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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Friday 22nd of May 2020

I’ve created a covid vaccine that is laced with gold and uses blockchain to map out your genome for increased efficiency... I’m selling shares in this venture for a mere $190,000 each @amlivemon
World Of Finance

I’ve created a covid vaccine that is laced with gold and uses blockchain to map out your genome for increased efficiency... I’m selling shares in this venture for a mere $190,000 each. Wire to my Monaco bank account and put “For Yacht purchase” in the memo 

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Again. The Fed just bought another $80b in mortgage backed securities. Something is clearly going on in the real estate market. Where there is smoke there is fire. @TaviCosta
U.S. Economy

Again. The Fed just bought another $80b in mortgage backed securities.  It accounted for 77% of their stimulus this week. Something is clearly going on in the real estate market. Where there is smoke there is fire. @TaviCosta

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Kilimanjaro on a clear day appears to levitate. Photo credit: @DrKanyuira @RAbdiCG

Perhaps only mountain in Africa that appears to float above the clouds. Magical.

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06-APR-2020 :: The Way We Live Now

Don DeLillo wrote "Everything is barely weeks. Everything is days. We have minutes to live."

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This is the only existing photo of Chernobyl taken on the morning of the nuclear accident. @TheWeirdHistory

The heavy grain is due to the huge amount of radiation in the air that began to destroy the camera film the second it was exposed.

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05-DEC-2016:: "We have a deviate, Tomahawk." "We copy. There's a voice." "We have gross oscillation here"

Don DeLillo, who is a prophetic 21st writer, writes as follows in one of his short stories:

The specialist is monitoring data on his mission console when a voice breaks in, “a voice that carried with it a strange and unspecifiable poignancy”.

He checks in with his flight-dynamics and conceptual- paradigm officers at Colorado Command:

“We have a deviate, Tomahawk.”

“We copy. There’s a voice.”

“We have gross oscillation here.”

“There’s some interference. I have gone redundant but I’m not sure it’s helping.”

“We are clearing an outframe to locate source.”

“Thank you, Colorado.”

“It is probably just selective noise. You are negative red on the step-function quad.”

“It was a voice,” I told them.

“We have just received an affirm on selective noise... We will correct, Tomahawk. In the meantime, advise you to stay redundant.”

The voice, in contrast to Colorado’s metallic pidgin, is a melange of repartee, laughter, and song, with a “quality of purest, sweetest sadness”.

“Somehow we are picking up signals from radio programmes of 40, 50, 60 years ago.”

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China's key policy targets/goals for the year @Rover829

A. No GDP target

B. Budget deficit at least 3.6% of GDP

C. CPI target of 3.5%

D. 1 Trlnyuan in special treasury bonds

E. Cut corporate fees/taxes by 2.5 trln yuan

E. Defense budget to rise 6.6%

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07-OCT-2019 :: Joshua Wong told German Media "Hongkong ist das neue Berlin"

“The Folks in Hong Kong [whom Xi is seeking to unmask so he can exercise algorithmic control over them] are in open rebellion. 

Joshua Wong told German Media “Hongkong ist das neue Berlin” referencing the “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech given by United States President John F. Kennedy on June 26, 1963, in West Berlin.

I am sure Xi sees Hong Kong and Taiwan like a virus and he is looking to impose a quarantine just like he has imposed on Xinjiang. 

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Four key provisions in national security law framework: @alvinllum

-directly applied in HK

-BJ may choose to set up security agencies in HK, plus a local one in HK

-HK still needs to enact own security law

-judiciary asked to prohibit and punish acts threatening national security

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United States Strategic Approach to The People’s Republic of China @WhiteHouse
Law & Politics

The CCP’s expanding use of economic, political, and military power to compel acquiescence from nation states harms vital American interests and undermines the sovereignty and dignity of countries and individuals around the world.

To respond to Beijing’s challenge, the Administration has adopted a competitive approach to the PRC, based on a clear-eyed assessment of the CCP’s intentions and actions, a reappraisal of the United States’ many strategic advantages and shortfalls, and a tolerance of greater bilateral friction.

Competition need not lead to confrontation or conflict.

Beijing is clear that it sees itself as engaged in an ideological competition with the West. 

In 2013, General Secretary Xi called on the CCP to prepare for a “long-term period of cooperation and conflict” between two competing systems and declared that “capitalism is bound to die out and socialism is bound to win.”

Beijing’s efforts to compel ideological conformity at home, however, present an unsettling picture of what a CCP-led “community” looks like in practice: (1) an anticorruption campaign that has purged political opposition; (2) unjust prosecutions of bloggers, activists, and lawyers; (3) algorithmically determined arrests of ethnic and religious minorities; (4) stringent controls over and censorship of information, media, universities, businesses, and non-governmental organizations; (5)surveillance and social credit scoring of citizens, corporations, and organizations; and (6) and arbitrary detention, torture, and abuse of people perceived to be dissidents. In a stark example of domestic conformity, local officials publicized a book burning event at a community library to demonstrate their ideological alignment to “Xi Jinping Thought.”

