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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Friday 29th of May 2020

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13-AUG-2019 :: The most important currency to watch right now is the USDCNH
World Currencies

George Magnus writing in Bloomberg’s Quint

China allowing the yuan to slide below 7 to the dollar is a watershed moment for currency markets that’s symbolically equivalent to the U.S. and other countries abandoning the gold standard in the interwar period, or the collapse of the postwar Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates four decades ago.

The implications for the global economy are equally significant. The world’s major currencies aren’t tethered in the way they were in those periods, but gold and Bretton Woods both served as anchors for the world’s mone- tary system, and their demise reflected the economic and political disarray of their times.

Today, the yuan is semi-pegged to the U.S. dollar. The arrangement serves as an anchor for China’s financial system, now the world’s largest by assets; for many currency systems in Asia and around the world; and for U.S.-China economic and financial relations.

If that mainstay ruptures, it’s liable to set off chain reactions inside and outside China.

That’s why the loosening in currency policy by the People’s Bank of China this week, while it may seem unremarkable for most people, is an important development.

The Point is this the Yuan is now the catalyst and China has signalled it will be a shock absorber. Xi Jinping was also signalling he had control of the console. The direction of travel for the Chinese currency is therefore lower.

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Here we go round the prickly pear The Hollow Men T.S. ELIOT

Here we go round the prickly pear

Prickly pear prickly pear

Here we go round the prickly pear

At five o’clock in the morning.

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

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Dramatic shift to remote working led to Fintwit’s heyday in mid-March; chart shows sum of tweets by >60 of most prolific screens names @DataArbor @LizAnnSonders

Dramatic shift to remote working led to Fintwit’s heyday in mid-March; chart shows sum of tweets by >60 of most prolific screens names, including likes of legendary traders & former central bankers; activity has steadily descended ever since, toward more normal ranges  @DataArbor

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06-APR-2020 :: The Way We Live Now
Market Crashes / Panic

There is a luminous and Fairy Tale feel to life

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Where is the #coronavirus much more widespread than official data show? Where the share of positive test results is over 5%. @RencapMan
Market Crashes / Panic

Latam, south Asia (#Pakistan and #Bangladesh more than #India for now), Indonesia, #Egypt, Mali, #Nigeria and Senegal among those under-testing the most

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7 OCT 19 :: China turns 70

“Hongkong ist das neue Berlin”

I am sure Xi sees Hong Kong and Taiwan like a virus

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U.S.-China Confrontation Risk Is Highest in the South China Sea @bpolitics

As China and the U.S. trade barbs over everything from trade to Covid-19 to Hong Kong, the two powers are at greater risk of careering into physical confrontation. 

And nowhere are their warships and fighter jets coming as close to each other, with as much frequency, as the South China Sea.

A military conflict would probably be devastating for both. There are no signs that either side actually wants one. 

Still, in times of high tension, miscalculations can have unintended consequences.

In the first four months of the year the U.S. Navy conducted four freedom of navigation operations, known as FONOPS, in the South China Sea, which is criss-crossed by competing claims by nations including China, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. 

That puts it on track to surpass last year’s total of eight. At the same time, as China emerged from the worst of the coronavirus outbreak, its Navy steamed back out of port in Hainan and resumed drills in the area.

It’s a high-stakes game of cat and mouse between the militaries of two countries with a history of near-misses. 

With President Donald Trump months from an election, and President Xi Jinping rattling nationalistic cages at home to distract from a wounded economy, the mood is less conducive to the careful diplomacy needed to defuse a standoff at sea. 

Xi used an address Tuesday to delegates at the National People’s Congress in Beijing to again warn the military to strengthen war preparations.

“While a premeditated armed conflict between China and the U.S. is a remote possibility, we see their military assets operating in greater regularity and at higher intensity in the same maritime domain,” said Collin Koh Swee Lean, a research fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. 

“The interactions of these rival assets in the area would create chances of miscalculation and misjudgment leading to inadvertent or accidental use of force, which is thus potentially incendiary and could result in escalation. This is a risk we can’t discount.”

Deputy assistant secretary of defense for Southeast Asia, Reed Werner, last week warned of a “very worrisome” trendline during an interview with Fox News, accusing China of the “harassment” of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer U.S.S. Mustin while it patrolled the South China Sea. 

He also cited at least nine instances of Chinese fighter jets doing the same to U.S. reconnaissance aircraft.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi accused “non-regional countries” of “flexing their muscles” in an effort to sow discord between China and Southeast Asian nations.

Security experts familiar with the Malaysian government’s thinking said officials in Kuala Lumpur expressed concern to the U.S. that its presence would only serve to escalate the matter. 

A spokeswoman for Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment. The U.S. was “clearly sending a signal,” said Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Still, it does not cover the coast guard or fishing militias, which are increasingly used by China to assert its claims to more than 80% of the South China Sea.

“The U.S.-China relationship is in free fall now, pushed by the hardliners from both sides. No doubt, the new Cold War between the two is escalating, and now people begin to worry about the possibility of a hot war, a regional one.”

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15 OCT 18 :: War is coming
Law & Politics

In August 2017, I wrote a piece headlined ‘’China Rising’’ and said ‘’Apart from a few half-hearted and timid FONOPs [freedom of navigation operations], China has established control over the South China Sea. It has created artificial Islands and then militarised those artificial islands across the South China Sea. It is a mind-boggling geopolitical advance any which way you care to cut it’’ .

