|Wednesday 11th of September 2019
Robert Frank's Legacy in Pictures @business
The iconic documentary photographer has died at the age of 94.
No superlative does justice to Robert Frank. The photographer, born to
a Jewish family in Switzerland in 1924, came to the U.S. as a restless
23-year-old and went on to produce the most seminal photography book
of the genre. His 1955 cross-country road trip resulted in “The
Americans,” with 83 pictures, first published by Robert Delpire in
Paris in 1958. It was reprinted a year later by Barney Rosset’s Grove
Press in New York, with an introduction by Jack Kerouac.
“That crazy feeling in America when the sun is hot on the streets and
music comes out of the jukebox or from a nearby funeral, that’s what
Robert Frank has captured in the tremendous photographs,” Kerouac
wrote. “With the agility, mystery, genius, sadness, and strange
secrecy of a shadow,” he continued, Frank “photographed scenes that
have never been seen before on film.”
Frank’s style was loose and raw, and his pictures exuded emotion,
prodding the patriotism, bigotry and inequality of American life. The
body of work best captured the postwar sense of alienation and anxiety
that came to define the nuclear era and formed the foundation on which
contemporary documentary photography stands.
Dogged by the book’s success, Frank spent much of his later years
working in cinema, from films in super 8 to 35 millimeter, splitting
time between his studio at 7 Bleeker St. in New York and Nova Scotia,
where he died Monday, at the age of 94. He outlived his two children;
his daughter Andrea died at the age of 21 in a plane crash, and his
son Pablo, who spent much of his life in and out of psychiatric
treatment, committed suicide in 1994. Frank is survived by his wife,
the American painter and sculptor June Leaf.
My Favourite Robert Frank Photograph remains
Jack Kerouac described this Photograph as follows In his introduction
to The Americans, Kerouac describes this photograph as "a long shot of
night road arrowing forlorn into immensities and flat of
impossible-to-believe America in New Mexico under the prisoner's
Consett, a small town on the tip of the Pennines, is Britain's answer to Youngstown Ohio @FinancialTimes [I lived in Consett]
Consett, a small town on the tip of the Pennines, is Britain’s answer
to Youngstown Ohio. The US steel town immortalised by Bruce
Springsteen as a picture of American failure shrank rapidly after
losing its mill in 1977 and has struggled to find a purpose ever
Consett was similarly “murdered” in 1980, according to longtime
residents, when its vast steelworks was shut and thousands lost their
jobs. Now home to a slew of supermarkets and discount stores, this
chilly corner of northern England remains a place that lost its reason
In 2016, just as Youngstown voted for US President Donald Trump,
Consett went strongly for Brexit.
The town is also the childhood home of David Skelton. His new book,
Little Platoons, digs deep into the challenges facing Britain’s
struggling towns and the trends that delivered Brexit.
Named after Edmund Burke’s description of small communities, this
manifesto against economic liberalism also posits solutions for these
Over a beer, Mr Skelton explains he wrote the book at a time “people
were briefly obsessed with left-behind voters and genuinely seemed
interested in why people voted for Brexit”.
But after an initial flurry of interest, when places like Consett
frequently appeared on news bulletins, “It soon went back to the
[Westminster] horse race and we were forgotten again,” he says.
Little Platoons, which was written with Consett in mind, makes the
case for rebalancing the British economy through state intervention.
Wandering down Middle Street, the force in his argument is abundantly
clear. Charity shops and bookmakers vie with empty windows and fast
food outlets. The town centre feels aimless.
Yet it is not all disheartening: the outskirts are full of shiny shops
for motorists living in new-build communities in the surrounding
“Consett is not some kind of a post-industrial dystopia, there’s other
towns that are struggling more,” Mr Skelton says.
“But the problem here is the lack of an empowered community. There
aren’t enough businesses in the town with jobs that have the same
level of pride that working in the steelworks did.”
His thesis can be described as conservative communitarianism: he
values a community ethos above ever-increasing growth, but twins that
view with enthusiasm for private enterprise.
In Mr Skelton’s view, politicians of all stripes have let these
communities down: the Labour left has devalued the party’s traditional
heartland, while the Conservatives have placed too much faith in
The way forward, Mr Skelton says, is rooted in lower levels of
controlled migration, encouraging local residents to stay in their
His book calls for governments to hand down political powers aimed at
helping individual communities make up for decades of neglect.