One disastrous outgrowth of such an approach to governance is Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang, where since 2017, authorities have detained more than a million Uighurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in indoctrination camps, where many endure forced labor, ideological indoctrination, and physical and psychological abuse. Outside these camps, the regime has instituted a police state employing emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and biogenetics to monitor ethnic minorities’ activities to ensure allegiance to the CCP. Widespread religious persecution – of Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, Muslims, and members of Falun Gong – includes the demolition and desecration of places of worship, arrests of peaceful believers, forced renunciations of faith, and prohibitions on raising children in traditions of faith.

PRC authorities have attempted to extend CCP influence over discourse and behavior around the world, with recent examples including companies and sports teams in the United States and the United Kingdom and politicians in Australia and Europe. PRC actors are exporting the tools of the CCP’s techno-authoritarian model to countries around the world, enabling authoritarian states to exert control over their citizens and surveil opposition, training foreign partners in propaganda and censorship techniques, and using bulk data collection to shape public sentiment.China’s party-state controls the world’s most heavily resourced set of propaganda tools. Beijing communicates its narrative through state-run television, print, radio, and online organizations whose presence is proliferating in the United States and around the world

3. Security ChallengesAs China has grown in strength, so has the willingness and capacity of the CCP to employ intimidation and coercion in its attempts to eliminate perceived threats to its interests and advance its strategic objectives globally. Beijing’s actions belie Chinese leaders’ proclamations that they oppose the threat or use of force, do not intervene in other countries’ internal affairs, or are committed to resolving disputes through peaceful dialogue. Beijing contradicts its rhetoric and flouts its commitments to its neighbors by engaging in provocative and coercive military and paramilitary activities in the Yellow Sea, the East and South China Seas, the Taiwan Strait, and Sino-Indian border areas.

Through non-transparent MCF linkages, United States and other foreign companies are unwittingly feeding dual-use technologies into PRC military research and development programs, strengthening the CCP’s coercive ability to suppress domestic opposition and threaten foreign countries, including United States allies and partners

United States is pushing back on Beijing’s hegemonic assertions and excessive claims. The United States military will continue to exercise the right to navigate and operate wherever international law allows, including in the South China Sea.

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07-OCT-2019 :: China turns 70

Xi Jinping and the party were seeking to project national power and confidence on a grand scale.

They have “stood up.” Xi’s model is one of technocratic authoritarianism and a recent addition to his book shelf include The Master Algorithm by Pedro Domingos.

Xi is building an Algorithmic Society.

But Xi has taken the propagation of ideology and the cult of personality to extremes not seen since the days of Chairman Mao.

The World in the 21st century exhibits viral, wildfire and exponential characteristics and feedback loops which only become obvious in hindsight.

“The Folks in Hong Kong [whom Xi is seeking to unmask so he can exercise algorithmic control over them] are in open rebellion. 

Joshua Wong told German Media “Hongkong ist das neue Berlin” referencing the “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech given by United States President John F. Kennedy on June 26, 1963, in West Berlin.

I am sure Xi sees Hong Kong and Taiwan like a virus and he is looking to impose a quarantine just like he has imposed on Xinjiang. 

The Chinese Dream has become a nightmare at the boundaries of the Han Empire.

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The U.S government has notified Congress of a possible sale of advanced torpedoes to Taiwan worth around $180 million, further souring already tense ties between Washington and Beijing @Reuters
Law & Politics

The U.S. announcement came on the same day Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen was sworn in for her second term in office, saying she strongly rejecting China's sovereignty claims. 

China responded that "reunification" was inevitable and that it would never tolerate Taiwan's independence.

China has stepped up its military drills near Taiwan since Tsai's re-election, flying fighter jets into the island's air space and sailing warships around Taiwan.

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05-MAR-2018 :: China has unveiled a Digital Panopticon in Xinjiang

Dissent is measured and snuffed out very quickly in China. China has unveiled a Digital Panopticon in Xinjiang where a combination of data from video surveillance, face and license plate recognition, mobile device locations, and official records to identify targets for detention. Xinjiang is surely a precursor for how the CCCP will manage dissent. The actions in Xinjiang are part of the regional authorities’ ongoing “strike-hard” campaign, and

of Xi’s “stability maintenance” and “enduring peace” drive in the region. Authorities say the campaign targets “terrorist elements,” but it is in practice far broader, and encompasses anyone suspected of political disloyalty.

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March 2018 Xi Jinping and his Algorithmic Control.

China has unveiled a Digital Panopticon in Xinjiang where a combination of data from video surveillance, face and license plate recognition, mobile device locations, and official records to identify targets for detention. 

Xinjiang is surely a precursor for how the CCCP will manage dissent. The actions in Xinjiang are part of the regional authorities’ ongoing “strike-hard” campaign, and of Xi’s “stability maintenance” and “enduring peace” drive in the region. 

