by Christian Takushi MA UZH, 13-16 November 2015 – Switzerland.
Despite the unprecedented terror attacks in Paris last Friday, Europe is still in denial of the collective failures and full scope of the threats. But, surprisingly the elevated Global Geopolitical Risk is receding over the past two months (see point 5)! I have “boiled down” the complex and fluid analysis into 6 points. Europe is repeating its pattern of behavior: one of overreaction followed by a state of denial – one characterized by over-managed reaction and lack of visionary leadership. Russia’s daring intervention in Syria and support for France after the Paris attacks is helping to de-escalate the confrontation between Russia and the West. Nevertheless some NATO allies oppose a rapprochement, while others seem hesitant to bomb ISIS oil business & supply lines. Overall, there is a silver lining for the European economy.
1. Waning Security
The horrible multiple terror attacks in Paris three days ago (13th November or 13/11) are a game changer. France is officially in a state of war and emergency for the first time since World War 2. But let’s get the record straight: this is not WW3. As current trends in global and regional tensions advance such a world-spanning conflict would involve other nations, currently on the sidelines.
Three facts are stunning: (a) There is little self-awareness in Europe of the appalling failures at collective and leadership level that have facilitated such deadly attacks. The focus of our anger on Islamic terrorists and finger-pointing on political leaders and third parties can be counterproductive as it undermines the necessary self-check: have we failed too? Are only others to be blamed? Did we set wrong priorities? Were we in denial of facts? Should it be possible in a post 9/11 world that someone could drive several times a weapons’ arsenal from Montenegro to Paris across the EU? Has the combination of a super-tolerant Foreign Policy with aggressive military intervention in Moslem nations added to our risks?
Despite the horrifying terror attacks in Paris in January, dozens of terrorist cells with large amounts of weapons were active across Europe, travelled freely and were raided only after the 13/11 attacks. The problem with this “denial first – overreaction later” is that our security forces have to go from gentle tolerance to utmost forcefulness: treating hundreds or thousands of innocent civilians as potential terrorists and jailing many of them with real terrorists until they can be sorted out. Sure, they are set free after their innocence is clear, but for those affected it could be a traumatic life changing experience. We need to look after those affected people and provide care where possible, because they are victims of our overreaction. That could possibly derail a person’s self-worth and development, further feeding the distrust in some immigrant communities.
It has been reported that some of the terrorists were persons the USA had warned about before. This is not necessarily a failure in every case, because not every intelligence suspect is indeed a terrorist, thus European authorities may have in some cases correctly upheld the civil right of the suspected. But it seems that in France and Belgium there was simply not enough resources (intel, personnel and budget) to track those individuals. This seems true for Germany and Britain as well. Can we blame our political leaders only? No, it is a case of collective failure. Even with enough manpower, the limited access to sensitive data, passenger lists, mobile conversations and encrypted messages renders the job impossible. Thus, our own desire for utmost privacy protection has enabled home-grown terrorists to advance their cause. President Obama was right in acknowledging that the NSA went too far, but that there is a need for surveillance and that we ought to be working closer together. Among world powers: everybody monitors or spies everybody else. But, we are doing it to one another while our real common enemies go unchecked. And just recently German intelligence officers were disciplined for cooperating with their US counterparts. Our collective denial is leading us again to a situation where we are forced to overreact;
(b) Multiple reports seem to confirm: several terrorists had travelled freely to and from the Middle East, they took active part in the local social life of their European home towns, and large quantities of weapons have been also freely transported into the EU. This raises serious questions about EU’s Open Borders’ policy and the notion that we are dealing with just a few isolated Islamic terrorists – worryingly, several reports hint at sympathizers. TV reporters chatted with some neighbors in Paris and Brussels who presumably knew the coming and going of a suspect or that openly supported the acts of the IS militants. Even here we should differentiate between seemingly passive tolerance and active support. At this stage, I personally think the number of sympathizers may be over-stated: It is more likely that most of those that do not report suspects to police cannot report them because of important personal reasons: i.e. they are illegal, their status is pending, they have a history with police or have felt targeted before, they fear for their own security (!), they feel sidelined by society or they simply adjust to a behavior pattern among the disenfranchised that often leads to “mind your own business to survive”. In fact, little has been done to improve the security of Moslems and