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The Latest Daily PodCast can be found here on the Front Page of the site
17-JUN-2019 :: 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 -gues- sed 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 es- sence 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
How a single 1,000-year-old coin could change the history of an entire continent and prove seafarers reached Australia hundreds of years before Capitain Cook @TheSun
The copper coins are from Kilwa, an ancient African trading port that
is now Tanzania
The coin was discovered on the remote Elcho Island off the coast of
Australia and home to just over 2,000 people
But the archaeologist who found the ancient coin on the beach on the
island of Elcho says the discovery could change history.
According to experts, it is a "dead ringer" for a Kilwa coin, from an
ancient trading city in what is now Tanzania - some 6,000 miles away.
It's not the first time Kilwa coins have been discovered in Australia,
with several others found in mainland Australia in 1944.
The discovery of the coin on the remote island could mean that the
first non-Aboriginals to set foot in Australia were not Europeans, but
Africans from Kilwa.
Archaeologists have theorised that Kilwa sailors may have brought the
coins from Africa themselves, or that they could have washed ashore
from a shipwreck.
Alternatively, it could have been the Portuguese - who raided Kilwa in
1505 - with experts saying they may have left the coin behind on their
travels through south-east Asia.
Portuguese seafarers were in East Timor in 1515 and could potentially
had reached the Australian mainland.
This would mean that the first European to reach Australia wasn't
Captain Cook, but potentially Portuguese explorers some 250 years
Mike Hermes, an archaeologist who discovered the coin said: “The
Portuguese were in Timor in 1515 - to think they didn’t go three more
days east with this monsoon wind is ludicrous.”
@SNB_BNS_en Study Finds Evidence of 1,000-Franc Banknote Hoarding @economics
The majority of Switzerland’s high-denomination bills are effectively
parked in vaults or stuffed under mattresses, according to a Swiss
National Bank working paper.
In a study that has implications for officials at central banks, who
must figure out how much below zero they can cut interest rates before
the public begins stockpiling cash, the authors calculate that in
between 80% and 90% of 1,000-franc ($1,007) notes were hoarded in
2017. For the 200-franc note the proportion was between 30% and 60%.
Production of hand-dug cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo is poised to drop sharply after prices tumbled @markets
Production of hand-dug cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo is
poised to drop sharply after prices tumbled, prompting many of the
country’s thousands of artisanal miners to switch focus to copper
Congo last year produced about 72% of the world’s cobalt, a key
ingredient in the rechargeable batteries that power electric vehicles
While most of the country’s production is from large, mechanized mines
run by companies including Glencore Plc, diggers that use rudimentary
tools tend to respond more quickly to price changes.
Artisanal output soared during cobalt’s rally during 2017 and early
2018 and accounted for as much as 20% of Congo’s production of the
metal last year, according to Darton Commodities.
The Congolese authorities say the figure was as high as 30%. After a
supply glut sent cobalt prices plummeting about 70% from the peak,
many of the country’s artisanal miners are now switching focus to
“At the moment the diggers prefer to work the copper,” said Jacques
Kaumbu, the president of a mining cooperative in Lualaba province.
“The old cobalt pits no longer interest them.”
“Artisanal mining will continue to be the swing producer,” said George
Heppel, senior analyst at CRU Group.
Turkey Is Heading for Economic Collapse, Ashmore Says @economics
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan risks pushing Turkey’s economy into an
economic collapse similar to those seen in Latin America under
populist regimes, according to Ashmore Group Plc. While more
diversified than Venezuela’s oil-dependent economy, Turkey is
currently on a very similar path of policy missteps that are likely to
lead to ruin, the $85 billion emerging-market asset manager said.
Capital controls, nationalization and other policies designed to
prevent the private sector from protecting its property as the
macroeconomic environment deteriorates are the next “logical policy
steps” that will follow in Turkey, Jan Dehn, the London-based head of
research at Ashmore, said in emailed comments. His comments came after
Erdogan rattled markets by dismissing central-bank Governor Murat
Cetinkaya early Saturday.