Authorities say the campaign targets “terrorist elements,” but it is in practice far broader, and encompasses anyone suspected of political disloyalty.

Xi Jinping has set out his stall. He is deploying ‘’sharp power’’ rather than ‘’soft power’’. I appreciate that the USS Carl Vinsson is sailing around the South China Sea but make no mistake, China has elbowed everyone aside in that Sea and is now accelerating its position in the Indian Ocean.

“It seems that we are in the middle of a base race across the Indian Ocean,” David Brewster, senior research fellow at the Australian National University, wrote in a February note published on think tank The Lowy Institute.  “Watch this space.” 

The Indian Ocean, which borders Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia, is home to major sea lanes and choke points that are crucial to global trade. 

Nearly 40 per cent of the world’s offshore petroleum is produced in the Indian Ocean, which also has rich mineral deposits and fisheries. From Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port (which China has snaffled up for 99 years), to Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s Baloochistan to Djibouti to the Maldives and surely soon somewhere in East Africa, China is growing its ‘’geopolitical’’ footprint. 

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Is the world sleepwalking into a new war, be it hot or cold? And is the virus the oil to lubricate and fuel the clash that is centered on China and the US, but impacts the world? @asiatimesonline
Law & Politics

Are countries playing a bizarre game of chicken where neither wants to step back for fear of losing domestic support? It is hard to miss this trend and most importantly, this is all happening without checks and stops.

There is no international organization apparently able to pull the brakes or mediate in this predicament.

“We hope that Taiwan can play a more active role in the peace, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region. Over the next four years, the direction of our policies will remain the same, and we will do even more … First is accelerating the development of our asymmetrical capabilities.

“While we work to bolster our defense capabilities, future combat capacity development will also emphasize mobility, countermeasures and non-traditional asymmetrical capabilities. We will also work to strengthen our defenses against the threats of cyber warfare, cognitive warfare and ‘unrestricted’ warfare to achieve our strategic goal of multidomain deterrence.”

The mention of unrestricted warfare quotes directly China’s famous hawk strategists Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, who in 1999 penned the very influential text Unrestricted War.

A few days earlier, incidentally, Qiao Liang had reportedly argued against any rash move on Taiwan. Qiao argued that Beijing should make clear that its priority was not to take Taiwan back but to achieve its long-term goal of “national rejuvenation” – President Xi Jinping’s plan of becoming a fully developed nation by 2049.

“The Taiwan issue is actually a key problem between China and the US, even though we have insisted it is China’s domestic issue,” Qiao pointed out. “In other words, the Taiwan issue cannot be completely resolved unless the rivalry between Beijing and Washington is resolved.”

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10-MAY-2020 :: #COVID19 and the Spillover Momen

―They fancied themselves free,‖ wrote Camus, ―and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences

We are trending in the 80,000-100,000 #COVID cases a day now. We have crossed 4,000,000 cases.

Daily Confirmed Cases in the 80,000-100,000 Cases Range

We are witnessing a Spill Over into EM and Frontier Geographies ―

Brazil is the global epicenter of the coronavirus.‖

Viruses are in essence non linear exponential and multiplicative and COVID19 has „‟escape velocity‟‟ in Brazil.

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‘If it’s not over on the disease … it’s not over on the balance sheet’ @carmenmreinhart @Harvard H/T @CelestinMonga
World Of Finance

Economist Carmen M. Reinhart, Minos A. Zombanakis Professor of the International Financial System at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), will take a two-year leave to become chief economist and vice president at the World Bank on June 15, it was announced today.

An acclaimed authority on international finance and financial crises, Reinhart is widely known for her award-winning scholarly history of financial disasters, “This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly” (2008), written with Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff. 

The Gazette spoke with Reinhart about her grim forecast for the U.S. economy, the roles debt and China may play in a recovery, and whether the pandemic spells the end of globalization as we know it.

GAZETTE:  Quite early on, you said the outlook for the U.S. was going to be far more dire and last far longer than many other economists predicted. Why did you feel that way, and how do things look to you now?

REINHART: I haven’t changed my outlook. When you have this kind of economic implosion, the kind of surge in unemployment even before it materialized to the scale that it has, you’re going to have serious effects on balance sheets. Households that lose their jobs are going to have a tough time paying mortgages or their debt or auto loans or credit cards. Medium and small businesses that have to shut down are going to have a tough time staying afloat, not going [into] Chapter 11. And the fact is, unlike the 2008‒2009 crisis, households were in pretty good shape. Banks in the U.S., because of all the efforts to regulate them better, to do more stress testing, were also in pretty good shape. But a shock this sudden, this big, can quickly change that. And so this is why back in early March, when I first started writing about this, I talked about how this is morphing from what started as a health crisis into a financial crisis as well. The title of that piece, which was the first one I wrote on COVID was, “This Time Truly is Different.”

GAZETTE: How do you grade the financial interventions both Congress and the Federal Reserve have taken so far? Are they enough? What more needs to be done?

