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Thursday 11th of July 2019

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Macro Thoughts

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Powell speaks dovish, implied probability of a #FederalReserve rate cut back to 100%. @jsblokland

Fed Chair Jerome Powell: “The bottom line for me is that the
uncertainties around global growth and trade continue to weigh on the
outlook,’’ while inflation remains “muted.’’
The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell as low as 2.04% after climbing
above 2.10% for the first time in a month before settling around
2.06%. Two-year rates slumped while longer-dated bond yields rose. The
dollar weakened versus major peers, gold topped $1,400 again and oil
rose above $59 a barrel in New York.
“A rate cut in July is now all but certain,” said James McCann, senior
global economist at Aberdeen Standard Investments. “The strength of
last week’s jobs number did lead some to think that the Fed may pause
for thought. It’s clear from this that they won’t.”

Home Thoughts

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The Curiosity rover recently discovered methane on Mars, which could be a sign of life. The biologist and genetics professor Gary Ruvkun wants to search for DNA on Mars. @NewYorker

For almost seven years, nasa’s Curiosity rover has been exploring the
terrain of Mars. Two weeks ago, it made a stunning discovery:
relatively large concentrations of methane gas. The rover also found
methane in 2013, but the readings recorded this month—approximately
twenty-one parts per billion—were about three times as concentrated.
The reason this news registered among scientists is that methane is
often a sign of life; although the gas can be produced by various
chemical reactions, most of it comes from animate beings. Does this
mean that we are on the verge of discovering life on Mars, and, if so,
what kind of life is it likely to be?

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What is your biggest takeaway from this methane discovery? @NewYorker

Looking for methane is a good method to indirectly look for life. The
problem is, there are chemical ways to make methane as well. It is not
a perfect surrogate for life.
What would people who are skeptical of the way you’re thinking about
it say in response to this?
They’d say that’s just stupid. [Laughs.] Because they’re saying,
“Well, it had to start somewhere, and so why would you not think it
started here? Why are you positing that we caught life instead of
evolved it?” Because there’s clearly evidence for how life evolved in
our genomes. It’s what’s called the RNA World, which was kind of the
earliest form of life, and is still present in our genomes. We can see
it there, and so you can discern early steps in evolution just by
looking in modern genomes. In orthodoxy and all the textbooks, the RNA
World—that’s kind of the precursor to the DNA world—was here on Earth
four billion years ago. And I would propose, no, it was probably ten
billion years ago, somewhere on the other side of the Milky Way, and
it’s been spreading all across the Milky Way.
So the four-billion-year and the ten-billion-year estimates—there is
no scientific basis for either estimate? Is that what you are saying?
No, no, no. The Earth is 4.5 billion years old. And the universe, at
least based on estimates from the Big Bang, is something like fourteen
billion years.
So, if life evolved somewhere else, that buys you about ten billion
years of time. But I’d rather it bought you a hundred billion years of
time or a thousand billion years of time. That would be more
Why would it be more satisfying?
Well, because it allows more time. See, the thing is, if you look in
the fossil record, where’s the first evidence of life? Well, you can
see evidence of bacterial life, things that look like bacteria, the
things that are called stromatolites, which are a kind of blue-green
algae bacteria that live in colonies.
Those things form good fossils, and you can see those about three and
a half billion years ago. So, life had already evolved to the point of
there being pretty complicated bacteria very quickly, after the Earth
And, you know, most lay people would say, “Well, yeah, duh, bacteria
are pretty simple.” But bacteria are not simple. Bacteria are
incredibly complicated. Bacteria are the self-replicating robots that
electrical engineers dream of. These guys can make a copy of
themselves in twenty minutes, with four thousand parts.
So, O.K., what’s the upshot of what you’re saying about the bacteria?
They were super highly evolved, and I think they got here as soon as
the Earth cooled, and they just started growing. And they’ve been
spreading across the Milky Way and maybe the whole universe. For
example, you’ve heard about seti, right? The people who are looking
for intelligent life?