immigrants, specially those that opt to speak out. It would be too easy to brash all these issues into terror support. The fact that some immigrants see French or Belgian police as a kind of enemy could be playing a decisive role these days. Overall, it will be hard for people in mainstream society to fully comprehend and judge the living conditions and choices of people on the sidelines of society. Unfortunately, fears about sympathizers are spreading, aided also by the hesitant silence of our political leaders and media, which is partly understandable. But it is too late to ignore it, it is already feeding the fears spread by some right-wing parties. This ought be addressed soon and professionally, and with unbiased sensitivity. If irresponsibly done it could weigh on the millions of law-abiding immigrant and Muslim civilians that contribute to our society on a daily basis – if ignored it could trigger a powerful polarization in society and a shift to parties that aim at exiting an ailing EU. An additional risk of a forceful overreaction to appease or secure our population is that in hundreds of rushed commando raids targeting extended lists of citizens, many innocent people are rounded up like terrorists, but set free after their innocence is evident. But they could remain scarred for life. The trauma of innocents raided by stressed storm troops at gunpoint can derail their life. Thus, care teams need to look after those people – it shouldn’t be treated as mere collateral damage;
(c) France could only mobilize 1’500 soldiers three days into a state of war – this says a lot about the unpreparedness in Europe and the low awareness of the multiple risks it faces. The French Navy is the exception and is spearheading France’s war against IS by re-deploying the nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to the Middle East. In fact military experts around the world wonder about the fact that most army divisions and troops in Western Europe exist only on paper. Just as most nations in the world are arming themselves and terror groups mushroom. This is a collective mis-judgement of the powerful trends in today’s world. The first two days after a major event are the most critical. If we need three days to activate a brigade, that is more political comfort than deterrence. And again we cannot simply blame our political leaders for this: Europe is in a similar state of pacifism that led to the “unchecked” rise of the Nazis in the 1930’s and the Peace Treaties (appeasement and assurances) that ushered WW2. Even conservative Switzerland is following this path. As I’ve said before, Europe is not capable to protect nor defend herself – only the UK possesses a certain critical mass of battle-ready troops and some deterrence thanks to many outposts around the world. Europe is very dependent on the USA for her protection, at a level that many military strategists deem irresponsible. A strong and active military force is not only an effective deterrence, it is vital in case of terror or natural disasters. Our societies tend to go from one extreme to another: from outright militarism to pacifism that denies the risks, and vice-versa. Seldom able to strike a sensible balance that takes into account both, our desire for peace and the necessity to defend ourselves – effectively deterring those who would harm us.
Europe faces multiple threats, all of them compromising and degrading the Security situation over the continent. Sadly, European leaders aren’t addressing any of these systemic risks. And that is not their fault alone – the confluence of indirect democracy with an aging voting majority against a backdrop of a fast evolving world, means popular politicians are elected for short term comfort not strategic wisdom. Here some of the overlooked risks: threat of nuclear attack, nuclear disaster, natural catastrophes, food security, climate instability, Middle-East projected and home-grown Islamic terror, energy security, lost youth in Europe, weapons of mass destruction (biological, chemical etc), income inequality, geophysical risks, “supply chain” risk cluster in East Asia (we shifted production capacities to totalitarian states in geopolitically high-risk region).. just to mention a few of the risks we are monitoring.
I uphold my view that Muslim war refugees seeking help in Europe or the USA should not be rejected. It would be like punishing those who have suffered the most under IS terror. Undoubtedly, we need tougher security measures, procedures and if necessary deportation. But, if Europe goes from “denial” to “over-reaction” and punishes the most vulnerable group of people, it might be gaining some short term sense of security, but it would have denied the core of the Christian principles it was built upon, and it is so proud of. It would also single-out Moslems in Europe, many of which contribute to society and distance themselves from violence. We need to strike a pragmatic balance between compassion and security based on our principles. Currently, the biggest passive threat is coming from the “Open Borders” policy and lack of “access to data” in Western Europe.
2. As Washington hesitates, Paris approaches Moscow
France has tried to call up the NATO defense pact to enforce Article 5 for collective defense and declare war on IS, but the USA has turned it down through backstage-channels. France is likely going to call upon EU support instead. A rather symbolic step since European nations do not have the military capabilities to even properly defend themselves.
