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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Tuesday 15th of September 2020

Google Global GDP-weighted index of Retail & Recreation Patronage at -6.7% vs baseline. Within G4, Euro Area is currently leading while United Kingdom is lagging. #COVID19 @ExanteData
Retail & Manufacturing

Google has released an update to its mobility reports, as a result we're seeing the Global GDP-weighted index of Retail & Recreation Patronage at -6.7% vs baseline. Within G4, Euro Area is currently leading while United Kingdom is lagging. #COVID19

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Google Global GDP-weighted index of Workplace Patronage at -24.5% vs baseline. Within G4, Japan is currently leading while United States is lagging. #COVID19 @ExanteData
World Of Finance

Google has released an update to its mobility reports, as a result we're seeing the Global GDP-weighted index of Workplace Patronage at -24.5% vs baseline. Within G4, Japan is currently leading while United States is lagging. #COVID19

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PLA is training attacking tanks in Tibet region. Yes, it targets China-India border situation. @HuXijin_GT
Law & Politics

China hopes the five-point consensus reached between the two foreign ministers can be implemented, but is ready to strike a heavy blow to Indian troops if they refuse to implement it.

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Iran's 'only crime is we decided not to fold' @JZarif @asiatimesonline
Law & Politics

Zarif inevitably had to evoke Mike Pompeo: “Today the Secretary of State of the United States says publicly: ‘If Iran wants to eat, it has to obey the United States.’

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''The smoking gun proving that the RBM/Spike of SARS-CoV-2 is a product of genetic manipulation.”

“EcoRI and BstEII ... at either end of the SARS-CoV-2 RBM, ... same RBM region has been swapped both by Dr. Shi... are unlikely a coincidence. Rather, it is the smoking gun proving that the RBM/Spike of SARS-CoV-2 is a product of genetic manipulation.”

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The world has seen its largest one-day spike in coronavirus cases with 307,930 new infections reported in 24 hours, according to the World Health Organisation. @MailOnline

The new record is just the second time that global cases have passed 300,000 in a day, beating the previous high of 306,857 on September 6. 

India contributed nearly a third of the new cases with 94,372, as the country of 1.3billion continues to pile up infections at a record pace - with the United States and Brazil both adding tens of thousands of new cases.  

The WHO first recorded 100,000 cases per day in mid-May after the virus had ravaged Europe and North America and was starting to cause havoc in Brazil. 

The 200,000 mark was first reached on July 3, by which time India was starting to see an alarming surge in cases which has yet to reach its peak. 

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This heatmap shows the trend of daily growth in confirmed cases for some major countries. @@ExanteData

Hungary has the highest 3-day growth rate in the group, while Colombia has the highest hit ratio #CoronaVirusUpdates #coronavirus

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.1884

Dollar Index 92.87

Japan Yen 105.69

Swiss Franc 0.9064

Pound 1.2859

Aussie 0.7328

India Rupee 73.50

South Korea Won 1178.87

Brazil Real 5.2696

Egypt Pound 15.77

South Africa Rand 16.58

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King Euro Mizuho reiterates their bullish Euro view; @themarketear 1.1885
World Currencies

"As a geopolitical safe-haven, the upside is considerable, with the global risk-off making the relative safety of the EUR even more apparent. European equities and fixed income should structurally outperform their overvalued and more zombified USD equivalents. The downside to euro appreciation will be capped inflation. As EURUSD goes on to reach our 1.30 target next year, the ECB will need to deliver further easing."

TME comment, watch the huge trend line for clues. A break out above is possible of course, but we need to consolidate longer before any meaningful attempt is possible.

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Netflix to take crown for spending on films and television @FT.

Daniel Gadher, an analyst at Ampere, forecasts $206bn spending in total this year, a figure that covers new productions, rights purchases, and sports. 

“We’ve seen a content boom since 2009. The rapid growth is slowing but we still expect it to be positive with growth in spending increasingly being driven by streaming platforms,” he said

But because of the pandemic and delays to production, fewer shows have been commissioned this year, particularly in television drama. Mr Gadher expected to create a shortfall of potentially up to one in 10 new scripted shows.

