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The Latest Daily PodCast can be found here on the Front Page of the site
17-JUN-2019 :: "What's happening brother' [Bitcoin, USDCNH and WTI]
Marvin Gaye born Marvin Pentz Gay Jr and who was fatally shot by
Marvin Gay Sr., at their house in Los Angeles was a musician, Poet and
Seer and one of his most powerful songs was called ''What’s Happening
Hey baby, what you know good
I'm just getting back, but you knew I would
War is hell, when will it end?
When will people start getting together again?
Are things really getting better, like the newspaper said
And that Title ''What’s Happening Brother'' is on a loop in my mind.
So lets start with the enigmatic and mercurial Fugitive and Bitcoin
evangelist John McAfee, who always seems to pop up in my Feed like an
acid Trip whenever Bitcoin is doing its Parabola imitation.
''But it is a curve each of them feels, unmistakably. It is the
parabola. They must have guessed, once or twice -guessed and refused
to believe -that everything, always, collectively, had been moving
toward that purified shape latent in the sky, that shape of no
surprise, no second chance, no return.’’
Bitcoin is trading at Fresh Highs of $9,270.00 and aside from Beyond
Meat and Zoom has posted the best returns in 2019 and is in triple
digit % gain territory.
Paul Virilio captured the essence of our c21st Zeitgeist with this quote
'''Wealth is the hidden side of speed and speed the hidden side of wealth'
Bitcoin, Beyond Meat and Zoom is Virilio's quote expressed in market
terms. Bitcoin is something like 50% below the All Time Highs. I
recommended Bitcoin this year at $5,350.00. I am recommending Bitcoin
again on a supreme conviction basis. A great deal of the Price surge
is correlated to Chinese Flight Capital, in my opinion.
Hong Kong is savouring a quite momentous Geopolitical Victory and
seriously countertrend in point of fact. The Supreme and ''Paramount
Leader'' made his first [that I can recall] volte-face. The Carrie Lam
Administration has withdrawn the Extradition Law indefinitely. Make
no mistake the Decider in this matter is Xi who has moved with
despatch. Essentially, he understood Hong Kong could not be
''Xinjiang-ed'' Furthermore, being a ''Paramount Leader'' is a
“This is all on Xi’s shoulders,” said Trey McArver, co-founder of
Beijing-based research firm Trivium China. [Bloomberg]
“Xi has personally said that he would handle relations with the United
States and at this point he has failed. Those relations are spiraling
out of control.” [Bloomberg]
The Periphery is a Boil that will not be lanced. Official Economic
data out of China is beginning to roll over with Industrial production
at 2002 lows. I would venture that if President Trump could dial down
the theatrics, it would be very clear that his Signature Tariff Policy
[coercive, sanction, currency etc warfare] is inflicting a lot more
pain than is being inflicted on it. President Xi spent his 66th
birthday being fed Russian ice-cream by his Bestie Vladimir in
Dushanbe and who would not because Ice-Cream is comfort food after
all. I think one touch 7.50 USD CNH Calls are worthy of a keen look.
Now another Big Happening is the Crude Oil Market. Here Two powerful
Gale Force Winds are at work. The IEA has now twice downshifted Demand
and what is clear is we are facing significant demand destruction and
it is this Penny dropping which took down Oil more than 20% from its
2019 Highs and we are now at 5 month lows. However, what is not clear
yet is the degree of Supply destruction we are facing. One third of
all oil traded by sea, which amounts to 20% of oil traded worldwide,
passes through the Strait of Hormuz. Insurance rates demanded for
Tankers operating in the area are up to 20 times higher [@Chigrl].
@ejmalrai reports Ali Akbar Velayati saying that “if Iran can’t
export oil through the Persian Gulf, no-one in the Middle East will be
able do this” and “expects further attacks in the future, given the
US decision to stop the flow of oil by all means at all costs. Thus,
oil will stop being delivered to the world if Iran can’t export its
two million barrels per day”.
The overwhelming confidence that Iran is displaying, both in rhetoric
and action, is astounding says Stratfor.