Within hours after the USA signaled to France, Washington cannot change its strategy against ISIS, President Holland approached President Putin. This is an unprecedented win-win for France and Russia, and a geopolitical victory for both Mr. Putin and Mr. Hollande. Mr. Putin had predicted the West and Russia should join forces as they face the same terror threat. With Russian missiles and strategic bombers hitting ISIS oil transports with impunity, Russia is proving a powerful ally to France’s response. Since the Paris-Moscow rapprochement the financing channels of ISIS are being hit hard for the very first time by intense firepower from the air and sea. President Hollande can show the effectiveness of Russian support within days of forming the alliance. Just like in WW2, Russia’s massive and daring offensives could tilt the war in the Allies’ favor. EU nations lack such offensive capabilities for an extended campaign. France is de-facto taking the war to the Islamic State with the coordinated support of Russia and the US-led coalition.
President Hollande has effectively assumed the moral leadership of the fight against ISIS. The French president is once more showing leadership qualities and emotional genuineness in crisis situations. Sadly for the West, the only reliable allied force on the ground fighting IS and other radical Islamists are the Kurdish forces, which Turkey has bombed with US approval. Although experts believe this was done for domestic political reasons (elections), the Kurds feel “utilized” by the US coalition. Kurdish forces have suffered massive casualties and born the fury of many counter-attacks by ISIS. The outside party they trust the most is Germany due to Berlin’s steady support over the years. Moscow and Paris will seek Berlin’s influence on Kurdish fighters.
The U.S. response is limited as it has mobilized the bulk of its troops to the Homeland and to the Asia-Pacific Theatre to contain China. Our intelligence analysis shows the Obama administration deems the domestic risks to the US Homeland higher for National Security than going to war against ISIS to protect Europe. Many military and strategic circles in the USA believe Europe has irresponsibly dismantled its military and defense capabilities since 2001. Giving in to France’s request would only reinforce European negligence again, leaving to the USA all the cost and the risking of American lives.
U.S. Central Command remembers still well how European leaders were not able to draw the line to Mr. Milosevic despite years of genocide in former Yugoslavia, because Europe had not enough troops to back up the words.
Washington’s unwillingness to commit much more resources and ground troops to support France means that France will shift its troops from Africa to fight IS and work closer with other nations. Russia’s military capabilities for this kind of war are considerable and impressive – only matched by the USA and Israel. Russia’s capabilities are simply bigger and swifter than anything the EU could put together. While the EU dismantled its military, Moscow spent the last 12 years modernizing and reorganizing its military to prepare for new types of conflict. This is one of them. Russia has dozens of stand-by brigades, regiments and divisions with battle-field and urban-warfare experience.
Bottom line: Washington’s caution means France will seek closer cooperation with Russia (openly) and Israel (behind the scenes). IDF’s special forces are probably the last hope for any Russian, French or US pilot downed behind enemy lines. Should France really want to take the war to the Islamic State, France will soon find herself in need of Israeli intelligence support. Even US forces rely on this expertise.
Since Russian and French pilots could be shot down over enemy territory, Moscow and Paris must be preparing for the possibility of their pilots being downed behind enemy lines or captured alive. In that case Israel’s special forces and ground intelligence might be the only hope those downed pilots may have. Only Israel possesses vast capabilities and experience for such dangerous rescue operations inside Islamic militia territory. Well aware of the risks, Moscow wisely asked for Israel’s implicit support ahead of their military intervention in Syria. With a good number of French- and Russian-speaking officers in the IDF, Israel is ideally positioned to provide “quiet” intelligence & rescue support to France and Russia. It already is on stand-by for any request from US forces.
A geo-strategic side-effect of 13/11: The attacks against Paris have raised the understanding among EU leaders for Russia’s and Israel’s dealing with terrorists. Until October 2015 the EU deemed Russia’s and Israel’s reactions as disproportionate and criticized them at UN meetings. Paris and Brussels see the embarrassing truth that her reaction to former terror threats may have been too half-hearted.
