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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Friday 30th of October 2020

Just weeks after the stock market crashed in 1929, President Herbert Hoover assured the country that things were already “back to normal,” Liaquat Ahamed writes in Lords of Finance
World Of Finance

Five months later, in March 1930, Hoover said the worst would be over “during the next 60 days.”

When that period ended, he said, “We have passed the worst.”

Eventually, Ahamed writes, “when the facts refused to obey Hoover’s forecasts, he started to make them up.”

Government agencies were pressed to issue false data. Officials resigned rather than do so, including the chief of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And we all know how that turned out: The Great Depression.

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“ We can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.” @Allehone

“ We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice ..and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.” 

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The Salt Pans On the eastern fringes of the Kalahari lies a collection of huge fossilised salt pans @africageo

On the eastern fringes of the Kalahari lies a collection of huge fossilised salt pans – desolate flat landscapes that stretch as far as the eye can see. 

Surrounding the pans are expanses of grass and thorn trees, with the odd island of palm trees. It’s a picturesque landscape, very photogenic and definitely for the traveler that is looking beyond the Big 5.

The most popular are the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (including Sua Pan – and its rocky Kubu Island, bedecked in massive baobab trees) and Nxai Pans (where you will find the famous and starkly stunning Baines’ Baobabs).

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*Dashboard en version logarithmique* @GuillaumeRozier
Law & Politics

Dans les prochaines semaines ce sont ces graphiques qu’il faudra scruter. Pour quitter la croissance exponentielle, il faudrait qu’on dévie des droites qu’on suit actuellement. #Covid19

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The United States broke its single-day record for new coronavirus infections on Thursday, reporting over 91,000 new cases @Reuters.

The previous one-day record for U.S. cases was 84,169 on Oct. 23. Globally, India holds the record for new cases in a single day at 97,894 infections on Sept. 17.

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has risen over 50% in October to 46,000, the highest since mid-August.

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Nearly 100,000 people in England are catching Covid-19 every day, the R rate in London is almost THREE - and one in 75 Brits are currently infectious, new @imperialcollege study finds @MailOnline

Imperial's best guess is that 1.3 per cent of everyone in England are carrying the disease currently, one in 75

The study warned infections are doubling every nine days, suggesting there could be 200,000 daily cases by the first week of November.

The study, which will likely be used to pile more pressure on No10 to impose a national lockdown, also estimated the virus' reproduction 'R' rate — the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects — was nearly three in London, a finding the researchers described as 'scary'. 

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Scientists warn of new coronavirus variant spreading across Europe @FT #COVID19

A coronavirus variant that originated in Spanish farm workers has spread rapidly through much of Europe since the summer, and now accounts for the majority of new Covid-19 cases in several countries — and more than 80 per cent in the UK.

An international team of scientists that has been tracking the virus through its genetic mutations has described the extraordinary spread of the variant, called 20A.EU1, in a research paper to be published on Thursday.

Their work suggests that people returning from holiday in Spain played a key role in transmitting the virus across Europe, raising questions about whether the second wave that is sweeping the continent could have been reduced by improved screening at airports and other transport hubs.

Because each variant has its own genetic signature, it can be traced back to the place it originated.

“From the spread of 20A.EU1, it seems clear that the [virus prevention] measures in place were often not sufficient to stop onward transmission of introduced variants this summer,” said Emma Hodcroft, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Basel and lead author of the study which is yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The scientific teams in Switzerland and Spain are now rushing to examine the behaviour of the variant to establish whether it may be more deadly or more infectious than other strains.

Dr Hodcroft stressed that there was “no evidence that the variant’s [rapid] spread is due to a mutation that increases transmission or impacts clinical outcome”.

But she emphasised that 20A.EU1 was unlike any version of Sars-Cov-2 — the virus that causes Covid-19 — she had previously come across. “I’ve not seen any variant with this sort of dynamic for as long as I’ve been looking at genomic sequences of coronavirus in Europe,” she said.

In particular, the teams are working with virology laboratories to establish whether 20A.EU1 carries a particular mutation, in the “spike protein” that the virus uses to enter human cells, that might alter its behaviour.

All viruses develop mutations — changes in the individual letters of their genetic code — which can group together into new variants and strains. 