Big US media groups that merged with rivals during the 2018-19 wave of dealmaking are, through combined firepower, managing to keep within touching distance of Netflix’s spending. 

ViacomCBS, which owns Nickelodeon and the Paramount studio, is expected to spend around $13.5bn on commissioning or licensing content, Disney around $11bn and NBCUniversal close to $9.5bn.

But the severe hit to advertising has dented the budget of broadcasters in Europe, with spending by Mediaset, ProSiebenSat. 1, RTL and ITV either remaining flat or falling this year, according to Ampere.

Public broadcasters are also increasingly outgunned by their US rivals, who are moving into their national markets with streaming services. 

The BBC is expected to devote around $2.1bn to entertainment content in 2020, less than a sixth of that spent by Netflix worldwide, while Germany’s ARD/ZDF is estimated to spend around $4.2bn.

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SEP-2019 a ‘’conviction’’ Buy at Friday’s closing price of $270.75. $NFLX
World Of Finance

“People went from broad to narrow,” he said, “and we think they will continue to go that way—spend more and more time in the niches— because now the distribution landscape allows for more narrowness’’

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After Two Decades of Rot, Zimbabwe Is Coming Apart at the Seams @business

In Zimbabwe, pregnant women are left alone in hospitals to give birth, taps have run dry in major urban centers, infrastructure has all but collapsed and more than half the population needs food aid.

This is the toll that two decades of economic mismanagement have taken on a nation once considered one of Africa’s shining stars. 

Promises of an economic revival and more political freedom made by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, now in his third year of rule, have rung hollow and public anger over intolerable living conditions has spurred protest action that’s been brutally quashed by the military.

Western governments that berated long-time ruler Robert Mugabe for violating civil rights are leveling similar criticism against his successor. 

And even South Africa, a regional power broker and long-time Zimbabwe ally, has now entered the fray, dispatching envoys and ruling party officials to Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, to try and help its neighbor resolve the deepening crisis.

No headway was made in initial talks and more are planned in coming days.

“I don’t know how low we can get, but we are in a very low space,” said Alex Magaisa, a Zimbabwean law lecturer who helped design the nation’s 2013 constitution.

It wasn’t always like this. In 1980, respected Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere told Mugabe, a young guerrilla leader who had just taken over as prime minister of newly independent Zimbabwe, that he had “inherited a jewel, keep it that way.”

Mugabe spent his first decade in office augmenting the advanced infrastructure and institutions that the Whites-only government had built on the back of cheap Black labor, and invested heavily in education and health. 

Zimbabwe rapidly became one of Africa’s most literate nations and boasted some of the continent’s best hospitals.

A crippling International Monetary Fund Program in the 1990s, rampant corruption, stolen elections and the seizure of White-owned farms laid waste to those achievements. 

Today many city roads are untarred, power outages last 18 hours a day and a quarter of the population, unable to make a living, has left. Bulawayo, the second-largest city, hasn’t had piped water since last month.

While a popular revolt is unlikely, with a recent call for a national strike largely ignored as the military deployed onto the streets of major cities, the security forces that put Mnangagwa in power are growing frustrated. 

In June, military leaders took the unusual step of calling a press conference to deny they were planning a coup.

The president subsequently accused his deputy, former head of the armed forces Constantino Chiwenga, of seeking to undermine him, according to people familiar with the situation.

In 1990, Zimbabwe “was flying high and it was among the most industrialized African countries,” said Ringisai Chikohomero, an analyst at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies. “Now Zimbabwe is lagging behind everyone.”

Zimbabwe’s collapse is epitomized by the woeful state of its health system. 

Hospitals are beset by medicine shortages and recurrent strikes by nurses and doctors over pay and working conditions. 

The neglect of pregnant women is the latest health scandal to hit the headlines.

“It’s a new low,” said Norman Matara, a doctor who has worked at Parirenyatwa, the country’s biggest public hospital in Harare.

 “Some women are developing complications of ruptured uteruses and experiencing prolonged labor, which leads to brain damage of their babies.”

The education system has fared no better. In 1990, spending on education equated to more than 12% of gross domestic product. 