“Places like Consett need devolution and investment — to give people a
much greater say in their own lives,” he argues.
He wants to create what he calls “prosperity hubs” by giving towns
greater powers to raise finance and attract capital.
The communities could then become centres for specific industries and
house “great vocational institutions”.
As Britain veers towards another election, these ideas could become
Boris Johnson, prime minister, is betting that Brexit is tearing up
the UK electoral map.
He believes that his promise to pull the UK out of the EU will
overcome decades of antipathy towards the Tory party, who are blamed
in such towns for destroying jobs.
But Mr Skelton disagrees. “Go into places like the Steel Club in
Consett and they’re still talking about the Tory past in a very
negative way,” he says.
“The Tories aren’t going to win an election without these towns we’re
talking about. A campaign by Boris has to be about Brexit, but also a
transformative economic agenda for Consett and places like it.”
The anger of overlooked English towns like Consett helped propel Leave
to victory in the EU referendum three years ago.
But politicians have not addressed the decades of careless failure
that produced such pent-up fury. Consett adjusted to its new reality
four decades ago. Westminster must do the same.
I know Consett really well. I lived there when I was at Durham University.
"I can't believe what President @realDonaldTrump says" concerning trade negotiations Xi was quoted as telling @AbeShinzo @kyodo_english
Law & Politics
Chinese President Xi Jinping voiced distrust of U.S. President Donald
Trump during his meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
in June amid the U.S.-China trade dispute, a source close to the
matter said Tuesday.
"I can't believe what President Trump says" concerning trade
negotiations, Xi was quoted as telling Abe during a meeting on the
fringe of the Group of 20 summit in Osaka.
Although Abe told Xi that Trump trusts the Chinese president, Xi
continued to air his grievances about his U.S. counterpart, the
diplomatic source told Kyodo News.
Despite agreeing to Xi's proposal on the phone to deal with Chinese
telecommunication giant Huawei Technologies Co. during the next
working-level negotiations, "once the negotiations began, the U.S.
side said that Huawei is not a trade issue but a security issue and
did not deal with it," Xi told Abe, pointing out that Trump's remarks
According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Xi had a telephone
conference with Trump on June 18, during which he expressed China's
hope that "the U.S. side can treat Chinese firms in a fair manner."
Eager to claim a major trade victory to boost his 2020 re-election
bid, Trump is likely to strengthen his hardline attitude toward China.
But with no mutual trust between the two leaders, a major concession
by Xi seems unlikely, making a prolonged conflict between the United
States and China almost inevitable.
Argentines Make 7% Returns in Minutes Thanks to Capital Controls @markets.
Argentines are beginning to find some benefits from the capital
controls that President Mauricio Macri imposed earlier this month.
One system to circumvent the controls is paying a return of 7% in a
matter of minutes, and it’s completely legal.
The profit derives from the difference between the so-called “MEP
dollar” -- which entails buying and selling bonds in different
currencies -- and the official exchange rate.
Sudan Economic Update via @AfDB_Group H/T @CelestinMonga
US. economic sanctions were imposed in 1997 after tensions escalated
between South Sudan and Sudan and fighting between the Sudan People’s
Liberation Army and Sudan Armed Forces and other militias became
The sanctions led to two decades of “solitude” for Sudan. Initially,
the effects were mild, since they mainly restricted trade, aid, and
bank transactions. The sanctions limited banking sector access to the
U.S. dollar clearing system in New York and froze government deposit
accounts with U.S. banks.
The severity of sanctions for individuals and private business
activity began to be felt in 2008/2009, when the U.S. Treasury Office
of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) started to monitor international
transactions of all major international banks.
The risk-return curve and risk premiums shifted upward considerably as
seen in the following:
• Letter of credit confirmation charges in- creased from 0.1 percent
per quarter to 2.5 percent per quarter—that is, 25-fold.
Terms of financing deteriorated. The letter of credit (LC) margin
increased from 10 per- cent to 100 percent. The name “letter of cash”
superseded “letter of credit.”
New charges were introduced, such as a “compliance charge”—a fee of up
to 2 per- cent levied by some banks on each trans- action. The banks
argued that compliance charges compensate for the cost of going
through the legal restrictions to comply with U.S. and European Union
• International concessional resources declined. Net official
development assis- tance plummeted from $1.5 billion in 2011 to $900
million in 2015 (AfDB).