Another mutation in Sars-Cov-2, called D614G, has been identified which is believed to make the virus more infectious.

Joseph Fauver, a genetic epidemiologist at Yale University who was not involved in the research published on Thursday, said: 

“We need more studies like this to find mutations that have risen to high frequency in the population, and then reverse-engineer them to see whether they make the virus more transmissible.”

The new variant, which has six distinctive genetic mutations, emerged among agricultural workers in north-east Spain in June and moved quickly through the local population, according to the study.

Tanja Stadler, professor of computational evolution at ETH Zurich who is part of the project, said that analysis of virus samples taken from across Europe in recent weeks showed they were derived from this same variant.

“We can see the virus has been introduced multiple times in several countries and many of these introductions have gone on to spread through the population,” Prof Stadler said.

Iñaki Comas, head of the SeqCovid-Spain consortium that is studying the virus and a co-author of the study, added: “One variant, aided by an initial super-spreading event, can quickly become prevalent.”

The researchers concluded that the “risky behaviour” of holidaymakers in Spain — such as ignoring social distancing guidelines — who “continue to engage in such behaviour at home” helped the spread of the new variant.

The research showed that the new variant accounted for more eight out of 10 cases in the UK, 80 per cent of cases in Spain, 60 per cent in Ireland and up to 40 per cent in Switzerland and France.

Stringent lockdowns in the early part of the year helped bring the initial Covid-19 surge under control, with new cases substantially reduced over the summer.

But the virus has spread rapidly back through Europe in recent weeks in a resurgence that has forced national leaders to introduce painful new restrictions on social activities.

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In short, SARS- CoV-2 is possessed of dual action capability. Birger Sørensen, Angus Dalgleish & Andres Susrud Immunor & St Georges University of London

That SARS-CoV-2 has charged inserts is not in dispute (Zhou et al., 2020) 

What we have shown that is new is that the SARS-CoV-2 Spike carries significant additional charge (isoelectric point (pI) pI=8.2) compared to human SARS-CoV Spike,( pI = 5.67) and the implications thereof. 

Basic domains - partly inserted, partly substituted amino acids and partly redistributed from outside the receptor binding domain - explain the salt bridges formed between the SARS-CoV-2 Spike and its co-receptors on the cell membrane.

there are 6 inserts which make the SARS-CoV-2 Spike structurally special.

Blasting the Spike protein with a rolling window of 6 amino acids showed that 78.4% of 6 amino acid windows are human like. 

This means that with nearly 80% of the spike protein has a built-in stealth property by having high human similarity. 

Therefore, it is remarkably well-adapted virus for human co-existence. 

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No-one has ever produced a safe and effective vaccine against a coronavirus. Birger Sørensen, Angus Dalgleish & Andres Susrud


What if, as I fear, there will never be a vaccine. I was involved in the early stages of identifying the HIV virus as the cause of Aids. I remember drugs companies back then saying there would be a vaccine within around 18 months. Some 37 years on, we are still waiting. Prof ANGUS DALGLEISH @MailOnline

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‘’Zoonotic’’ origin was one that was accelerated in the Laboratory.

There is also a non negligible possibility that #COVID19 was deliberately released

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A sharp initial economic rebound now faces headwinds from a second Covid-19 wave, Brexit-related uncertainty, @IMFNews
World Currencies

Brexit-related uncertainty, rising unemployment, and stress on corporate balance sheets. We project the economy to contract by 10.4 percent in 2020 and to recover partially in 2021, with growth at 5.7 percent, in both cases downwardly revised from our latest WEO forecast. 

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies


Dollar Index 93.924

Japan Yen 104.3840

Swiss Franc 0.91478

Pound 1.290485

Aussie 0.70184

India Rupee 74.5600

South Korea Won 1134.24

Brazil Real 5.7792000

Egypt Pound 15.705340

South Africa Rand 16.44320

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#Netflix shares jump almost 5% >$500 after comp raises the price of standard monthly plan in US to $13.99, w/premium listed at $17.99. @Schuldensuehner
World Of Finance

Prior to Thursday, those plans were priced at $12.99 and $15.00, respectively. The entry-level basic plan remains at $7.99 per month.