3. “Too little too late for Europe”
Despite the outrage and desire to strike back, the West and specially Europe sits in the trap – that means any “scrambled up” action is likely to prove too little too late. There is little acknowledgement of collective failures and no reversal of behavior. For years now, I’m concerned about the very low awareness in European political and business circles of the growing convergence of risks our continent faces. The enemy is well established within Europe already. Radical Islamic strategists have studied very well the flaws and weaknesses of our ailing and dysfunctional democracies. For 14 years Western leaders are assuming that we simply face a few isolated radical Islamists and that with education and economic prosperity militant radical Islam will fade away. Those two beliefs – cornerstones of Western strategy – are detached from reality. Those beliefs go hand in hand with what is perceived outside the West as (a) our condescending attitude towards Middle Eastern and Oriental cultures and (b) our lack of knowledge -reflecting our lack of respect- of their history, religions and goals/dreams. We analyze and judge them though our Greek-Roman linear-logical (Western) “glasses”. We remove some regimes by military force, others – equally totalitarian – we support as partners. The message we send out is one of interventionist power and incoherence.
Worse even, when facing terror-supporting states, the West aims at signing Peace Agreements. This despite Oriental tradition and Radical Islam: they have the religious or honor-based duty to lie to us to advance their strategy. As the U.S. Secretary of State indicated last week, the West is dealing with a totalitarian Nazi-style enemy – eager to sign treaties. Our leaders are “wishful thinking” I.S. is the only global threat. The West trusts in a Peace Deal with the largest sponsor of terror (Teheran) with a 70-year agenda after Teheran mastered its ballistic capability that reaches Europe, now allowing all Iran-backed terror groups free access to hard currency and weapons starting 2016. The US State Dept efforts are commendable still, because millions of Iranian citizens will see their living standards improve.
One thing is clear, the 13/11 Paris attacks will accelerate the Trend to Total Surveillance of citizens from New York to Beijing and the current Global Arms Race. The second biggest threat for the West is the notion that we can arm other Islamic militias and terror groups to fight IS for us. IS is only the tip of the iceberg, and as some wise Egyptian political observers have stated “it is surprising how the US-led coalition can distinguish between moderate islamic militants and radical Islamic militants”. That is difficult if not impossible, and explains why the USA has had to give up that strategy a few months ago. Too many West-sponsored fighters have reportedly joined IS.
Only a serious change of heart and awareness can lead to balanced but tacit action to preserve some of the security Europe has enjoyed in recent decades.
4. Economic impact of 13/11 attacks
The infamous attacks on Paris have dampened economic prospects for Europe and make an additional QE by the ECB more likely. It has further given the FED an additional reason to wait with a rate hike. Nevertheless, with so many economies weakening around the world and the USD beginning to weigh on US earnings, the FED will want to hike rates before the US economy decelerates any further. But there are positive side-effects of 13/11. The Russian economy and many industries of the military-security complex in Europe, USA, Japan and Australia will get a boost. Germany and Japan are competing for one of the largest military deals in history – to build the new generation super-size attack submarines for the Australian Navy, worth some USD 37 bn. Australia is trying to contain China and protect her interests. The sudden convergence of military interests by France, Russia and the USA will have an impact on the geopolitical and economic realm. The energy complex could benefit from a growing awareness of geopolitical risks and investments in energy and overall security. Saudi Arabia will have to compromise at the negotiating table and its stance at OPEC will follow suit.
Given Europe’s outdated military infrastructure (catch up needed) and the accelerating Global Arms Race, companies with vast defense technology and manufacturing capabilities like Thyssen-Krupp may benefit one way or the other. German firms may also benefit more than their Japanese counterparts – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries – since Germany is perceived as a stable reliable partner, while Japan is entering the unchartered waters of weapons’ export that are still heavily contested domestically. Furthermore, Japan is perceived by many Asian nations as a nation that is tilting fast to a nationalistic militaristic style, similar to the beginnings of the period 1904-1945. Having said that influential Asian leaders acknowledge, the Japanese response is due to the West’s toleration of China’s aggressive expansion.
The terror attacks have masked some bad economic news from around the globe and some weak company news in the USA. The Paris terror attacks along the widespread (and exaggerated!) rhetoric of a World War 3 are a geopolitical event favoring the states with the biggest military power (USA, Russia, to a lesser extent UK etc) and their respective currencies. This boost to the USD is buying time for the FED and should cushion the downside to the British Pound ahead of the Brexit referendum. The almost 40% rise in the USD value over the past three years is finally working as a tightening tool on the US economy. This latest event reduces the downside for any USD correction post rate hike. Investors worldwide bought the USD in expectation of a Rate Hike by the FED in 2015. This crowded bet in a vulnerable USD has now a superb downside support: geopolitical-military, the ultimate kind.
