|Tuesday 14th of April 2020
1/12 A idealizacao do sucesso economico Chines sempre foi uma grande farsa. @TaviCosta
Durante a história tivemos diversos exemplos semelhantes de países
comunistas que atingiram níveis de dividas internas e externas
insustentáveis e que sofreram colapsos marcantes.
1/12 The idealization of Chinese economic success has always been a
big scam. Throughout history we have had several similar examples of
communist countries that have reached unsustainable levels of internal
and external debt and have suffered marked collapses.
#Africa you beauty!! @Slipcatch
Top left: Sunset, Walvis Bay, Namibia Top right: Sunset, Flamingo Bay,
Mozambique Bottom left: Sunset, Moorings Restaurant, Mombasa, Kenya
Bottom right: Sunrise, Kruger National Park, In the land of the Rugby
Trump likes virus briefings, some advisers worry he likes them too much @Reuters.
Law & Politics
Cooped up in the White House, President Donald Trump sees the
coronavirus briefings as his main outlet of the day, a reminder for
Americans that he is in charge of managing the greatest crisis of a
lifetime. Plus, the ratings are good.
Some advisers, however, would prefer a less-is-more approach. They
have quietly recommended he not spend so much time at the briefings to
avoid being distracted from the challenge at hand and bickering with
“It’s been suggested a few times, but he thinks it’s just great, and
all these ratings,” said a source familiar with the situation.
After an initial bump, polls show approval ratings for Trump’s
handling of the pandemic have leveled off, a departure from the usual
surge of support Americans typically show their president during a
national crisis, such as the high ratings George W. Bush received
after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
In a further blow, Trump is down against his Democratic rival, Joe
Biden, in most recent national election polls, even though Biden has
been reduced to appearing on video from a room in his home, unable to
hold campaign events because of the virus.
All of this has caused some alarm among the president’s advisers, in
and out of the White House.
While Trump has boasted about the high numbers of Americans who tune
in to the briefings, some of the advisers feel he would appear to be
more in command if he came to the briefing room, delivered opening
remarks and turned the proceedings over to the task force for the
“I don’t think it’s helping him,” a Republican close to the White
House said of Trump’s lengthy appearances.
“If you look at the polling, his job approval numbers are under water.
And this is the high water mark part of this crisis. As time goes on,
I think things get worse for him. He just hasn’t gotten a huge bounce
out of the ‘rally around the president’ aspect of the crisis.”
The debate over the briefings is only part of how daily life has
abruptly changed for Trump.
Six weeks ago, he was feeding off the energy of packed campaign
rallies, watching the Democratic debates on television and critiquing
each candidate’s performance, spending weekends at his Mar-a-Lago club
in Florida and playing rounds of golf.
Now, he is fetched up in the Oval Office or sitting at the end of a
dining table in the room directly adjacent, TV on in the background,
and a phone almost permanently held to his ear.
He talks to governors, emergency management officials, business
leaders, lawmakers, people with problems for him to solve, others with
solutions to offer.
He has always spent many hours on the phone, aides say, but now there
is an extra intensity.
His re-election campaign is on pause with no rallies planned and
fund-raising events behind held online.
Advisers say Trump privately frets about the state of the collapsing
economy, the strength of which earlier this year he had considered a
crown jewel of his presidency and the best case for his re-election in
The drop-by meetings of counselors and friends that he craves have
been sharply curtailed.
Anybody who comes close to the president has to be tested for the
virus, delaying in-person meetings and limiting the number of them.
The daily briefings are now Trump’s main connection to the outside world.
Aides said his participation every day was not initially intended.
Vice President Mike Pence, head of the coronavirus task force, handled
the first few on his own with members of his team. Trump then became
“He’s not able to get out of the house right now which is tough. I
thinks he just craves people and TV time. He can’t go out and do any
events,” said the source familiar with the situation.
Trump has a speechwriter prepare an opening statement, but after
reading it aloud he will often preside over a briefing and
question-and-answer session that can last more than two hours.
Proceedings can frequently veer off track. One argument he got into
earlier this week over whether people should vote by mail - he was
opposed - was seen inside Trump’s team as an example of why he should
participate less in the briefings.
Others see a Trumpian strategy at play. Television networks have
little choice but to air some or all of the briefings, which still
receive high ratings as Americans marooned in their homes tune in for
details on when the crisis might subside.
Cliff Sims, a former White House official for Trump, said the
president is making good use of his appearances.
“They play to his strength as a communicator and make him an
ubiquitous presence in people’s lives during a crisis,” he said.
He speaks truth so rarely that when you hear it from his own mouth - March 29, 2020 - it has the force of revelation: @NewYorker
Law & Politics
“I wish we could have our old life back. We had the greatest economy
that we’ve ever had, and we didn’t have death.”
Well, maybe not the whole, unvarnished truth. The first clause was
neither true nor false: it described only a desire. A desire which,
when I heard it—and found its bleating echo in myself—I’ll admit I
weighed in my hand, for a moment, like a shiny apple. It sounded like
a decent “wartime” wish, war being the analogy he’s chosen to use.
But no one in 1945 wished to return to the “old life,” to return to
1939—except to resurrect the dead. Disaster demanded a new dawn. Only
new thinking can lead to a new dawn. We know that.
Yet as he said it—“I wish we could have our old life back”—he caught
his audience in a moment of weakness: in their dressing gowns,
weeping, or on a work call, or with a baby on their hip and a work
call, or putting on a homemade hazmat suit to brave the subway, on the
way to work that cannot be done at home, while millions of bored
children climbed the walls from coast to coast.
And, yes, in that brittle context, “the old life” had a comforting
sound, if only rhetorically, like “once upon a time” or “but I love
The second clause brought me back to my senses. Snake oil, snake oil,
snake oil. The devil is consistent, if nothing else. I dropped that
apple, and, lo, it was putrid and full of worms.
Then he spoke the truth: we didn’t have death.
What we were completely missing, however, was the concept of death
itself, death absolute. The kind of death that comes to us all,
irrespective of position.
Death absolute is the truth of our existence as a whole, of course,
but America has rarely been philosophically inclined to consider
existence as a whole, preferring instead to attack death as a series
of discrete problems.
The virus map of the New York boroughs turns redder along precisely
the same lines as it would if the relative shade of crimson counted
not infection and death but income brackets and middle-school ratings.
Death comes to all—but in America it has long been considered
reasonable to offer the best chance of delay to the highest bidder.
One potential hope for the new American life is that, within it, such
an idea will finally become inconceivable, and that the next
generation of American leaders might find inspiration not in Winston
Churchill’s bellicose rhetoric but in the peacetime words spoken by
Clement Attlee, his opposite number in the House of Commons, the
leader of the Labor Party, who beat Churchill in a postwar landslide:
“The war has been won by the efforts of all our people, who, with very
few exceptions, put the nation first and their private and sectional
interests a long way second. . . . Why should we suppose that we can
attain our aims in peace—food, clothing, homes, education, leisure,
social security and full employment for all—by putting private
As Americans never tire of arguing, there may be many areas of our
lives in which private interest plays the central role.