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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’

My Mind kept to an Article I read in 2012 ‘’Annals of Technology Streaming Dreams’’ by John Seabrook January 16, 2012. 

“This world of online video is the future, and for an artist you want to be first in, to be a pioneer. With YouTube, I will have a very small crew, and we are trying to keep focused on a single voice. There aren’t any rules. There’s just the artist, the content, and the audience.”

“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’’.

And this brought me to Netflix. Netflix spearheaded a streaming revolution that changed the way we watch TV and films. 

As cable TV lost subscribers, Netflix gained them, putting it in a category with Facebook, Amazon, and Google as one of the adored US tech stocks that led a historic bull market [FT]. 

Netflix faces an onslaught of competition in the market it invented. 

After years of false starts, Apple is planning to launch a streaming service in November, as is Disney — with AT&T’s WarnerMedia and Com- cast’s NBCUniversal to follow early next year.  

Netflix has corrected brutally and lots of folks are bailing big time especially after Netflix lost US subscribers in the last quarter. 

Even after the loss of subscribers in the second quarter, Ben Swinburne, head of media research at Morgan Stanley, says Netflix is still on course for a record year of subscriber additions. 

Optimists point to the group’s global reach. It is betting its future on expansion outside the US, where it has already attracted 60m subscribers. 

Netflix is not a US business, it is a global business. 

The Majority of Analysts are in the US and in my opinion, these same Analysts have an international ‘’blind spot’’ Once Investors appreciate that the Story is an international one and not a US one anymore, we will see the price ramp to fresh all-time highs. 

I, therefore, am putting out a ‘’conviction’’ Buy on Netflix at Friday’s closing price of $270.75.

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"Turkish authorities have burnt through $134bn over the past 18 months in failed attempt to prop up lira'' @GoldmanSachs @adam_tooze
Emerging Markets

''The intervention continued this week, according to London-based analyst who asked not to be named.” 

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

―In this respect, our townsfolk were like everybody else, wrapped up in themselves; in other words, they were humanists: they disbelieved in pestilences.

A pestilence isn't a thing made to man's measure; therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogy of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away.

But it doesn't always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away, and the humanists first of all, because they have taken no precautions.‖

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Tanzania in full blown one party dictatorship. We shall resist this. I ask the international community NOT to recognize this Tanzanian election. Consequences for this must be huge! RESISTANCE @zittokabwe
Law & Politics

Tanzania in full blown one party dictatorship. We shall resist this. I urge Tanzanians not recognize any authority coming out of these widespread rigging. I ask the international community NOT to recognize this Tanzanian election. Consequences for this must be huge! RESISTANCE

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I personally think apart from calling on intl community to act, he needs to mobilise his local base too. @Chahali

From conversations I have been having with his supporters here on Twitter, most seem to have been expecting some kind of guidance from him as to "what next?" I personally think apart from calling on intl community to act, he needs to mobilise his local base too

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10 NOV 14 : African youth demographic {many characterise this as a 'demographic dividend"} - which for Beautiful Blaise turned into a demographic terminator

Martin Aglo, a law student from Benin, told Reuters: “After the Arab Spring, this is the Black Spring”.

We need to ask ourselves; how many people can incumbent shoot stone cold dead in such a situation – 100, 1,000, 10,000? 

This is another point: there is a threshold beyond which the incumbent can’t go. Where that threshold lies will be discovered in the throes of the event.

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Nigeria at 60 has yet to reach its potential @FT @davidpilling

Sixty years ago this month, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa became the first prime minister of an independent Nigeria.  The population was 45m, Lagos was the capital and Nigeria was pumping a mere 45,000 barrels of oil a day.

The Nigerian pound, which remained the currency until it gave way to the naira in 1973, carried a picture of Queen Elizabeth II, monarch of Britain, the departing colonial power.

Much has changed since then. Nigeria’s population has more than quadrupled to 206m, the capital is Abuja and the treasury is hooked on revenue from the 2m barrels of sweet crude oil the country produces each day.

Nigeria now has a US presidential system rather than the parliamentary one it inherited from Britain. 

No longer are there three administrative regions, representing the largest Igbo, Fulani-Hausa and Yoruba communities in a country of 250 ethnic groups and 500 languages. 