REINHART: The big plus is that they’ve been swift and front-loaded, which is what you need in an emergency. Are they enough? I think we will see more because I don’t think we’re in for a swift recovery. We will need to see more. The last major, major pandemic in 1918 doesn’t really offer any useful example of what happens to the economy during a pandemic. This was World War I and the year in which deaths in the United States peaked. You had robust 9 percent growth because we were in a wartime economy. This is very different. The response of the lockdown — the domestic scale and the global scale — we’ve never seen before. The economic downturn globally has been extremely synchronized. But the disease is not synchronized, meaning it’s taking off in Brazil, it’s taking off in Russia. And so this could go on as it hits different parts of the globe, which means that, yes, there are going to be efforts to step-wise normalization. But we’re not going to have something akin to full normalization unless we (a) have a vaccine and (b) — and this is a big if — that vaccine is accessible to the global population at large.

GAZETTE: If a second wave of the disease comes back in the fall, which many public health experts predict, what does that portend for the economy?

REINHART: I don’t think it’s over. And if it’s not over on the disease, it’s not over on the social distancing and the business closures, and therefore.

GAZETTE: Many nations, including the U.S., are taking on historic levels of debt to try to stabilize their economies. Given your well-known views on debt and GDP growth, what does this portend for the U.S. economy?

REINHART: First and foremost, when you’re in a war, as we were in World War I and World War II, you worry about winning the war and then you worry about how you’re going to pay down the debt. I think that analogue applies here. You do what you have to do to win the war, and then you worry about that. In the out-years, we will be doing a lot of worrying. A lot of the work that I’ve done also highlights that the approaches taken after wars have been a lot more heterodox, meaning you rely more on keeping the cost of debt down via very low rates, you have a more lenient view toward inflation, and in the most extreme cases (and I’m not talking about the U.S. in this context, but you can’t rule out something like this happening in Italy, given the north-south tensions there), outright debt restructurings. We saw that in Greece. I know I would have had a tough time believing in 2007 that an advanced economy within the eurozone would find itself restructuring its debt. I’d say that’s right now where the biggest fault lines are.

GAZETTE: Is debt worry a valid reason to pull back on future federal relief payouts?

REINHART: No, no. This is not the time for that. You first win the war.

GAZETTE: The pandemic has revealed a surprising fragility to the global economy and major market weaknesses in the U.S. and around the world involving supply chains, and it has revealed that the efficiency/vulnerability tradeoff that firms made under globalization were much riskier than understood. Is globalization as we know it over?

REINHART: I think COVID-19 is the nail in the coffin of globalization. Maybe that sounds melodramatic. Globalization had its heyday before the [2008‒2009] global financial crisis. If you look at global trade in the decade before the financial crisis, you had the volume of global trade growing about 6 percent a year. In the decade after the global financial crisis, growth became less than half of that, about 2.5 percent. Part of that was Europe. Europe got really hit hard during the 2008‒2009 crisis. And countries like Spain, Ireland, Greece, Portugal that were running big, current-account deficits, which they were financing by being able to borrow freely from the rest of the world, were not able to borrow freely. That’s why you had periphery Europe going into a debt crisis and borrowing from the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and borrowing to cope with that crisis. That was the first nail, I would say, to the very rapid growth in globalization that we’ve seen up to that era. And then comes Brexit, and then comes the U.S.‒China trade war, and now COVID. I think that we’ve seen during this crisis the resurgence of a lot of protectionism in medical supplies, food protectionism, a lot of realization that global supply chains, as you said, are a lot more fragile than we previously thought. And so, I think a legacy of this is going to be a more inward-oriented strategy in many parts of the globe.

From the vantage point of the developing world, de-globalization is not great news. Globalization did not deliver all the goodies it was supposed to have delivered. The issue of inequality became more prevalent. We’ve seen this in the United States, we’ve seen it in Europe, in China proper despite double-digit growth, as an issue. But, the thing that globalization did deliver was greater convergence, somewhat less-skewed inequality between advanced and emerging economies.

“I think COVID-19 is the nail in the coffin of globalization.”

GAZETTE: Most countries are turning inward to stanch the bleeding from this financial crisis. Even the European Union now appears poised to create an EU-wide bailout fund. Is there a need for a global response economically, as well as in other ways?

REINHART: One form of a global response was what the G-20 did with regard to the world’s poorest countries, the [Inclusive Development Index] countries, something that Ken [Rogoff] and I have been advocating: a temporary debt standstill. In the poorest countries, more than 10 percent of revenues go to service external debt. At a moment like this, you should be redirecting resources to the health needs, the food needs, and so on that require immediate resources. That’s very, very important for the global response — how to deal with the poorest countries. The other part that’s very important is to try to avoid falling into some of the traps of the 1930s, the very protectionist, very beggar-thy-neighbor kind of policies. Those are two areas that are extremely important. On debt relief, it is very important that China is on board, because China is the biggest creditor, by far. Debt owed to China is far larger than the debts to the remaining other 19 countries in the G-20, so if China isn’t fully on board, we’re not going to get very substantive debt relief.