By 2018, the ratio had slipped to just 4.6%, World Bank data shows

Funding cutbacks have left schools without essential teaching materials and demotivated staff, some of whom skip classes to work second jobs to try and make ends meet. 

Many of the country’s more experienced teachers have emigrated.

“Our school looks like something from a war film, because I doubt it’s been painted in 25 or 30 years. There are broken windows, crumbling walls and we don’t have water,” said Tawanda Chikondo, a 29-year-old teacher in Makonde, a rural area north of Harare, who is trying to emigrate to the U.K. or Asia. “This is Zimbabwe, can you imagine? Africa’s most-educated nation has to teach children under trees because the classrooms are squalid and unkempt.”

While Zimbabwe experienced hyperinflation of 500 billion percent in 2008 and, as a result, was forced to scrap its worthless currency early in 2009, this year’s crisis seems worse to many.

The reintroduction of the Zimbabwe dollar early last year has seen the value of civil servants’ salaries collapse to about $40 a month from more than $400. 

Surging inflation has also made a comeback, with the rate currently standing at more than 800%.

What’s been hardest for many Zimbabweans to accept is that Mnangagwa’s assent to power was seen as a fresh start -- as evidenced by the tens of thousands of people that poured onto the streets to celebrate the end of Mugabe’s 37-year rule in late 2017. The change in power was also welcomed by the U.S. and the European Union, which had imposed sanctions on members of the Mugabe administration, even though it was to all intents and purposes a coup. Mugabe died in September last year at the age of 95.

Mnangagwa, 77, who was Mugabe’s right-hand man for half a century before falling out with him, spent much of his first few months in office visiting foreign capitals and repeating the mantra that “Zimbabwe is open for business.”

His assurances haven’t translated into an influx of foreign capital. While the government has announced $30 billion of investment plans, there’s little evidence of them materializing. 

And relations with multilateral lenders, soured by $8 billion in unpaid debts, are yet to be restored.

“I had high hopes when President Mnangagwa came into office. I attended his first inauguration. He said all the right things, you could sense the euphoria on the streets of Harare,” said Ian Khama, who was president of neighboring Botswana at the time. “I am really very, very disappointed. In Zimbabwe, they tell you the situation is worse than under Mugabe.”

Frustrated by the deteriorating economy, Mnangagwa has heaped blame on the private sector. 

He described unidentified companies as “wolves in sheep’s clothing” shortly before curbing the activities of Econet Wireless Ltd., accusing its mobile money unit of weakening the currency.

Mnangagwa’s Cambridge-educated finance minister, Mthuli Ncube, is optimistic the economy can be put back on track. 

He’s touted improvements in reducing government expenditure and laid out a plan that will rely on investments in mining and infrastructure to turn the nation into an upper-middle income country by 2030.

Most analysts see that as wishful thinking, given the dire state of the nation that Mnangagwa inherited from Mugabe and the increasing isolation of his government.

Mnangagwa “was handed a poisoned chalice but there was a lot of international goodwill that they have squandered,” Chikohomero said.

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Sudan’s annual inflation accelerated by 23.05% in August to 166.83% from 143.78% in July, driven by food and transportation prices, the state statistics office said on Monday.

Sudan declared an economic state of emergency on Thursday after its currency fell sharply in recent weeks, setting up special courts to prosecute what officials called a “systematic operation” to vandalize the economy.

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Bars closure punches Sh45bn hole in budget @BD_Africa
Kenyan Economy

Prolonged closure of bars and night clubs has forced the Treasury to cut its excise tax projections by Sh45.8 billion, giving the government a fresh revenue collection headache three months since the start of the financial year.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani has lowered the excise duty target — the bulk of which come from sale of alcohol and cigarettes — to Sh195.6 billion from the Sh241.4 billion set in June despite a scheduled raise on the tax from October 1.

The Treasury has linked the cut to the effects of Covid-19 restrictions, including closure of bars and curbs on mass gathering. 

More than 30 products attract excise duty, including bottled water, fuel and juices. But alcohol and cigarettes, largely sold in bars and restaurants, account for more than 75 percent of the tax collection.

