|Friday 13th of January 2017
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Prompt Board Next day settlement
Expert Board All you need re an Individual stock.
The Latest Daily PodCast can be found here on the Front Page of the site
Some Peso Traders Want Mexico to Buy Twitter and Shut It Down
It goes like this: Instead of spending its precious reserves to defend
the peso, Mexico should just buy Twitter Inc. -- at a cost of about
$12 billion -- and immediately shut it down. The notion made the
rounds this week after the central bank revealed it had already blown
through $2 billion of reserves in a largely futile effort to shield
the peso from a steady stream of anti-Mexico Tweets from Donald Trump.
My Favourite Robert Frank Photograph remains
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 moon."
“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the
road.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
These Are the World's Cheapest Places to Buy Drugs, Alcohol and Cigarettes
Indulging in a weekly habit of drugs, booze and cigarettes can cost
you as little as $41.40 in Laos and a whopping $1,441.50 in Japan,
according to the Bloomberg Vice Index.
Bloomberg compared the price of a basket of goods — tobacco, alcohol,
amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine and opioids — in more than 100
countries relative to the U.S., where your fix of the vices adds up to
almost $400, or about a third of the weekly income.
“I do have this immense feeling toward the past. That’s the country I
come from, you know.” —Luc Sante Paris Review
05-DEC-2016 :: "We have a deviate, Tomahawk."
Law & Politics
The specialist is monitoring data on his mission console when a voice
breaks in, “a voice that carried with it a strange and unspecifiable
He checks in with his flight-dynamics and conceptual- paradigm
officers at Colorado Command:
“We have a deviate, Tomahawk.”
“We copy. There’s a voice.”
“We have gross oscillation here.”
“ There’s some interference. I have gone redundant but I’m not sure
“We are clearing an outframe to locate source.”
“ Thank you, Colorado.”
“It is probably just selective noise. You are negative red on the
“It was a voice,” I told them.
“We have just received an affirm on selective noise... We will
correct, Tomahawk. In the meantime, advise you to stay redundant.”
The voice, in contrast to Colorado’s metallic pidgin, is a melange of
repartee, laughter, and song, with a “quality of purest, sweetest
“Somehow we are picking up signals from radio programmes of 40, 50, 60
I have no doubt that Putin ran a seriously 21st predominantly digital
programme of interference which amplified the Trump candidacy. POTUS
Trump was an ideal candidate for this kind of support.
Trump is a linguistic warfare specialist.
The first thing is plausible deniability (and some folks here at home
need to remember those words).
The second thing is non-linearity, you have to learn how to navigate a
linear system (the new 21st digital ecosystem) in a non-linear way.
From feeding the hot-house conspiracy frenzy on line (‘’a constant
state of destabilised perception’’), timely and judicious doses of
Wikileaks leaks which drained Hillary’s bona fides and her turn-out
and motivated Trump’s, what we have witnessed is something remarkable
Putin has proven himself an information master, and his adversaries
are his information victims.
The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories. By DON DELILLO
Law & Politics
“We listen to the old radio shows. Light flares and spreads across the
blue-banded edge, sunrise, sunset, the urban grids in shadow. There is
a sweetness in the tenor voice of the young man singing, a simple
vigour that time and distance and random noise have enveloped in
eloquence and yearning. Every sound, every lilt of strings has this
veneer of age.”
― Don DeLillo, The Angel Esmeralda
The former MI6 officer Christopher Steele, who produced Donald Trump Russian dossier, is 'terrified for his safety'
Law & Politics
Mr Steele, the co-founder of London-based Orbis Business Intelligence
Ltd, prepared a 35-page document that alleges the Kremlin colluded
with Mr Trump’s presidential campaign and that the Russian security
services have material that could be used to blackmail him, including
an allegation that he paid prostitutes to defile a bed that had been
slept in by Barack and Michelle Obama.
