Category: Uncategorized

Go visit Greece

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I am not Greek, if I had been born in the Mediterranean paradise; the outcome would have been voting down the existing IMF austerity proposal, because no appears to be the most rational choice, both, in principle, and in practice.

There are some really solid reasons not to surrender under bullying to one’s sovereignty, and that is exactly what the Hellenic people did. Had the vote been yes to EU’s latest monetary deal it would have been a surrender to lasting economic controls of epic proportions for decades. The vote was if anything a vote of wanting change or hope to the present disastrous path.

Greece has been a punching bag for the political-economic gold fear mongers and Republican pundits ever since the beginning of the current economic crisis, what the talking heads in CNBC forget is that the great nation of the United States of America at no time chose to give up its right to print and control its currency.

The debt problem in Greece reflected negligent lending as well as socially irresponsible borrowing, kind of like the fiscal crisis in America for without tremendous flexibility; the fed would never have kept its head above water. So why do we expect a little country like Greece with a history of economic problems to handle this and in any case the Greeks have paid for their government’s sins many times over with budgetary controls over the course of the crisis.

 

The International Monetary fund had already concluded that without serious debt-relief Greece repaying its debts that it should not be loaned in the first place was nothing more than a dream. The sticking point has always been Greece asking for its debt relief to be a permanent solution not only another quick fix, so why would we expect these people to vote yes for decades of economic burden with absolutely no end in sight.

Only to put some of this into perspective the decline in value of Chinese’s equities in the past three weeks has reached almost $3 trillion, about 10 times Greece’s gross domestic product in 2014.

The monetary rescue would have entailed another round of heavy cuts to government and social services and over-the-top tax increases, with no debt restructuring leaving bankers to direct government how it should continue to manage its own country.

 

Some have suggested that the deal was engineered long-term to leave the country in even worse shape, and here’s why.

The Greek Merchant Navy is the second largest taxpayer in the nation; maritime logistics is arguably the oldest form of occupation of the Greeks and a key element of the current and ancient economy. There are at least 16% of the world’s tonnage being moved by a ship under their national flag, and the proposed taxation changes would have driven this sector full steam ahead to other countries from Cyprus to Bermuda in an effort to reduce their tax burden. However, tourism is the main non government employer and the cost of continued economic controls for years to come will do nothing to help this breadwinning sector grow.

If the nation remains part of the euro zone but starts to print and issue its own fiat currency again the opportunity for long-term investment and growth could leave the nation in a positive economic position a decade after if outside investors could be seduced with incentives and tax cuts.

There is still a chance for a worthy debt reduction deal out of the EU, but I feel the euro has more to lose long term then the people of Greece do, when setting the precedent of abandoning the euro. Once this happens, I can’t understand why some of the other countries would not follow.

So what happens long-term is anyone’s guess, but I feel watching the talking heads on CNBC makes me wonder what would they have to say if China was demanding serious economic cuts to the US government spending and banking controls. I can’t imagine Jim Cramer being willing to be supportive of such a disaster.

 

If your worried about this stop now, you really should be more worried about China’s economy.

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On a travel hacking note, I have been researching Greek based vacation providers this week. So should you, Tourism is liquidity and the nation needs that now more than ever. Aegean is a star alliance member and its running a 20% off sale on some already low fares. Greece is beautiful!

American Express Canada kills churning ability for most of their cards and it’s a total disaster.

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This week has seen some setbacks for the serious Canadian travel hackers and American Express is the worst of it. It’s been on the flyertalk forums for months and then I noticed this on the footnotes for the Amex gold rewards card on the Canadian site.

“ for current or former American Express®Gold Rewards Cardmembers, we may approve your application, but you will not be eligible for the welcome bonus. “

Over the last few months, I have noticed talk of Amex Canada ending the ability to churn their cards over short periods of time, but I was not expecting the time frame to be a lifetime. Personally, I was expecting something along the lines of a 6 or 12 month period between cards to cut down the amount of extreme gaming of the system that is taking place. I can understand that being a good business decision for American Express, but a lifetime is a bit too much really.