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The Kalokol Pillar Site, registered as GcJh3 and also known as Namoratunga II, is an archaeological site on the west side of Lake Turkana

The Kalokol Pillar Site, registered as GcJh3 and also known as
Namoratunga II, is an archaeological site on the west side of Lake
Turkana in Kenya dating to the Pastoral Neolithic. Namoratunga means
"people of stone" in the Turkana language. The site was originally
believed to have been created around 300 BC, but recent excavations
have yielded an older radiocarbon sample dating to 3890 +/- 15 BP (or
2398 +/- 44 calendar years BC).[1] The site is easily visible on the
Lodwar – Kalokol roadside, 20 meters from the road. The Kalokol Pillar
Site (3°25′22″N 35°48′10″E) contains 19 basalt pillars which are
surrounded by a circular formation of stones. A number of other pillar
sites surround Lake Turkana as well and date to the same time period;
Lothagam North and Manemanya, for example, are communal cemeteries.
These sites were likely built by the region's earliest herders.[2]
Another burial site with stone cairns, Namoratunga I, (2°23′0.04″N
36°8′2.52″E)[3] also known as Lokori, does not have stone

Archaeologists Mark Lynch and L.H. Robbins described the Kalokol
Pillar Site in 1978 and identified it as a possible
archaeoastronomical site.[6] Lynch believed the basalt pillars tie the
constellations or stars to the 12-month 354-day lunar calendar of
Cushitic speakers of southern Ethiopia. The pillars were said to align
with 7 star systems: Triangulum, Pleiades, Bellatrix, Aldebaran,
Central Orion, Saiph, and Sirius. Other archaeologists have reanalyzed
the archaeoastronomical evidence,[7] and an older radiocarbon date
from the Kalokol Pillar Site now calls into question these

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Taiwan president @iingwen leaves for U.S., warns of threat from 'overseas forces'
Law & Politics

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen left for the United States on Thursday
on a trip that has angered Beijing, warning democracy must be defended
and the island faced threats from “overseas forces”, in a veiled
reference to China.
China, which claims self-ruled and democratic Taiwan as its own and
views it as a wayward province, has called on the United States not to
allow Tsai to transit there on her overseas tour.
She is spending four nights in the United States in total, two on the
way there and two on the way back on a visit to four Caribbean allies.
Tsai will go to New York on her way there, and then is expected to
stop in Denver on the way back.
Tsai’s time in the United States will be unusually long, as normally
she spends just a night at a time on transit stops.
The U.S. State Department has said there had been no change in the
U.S. “one-China” policy, under which Washington officially recognizes
Beijing and not Taipei, while assisting Taiwan.
“Our democracy has not come easily, and is now facing threats and
infiltration from overseas forces,” Tsai said, without naming any such
“These challenges are also common challenges faced by democracies all
over the world. We will work with countries with similar ideas to
ensure the stability of the democratic system.”
Tsai, who faces re-election in January, has repeatedly called for
international support to defend Taiwan’s democracy in the face of
Chinese threats.
Beijing has regularly sent military aircraft and ships to circle
Taiwan on drills in the past few years.
Tsai last went to the United States in March, stopping over in Hawaii
at the end of a Pacific tour.
Seeking to bolster Taiwan’s defenses, the United States this week
approved an arms sale worth an estimated $2.2 billion for Taiwan,
despite Chinese criticism of the deal.

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"The Emirati drawdown should set alarm bells ringing in Riyadh. When your comrade in arms decides enough's enough, then it is time to start rethinking what exactly you are doing at the dance" @MiddleEastEye
Law & Politics

