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Howard Waring French (born October 14, 1957) is an American journalist, author, and photographer, as well as professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
His latest book is Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps
Shape China's Push for Global Power (Knopf, March 2017).
His most recent work for The New York Times was centered on China
where he was the paper's Shanghai bureau chief, from 2003 to 2008.
French was New York Times bureau chief for the Caribbean and Central
America from 1990 to 1994; he covered Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua, El
Salvador, and numerous other countries.
He was one of the newspaper's first black correspondents.
From 1994 to 1998, French covered West and Central Africa for the
Times, reporting on wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Central Africa,
with particular attention to the fall of the longtime dictator of
Zaire Mobutu Sese Seko.
From 1998 to 2003, French was Tokyo Bureau Chief for the Times,
covering Japan and the Koreas.
In addition to his native English, French speaks Mandarin, French, and
Portuguese. He became Tokyo bureau chief for the Times in 1999,
after a year studying Japanese at the University of Hawaii in Manoa.
He has written for The New York Review of Books and also contributed
frequently to The Atlantic and to "The Guardian Longreads".
A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa By Howard French Knopf, $25.00
A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa By Howard
French Knopf, $25.00
Early in his rambles through West Africa as a correspondent for The
New York Times, Howard French arrived in Lagos, the steamy financial
capital of Nigeria. The most populous nation in Africa had just been
taken over by Gen. Sani Abacha, a sinister figure who concealed his
eyes behind dark sunglasses and who had a predilection for ordering"
Mafia-style hits against political opponents. Nigeria's promise had
long since been frittered away by a succession of corrupt military
dictators and civilian rulers, but under Abacha, who seized power in
1993, the thievery had become ever more brazen. Within minutes of his
arrival, French was set upon by both a rapacious immigration official
and a soldier who demanded his passport and threatened him with
arrest. Then the reporter's Nigerian "fixer," David, stepped in,
rebuking the assailants and holding firm even as the soldier raised
his gun. As the soldier beat a retreat, David offered French some
cogent counsel. "You must never fear those people," he says. "If you
do, you are finished."
It is a piece of advice that French had repeatedly to fall back on in
the course of his four years as the Timed roving bureau chief based in
Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. A Continent for the Taking: The Traged and
Hope of Africa, his vivid, disquieting memoir of those times, conjures
up a succession of flailed states in which the shakedown is a way of
life, destitute soldiers terrorize civilians at will, and the
slightest display of weakness becomes an invitation for predation. In
chapter after evocative chapter, he chronicles the murderous
kleptocracy of Abacha in Nigeria, the outbreak of the deadly Ebola
virus in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), the
drug-and-diamond-fueled carnage in Liberia, and the epic fall of
Zairian dictator Mobutu. It's depressing, Hobbesian stuff. Yet in
sharp contrast to Out of America, Keith Richburg's bitingly
pessimistic account of his years as an African- American correspondent
covering the Rwandan genocide and clan warfare in Somalia, French,
also an African American, sees Africa as a continent still dense with
possibility. The tug of war between ordinary citizens yearning for
democracy and ruthless leaders determined to squelch those aspirations
is one of the driving themes behind French's book. So, too, is the
often-destructive role played by the United States, which, as lie
documents, propped up the worst of these dictators and demagogues,
then often stood by as their nations disintegrated around them.
Xi Jinping is preparing China for a long trade war @FinancialTimes
Law & Politics
As the trade dispute escalates between China and the US, classic
Chinese movies about the “War to Resist America and Aid Korea”, as the
Korean war of the 1950s is known in China, have made a reappearance on
Chinese primetime state television.
This is one of the many signs in China hinting at what analysts
believe will now be a protracted trade conflict with Washington.
Reluctant to accept humbling terms demanded by Donald Trump to end the
two countries’ year-long trade spat, Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist
president, is preparing to lead his country into an all-out trade
conflict with the world’s leading economic and technological power,
just as Mao Zedong sent Chinese “volunteers” to take on US forces
during the Korean war for four long, bloody years in the 1950s.