Kenya shut down bars on March 25 and in July banned restaurants from selling alcohol to contain the virus, which had infected 36,205 people and killed 624 as of Monday.

Alcohol sales have plummeted as businesses continue to reel from the directive that only allows for take-away services, prompting firms like East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL) to announce a 39 percent drop in net profit to Sh7 billion for the year ended June 2020.

The Treasury had hoped bars would resume operations by September when Kenya was expected to have kept the coronavirus under firm control.

The taxman collects Sh253 per litre of spirit, Sh189 for a litre wine and Sh110.62 for a litre beer, while a stick of a cigarette with filter attracts Sh3.16 duty.

Mr Yatani has cut total tax collection forecast for this financial year ending June 2021 by Sh91.2 billion to Sh1.42 trillion compared with his earlier estimates of Sh1.51 trillion in June.

“The revenue projections for FY 2020/21 have been revised taking into account the revenue performance by end August 2020 and the prolonged effects of Covid-19 pandemic on economic activities and the measures put in place to curb its spread,” the Cabinet Secretary says in the draft Budget Review and Outlook Paper (BROP).

Value Added Tax (VAT), whose standard rate was cut to 14 percent from 16 percent in April, has been revised downwards by Sh37.4 billion to Sh444.2 billion, while collections from import duty are seen thinning Sh22.4 billion to Sh84.4 billion.

“These revisions (on VAT, excise and import duties) mainly reflect the knock on consumption and international trade in the Covid-19 fallout period,” Genghis Capital head of research Churchill Ogutu wrote in a note.

In a surprise move, however, Mr Yatani has revised upwards the income tax estimates by Sh14.4 billion to Sh699.4 billion, signalling a recovery in the corporate Kenya which has shed nearly two million jobs since the pandemic struck in March to protect profits.

The Treasury says economic growth could fall to 2.5 per cent in 2020 but may go lower to 1.8 per cent, compared with 5.4 per cent a year earlier.

Alcohol manufacturers and distributors fear the automatic inflation tax adjustment on the excisable goods, which also include petrol and diesel, at the rate of about 5.43 percent from October 1 will further hit consumption and disrupt their recovery strategies.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) last Thursday wrote to President Uhuru Kenyatta seeking a moratorium on the planned increases in excise taxes on 31 excisable goods after failing to get reassurances from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

“Most manufacturers have registered between 30-70 percent drops in sales with a resultant drop in excise collections to the exchequer,” KAM chief executive Phyllis Wakiaga said.

Mr Kenyatta last month set the stage for reopening of bars and night clubs after he directed the setting of rules to guide sit-down drinking in public places.

He asked bar owners and the Ministry of Health to jointly develop guidelines that would promote social distancing and hygiene in the quest to strike a balance between promoting the hospitality industry and curbing the spread of Covid-19.

The pubs and cinema theatres will have to reconfigure seating, minimise self-service, cancel live acts and stagger arrivals. EABL has announced a Sh532 million ($5 million) recovery fund to help pubs and bars in Kenya resume trade post-lockdown.

The two-year plan dubbed “Raising the Bar” is part of the Sh10.6 billion ($100 million) fund rolled out from June 1 in different markets through EABL’s parent firm, Diageo.

EABL says the recovery plan will offer targeted support like purchasing equipment such as hygiene kits, permanent sanitiser dispenser units, hand sanitisers, masks, and protection screens for bars that cannot maintain the one-metre social distance. The firm will offer the bars hardware and not cash through the recovery plan that comes in form of a grant.

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Upmarket rent declines 6.6pc on foreigners exit @KnightFrankKE @BD_Africa
RealEstate, Housing & Construction

Rent on Kenyan high-end property has fallen by 6.55 percent over the last six months as foreigners returned to their countries during the coronavirus pandemic, dragging down the value of the real estate.

According to Knight Frank’s Africa Residential Dashboard for the first half of 2020, upmarket rental property have been losing tenants as expatriates leave the country pushing a decline in rents.

“There has been a surge in the exit of expatriates from the continent due to pre-existing economic challenges but enforced by the Covid-19 pandemic which has resulted in subdued demand in the prime residential sector,” Tilda Mwai, Knight Frank Researcher for Africa said.

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

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