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I am reading the Crying of Lot 49
"I came," she said, "hoping you could talk me out of a fantasy."
Cherish it!" cried Hilarious, fiercely. "What else do any of you have?
Hold it tightly by it's little tentacle, don't let the Freudians coax
it away or the pharmacists poison it out of you. Whatever it is, hold
it dear, for when you lose it you go over by that much to the others.
You begin to cease to be."
-- Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49
Bit by bit, then, Beijing is creating new facts on the ground, or rather in the sea and in the air.
Law & Politics
With each new incident, it is throwing down the gauntlet. Is it worth
fighting for a Vietnamese fishing boat? Thought not. How about a
submerged Philippine reef? An uninhabited island?
China is seeking to prove to its neighbours that containment cannot
work and that the US cannot be relied upon to defend them. If it can
do so, they and Washington will have to acknowledge that the status
quo is untenable. It is a dangerous strategy. It is also a clever one
Pro-Russian separatists shot down a military helicopter in the
eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk on Thursday
An economic adviser to Putin, Sergei Glazyev, said the U.S. controls
the new Ukrainian government and is seeking to use the conflict to
start a "third world war."
"This can't be called anything but madness -- the bombing of cities,
airports, escalation of unmotivated violence against their own
people," Glazyev told reporters today in the Kazakh capital Astana.
If his identity is confirmed, he would be the first American known to
have committed a suicide bombing in Syria on behalf of al Qaeda, said
Recap: Missing flight MH370 NOT in Indian Ocean search zone where
'pings' were heard @DailyMirror
Thomas Pynchon had the Answer
"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to
worry about answers." -- Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow
"No matter how the official narrative of this turns out," it seemed to
Heidi, "these are the places we should be looking, not in newspapers
or television but at the margins, graffiti, uncontrolled utterances,
bad dreamers who sleep in public and scream in their sleep."
-- Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge
"I have told the MEC and related stakeholders that I will accept their
decision, and the decision of the courts" Banda
our days after the election, the MEC said a count of 30 percent of the
votes cast showed that the opposition Democratic Progressive Party
(DPP), headed by Peter Mutharika, brother of the late President Bingu
wa Mutharika, was in the lead with 42 percent of the vote.
Banda, southern Africa's first female head of state, followed with 23
percent. The MEC has finished counting but has not announced the
result. Local media reports suggest Mutharika would comfortably win if
there is no recount.
Japan Inflation Quickens to Fastest Since 1991
Barclays Plc. became the latest bank to drop a prediction for further
BOJ easing this year. Economists Kyohei Morita and Yuichiro Nagai
cited in an e-mailed note the BOJ's strengthened confidence that it
will achieve its inflation target given the firm trend in consumer
prices among reasons for revising the forecast.
There's no need for the BOJ to add to stimulus at this point,
International Monetary Fund First Deputy Managing Director David
Lipton told reporters today in Tokyo. Japan needs to minimize its
reliance on monetary policy, he said.
African Currencies Weaken, As Emerging Markets Bounce Back
JOHANNESBURG--African currencies are plunging even as capital flows
back to the developing world, a sign of the challenge the continent
faces in attracting fickle foreign investment.
Ghana's cedi and Zambia's kwacha hit record lows against the U.S.
dollar this week. The Kenyan and Tanzanian shillings dipped to the
lowest point against the dollar in more than two years.
African economies are growing rapidly, but many run wide trade and
budget deficits. This makes some investors nervous about their ability
to repay debts if foreign funding runs short.
"We've gotten very little sympathy," said Ghana's President John
Dramani Mahama, who has instituted new taxes and cut subsidies to
close the West African country's funding gap. "A lot are saying 'Oh
no, Ghana has gone astray.' But you don't turn around a deficit in one
The African currency selloff comes as investors desperate for strong
returns dive into larger emerging-markets, including troubled
economies such as Russia and Thailand.
In South Africa, the continent's most-developed economy, growth is
falling and a protracted platinum miner's strike is putting new
pressure on a wide trade deficit. But the rand is holding up against
the dollar this year--thanks to the South African central bank nudging
up rates--and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange hit a record high on
"It's a cycle, and investors are moving back toward emerging markets
now," said Mthuli Ncube, the African Development Bank's chief
The latest rush back into emerging markets isn't reaching Africa's
smaller economies, though. Their currencies are often too thinly
traded to allow a quick exit, and many governments aren't doing enough
to explain how they plan to rebalance their economies, said Ridle
Markus, an Africa strategist at Barclays Capital in Johannesburg.
Others are battling mounting security concerns that have affected
foreign currency flows.