GAZETTE: What is China’s attitude toward debt relief?

REINHART: They’ve started to soften, but so far the approach that they have taken is very bilateral, meaning it’s between them and the country in question. So if there are any negotiations between them and Angola or them and Sri Lanka, it’s between them; it’s not done through the Paris Club of official creditors. They don’t want to be a part of the Paris Club because that would also mean more disclosure. So that’s a big issue. Recent statements by President Xi Jinping that China is much more on board on providing debt relief are very welcome. But we will see. We will see.

GAZETTE: As tensions flare again over responsibility for the pandemic and its spread, how would a U.S. trade war with China affect the global economy?

REINHART: An outright trade war would be yet another major negative. Because don’t forget that for a lot of countries, including the United States, it hasn’t just been COVID-19. It also has been the Russian-Saudi Arabia oil war, which, in the case of the U.S., has impacted the whole energy sector. But in the case of most emerging markets that are commodity producers, it is driving oil prices down. Nigeria, Mexico, Angola, Ecuador have been really hit hard, and it doesn’t end there, because other commodities move in tandem with oil. So the weakness in commodity prices is yet another factor that’s hitting a lot of countries. Not only is the volume of what you export way, way down because of the COVID crisis, but the price of what you export is way, way down. And a trade war would reinforce all those negatives.

GAZETTE: You’re headed to the World Bank, the major lender to developing countries. These are the very places least equipped to overcome the public health and financial effects of this pandemic.

REINHART: Precisely.

GAZETTE: What are some of the immediate challenges the World Bank will confront in the coming months?

REINHART: World Bank projects and concerns span not just the very traditional lending on infrastructure projects, but building roads or building capacity for utilities and electricity and water purifying, all of that. One of the areas that I just wrote about very recently is dealing with a [COVID-19] food crisis. The World Bank has been involved for some time in the East African locust swarms that are threatening real famine risks. It has made loans to 100 countries in this very short period of time to help to deal with this unprecedented situation, in which you have small island countries that rely entirely on tourism and now have no revenue. You have commodity producers, be they in Latin America, Central Asia, or sub-Saharan Africa, that have no revenues also because trade is down, their export prices are down, and they have real needs. The World Bank is also a key data provider and gatherer. That’s a pretty tough task right now. So its activities are very, very far-reaching. And one of the important, more immediate challenges right now is figuring out how to get that relief to the poorest countries.

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.0928

Dollar Index 99.572

Japan Yen 107.43

Swiss Franc 0.9714

Pound 1.2208

Aussie 0.6540

India Rupee 75.769

South Korea Won 1236.19

Brazil Real 5.554

Egypt Pound 15.85

South Africa Rand 17.649 [ZAR bounced]

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10-MAY-2020 :: #COVID19 and the Spillover Moment
Law & Politics

We are witnessing a Spill Over into EM and Frontier Geographies ―

Brazil is the global epicenter of the coronavirus.

BRICS ex China is accelerating

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Bolsonaro’s Brazil Perry Anderson LRB
Law & Politics

Brazilian politics are Italianate in character: intricate and serpentine. But there is little hope of grasping what has befallen the country without some understanding of them. When Lula left office in 2010 – presidents in Brazil are limited to two successive terms, though not barred from subsequent re-election – the economy posted 7.5 per cent growth, poverty had been cut in half, new universities had multiplied, inflation was low, the budget and current account were in surplus and his approval ratings above 80 per cent. To succeed him, Lula picked his chief of staff, Dilma Rousseff, in the 1960s a fighter in the underground against the military dictatorship, who had never held or run for electoral office before. With Lula at her side, she coasted to victory with a 56 per cent majority, the first woman to win the presidency. Initially better received by a middle class that detested Lula, for two years she enjoyed quite widespread esteem for a show of calm and competence. But her inheritance was less rosy than it seemed. High commodity prices had underlain Lula’s boom, without altering Brazil’s historically low rates of investment and productivity growth. Virtually as soon as Dilma took office in 2011, they started to fall, bringing growth abruptly down to 1.9 per cent by 2012. In 2013 the US Federal Reserve announced it would stop buying bonds, setting off a so-called ‘taper tantrum’ in capital markets, drawing foreign finance out of Brazil. The balance of payments deteriorated. Inflation picked up. The years of buoyant prosperity were over.

