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Prompt Board Next day settlement
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The Latest Daily PodCast can be found here on the Front Page of the site
Andy Warhol, "One Hundred One Dollar Bills" (1965) (detail) (image via moma.org)
"Explosion without an objective', declared Miles Blundell, 'is
politics in its purest form'." -- Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day
"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
"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to
worry about answers." -- Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow
Who profits from killing Charlie? By Pepe Escobar
Law & Politics
Careful planning and preparation; Kalashnikovs; rocket-propelled
grenade launcher; balaclavas; sand-colored ammunition vest stuffed
with spare magazines; army boots; piece of cake escape in a black
Citroen. And the icing on the lethal cake; faultless Paris-based
logistical support to pull that off. A former top French military
commander, Frederic Gallois, has stressed the perfect application of
"urban guerrilla technique"
this was a pro job. And staying with option one, this points right at
- what else - blowback.
The Obama administration is already mobilizing the UN Security
Council. The FBI is "helping" with the French investigation. And as an
Italian analyst memorably put it, jihadis don't attack a vulture hedge
fund; they attack a satirical rag. This is not religion; this is
hardcore geopolitics. Reminds me of David Bowie: "This is not rock'n
roll. This is suicide."
A day after the Paris attack, officers carried out house-to-house
searches in the village of Corcy, a few km (miles) from a service
station where police sources said the brothers were sighted in ski
masks. Helicopters flew overhead.
The #CharlieHebdo massacre has come to a tale of two brothers. The
chief suspects, Chérif, 32, and Said Kouachi, 34, were said to be on
the run last night in countryside 80 miles north-east of Paris.
The brothers are French. They were born in Paris, a few blocks from
the scene of Wednesday's savage attack. As small boys they were
abandoned by their Algerian-born parents and brought up in a
children's home in Brittany.
It was culpably naïve to imagine that sparks from the Iraq-Syrian civil war, now in its fourth year, would not spread explosive violence to Western Europe.
Law & Politics
One way of measuring the spread of al-Qaeda-type groups is to look at
suicide bombings over the last week. Several of them have inflicted
heavier casualties than at Charlie Hebdo. For instance, in the Yemeni
capital, Sanaa, today, a suicide bomber driving a minibus packed with
explosives killed 33 police cadets. On Tuesday, another suicide bomber
killed 23 Iraqi soldiers and pro-government Sunni tribesmen in a town
in Anbar province north-west of Baghdad.
The day before, gunfire and a suicide bombing killed the general
heading the Saudi border control force and two others on the
Saudi-Iraq frontier. A week earlier, on 30 December, a suicide bomb
blew up outside the internationally recognised anti-jihadi Libyan
government building in Tobruk.
In this widening sea of violence, regardless of who carried out the
Paris massacre, it would be surprising if Western European states
remained unaffected. One of the characteristics of the modern jihadi
movement has been to commit highly public atrocities both as a method
of intimidation and as a demonstration of the religious commitment of
those carrying them out.
Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
Euro 1.1807 The euro slipped 0.4 percent to $1.1793 at 5 p.m. New York
time and reached $1.1754, the weakest level since December 2005
Dollar Index 92.16
Japan Yen 119.35
Swiss Franc 1.0172
Pound 1.5095 Sterling fell 0.1 percent to $1.5090 after reaching
$1.5035, the lowest level since July 2013.
India Rupee 62.305
South Korea Won 1089.58
Brazil Real 2.6632
Egypt Pound 7.1515
South Africa Rand 11.5845
The FAO Food Price Index fell in December to a 4 Year Low
FAO Food Price Index averaged 188.6 points in December 2014, down 3.2
points (1.7 percent) from November. The Index, which had been in a
downward trend between March and September, remained fairly stable in
October and November, before falling again in December.
Over the full year, the Index averaged 202 points, down 3.7 percent
from 2013, with the sharpest year-on-year falls registered by cereals
(12.5 percent), followed by dairy products (7.7 percent), oils (6.2
percent) and sugar (3.8 percent). Only the FAO Meat Price Index
recorded an increase, advancing by 8.1 percent compared to 2013.