5. Global Geopolitical Macro Risk has declined over the past 6 weeks since Russia’s intervention in Syria
The most striking thing for us monitoring 24 global geopolitical macro trends and areas of tensions, is that the Global Risk Level has declined from the elevated levels we saw from mid July to September 2015. Even though the reduction is not big: from a level of 9 to 8.75, the reduction is a surprise to most readers. Most people follow the news – they see Russian war planes bombing Islamic militias supported by Western governments and then the infamous terror attacks on Paris. To them the Global Risk Level must have risen over the past two or three months. That is media-shaped perception.
What most readers following mass media will miss is the changes outside the spotlight and more importantly how those factors interact with one another. After being in a responsive mode for over two years to Western policy moves, Moscow took the initiative in an extremely timely manner. It intervened decisively in Syria, forcing all direct and indirect parties to come to the table. Russia’s smart timely move, catapulted the Ukraine-Crisis into the sidelines. The murderous IS attack has rushed Europe into working together with Russia for the common good.
Not only has the imminent risk of a military confrontation between NATO and Russia been diminished in recent weeks. Over the past three months the Emerging Powers and Developing Nations (China, Brazil, Russia, Turkey, Argentina, Venezuela etc) that were challenging the USA and the West have all entered a very difficult phase. Most of them are contracting or phasing a domestic crisis. Thus the rise of aggressive Emerging Powers, which was destabilizing the Global Balance of Power, has stalled in recent months. This shall prove to be temporary, but nevertheless, nations like China and Brazil are weakening fast economically and are at the mercy of FED policy. Thus, not in the best position to challenge the West at the moment. This doesn’t mean there is no follow-up risk: If their domestic situation deteriorates further or beyond remedy, they will try to deflect attention to geopolitical tensions with neighboring countries. And an unprecedented number of nations on earth are in the midst of a Global Arms Race. Thus, this could be the quiet before the storm.
These two factors (de-escalation between Russia and NATO, rise of Emerging Powers stalling) are more than compensating the increase in the global terror level, which affects people in Europe and the Middle East in particular. Thus, despite the tragic and traumatic events of the past 3-4 days, the Global Geopolitical Risk levels are receding slightly since the highs reached in the July-September 2015. This needs to be monitored very closely, but it is clearly supportive for financial markets, the USD and FED policy. A global war on terror in the midst of a Global Arms race is a situation that favors nations with the strongest military – it is logical that the USD is firm and that the Ruble may also recover soon. Switzerland is still an unchallenged safe haven overall, but after the Alpine nation began to shrink and dismantle its impressive military – following the EU Pacifist credo, the Swiss Franc no longer is the ideal safe haven in case of a military risk event. The Alpine nation has become vulnerable and cannot longer defend herself – just like her EU neighbors. All European nations rely on one another, but no one has the capabilities to sustain and overcome an unprecedented event or prolonged crisis. The collective safety is an illusive protection if everybody within Europe is cutting back its military, while the whole world is arming themselves.
By all optimism of a receding Global Geopolitical Risk over the past two months, the world remains in a very vulnerable shape and exposed to multiple risks & threats. Russia is pounding ISIS oil export business and supply lines with impunity – with many resenting this, even within NATO. Thus, a high level of crisis readiness and preparedness remains my advice. This actually since July 2015.
6. Looking Out into 2016
The world economy has been in fact contracting in many areas and regions over recent months. Even in the US manufacturing sector. The slowdown in East Asia and Latin America was particularly very pronounced. With the smaller economies (i.e. Paraguay, Philippines) faring far better than the very large ones (i.e. Brazil, China). The waiting of most Central Banks to get direction from the FED (coordination) and the reduction of Global Geopolitical Risk (point 5) are supportive elements, nevertheless.