Among macroeconomic indicators2, growth plummeted to 3 percent a year
in 2016 and was projected at 3.5 percent in 2017. Inflation spiraled
to 36.5percent in 2013 and 36.9 percent in 2014. Current account
deficits were huge: 10.3 percent of GDP in 2012 and 8.1 percent of GDP
The country went from a fiscal surplus of 0.1 percent of GDP in 2011
to a deficit of –3.1 percent in 2012 and –2.2 percent in 2013.
Foreign exchange reserves plummeted from 1.9 months of import cover in
2012 to 1 month of import cover in 2016, and the parallel market ex-
change rate soared while the official market exchange rate remained
virtually fixed. (The gap or premium between the parallel and official
market rate was more than 120 per- cent in August 2017.)
In today’s increasingly dynamic, multipolar, yet interdependent world,
Africa needs a “can do” mindset—to cooperate on structural trans-
formation for job creation.
Emerging and developing countries now account for more than 57 percent
of global GDP, while the advanced industrial countries account for
less than 43 percent.
Emerging and developing countries account for over two-thirds of
global growth and are the main drivers of the global economy.
China alone accounts for 33 percent of global growth, due to its
economic size and its 6.5 to 7 percent annual growth.
Improved connectivity from the construction of several special eco-
nomic zones or agri-ecological parks near Port Sudan on the Red Sea
would allow Sudan and other countries in northeast Africa to seize the
opportunity provided by the industrial upgrading of China, India,
South Korea, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and other leading
Option 1: Promote deep openings for foreign direct investment by
setting up special eco- nomic zones (SEZs) or agri-ecological parks,
and making the zone the best place to at- tract talent and the best
place to invest.
Option 2: Augment natural capital such as land, pasture, and other
assets by investing in higher value-added agriculture, horticulture,
tree crops, and animal husbandry. Promote agri-business for green
development to get green financing.
And combat desertification following the Kubuqi model in Inner
Mongolia. Sudan is endowed with abundant arable pasto- ral land but
faces severe drought and desert- ification. Since most of the poor
live in rural areas, the government should enable the pri- vate sector
to invest in large-scale irrigated ag- riculture, dairy farming and
Sudan is located strategically on the Red Sea, the most important
ocean shipping route between two of the world’s largest markets—Asia
The country borders Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya, and South
Sudan and faces Saudi Arabia across the Red Sea. Port Sudan is near
the Suez Canal, Dji- bouti, and the Gulf of Aden, an area through
which more than 8,000 commercial cargo ships and around 8 percent of
global sea-borne trade pass each year.
Sudan faces unprecedented opportunities and severe challenges. It is
divided into three topographic regions: the deserts in the north,
which account for about 30 percent of its area; the semi-arid Sahel
belt in the middle; and the wetlands and rain forest in the south.
Sudan has considerable natural resource wealth in oil, metals, and
land suitable for cultivation and pastoral activities. After the
secession of South Sudan in 2011, the country lost 75 percent of its
oil revenues and its natural resource rent declined, but mineral rent
and other resource rents remain substantial.
Sudan and all East African countries have geographic disadvantages.
The World Bank classified them as “countries far from world markets”
(figure 1.1).9 They face a three-dimen- sional challenge: density,
distance, and division.
“As the challenges posed by geography become more difficult, the
response should include connective infrastructure. In places where
integration is hardest, the policy response should be commensurately
comprehensive: institutions that unite, infrastructure that connects,
and interventions that target.”
What is Sudan’s endowment structure? It is characterized by abundant
land and natural re- sources but inadequate labor and human captal and
inadequate physical and infrastructur- al capital.
The country’s natural resource rent was one of the highest in the
world, accounting for more than 15 percent of GDP in the years around
2007. After the 2011 South Sudan secession, Sudan lost 75 percent of
its oil revenues, and total natural resource rents declined to less
than 5 percent in 2015
Sudan’s population is estimated at about 39 million, with 66 percent
living in the rural areas (of whom 20 percent are largely nomad-ic).