But, as postwar Europe, exhausted by absolute death, collectively
decided, health care shouldn’t be one of them.
PEPE ESCOBAR: Who Profits from the Pandemic? @Consortiumnews
Law & Politics
You don’t need to read Michel Foucault’s work on biopolitics to
understand that neoliberalism – in deep crisis since at least 2008 –
is a control/governing technique in which surveillance capitalism is
But now, with the world-system collapsing at breathtaking speed,
neoliberalism is at a loss to deal with the next stage of dystopia,
ever present in our hyper-connected angst: global mass unemployment.
Henry Kissinger, anointed oracle/gatekeeper of the ruling class, is
predictably scared. He claims that, “sustaining the public trust is
crucial to social solidarity.”
He’s convinced the Hegemon should “safeguard the principles of the
liberal world order.” Otherwise, “failure could set the world on
That’s so quaint. Public trust is dead across the spectrum. The
liberal world “order” is now social Darwinist chaos. Just wait for the
fire to rage.
The numbers are staggering. The Japan-based Asian Development Bank
(ADB), in its annual economic report, may not have been exactly
But it did note that the impact of the “worst pandemic in a century”
will be as high as $4.1 trillion, or 4.8 percent of global GDP.
This an underestimation, as “supply disruptions, interrupted
remittances, possible social and financial crises, and long-term
effects on health care and education are excluded from the analysis.”
We cannot even start to imagine the cataclysmic social consequences of
the crash. Entire sub-sectors of the global economy may not be
recomposed at all.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) forecasts global
unemployment at a conservative, additonal 24.7 million people –
especially in aviation, tourism and hospitality.
The global aviation industry is a humongous $2.7 trillion business.
That’s 3.6 percent of global GDP. It employs 2.7 million people. When
you add air transport and tourism —everything from hotels and
restaurants to theme parks and museums — it accounts for a minimum of
65.5 million jobs around the world.
According to the ILO, income losses for workers may range from $860
billion to an astonishing $3.4 trillion. “Working poverty” will be the
new normal – especially across the Global South.
“Working poor,” in ILO terminology, means employed people living in
households with a per capita income below the poverty line of $2 a
As many as an additional 35 million people worldwide will become
working poor in 2020.
Switching to feasible perspectives for global trade, it’s enlightening
to examine that this report about how the economy may rebound is
centered on the notorious hyperactive merchants and traders of Yiwu in
eastern China – the world’s busiest small-commodity, business hub.
Their experience spells out a long and difficult recovery. As the rest
of the world is in a coma, Lu Ting, chief China economist at Nomura in
Hong Kong stresses that China faces a 30 percent decline in external
demand at least until next Fall.
Neoliberalism in Reverse?
In the next stage, the strategic competition between the U.S. and
China will be no-holds-barred, as emerging narratives of China’s new,
multifaceted global role – on trade, technology, cyberspace, climate
change – will set in, even more far-reaching than the New Silk Roads.
That will also be the case in global public health policies. Get ready
for an accelerated Hybrid War between the “Chinese virus” narrative
and the Health Silk Road.
The latest report by the China Institute of International Studies
would be quite helpful for the West — hubris permitting — to
understand how Beijing adopted key measures putting the health and
safety of the general population first.
Now, as the Chinese economy slowly picks up, hordes of fund managers
from across Asia are tracking everything from trips on the metro to
noodle consumption to preview what kind of economy may emerge
In contrast, across the West, the prevailing doom and gloom elicited a
priceless editorial from The Financial Times.
Like James Brown in the 1980s Blues Brothers pop epic, the City of
London seems to have seen the light, or at least giving the impression
it really means it.
Neoliberalism in reverse. New social contract. “Secure” labor markets.
Cynics won’t be fooled. The cryogenic state of the global economy
spells out a vicious Great Depression 2.0 and an unemployment tsunami.
The plebs eventually reaching for the pitchforks and the AR-15s en
masse is now a distinct possibility. Might as well start throwing a
few breadcrumbs to the beggars’ banquet.
That may apply to European latitudes. But the American story is in a
class by itself.
For decades, we were led to believe that the world-system put in place
after WWII provided the U.S. with unrivalled structural power.
Now, all that’s left is structural fragility, grotesque inequalities,
unpayable Himalayas of debt, and a rolling crisis.
No one is fooled anymore by the Fed’s magic quantitative easing
powers, or the acronym salad – TALF, ESF, SPV – built into the
Fed/U.S. Treasury exclusive obsession with big banks, corporations and
the Goddess of the Market, to the detriment of the average American.
It was only a few months ago that a serious discussion evolved around
the $2.5 quadrillion derivatives market imploding and collapsing the
global economy, based on the price of oil skyrocketing, in case the
Strait of Hormuz – for whatever reason – was shut down.
Now it’s about Great Depression 2.0: the whole system crashing as a
result of the shutdown of the global economy.
The questions are absolutely legitimate: is the political and social
cataclysm of the global economic crisis arguably a larger catastrophe
than Covid-19 itself?
And will it provide an opportunity to end neoliberalism and usher in a
more equitable system, or something even worse?
Wall Street, of course, lives in an alternative universe. In a
nutshell, Wall Street turned the Fed into a hedge fund.
The Fed is going to own at least two thirds of all U.S. Treasury bills
in the market before the end of 2020.
The U.S. Treasury will be buying every security and loan in sight
while the Fed will be the banker – financing the whole scheme.
So essentially this is a Fed/Treasury merger. A behemoth dispensing
loads of helicopter money.
And the winner is BlackRock—the biggest money manager on the planet,
with tentacles everywhere, managing the assets of over 170 pension
funds, banks, foundations, insurance companies,
in fact a great deal of the money in private equity and hedge funds.
BlackRock — promising to be fully “transparent” — will buy these
securities and manage those dodgy SPVs on behalf of the Treasury.
BlackRock, founded in 1988 by Larry Fink, may not be as big as
Vanguard, but it’s the top investor in Goldman Sachs, along with
Vanguard and State Street, and with $6.5 trillion in assets, bigger
than Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank combined.
Now, BlackRock is the new operating system (OS) of the Fed and the
Treasury. The world’s biggest shadow bank – and no, it’s not Chinese.
Compared to this high-stakes game, mini-scandals such as the one
around Georgia Senator Kelly Loffler are peanuts. Loffler allegedly
profited from inside information on Covid-19 by the CDC to make a
stock market killing.
Loffler is married to Jeffrey Sprecher – who happens to be the
chairman of the NYSE, installed by Goldman Sachs.
While corporate media followed this story like headless chickens,
post-Covid-19 plans, in Pentagon parlance, “move forward” by stealth.
The price? A meager $1,200 check per person for a month. Anyone knows
that, based on median salary income, a typical American family would
need $12,000 to survive for two months.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in an act of supreme effrontry,
allows them a mere 10 percent of that.
So American taxpayers will be left with a tsunami of debt while
selected Wall Street players grab the whole loot, part of an
unparalleled transfer of wealth upwards, complete with bankruptcies en
masse of small and medium businesses.