“The longer he delays the bigger the cost, which is why politicians
who go down the heterodox route rarely change tack and they almost
always end in crisis.”
Here is Dehn’s characterization of the decline:
Bad economic policies begin to extract a political cost
Instead of fixing the causes of the underlying economic problem, the
government decides to attack the symptoms of the problem, such as
inflation, slower growth, weaker currency and slowing investment
The real problems meanwhile are ignored and get worse. They include
bad monetary policies, increasing interventionism, failure to develop
local financing markets, overly low savings rates and bad foreign
The government also blames other groups instead of itself, because
this works politically, but it only makes investors and businesses
even more worried as Erdogan will need more and more scapegoats as the
As the economic outlook worsens, investors and businesses begin to
take action to defend their wealth and livelihoods. This results in
capital flight, declining investment and other hedging strategies
The government starts to blame the private sector for bad performance,
taking action to prevent their defensive actions. Enter capital
controls, nationalization, forced conversion of contracts
Eventually the government has no financing, no growth, no future and
plunges into a crisis
13-AUG-2018 :: Cold Turkey
President Erdogan is a shakespearean figure, he has slayed enemies
real and not real, his chest has been puffed up with pride, he even
rescued the Emir of Qatar but he has now met his match, that match
being the market
Sudan's gold: Hemedti's untold power @AfricanBizMag @thomashcollins1
“My patience has limits,” he said.
Hemedti, along with the head of the army, Abdul Fattah al-Burhan, has
emerged as a key figure within the TMC.
With a violent past and control of a paramilitary force estimated to
number as many as 40,000, many fear that he has set his ambitions on
more than simply preventing Sudan’s transition to democracy.
His reported vast personal wealth – accrued from the gold trade, along
with outsourcing his militia to the former regime and Saudi Arabia to
fight the war in Yemen – under pins his power.
In 2017, Sudan produced 107 tonnes of gold, making it the
third-largest producer on the continent after Ghana and South Africa.
Some 70% of output is estimated to be smuggled abroad, although the
true size of the illicit trade is hard to quantify. Through his
militia, Hemedti controls one of the country’s most lucrative gold
mines – Jebel Amer in North Darfur.
By origin a member of the Rezeigat tribe in the Darfur region, Hemedti
rose from humble origins as a trader of cloth and camels.
In 2003, he joined the Janjaweed, a local militia that was waging a
brutal campaign against Darfuri rebels on behalf of the government
under the leadership of tribal chief Musa Hilal. The conflict has left
300,000 dead, according to UN estimates.
Through his role in the war, he gained favour with President Bashir,
who in 2014 put him in charge of the RSF, which had been formed as an
offshoot of the Janjaweed.
The group was given the status of a regular force but retained its
violent modus operandi, and Bashir began to use it as a bulwark
against the strength of Sudan’s military.
“That’s when Hemedti became quite strong,” says Omer Ismail, senior
advisor at the Washington-based NGO Enough Project. “Bashir was not
confident in the army because the economy was deteriorating rapidly
and there were many problems.”
Yet along with a position of almost unparalleled power, Hemedti’s
ascendance was accompanied by access to riches.
In 2015, a report drawn up for the UN Security Council found that
Hilal’s militia was making up to $54m a year from control of the Jebel
The following year, Hemedti moved against Hilal, who had come into
conflict with the government, and seized control of the lucrative
mine. Ismail estimates that his earnings may now outstrip those of his
With this money, the militia kingpin has been able to recruit jobless
youths from the across the Sahel to the RSF, resulting in an
ever-growing force which Ismail claims is presently “occupying” Sudan:
“I would say that Sudan is occupied now because the troops that he is
using to control and monopolise power, most of them are not even
Sudanese. They are recruited from Chad, Mali and Niger. They are from
As the RSF continues to sow terror, much of the gold coming from the
Jebel Amer mine, which supports a surrounding settlement of around
70,000 people, is exported clandestinely to various international
buyers via a shady and complicated web of smuggling activities.