“If the bulk of this agreement is about China doing this and China
doing that, that’s totally unpalatable to a domestic audience,” said
one person briefed on the talks in Beijing.
Like Mao’s decision to enter the Korean conflict, Mr Xi’s choice seems
at first glance a foolhardy one.
Sixty years ago Mao’s poorly equipped troops faced a technologically
superior American military force in Korea.
Today China’s economy is far more dependent on exports to the US than
the US is on exports to China.
After 30 years of near double-digit growth, the world’s second-largest
economy is also entering a period of slowdown, resulting in mounting
anxieties within the middle class and private entrepreneurs over
social mobility and Xi’s emphasis on state enterprises.
Meanwhile, the US economy accelerates.
But just as Chinese forces ultimately fought the US to a stalemate in
Korea by pitting sheer troop numbers and a far greater tolerance for
mass casualties against superior American firepower, Mr Xi reckons he
can direct a successful, society-wide struggle in the trade dispute.
Chinese officials believe they have two distinct advantages vis-à-vis
their US adversary in the next phase of the trade war.
The first is the levers of control that Mr Trump can only dream — or
tweet — about.
US institutions such as the Fed or the House of Representatives have
resisted the US leader’s pressure, but Mr Xi need only snap his
fingers and China’s party-controlled government, legislature, media
and banking system will do his bidding.
Mr Trump, his treasury secretary and his chief economic adviser
routinely try to “talk up” US stock markets.
The Chinese Communist party has a “national team” of state-owned
brokerages, banks and corporate giants at its disposal to “buy up”
China’s markets when necessary.
When the Shanghai Composite Index slumped almost 6 per cent to 2,906
points on the day after Mr Trump’s latest trade-war escalation, people
briefed on the Chinese government response said the national team was
told the “line in the sand” was 2,900. The next day the SCI rebounded.
Mr Xi’s second advantage is a long-simmering sense of historical
grievance against foreign powers who have previously “bullied” and
“humiliated” China — conveniently stoked, as it happens, by the
party’s media mouthpieces.
When the Trump administration’s opening trade-talks demands were
leaked in May last year, the outrage many Chinese people felt was
Friedrich Wu, a professor at Nanyang Technological University in
Singapore, sums up the feelings of many when he describes them as “a
list of surrender demands for China to acquiesce to”.
“It’s a [reversion] to the 19th century when western and Japanese
powers dictated all the terms in their humiliating unequal treaties
with a feeble Qing dynasty,” he says. “If there is a decoupling
between the two economies, so be it. The Chinese people can endure
more pain than the spoiled and hubristic Americans.”
Mr Trump, meanwhile, must contend with powerful constituencies —
farmers, Wall Street, retailers, consumers and a free media among
others — who complain loudly about the cost of his tariffs on Chinese
imports and doubt the wisdom of his strategy.
5 MAR 18 :: Xi Jinping President for Life. @TheStarKenya
Law & Politics
I wrote last year that Xi Jinping’s One Belt One Road programme binds
the world to Beijing because all the roads and railways have but one
destination and that is China.
It was not very long ago that the US was pronounced a hyper power.
Fast forward and you will note that Xi Jinping and his able wing-man
Vladimir Putin have chipped away at the foundations of the hyperpower.
Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
Dollar Index 98.035
Japan Yen 110.11
Swiss Franc 1.0117
Aussie 0.6874 Australia’s central bank chief said he’ll consider
cutting interest rates at June's meeting to spur faster hiring
India Rupee 69.6977
South Korea Won 1194.55
Brazil Real 4.0967
Egypt Pound 17.0186
South Africa Rand 14.4289
First came the vegetarians, then the vegans, followed by a bewildering
array of food tribes from veggievores, flexitarians and meat reducers
to pescatarians and lacto-vegetarians.
