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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Thursday 17th of June 2021

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Andy Warhol was invited to Iran by the Shah and the Empress, the Pahlavis, in 1976. @akcakmak

Warhol used a simple polaroid of Farah Diba Pahlavi for her portrait which used to welcome visitors in the entrance of Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art until the “revolution” in 1979.

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"Oil creates the illusion of a completely changed life, life without work, life for free. Oil is a resource that anaesthetises thought, blurs vision, corrupts." - Ryszard Kapuscinski, Shah of Shahs

“...what has made it possible for us to remain ourselves in spite of so many wars, invasions and occupations, is our spiritual, not our material, strength--our poetry, and not out technology; our religion, and not our factories.”

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5 DEC 16 :: The Parabolic Rebound of Vladimir Putin
Law & Politics

So much has happened in 2016, from the Brexit vote to President-elect Trump, and it certainly feels like we have entered a new normal. 

One common theme is a parabolic Putin rebound. At this moment, President Putin has Fortress Europe surrounded. The intellectual father of the new Zeitgeist that propelled Brexit, Le Pen, the Five Star movement in Italy, Gert Wilders in the Netherlands, is Vladimir Putin.

In the Middle East, it is Putin who is calling the shots in Aleppo, and in a quite delicious irony it looks like he has pocketed Opec as well.

However, my starting point is the election of President Donald Trump because hindsight will surely show that Russia ran a seriously sophisticated programme of interference, mostly digital. 

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.”

I have no doubt that Putin ran a seriously 21st predominantly digital programme of interference which amplified the Trump candidacy. POTUS Trump was an ideal candidate for this kind of support.

Trump is a linguistic warfare specialist. Look at the names he gave his opponents: Crooked Hillary, Lyin’ Ted, Little Marco, ‘Low-energy’ Jeb — were devastating and terminal. 

The first thing is plausible deniability 

The second thing is non-linearity, you have to learn how to navigate a linear system (the new 21st digital ecosystem) in a non-linear way.

Beppe Grillo, the comic turned leader of the Five Star movement in Italy said: This is the deflagration of an epoch. It’s the apocalypse of this information system, of the TVs, of the big newspapers, of the intellectuals, of the journalists.”

He is right, traditional media has been disrupted and the insurgents can broadcast live and over the top. 

From feeding the hot-house conspiracy frenzy on line (‘’a constant state of destabilised perception’’), timely and judicious doses of Wikileaks leaks which drained Hillary’s bona fides and her turn-out and motivated Trump’s, what we have witnessed is something remarkable and noteworthy.

Putin has proven himself an information master, and his adversaries are his information victims.

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28 OCT 19 :: From Russia with Love
Law & Politics

“Russia regards Africa as an important and active participant in the emerging polycentric architecture of the world order and an ally in protecting international law against attempts to undermine it,” said Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov back in November 2018

 Putin has created a hybrid model with an exponential ROI. 

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.@AKorybko Interview To Italian Media About Russia's Evolving Geostrategic Vision
Law & Politics

To summarize, the first point to make is that Russia and China are not “allies”, and both their leaders have confirmed this. 

They instead regard themselves as being strategic partners with a wider scope for cooperation than conventional allies while having none of the controversial military commitments that come with the latter relationship. 

Secondly, despite the economic and military asymmetries between them, they have shared interests in accelerating the emergence of the multipolar world order, which explains their close cooperation in practically all spheres that's expected to continue for the indefinite future.

The reason why America decided to do this is that its permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) seemingly realized the futility of attempting to simultaneously contain Russia and China. 

Not only has that only pushed those two closer together, but that very outcome has served China's grand strategic interests vis-a-vis the New Cold War that it's in with the US. 

From the American strategic standpoint, China is a global competitor on the structural level whereas Russia is a trans-regional one mostly operating within its neighboring regions (Central & Eastern Europe, South Caucasus, West Asia, Central Asia), though with a growing strategic presence in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and most recently Africa

Nevertheless, Russia lacks the economic might to make meaningful changes to the international order, unlike China, ergo the American need to redirect its strategic focus from Moscow towards Beijing by de-escalating with the former.

Whether in the years of Sino-Soviet alignment or the historic 'Nixon in China' moment, this game has always seen two sides aligned against the third. 

Officially speaking, Russia would prefer for there to be no New Cold War between the US and China, but since it's powerless to stop it, Moscow seemingly intends to take maximum advantage of it in pursuit of its own interests. 