His research was initially funded by anti-Trump Republicans, and later
Mr Trump has branded the allegations in the dossier “fake” and has
said he feels as though he is living in Nazi Germany.
Tillerson's attack on China adds to a febrile atmosphere FT
Law & Politics
Rex Tillerson has set the stage for a major diplomatic clash between
Washington and Beijing after the nominee for US secretary of state
said China should not be allowed to access islands it has built in the
South China Sea.
At his confirmation hearing before the US Senate Foreign Relations
Committee on Wednesday, Mr Tillerson said China’s construction of
artificial islands in the contested sea was “akin to Russia’s taking
Crimea” from Ukraine in 2014.
“We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the
island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also
is not going to be allowed,” he said.
Over the past three years China has deployed dredgers to create
islands out of rocks and reefs in the South China Sea, which experts
believe is part of a strategy to bolster its territorial claims — and
potentially to deny other nations access to the resource-rich,
strategically important waters.
Mr Tillerson said any move by Beijing to dictate access to the
waterway would be a threat to the “entire global economy”.
Responding on Thursday to Mr Tillerson’s comments, Lu Kang, spokesman
at China’s foreign ministry, said “China has full right to conduct all
lawful activities within its own sovereign zone.”
Asked specifically how China would respond if the US tried to block
access to the islands, Mr Lu said he “cannot comment on Mr Tillerson’s
personal comments or make a projection on China’s policies . . . we
don’t answer hypothetical questions''
2 DEC 13 ::The Pivot to Asia bares its Fangs
Law & Politics
One of the key elements of the Pivot to Asia is the air-sea battle
concept. This concept envisages the battle beginning with a “blinding
attack” against Chinese anti-access facilities and incorporates
“distant blockade” operations. China’s dependence on foreign oil is
increasing just as the US’ dependency is decreasing. And
interestingly, given my belief that the Eastern seaboard is a fabulous
energy prize, that puts the Indian Ocean in many respects right into
the geopolitical frame
The Pivot in my view is predominantly about a Naval Blockade
Beijing's global power play How China rules the waves @FT
Law & Politics
Pakistan’s Arabian Sea port of Gwadar is perched on the world’s energy
jugular. Sea lanes nearby carry most of China’s oil imports; any
disruption could choke the world’s second-largest economy.
Owned, financed and built by China, Gwadar occupies a strategic
location. Yet Islamabad and Beijing for years denied any military
plans for the harbour, insisting it was a purely commercial project to
boost trade. Now the mask is slipping.
“As Gwadar becomes more active as a port, Chinese traffic both
commercial and naval will grow to this region,” says a senior foreign
ministry official in Islamabad. “There are no plans for a permanent
Chinese naval base. But the relationship is stretching out to the
Gwadar is part of a much bigger ambition, driven by President Xi
Jinping, for China to become a maritime superpower. An FT
investigation reveals how far Beijing has already come in achieving
that objective over the past six years.
The Gwadar template, where Beijing used its commercial know-how and
financial muscle to secure ownership over a strategic trading base,
only to enlist it later into military service, has been replicated in
other key locations.
In Sri Lanka, Greece and Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, Chinese
investment in civilian ports has been followed by deployments or
visits of People’s Liberation Army Navy vessels and in some cases
announcements of longer term military contingencies.
“There is an inherent duality in the facilities that China is
establishing in foreign ports, which are ostensibly commercial but
quickly upgradeable to carry out essential military missions,” says
Abhijit Singh, senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in
New Delhi. “They are great for the soft projection of hard power.”
Beijing’s shipping lines deliver more containers than those from any
other country, according to data from Drewry, the shipping
consultancy. The five big Chinese carriers together controlled 18 per
cent of all container shipping handled by the world’s top 20 companies
in 2015, higher than the next country, Denmark, the home nation of
Maersk Line, the world’s biggest container shipping group.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Finding opportunities in disequilibrium @stanchart @TheEconomist Growth Crossings
Times of serious disequilibrium offers outstanding opportunities but
the Key to unlocking these opportunities is execution.