“Almost everything makes its way east to Khartoum,” says Ismail. “From
there it is almost exclusively sold to traders in the UAE.”
With very little capacity for smelting and refining gold in Sudan, the
metal travels onwards in rough kilogram bricks to countries including
Dubai, which act as a gateway for much of Africa’s illicit gold trade.
Comtrade data shows that the UAE imported $15.1bn worth of gold from
Africa in 2016, more than any other country and up from $1.3bn in
The share of African gold in the UAE’S gold imports increased from 18%
to nearly 50% over the same period and the industry accounts for
approximately one fifth of the country’s total GDP.
The substantial offtake of Sudanese gold in Dubai’s markets suggests
that economic considerations are part of the UAE’s chequebook
diplomacy, which saw a joint $3bn aid package pumped into Khartoum
alongside Saudi Arabia.
Hemedti has close links with both Gulf countries as the agent who
recruited around 15,000 of his troops to fight the war in Yemen
against Houthi-led militia.
Ismail speculates that he may receive anywhere between $2,000 to
$3,000 a month per person as payment for outsourcing his troops.
Other gold routes, according to Ismail, include the “40-day route”
through the desert, historically used to smuggle slaves and ivory to
either Tripoli in Libya or Cairo in Egypt.
Ismail estimates that the country has around 440 remote airstrips used
in the clandestine trade.
“They put the gold in a Land Cruiser and smuggle the gold outside the
city of Khartoum,” he explains. “Then one of the smaller companies who
have licences to fly out of Sudan will set up a local flight. They
will put the gold in the belly of the plane. The gold will then come
back through Khartoum airport and onwards to its final destination.”
One of these destinations is Russia. Ramping up its presence across
Central Africa and the Horn, Moscow has begun gold mining operations
in Sudan over the last two years – predominantly in the northeastern
region away from Darfur.
Sim Tack, global security analyst for Stratfor, says that the Wagner
Group, a Russian private-military outfit with close links to the
Kremlin, has been providing security to Russian companies working in
“Russia has become very involved in mineral extraction in Sudan,” he
says. “We have seen big accounts of Russia doing this in the Central
African Republic (CAR) but at the same time they are doing it in
Sudan. Sudan is the entry point into Africa which Russia is using to
support its presence in CAR.”
Data from the Russian central bank cited by Bloomberg show that its
gold reserves have nearly quadrupled over the past 10 years, and that
2018 marked the most “ambitious year yet” for Russian gold-buying.
Much of Russia’s activities across Sudan and the CAR are shrouded in
secrecy, and the Enough Project’s Ismail believes there is “no way of
knowing” how large the trade is.
As for Hemedti, it’s clear that the vast amount of money earned from
his gold-mining activities is a key enabler of the fearsome power he
continues to wield in Khartoum and beyond.
And now we have two visions of the Future
And now we have two visions of the Future. One Vision played out on
our screens, the Protestors could have been our Wives, our Children,
our Daughters and Sons. The Other Vision is that of MBS, MBZ and
Al-Sisi and its red in tooth and claw. Vladimir and Xi backed the Gulf
and America is below the radar.
Hugh Masakela said ''I want to be there when the People start to turn
it around'' Sudan is a Masakela Pivot moment
Lets start in Khartoum. The "zeitgeist" of the Revolution was as intoxicating as the Oudh that the Saudi Arabian Ambassador once gave me and I found myself semi delirious intoxicated on my own perfume.
The exquisite murals, the composition of the crowds, the element of
Girl Power which spoke to hope and a Future. As I watched events
unfold it felt like Sudan was a Portal into a whole new another
Normal. David Pilling in the Financial Times captured the Essence by
quoting William Wordsworth, who wrote of the French Revolution:
OH! pleasant exercise of hope and joy! For mighty were the auxiliars
which then stood Upon our side, we who were strong in love! Bliss was
it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!--
Not in Utopia, subterranean fields, Or some secreted island, Heaven
knows where! But in the very world, which is the world Of all of
us,--the place where in the end We find our happiness, or not at all!