Fink’s letter to his shareholders almost gives the game away: “I
believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.”
And right on cue, he forecasted that, “in the near future – and sooner
than most anticipate – there will be a significant reallocation of
He was referring, then, to climate change. Now that refers to Covid-19.
Implant Our Nanochip, Or Else?
The game ahead for the elites, taking advantage of the crisis, might
well contain these four elements: a social credit system, mandatory
vaccination, a digital currency and a Universal Basic Income (UBI).
This is what used to be called, according to the decades-old,
time-tested CIA playbook, a “conspiracy theory.” Well, it might
A social credit system is something that China set up already in 2014.
Before the end of 2020, every Chinese citizen will be assigned his/her
own credit score – a de facto “dynamic profile”, elaborated with
extensive use of AI and the internet of things (IoT), including
ubiquitous facial recognition technology.
This implies, of course, 24/7 surveillance, complete with Blade
Runner-style roving robotic birds.
The U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Canada, Russia and India may not
be far behind.
Germany, for instance, is tweaking its universal credit rating system,
SCHUFA. France has an ID app very similar to the Chinese model,
verified by facial recognition.
Mandatory vaccination is Bill Gates’s dream, working in conjunction
with the WHO, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and Big Pharma.
He wants “billions of doses” to be enforced over the Global South. And
it could be a cover to everyone getting a digital implant.
Here it is, in his own words. At 34:15: “Eventually what we’ll have to
have is certificates of who’s a recovered person, who’s a vaccinated
person…Because you don’t want people moving around the world where
you’ll have some countries that won’t have it under control, sadly.
You don’t want to completely block off the ability for people to go
there and come back and move around.”
Then comes the last sentence which was erased from the official TED
video. This was noted by Rosemary Frei, who has a master on molecular
biology and is an independent investigative journalist in Canada.
Gates says: “So eventually there will be this digital immunity proof
that will help facilitate the global reopening up.”
This “digital immunity proof” is crucial to keep in mind, something
that could be misused by the state for nefarious purposes.
The three top candidates to produce a coronavirus vaccine are American
biotech firm Moderna, as well as Germans CureVac and BioNTech.
Digital cash might then become an offspring of blockchain. Not only
the U.S., but China and Russia are also interested in a national
A global currency – of course controlled by central bankers – may soon
be adopted in the form of a basket of currencies, and would circulate
Endless permutations of the toxic cocktail of IoT, blockchain
technology and the social credit system could loom ahead.
Already Spain has announced that it is introducing UBI, and wants it
to be permanent.
It’s a form insurance for the elite against social uprisings,
especially if millions of jobs never come back.
So the key working hypothesis is that Covid-19 could be used as cover
for the usual suspects to bring in a new digital financial system and
a mandatory vaccine with a “digital identity” nanochip with dissent
not tolerated: what Slavoj Zizek calls the “erotic dream” of every
Yet underneath it all, amid so much anxiety, a pent-up rage seems to
be gathering strength, to eventually explode in unforeseeable ways. As
much as the system may be changing at breakneck speed, there’s no
guarantee even the 0.1 percent will be safe.
Eyes Wide Open: Will the 'Masters of the Universe' Notice No One Takes Them Seriously Anymore?
Law & Politics
The intrusion of some wholly extraneous event – like a pandemic – into
any given status quo doesn’t necessarily break it, in and of itself.
But it exposes cruelly the shortcomings and workings of the existing
status quo. It shows them, as not just stark naked, but also with its
dark backstage of barely legal, dole-outs to business, and Wall Street
friends, suddenly spotlighted.
Fyodor Dostoevsky sets out in The Brothers Karamazov an allegory that
can be applied to our times, but was set in Seville, in the most
terrible time of the Inquisition, when fires were lighted every day to
the glory of God (rather than today’s ‘glory to Mammon’), and in that
splendid auto da fé, when wicked ‘heretics’ were burnt alive. It was
published in 1880.
Into this city an entirely extraneous (shall we say non-human) event
occurs, that deeply unsettles society: Citizens are suddenly
snatched-up from their humdrum daily slog to see the status quo afresh
– but now with eyes wide open.
The Grand Inquisitor of Seville is outraged. This extraneous
occurrence risks spoiling his carefully contrived status quo:
“Oh, we shall persuade them [the citizenry of Seville] that they will
only become free when they renounce their freedom to us, and submit to
us. And shall we be right, or shall we be lying? They will be
convinced that we are right … Receiving bread from us, they will see
clearly that we take the bread made by their hands from them – [only]
to give it back to them … In truth they will be more thankful for
taking it from our hands – than for the bread itself! Too well, will
they know the value of complete submission! We shall show them that
they are weak, that they are only pitiful children, but that childlike
happiness is the sweetest of all.
“We will indulge them their sins; allow them to occupy themselves with
their vices. We will monitor everything, regulate everything, order
and legislate for everything – and be their conscience too – so that
they do not have to trouble themselves to think, overly; or, to be
obliged to make decisions. They exist only to serve us, the élite who
rule over them: The millions, numerous as the sands of the sea, who
are weak, must exist only for the élite, who rule over them. In this
mystery, says the Grand Inquisitor, “lies the great secret of the
Well, here we are: We have an extraneous event: Covid-19. It is
different, of course. The Inquisitor literally burnt-out the threat
(alive), to the existing order in Seville.
Similarly, our ‘Elect’ of today, are equally agog to preserve the
status quo. And for reasons very similar to those of the Inquisitor.
Today’s élites face, however, a much more complex paradigm: We are
speaking here more of the consequences of Covid-19 on collective human
psychology, rather than about the efficacy of any actions taken, or
not taken, by the Fed, or G7 Central Banks.
The threat in Seville, fundamentally, was about psychological
transformation: The Seville ‘event’ induced citizens to question
meaning in their lives – and to doubt human agency (and élite
‘agency’, in particular). It didn’t end well in Russia – or for the
The issue for governments – at bottom – is how to resurrect an economy
that has been placed into hibernation. Western leaders are fearful
that if it is not awakened – and quickly – there may be permanent
damage to the infrastructure of the real economy – and consequently, a
series of defaults leading to a possible financial crisis, or
implosion (i.e. curtains for the status quo).
So, we hear a lot now about the cure being worse than the disease,
i.e. a locked-down economy can be more harmful than letting people die
But the paradox here is that élites have no agency. This is not the
War on Terror. There is no one to blame (though the U.S. would like to
pin Covid-19 on China): ‘We didn’t start it’. ‘Death’ came to us – an
event from ‘the beyond’.
Combatting it has been declared ‘a full war’ nonetheless. There is
nothing tangible, no real enemy ‘to fight’ – just a shape-shifting
virus, that virologists tell us is not ‘alive’, but represents
organisms that lie at the very edge of life. Such entities cannot
literally be ‘killed’.
And how to fight this war? Where is the battle plan? There is none.