All the global markets have become liquidity Traps. The Oil Markets
trade 24 hours but in the early hours is when Gremlin Wizards and
Djinns stalk the Exchanges like the FX Markets. Therefore, if this
Khamenei Trump bout Fest kicks off then we could very well see a Price
Spike. One Touch is the Way to go.
I felt lost. The sand crushed my mouth, but I cried out: I cannot be killed by sand that I dream -nor is there any such thing as a dream within a dream.
“One day or one night—between my days and nights, what difference can
there be?—I dreamed that there was a grain of sand on the floor of my
cell. Unconcerned, I went back to sleep; I dreamed that I woke up and
there were two grains of sand. Again I slept; I dreamed that now there
were three. Thus the grains of sand multiplied, little by little,
until they filled the cell and I was dying beneath that hemisphere of
sand. I realized that I was dreaming; with a vast effort I woke
myself. But waking up was useless—I was suffocated by the countless
sand. Someone said to me:
You have wakened not out of sleep, but into a prior dream, and that
dream lies within another, and so on, to infinity, which is the number
of the grains of sand. The path that you are to take is endless, and
you will die before you have truly awakened.
I felt lost. The sand crushed my mouth, but I cried out: I cannot be
killed by sand that I dream —nor is there any such thing as a dream
within a dream.
Iranians fired missile at US drone prior to tanker attack, US official says @CNNPolitics
Law & Politics
In the hours before the attack on the two tankers in the Gulf of Oman
on Thursday, the Iranians spotted a US drone flying overhead and
launched a surface-to-air missile at the unmanned aircraft, a US
official told CNN. The missile missed the drone and fell into the
water, the official said. Prior to taking fire, the American MQ-9
Reaper drone observed Iranian vessels closing in on the tankers, the
official added, though the source did not say whether the unmanned
aircraft saw the boats conducting an actual attack. Still, it is the
first claim that the US has information of Iranian movements prior to
the attack. The same official also said in the days prior to the
attack, a US Reaper drone was shot down in the Red Sea by what is
believed to be an Iranian missile fired by Houthi rebels.
Iran has gone on the offensive, laying the ground for a possible war neither side really wants. @RevaGoujon @Stratfor
Law & Politics
Two brazen attacks near the Strait of Hormuz within a single month
suggest that Iran will accept the cost of a military conflict with the
Tehran may be trying to incite Washington to conduct a limited
military strike to rally domestic support for the Islamic republic
while it's still in a position of relative strength.
As the White House weighs its response, the United States could first
try to assemble a coalition of naval escorts in the name of defending
freedom of navigation.
Amid Iran's bravado, there is no guarantee that provocations aimed at
initiating a limited war — along with many other triggers for military
action — will not spiral into a much more devastating armed
The White House calculated that taking the fast-and-furious approach
to sanctions against Iran would be more likely to force a weakened —
and chastened — Tehran to come running back to the negotiating table.
But U.S. President Donald Trump has fundamentally misread the
leadership in Tehran.
Iran, while not yet at the point of suffering triple-digit inflation
or widespread unrest from crippling sanctions, has apparently decided
to preemptively push back against the White House, knowing that its
retaliatory moves will run the very real risk of inviting a limited
military strike. If such a strike was always in the cards anyway,
Tehran may be thinking it's better to weather a few American salvos
now and rally nationalistic support around the regime while it can
still claim a relative position of strength. Moreover, given that Iran
is exporting oil at reduced amounts and at steep discounts, the
specter of another tanker war helps to buttress oil prices against the
bearish force of slowing global consumer demand.
The overwhelming confidence that Iran is displaying, both in rhetoric
and action, is astounding.
Tehran has held firm in its tussles with @realDonaldTrump @ObserverUK
Law & Politics
For much of this year, two beliefs have held firm in the halls of
power in Iran: US attempts to strangle its economy cannot be tolerated
and Donald Trump has no intention of going to war.
Tehran’s access to oil markets has been crippled by a sanctions regime
that has proven more targeted and comprehensive than ever before. At
the same time, enemies across the Gulf are selling oil to its former
customers. To leave either unaddressed would be to signal weakness,
say regional officials familiar with Iranian leadership.
The shifting views are likely to further support a view in Iran that
Trump is far from the shrewd negotiator he seems – to himself – to be.