Facebook and Twitter key to Arab Spring uprisings: report
DUBAI // The most popular Twitter hashtags in the Arab region in the
first three months of this year were "Egypt", "Jan25", "Libya",
"Bahrain" and "protest".
Nearly 9 in 10 Egyptians and Tunisians surveyed in March said they
were using Facebook to organise protests or spread awareness about
All but one of the protests called for on Facebook ended up coming to
life on the streets.
These and other findings from the newly released second edition of the
Arab Social Media Report by the Dubai School of Government give
empirical heft to the conventional wisdom that Facebook and Twitter
abetted if not enabled the historic region-wide uprisings of early
In part by using the social networking sites, activists organised and
publicised the unprecedented protests that gave rise to the so-called
Arab Spring, which has so far seen longtime governments in Egypt and
Tunisia fall, regimes in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain clash with
the opposition, and leaders in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE offer
more benefits to their populace.
Social media - its rise and its new activist uses - have "played a
critical role in mobilisation, empowerment, shaping opinions and
influencing change," the report said.
Just how integral its role was has been debated, it said, "with some
camps labelling them the main instigators and others relegating them
to mere tools."
"Regardless, it can be stated that many of the calls to protest in the
Arab region were initially made on Facebook," it said. "As the initial
platform for these calls, it cannot be denied that they were factor in
Facebook usage swelled in the Arab region between January and April
and sometimes more than doubled, the report found.
Overall, the number of users jumped by 30 per cent to 27.7m, compared
with 18 per cent growth during the same period in 2010. In the past
year, the number of users has nearly doubled from 14.8m.
Usage in Bahrain grew 15 per cent in the first three months of the
year, compared with 6 per cent over the same period last year.
Egypt saw 29 per cent growth compared to 12 per cent last year.
Tunisia had 17 per cent growth compared to 10 per cent last year.
The exception was Libya, where usage fell by 76 per cent. One possible
reason is that many there have fled amidst fierce fighting between the
regime and rebels.
During the protests in Egypt and Tunisia, the vast majority of
200-plus people surveyed over three weeks in March said they were
getting their information from social media sites (88 per cent in
Egypt and 94 per cent in Tunisia).
This outnumbered those who turned to non-government local media (63
per cent in Egypt and 86 per cent in Tunisia) and to foreign media (57
per cent in Egypt and 48 per cent in Tunisia).
On Twitter, the hashtag "Egypt" had 1.4 million mentions in the three
months of the year. Other hashtags - which are essentially search
terms - "Jan25" had 1.2m mentions; "Libya" had 990,000; "Bahrain" had
640,000; and "protest" had 620,000.
The flurry of tweets spiralled during the turning points of the uprisings.
In Tunisia they peaked around the January 14 protest start date. In
Egypt they spiked around February 11 when longtime President Hosni
Mubarak stepped down. And in Bahrain they jumped in the days after the
demonstrations began on February 14.
The authorities' efforts to block out information, the report said,
ended up "spurring people to be more active, decisive and to find ways
to be more creative about communicating and organising".
African economic growth The twilight of the resource curse? Economist Subscriber [Use all 4 charts]
FOR decades commodity prices have shaped Africa's economic growth. The
continent is home to a third of the planet's mineral reserves, a tenth
of the oil and it produces two-thirds of the diamonds. Little wonder
then that, as a rule, when prices for natural resources and export
crops have been high, growth has been good; when they have dipped, so
has the continent's economy (see chart 1).
Over the past decade Africa was among the world's fastest-growing
continents--its average annual rate was more than 5%--buoyed in part by
improved governance and economic reforms. Commodity prices were also
high. In previous cycles African economies have crashed when the
prices of minerals, oil and other commodities have fallen. In 1998-99,
during an oil-price fall, Nigeria's naira lost 80% of its value.