The World in 2016 was ''un-putdownable'' and a white-knuckle ride. The
World we find ourselves in the beginning of 2017 feels entirely
different to the World we started with in 2016. Who can forget the
shock-waves that were the Brexit vote in June and the Election of
Donald J. Trump in November. The new Zeitgeist is a populist one or is
to an old one? The ''Big Mo'' is signaling that in 2017 Fortress
Europe might find itself in serious peril. Attacks on Europe's streets
have become close to an everyday occurrence and this is evidenced in
the Data; There was a 650% increase in fatal terror attacks on people
living in the world's biggest economies in 2015, the Global Terrorism
Index (GTI) 2016 reveals. Ahead of Donald J. Trump's inauguration on
Jan 19th, the US intelligence community has accused President Putin of
running an ''influence'' campaign.
''Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy
that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber activity—with
overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media,
third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or “trolls.”''
The contemporary Philosopher Paul Virilio who considers the real time says this:
''The message is not exactly the medium . . . but above all the
ultimate SPEED of its propagation"
"Coeval emergence of mass media an industrial army, where the
capability to war without war manifests a parallel information market
of propaganda, illusion, dissimulation.” (Der Derian in Virilio,
''We are facing the emergence of a real, collective madness reinforced
by the synchronization of emotions: the sudden globalization of
affects in real time that hits all of humanity at the same time, and
in the name of Progress. Emergency exit: we have entered a time of
Vladislav Surkov, an eminence Grise at the Kremlin, has spoken of a
State of constantly destabilized perception and the International
Political and Financial environment certainly feels that way.
This concept of speed, velocity and volatility has infected the
markets where we witnessed unprecedented and extraordinary moves. I
refer to the Sterling Pound moves on the Brexit Vote, Flash crashes in
Sterling and the Rand, the extraordinary Sell-Off in the Japanese Yen
after November 8th. Price moves are being amplified by algorithmic
trading. BITCOIN metasized into a Safe Haven and surged +126% in 2016
and the Dow Jones Index closed in 20,000 for the first time.
Against this International Back-drop the IMF is estimating SSA GDP FY
2016 at just 1.5%, the lowest rate of GDP Expansion in more than 20
Years. and a far-cry from the Boom between 2010 and 2015 when GDP
growth outperformed global rates at an average of 4.4% a year and the
''Africa rising'' banner was flying high. In fact, GDP of 1.5% is well
behind the demographic rate of expansion, signaling Africa is not even
standing still but is getting worse off. Big Economies like South
Africa, Nigeria and Angola are in recession or just skirting one. East
Africa [who received a significant Tail-wind from the lower Oil Price
structure] and the likes of Cote D'Ivoire and Senegal have been
out-performing, but more is needed.
Abebe Aemro Selassie, The Director of the African Department at the
IMF says: “Policy response in many countries affected by these shocks
has been delayed and incomplete and this raises uncertainty, deters
private investment and stifles new sources of growth.”
In a rising tide floats all boats environment, the importance of good
policy-making is diluted, but now poor policy making is being
amplified. The fundamental paradox at the heart of President Buhari's
government is the Naira. Investors are sidelined waiting for President
Buhari's moment of Epiphany. One senses some Folks are watching a
''Hail-Mary'' Pass - The Price of Crude Oil - and if that Pass does
not come off then problems are set to be compounded. Mono-line
Commodity Producers might find the hard decisions they have delayed
might be now forced upon them unless OPEC's Quota Taper works, which
is unlikely in my view.