.@IATA Says Zimbabwe Owes Airlines $196 Million in Trapped Funds @business
Zimbabwe owes airlines about $196 million that’s stuck in the country
due to a shortage of hard currency, according to the International Air
Transport Association. The last payment received by the industry body
was in January, regional vice president for IATA in Africa, Muhammad
Ali Albakri, said in an interview on Tuesday. The group held a meeting
with Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa and will now finalize the
payment plan, he added.
Treasury Bill auctions make a comeback, Zimbabwe prepares infrastructure bond
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has carried out its first public Treasury
Bill (TB) auction in years, hoping to gauge appetite for the paper
while preparing to issue a long-term infrastructure bond.
Ncube announced announced a plan to fully relaunch TB auctions when he
launched the Transitional Stabilisation Programme last October, steps
he said were needed to deepen the country’s financial markets,
dominated by stocks. The last major Treasury Bill auctions were in
2008, before a few more failed attempts were made in 2012 to revive
the TB market.
In the Tuesday auction, Treasury offered a 91-day bill at 16.5%, a
180-day TB at 19.6% and a 365-day TB at 17%. A total $80 million was
on offer in the auction. The yields are below inflation, which may
dampen interest at current levels, at a time Mthuli is desperate to
give central bank more tools to deal with monetary policy.
The Big Read Angola: can Joao Lourenco cure Angola of its crony capitalism? @FinancialTimes
Not far from the flashy skyscrapers of downtown Luanda, the capital of
one of Africa’s supposedly richest countries, is a public morgue.
Celestino Chivava, who worked in the Angolan oil industry until he
lost his job after the price collapse of 2014, describes how families
wash the bodies of their loved ones on a slab outside.
“They put perfume in the mouth to stop the corpse smelling,” he says
of the capital’s do-it-yourself funeral services. “Sometimes, when the
electricity goes off, the bodies get stuck together and the families
have to pull them apart.”
Oil-rich Angola is the third-biggest economy in sub-Saharan Africa,
but it is also one of the most unequal, with a gulf separating a rich,
politically connected elite from the mass of the 30m population.
After the devastating civil war, which ended in 2002, its oil-fuelled
economy, boosted by huge investment in infrastructure from China,
became one of the fastest-growing in the world, piling on near-double
digit growth over the course of more than a decade.
But the southern African country also became one of the continent’s
most corrupt, a crony capitalist state in which proximity to the
ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola, led for 38
years by President José Eduardo dos Santos, was the single biggest
factor in personal enrichment.
In a 2011 audit, the IMF identified a $32bn discrepancy linked largely
to “quasi-fiscal operations” by state oil company Sonangol that did
not appear in official budget accounts.
While a wealthy elite prospered, living a glamorous lifestyle on
Luanda’s Riviera-style Atlantic coast or snapping up property and
assets in Portugal, the former colonial power, the majority of
Angolans live on less than $2 a day.
Social indicators, from life expectancy to child mortality, are
significantly worse than they should be for a country of Angola’s
Now there is a hint of change. Angola has a new president, handpicked
to succeed Mr dos Santos, who relinquished the party chairmanship last
year after giving up the presidency in 2017.
Many had expected João Lourenço, a former defence minister and MPLA
stalwart, to continue as usual, protecting his benefactor, preserving
the supremacy of the party and maintaining Angola’s tight links with
To their surprise, Mr Lourenço, universally known as “JLO”, has set
about dismantling at least part of his predecessor’s legacy.
The president has spoken of the need to help the poor in what analysts
see as an attempt to shore up the MPLA’s legitimacy against an
opposition Unita party that has steadily improved its electoral
More concretely, Mr Lourenço has waged a public war on corruption that
has ensnared some of the former president’s children, including one of
his sons, José Filomeno dos Santos, who had been put in control of the
country’s $5bn sovereign wealth fund towards the end of his father’s
José Filomeno was detained last year for alleged embezzlement, but
released this March, without charge, after authorities said they had
recovered control over several billion dollars belonging to the fund.