‘’This geopolitical contest will likely escalate dangerously. Powerful forces on both sides are driving the world’s two strongest countries toward full-fledged confrontation’’ [The writer is the Douglas Dillon professor of government at the Harvard Kennedy School and author of ‘Destined for War’ in the FT] 

As a candidate, Donald Trump complained that China was “raping” America. After months of smaller steps, his administration has now pledged to fight back hard on all fronts — and win.

The US military is reportedly planning to send US warships, combat aircraft, and troops through the South China Sea, Taiwan Strait, and other contested waterways next month in a series of exercises designed to send a message to Beijing in November. 

The incident with the USS Decatur where a Chinese warship came within 45 yards of the USS Decatur in South China Sea is surely a precursor.

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Last chance for US to counter China’s rise @asiatimesonline
Law & Politics

When you’ve got a house full of sick people you don’t usually go out looking for a fight. But Chinese leader Xi Jinping isn’t most people. Like a high stakes gambler he has rolled the dice – while the Covid-19 epidemic rages – to see what the People’s Republic of China (PRC) can win on the defense front.

PRC muscle flexing during Covid-19 is impressive

Recently Chinese Premier Li Keqiang left out the usual word “peaceful” when speaking about China’s goal of “reunification” with Taiwan.

 At the same time, PRC-Japan relations are supposedly on an upswing. Yet, Chinese naval incursions in Japanese administered areas of the East China Sea are at record levels. 

Farther west, the PLA is encroaching on three points on India’s land boundaries, digging in and going well beyond the usual jostling on the border. 

Meanwhile, Chinese diplomatic muscle-flexing worldwide has become equal parts insults and threats. This so-called “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy won’t make friends – and China knows it. But perhaps that’s the point.

The Chinese are playing increasingly rough, and practically daring anyone to do something about it. It’s easy to dismiss all this as acting out. But it might just work to the PRC’s advantage to be seen as the obnoxious, muscular, tattooed guy nobody else in the trailer park wants to take on.

So is there anyone in the Asia-Pacific who can or, more to the point, will take on the PRC?

South Korea? President Moon Jae-in probably wouldn’t mind a closer tie-up with China if he thought he could get away with it. But he isn’t ready to jettison the Americans, not least since a large portion of the South Korean population would protest. But the US-South Korea relationship isn’t what it was.

Taiwan? Its existence is an affront to the CCP, not least as persistent evidence that consensual government not only suits Chinese people but enables them to thrive and, in a time of Covid-19, survive. But the most that Taiwan can do is defend itself.

Australia? Canberra is now facing a stark choice since the PRC has thrown down the gauntlet. The Chinese ambassador there is threatening economic pain, and the editor of state-owned Global Times recently described Australia as gum stuck to China’s shoe.

India? There are some grounds for optimism, as India writ large has had a clearer sense of the Chinese threat for decades. But Indian influence is still largely confined to the Indian Ocean area.

America has also taken a financial hit and it is doubtful there will be enough funds to bolster defense. And an administration dealing with Covid-19 induced domestic chaos can’t pay as much attention to foreign affairs, even if it wanted to.  

Name the excuse:  “nuanced realism,” “statesmanship”, “domestic priorities”, “don’t provoke” and maybe even a “reset” button.

Many Democrats even now claim Trump is hyping the PRC threat as a distraction. Max Baucus, Obama’s former Ambassador to China, savages the Trump administration and its China policy in Chinese propaganda outlets. 

The US election just might determine the future of Asia in terms of continued US presence and influence and all that entails – including support for consensual government, rule of law and human freedoms – or a new PRC dominated region.

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Paul Virilio "The revolutionary contingent attains its ideal form not in the place of production but in the street, where for a moment it stops being a cog in the technical machine''
Law & Politics

Paul Virilio pronounced in his book Speed and Politics, “The revolutionary contingent attains its ideal form not in the place of production, but in the street, where for a moment it stops being a cog in the technical machine and itself becomes a motor (machine of attack), in other words, a producer of speed.’’

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.1098

Dollar Index 98.246

Japan Yen 107.14

Swiss Franc 0.9627

Pound 1.2337

Aussie 0.6653

India Rupee 75.657

South Korea Won 1236.30

Brazil Real 5.4050

Egypt Pound 15.8412

South Africa Rand 17.4714

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27-JAN-2020 : "But it is a curve each of them feels, unmistakably. It is the parabola"
World Of Finance

They must have guessed, once or twice -guessed and refused to believe -that everything, always, collectively, had been moving toward that purified shape latent in the sky, that shape of no surprise, no second chance, no return.’’

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24-FEB-2020 :: The Viral Moment has Arrived #COVID19
Market Crashes / Panic

At this point I would venture Gold is correlated to the #Coronavirus which is set to turn parabolic and is already non linear and exponential ~

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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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Manhunts have begun after hundreds of people, some with the coronavirus, fled quarantine centers in Zimbabwe and Malawi #COVID19 @AP

In Malawi, more than 400 people recently repatriated from South Africa and elsewhere fled a center at a stadium in Blantyre, jumping over a fence or strolling out the gate while police and health workers watched. 

Police and health workers told reporters they were unable to stop them as they lacked adequate protective gear.

At least 46 escapees had tested positive for the virus.

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

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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''We were not going as far as that; only two days’ journey in the ox-cart to a bit of El Dorado my father had been fortunate enough to buy in the bar of the Norfolk Hotel from a man wearing an Old Etonian tie,” Elspeth Huxley

''We were not going as far as that; only two days’ journey in the ox-cart to a bit of El Dorado my father had been fortunate enough to buy in the bar of the Norfolk Hotel from a man wearing an Old Etonian tie,” so says Elspeth Huxley’s The Flame Trees of Thika which is a beautiful and lyrical book.

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

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