In Kenya, the Interest rate Cap Bill has seriously distorted credit
transmission and we have seen a near enough 1,500 basis points
slow-down in Private sector credit growth over 12 months. Investors
will need to also consider policy-making agility. How quickly will a
Government reverse its mistakes. Kenya is a good Proxy for this
The new President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo is saying all the right
things. Ghana looks primed to move from a policy-making haircut to a
policy-making premium. South African asset prices have of course been
battling a ''Zuma'' haircut which began to ebb into year end 2016 [The
Rand closed the Year +11% versus the Dollar] as Investors started to
factor in Pravin Gordhan's fight-back against rogue policy-making. The
Cause and Effect was best witnessed around the time when David Van
Rooyen momentarily gained control of the Treasury. Policy-making is a
factor for Investors and in a low growth environment it will have an
outsize impact on returns.
''Africa is not a Country'' has become a popular meme on social media,
but it makes an important about the non-linearity of the Continent.
However, that non-linearity should not obscure what looks like a
significant political Trend-Change and the LSE for business in their
report ''The commodity price rout and Africa's unusual electoral
cycle,'' said this:
''It would seem elections in the region are at a tipping point, the
traditional incumbent re-election bias is at a historic low and the
ground is fast shifting beneath the feet of the political
establishment. What has triggered the turn of the tide?''
The African ''Demographic Dividend'' has metasized into a
''Demographic Terminator'' across many parts of Sub-Saharan-Africa.
The first Signal was emitted from Ouagadougou with the termination of
''Beautiful'' Blaise Compaore in 2014. Since then, President GoodLuck
in Nigeria and now President Mahama in Ghana have exited stage left.
President Jammeh of Gambia is also in the departure Lounge. Africa
being non-linear, we have seen events unfold at the opposite end of
the spectrum, for example in Kinshasa where President Kabila has
managed to fend off the pressure from the streets and string things
along. Ethiopia, which is very much the SSA economic Poster-Child, has
had to impose a State of Emergency. One senses that we have now
entered a period when the demographic Bulge is arriving at voting Age
and this moment of enfranchisement is a revolutionary one. This is a
moment of significant political friction and ground level intelligence
is going to be at a premium. Counter-intuitively, South Africa [with
its entrenched institutions] looks significantly less politically
risky than many other SSA countries.
The GDP Rate of expansion that was at 20 Year Lows made it tough going
in the SSA Markets in 2016. FX Ordnance lay scattered all across the
landscape with the Angola Kwanza -18.96%, Congolese Franc -21.14%,
Sierra Leone -27.34%, Mozambique Metical -33.27%, Nigeria Naira
-36.68%. The South African Rand after all the fireworks actually
appreciated by 11% in 2016 with the Zambia Kwacha +11.96%. These
numbers do not factor in the positive carry. Zimbabwe is experimenting
with ''Bond-Notes'' and it is predicted and predictable that they will
issue more bond Notes than the $200m Afreximbank Facility some time in
2017 and then we will enter Hunter. S. Thompson territory;
“The Edge...There is no honest way to explain it because the only
people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over''
A Currency road-map is seriously relevant to returns. On a purely
linguistic analysis basis, I like the Ghana Cedi in 2017 because I
like what the President is saying. I expect further downward
adjustments in the Kwanza and the Naira.
From a stock market perspective, Namibia came out on top returning
+34.13% in 2016. Most Equity Indices were underwater in 2016 unable to
fend off a $1b equivalent withdrawal from Frontier Funds as an asset
Of course, times of serious disequilibrium offers outstanding
opportunities but the Key to unlocking these opportunities is
execution. I was at a reception last year that Standard Chartered
hosted in Nairobi to celebrate 100 Years of operations in Africa. That
on the ground presence across the Continent coupled with an
International reach makes Standard Chartered an optimal Partner for
Investors as they seek to exploit opportunities across the Continent.
Army Is Ouattara's Achilles Heel as Ivory Coast Economy Roars BBG
As Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara presides over Africa’s
fastest-growing economy and leads a ruling coalition that’s just won a
fresh majority in parliament, he still faces a key threat to national
stability: the army.