There was a time - and to the Saudi crown prince and de facto ruler,
Mohammed bin Salman, it must now seem a long time ago - that a war
against Yemen’s Houthi rebels sounded like a very good idea.
A quick win, using Saudi Arabia’s unchallenged air superiority in the
north and their ally the United Arab Emirates’ ground forces in the
south, would burnish his reputation as a young warrior prince in the
mould of his grandfather and founder of the modern kingdom of Saudi
Arabia, Ibn Saud.
It would buttress his claim to be the emerging leader of the Arab states.
Unlike MBS, the Abu Dhabi crown prince had a clear strategy which he
has executed pretty much to perfection.
It was to secure the crucial southern port city of Aden, to lay claim
to the vital island of Socotra in the Gulf of Aden, and to make common
cause with the secessionist forces in the south, with a view to
splitting Yemen apart into two separate countries, as it was prior to
A reborn South Yemen would in effect be a client state of the UAE.
This was not a strategy in isolation. Socotra, which has escaped
mostly unscathed from the terrible damage inflicted elsewhere in
Yemen, sits at the crossroads between the Arabian Peninsula and Asia.
The UAE already has deep trading ties with India and wants to expand
its energy sales to growing markets in the sub-continent.
Aden, itself a very desirable port jewel, is close to the Bab
al-Mandab, the narrow neck of water between Yemen and the Horn of
Africa, where the Emiratis have been busy building maritime ports and
military bases in Somaliland, Puntland and Eritrea.
Those ports and bases are important both to enhance the UAE’s presence
in the region and to provide military clout to protect Bab al-Mandab
which sees nearly five million barrels of oil pass through it each
Meanwhile MBS is stuck in a quagmire. The Houthis are a skilled and
ruthless opponent; they have remained well entrenched in the capital
Sanaa and in their heartland in the north of the country.
They have exploited Saudi vulnerability to missile and drone attacks,
most recently in a strike on the airport of the southern Saudi city of
Abha, the third in a series of attacks that has killed one person and
left dozens more injured.
The Emirati drawdown should set alarm bells ringing in Riyadh. When
your comrade in arms decides enough’s enough, then it is time to start
rethinking what exactly you are doing at the dance.
The Saudis have said with justification that every time they push for
talks, the Houthis agree and then back out. They argue it is the
Houthis, backed by Iran, who are prolonging the war.
That may well be the case but the only way for MBS to extricate his
country is to take the road signposted political settlement.
The Houthis will not be bombed to the negotiating table. That means, I
believe, a unilateral cessation of the air campaign, with a tight time
frame and outside pressure to get the Houthis to the table, this time
to stay.

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13-NOV-2017 :: MBS arrived on the scene and immediately launched an unwinnable war in Yemen
Law & Politics

In all the history books I have read, its probably wisest to operate
on one front not two and certainly not three.

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Law & Politics

A British oil tanker operated by BP Plc exited the Persian Gulf and
was sailing off the coast of Oman Thursday after Iranian naval vessels
“impeded” it during the voyage.
The British Heritage passed through the Strait of Hormuz, the oil
chokepoint at the mouth of the Gulf, and was sailing along the Omani
coast, according to tanker tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.
The incident comes after U.K. forces arrested a tanker in Gibraltar
suspected of carrying Iranian oil to Syria.
“Three Iranian vessels attempted to impede the passage of a commercial
vessel, British Heritage, through the Strait of Hormuz,” a U.K.
government spokesman said. “HMS Montrose was forced to position
herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage and issue
verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away.”

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.1269
Dollar Index 96.929
Japan Yen 108.11
Swiss Franc 0.9867
Pound 1.2535
Aussie 0.6972
India Rupee 68.3595
South Korea Won 1172.50
Brazil Real 3.7541
Egypt Pound 16.6012
South Africa Rand 13.943

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Germany sold 10-year bunds with NO COUPON. Yield was -0.26%. @BChappatta/
World Currencies

I'm old enough to remember when zero-coupon bonds were sold at a deep
discount to par, not at 103 cents on the dollar.

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27-MAY-2019 :: President Trump is highly tuned to the markets and in fact something of a c21st artiste
International Trade

President Trump is highly tuned to the markets and in fact something
of a c21st artiste. His positive ‘’Trade War’’ tweets are timed around
the US Market hours and designed to soothe, massage and finesse US
asset prices and he turns more ne- gative in Chinese trading hours.