African currencies again took a beating during a period of turmoil in
commodity markets in 2009.
Since last year the price of oil has fallen by half and many metals
such as copper and iron ore have also dropped sharply. With commodity
prices plunging, will the usual pattern repeat itself?
In some economies large drops in commodity prices have led to currency
falls. At least ten African currencies dropped by more than 10% in
2014. But there have been few catastrophic depreciations. This
suggests that investors do not see lower commodity prices as a kiss of
death. Ghana's currency, the cedi, was the continent's
worst-performing currency in 2014, having lost 26% against the dollar.
But it tumbled not because investors fret about the impact of lower
commodity prices. In fact, Ghana is by African standards not
especially commodity-dependent (see map). Rather, it has in recent
years run a lax fiscal policy. In 2013 its budget deficit hit 10% of
One reason currencies have been robust may be because economic growth
is starting to come from other places. Manufacturing output in the
continent is expanding as quickly as the rest of the economy. Growth
is even faster in services, which expanded at an average rate of 2.6%
per person across Africa between 1996 and 2011. Tourism, in
particular, has boomed: the number of foreign visitors doubled and
receipts tripled between 2000 and 2012. Many countries, including
Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Nigeria, have recently revised
their estimates of GDP to account for their growing non-resource
Despite falling commodity prices, the outlook also seems favourable.
Wonks at the World Bank reckon that Sub-Saharan Africa's economy will
expand by about 5% this year. Telecommunications, transportation and
finance are all expected to spur economic growth.
What explains Africa's increasing economic diversification? A big
pickup in investment helps. That has arisen partly because governments
have worked hard to make life better for investors. The World Bank's
annual "Doing Business" report revealed that in 2013/14 sub-Saharan
Africa did more to improve regulation than any other region. Mauritius
is 28th on the bank's list of the easiest places to do business.
Rwanda, which 20 years ago suffered a terrible genocide, is now deemed
friendlier to investors than Italy.
After two decades of poor performance, Africa's total investment as a
percentage of GDP increased after 2000. Foreign direct investment
(FDI) into Africa rose by 5% in 2012 and 10% in 2013, despite global
Ten years ago almost all FDI went to resource-rich African economies;
resource-poor economies received very little (see chart 2).
Resource-rich countries still receive more FDI in absolute terms; but
resource-poor economies outpace them when investment is measured as a
share of GDP. Foreign investors from other African countries are
especially keen on non-commodity industries: nearly a third of their
investments are in financial services.
The most resource-intensive economies are working hard to diversify.
For the past three years growth in Nigeria, Africa's biggest economy,
has exceeded 5%. You might think its growth is being powered by oil
exports. Nigeria has Africa's second-largest reserves, it is the
fifth-largest exporter and, according to the IMF, oil accounts for 95%
of all exports. But in recent years the Nigerian oil industry has
stagnated. Growth has instead come from things like mobile phones,
construction and banks. Services now represent 60% of GDP.
Angola is similar. It is Africa's second-largest oil producer and the
stuff makes up the vast majority of exports. But its 5.1% expansion in
2013 came mainly from things such as manufacturing and construction.
In 2013 fishing expanded by 10%, and agriculture by 9%. About a third
of government revenue now comes from non-oil sources, compared with
almost nothing a decade ago, economists at Standard Bank reckon.
In Botswana the percentage of GDP made up by the mining and quarrying
of goodies like diamonds, gold and copper has fallen from 46% in 2006
to 35% in 2011, according to the "African Economic Outlook". Other
countries that are successfully diversifying are Rwanda--which has
thriving banks and business-services firms--and Zambia, which although
still copper-dependent has posted growth of 12% a year in financial
services. Congo-Brazzaville, where oil makes up 80% of exports, is
seeing rapid growth in construction and transport. That may be further
fuelled by the All-Africa Games, which are to be held this year in the
Better fiscal policy also plays an important role. Commodity markets
are volatile; government spending smooths out the booms and busts.
