Prudential (PRU): Pre M&A Flushout?

It may be impossible to believe that there may be some readers of Zakmir.com who are not familiar with the technical analysis classic, “101 Charts For Trading Success” published by a rather obscure former derivatives broker. In this tome there were at least a couple of gems. The main one however, may have been the observation that ahead of almost all M&A deals – most specifically 4-6 weeks before, there tends to be a final flushout / bear trap. According to the book, the inadvertant or possibly deliberate motivation behind such “shaking of the tree” is to ensure that anyone accidentally long of a stock ahead of say, a bid, will sell out / panic out. They would therefore miss out on the potential booty that lies ahead. pru

 

While there have been rumours associated with insurer Prudential since the dawn of time, and they may be as false now as they have always been, it can be seen on the daily chart that in the middle of July there was a brief bear trap dip towards 1,700p.

prulogo

Today the stock was up just over 3%, something which is at least a vague sign that something may be going on here. Even if this is not the case, today witnessed a great key reversal to the upside, with a clearance of 1,840p likely to lead to the 1,960p May resistance zone relatively quickly.  Only back below 1,760p might suggest that we are looking at yet another false dawn.

How Much Longer Can Great Britain’s Worst Ever Prime Minister Last?

What talents does Teresa May actually possess apart from the ability to cling onto power, and be the last person standing after the bruising Conservative Party  leadership battle two years ago ?

Well, there are some echoes of her predecessors to compare and contrast, elements of which seem to have some resonance. For instance, she seems to have the negotiating prowess of Neville Chamberlain (Peace in Our Time). A little of the jarring charisma of Alec Douglas-Home (Landed Gentry in a time of 1960s meritocracy) . The ability to lay down the gauntlet (Who Governs Britain?) like Edward Heath or the crisis management skills of Antony Eden. The sense of timing of Gordon Brown (Selling Gold at under $300), and of course the gambling skills of David Cameron on the EU Referendum.
It would appear that in the shape of Theresa May we have a leader who is a greatest fails compilation of all her predecessors rolled up in one.  Not so much “strong and stable” but rather more wibbly and wobbly in character.
That is not to say that Mrs May does not have an ace up her sleeve to mitigate any flaws. It comes in the form of the Big, Bad Wolf, Jeremy Corbyn. She can always say and no doubt has done countless times, that unless her party and the electorate back her it will be a case of the last one leaving the UK having to turn the lights off.

Indeed, given the alleged mayhem that would result in the aftermath of Prime Minister Corbyn one would imagine that there would be no lights to switch off.

But this apparent existential threat to life and limb notwithstanding, it still seems to be a miracle that the current incumbent of Downing Street has lasted so long. Ironically, at first it appeared that her leadership was such a mistake, the result of all the competent candidates stabbing each other in the bag and the front, for her to resign or be kicked out would merely underline the sheer folly of what had happened.

The aftermath of the whitewashed Brexit vote has,  as many have observed been a time when we needed to have an ultra strong competent leader in the mould of a Churchill or a Thatcher, rather than someone who would struggle to maintain order at Saint Trinian’s.

In fact, it can be said if one wants to be just a little charitable, that the Prime Minister does have at least one core competence, she  is remarkably good at reading prepared statements in a crisis. That said, it seems that the only plus point of Theresa May going on over and above the way she is the stop Corbyn candidate.

However as we saw from the Brexit vote, threatening the arrival of the Big Bad Wolf may not be any more effective than Project Fear was in 2016. The Great British voter proved then it can be quite happy to be voting for something which would have masochistic consequences, if this is the only way to protest against the ruling class.

It could very well be that while we may enjoy months or even years of Mrs May in power, the longer she stays there, the bigger the pent-up demand to get rid of her and elect Mr Corbyn with a sizeable majority.  The analogies here would be Jim Callaghan clinging on until May 1979 and John Major ahead of Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide.

The Chequers sell-out has almost certainly been a catalyst to make such a scenario all the more likely, especially as it has underlined has been clear for years by her actions that Theresa May is an arch Remainer. There is nothing wrong with this – everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but hiding the fact was disingenous to say the least. Now she has two years on her CV as PM she clearly does not mind all and sundry knowing this fact.

Consequently, we have not had two years of transition towards Brexit we have actually had an Inverse Brexit whereby as much EU regulation as possible has been crammed in. Most notably City of London Trojan Horses MiFID II, GDPR and this month’s draconian ESMA regulations. All of these were waved through without a single bleat from the UK.

Alongside this there have been assurances regarding freedom of movement and the right to remain – for everyone and their mother. . So we have seen exactly the opposite of what was voted for. Not that the purpose of holding the vote was anything to do with such matters.

If nothing else we have learnt the power of the EU political and economic protection racket and how deeply entwined the political class and big business in the UK is with the Brussels gravy train. What was always a spider’s web of red tape and sovereignty erosion has become a permanent straitjacket which Westminster is obviously delighted with.

All that remains to be seen is how soon the penny drops regarding Mrs May’s Brexit stance deception, her inability to organise a drinks party in a brewery, and the reputational damage to this country in Europe and beyond. She is someone who should never have been more than a lowly minister, by a series of quirks of fate, occupying the top job as if some latter day Forrest Gump. Sooner or later the consequence of this will become all too apparent.