For twenty years, the presidency was held by only two parties, the PSDB and the PT. The former, committed to delivering what it called a salutary ‘shock of capitalism’ to the country, had little difficulty finding allies among the traditional oligarchies of the north-east and the eternal predators of the PMDB. They were natural allies for a liberal-conservative regime. When Lula came to power, the PT did not want to depend on them. Instead it set out to build a majority in Congress from the morass of smaller parties, each more venal than the next. To avoid giving them too many ministries, the customary financial reward for support, it doled out monthly cash payments under the counter. When this system, the so-called mensalão, was exposed in 2005, it looked for a time as if it might bring down the government. But Lula remained popular among the poor, and by shedding key aides and switching to a more conventional reliance on the PMDB to secure majorities in Congress, he survived the uproar and in due course was triumphantly re-elected. By his second term, the PMDB was a stable brace of his administration, enjoying in exchange a swathe of satisfactory nominations, central and local, in the machinery of government. When the term came to an end, the PMDB speaker in the Lower Chamber, Michel Temer, was chosen by Lula to be vice president under Dilma, yoking a veteran of backroom carve-up and corridor intrigue to a political tyro.

The economic bequests detonated first. By 2013, the middle classes had soured on the government and rising prices were causing popular tension in the big cities. Lula had pumped money – higher minimum wages, cheaper credit, cash transfers – for the poor into private consumption, not public services, most of which remained dire. In the winter, higher bus fares ignited protests led by young left-wing activists in São Paulo. Police crackdowns amplified them into massive street demonstrations throughout Brazil. With increasing right-wing participation and backing from the country’s powerful establishment media, they swiftly became a free-for-all against politicians in general and the PT in particular. In a fortnight Dilma’s approval ratings dropped from 57 to 30 per cent. Combining spending cuts and further, inexpensive welfare measures, she recovered ground over the next months. But in the summer of 2014, buried political mines began to explode. Federal police taps on money-laundering operations in a Brasília car wash – lava jato – revealed widespread corruption in the giant state oil company Petrobras, which at the time boasted one of the largest stock valuations in the world. A stream of leaks from the investigation, blared crescendo by the media, indicated connections to the PT going back to Lula’s time. These resonated in an already highly charged atmosphere, a consequence of the public trial in late 2012 – seven years after the fact – of the party’s leading actors in the mensalão affair.

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The Calm Before a Spike in Coronavirus Cases in Africa

Between April 29 and 30, the United States recorded around 2,700 deaths attributed to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. 

The US’ daily death toll—which saw the country’s coronavirus fatalities exceed the 55,000 mark—was more than the total number of deaths reported across the African continent since the novel virus was first detected in December 2019. 

The juxtaposition of comparative death tolls and fatality rates between countries in North America and Europe, and Africa, has raised questions as to what factors explain the discrepancy.

A closer examination makes clear that—as has been the case in many countries—low death tolls, fatalities, and the number of cases are not reliable indicators of the spread and severity of the outbreak in Africa. 

Hypotheses for why there are comparatively lower numbers vary. One is the continent’s hotter climate, which would perhaps impact the longevity of the coronavirus and limit its transmission. Another is the young population which can better tolerate the physiological impact of the disease.

Other explanations relate to Africa’s extensive experience in managing highly communicable diseases, and that the continent’s exposure to the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine—administered in the treatment and/or prevention of meningitis and tuberculosis—is rendering citizens less susceptible to coronavirus.

While the world’s leading epidemiologists are still testing the veracity of these hypotheses, the prevailing discourse around Africa’s comparative COVID-19 infection and mortality rates may be overlooking more practical explanations.

The first is, undoubtedly, timing. The United States and Italy—the two countries most affected by the coronavirus pandemic—registered their index cases on January 21 and 31 respectively

At the time, the global outbreak was still in an early stage, with the disease’s  official name not being announced until February 11 by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

In addition, the US and Italy’s detection of coronavirus within their respective borders came at a time when they had yet to enforce social distancing measures as a means of containing the virus—on top of the fact that the WHO had yet to encourage travel restrictions.

In Africa, however, the continent registered its first case of the virus on February 14 in Egypt, with Algeria being the next state to confirm a coronavirus infection 11 days later. 

Sub-Saharan Africa only recorded its index case on February 28, when Nigerian epidemiologists confirmed the presence of the coronavirus in an ill expatriate who had entered the country from Milan, Italy, a few days prior. 

All but three African countries began confirming their index cases as of March, the majority of which detected the presence of the virus after it was declared a global health pandemic by the WHO and movement restrictive measures were promoted. 

The time lag in coronavirus infections on the continent, means that most African countries had benefitted from global best practices advocated to contain the virus, but may not yet be in the exponential growth phase of their domestic transmissions.

Another factor is epidemiological testing. Despite its need for greater testing, as of April 30, the US was conducting around 19,311 tests per million people of its population. 

Meanwhile, in Italy, testing had reached around 32,000 per million people. In Africa’s most populous state, Nigeria, testing had reached a rate of 60 per million people, with just over 12,500 epidemiological tests conducted for its estimated 200 million people.

Nigeria is not alone in its poor testing capacity. Available data indicates that all but seven African countries have yet to reach the 1,000 per million test mark as of May 4, with more than half registering testing rates below the 500 people per million. 

Based on current testing capacity, there is a high probability that the degree of coronavirus infections across the continent is being underreported.