Until a few years ago, nearly all African economies spent freely when
their economies were hot, only to rein in spending when things cooled
down. That is the opposite of what most economists would advise a
finance minister to do. But in recent years, according to a report
from the World Bank published on January 7th, fiscal policies in many
African countries have become more sensible. These days a fair number
of African economies save money during the good times, in order to
spend it in the bad ones.
There is still a long way to go. Africa is still the continent most
dependent on commodity exports. Countries such as Tanzania and Nigeria
want to develop giant gasfields which, while boosting the economy in
the short term, could tie them more closely to commodity cycles. Some
worry that investment in infrastructure will fall as mining companies
Even so, there is reason to think the "resource curse" is losing its
power. Despite turmoil in commodity markets, Africa is still one of
the world's fastest-growing regions. With better education systems,
investment in infrastructure and sensible regulatory reforms, the
continent could completely break the spell that has held it back so
often in the past.
South Africa All Share Bloomberg -0.33% 2015
49,595.44 +634.38 +1.30%
Boko Haram militants have killed dozens of people and burned down homes in the northeast Nigerian town of Baga in the past two days, in a second killing spree since seizing control there at the weekend, witnesses said on Thursday.
Two locals said the Islamist insurgents began shooting
indiscriminately and burning buildings on Tuesday evening in raids on
the civilian population that carried on into Wednesday.
"I escaped with my family in the car after seeing how Boko Haram was
killing people ... I saw bodies in the street. Children and women,
some were crying for help," Mohamed Bukar told Reuters after fleeing
to the state capital Maiduguri.
The insurgency killed more than 10,000 people last year, according to
a count by the Council on Foreign Relations in November. It is seen as
the gravest threat to Nigeria, Africa's biggest economy, and a
headache for President Goodluck Jonathan ahead of an election on Feb.
Soldiers fled Baga over the weekend when the Sunni jihadist group
overran a nearby army base.
The district head of Baga, Abba Hassan, said on Thursday that at least
100 people were killed when the group first took over the town on the
edge of Lake Chad.
Abubakar Gulama, who escaped without his family to Monguno, 40 km (25
miles) away, said he crossed "many dead bodies on the ground" and that
"the whole town was on fire".
Insurgency Tail Risk 08-SEP-2014
Last year, Ben Bernanke was asked why people hold gold and he said:
"As protection against what we call tail risks: really, really bad outcomes."
The insurgency tail risk remains and how it plays out will have
important consequence for ourselves and the entire Africarising
2:31 PM - 19 Nov 2014 @alykhansatchu The Currency heads to 200.00. The Central Bank does not have the Fire Power. Matters #Nigeria and the #Naira
Naira Rallies Most Since 2003 as Nigeria Boosts Dollar Sales Bloomberg
The naira advanced the most since November 2003 as oil companies and
the Central Bank of Nigeria increased sales of foreign exchange.
The currency of Africa's biggest crude producer rose 3.8 percent to
179.55 per dollar as of 4:43 p.m. in Lagos. The naira appreciated 2.2
percent this year, the most among 24 African currencies tracked by
Bloomberg after the Somali shilling. The Abuja-based regulator sold
$451 million at its auction yesterday, the most since Nov. 26. Oil
companies offered about $200 million between Jan. 5 and 7, according
to Adebayo Omogoroye at Guaranty Trust Bank Plc.
"There's a lot more supply and demand is very thin," Omogoroye, head
of trading at the Lagos-based lender, said by phone. "The central bank
was very strong in the auction."
The naira fell 13 percent last year as falling oil prices battered
Nigeria, which relies on crude for almost all export earnings and 70
percent of government revenue. Brent crude futures fell 0.1 percent to
It won't last its a dead cat Bounce.
24-NOV-2014 Nigeria In The Eye Of The Storm
My target for the Naira is 200.
I can hear the echo of folks asking 'What went wrong?'
It was only earlier this year that Nigeria's economy was calculated to
have surpassed South Africa's as the largest on the continent after
Nigeria's GDP was rebased to $488 billion for 2013 compared to the
World Bank's 2012 GDP figures of $384.3 billion for South Africa.