There can be none (beyond mitigating the reach of death). Dr John
Ioannidis, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Stanford
University, tells us that the modelling on which government plans for
its ‘military’ campaign wholly depend is worthless:
“The data collected so far on how many people are infected and how the
epidemic is evolving are utterly unreliable. Given the limited testing
to date, some deaths and probably the vast majority of infections due
to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) are being missed. We don’t know if we are
failing to capture infections by a factor of three or 300. Three
months after the outbreak emerged, most countries, including the U.S.,
lack the ability to test a large number of people and no countries
have reliable data on the prevalence of the virus in a representative
random sample of the general population …”.
Mortality rates, too, are similarly all over the place: As researchers
debate what’s causing Italy’s 10%+ mortality rate, one thing is
indisputable: mortality rates are climbing.
Virtually every nation that has a large number of reported cases has
continued to see mortality rates climb.
In Spain, the mortality rate now stands at 8.7%. Ten days ago, it
stood at 5.4%.
In the Netherlands, the mortality rate stands at 8.3%. Ten days ago,
it stood at 3.8%.
In the United Kingdom, the mortality rate stands at 7.1%. Ten days
ago, it stood at 4.6%.
In France, the mortality rate stands at 6.7. Ten days ago, it stood at 3.9%.
Death, in other words, it seems, may be getting the upper hand in this ‘war’.
And yet, behind the governmental fear for the financial and economic
status quolies another ‘demon’: mass hysteria and revolt, by those
who, now unemployed, haven’t the money to buy food.
Again this – the psychology of a rioting mob – is a figment of
collective psyche. It can’t literally by killed by soldiers.
This psyche is already beginning in the south of Italy where people,
who say they are hungry and have no money, are storming supermarkets,
and looting food. (It is only food, for now, but soon, it will be
raiding for money).
Social disorder and riot is likely to spook governments even more than
the deflating balloon of their economies. But isn’t this what the ‘War
on Death’ paradigm is about?
Police on the streets; the army patrolling; martial law; and the
criminalisation of unauthorised movement: It is mounted in readiness
for the prospect of popular revolt: against the fear that the Paris –
mainly immigrant – banlieues, or the Italian Mezzogiorno, will
The Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies recently warned
that a “social bomb could explode at any moment” over Western cities.
That is because the evolution of the pandemic, which has crashed the
American economy into a depression, could result in social unravelling
in major metros, specifically in low-income areas.
A governmental desperation – stemming from the risks of social and
economic disintegration – is likely to push governments to gamble on
either an early-ish lifting of social-distancing, or a partial
But the same dilemma applies: governments will be doing this ‘blind’,
or on the basis of empirically flawed modelling.
And a gamble it is. The Signier Laboratory gives us this illustration
of the possible maths behind ‘distancing’:
This, like most current models, is guess-work in terms of the
underlying assumptions (such as a rate of infection of 2.5). But its’
message is clear.
Going for partial opening or localised opening will invite some sort
of Phase Two. China already is experiencing this – and has had to
lockdown Jin Province, after it had just opened Hubei.
Where then does the balance of advantage lie for desperate
leaderships? Who knows? A phase II may arrive anyway; the virus might
mutate (as happened in August 1918, with Spanish ‘flu), and become
more (or less) lethal.
What makes Covid-19 infection particularly difficult to manage or
predict is that it drops infection from day ‘0’, yet the carrier will
not experience any sense of having been infected (or being ill at all)
until 5–8 days later.
Yet all that time, he or she will be 100% infectious – and potentially
spreading a new phase. (There is no general testing for antibodies).
Governments likely will ease distancing anyway to alleviate the social
and economic pressures. They will have their fingers crossed that
Covid-19 does not return in a new phase to ‘thumb its nose’ – and make
a nonsense of all these measures.
It is a gamble – and these governments’ credibility will be on the
line – whatever they choose. They are becalmed between Scylla and
Charybdis: no good options.
So, where does this take us? To a (not unexpected) schizophrenia. On
the one hand, there are those – so in thrall (in the J B Yeats sense)
to the status quo – that anything other than a rapid re-instatement of
‘normality is beyond their reach. Mental retort sealed shut. As one
“One well known set of UK asset managers this morning [yesterday] are
blithely predicting a V-Shaped recovery from the third quarter onwards
…They think QE Infinity packages have “resolved” the debt bubble, the
equity market is now realistically priced for a global recovery,
governments have mitigated the damage, and we will see a massive jump
in sentiment, activity and repressed demand when the lockdowns end,
and economies reopen – with a leap of unfettered joy”.
This line of thinking holds that what is happening in the U.S. and
Europe is not a real recession. The economic fundamentals were great.
We shut down the economy only because of Covid-19. So, if we were just
to start it back up again – everything will be fine.
But, just as heavy doses of refined sugar may impact the human brain
in a manner similar to addictive drugs by releasing dopamine, the
brain’s “reward” chemical. So too, since 2008/9, we have what Dan
Amoss calls, a ‘sugar-rush economy’.
So, the prescription inevitably – to maintain the status quo – is more
sugar, more spending and more money printing. And if the effect starts
to wane, the reaction is to ‘double the dose’.
It is all wishful thinking. It’s a part of the delusion. The economy
wasn’t fine. Since 2008, the Fed has fed a sugar-rush economy. It’s a
bubble. That’s the problem. And the bubble may have been fatally
What happens, when finally, we are released from lockdown: We will
walk out – still blinking – into the daylight, but it will be a very
We will see that human agency – i.e. our governments – were wholly
unable to have wrung a scintilla of victory from this war.
Recriminations will multiply. If death has retreated – finally it will
be because nature, and biology, willed it.
There is, of course, human agency – but there are other forces at work
in this Cosmos of ours, that can make human Promethean hubris appear
It was just such insight that so unsettled Seville, in Dostoevsky’s
allegory. The extraneous ‘intrusion’ into their city jerked into
consciousness half-forgotten memories of what it is to be fully human,
and recalled a different mode of human potential. Intimations of
mortality, often do that trick (too), of course.
What follows will be a more hesitant, cautious world. Shocked
economically, and at our root we will, I suspect, be much more careful
in the future: credit cards will be cut in two; we will try to save
more, and we will adapt ‘downwards’.
Will we go out and spend liberally? A pent-up ‘jump in sentiment’? No.
The experience for all has been chastening. Who now sees the future
with any certainty? Every aspect of life is going to be changed.
Some of the smaller businesses will open, but many will remain shut.
Many of us will continue to work from home. Many of us won’t work at
all – and may never work again.
But what seems to be searing the public consciousness is of a
different mode: Empathy during the pandemic – there was none. (Recall
the comments how Covid-19 striking down Hubei would be good for
Solidarity – there was none (at least from the EU, to be sure);
Leadership – there was none, yet semi-legal corruption – abundant.
Trump has taken charge of the U.S. Treasury, which in turn, now fully
controls the dollar printing presses of the Fed. Trump is King Dollar.
He can print whatever he likes.
Give it to whomsoever he wants (via the Treasury’s secretive Special
Purpose Vehicles (SPVs)), outsourced to Blackrock Fund. The U.S.
Budget now is toast.