The population is growing relatively rapidly at around 2.1 percent a
year, with the average household size about 5.8 persons. The coun- try
has a low population density—around 46 persons per square
kilometer—but since about 64 percent of the land is exposed to de-
sertification due to natural or human factors, the population density
in the oasis and urban areas is high. The largest metropolitan area,
Khartoum, includes some 7 million people, of whom approximately 2
million are displaced from the southern war zones and the western and
eastern drought-affected areas. Sudanese Arabs account for 70 percent
of the popula- tion, with the rest being Arabized Beja, Copts,
Nubians, and other peoples. Sudan is almost entirely Muslim. Most
citizens speak Sudanese Arabic.15
Sudan’s working-age population (15–64) stands at 22 million, or 45
percent of the total population, and is growing rapidly, with low
young-age and old-age dependency lev- els (figure 1.3). The labor
force includes about 12 million people, with an overall labor force
participation rate of 54 percent (31 percent for women and 76 percent
for men). With such a young and growing labor force, Sudan will ex-
perience a demographic dividend.
Sudan is the fourth largest economy in Sub- Saharan Africa, with a
gross domestic product GDP) of $160 billion (in 2014 purchasing power
parity), following Nigeria, South Africa, and Angola, in that order.
With a gross national income (GNI) of $1,740 per capita, Sudan is
classified by the World Bank as a lower-middle-income country.
the share of agricultural value added has maintained at high level of
39–40 percent of GDP, and agriculture accounts for 80 per- cent of the
labor force, implying low produc- tivity.
As a result, per capita GDP rose sharply from $687 in 1980 and reached
$2,216 in 2016.
oil, which contributed about 8 percent of GDP and more than 50 percent
of fiscal revenues between 1995 and 2011.
When South Sudan seceded, the world’s newest country received 75
percent of the oil revenues formerly ac- cruing to Sudan. Sudan, whose
oil revenues dropped sharply to 2.2 percent of GDP in 2012– 15, was
left with a depleted fiscal position.
The macroeconomic effects of Sudan’s two decades of ‘solitude’
More than 40 percent of investments in the major non-oil sectors come
from three Gulf countries—Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab
Emirates (UAE). During 2000–10, eight of Sudan’s top 10 investors were
Arab countries, with total investments amounting to $4.5 billion, 60
percent of total
investments.25 In 2015, official creditors such as Kuwait, Qatar,
Saudi Arabia, and UAE deposited an estimated $2.7 billion in the
Central Bank of Sudan, boosting the country’s foreign exchange
liquidity and reserves.
Asian firms also became increasingly in- volved in Sudan’s oil, led by
the China National Petroleum Corporation with a 40 percent stake in
the sector. Other firms were Malaysia’s Petronas, and India’s Oil and
Natural Gas Corporation, and the Sudan state oil company Sudapet.
China’s dominance in the oil sector was evident in its share of FDI in
the sector. China’s foreign investment in Sudan across all sectors
stood at 38.7 percent of total foreign investment, but in the oil
industry, it accounted for 99.9 percent.
total debt outstanding has substan- tially reduced to about 55.2
percent of GDP in 2016, Sudan is still in debt distress.
A 2016 debt sustainability analysis conduct- ed jointly by the World
Bank and the Interna- tional Monetary Fund estimated the present value
of Sudan’s debt-to-GDP ratio at 93 per- cent, far above the threshold
of 30 percent.
The present value of debts to exports, estimated above 1,400 percent,
is alarmingly above the indicative threshold of 100 percent—an un-
precedented debt distress level never record- ed in any pre–Highly
Indebted Poor Country initiative African country. At these levels, Su-
dan’s external debt stock is unsustainable and therefore constrains
the country’s economic recovery prospects.
For instance, Sudanese investment in Ethiopia peaked at $2.4 billion
in 2014, making Sudan the second largest source of FDI in Ethiopia
after China. Sudanese investments in Ethi- opia mainly targeted
tourism, mining, industry, agriculture, medical drugs, and information
and communications technology.
MERJ Is Raising $4 Million in World's First Tokenized IPO
Tokenized stocks are digital assets representing shares
IPO values operator of Seychelles bourse at $25 million
MERJ Exchange Ltd. said it is raising $4 million in the world’s first
initial public offering of a tokenized security on a national stock
The IPO on the Seychelles Stock Exchange values the company at $25
million, MERJ said in a statement. MERJ, which operates the exchange,
is selling 1.65 million shares at $2.42 each.