If the profusion of terms for people who have cut their meat or dairy
intake is anything to go by, a change is afoot that is set to sweep
through the global food industry as once-niche dietary movements join
From cashew “foie gras” to fake shrimp made of algae, a plethora of
alternative protein products are hitting supermarket shelves.
Zambia's government filed notification of plans to take over @VedantaLimited's domestic copper assets, President @EdgarCLungu said. @BBGAfrica
Zambia’s government filed notification of plans to take over Vedanta
Resources Ltd.’s domestic copper assets, President Edgar Lungu said.
The southern African nation’s Eurobond yields surged to a record high
and the currency hit a 3 1/2-year low.
The move marks an escalation in tension between the government and
mine owners, after Lungu last week threatened to “divorce” Vedanta and
Glencore Plc, two of the biggest employers in Africa’s second-largest
Relations have been simmering after the state earlier this year
increased royalties and unveiled a plan to overhaul the value-added
Lungu mainly targeted Konkola Copper Mines, Vedanta’s local unit, in a
weekend visit to Zambia’s Copperbelt province, where some companies
are cutting production and firing workers.
“There should be no question about our resolve to divorce, starting
with KCM,” Lungu said in comments broadcast on state TV on Sunday. “We
have filed that notification.”
The kwacha fell as much as 1.6% on Monday to 14.30 against the dollar,
the weakest level since November 2015, while yields on Zambia’s $1
billion of Eurobonds due 2024 rose by 14 basis points to 18.4%, the
highest on record.
Konkola is yet to receive formal notification on the future of its
assets in the country, it said in an emailed statement Monday.
The company said it plans to meet the government “as a matter of
urgency to discuss the future of KCM and the impact that the current
onerous situation is having on the company, the people of the
Copperbelt and the Zambian people as a whole.”
Zambia has for years accused mining companies of not paying enough tax
and has made 10 changes in the past 16 years as it struggles to settle
on a comprehensive system for the industry.
This year’s royalty increases have come as Lungu’s government seeks
cash to settle a surging foreign-debt bill.
Servicing external loans has already caused foreign reserves to drop
to a decade low, while the currency has fallen by more than 14%
against the dollar this year, making it the worst performer globally
after Argentina’s peso.
Lungu said the government would comply with the law in taking over
Vedanta’s assets, and that other investors were keen to operate them.
His spokesman, Amos Chanda, declined to identify the companies.
Glencore must hand over to local contractors two copper shafts it
plans to close, Mines Minister Richard Musukwa said in comments
broadcast over the internet at the weekend.
Zimbabwe Got Loan From @afreximbank Using Platinum Collateral @markets
Zimbabwe secured a $500 million loan from the African Export-Import
Bank to try and stabilize its currency market by offering platinum
production as collateral, a person familiar with the details of the
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on Saturday announced on Twitter that the
money would be released into the foreign-exchange market from Monday,
without saying where it came from.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube later said in a separate tweet that the
funds were secured from “international banks,” without identifying
them. The loan is of four years duration, the person said.
The use of platinum as collateral is another sign of Zimbabwe’s lack
of creditworthiness as the country has struggled to borrow money from
banks using standard repayment terms and has had to resort to its
As of the end of last year the country owed $17.8 billion to creditors
and is in arrears to international lenders such as the World Bank and
the African Development Bank.
The loan comes after a currency-trading system instituted in February,
whereby a quasi-currency known as RTGS dollars is traded on an
interbank market, floundered because of a lack of liquidity and
While the central bank has allowed the RTGS$, which it has previously
insisted was valued at par with the dollar, to weaken to 3.48 to the
dollar, the black market rate is 6 to the dollar. It had fallen as low
as 7 before the loan was announced.
George Guvamatanga, the country’s finance secretary, declined to
comment, while Reserve Bank Governor John Mangudya didn’t immediately
respond to a request for comment.
Obi Emekekwue, a spokesman for Cairo-based Afreximbank, didn’t answer
calls made to his phone or respond to email.
Zimbabwe is currently in the throes of its worst economic crisis since
2008 with shortages of medicine, fuel and electricity commonplace.