As one banker noted: “Would you want to be a Democratic candidate
running against [a Trump] spending USD2 trillion on infrastructure in
a weak economy? Good luck with that!” Eyes wide open: Where is our
moral compass – as well as our common humanity?
The mask is off: Is this the point of inflection for the global order,
when the western hyper-financialised system is unable to reform
itself, refuses to reform itself – and yet is unable to sustain
itself, as it once was?
Will the system – so busily engaged in looking after itself – even
notice that the world doesn’t believe in it anymore, not even one jot?
06-APR-2020 : The Way we live now.
Law & Politics
It certainly is a new c21st that we find ourselves in. There is a
luminous and Fairy Tale feel to life in quarantine and as you know
most fairy tales have an oftentimes dark and dangerous and unspoken
undercurrent. I sit in my study and its as if my hearing is sharpened.
I hear the Breeze, birdsong, Nature in its many forms and the urban
background noise which was once the constant accompaniment to daily
life has entirely retreated. The Nights are dark, the stars are bright
and the neighbiours long gone.
There is a Passage in V.S Naipaul's A Bend in the River
“Going home at night! It wasn't often that I was on the river at
night. I never liked it. I never felt in control. In the darkness of
river and forest you could be sure only of what you could see — and
even on a moonlight night you couldn't see much. When you made a noise
— dipped a paddle in the water — you heard yourself as though you were
another person. The river and the forest were like presences, and much
more powerful than you. You felt unprotected, an intruder ... You felt
the land taking you back to something that was familiar, something you
had known at some time but had forgotten or ignored, but which was
always there.You felt the land taking you back to what was there a
hundred years ago, to what had been there always.” ― V.S. Naipaul, A
Bend in the River
One feels one must tread more carefully now, with a lot of
circumspection, that not just my purchase but all of ours is a lot
more precarious now and that there is something Karmic in this
#COVID19. When I saw a Video of a Pool Party in South Africa, where
everyone was chanting ''Corona Corona'' like a mantra, I recoiled, I
couldn't watch because I thought to myself, You can be sure of one
thing COVID19 will come. The COVID19 is invisible but it has already
defeated the most expensive Aircraft carriers, it lurks everywhere and
in silence and has put down Mecca, St. Peters Square and the Vatican,
Qom and everywhere else that we congregate and ask for succour. It is
not to be trifled with. Boris dismissed it and now speaks to the
Nation like a disembodied voice from a Bunker. [I wrote this before
the news about Boris Johnson's hospitalisation I wish him a speedy
Trump too thinks its another Trade and his luck which took him all the
way to the Presidency will hold out and watching his always surreal
White House Briefing has an added frisson of the waiting for him to
turn yellow. And I suppose we all wish we had an Angela Merkel because
at least then we might have a fighting chance.
Don DeLillo wrote "Everything is barely weeks. Everything is days. We
have minutes to live."
And it certainly feels like we are pirouetting at the precipice and
our Leaders are saying Don't Panic and I want to say ''look Chum You
are not Merkel and just a few days ago You were telling me its all
cool its just the Flu. Others might take you seriously on what basis I
know not but I don't.''
Venturing to the Supermarket is like going on a Safari. You look
around. You keep your distance. You want to leave. You think every
surface is potentially a Killer. You walk around the familiar and it
all feels so unfamiliar.
And what is clear is that we are all in our different but similar
quarantined experiences at an inflexion Point because COVID19 has
brought us all to an inevitable question. What is it all about? Can it
ever return to what it was? As I try and peer through into the Future
the one thing I do know is that its not reverting to what it was. We
are turning the Page here and the uncertainty is because we all know
collectively that's what we are about to do. The book is in front of
us and the page might turn itself but turn it will. The Question is
what is on the next page and I cannot answer that.
What I do know is this. Regime implosion is coming to the Oil
Producers and Trump can game the price a little more sure but its a
pointless exercise. Demand has cratered and a return to a hyper
connected 100m barrels per day world is not going to happen for the
foreseeable future. Putin will survive because he prepared for this
moment. Others are as good as terminated. I also know that we are
about to enter The Great Depression. The FED, The ECB and the all the
other Central Banks can print but at some point it turns Weimar
Germany. Before it turns Weimar Germany, it falls off a cliff in
Emerging Markets. We are watching the Great Decoupling unfold in front
of our eyes, from Brazil to South Africa to India. Twenty years of
good times are now ended. Africa is simply too dreadful to
contemplate. We are weeks away now from collapsing health care systems
and ''blow ups'' in our urban centres. Ramaphosa and Kagame might have
a chance but everywhere else I look, leadership is as clueless as
Trump is in his White House Briefing.
SARS-CoV-2 titers in wastewater are higher than expected from clinically confirmed cases
Law & Politics
Researchers from biotech startup Biobot Analytics, working with a team
from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, and Brigham and
Women’s Hospital, estimate there were at least 2,300 people infected
with Covid-19 in the area around the treatment facility.
But at the time of analysis, which has not yet been peer-reviewed,
there were 446 cases officially reported in that area.
Abstract. Wastewater surveillance may represent a complementary
approach to measure the presence and even prevalence of infectious
diseases when the capacity for clinical testing is limited.
Moreover, aggregate, population-wide data can help inform modeling
efforts. We tested wastewater collected at a major urban treatment
facility in Massachusetts and found the presence of SARS-CoV-2 at high
titers in the period from March 18 - 25 using RT-qPCR.
We then confirmed the identity of the PCR product by direct DNA
sequencing. Viral titers observed were significantly higher than
expected based on clinically confirmed cases in Massachusetts as of
the virus has been found in the stool of confirmed COVID-19 patients
(1), making it a promising candidate for wastewater-based epidemiology
WBE can help detect the presence of pathogens across municipalities
and estimate population prevalence without individual testing, and
inform public health officials of the efficacy of interventions.
This number would suggest roughly 5% of all fecal samples in the
treatment facility catchment were positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the March
18 – 25 period, a number much higher than the 0.026% confirmed for the
state of Massachusetts
a significant fraction of cases that are not detected with current
testing algorithms, and that this fraction may include a large number
of patients without symptoms
Oil is set to tumble back toward $20 a barrel as global producers will likely fall short of targeted cuts this week, according to ING Groep NV @markets
Oil giants including Saudi Arabia and Russia are likely only going to
be able to cobble together a global agreement to curb 6 million to 7
million barrels a day of supplies, said Warren Patterson, ING’s head
of commodities strategy.
That’s more than triple what OPEC+ was cutting at the start of this
year but is short of the 10 million barrels a day or more that U.S.
President Donald Trump proposed last week.
It’s also well shy of the loss in demand of about 15 million barrels a
day in the second quarter caused by government lockdowns to stop the
spread of the virus, Patterson said. Brent crude, which has already
plunged 50% this year, will crater further as storage is maxed out.
“I’ve been looking at commodity markets now for a little over 10 years
and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Singapore-based
Patterson in a telephone interview.