Key export & import data, export & import prices, railway data and shipping data show important sections of the world economy are contracting at a 4% to 10% annual rate over the past three months. Despite the biased classification of several service sectors, the service sector complex cannot completely compensate the contraction in manufacturing, fixed asset investments, mining and construction. We conclude that government officials are again “touching up” official economic data with more intensity since September 2015. The picture investors are given is that of a soft economic growth, which is supporting markets. More stimulus is expected, even though it is not really having the desired impact, apart from boosting “big business” accounting profits. The interest of investors, banks and policy makers are indeed almost perfectly aligned. There are positive exceptions though, like India, which benefits from lower energy prices. Beijing and Buenos Aires are not the only governments deceiving the public & markets with official data that looks moderate – managed expectations do work, sadly, and that can be longer than many assume. Beijing reports economic growth at +6.9% instead of +2.5% to 4.5%.
The de-escalation of military tensions between NATO and Russia could have a significant effect on investments and trade. Many German firms were forced to literally freeze their planned investments in Russia – some of them are massive. Although some may not resume, many are follow-up investments of existing profitable projects. This rapprochement could bring relief to French farmers, as well as to German, French, Italian and Russian businesses. All put together and barring derailing in other global trends, 1H 2016 could be better for the European and World economy than many expect or fear. We had already expected a very weak World Economy this Q4 2015, but now we are revising up slightly our weak forecasts for Q1 and Q2 2016.
Although short term the terror attacks are accentuating the contraction of real economic activity in vulnerable consumer discretionary areas, but by 1H 2016 the massive shift into military and security spending will lift key areas in manufacturing and industrial production across the UK, France and Germany. Something we’ve been observing in other nations already: USA, China etc. We should also not underestimate the possibly far-reaching effect of these 13/11 attacks, where they can help tilt the balance: for instance on general elections in Argentina. They could tilt the balance in favor of a more conservative, but also more pro-business presidential candidate. Investors should prepare for possibility of a rapprochement between Argentina and the IMF. I doubt though that the Argentinian electorate is ready to see through painful reforms, thus investors should not hesitate to lock in price gains down the road.
Remember, GDP from the manufacturing sector is more stable and macro-economically superior to the GDP from many service sectors. I maintain my preference for the industrial (incl. energy in Europe), military & security complex and basic consumer goods, along my caution over discretionary consumer items. In most economies Dependency Ratios (old) are deteriorating faster than ever before, increasing the burden on younger households directly or indirectly (via taxes).
A few further implications for institutional investors
After Russia, Germany may be the biggest immediate help to France by replacing overstretched French troops in Africa. Given the limited fighting and logistical range of France’s aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, Paris will likely request stand-by support from the Russian military port in Western Syria. This will have an impact on EU-Russia relations and it could also help tip the expectations on the (oversold) energy complex to the positive side. Commodity and specially energy-related currencies and companies are still under massive pressure and a turnaround should not be ruled out. This calls for close monitoring.
If economic data continues the negative trend, mid-term and long-term bonds could benefit the most. Currently, many investors continue to over-emphasize the interest rate differential and one-off price effect, thus underestimating the dynamic rate-compounding effect of mid & long dated bonds, which can over-compensate the price decline along rising rates.
As I wrote upon the Russian intervention in Syria. Moscow’s action in Syria was a smart geopolitical move with implications for the economy, currency and, possibly, oil prices. As we indicated, the Ukraine Crisis may be pushed aside and both superpowers would be forced to cooperate to find a solution for Syria. France’s fast move to coordinate airstrikes with Russia against Islamic State accelerates the normalization of relations. Our model shows that the reduction in geopolitical risks between Russia and the West has been compensated by the rising terror threat. The effects on the economy are different though. A de-facto partition for Syria is on the table now. This means a certain “de-escalation” between NATO and Russia, expectations of less sanctions, recovery in the Ruble and rebound in investments. Russia’s recovery will be rather cyclical though, the sanctions exacerbated the brain drain, structural weaknesses and added stress to the demographic implosion. Any Western-Russian coalition faces opposition from within and without NATO, though. The world has entered a vulnerable period.
Christian Takushi MA UZH, Macro Economist
(last edit 19.11.2015)
Disclaimer: Global Macro and Geopolitical Analysis are highly complex and subject to sudden changes. No analytical method is without certain disadvantages. We may change our 3-pronged outlook within less than 3-6 hours following an event or data release, and we will prioritize informing and advising our clients first. Global macro analysis can be extremely time-sensitive and the first 24 hours after an event are critical for the response of a corporation or pension. Only qualified investors should make use of macro reports and treat them as an additional independent perspective. Non-professional investors should seek proper professional advice before taking any action.