Churning cards is the process of applying for a credit card to get the bonus points and then cancelling them once you have earned the bonus points or welcome points.  Last year, most of the points I earned came with an annual fee waived for the first year and I would cancel that card before the end of that year.  I was not really churning cards too heavy or fast for the points but I was hopeful to get some churning done this winter.

 

If you have a churn in process with Amex, you should contact their customer service line asap.

 

Things to keep in mind are that we as Canadians could see a lull in lucrative credit card signup bonuses and patience could be a rewarding virtue here. We could see a number of signup bonus offers rise after the dust settles and positive things could change, so don’t despair.

 

I feel that American Express could have done a better job in controlling the gaming by increasing the minimum spending on these cards. That would have generated more revenue without killing the program. It would have been a better way to continue this profitable operation for both cardholders and American Express. Amex is expensive on retailers and accepted almost nowhere when it comes to local business; the additional points made the effort worth travel hackers time and energy. In general I have been less impressed with Amex when it comes down to overall point earning and customer service.

 

Some good news shop.ca has a 15x Aeroplan bonus being run for Canada day so be sure to check that out.

keep calm and carry on.

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The larger the bag the worse things get.

It was 2004 and my second trip to Toronto, I was not a first time flyer but looking back I really was inexperienced. I sat at the base of the carousel waiting like a lost puppy for my bag. My laptop and everything I needed for the week ahead was in it. As the last of my fellow passengers came and went collecting their bags as I just became dumbfounded. Feeling the confusion and dread take over; I with my puppydog face started seeking out help somewhere, finding someone to help me from Westjet was the hardest part. You should have seen me a lost puppy dog wandering around asking who I can talk to, with a little luck I found an actual airline employee. She was kind and respectful of the situation but really bloody unhelpful, contact numbers exchanged I left the airport empty handed.

The next day after going shopping for the basics and getting some clothes I got a phone call from Westjet saying they have tracked down my bag full of everything I needed and it was on its way to Toronto. She was really uncomfortable telling me that my bag was in ah kelowna…… huh?

Just before my departure at the airport I once again got my bag and checked it headed home to the prairies. Did I really need all of that shit l lived without?

Both Delta and Westjet are great airlines that happen to have one big thing in common, both lost my bags, fitting how they’re both trying to create there own little useless alliance. I have a little hatred for the Atlanta based airline even when I am not sure they deserve it even after messing with my reward miles. Westjet at least got my bag back, Delta on the other hand did a failed magic trick with mine but could not make the rabbit reappear.

I don’t agree that people should be allowed to carry on stupidly large amounts of stuff, but I am sick of hearing from bloggers and airlines that the carry-on’s should be something we start charging for because after all the experience I have had I hate checking bags. Flight crews are the first to see and complain about the issues with carry on bags, but almost all flight crews carry on their baggage!!! I can’t imagine a pilot or crew member getting a good sleep after losing his luggage and has only what he was wearing on the journey up at the start of a 5 day tour. Most of the time I do travel with just one bag, but on longer or work trips I have checked a few pelican cases of gear and never lost them. I am always thinking of ways to make my bag lighter and cringe when more than one is required but it does happen.

It was a real learning experience back then losing my stuff, now I just keep calm and carry it on when ever I can! I do expect the airline to screw stuff up.

 

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Next week I will be back in Winnipeg and then Edmonton.

The picture was taken in Toronto as I walked with my one bag to the downtown airport. Keep calm and carry-on!

 

The dream-come-true flight to NZ at an unbelievable price

The flagship airline of the land of the long white cloud is giving you even more reasons to consider taking time off and traveling to New Zealand before winter hits Canada again. In some odd weird partnership with a flight centre in Downtown Vancouver New Zealand air will give 75 people the chance to purchase tickets to Auckland for only $475 CAD in celebration of their 75 year anniversary. Read more

Amelia.


Amelia
Earhart’s story has been always interesting, maybe it’s her drive to go on these big unknown groundbreaking journeys or what she represented. Her story as the female underdog is at times soul touching and when considering the times she lived a great set of accomplishments not just as a female but as a pilot.

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