“The scale of demand destruction that we’ve seen in the market is just
ING, the Amsterdam-based bank that finances commodities across the
value chain, sees Brent crude averaging $20 a barrel in the second
quarter before rebounding to $45 in the fourth quarter. Futures traded
at $33.34 on Thursday.
Patterson doesn’t think the U.S. will be given a direct mandate to cut
a specific volume because of its antitrust laws, but the country will
still contribute output declines as drillers halt activity because of
low prices. Russia wants the U.S. to do more than an organic drop in
production, but will ultimately accept it as part of a larger
agreement, he said.
ING sees Saudi Arabia cutting 3 million barrels a day and Russia 1.6
million. Other OPEC members and countries like Canada will contribute
enough cuts to get to 6 million to 7 million barrels a day, but
Patterson said he doesn’t see a way they can add enough to get to 10
Top producers are set to meet on Thursday, followed by a meeting of
G-20 energy ministers the following day.
Amid the gloominess in markets, Patterson remains constructive on
precious metals, with gold seen as having the most upside across the
commodities complex in the second quarter.
Prices are expected to average at $1,700 an ounce during this period
and could even test the previous record of $1,921.17 seen in 2011 in
the next two to three months, although it’s unlikely to remain at that
level, he said.
“We have also seen quite a bit of increased volatility in gold prices
over the last month or so, but I don’t think that diminishes its
appeal as a safe-haven asset,” said Patterson.
“Given the level of uncertainty that we’re currently experiencing and
also the fact that if you look around the globe, there’s basically not
a central bank which is not easing -- that all sort of has quite
supportive fundamentals for gold.”
Gold has been on a tear, trading near the highest level in more than
seven years, as investors spooked by coronavirus-related market
meltdowns and economic angst clamor for the traditional haven.
Holdings in bullion-backed exchange-traded funds are at the highest
ever, and prospects for the precious metal have also been supported by
global stimulus measures aimed at shoring up growth, including the
Federal Reserve’s unlimited quantitative-easing program. S
pot gold traded at $1,648 an ounce on Thursday and is up almost 9% this year.
Among the base metals, ING is most constructive on nickel due to a
growing market deficit as a result of rising demand in the battery
sector, and sees an average price of $13,500 a ton by the end of this
Patterson is bearish on zinc, which he sees averaging at $1,880 a ton
over the fourth quarter. Further downside is seen between now and
then, with prices expected to drop to $1,800 as smelters maximize
refined output due to attractive treatment charges.
Iron ore is seen averaging $85 a ton in the second quarter on rising
demand in China, but will trend lower to average $75 by the end of
year on continued improvement of supply from major producers such as
"Oil creates the illusion of a completely changed life, life without work, life for free. Oil is a resource that anaesthetises thought, blurs vision, corrupts." - Ryszard Kapuscinski, Shah of Shahs
“Oil kindles extraordinary emotions and hopes, since oil is above all
a great temptation. It is the temptation of ease, wealth, strength,
fortune, power. It is a filthy, foul-smelling liquid that squirts
obligingly up into the air and falls back to earth as a rustling
shower of money.”― Ryszard Kapuściński, Shah of Shahs
Tehran Stocks Rally as Government Raises Funds for Virus Fight @markets
Stocks in Iran have rallied to record highs after the government
announced plans to sell about $2 billion worth of state assets to
raise money for the fight against the coronavirus epidemic.
The Tehran Stock Exchange’s main index of shares rose 2.5% to 623,276
points, driven mostly by industrial shares such as petrochemical
producers, steel companies and banks.
The index has climbed 30% since Feb. 19, when Iran reported its first
confirmed cases of the virus.
With about 4,500 reported dead and more than 70,000 infected, Iran is
the Middle East’s epicenter of the disease.
Its ability to respond has been hampered by U.S. sanctions that have
crippled its economy.
On Saturday, President Hassan Rouhani instructed the Minister of
Economy and Financial Affairs to expedite plans to sell stakes in a
range of state-owned companies and assets on the stock exchange to
bolster the country’s coffers.
Over the past two weeks Rouhani has announced about $10 billion worth
of measures to support lower-income families, the healthcare system
and businesses struggling with the impact of the virus.
As infection rates start to flatten, the government relaxed some
social distancing rules to allow most government employees to get back
Because the rial’s value has declined significantly since the U.S.
quit the multipower nuclear deal with Iran two years ago and reimposed
tough sanctions, the stock market has remained one of the few
attractive investments for people, according to Massoud Gholampour, an
analyst at Novin Investment Bank in Tehran.
“This is new, real money that’s entering the market every day, and
it’s driving prices and the index,” Gholampour said.
The government sell-off will be in the form of exchange-traded funds,
and those stocks have been rising since Saturday, he said.
He added he wouldn’t be surprised if the market rally continued and
the index hit 1 million points.
The government sale involves nine companies, and shares will be
available to all Iranians, the Mehr News agency reported last week.
The companies haven’t been identified and no date has been given for the sale.
At the close of trading in Tehran on Sunday, Mobarakeh Steel Co. was
up 4.25%, and both Tamin Petrochemical Co. and Pasargard Bank rose 5%,
according to data on the website of the Tehran Stock Exchange, tse.ir.
IMF Executive Board Approves Immediate Debt Relief for 25 Countries
Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, CAR, Chad, Comoros, Congo, D.R.,
Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi,
Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, S.T. and Príncipe, Sierra
Leone, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Togo, and Yemen
“The CCRT can currently provide about US$500 million in grant-based
debt service relief, including the recent US$185 million pledge by the
U.K. and US$100 million provided by Japan as immediately available
resources. Others, including China and the Netherlands, are also
stepping forward with important contributions. I urge other donors to
help us replenish the Trust’s resources and boost further our ability
to provide additional debt service relief for a full two years to our
poorest member countries.”
The countries that will receive debt service relief today are:
Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad,
Comoros, Congo, D.R., The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti,
Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda,
São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan,
Togo, and Yemen.
Sub Saharan Africa
Saudi Arabia repatriating thousands of migrants back to Ethiopia @FT
Saudi Arabia is stepping up the deportation of thousands of
Ethiopians, including some who are suspected of suffering from
coronavirus, an act that some migrant advocates have described as
reckless and inhumane.
Over the past 10 days, up to two flights a day carrying Ethiopian
migrants have landed at Addis Ababa international airport, before
returning to Saudi Arabia loaded with cattle exports.
A total of 2,968 migrants were returned in the first 10 days of April,
according to one UN official who spoke on condition of anonymity
because they were not authorised to speak on the matter.
“This is simply not the moment for mass deportations from a public
health perspective,” said Catherine Sozi, UN humanitarian co-ordinator
“These mass deportations, without any pre-departure medical screening
are likely to exacerbate the spread of Covid-19 to the region and
A senior Saudi official said the kingdom was not conducting forced
repatriations but was co-ordinating with countries if migrants wanted
to return home.
“We are co-operating with individual countries to say ‘do you want
your people back, are you able to receive them, what can we help to
enable them to come back?’” the official said.