Platinum, mined by Anglo American Platinum Ltd. and Impala Platinum
Holdings Ltd., is one of its main sources of foreign exchange along
with gold and tobacco.
Afreximbank is partly owned by African governments
20-MAY-2019 :: The "Kachumbari bond"
Its not often that the Annals of Gastronomy and Finance meet unlike in
the days of yore when I traded the French markets and Sherveen used to
put me up in a suite in The Meurice and we would both quaff some very
fine wine [Chateau Margaux to be precise] at the Jules Verne
restaurant which was half way up the Eiffel Tower.
Kenya sold $2.1b of ''“Kachumbari'' Eurobonds last week. Its not clear
where the naming impulse came from but for clarity's sake, Kachumbari
is a fresh tomato and onion salad dish that is popular in the cuisines
of East Africa. It is an uncooked salad dish consisting of chopped
tomatoes, onions, and chili peppers. The Swahili word kachumbari
originated from the Indian word cachumber. Therefore, I approve of the
appellation because it speaks with some subtlety to an Indian Ocean
heritage and in a circular manner brings us to Andrew Korybko's point
The "Indian Ocean Region" is expected to become the geostrategic
center of gravity and that Kenya is not only a land based Transit
State but also a Gateway to the Indian Ocean Economy.
Linguistics and Gastronomy aside Kenya sold $900 million seven-year
bonds priced at 7% and $1.2b 12-year paper at 8%. These rates were
achieved without the IMF's Precautionary Facility. The pricing was
much lower than the initial pricing thoughts of 7.5% and 8.5%.
Investors placed bids for a total $9.5 billion.
It would be churlish not to recognise this as frankly an outstanding
Outcome especially when you consider the International backdrop. The
Tariff War has intensified and the worry is that the curve continues
to accelerate. Emerging and Frontier markets are shivering as they
start to factor in the China - Emerging and Frontier Markets [Add
Germany to that mix] Feedback loop Phenomenon. If China sneezes a
whole lot of Countries are going to get a very serious bout of
influenza. Interestingly, In our case, we are relatively immune to
this phenomenon because China is not a Big Taker [Avocado hopes aside]
of our Exports. Therefore, when you contextualise the Bond I find
myself agreeing with Vinita Kotedia, macro-strategist for sub-Saharan
Africa at EFG-Hermes who said
“It’s a very favorable rate given that Kenya hasn’t finalized an
agreement with the IMF, It looks like investors were more focused on
the credibility of debt issues out of Kenya, and they aren’t too
“There’s a broad consensus and agreement that Kenya does not face a
balance of payments crisis similar to a country like Zambia,” Qureishi
What is clear to me is that There is a significant perception Gap
between what International Investors are seeing and the domestic
The proceeds will be used to fund infrastructure projects, general
budgetary spending and refinance part or all of a $750 million dollar
bond that will mature on June 24, the ministry said. Net New Money is
$1.35b. How this is now deployed is crucial.
What was also interesting is that Both tenors of the new bond will be
amortized at $300 million and $400 million respectively for the 7- and
12-year tenors annually in the last three years to maturity in order
to avoid a surge in repayments, the Treasury said in the statement.
This is a welcome more sophisticated nuance from the Treasury because
it significantly reduces the ''bunching effect'' risk [the bullet
repayment risk] and I am sure went some way to boosting the price.
BondHolders the World over are known as ''Vigilantes'' So what do they
see? that we are not seeing? They see 51m Kenyans [Future TaxPayers,
of course] , good quality human capital [evidenced in the ever rising
remittance curve which is exactly the monetisation of human capital]
and a wide-open Opportunity.
When I first arrived on the Trading Floor at Credit Suisse First
Boston, every desk station had a Sun Microsystems computer and the Big
Swingers had three in fact. Vinod Khosla who was one of the Founders
of Sun Microsystems and bagged more than a $1b said this
''The Future is not seen in the Rear View Mirror''