While some see Mr Lourenço’s actions as a Xi Jinping-style
anti-corruption drive designed to consolidate power — or even a
vendetta against his former patron — others have glimpsed a chance for
Angola to correct its course.
“So far, it’s more of a vendetta and less of a systemic clean-up,
though I’m not closing the file on future progress,” says Ricardo
Soares de Oliveira, an Angola expert at Oxford university.
Mr Lourenço has already signed a $3.7bn credit facility with the IMF,
the biggest ever such arrangement made by an African country and one
that will open up one of the continent’s most opaque regimes to wider
As part of the agreement, it has promised to cease the
oil-for-infrastructure contracts with China that paid for a massive
postwar reconstruction boom, but left the country heavily indebted.
Angola’s ratio of debt to gross domestic product is close to 100 per
cent, a serious restraint on its room for budgetary manoeuvre.
The new president has also made sweeping changes to the oil industry
in an effort to revive production that has fallen from a peak of 1.9m
barrels a day a decade ago to 1.4m b/d.
The idea is to use tax breaks and other incentives to persuade oil
majors such as Total of France and Eni of Italy to pump more from
existing wells and to entice others to explore for new reserves.
As part of that reorganisation, Mr Lourenço sacked Isabel dos Santos,
the richest woman in Africa and the most successful of the former
president’s offspring, as head of Sonangol.
The state-owned company has now been split into two, clipping its
previous status as both industry regulator and operator.
Oil accounts for 95 per cent of the country’s foreign revenue, making
Angola possibly the most commodity-dependent country in Africa.
But lower prices and falling production have squeezed the state’s
coffers and plunged the economy into a four-year recession.
In spite of its plentiful water and abundant arable land, Angola
imports almost everything from tinned carrots to lettuce flown in from
Lisbon. Many farmers abandoned land during the civil war and the oil
economy pushed the kwanza, the currency, to unrealistic levels, making
it uneconomic for businesses or farmers to produce even the most
Until a massive devaluation of the kwanza of 85 per cent last year,
the elite simply imported everything they needed, from diesel to
Mr Lourenço is not the first to press for economic diversification.
But with dwindling oil reserves, high indebtedness and a political
imperative to enact social change, advisers say he has little option
but to restructure the economy and make it more attractive for foreign
To add to the impression of change, the president has cultivated a
more modest and open public image. Unlike his predecessor, Mr Lourenço
has insisted that his face does not appear on banknotes.
“This is a historic moment for the country,” says Ricardo Viegas
d’Abreu, transport minister and a former economic adviser to Mr
Lourenço. “We have reached a stage where we can’t continue having
public expenditure as the main driver of growth.”
Mr Viegas grasps the magnitude of the task, particularly given what he
alleges was the massive scale of corruption in the last years of the
dos Santos administration.
He adds: “Every stone you turn, you don’t find a pearl, you find a snake.”
Yet the president, insists Mr Viegas, knows that a new economy can be
built only on what he calls “a legal framework [of], reasonable
[minimal] levels of corruption for a developing country and rights,
like freedom of speech”.
Those, he says, “are the building blocks, but they are not that easy
to put on the ground. Lourenço has shown the courage to move us in
At the central bank, an opulent colonial-style structure with
Portuguese murals decorating its domed entrance, José de Lima Massano,
the governor, echoes the positive narrative.
“The country is on the move. Things are really changing and changing
fast,” he says, pointing to evidence from a drive to weed out
undercapitalised banks to a new investment law allowing foreigners to
enter Angola without a local partner.
The central bank has long been associated with weak supervision —
including lax oversight of anti-money laundering regulations — and
poor control of financial institutions, which have often been treated
as personal piggy banks by those with political connections.
