaissance.

The second possibility is “frightening” for many people. We will jump to an unknown state predicted by many Old Civilizations called the Fifth World or the Golden Age.

The Hopis call our time the “The Fourth Age of Man”. According to them the Earth has been wiped clean 3 times already. First by Fire, next by Ice, most recently by the great Flood approximately 11,000-12,000 years ago. We are now entering the last stage of the Fourth Age called “The great day of Purification“. This stage culminates either in total Rebirth or total Annihilation.

The Degree of Violence will be determined by the Degree of Inequity caused among the peoples of the world and in the Balance of Nature. In this crisis Rich and Poor will be forced to struggle as Equals in order to Survive. The beginning of the Fifth World will be heralded by the arrival of a being known as Pahana, or the lost “White Brother“.

If we believe the Prophecy of the Hopi and many other “Spiritual Movements (Gnostics, Sufi’s)” the only way that will save us from total annihilation is the Creation of Balance. We don’t have much time left. The Great day of Purification will happen . At that time the “Lost White Brother” (The Center) will return.

Is it possible to Balance the Financial System?

 Yes, I think so.

The only thing we have to do is to Unite Shareholders, Customers and Workers and give them an Equal Share in a Company. They have to Share the Power, the Profit or Loss, the Spirit and the Soul. They have to become Enthousiastic about What is Happening (Spirit).

They have to take care of Nature and the Other (Soul). If we do this we will recreate the Social Power Network of the Rich on a Different Scale (Earth) with other Participants. If we Help the Other we don’t need a Pension!

I am sure You want to put Your Savings into a Shared Enterprise. I am also sure that You will Never Regain the Money you will invest in Shares at the Stock Exchange. The Era of the Stock Exchange is Gone for Ever.

Why the Merger of ABN AMRO and Fortis will Fail (Part 2 Culture) if They Don’t Apply The Lessons Learned

In the first blog about the merger of ABN AMRO and Fortis I tried to show that the integration of the technical infrastructure of both banks will be very difficult. In this blog I want to talk about a much more important issue called Culture.

When the merger of ABN and AMRO was starting I was part of a management development course. The person behind the course was a very wise person. He told us what would happen the next years and he was right.

What he explained was that ABN was a very old bank that came out of a very long history. ABN was more or less the succeeder of the Dutch Trading Company VOC that was founded in 1602.

ABN was a deal-making bank. The culture of “deal-making” was very visible in everything we were doing. This was the reason why I could talk and “make a deal” with a senior manager at every level without any problem.

AMRO (Amsterdam Rotterdam Bank) has its history in the big harbors of Rotterdam and Amsterdam. It supported the people who were transporting cargo all over the world. The culture of AMRO was dominated by the Amsterdam culture. The culture of Amsterdam is one of the most difficult cultures to handle. People are always “playing games” and some of them are “dirty” or better “clever games” (practical jokes). Let’s call this culture “political” because politics is the game people of Amsterdam play the best. The political game is hidden behind the façade of the hierarchy.

The very wise person told us that the political game of the AMRO would finally kill the deal-making culture of ABN. This is what sadly enough really happened. It was the main reason why I left ABN AMRO. Many people were playing the finite game. They wanted to win and when you win there are always loosers and losses.

So to make it very clear what Fortis is buying is AMRO and not ABN. The ABN-part (deal making) was preserved in the International Network (bought by Santander) and Corporate Finance (bought by Royal Bank of Scotland). In my opinion Santander has  made the best deal!

The merger will only be a success when the Fortis-culture is able to cope with the “political (Amsterdam) culture” of ABN AMRO.

The Fortis culture is a combination of two Insurance Companies (Belgian and Dutch) and a bank VSB (Verenigde Spaarbanken) that originated out of a Cooperation (just like RABO). A insurance culture, a cooperative culture and a Belgian culture fit. At this moment Fortis can be best seen as a “Belgian Bank”.

Before the merger with ABN AMRO tried to merge with a big Belgian bank. This merger failed. The “Amsterdam culture” and the “Belgian” culture are completely opposite cultures. Belgians play the game of socializing. Everything happens behind closed doors and is arranged in restaurants. Belgian people enjoy food and wine. People in Amsterdam are also making fun but they make fun of each other.

Now let us have a look at what Fortis is really buying.

ABN and AMRO started to operate on the Retail market when the Dutch Companies around 1960 decided to pay the salary of their employees by a bank account. Before that time the employees were paid in cash. Both banks were more or less forced to move into the consumer market. Before that time both banks had really nothing to do with consumers. Consumers (Poor people) were served by the Postal Bank (now ING) and Cooperative banks like VSB.

Because “Consumer banking” was not part of the “essence” of ABN and AMRO were never (!) able to serve those customers. This is still the case. The Services of ABN AMRO are constantly valuated by their clients on the lowest level possible.

What Fortis buying is a part of ABN AMRO that is of a very different culture, operating with a very low service-level and supported by a very complicated technical infrastructure. Many customers of ABN AMRO are already very frustrated. They are not stupid and they know that the merger will not help to improve the service-level. The only thing that is stopping them is the burden of moving their accounts and the extreme low service-level of the competitors on the Dutch Market (ING is has moved to the first place in non-performing, ABN AMRO is now second).