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Heard from Chinese financial journalists that they're under orders to avoid comparisons of America's and China's stockmarkets. @S_Rabinovitch
International Trade

Not surprising given increase in China's censorship of economic news,
plus the fact that the comparison is unflattering, but still worth
noting. (1/3)

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Colombia proposes coffee nations group to provide bigger influence on market @Reuters

“We need action, because the problem is clear: there are 25 million
coffee producers that can barely cover their production costs,” said
Eugenio Velez, a director at Colombia’s coffee federation in the
opening ceremony of the 2nd Global Coffee Producers Forum.
Velez suggested that countries at the forum, which include
representatives from Central and South America, Asia and Africa, join
forces to try to impose some sort of supply limitations as a way to
boost prices that farmers consider inadequate.
Coffee prices reached the lowest levels in 12 years in May. They
recovered somewhat, but are at levels considered historically low and
below production costs.
Farmers in the forum criticized roasters, saying they continue to sell
processed coffee at high prices, paying less to producers each year.
Economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University in the United States
presented a study on the situation of coffee farmers globally,
suggesting the creation of a global fund to finance improvements both
in production and social conditions.
Sachs suggested that governments in producing nations, international
donors and large coffee processors in developed countries such as
Nestle, JDE, Lavazza and Starbucks help finance the fund.
“Coffee is clearly a very profitable business for roasters, but it is
not working to produce sustainable development, so there is a puzzle,”
Sachs said.
He said the fund could improve agricultural yields, as a way to reduce
production costs, and at the same time improve living standards in
producing countries.
Organizers of the forum said they will take the proposal to presidents
of producing countries to start up a movement toward creating the
The Colombian proposal on the association of producing countries,
however, is less likely to advance.
Brazil, for example, which is the world’s largest producer, is not a supporter.
“We had that in the past, and it didn’t work,” said José Marcos
Magalhaes, one of the forum organizers, referring to the International
Coffee Agreement that fell apart in the 1980’s.
Magalhaes believes producers need to have better knowledge of how the
market works, to be able to make better deals when prices spike.

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Crypto Coffee Coin Is Coming to Brazil's Countryside Farmers @business

Coffee farmers in Brazil’s countryside could be soon be using
cryptocurrency for their day-to-day needs.
A major arabica-bean cooperative, Minasul, is planning to this month
launch a blockchain-based digital coin that will be backed by coffee
Farmer members will be able to use the “coffeecoin” to buy fertilizer,
machinery and other non-farm products, including cars and food, Jose
Marcos Magalhaes, Minasul’s president, said in an interview during the
Global Coffee Forum in Campinas, Sao Paulo state.
Exchanging the coins for goods will take place in a digital
marketplace, backed by Minasul’s store of crop nutrients, machinery
and other products, he said.
Farmer members will be able to acquire the currency against current
and future coffee production, Magalhaes said. As much as 30% of the
current harvest is eligible for exchange, 20% of the next crop, and
10% for the season after that. Allowing this type of digital financing
will reduce costs for the cooperative and growers because it won’t
require registration though a notary’s office, he said.
The coffeecoin comes as the cooperative takes on a larger
digitalization project, including allowing farmers to sell beans in
mobile phone transactions.
Minasul, based in the state of Minas Gerais, is one of the nation’s
largest arabica-coffee cooperatives. Brazil is the the world’s biggest
coffee grower and exporter.

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African Junk Bonds Are the Latest Trophy in the Global Hunt for Yield @markets

The global hunt for yields is making investors less wary about the
quality of debt they’re buying. African Eurobonds, mostly rated junk,
have rallied to year- or record highs this month as central banks
across the globe tee up for a new round of stimulus. The notes are
proving to be an attractive alternative amid the growing cohort of
negative-yielding debt in Europe.
“Credit ratings aren’t always a differentiating factor,” said
Phumelele Mbiyo, a Johannesburg-based economist at Standard Bank Group
Ltd. “One must appreciate that African Eurobonds are not divorced
completely from global financial market developments. When it is
risk-off globally, they sell-off. When it is risk-on, they typically
rally as well.”
African countries have offered six of the best ten returns this year
among 74 developing nations in the Bloomberg Barclays Emerging Markets
Sovereign Index. Kenya’s notes have handed investors a 20% return,
almost double the 11% for the gauge.
But that doesn’t mean the countries have been flocking to the market
to benefit from fresh demand and cheap borrowing costs.
African issuance accounts for about 10% of the $152 billion in euro-
or dollar-denominated sales by emerging markets this year, a smaller
share than in the similar period last year.
Tunisia’s offering of seven-year debt on Wednesday tempted investors
with one of 2019’s highest yields for a sovereign bond in the common