In Kenya, grenade attacks at markets and bus stops have prompted
British tour operators to evacuate hundreds of tourists from the
Indian Ocean resort town of Mombasa. Nigeria is facing similar
problems as the Islamist insurgency Boko Haram ramps up attacks across
the country's restive northeast.
Speaking Thursday at the IMF conference in Mozambique, Managing
Director Christine Lagarde called volatile investor sentiment a top
threat to Africa's short-term economic outlook.
"Policy makers will no doubt have their hands full," Ms. Lagarde said.
Kenya's central bank said this week that the shilling's recent drop
was due mostly to foreign companies moving profits out of the country,
and pledged to step in if the exchange rate becomes too volatile.
Zambia's central bank said on Thursday that the falling price of
copper, its key export, has fueled bets against the kwacha.
The bank warned speculators that when the kwacha returns to stronger
levels "this may result in heavy financial losses on their part."
Overall, Africa remains a popular investment destination. Economic
growth across sub-Saharan Africa will average 5.4% in 2014, the IMF
says, well above a global average of 3.6%. The African Development
Bank expects a record $80 billion of foreign direct investment into
the continent this year.
In Ghana, construction cranes crowd the skyline of the capital, Accra,
pulling up new hotels and shopping malls next to tin-roofed shacks.
But the country's wide deficits are tarnishing that appeal. President
Mahama has levied a 5% tax on profitable industries such as banks and
telecoms, and has cut gasoline subsidies in an effort to pull the
budget deficit down to 8.5% this year from 10.5% of gross domestic
product in 2013.
Many economists doubt that will be enough for Mr. Mahama to reach his
goal. "We are finding homegrown solutions to fixing our economy," Mr.
Mahama said in an interview this month. "I believe the economy is
28-APR-2014 Rising Fiscal Imbalance is Region's Achilles Heel
Rising fiscal imbalances in some countries. This for me remains the
Achilles' Heel. The IMF said: "In a few cases, policy missteps, such
as large fiscal imbalances, threaten to undermine the hard-won
macroeconomic gains of recent years that have supported growth. In
addition, important home-grown risks arise from fiscal vulnerabilities
in a number of countries such as Ghana and Zambia.'' Ghana's cedi has
been in free-fall and the Zambian kwacha not far behind. The price the
markets are exacting for 'policy mis- steps' is brutal.
Africa needs massive investment in infrastructure: IMF
Maputo (AFP) - Africa's fast growing economies need to spend $93
billion a year just to bring infrastructure up to speed, the head of
the IMF said on Thursday, sketching out the daunting challenges still
faced by the continent.
Opening a major meeting for finance ministers and central bankers in
Maputo to plot Africa's rise, Christine Lagarde said the continent
still faced massive challenges.
"Only 16 percent of all roads are paved, compared with 85 percent in
South Asia. These shortfalls represent huge costs to business -- and
Sub-Saharan African economies, some of the fastest growing in the
world, are expected to expand by more than five percent this year.
But poor infrastructure, including a lack of capacity in electricity
production and poor roads, is seen as curbing growth.
"High quality infrastructure can be a magnet for foreign investment,"
After years of hailing Africa's economic development, policy makers
want to usher in a second phase of development that sees economic
gains benefit all.
While the emergence of a middle class has boosted consumer growth,
much of the continent's growth has come from oil, gas and other
"Let me be frank, in too many countries, the rents from extractive
industries are captured by just a few," said Lagarde.
"Mining can account for an important share of output and export
earnings, but often contributes relatively little to budget revenues
and job creation."
Beyond the corridors of power and conference talk-shops, Africans are
increasingly frustrated by the lack of good jobs.
"Jobs are scarce," says Maputo street vendor Ercilia, who sells bread
to passers by. "Some days I make a living and some days I don't."
"I believe in Africa some day all this will change," said security
guard, Marcelino Jaime, noting that few jobs were available for
uneducated young people.
"In Africa we need a lot of creativity to improve things," he added.
Lagarde earlier hailed the leaps made by African economies in the last
decade as "nothing short of remarkable."
But as policymakers take stock of Africa's strong economic
performance, many are also looking at the risks that lie ahead.
The region could face lower demand for its exports should growth slow
in increasingly important emerging markets like Brazil, India and, in
Beijing is a top buyer of African resources from copper to oil and gas.
In rapidly growing cities such as Maputo the Chinese presence is
manifest, from a Chinese-built airport to the country's businessmen
chattering on cell phones as they walk from meeting to meeting.
But poverty perhaps remains the continent's biggest challenge.
