Welcome to my personal website : general presentation

Dear visitors,

Welcome to my personal website. My name is Nicolas GRUET-POLLAK, formerly known as Nicolas GRUET (before my adoption by my father in law (Yves Pollak).

This website was created back in 2013 in order to help me finding a job, to talk about my hobbies (finance, IT, computers, the European union, and politics), to keep track of my reflexion and even only for myself in view of a possible future publication, and to help me strengthen my skills in written English. I also recently though about recording myself and hearing me talking English to concentrate on my oral skills and also to present myself.

Before anything else, and before reading below, you need to remind that English is not my mother tongue. So, please forget me about small grammar errors if you encounter one. I prefer English than French because French is so complicated (gender, plural, grammar and conjugation are so messy). I would say that my English level is quite high given my general fluency, my ability to read complex books in English, and two remarks from two different friends who recently told me that I was talking in English without a strong accent while asleep when I was dreaming. I have always been talking while sleeping. But I don’t think that talking in English while sleeping is necessarily an evidence that your level is high. It depends on many factors.

Bien entendu, je m’attacherai également à écrire en français sur ce site internet. Vous pouvez d’ailleurs trouver la traduction sur cette page. L’anglais est certes une langue plus répandue que le français et donc beaucoup plus internationale, mais le français demeure une langue internationale de second choix avec d’autres langues telles que l’arabe littéraire, l’espagnol, ou le russe. En revanche, l’allemand n’est pas une langue internationale même si, en Europe, c’est une langue qui compte du fait du poids économique de l’Allemagne. C’est aussi une langue de travail au sein des institutions européennes. J’ai commencé à suivre des cours d’Allemand au Goethe institut de Lyon mais j’ai abandonné. Peut être que j’y reviendrai.

I need to give you a few informations about me. This is also the aim of this website. First of all, “www.lemanufactureur.fr” is a memento of the former cultural and urban magazine I created and managed during four years in Lyon, France. I wanted to become a journalist and someone from ScPo Paris, IEP de Paris told me that I needed to create my own magazine. I did it successfully and the publication grew a lot from 250 copies in 2006 to 10.000 copies in 2009.
I got my bachelor’s and master’s degree in political science while I was running the magazine. Then I did a traineeship at the European Parliament, became a member of French political party “PS or Parti socialiste”. I came back to France, renovated the flat of my deceased grandmother for 2 years and now I am looking for a job.
Thanks to the movie “Inside Job” from Charles Ferguson, I am now impassioned by financial and banking regulation, and the history and context of the last financial and economic crisis of 2007-2008. Deeply interested in European politics, computer science and new technologies, I am a reader of the economist, financial time, and the new york times. I also look forward to work again in the European parliament.

With the discovery of 2012 Charles Ferguson’s movie “Inside Job”, I developed a strong interest towards global finance and the last financial crisis’ mechanisms. I attended several courses on the free website Khan Academy (a free website where you can learn many subjects and things, created by a former Hedge fund manager and finance and mathematics graduated student, Mr Khan) and tried to read a few books. Among them, I read especially books from Martin Wolf and Stiglitz economy economists. I also read a few books from Patrick Artus, French economist from the French investment bank Natixis. I know someone who is working there, a former EM Lyon graduate. I tried to quantify the importance of financial assets in the whole world and the relative importance of the main company in charge of financial assets worldwide: you name it “the not-so-famous BlackRock” which controls up to 6% of worldwide financial assets through its trading platform Aladdin. 6% is the most important part of financial worldwide assets owned by the same company and it’s still very low compared to 50% to get a majority of worldwide finance. But still, it’s important enough for the Economist newspaper to worry about it. I worked on public and private debt compared to countries and GDPs. I learned a lot about balance sheets of either companies, commercial banks or even central banks. Yes, central banks do have a balance sheet. They use it to provide stimulus into the economy of a specific area. For instance, quantitative easing is not just money that is created out of the blue, out of nothing, it’s directly correlated to liabilities in the balance sheet of the very central bank that use this new instrument. Quantitative easing was (in French “assouplissement quantitatif”) was an unconventional tool a while ago. It’s not anymore. It was used by the FED and the ECB to improve economic fundamentals. Basically, central banks are buying trillions or billions of public debts bonds, sometimes even private debt bonds to inject cash into the economy. But those bonds are put on the liability side of the balance sheet of the central bank that buys it. So, at the end of the day, the central needs to sell them, those bonds it purchased when the economy was not growing enough. In the past, only budgetary, fiscal and monetary policies were used to try to influence the economy (growth rate, inflation rate and unemployment rate). I can talk about finance a lot but there needs to be a end here because this is just a presentation. I need to mention also leverage and negative interest rates. Leverage is the basic of finance. The notion of leverage is relatively simple but weird in practice. The more you borrow money to buy an asset you’re going to bet with, to speculate with (you buy it to sell it in the future with an intended profit), the more you’re getting profits … or losses. Negative interest rates are funny also, it’s the idea that keeping money safe into bank accounts will cost you money, and the notion of being remunerated to borrow money with the negative interest rate on your loan. I also worked a lot on balance sheets: liabilities, equity and assets and the repartition between those three components to assess the financial health of a company through its level of leverage. I tried also to understand derivatives but it’s really difficult and it involves a lot of math to get a deep understanding. They are mostly diversified and very complex financial products like CDOs (Collateralized debt obligations) that hides good or bad quality loans. Everything is possible in finance, you can even make money out of wealth destruction with shorts. But that will come latter. There is a very nice movie to watch, in addition to Inside Job: the big short.