The big game changer for Nigeria has been the free fall in the price
of crude oil.
Ghana Stock Exchange Composite Index Bloomberg +0.50% 2015
Ghana Revives Cedi Bond Sales as IMF Seen Bolstering Investors
Ghana will sell five- and seven-year bonds in the first half, after
abandoning offers in 2014, to tap into investor confidence that may
emerge when the nation signs an aid deal with the International
The biggest economy in West Africa after Nigeria will sell 440 million
cedis ($136 million) of five-year bonds each in March and June, the
Bank of Ghana said in an auction calender on its website yesterday.
The regulator will offer 400 million cedis of seven-year notes in
April, it said.
"Around that time they are expecting the IMF program to start, which
should consolidate investor confidence," Courage Kingsley Martey, an
economic analyst at Databank Financial Services Ltd. in Accra, said by
phone. "With the start of the program, the punitive rates that were
quoted by investors at the time in 2014 should not be the case."
Uganda to Stem 'Speculation' as Shilling Falls to Three-Year Low
Uganda's central bank said it would take measures to halt a slide in
the shilling it blamed on speculators as the currency dropped to the
lowest since October 2011.
"The Bank of Uganda has noted some speculative tendencies that have
exacerbated the depreciation," the regulator said in an e-mailed
statement today. "The bank will take measures to tame the
Uganda's shilling has retreated 2.9 percent in 2015, the worst
performer among 24 African currencies tracked by Bloomberg. Central
Bank Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile warned of inflation pressure
before the 2016 election from stronger domestic demand and
exchange-rate moves in a speech Dec. 1, even as he kept the benchmark
interest rate on hold at 11 percent less than two weeks later.
The central bank statement didn't give details on what measures it
would take. The East African nation's shilling weakened 0.7 percent to
2,855 per dollar by 12:35 p.m. in Kampala, the capital. Yields on
12-month debt in the local currency rose to 14.2 percent at an auction
yesterday, the highest since February 2013, according to central bank
data compiled by Bloomberg.
Africa: German Companies in Africa 'Undeterred By Ebola'
The survey also showed that almost a third of the German companies
doing business in Africa anticipate a rise in growth. 53 percent
expect stable growth while 15 percent expect a decline.
The most attractive markets for German companies on the African
continent are South Africa and Kenya, followed by Nigeria, Angola,
Ghana and Ethiopia.
"The choice of Kenya as the most attractive market alongside economic
heavy-weight South Africa shows that Germany is now also taking a
closer look at smaller economies," said the chief executive of the
German-African Business Association (AV), Christoph Kannengiesser.
"But there are still many companies that are hesitant and will
therefore miss opportunities."
@HistoricalPics Che Guevara in the Congo, 1965 during the Congo conflict
KONGO:DIANI'S ANCIENT MOSQUE BY THE BEACH @DonPablo254
Diani hosts one of the oldest structures in Eastern Africa; the Kongo
mosque. Kongo mosque - a relic of the Kilwa Sultanate - dates back to
sometime between the 13th and 15th century, a time when the East
African coast was an important hub in the Indian Ocean trade.
According to local tradition, the mosque was so named after one of the
graves that dot the area was found to have the name 'SADIKI KONGO'
inscribed on its headstone. The Kongo name was subsequently lent to
the nearby river and the surrounding area.
The structure is made of coral rock and is quite similar to the Great
Mosque of Kilwa that stands as one of the most elaborate structures
from the Kilwa Sultanate. The Kilwa Sultanate was a collection of
trade settlements and city states that came together under the rule of
Persian (and later Arab) descendants in collaboration with local
representatives from around the 10th to the 15th century. The East
African coast became a melting pot of all these cultures and
eventually, the Swahili language and culture came into being. At its
height, the Sultanate covered the entire Swahili coast from Lamu in
the North to the Mozambican coast in the South and going a few