|Tuesday 24th of February 2015
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"I dream that I have found us both again,
With spring so many strangers' lives away,
And we, so free,
Out walking by the sea,
With someone else's paper words to say....
They took us at the gates of green return,
Too lost by then to stop, and ask them why-
Do children meet again?
Does any trace remain,
Along the superhighways of July?"
-- Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow
'What, again?' The Turkish army moves the tomb of Suleyman Shah. Photograph: Mursel Coban/Depo Photos/EPA
Law & Politics
Even in a pitiless battle zone like Syria, there is still room for
farce. On Saturday night, a convoy of 39 tanks and 57 armoured
vehicles, carrying 572 Turkish soldiers, cut south from Kobani to the
site of Suleyman Shah's tomb on the bank of the Euphrates, where,
according to legend, he died while swimming. Suleyman Shah is a figure
of moderate importance in Turkish history, since his grandson became
Osman I, founder of the Ottoman empire. Suleyman's mausoleum was built
beside the river, then rebuilt in the 19th century by Hamid II. In
1921, it became a Turkish exclave - in practice, if not quite in
theory. According to the treaty that concluded its war with France,
Turkey was only specifically granted the right to "appoint guardians
for it, and may hoist the Turkish flag there".
The ironic result is that, having insisted that this
football-pitch-sized bit of land is Turkish soil, Turkey now has to
defend it - but it has to invade Syria to do so. Saturday night's
operation "Shah Euphrates" was the strange solution - not a mission to
defend the tomb, but to move it again. "The idea of moving the remains
of iconic individuals from the past is really quite common," says Mike
Pitts, editor of British Archaeology. "But this is a bit of an odd
one. There's a strange undercurrent of complete surrealism."
It gets weirder still. Worried that the removal of the tomb might look
like a retreat or a loss of territory, Turkey has kept Suleyman Shah's
remains in Syria, but closer to the border, in territory that Turkey
It was a military Probe / Manoeuvre
Tomgram: Pepe Escobar, Inside China's "New Normal"
Law & Politics
Sometimes this planet changes right under your nose and you still
don't notice. This sentence, buried in a New York Times piece on the
Greek debt crisis, caught my attention the other day: "Greece,
meanwhile, has suggested that it could turn to Russia or China for
help if its talks on debt relief and a rollback of austerity measures
break down." Russia is, of course, an unlikely bulwark, being on
distinctly shaky economic grounds itself right now, but I'm not
surprised by the thought -- at least from Syriza, the lefty party now
in power in Greece. But China? Not since tiny Albania joined the
Chinese camp in the Cold War have we seen a sentence that in any way
resembled that one. And yet it certainly catches something of the
changing face of our planet. After all, as time goes by, the magnetic
power of the Chinese economy is moving ever closer to Europe. Just
two years ago, the Chinese became the Middle East's largest trading
partner, leaving the European Union in second place and the United
States in third. By then, China was already Africa's largest trading
partner, having displaced the U.S. some years earlier.
This may not be making headlines here, but it's no small thing.
Oil falls 2 percent on glut worries; heating oil up on tight supply
West Texas Intermediate crude oil for April delivery settled at $49.45
a barrel on Monday, having slipped 2.7 percent. Brent, the benchmark
for more than half of global oil, climbed 0.5 percent to $59.20 a
barrel today after tumbling 2.2 percent in London.
After losses of between 9 and 18 percent each month from October to
December, Brent consolidated in January and is up about 11 percent
"There is the notion that a bottom has been set at $55 for Brent and
$45 for WTI, and there are enough buyers out there each time the
market tests those levels," said John Kilduff, partner at New York
energy hedge fund Again Capital.
23-FEB-2015 Fuel Stimulus to Spur NSE Bullish Momentum Further
THE Nairobi All-Share Index has surged by 8.1 per cent so far in 2015,
which I am sure ranks as its best opening in any year in nearly 100
years of operations. It has closed at record closing highs for the
last 10 sessions in a row, which is a noteworthy winning streak.
The NSE20 Index has soared 6.9 per cent up this year and is at
seven-year highs. This is what a 'bull market' looks like; plain and
It is oftentimes said that "Bull markets have to climb a wall of
worry", and certainly ours had to hurdle a possible" downing of tools"
by the stockbroking fraternity, who are objecting to being turned into
collection agents by the Kenya Revenue Authority in the matter of the
reintroduced Capital Gains Tax. Now, and I stand to be corrected,
there is nowhere in the world that I know of where stockbrokers
collect CGT. They do not have the 360-degree visibility. Nearly every
jurisdiction I can think of has a CGT regime, where the individual or
the corporation files their own CGT returns. Therefore, in my humble
opinion, the operationalisation of the CGT is fundamentally flawed.
There is no harm in taking a step back and revisiting how we can
better implement the tax.
Lao Tzu put it best: "Men are born soft and supple; dead they are
stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are
brittle and dry. Thus, whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple
of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard
and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail."
The point I am making is that 'flogging a dead horse' starts to denude
our bonafides. This is the 21st century; we can continuously calibrate
our position, and we must because the world is complex and fluid.
The bull market has hurdled these worries and is now in its 34th
month. The classic definition of a bull market is one which has risen
20 per cent from a trough.
The NSE All-Share Index entered a bull market in April 2012 and has
been plain relentless since. This year's acceleration has been at
times parabolic. The biggest of the big capitalisation counters,
Safaricom, closed at record highs on Thursday and Friday, and is 9.3
per cent up in 2015. Safaricom's market capitalisation is now a record
Sh614.68 billion ($6.72 billion). Safaricom has underpinned the bull
market. East African Breweries has surged 12 per cent, and investors
are evidently betting that some of the fuel price-related stimulus
will spill into beer demand.
The banks are keenly anticipating the full-year earnings parade, with
KCB within a whisker of an all-time high, and set to burst into new
highs this week.
A spike in mergers and acquisitions activity in insurance contin- ues
to underpin the sector, with Jubilee up 21.6 per cent in year-to- date
and at a record high.
Our bull market started purely as a big-cap phenomenon and we have now
had spill-over into the intermediate and small-caps. For example,
Kakuzi has soared 91.7 per cent in 2015. The entire agricultural
market segment is being re-priced higher as investors appreciate the
discount to net asset value arbitrage that exists in every share in
I think the blistering acceleration witnessed this year has been based
on the following cocktail of ingredients: Local investors have been
offering fewer shares in light of the CGT uncertainty, thereby
reducing the supply side at the bourse. Massive disruption in the
Nigerian capital markets has also re-routed funds from Lagos to
Nairobi, increasing the demand curve for equities.
The fuel price correlated stimulus - on a year-on-year basis we have
seen a 24 per cent drop in super petrol, 28.6 per cent drop for diesel
and 36.9 per cent price fall for kerosene - is expected to kick in
Counterintuitively, the launch of the latest geothermal facility last
week confirmed that Kenya is not a "one trick pony" with reference to
oil. This bull market is now in its 34th month and has the 'Big Mo'