I do like philosophy and I would like to raise an interesting question about the similarity between two different and opposite approaches in all sciences… Epistemology deals with this problem too. Whether you’re trying to meet reality you’re studying through small elements or the study of the whole thing, I do think results (in terms of ideology for humanities, in terms of logic and general rules for other sciences) are quite at the opposite. I can quote here many field of humanities (for instance economy where Marxism and Keynesianism are based on the study of whole systems and liberalism is based on elements like the homo economicus; or sociology; but it also applies to politics, and even, to the best of my knowledge physics.

One of the main reason and aim of the idea of creating a website was to strengthen my written skills, to create a memento about the magazine I created and managed. It is also a mean to reach potential recruiters from everywhere in the world. I tend to apply either online or offline with a reference to my website and I can track down connexions to it thanks to google analytics.

The experience in the European parliament was quite nice and interesting. I was in charge of processing informations about African countries to write numerous country reports. But my focus had been Ivory Coast, know in French as the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, a former French colony where the French language is taught and spoken everywhere along with local African tongue. I work closely with a Romanian MEP (MEP means Member of the European Parliament) and constitutes a commonly and widespread abbreviation for a member of the European parliament.

Back at the university between 2005 and 2010, I had met many Romanian students and began liking the sound of the Romanian language which appears to me as a smooth and beautiful language. Of course, my numerous stay in Moldova had been another trigger of my interest about this Eastern part of Europe. Along with citizen of Spain, Germany, Austria and Belgium, I participated in an event (an exchange of activists organized by the PES and the PDM. The PES is a European political party that includes the French parti socialiste (PS), and the PDM (Partidul Democrat din Moldova is a Moldovan political party from Moldova, not an EU state but still a close country to Romania. Sometimes Moldovan citizen can get Romanian citizenship and the contrary is also true. For instance, Mr. Basescu, former president of Romania got the Moldovan Citizenship. The Romanian citizenship is interesting for Moldovans since Romania is member country of the EU, and one of the few advantages of being Moldovan might be that you don’t need to visa to visit Russia.

I don’t work a lot on my Romanian skills because I am not sure yet if it is a wise choice. Romania is for sure a member of the EU but still, it’s a poor country with a influence on EU politics that ought to be less important than leading contributors such as Germany and France. I don’t know when I will come back to Moldova for sure. It is so weird to visit a poor country when you have always lived in France. I only speak two languages and I am now trying to find or pick up another one, or even two other languages to learn in addition to French and English. I studied Spanish at school (I mean high school, not university, what we call “lycée” or “collège” in French) but I forgot everything (in France we only have one language which is compulsory at the university unless you’re studying in the linguistic department). I am now somehow interested by translation and possibly interpretation. Thanks to my stays in Moldova, I began to study Romanian. I tried to study German but I didn’t like it. Russian and Arabic might also be interesting. Spanish is useful in Spain, in a few international organizations, and more than anywhere else, is really important in America, south America and even North America (including the USA).

I started to try to come back in the EU job market a while ago. I sometimes get a few interviews but it’s difficult. I need to learn a third language for sure. If I fail to come back to Brussels, I might consider moving abroad and/or working in the computer science field either here or elsewhere. I recently met two computer scientists. That’s weird but that’s also nice to come back the use of command line to control a computer. When I was still a child, I got my first computer, a 386 SX when I was aged 8, without windows 3.1 and I remember very well using MS-DOS commands to control it. Now I am coming back to the bournebash and the bash language. Everything is in English and I tend now to realize the beauty and powerfulness of command lines. A coming-back to the complexity of command lines compared to the widespread use of GUI (Graphic User Interface).

I don’t know whether the EU is or not a good thing for the average citizen of Europe. I don’t know if it will survive to nationalism and populist parties. What I know for sure is that we need even more redistribution of wealth. The welfare state needs to be stronger than ever as well the accessibility of professional training.
I love to think globally, I love the complexity of knowledge and science. I regret not being a scientist. Maths are so important when you want to master low-level coding and the architecture of computers, the architecture of distributed calculus and parallel computing. The situation is bad in rich countries of Western Europe and we will need a lot of care for elderly people, doctors, security agents, nurses. I even thought recently about embracing medical studies, possibly in Romania. I am currently an English mature student in my town. I apply very often to positions in the EP but the competition is so fierce… EU jobs are well-paid and with all this unemployment in rich countries, mostly latin countries it can’t be worst to try to get an EU job as an official or a contractual agent. It’s normal for EU agents to be well paid compared to national agents. It’s the same in the US. But, well, do EU citizens really want the EU to be gathered in an only area where everything is equal. I don’t think so. Languages are so different; level of wealth and national incomes are so divergent.

I read a lot of material about the EU, worked on the tobacco directive from its conception by the EU through votes and amendments of the European parliament until its final translation into French law with a spill-over effect. A spill-over effect is a concept we use in public policy studies that means the legislator is doing more than demanded. More than demanded by the EU Tobacco directive.

I love politics and political science for sure. But my bachelor was centered on international relations and I only did a master of political science with a focus on public policies and political sociology. Two of the major topics political science department is focused on, in Lyon 2 university. I don’t think the EU is ruled only on the base of treaties and I don’t like the way Asselineau (a French politician) tends to address the EU problem. He is obsessed by history and law. Law is a joke. I am not afraid to say that. That law is a joke. Law has a utility for sure but very often people and companies are playing balls with law. But more than everything law is always in competition with strength. In international organization, the more you pay, the more your influence is important. It’s true about the UN. It should be true about the EU as well. Don’t try to explain me that Germany and Bulgaria have the same importance in the EU council because it can’t be true. Germany is a net contributor to EU budget.
My website is composed of a blog and a few references.

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WELCOME To this site & blog about me and finance and the EU.