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The worrying development is Transmission Hotspots #COVID19 and the Spillover Moment

Coronavirus: @WHO warns of 190,000 deaths in Africa @TheAfricaReport

WHO warns that the coronavirus pandemic could 'smoulder' in Africa for several years

Should the various lockdowns currently being eased in many African countries fail to  ̳bend the curve‘, between 29m – 44m Africans risk being infected, with deaths potentially reaching 190,000.

The WHO believe that transmissions will likely be slower — because of Africa‘s age pyramid, and social and environmental factors — the pandemic risks lasting for far longer.

―While COVID-19 likely won‘t spread as exponentially in Africa as it has elsewhere in the world, it likely will smoulder in transmission hotspots,‖ said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa.

“COVID-19 could become a fixture in our lives for the next several years unless a proactive approach is taken by many governments in the region. We need to test, trace, isolate and treat.”

The worrying development is Transmission Hotspots

Kano in Nigeria for example

• Western Cape growing at an alarming rate @sugan250388

Someone with close knowledge of the medical profession said it was almost impossible to secure a hospital bed in several cities.

The Aga Khan hospital in Dar es Salaam had a well-equipped ward for 80 coronavirus patients, but several were dying each night, he said.

The Question for SSA is whether these Transmission Hot Spots expand and conflate?

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02-MAR-2020 :: The #COVID19 and SSA and the R Word


We Know that the #Coronavirus is exponential, non linear and multiplicative.

what exponential disease propagation looks like in the real world. Real world exponential growth looks like nothing, nothing, nothing ... then cluster, cluster, cluster ... then BOOM!


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Tanzania’s President @MagufuliJP Shuns Masks to Pursue Herd Immunity @bpolitics

Tanzanian President John Magufuli ordered the phased reopening of schools and resumption of foreign tourist flights, touting the controversial “herd immunity” strategy in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

“Experts say herd immunity increases when there is contact between people,” Magufuli said in a televised speech. “If you lock people inside, their immunity falls by 30%, according to the literature that I have seen.”

The strategy allows for more than 60% of the population to gain some resistance to the virus by becoming infected and recovering, resulting in less economic devastation and human suffering than with lockdowns designed to stop the spread, according to some experts.

Magufuli, who has rejected calls for a lockdown, spoke from the capital, Dodoma, flanked by ministers and senior government officials who were also not wearing masks. The fear of the virus was more harmful than the disease itself, he said.

“The trend shows that coronavirus infections are declining,” he said, but did not give an update on the number of cases, recoveries and fatalities in the East African nation. The state hasn’t updated infection numbers since April 29.

Foreign tourist will be welcome starting next week when the country reopens its airspace to international flights and will not be required to go into quarantine, Magufuli said. 

He also ordered resumption of university and A-level secondary school studies. Sporting activities can restart in June.

The government has scrapped plans to open a 1,000-bed Covid-19 facility in Dar es Salaam after a sharp decline in hospitalizations, Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu said, without giving supporting data.

Magufuli instructed authorities to test all coronavirus-related equipment donated to the country before distribution in the public health system. 

The leader in the past questioned the reliability of test results from the national laboratory and ordered an investigation, saying the outbreak isn’t as bad as the results suggest.

“We welcome aid, but we must be careful to ensure that the assistance is not tainted with the virus,” he said. “Anyone who donates test kits and other coronavirus fighting equipment that are contaminated with the virus will be charged with murder.”

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Tanzania president #Magufuli says, #COVID-19 is a “devil” (shetani) which “cannot live in the body of Christ. It will burn instantly.” @TheAfricaReport

Some workers may have been put on the payroll of imperialists.

The subordination of COVID-19 to regime politics is a tragedy in the making.

The African @jairbolsonaro is of course @MagufuliJP #COVID19 and the Spillover Moment 


Letter from Tanzania #COVID19 @spectator 

Dar es Salaam

The World Health Organisation has drawn up a shortlist of countries it’s most concerned about during the pandemic. Tanzania is at the top. 

The government’s lack of transparency during the crisis is a big part of the problem. In recent years the country has imposed increasingly repressive laws to muffle the media — newspapers fined and journalists arrested. Or worse. 

For the purposes of this piece I am ‘Tom James’; I’m either more circumspect or less courageous than my fellow journos here. 

When the international media — fed by stringers whose identities are disguised — try to report on the pandemic, they are accused of scaremongering, their attempts described by the government as a ‘form of warfare’. 

Brave journalists keep popping their heads above parapets to tell the world what’s really happening. 

Amnesty International recently stated the obvious: nailing journalists who criticise their governments’ approach to Covid-19 is hampering efforts to tackle it. 

Stories leak anyway when there’s a gagged press, but they bleed out via all kinds of media and mutate on the way. 

Are people dropping dead on the streets? Are the numbers of infected being misrepresented? Are there secret midnight burials of Covid-19 casualties? Who knows.