More carpet-seller than Kissinger, he seems unaware of Iran’s
leverage, in regard to its dormant nuclear programme, ignorant of its
culture and unsure on his feet as tensions between both sides
There is next to zero chance of a Kim Jong-un style showboating summit
between Trump and Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, and every
chance that even in the highly unlikely event such a meeting did take
place he would walk away with less than he did in Singapore.
While undoubtedly under stress from sanctions, Tehran still has cards
to play, and leaders who know how to hold a hand. Its gamble is that
Trump doesn’t know who he’s dealing with, or whose rules he’s playing
Sayyed Ali Khamenei, rejected the message and any dialogue with the US President and told his guest that he considers Trump unworthy to "to exchange a message with".by @ejmalrai
Law & Politics
Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo conveyed a message from US
President Donald Trump to the Iranian leadership, asking the release
of 5 US prisoners and inviting Iran to sit around a negotiation table,
adding “he [Donald Trump] would be ready to suspend all sanctions only
during the negotiations”. No guarantee was offered to freeze or revoke
the sanctions. Sayyed Ali Khamenei, the Leader of the revolution,
rejected the message and any dialogue with the US President and told
his guest that he considers Trump unworthy to “to exchange a message
Ali Akbar Velayati, namely that “if Iran can’t export oil through the
Persian Gulf, no-one in the Middle East will be able do this”. The
source “expects further attacks in the future, given the US decision
to stop the flow of oil by all means at all costs. Thus, oil will stop
being delivered to the world if Iran can’t export its two million
barrels per day”.
More attacks and no insurance company will agree to cover any oil
tanker navigating in Gulf waters, putting Iran and other oil-exporters
at the same level. Moreover, let us see what justifications Trump and
Europe will offer their people when the price of oil becomes
unaffordable”, said the source.
“Tensions in the Gulf can be eased only when sanctions are lifted on
Iran. Otherwise, more objectives may be targeted and the level of
tension will gradually increase. The US is selling weapons which are
inadequate to protect oil tankers or to protect oil pipelines
delivering oil to harbours. If Iran is in pain, the rest of the world
will suffer equally,” said the source.
“The selling of oil was compared to a horde of wolves hunting
together: when one is unable to hunt, others replace him. When Iran
was under sanctions unable to sell its crude oil production daily,
Saudi Arabia and Russia replaced Iran and increased their production
and delivery. This is why Sayyed Ali Khamenei told the Iranian
leadership to no longer consider any country as a durable friend and
“President Trump is betting on maintaining the status-quo. This
doesn’t suit Iran, because its economy will suffer dearly. Binding the
deep economic wound and holding on until Trump ends his first mandate
is playing into Trump’s hand and this is not going to happen. The
tension in the Gulf was generated when Trump decided to pull out of
the nuclear deal (known as the JCPOA). Let him pay the price now. If
Iran cannot export its crude oil it means the country must be ready
for war”, continue the source.
The lira is in retreat again after already depreciating about 10% this year against the dollar, the worst performer in emerging markets after the Argentine peso. @business
The lira is in retreat again after already depreciating about 10% this
year against the dollar, the worst performer in emerging markets after
the Argentine peso. Investors anticipate the Turkish currency will
remain among the world’s most unstable, with its three-month implied
volatility the highest globally.
The prospects for the lira could become even more dire if Turkey
doesn’t move off a collision course with the U.S. over its purchase of
a Russian missile system, which has strained the ties between the NATO
allies and further spooked investors. The U.S. has threatened to
impose sanctions on Turkey over the deal.
“The sanctions threats, the letter mess, the heavy burden of the
exchange rate and interest rates have reached a highly dangerous
level,” Bahceli said. “We are at a time where countries have started
to communicate not by means of diplomacy but via power struggles.”