NHS: The National Death Service

 

A British Dignitas

There would appear to be such an aggressive approach to end of life “care” from the NHS one could say that rather than flying all the way from to Switzerland where the official assisted dying organisation Dignitas is based is now unnecessary.

The recent story of 104 year old Dr David Goodall is one where he could have saved £10,000 and gone to any NHS hospital rather than going to Switzerland from Australia. Our National Death Service would no doubt have sorted him out in just a few days via nil by mouth and morphine / opiates.

So it would appear that faced with ballooning costs and a massive growth in population, especially of the elderly, they are in the firing line in terms of being the route to saving or at least attempting to control the budget.

The suggestion here is that if you are more than a certain age, and cannot envisage a quick and successful procedure in hospital, it might be better to simply let nature take its course – or  go private. Even with the private route medical insurance companies are echoing the strategy of the NHS. You may increasingly find that your insurance company will refuse to pay out just when you most need it.

Whatever the case, it may be worth keeping in mind the words of The Who song, “Hope I die before I get old.” That said, if you do not die, we do have a beloved national institution who can help out.

 

Do Not Resuscitate

It would appear that the NHS at 70 is itself suffering all the ignominy that many of its elderly patients of this age and above. It is to combine a couple of cliché, getting a taste of its own medicine after having bitten off more than it can chew as a concept.

To address this,  a stealth policy of ever diminishing care and treatment has crept in over the past decade. This sad state of affairs which one could call NHS Lite has gained momentum due to the desperate need to curb spending and meet insatiable demand. In fact, as time as has gone by the stealth policy has just become blatant.

 

The Magic Health Tree

In an ironic twist many of those born before the NHS was founded in 1948. Even from before the start it was doomed. How can a concept with an unlimited liability and limited resources ever work in the long term?

We are now met with stunning and grim consequences of the fatal flaw in the NHS from the time we turn up at A&E: Do not resuscitate, withheld  treatment and involuntary Euthanasia, the latter of which amounts to a free Dignitas service via the drug of choice, Morphine.

Relatives of the elderly now have to justify why their loved ones should be allowed to be admitted to hospital, treated, and why they should not receive life shortening drugs such as opiates in order to speed up the process.

Indeed, it could be said there was nothing wrong with the syringes or any individual Doctor at Gosport. It was simply the policy we have in place now –  the accelerated demise of chronically ill (and very often not so ill) old people in order to streamline budgets.

 

First Class Cost / Second Rate Service

The NHS offers us and continues to offer us second rate service at a first class cost – something which is echoed in other bloated semi Government organisations such as the BBC, and most utilities, infrastructure and transport. HR, regulations and over management has weighed them all down.

 In fact, anyone waiting in a corridor with their sick or injured loved one in a queue of  trolley beds might think they have been placed in a time warp in the Blitz rather than well into the 21st century. So perhaps a third rate service?

 This institution is a cross between a white elephant and a sacred cow, manned by unnecessary fat cats whose salaries could be used to pay for more Doctors and Nurses. But then what would be the point of that? There is no performance criteria for the NHS, it is just a factory line.

 

 

Doubling Down

 Unfortunately, the NHS is a concept which is so engrained in the British psyche that whatever the failings, the scandals and the cost, we keep doubling down on the error of decades. No one can bear to admit that this particular emperor has been naked for at least two decades and is in terminal decline. Indeed, the stigma is so great this negative article on the NHS – however many punches it may or may not land, is likely to be buried: sarcasm intended.

 

 

First World Health?

But whether it is Gosport, Charlie Gard, contaminated blood, breast cancer screening, or perhaps most critical of all, the woeful relative performance of the NHS versus other First World health systems, successive UK Governments can never question the concept.

 

 

A Free For All

And what a concept, free healthcare for all. 

Born in the aftermath of the Second World War, in a food rationing environment, only the most cold hearted souls could quibble that the poorest in society deserved such treatment.

 

However, from day one there were three main problems. 

 

The first is a problem with socialism – why should a millionaire get anything for free? Nothing should be universal. Everything should be means tested, especially as we know have the technology.

 

The second, the “free” concept means that the NHS is a financial black hole, sucking in an ever increasing amount of cash on every expensive modern treatments.

 

The third flaw – staying with the cosmology analogy, is there is an ever expanding universe of demand. This is currently swelled by the twin drivers of an ageing population, and a growing population.

 

Jumbo Demand

Indeed, we currently have around three jumbo jets of new NHS users arriving in this country daily. On this basis the way one waits months for appointments and operations, or hours in A&E is fully understandable. What is strange is that such fatal flaws continue to be normalised, with anyone questioning the state of affairs akin to being a taboo breaker of the worst kind.

 

NHSexit?

All of this goes to explain why no politician of any note, and no one else of any significance has ever tabled the idea of a NHSexit. It would be a guaranteed vote loser and career destroyer – such is the controversy. Indeed, the pro NHS lobby here in the UK has greater power than the National Rifle Association in the U.S. – the great American pro murder lobby.

 

 

Vanity Project

So if the NHS cannot be interfered with, and it is our Great British vanity project, how can it be sustained? It can and has been sustained by the accelerating decline of the level of service. Put simply, you have to wait longer and longer, to get less and less. The latest list of 17 withdrawn operations just goes to prove the point.

Now worst of all, the NHS having to act not in the best interests of the patient, but in the interest of its own survival as a fatally flawed concept.