But why is the WHO so concerned about Tanzania? Well, for a start there is inadequate testing and almost no sharing of data. 

The Africa CDC reported that as of 15 May Tanzania has conducted just 652 tests and, unlike almost every other country, is not submitting regular updates. Next door in Kenya, they’ve performed more than 50 times as many tests: 36,918. 

Tanzania’s President, John Pombe Magufuli, is in hiding at home in the west of the country. He took his private jet there weeks ago to hunker down, but not before urging his citizens to gather in church to pray this thing away. 

‘These holy places are where God is,’ he said. ‘My fellow people, let us not be afraid of going to praise Him. Coronavirus cannot survive in the body of Christ, it will burn.’ 

But, perhaps to reassure the doubters, he’s adopting additional measures. He is going to send another plane to Madagascar to import a herbal tonic touted as a cure. 

It comes from artemisia, an ingredient used in a malaria treatment. Which makes me think of hydroxychloroquine and the fact that there is none on the shelves here, where we actually need the stuff. 

I can’t help wondering what it is with unhinged world leaders (ours, incredibly, has a chemistry degree) and malaria cures?

Failure to contain the virus has inevitably led to a rise in cases: Tanzania is suspected of having the highest in the region despite those staggeringly low testing rates. 

Many who are ill, according to doctors (who, like those stringers, often speak to the international press under pseudonyms), avoid seeking medical help for fear of stigma or intimidation. 

Last week, the US embassy advised Americans living in Tanzania to stay at home because, it said, hospitals risked being overwhelmed. 

Magufuli has an explanation for that too: sabotage by imperialist foreign powers and faulty test kits and procedures. 

The problem is, if Tanzania fails to meet global standards in at least trying to contain this contagion, we’ll end up as a Petri dish and a pariah. 

Our precious tourism (which earned us almost $3 billion in 2018) will never come back. 

Africa has always struggled with diseases — malaria, Aids, cholera — but Covid-19 is one the West gets, literally and metaphorically. Tourists won’t dismiss it as the small-print warning on a travel leaflet.

The British government’s flights home were not meant for the likes of me — expatriates. They were for travelling Brits caught abroad. 

There was something reassuring in that — in not being told to go ‘home’ when I had a home here. 

But I felt a creeping unease when the Europeans, the Americans and the South Africans began to haul their nationals ‘home’, that is to say, to the country on their passports. 

I wondered if I’d been reckless, especially when I saw a tweet from the Australians, the gist of which was: ‘If you are an Australian and in Africa, get out now. We cannot vouch for your safety.’ 

I asked my wife if she thought we should leave. ‘What about the dogs?’ she wailed. Indeed. There are the dogs. There is also a home, jobs, responsibilities. A life. What if, I worry, we can’t get back here — home?

Mulling this over, I drove to the supermarket to stock up. This was weeks ago, when the pandemic was still a distant irritation, not a full-blown, fatal, economy-ravaging reality. 

I was stopped en route by cops (our roads bristle with speed checks). 

I refused to be pressed for a fine for a speed I wasn’t doing and tried to divert the attention of the two cops. ‘Instead of harassing motorists like me, why don’t you do something about corona?’ 

‘We are,’ they replied; ‘we are praying.’ As they said that, a boda boda, a motorbike taxi, roared by. 

The driver was wearing a mask, but no crash helmet. His three passengers, skewered tightly behind him (the locals call this configuration a kebab), were naked of both. God help us, I thought.

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There is something Karmic in this #COVID19

The COVID19 is invisible but it has already defeated the most expensive Aircraft carriers, it lurks everywhere and in silence

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As expected: The South African Reserve Bank cut its repo rate by another 50bps to 3.75%, taking the prime commercial lending rate to 7.25%. @ChiedzaMadzima
Emerging Markets

This takes the bank’s total repo rate cuts this year to 275 basis points or 2.75%, as it slashes rates in the face of economic fallout.

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Retail & Manufacturing

Tuskys Supermarkets is delaying and reducing payments to suppliers, banks and landlords, citing constrained cash flows due to the impact of coronavirus on its business. — Business Daily @moneyacademyKE

N.S.E Equities - Finance & Investment

Equity Bank has restructured Sh92 billion of loans, equivalent to about 25% of its net loans at the end of last year — Business Daily @moneyacademyKE

World Currencies

Kenya Shilling versus The Dollar Live ForexPros 106.85 

N.S.E General

Nairobi All Share Bloomberg 

Kenyan Economy

Kenya exports as % of GDP: @MihrThakar


2016: 14.3%
2017: 13.6%
2018: 13%
2019: 11.6%
2020: 10.4%
2021: 10.5%
2022: 10.9%
2023: 11%
Tax revenue as a % of GDP: @MihrThakar
2016: 15.9%
2017: 14.8%
2018: 15%
2019: 13.7%
2020: 13.8%
2021: 13.8%
2022: 13.8%
2023: 13.9%

by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
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May 2020

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