“And where countries have responded positively, we are organising
flights, some of it we pay for to send them home, but we are not
Foreign workers account for about a third of Saudi Arabia’s 30m
population and more than 80 per cent of the kingdom’s private sector
Riyadh has imposed a strict lockdown to contain Covid-19 that has
shuttered many areas of the economy, but businesses are eligible for
government support to pay salaries.
“I don’t think we will see in Saudi Arabia a significant number [of
foreign workers] as a percentage going out,” the Saudi official said.
“If we are to look at big picture in the next three months, I would
not imagine anything more than 10 per cent going out because of flight
Ms Sozi said the UN was calling for a temporary suspension of the
deportations to give Ethiopian authorities time to plan properly for
the migrants’ safe repatriation.
Ethiopia could not be expected to cope with the sheer number of
deportations, she said.
“If you keep receiving 600-700 migrants a day and they all have to go
into quarantine something will break,” said one western official in
“The fear is that they will dump these people here and that the
conditions in the quarantine centres will guarantee the spread of the
Ethiopia has requested that the deportations stop during the
coronavirus crisis, and on Saturday denied landing rights to a Saudi
aircraft, according to a person familiar with the deportations.
The Ethiopian foreign ministry could not be contacted for comment.
The migrants are being taken to four quarantine centres in Addis Ababa
in converted university buildings and schools.
But officials who have been processing the migrants warn that
conditions are becoming dangerously overcrowded and that the situation
is reaching crisis point.
Some have tested positive for Covid-19 and others with symptoms of the
disease have been put into separate isolation facilities.
On one recent flight with 308 passengers, staff working for the World
Health Organization identified seven people with suspected Covid-19
“Ethiopia’s ability to respond is stretched to the limit,” said one
person with direct knowledge of the deportations.
“But everybody is scared of talking about what’s going on. No one
wants to be on the wrong side of Saudi Arabia.”
Saudi Arabia is an important investor in Ethiopia and has provided the
government of Abiy Ahmed, prime minister, with help to alleviate the
country’s chronic shortage of foreign exchange.
Saudi Arabia began repatriating Ethiopian migrants from mid-2018,
according to UN officials.
At the time, there were as many as 500,000 Ethiopians in the kingdom
working in the construction industry, as maids or as animal herders,
As many as 300,000 Ethiopians had been repatriated during the past two
years. Nearly 2m foreign workers have left the kingdom since the
beginning of 2017 as Riyadh has implemented labour reforms and imposed
tariffs on expatriates and their dependants.
But the Ethiopian government recently asked for a moratorium on
deportations to stop the spread of coronavirus, UN officials said.
Saudi Arabia had, if anything, stepped up repatriations in recent
days, they added.
An estimated 30,000 Ethiopian migrants trying to reach Saudi Arabia
are also trapped in Yemen, according to migrant officials. Some are
being pushed further north towards Saudi Arabia while others are being
moved south into Djibouti, which borders Ethiopia, they said.
Other Gulf states, emboldened by Saudi Arabia’s actions, are also
deporting Ethiopian migrants, UN officials added.
Ethiopia Prohibits Company Layoffs Under State of Emergency @markets
Ethiopia prohibited companies from laying off workers and terminating
employment in measures introduced as part of a state of emergency to
stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The rules announced Saturday also ban meetings of more than four
people for religious, government and other organizations, including
political gatherings, Adanech Abiebie, the attorney general, said in a
The nation could lose as many as 2 million jobs because of the
pandemic over the next three months, Ephrem Lemango, commissioner at
the Jobs Creation Commission, said Thursday in a webinar.
The new rules prohibit the eviction of tenants and rent increases, and
halt prison visits. However, burials and “other important activities”
are allowed provided participants maintain a distance of two meters.
While the government has closed schools and land borders, and
postponed general elections initially scheduled for Aug. 29, its
national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, is still flying to some
The Horn of Africa nation had 69 confirmed Covid-19 cases as of April
11, and three deaths.
China in the driver's seat amid calls for Africa debt relief @Reuters
Support is growing for debt relief to help the world’s poorest,
indebted nations - most of them in Africa - confront the economic
havoc wreaked by COVID-19. But there is one big question mark: China.
A two-decade lending spree has propelled China to the top of Africa’s
creditor list and any comprehensive debt deal, including write-offs,
would require Beijing to take a leading role and swallow losses,
“China is in the driver’s seat,” said Scott Morris, a senior fellow at
the Center for Global Development (CGD), a Washington think tank. “But
this is going to require real pain for creditors, and I’m not sure
they’ve come to terms with that.”
Beijing is likely to endorse a temporary freeze on debt payments by
African countries as part of an expected agreement by the Group of 20
(G20) major economies this week, two sources familiar with the process
Debt relief is the obvious next step but China is unlikely to lead the
charge on such a move, analysts say, despite the potential opportunity
to burnish its soft power credentials.
China’s Foreign Ministry and the China International Development
Cooperation Agency did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
Unlike major Western countries that granted debt relief in the past, a
large part of China’s debt to Africa carries commercial terms.
And China itself is still an emerging economy with per capita income
of $10,153 in 2019, below the average of $45,447 for the top seven
major economies, according to data from the International Monetary
“China is still a rising power, and it is only a recent ... entrant as
a major financial partner in Africa,” said Yunnan Chen of the Overseas
Development Institute (ODI), a London think tank.
“It also needs to make financial and economic returns on its
investments. We are very unlikely to see direct loan forgiveness for a
substantial bulk of loans.”
With its own economy expected to contract for the first time in three
decades, China has signalled little appetite to go beyond its
well-worn playbook of bilateral negotiations with debt-distressed
“We can’t answer to every debt relief request without detailed
analysis,” said He Haifeng, director of the Institute of Financial
Policy at the Chinese Academy of Social Science, a government think
“Some of the requests could cause moral hazard.”
Wealthy governments watching their own economies lurch towards
recession are unlikely to pour significant resources into debt relief
if they think the money will indirectly support Chinese creditors,
With around 12,500 COVID-19 cases to date, Africa accounts for a small
fraction of the more than 1.7 million infections globally.
Nonetheless African countries have taken a disproportionate hit due to
plummeting oil and commodity prices and weaker currencies, which ramp
up external debt servicing costs.
Their economies are expected to contract sharply this year and could
lose 20 million jobs.
As an immediate step, the IMF and World Bank are pushing for a payment
moratorium on bilateral debt owed by the world’s poorest countries.
Last week, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said China was
“constructively” engaging on the issue.
A Chinese official told Reuters that Beijing was willing to work with
borrowers on a bilateral basis and agreed some countries should not be
forced to service debt during the crisis.
The IMF is not currently pushing for a broader initiative, but experts
say a payment freeze is a first step towards that.
African finance ministers are calling for a $100 billion stimulus
package, of which $44 billion would come from not servicing debt -
bilateral, multilateral or commercial.
They want some debt owed by Africa’s poorest nations cancelled and the
remainder converted into long-term, low-interest loans.
That’s a big ask, say experts.
China’s government, banks and companies lent some $143 billion to
Africa between 2000-2017, much of it for large-scale infrastructure
projects, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. By some
estimates, Chinese lending now dwarfs World Bank loans in Africa.