Mr Massano has shut several banks and instituted an auction process
designed to clean up a less-than-transparent system for allocating
scarce dollars. He has also stepped up the rhetoric against money
Only by cleaning up their image, he says of local banks, will they be
able to repair relations with US counterparts, which have severed
so-called correspondent-banking relations with Angola, worsening the
“The fight against corruption by Joao Lourenço is very good news,”
says Mr Massano. “One of the risks to those correspondent banks is
that illicit money might go through their accounts, so no one dares do
The central bank moved to address the underlying shortage of dollars
itself, a bane of investors trying to do business in Angola, by
allowing the market to determine a more realistic exchange rate.
“The currency was fixed to the US dollar,” he says. “It was not
sustainable and we had to do something.”
Rafael Marques de Morais, an investigative journalist and notable
thorn in the side of the ruling elite, acknowledges real change under
the new presidency. For one thing, he says, the surveillance equipment
outside his home has gone.
Although the Lourenço administration has moved swiftly against parts
of the old regime, he says, others tainted by corruption have remained
close to power. An amnesty on laundered money deposited abroad
resulted in no meaningful return of illicit funds, he adds.
Defenders of Mr Lourenço say that, given the small size of the Angolan
elite, the president has little option but to recycle educated
technocrats. He has drawn a line under past misdeeds, goes the
explanation, but will not tolerate new ones.
Mr Marques has a simpler interpretation. “If you surround yourself
with sharks it’s because you like sharks,” he says. “If I had to
summarise what’s happening in the country I would say the president
came in with very good intentions, unprecedented political goodwill —
and a total lack of vision on how to proceed.”
One incident that has raised eyebrows involves Manuel Vicente, a
former vice-president accused of corruption and money laundering by
Mr Lourenço pressed hard for a trial in Angola, rather than Portugal,
accusing Lisbon of interfering in its sovereignty. Since Mr Vicente’s
release by Portuguese authorities last May, no trial has taken place.
A recent auction for a fourth telecoms licence — including mobile,
fixed-line and pay-TV services — has also raised questions over the
extent of the reform.
It attracted the interest of foreign companies hitherto excluded from
one of Africa’s most lucrative markets, that has been dominated by
Unitel, a private company until recently chaired by Ms dos Santos, who
owns 25 per cent, with a further 25 per cent held by Sonangol.
The licence was won by Telstar, a company with a limited record but
controlled by a recently promoted general. The arrangement, which some
considered had all the hallmarks of a cosy deal from the past, was
annulled in April by Mr Lourenço “to ensure a clean and transparent
Another example of alleged business as usual has been raised by Africa
Growth Corporation, a US company, which provides affordable housing.
AGC claims that property it developed was illegally expropriated in
2017 by a well-connected general.
Although a court ruled in its favour in November of that year, says
Scott Mortman, AGC’s executive chair, the Angolan police never
enforced the order, obliging his company to seek compensation.
Mr Mortman says the government this year finally agreed to pay $47.5m,
but has since reneged on the deal, something denied by Angolan
Mr Mortman says that US companies should not do business with Angola
until the issue is resolved.
Angolan officials, asked whether the incident taints the country’s
claim to be a reformed investment destination, told the Financial
Times the case was a private matter that no longer involved the state.
“The courts have retrieved the property,” says Mr Massano at the
central bank. “If they [AGC] want to sell it they have to sit down
with someone who wants to buy.”
While Angola’s pitch as a safe haven for foreign investment is still a
work-in-progress, the economy continues to suffer. GDP is predicted by
the IMF to grow by less than 0.5 per cent this year.
A well-placed member of the elite, who spoke on condition of
anonymity, says of the president’s reforms: “We are not feeling it
yet. People have no food, no money, no jobs.”
Mr Marques says problems run deeper than failing to rekindle a stalled
economy and that Mr Lourenço needs to choose between preserving an
MPLA that is perceived as corrupt to its core or dismantling its
structures in pursuit of more fundamental reform.
“The ruling [MPLA] was essentially the hotbed of those who plundered
the country and those people have not been removed,” he says. The
president, he adds, has “made a fundamental error” in not taking on
the MPLA more aggressively.
“He cannot be a reformist,” says Mr Marques, “by saving the party and
throwing breadcrumbs and false promises to the people.”