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President John @MagufuliJP urges Tanzania's women to 'set ovaries free', have more babies to boost economy @The_EastAfrican

“When you have a big population you build the economy. That’s why
China’s economy is so huge,” he said late on Tuesday, citing India and
Nigeria as other examples of countries that gained from a demographic
“I know that those who like to block ovaries will complain about my
remarks. Set your ovaries free, let them block theirs,” he told a
gathering in his home town of Chato.
At the same time, the East African nation of 55 million people already
has one of the world’s highest birth rates — around 5 children per

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@BarrickGold fires new salvo in buyout battle for @AcaciaMining @FT

The improved results announced earlier this week by Acacia Mining are
unsustainable, according to its majority shareholder Barrick Gold,
which is trying to buyout the shares in the company it does not
already own in an increasingly bitter takeover battle.
Barrick said the 51 per cent increase in second quarter production
revealed by Acacia on Monday was down to developing a very high-grade
part of an underground mine at its flagship North Mara asset in
“The improved production results . . . were achieved principally by
developing and mining in the very high-grade Golden Banana 2 portion
of Gokona underground mine, which at 27.5 grams [of gold] per tonne is
far above the corresponding Gokona underground proven and probable
mineral reserve grade of 5.53g/t,” Barrick said in a statement.
“Accordingly, it is unsustainable to maintain the underground mined
grade of second quarter production, especially when probable mineral
reserve replenishment is only being added at a grade of 4.74g/t,” it
Barrick’s comments mark the latest salvo in a bitter takeover battle.
On Tuesday, Barrick was given an extra 10 days to make a formal offer
for Acacia and get minority shareholders to back its proposed
all-paper bid.
Based on a report by SRK, a leading industry consultant, Acacia says
it shares are worth as much as 282p a share, which is 43 per above
value of Barrick’s offer.
Barrick said it would meet representatives of Acacia next week to
discuss the SRK report and other matters.
Barrick’s says its plan to buy the 36.1 per cent of Acacia it does not
already own is the only way to end a two-year row that has left the
company unable to export gold from Tanzania, where it has three gold
In May, when Barrick first made its proposal, it was pitched at an 8
per cent discount to Acacia’s share price. Its offer currently stands
at a 6.4 per cent premium but has still drawn the ire of minority
Odey Asset Management, Fidelity and Legal & General have all said they
will not support the proposed offer.
“Barrick has announced that it is due to meet with Acacia and SRK next
week to discuss the report, we expect that it will continue to push
back on the risking assumptions as it is unlikely to want to buy out
minorities at such a premium to the current share price,” said
analysts at Berenberg in a note.
Shares in Acacia were 3.7p higher at 185p on Wednesday.
Analysts at Numis said: “In our view Barrick has failed to convince
the minorities that the proposed 0.153 exchange ratio is reasonable as
it doesn’t capture either the exploration potential of the assets or
the likely operational improvements that a reintegration into
Barrick/resolution of the issues in Tanzania would offer.”

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The South African Reserve Bank is likely to cut interest rates by a quarter of a percent next week as a slowdown in the economy during the first three months of the year could turn worse if left unchecked, a Reuters poll showed

Twenty-four of 30 economists in the survey taken over the past three
days said the repo rate would be cut by 25 basis points to 6.50% on
July 18. Two expected a cut of 50 basis points. The other four said
rates would be left unchanged.

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Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari could name his cabinet nominees as soon as this week, the senate president said on Wednesday, a move that could end more than a month without ministers.

Buhari was re-elected four months ago, but Nigeria has been without a
cabinet since the ministers serving during his first term stepped down
in May.
The gap has led to a slowdown in investment and a near-halt in
decision making, according to investors, contractors and diplomats.
“The executive arm is working hard to get the list to the senate,”
said Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan on the floor of the upper house of
parliament. “I can imagine that before this week runs out, we could
get the list.”

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Nairobi All Share Bloomberg +6.00% 2019
Kenyan Economy

Nairobi ^NSE20 Bloomberg -5.75% 2019


Every Listed Share can be interrogated here


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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
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July 2019

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