The ODI estimates lending from China makes up 33% of external debt
service in Kenya, 17% in Ethiopia and 10% in Nigeria.
Terms of Chinese lending have generally been favourable, though a CGD
study published earlier this month found they were consistently harder
than World Bank terms, particularly for the poorest countries.
Chinese institutions offered fewer grants; grace periods on loans were
shorter, and the weighted mean interest rate was higher - 4.14%
compared to the World Bank’s 2.1%.
While China has played a highly publicised role in Africa’s fight
against the pandemic - with billionaire Jack Ma dispatching planeloads
of medical equipment - there’s little indication of a similar grand
gesture on debt.
Beijing has a history of working with struggling borrowers, but the
process often aims to ease short-term pressure to ensure eventual
The New York-based Rhodium Group research firm, analysing some recent
negotiations between China and its borrowers, last year found debt
forgiveness was relatively common, though the sums involved were often
small and paired with substantial additional lending.
In Sudan, for example, China wrote off $160 million in 2017, 2.5% of
the estimated $6.5 billion it was owed.
Ghana’s finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta said last week that China
needed to do more. A foreign ministry spokesman said China would
engage its partners individually.
Experts say China’s ad hoc approach cannot work in the current crisis
but a coordinated initiative involving all creditors would require
Beijing to open its books, something it has repeatedly resisted.
The Trump administration has in the past signalled reluctance to
support broad debt relief, given Africa’s heavy borrowing from China.
U.S. officials did not respond to a request for comment.
Washington’s current absence from the conversation has left a
leadership vacuum. But it will likely bristle at any process over
which it deems Beijing has too much influence, analysts say.
“I worry that even if China sees this as an opportunity to seize
leadership and exploit it, the U.S. could walk away from it,” the
CGD’s Morris said.
2-MAR-2020 :: The #COVID19 and SSA
The First Issue is whether The #CoronaVirus will infect the Continent.
We Know that the #Coronavirus is exponential, non linear and
multiplicative.what exponential disease propagation looks like in the
Real world exponential growth looks like nothing, nothing, nothing ...
then cluster, cluster, cluster ... then BOOM!
.@WorldBank Africa's Pulse, April 2020 | AN ANALYSIS OF ISSUES SHAPING AFRICA'S ECONOMIC FUTURE #AfricasPulse
We project that economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa will decline
from 2 .4 percent in 2019 to -2 .1 to -5 .1 percent in 2020, the first
recession in the region in 25 years
The COVID-19 shock is hitting the region’s three largest
economies—Nigeria, South Africa, and Angola—in a context of
persistently weak growth and investment, and declining commodity
The prices of crude oil and industrial metals have fallen sharply (by
50 and 11 percent, respectively, between December 2019 and March
Model simulations suggest that, compared with a no-COVID base case,
average real gross domestic product (GDP) growth in these countries
could be reduced by up to 6.9 percentage points in 2020 in the
baseline scenario, and by up to 8 percentage points in the downside
More generally, countries that depend on oil exports and mining would
be hit the hardest .
Growth could fall by up to 7 percentage points in oil-exporting
countries and by more than 8 percentage points in metals exporters
compared with the no-COVID base case.
In non-resource-intensive countries, growth is expected to slow but
remain positive .
Growth will weaken substantially in the two fastest growing areas—the
West African Economic and Monetary Union where outbreaks are spreading
rapidly and the East African Community—due to weak external demand and
disruptions to supply chains and domestic production.
Activity in tourist- dependent countries is expected to contract
sharply in response to severe disruption to travel and tourism
in the baseline and downside scenarios, growth will fall well below
the regional average population growth rate of 2 .7 percent,
indicating that, in the absence of appropriate measures to mitigate
its effects, the COVID-19 outbreak will severely impact the welfare of
large numbers of individuals in the region.
The COVID-19 crisis is also contributing to increased food insecurity
as currencies are weakening and prices of staple foods are rising in
many parts of Africa .
The COVID-19 crisis has the potential to create a severe food security
crisis in Africa .
Agricultural production is likely to contract between 2.6 percent in
the optimistic scenario and 7 percent in the scenario with trade
The large size of the informal sector 89 percent of total employment
Given the fiscal constraints, priority should be put on strengthening
public health human and technical capabilities to respond to the
COVID-19 crisis .
Resources should be directed toward protecting health workers,
equipping them with all the necessary protective gear to avoid a
depletion in the already scarce stock of medical personnel.
Efforts need to be deployed to scaling up testing, and as much as
possible, implementing surveillance testing including in rural areas.
Implementing social protection programs to support workers, especially
those in the informal sector .
Cash transfers are the most used instrument in the majority of
developing countries, including some Sub-Saharan African countries.
Due to deteriorating fiscal positions and heightened public debt
vulnerabilities, Sub-Saharan African governments do not have much
wiggle room in deploying fiscal policy to address the COVID-19 crisis
The fiscal crunch, as a result of dwindling revenues, is reducing
African countries’ fiscal space.
Temporary debt relief will be necessary for fighting COVID-19 while
preserving macroeconomic stability in the region .
External debt service paid by the region to all creditors in 2018
amounted to US$ 35.8 billion (2.1 percent of the regional GDP), of
which US$ 9.4 billion was paid to official creditors (0.6 percent).
In a region that may need emergency economic stimulus of US$100
billion (including an estimated US$44 billion waiver for interest
payments in 2020), a debt moratorium would immediately inject
liquidity and enlarge the fiscal space of African governments.
A debt moratorium granted by official creditors to Angola represents
US$ 4.1 billion (4 percent of GDP), and that amount would increase to
US$ 7.4 billion (7 percent of GDP) if it included all creditors.
For Kenya, the resources released total US$ 675 million (0.8 percent
of GDP) and US$ 2.3 billion (2.7 percent of GDP) if the suspension of
debt payments come from official bilateral creditors and from all
The World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund have called
for a “Debt Standstill.” Such an initiative should be an important
part of the global response to soften the impact of COVID-19 on
2-SEP-2019 :: the China EM Frontier Feedback Loop Phenomenon. #COVID19
This Phenomenon was positive for the last two decades but has now
undergone a Trend reversal.
The Fall-out is being experienced as far away as Germany Inc.
The ZAR is the purest proxy for this Phenomenon.
African Countries heavily dependent on China being the main Taker are
also at the bleeding edge of this Phenomenon.
This Pressure Point will not ease soon but will continue to intensify
02-MAR-2020 :: The #COVID19 and SSA and the R Word
At the beginning of the Year These were the forecasts from the AFDB
IMF and WORLD BANK
Africa’s economic outlook continues to brighten. Its real GDP growth,
estimated at 3.4 percent for 2019, is projected to accelerate to 3.9
percent in 2020 and to 4.1 percent in 2021
In sub-Saharan Africa, growth is expected to strengthen to 3.5 percent
in 2020–21 (from 3.3 percent in 2019). @IMFnews WEO
Regional growth is expected to pick up to 2.9% in 2020 @WorldBank