A two-day mutiny by soldiers demanding better pay and living
conditions that paralyzed several cities last week was the second
uprising in three years. It showed that the world’s biggest cocoa
producer is still vulnerable after emerging from a decade-long
conflict that ended in 2011 when Ouattara, 75, came to power. Tensions
may also rise over the contest to succeed Ouattara in 2020 and the
failure to reconcile the two former warring sides.
“It’s a warning sign,” Bjorn Dahlin van Wees, Africa analyst at The
Economist Intelligence Unit, said by phone Tuesday from London.
“Behind this picture of strong economic growth and investor interest,
Ivory Coast has a lot of vulnerabilities. Many of the underlying
problems, such as a discontent within the army, have been forgotten or
Since taking office Ouattara has restored calm, overseen an economy
that’s expanded an average of 9 percent a year, and led his ruling
coalition to an emphatic win in last month’s parliamentary elections,
taking 167 of the 255 seats. His grip on the 40,000-member armed
forces is less certain, with many soldiers who helped bring him to
power now feeling the government has failed to deliver on its pledges
to pay bonuses and improve their living conditions.
While the government acknowledged the soldiers’ claims were
“understandable” and pledged to address their demands, Ouattara
dismissed the heads of the army, police and gendarmerie on Monday.
Cash Is King in Mugabe's Zimbabwe as Dollar Supply Dries Up
Walk into Pedzai Nyika’s furniture factory in Zimbabwe’s capital and
he’ll offer a 20 percent discount straight away -- provided you pay in
He’s not alone. A shortage of banknotes gripping the southern African
nation has become so dire that business are offering huge discounts to
cash-paying customers and limiting the amounts they can charge on
credit cards or refusing to accept them altogether.
In a bid to address the banknote shortage, the government began
distributing so-called bond notes in November, with about $73 million
of the dollar-linked securities issued to date. While the introduction
of the notes was met with protests, initial predictions that they
would be universally rejected haven’t materialized with banks and most
large retailers recognizing them as legal tender. Many small stores,
informal traders and taxi drivers won’t accept them, however, or price
them at as little as 70 percent of their dollar face value.
“The dollar is real money. Dollars work everywhere,” said Mike Mawere,
54, who sells tools and building supplies from a stall in Harare. The
bond notes “are paper, so I suppose they’re worth what the paper and
ink are worth, but no more.”
“If you’re using a card, we can only sell $20 of diesel or petrol
because the company needs cash to pay wages and other suppliers, but
if you’re paying cash, we can fill you up.”
Bondholders Insist Mozambique Will Pay as JPMorgan Sees Default BUY
Will Mozambique pay or not?
JPMorgan Chase & Co. says the African nation is poised to miss payment
on a $60 million coupon next week, but a former International Monetary
Fund official who’s advising bondholders insists the government has
“It’s in the interest of Mozambique, as well as the bondholders, for
the government to pay the coupon,” Charles Blitzer said in an e-mailed
response to questions. “I can’t see any good consequences if it
doesn’t. The market has overreacted in spades.”
The country’s $727 million of bonds sank to a record after JPMorgan
analysts said the government’s rhetoric implies it’s “highly unlikely”
to make the payment on Jan. 18.
The sound of politics Congolese pop music The Economist
IN THE Democratic Republic of Congo there are three ways to make it
big, says Lexxus Legal, a rapper (pictured). Standing in his house in
Kinshasa, the capital, underneath a mural of Congo’s first prime
minister, Patrice Lumumba, he lists them. First, you can become a
politician. Second, you can join the army (“but you need to be at the
top: a general, not a footsoldier”). Finally, you can set up a church.