Ahead of the meeting, rights groups questioned the current optimistic
view of "Africa's rise".
"Africa is not rising for ordinary citizens," said Oxfam
International's Executive Director Winnie Byanyima.
South Africa All Share Bloomberg +9.06% 2014
Dollar versus Rand 6 Month Chart INO 10.4214
Egypt Pound versus The Dollar 3 Month Chart INO 7.1510
The man who led Egypt's military coup last year, General Abdel-Fattah
El-Sisi, has won the country's presidential election with a staggering
share of the vote, well above 90 percent.
if the equity markets had a vote in Egypt, army chief general Abdel
Fattah al-Sisi would actually get one of those impossible- to-believe
votes of 99.8% 20-JAN-2014
Egypt EGX30 Bloomberg +23.28% 2014
8,242.94 -294.95 -3.45%
Nigeria All Share Bloomberg +0.74% 2014
"They (Boko Haram) are better equipped," one soldier told Reuters by
telephone "I'm taking a knife to a gunfight," he said.
22-APR-2014 The New set of Risks are Geopolitical Risks
Coming to Africa, we have to accept that geopolitical risks have
ratcheted higher. At a macro level, the US and China are in my view in
a conflictual relation on our continent. As we drill further down to
the micro level, we can see from South Sudan [where I cannot see how
either side can win this decisively] to places like CAR, a significant
This comment by the leader of Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamists Abubakar
Shekau caught my attention;
"We are in your city," he said, addressing Nigeria's President
That comment could have been made by the Al-Shebaab.
Both Boko Haram and Al-Shebaab represent a risk that David Lipton did
not touch on, that being asymmetric risks. The recent bombings in
Abuja and last years attack on Westgate confirm the potency of
Gunmen on motorbikes kill 32 villagers in northeast Nigeria
Gunmen mounted on motorbikes killed at least 32 people in the
northeastern Nigerian village of Gurmushi, a police source said on
The attacked occurred along the Cameroon border area of Borno state,
the heart of an insurgency by Boko Haram militants fighting for an
Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria, on Wednesday afternoon.
"Corruption -- systemic graft -- is at the heart of the state's inability to respond to insecurity in general," said John Githongo
Grand theft by the country's ruling elite has allowed an attitude of
"if he can do it so can I" to permeate the country's lower ranking
security apparatus, he said.
"We are paying the price in blood," Githongo said.
19-MAY-2014 The Dash-Board is Blinking Amber
Don DeLillo writes in Point Omega;
''When you strip away surfaces, when you see into it, what's left is
terror. This is the thing that literature was meant to cure. The epic
poem, the bedtime story."
I embraced social media in 2009. And it has become quite a passion and
even a business now. We scan the real time and measure, sometimes try
and shape but we are measuring responses to brands across the
There is an enormous conversation and hullabaloo going on and we
search this for signals. And the signal is very loud and clear and
unanimous. We are being spun ''an epic poem, the bedtime story.''
Disbelief can be suspended, of course but eventually we reach a Marx
Brothers in duck soup moment.
''Well, who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?''
And if you mine social media like I do, you will know that duck soup
moment was crossed during Westgate. And continuing resolutely down
this path is eroding political capital.
"Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable,
implacable place. It is not, with the slightest push - in just the
right place - it can be tipped." Malcolm Gladwell.
Everything is looking ex- tremely fragile.
Kenya Shilling versus The Dollar Live ForexPros 87.66
Nairobi All Share Bloomberg +9.652% 2014
149.84 +0.60 +0.40%
Nairobi ^NSE20 Bloomberg -0.6462% 2014
4,895.13 +6.77 +0.14%
Every Listed Share can be interrogated here
Kenya Commercial Bank traded its highest volume session yesterday for
2014 and 28.809m shares share data here
Netherlands overtakes UK as Kenya's main buyer @BD_Africa
Netherlands has overtaken the UK as the second top market for Kenya's
exports in the three months to March as shipments to key traditional
Official data shows that exports to Netherlands rose 26.9 per cent to
Sh11.8 billion, narrowing the gap with Uganda which imported Kenyan
goods worth Sh12.4 billion, down from Sh13.6 billion.
The increased shipments to Netherlands were linked to increased flower
sales, which accounted for nearly 75 per cent of the earnings.
While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
officials maintain the policy targets in all parts of the world, the
government has increasingly been seen as seeking closer ties with
states in Africa, eastern Europe, Gulf and Asia.
There is a fundamental dysfunction at the heart of the Government's
Foreign Policy in that it is increasingly not synchronised with its
main Trading Partners.