Instead Nigeria is subdivided into 36 states, many virtually bankrupt, and one federal territory that holds the purse strings.

After three decades of near-successive, mostly ruinous, military dictatorships in which generals grabbed power, democracy has held for 21 years.

Seen by many as the country’s most important postcolonial achievement, democracy brings the prospect, if not yet the reality, of a government more accountable to its people’s pressing needs. 

Protests that erupted across the country this month against police brutality were also an expression of a deeper frustration with authority, especially from young people.

“Democracy brought voice to Nigeria,” says Amina Mohammed, deputy secretary-general of the UN and one of many Nigerians to have scaled the heights of international diplomacy. 

“Democracy also brought hope, and with hope came a clear view of the possibilities.” For tens of millions of Nigerians living below $1.90 a day, hope is all there is. As bad as state violence is the lack of opportunity.

Nigeria’s leaders have largely failed to provide the public goods that could help unleash the people’s potential, says Ms Mohammed.

“Basic service delivery on education, health, water and sanitation have not reached millions of Nigerians, especially women and girls. This has made the foundation of our home weak.”

Millions of girls receive little or no education, especially in the north, where many are married off early.

Throughout all the ups and downs of a political system that historian Max Siollun describes as “a cut-throat Game of Thrones”, one thing has stayed more or less constant: Nigeria’s borders.

Despite the attempted secession of Biafra in 1967 and continued tension between the three main regions — each of which feels marginalised or aggrieved — the country cobbled together by British imperialism has stayed largely intact. 

More than that, it has forged a genuine national identity stronger than the centrifugal forces threatening to pull it apart.

Still tensions are very much alive, both in the scramble for resources between states as well as in conflicts caused by the militant Islamists of Boko Haram in the north-east, militancy in the oil-rich Delta, and clashes between herders and settled farmers.

“We can’t figure out how Nigeria should be, how the parts should relate to the whole,” says Wole Soyinka, the playwright, poet and Nobel laureate.

If democracy is entrenched, the regular exercises in voting — lubricated by vast amounts of money — remain essentially a struggle between elites over resources and patronage.

“There is commitment on the part of Mr President to fight corruption,” says Pauline Tallen, minister of women’s affairs, referring to Muhammadu Buhari, the 77-year-old former general who has maintained an iron-cast reputation for probity. 

“Corruption is killing this country and he has made it top of his agenda.”

Yet the oil curse has been hard to shake and some worry that whatever progress has been made under Mr Buhari will not outlast his presidency.

“Oil has been a nightmare for us. We should not have had oil,” says Dimieari Von Kemedi, an environmental activist, former presidential adviser and agricultural entrepreneur.

Many Asian economies with comparable prospects to Nigeria in 1960, such as South Korea and Taiwan, had few resources, forcing them to build export industries. 

Nigeria, by contrast, has seen other industries killed off by an uncompetitive exchange rate that still makes it cheaper to import textiles — and even basic commodities such as rice — than to produce them at home.

Structurally, the lure of oil wealth has transformed much of Nigeria’s entrepreneurial class into crony capitalists who find it easier to make money through connections and arbitrage than through productive activity and technological innovation. 

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former finance minister who is now a leading contender to head the World Trade Organization, says Nigeria’s biggest failure has been to squander billions of dollars of oil revenue that started flowing in the 1970s.

Successive Nigerian governments have neglected public health and education even more than they have roads and ports, abandoning millions of people while the elite seeks refuge in private schools and hospitals at home and abroad.

“We could have managed our finances more prudently and invested more in infrastructure,” says Ms Okonjo-Iweala, with some understatement. 

“We would be in a better place now. We would have the basis to really push forward.”

Nigeria matters. Its sheer size means that what happens there affects the continent as a whole. 

Africa’s most populous country is also its biggest economy, one that could be an engine for regional growth, investment and innovation, especially with the advent of the African Continental Free Trade Area of which Nigeria ought to be a major beneficiary.

It has military and diplomatic clout. Its soldiers helped restore peace in Sierra Leone and its brightest pack the upper echelons of international institutions. 

And it wields US-style soft power. From musicians such as Fela Kuti and Burna Boy, to writers Chinua Achebe and Chigozie Obioma, and from Nollywood to fashion designers, its artists have attracted international attention.