“That is what you call having power,” he says. Noticeably, he rules
out his own profession. “The musicians in this country are beggars,”
he says. “They are obliged to sing and dance to please politicians and
businessmen. If you sing as I do, controversially, you really have no
Music is probably Congo’s most influential export, though nowhere near
as lucrative as copper or gold. Whereas in the West the country’s name
inspires pictures of child soldiers fighting bloody battles, in most
of Africa it is associated with “rumba Lingala” (Lingala is the
language of the Kinshasa street). This upbeat music has become
genuinely pan-African in the 60 years since Congolese musicians were
first inspired by Cubans. It can now be heard from Abidjan to Dar es
Salaam; in Congo, its home, it is practically a religion.
Does it matter that Congo’s music, its biggest cultural export, is
polluted by politics? David Van Reybrouck, the author of an excellent
history of Congo, says close ties have “always existed between music
and politics”. The country’s first hit was the song “Independence
Cha-Cha”, which was first performed in January 1960, a few months
before Congo won independence from Belgium.
Independence cha-cha declared
Oh Freedom cha-cha we’ve conquered
At the Round Table they won
Oh Liberty cha-cha we’ve conquered!
Mobutuism was supported by Franco Luambo, one of the original rumba
stars. Even the launch of the Congolese franc, which replaced the
hyperinflated zaire in 1997, was supported by a musical propaganda
China Ramps Up 'Railway Diplomacy' in Africa Seeking Power Projection @SputnikInt
China’s encouragement to African countries to sign up to the “One
Belt, One Road” initiative is being ably supported by Beijing’s
“railway diplomacy” on the continent, an expression of its military as
well as economic potential.
A 750km line built by China linking the Horn of Africa to countries
inland was officially launched on January 10 in Djibouti. China is
continuing the construction of a military facility in this a small
country situated on the Horn of Africa peninsula. It is the second
trans-national railway built by Chinese companies in Africa, following
the Tanzania–Zambia Railway. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is on a
visit to Madagascar, Zambia, Tanzania, Congo and Nigeria on January
7-12. On Sunday he called on African countries to deepen cooperation
in the construction of a new Silk Road, comprising the land-based Silk
Road Economic Belt (SREB) and Maritime Silk Road.He stressed that
Africa had historically been a part of the Silk road economic belt.
Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post called the official
launch of the Djibouti–Addis Ababa railroad “an important milestone in
China’s increasing presence and burgeoning influence in the region.”
The travel time between Djibouti and Addis Ababa has reduced from 3
days by road to just 10-12 hours by train. Landlocked Ethiopia, the
fastest growing economy in Africa, gained strategically important
access to the Red Sea through the port of Djibouti. The railway line
is also widely seen to be a start of a Trans-African railway project
which is expected to connect Djibouti with Ethiopia to South Sudan and
one day cross the continent from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.
China is also actively involved in the construction of Trans-African
railroad units such as the Mombasa–Nairobi line to connect Eastern
African countries to South Soudan. It is expected to be linked to the
Ethiopia–Djibouti line in the north and to two lines in the South: one
crossing Angola from the west to its border with Congo; the second is
the Tanzania–Zambia line which was built by China in the 1970s.
“China is building a railway network with a center in Djibouti to
project not only economic strength, but military power.” Sivkov said.
As railroads have the largest carrying capacity of all land-based
transport, deployment of a railway network means that Chinese military
forces from the base in Djibouti can be rapidly relocated to any
African country to protect China’s economic interests.
“I suppose that the Djibouti–Addis Ababa railroad is a reference
project of African modernization involving China and a fine example of
African-Chinese collaboration, first of all,” she said.
Kenya's vegetable exports grow 17 per cent on better access to the EU market
The value of Kenya’s vegetable exports grew by 17 per cent in the
first 10 months of last year compared with the same period in 2015 due
to improved market access in the European Union.
Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicates
that vegetable sales stood at Sh19.6 billion up from Sh16.7 billion
the previous year.
The good performance resulted from improved market access after the
country met most of the stringent measures set by EU, which had
affected horticultural produce sales.
The export volume rose from 40,000 tonnes in 2015 to 55,000 tonnes
between January and October last year.