US "Weaponizing" Dollar And Turkey Will Not Be Last to Be Targeted - Economist: via @SputnikInt
''President Erdogan's voodoo economics worked in the time of the
golden flood of liquidity but under today's less benign conditions
no-one except die-hard Erdogan-supporting Turkish nationalists is
prepared to throw good money after money gone bad on the basis of
Erdogan's hocus pocus monetary policy,"
It is not possible for Erdogan to bend the arc of monetary policy
making to his will and if he continues down this path, the Turkish
economy will continue to crater''
''Erdogan is a mercurial politician but he reminds me of a man walking
around a tinderbox with a match in his hand. He is endangering himself
and his legacy is in peril," Mr. Satchu told Sputnik.
Africa sees increase in foreign investment, bucking global trend @Reuters
* FDI inflows to sub-Saharan Africa grew 13% in 2018
* South Africa was top performer; Nigeria suffered
* 2019 FDI seen bolstered by new U.S. law, AfCFTA ratification
Foreign investment in sub-Saharan Africa rose 13% last year to $32
billion, bucking a global downward trend and reversing two years of
decline, according to a United Nations report.
Development of new mining and oil projects, a new U.S.
development-finance institution and the ratification of an agreement
to create a continent-wide free-trade area could further boost foreign
direct investment (FDI) in 2019, it said. Africa stands in sharp
contrast to developed economies, which saw FDI inflows plunge 27% to
their lowest level since 2004, the United Nations Conference on Trade
and Development wrote in its “World Investment Report”.
Some African countries fared better than others, however. The Southern
Africa region performed the best, taking in FDI of nearly $4.2
billion, up from -$925 million in 2017.
Foreign investment in South Africa more than doubled to $5.3 billion.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, who took office last year pledging to
revive the economy, is seeking to attract $100 billion in FDI to
Africa’s most developed economy by 2023.
Though much of the South African jump came from intracompany loans,
new investments included a $750 million Beijing Automotive Group plant
and a $186 million wind farm being built by the Irish company
Mainstream Renewable Energy.
By contrast, inward FDI to Nigeria, a major oil producer, plunged 43%
to $2 billion.
Investors were put off by a dispute between the government and South
African telecom giant MTN over repatriated profits. Banks HSBC and UBS
both closed representative offices there in 2018.
That left Ghana, which is in the midst of an oil and gas boom and saw
inflows of $3 billion, as West Africa’s leading destination for
Italy’s Eni Group was behind Ghana’s largest greenfield investment project.
Ethiopia remained East Africa’s top recipient of FDI at $3.3 billion,
despite an 18% drop compared with the year before.
Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania all saw increases in FDI inflows. Foreign
investment in Uganda jumped 67% to a record $1.3 billion, boosted by
the oil and gas development of a consortium that includes France’s
Total, CNOOC of China and London-listed Tullow Oil.
The creation of the U.S. International Development Finance Corp could
help support FDI inflows this year. A replacement for the Overseas
Private Investment Corp, it will be have a budget of $60 billion and a
mandate to make equity investments.
“The ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement
could also have a positive effect on FDI, especially in the
manufacturing and services sectors,” the report said.
The AfCFTA aims to eliminate tariffs between member states, creating a
market of 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of more than $2.2
Malian ruler named Abu Bakr II was said to have equipped an expedition involving two hundred ships that attempted to discover "the furthest limit of the Atlantic Ocean." @nybooks @hofrench
The expedition failed to return save for one vessel, whose survivor
claimed that “there appeared in the open sea [as it were] a river with
a powerful current…. The [other] ships went on ahead but when they
reached that place they did not return and no more was seen of them.”
Some modern historians (Michael Gomez, Toby Green, and John Thornton,
among others) have interpreted this to mean that the Malian ships were
caught in the Atlantic Ocean’s Canary Current, which sweeps everything
in its path westward at about the same latitude as Mali.
Abu Bakr II supposedly responded not by abandoning his dreams of
exploration but by equipping a new and far larger expedition, this
time involving two thousand ships and with himself in command. That
was the last that was seen of him. We know of this story only because
when Abu Bakr’s successor, Mansa Musa, was staying in Cairo in
1324–1325 on his pilgrimage to Mecca, the secretary of the chancery of
the Mamluk Dynasty asked him how he had come to power and recorded his
reply. There are no other traces of Abu Bakr’s attempt.
"Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time," @nybooks @hofrench
The catalog makes the point, as does much recent writing on medieval
Africa, that the Sahara has long been miscast as a barrier separating
a notional black Africa from an equally notional white or Arab one. In
reality, it argues, the desert has always been not just permeable but
heavily trafficked, much like the ocean, with trade as well as
religious and cultural influences traveling back and forth, and with
Sudan Ousted a Brutal Dictator. His Successor Was His Enforcer. @nytimes
Once a camel trader who led a militia accused of genocidal violence in
Darfur, Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan now sits at the pinnacle of power in
Sudan, overlooking the scorched streets from his wood-paneled office
high up in the military’s towering headquarters.
Hemeti speaks: "A lanky man with a primary school education, four
wives and no formal military training, he is enjoying the trappings of
his new position".
Days after massacre, Hemeti defends his troops:“Janjaweed means a
bandit who robs you on the road. It’s just propaganda from the
"plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose"
The hidden worth of the global African diaspora @AfricaAtLSE
On 5 November 2018, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appointed
Billene Seyoum as the Press Secretary of the PM’s Office. We all
celebrated, because somehow there appeared a consensus on her merit.
Two days later, somebody ‘disclosed’ on social media that she held a
Canadian passport, and the tone changed completely. The debate
escalated. It was as if the PM had let a stranger in to the annals of
Ethiopia’s political secrets.
Diaspora-ness is a tricky state of being. In their adopted homes,
diasporas are referred to as ‘immigrants’, a term that often elicits a
sense of unwelcomeness.
In their original homes they are thought of as ‘runaways’ who want the
best of both worlds – the first to trace their roots when it’s
convenient and exotic but also the first to pack and leave when the
going gets tough.
But these same diasporas, by some miracle, are expected to make a
contribution both in their adopted and original homes. Hypocrisy
arises because no matter how much their adopted homes look down on
them, for instance, they do not waive their taxes.
And even when they are referred to as ’them’ in the third person, the
original homes do not refuse their remittances. By their adopted and
original ‘homes’ alike, diasporas are treated as resources that should
be carefully tapped rather than embraced.
They are resources, of course. Remittance flows to many countries in
the global South are larger than the official development assistance
received from the West and more stable than private capital flows.
And in some countries, even the ones that have respectable economies,
the contribution of remittances to GDP is growing. During the period
from 2004 to 2017, it grew from 0.93% to 7.47% in Ghana, from 12.31%
to 18.70% in Liberia, from 2.59% to 5.85% in Nigeria, from 7.88% to
13.67% in Senegal and in Egypt from 4.24% to 10.06%.
In most African countries, the diaspora’s economic contribution is
rarely spoken of openly, because most leaders do not want to concede
on them financial dependence.
Many governments actually either underreport the contribution of the
remittances to GDP or ‘fail’ to report it for fear of the figure
empowering diasporas to influence local politics.
Even in countries such as Somalia, where a quarter of GDP comes from
remittances, this barely figures in any reports.
But while diasporas may be resources, it is problematic to look at
them as just that – resources – and nothing more.
Why do we boil down their worth to the few hundred dollars they send
to their families every month?
They are and they can be so much more, especially when diasporas have
achieved great things for the human race.
Why can’t their potential gained from exposure, experiences and
education overseas be brought back home encouragingly and be deployed
for the betterment of their homelands, so that the next generation of
Africans and the generations after them will not have to leave home to
find better education elsewhere?
Coming from Ethiopia, I can speak of so many Ethiopians who have
influenced the world beyond their adopted or original borders. I can
speak of the late Ethiopian space scientist, Kitaw Ejigu, who was
NASA’s Chief of Spacecraft and Satellite Systems. I can speak of the
Ethiopian agricultural scientist at Purdue University, Gebisa Ejeta,
who developed Africa’s first commercial hybrid variety of sorghum
tolerant to drought and parasitic weed. I can speak of Noah Samara,
who founded the world’s first satellite radio network which aims to
reach and empower the entire global South with educational and
informational content. I can speak of Professor Tilahun Yilma of the
University of California, who developed a genetically-engineered
vaccine for the fatal cattle disease rinderpest, and who invented the
inexpensive rapid testing kit for the same disease. I can go on and
on, and I am sure each African national can name similarly dazzling
diasporas originating from their respective countries.