“Nigeria is a huge cultural export power,” says Feyi Fawehinmi, a Nigerian author and historian. “We may not have manufacturing but in terms of arts, writers, filmmakers, music-makers, Nigeria generates this easily and in abundance.”

Lola Shoneyin, who runs Nigeria’s successful Aké Arts and Book Festival, says the problem is a state that has allowed institutions, such as once top-class universities, to crumble. 

“For somebody who has lived in Nigeria a lot of my adult life it is sad for me that it’s possible to look back at a time when things were better.”

Ms Okonjo-Iweala prefers to look forward. “Our young people are innovative and optimistic and doing so many incredible things,” she says. “This thrills me and inspires me.”

Not only is such creativity evident in the arts, she says, but in innovative tech companies such as Andela, a software developer, Kobo360, an online logistics company, and Paga, a payments platform.

Nigeria’s median age is 18. More than half its people have known nothing but democracy. 

But if they are the future, says Aliko Dangote, the continent’s richest businessman, they are also a source of unease. “A young population is good, it’s great, but it’s only great when you find jobs for those young people,” he says. 

“Our major challenge now going forward is, how do we find jobs for this restless youth?”

Mr Dangote argues that the answer lies in more business-friendly policies that encourage domestic investment. “You can continue calling foreign investors till kingdom comes but they won’t invest if they don’t see locals investing first,” he says.

“The biggest challenge with Nigeria is there’s always been a lack of visionary leadership,” Mr Dangote adds. 

“I am a great believer in Nigeria because the opportunities here are enormous. What we need is a consistency in government policies.”

Nigerians are fully aware of their potential, says Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, another acclaimed author. 

“We in Nigeria have an unearned and funny-in-many-ways sense of superiority. Nigerians are the Americans of Africa.”

Even Mr Kemedi, who sees so much wrong, shares this brash sense of pride. 

“It’s a big powerful country in spite of all its challenges,” he says. “At the end of the day, we can look at Nigeria and say we are all part of it.”

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21 OCT 19 :: "The New Economy of Anger"

Nose-diving economic opportunity is creating tinder-dry conditions. 

People have been pushed to the edge and are taking to the streets.

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.’’

The Phenomenon is spreading like wildfire in large part because of the tinder dry conditions underfoot. 

Prolonged stand-offs eviscerate economies, reducing opportunities and accelerate the negative feedback loop.

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Africa In 2019, tourism contributed 14.7 % Namibia’s GDP, 10.7% to Tanzania’s, and 8.2% to Kenya’s. Wildlife-based tourism generated more than US$29bn pa for Africa. Employed 3.6m people. @adam_tooze

Effects of Covid on conservation tourism in Africa have been seismic.  In 2019, tourism contributed 14.7 % Namibia’s GDP, 10.7% to Tanzania’s, and 8.2% to Kenya’s.  Wildlife-based tourism generated more than US$29bn pa for Africa. Employed 3.6m people. 

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15.755% Today, 761 people have tested positive for the virus, from a sample size of 4,830 tested in the last 24 hours. @MOH_Kenya

This brings to 52,612 the number of confirmed positive cases in the country. Our cumulative tests are now 677,601.

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Russia overtakes Egypt as the second biggest buyer of Kenyan tea @BD_Africa
Kenyan Economy

Data from the directorate indicate that in August, Russia bought 2.3 million kilogrammes of tea, which was 40 percent more compared with the same period last year.

This saw Russia overtake Egypt, which for the longest time has been the second key buyer of the Kenyan commodity after Pakistan. Pakistan maintained the top same spot in August albeit with a marginal decline.

In the review period, the volumes of tea that Egypt bought declined significantly by 8.6 million kilogrammes to touch a low of 1.4 million kilos.

The huge decline saw Egypt pushed down to position five.

In June and July, Russia held position five but its volumes have been increasing significantly, with July recording a growth of 87 percent to touch 2.1 million kilogrammes.

Tea exports to Kenya’s major markets dropped by 14 million kilos in the eight months to August compared with the same period last year as the world market remains suppressed.

Data report from the regulator indicates that volumes exported dropped to 323 million kilogrammes in the review period, from 337 million during the corresponding time last year.

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

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