Why, then, do we still measure our diaspora’s worth by their hand
downs when it is their brains that could create infinitely more value
back home? Is it the case of the prophet being ‘not accepted in his
hometown’? To me, the diaspora might just be the card Africa has
hidden under her sleeve for far too long.
CNN once called the African diaspora the continent’s ‘secret weapon’
and this, I think, is not hyperbole.
The African Union Commission defines the African diaspora as ‘peoples
of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their
citizenship and nationality … who are willing to contribute to the
development of the continent and the building of the African Union’.
The Commission considers the diaspora the continent’s ‘sixth region’
after the East, West, North, Central region and South.
That inclusive definition and characterisation of the African
diaspora, estimated at about 170 million, as another organ of the
continent’s body is a good beginning to recognising and unleashing
their full potential.
Second-guessing the disapora’s loyalty to the motherland, as we did
of Billene Seyoum in Ethiopia, is no means to win their hearts back
Revolutionary cells Mobile money comes to Nigeria @TheEconomist
The shared cars that shuttle between Abuja and Kaduna, two Nigerian
cities, carry more than passengers. For a fee they will also carry
cash, says Odedele Olusanmi, a driver. On a typical journey he takes
five packages, each holding around 20,000 naira ($55). Only two-fifths
of Nigerians have bank accounts, which is why some send money this
way. Yet an alternative could already be in their pockets.
In the past decade a mobile-money revolution has swept through much of
Africa, enabling the unbanked to make transfers, pay bills and save.
Half of the world’s 866m mobile-money accounts are in Africa, not
counting services which need users to belong to a bank. But not many
are in Nigeria, its largest economy and most populous country, with
200m people, where mobile money was used for transactions worth just
1.4% of gdp last year (compared with 44% in Kenya). Four-fifths of
Nigerians have never heard of it.
Until recently, the Nigerian central bank did not allow telecoms firms
to offer financial services, except as the junior partners of
conventional banks. Elsewhere mobile operators had been in the
vanguard. A mobile-money system needs agents to take in and give out
cash—boots on the ground, not just bytes in the pocket. In the early
stages telecoms firms, which sell phone credit in the remotest
villages, can run these operations at costs 40% below those of banks,
according to consultants at McKinsey.
So late last year the Nigerian central bank brought in new rules that
will allow telecoms firms, supermarkets, courier companies and others
to become “payment-service banks”, with a licence to take deposits,
make payments and issue debit cards. A quarter of their service points
must be in rural areas. Among the applicants is mtn Nigeria, the local
unit of Africa’s largest telecoms firm. Designing and marketing its
own service is “completely different” from working with a bank, says
Usoro Usoro, its head of mobile financial services. He argues that mtn
can draw on its experience with mobile money elsewhere and has the
“know-how to build and manage a distribution network”. Globacom, a
rival, plans to launch its own mobile-money service. Airtel, an Indian
firm, is interested.
But success is not guaranteed, warns Yinka David-West of Lagos
Business School. In east Africa, mobile money was initially touted as
a way for urban workers to send money to relatives in villages. That
may have less appeal in Nigeria, where more people live in cities and
new arrivals often come with their families. And the rules restrict
the products firms can offer: for example, they cannot lend.
Competition comes from specialist mobile-money operators, which are
neither banks nor telecoms firms. They were permitted under the old
rules, but faced obstacles to growth: until 2015, for example,
unbanked mobile-money users could send no more than 3,000 naira at a
time. Paga, a PayPal-like startup, has recruited 20,000 agents and
reached 12m users (still a small fraction of a vast market). Tayo
Oviosu, its founder, argues that the advantages of telecoms firms have
been exaggerated. Many airtime sellers are not set up to handle large
transactions, he says, so the likes of mtn have to build a new network
The advent of mobile money was a shock for east Africa’s fusty
financiers. In Nigeria it is less of a threat. Bankers will not mind
if telecoms firms scoop up the poor, rural clients whom they have long
ignored. And their existing customers can already use their bank
accounts to carry out transactions through apps or by typing short
codes into a phone. Nigeria will have insurgents. But the incumbents