This takes the form of the Eurasian Great Power's ambitions to serve as the supreme “balancing” force in Eurasia across the 21st century, to which end it aspires to present itself as a pragmatic alternative to those many countries that are increasingly compelled to choose between the US and China. 

In other words, just as Russia hopes to “balance” between the US and China (with the first-mentioned being dependent on the outcome of the upcoming Putin-Biden Summit though that event's been preceded by some positive progress as of late), so too does it hope to help its partners across Eurasia do the same.

In practice, this can result in Russia playing a larger economic role in those countries, particularly when it comes to certain types of infrastructure such as energy and railroads. 

In addition, those countries that are most susceptible to certain Hybrid War threats can make use of Russia's wide range of customized “Democratic Security” solutions just like Syria and the Central African Republic presently are doing.

The consequences of these various Silk Roads on the Suez Canal won't be felt for some time since that choke point will remain important for at least the next decade or two. 

In a nutshell, I foresee Russia, Turkey, India, and China continuing to expand their influence across Eurasia, both cooperating with and “balancing” against one another in various ways, most of them “friendly”. 

Nevertheless, these strategic dynamics are ripe for external exploitation by the US in advance of its ambition to divide and rule the supercontinent, though they also present plenty of opportunities for those countries to more sustainably stabilize it provided that they have the political will to do so, including by making some tough mutual compromises where needed. 

The so-called “Age of Complexity” is upon us wherein everything is evolving at an unprecedented pace, accelerated by the full-spectrum paradigm-changing processes catalyzed by the world's uncoordinated attempts to contain COVID-19, or World War C as I call it.

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In chaos theory, they say the infinitesimal flapping of a butterfly's wings can hypothetically cascade into a fierce tornado @Rainmaker1973

Scientists have actually demonstrated how some of the smallest creatures can generate surprisingly huge, intense ocean currents 

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After massed plane incursion near Taiwan, China says must respond to 'collusion' @Reuters
Law & Politics

China does not tolerate foreign forces intervening in Taiwan issues and has to make strong responses to such acts of “collusion”, the government said on Wednesday after the island reported the largest incursion to date of Chinese aircraft.

Twenty-eight Chinese air force aircraft, including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers, entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) on Tuesday, the Chinese-claimed island’s government said.

The incident came after the Group of Seven leaders issued a joint statement on Sunday scolding China for a series of issues and underscored the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, comments China condemned as “slander”.

Asked at a news conference whether the military activity was related to the G7 statement, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said it was Taiwan’s government that was to blame for tensions. 

Beijing believes the island’s government is working with foreign countries to seek formal independence.

“We will never tolerate attempts to seek independence or wanton intervention in the Taiwan issue by foreign forces, so we need to make a strong response to these acts of collusion,” Ma said.

Democratically-ruled Taiwan has complained over the last few months of repeated missions by China’s air force near the island, concentrated in the southwestern part of its air defence zone near the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.

However, this time not only did the Chinese aircraft fly in an area close to the Pratas Islands, but the bombers and some of the fighters flew around the southern part of Taiwan near the bottom tip of the island, according to Taiwan’s defence ministry.

The fly-by happened on the same day the U.S. Navy said a carrier group led by the USS Ronald Reagan had entered the disputed South China Sea.

“The Ronald Reagan Strike group did not interact with any Chinese military aircraft,” Carrier Strike Group 5 spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Joe Keiley said in an emailed statement responding to questions on whether the Chinese aircraft had approached them.

“During the strike group’s South China Sea operations, all communications between ships and aircraft have been consistent with international norms and have not impacted our operations.”

A senior official familiar with Taiwan’s security planning told Reuters that officials believed China was sending a message to the United States as the carrier group sailed through the Bashi Channel, which separates Taiwan from the Philippines and leads into the South China Sea.

“It’s strategic intimidation of the U.S. military. They wanted the United States to notice their capability and for them to restrain their behaviour.”

Taiwan needs in particular to pay attention to the fact that China’s military has started conducting drills in Taiwan’s southeastern ADIZ, the source added.

This “to a certain degree was targeting our deployments in the east and increasing air defence pressure around our ADIZ”, the source said.

Taiwan’s east coast is home to two major air bases with hangers dug out of the side of mountains to provide protection in the event of a Chinese assault.

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Nations w/ high avg COVID-19 growth rates (daily/total) @jmlukens

Mongolia: 2.98%

Vietnam: 2.95%

Uganda: 2.40%

Zambia: 1.83%

Afghanistan: 1.80%

Namibia: 1.64%

Cambodia: 1.52%

Thailand: 1.48%

Sri Lanka: 1.15%

Trinidad: 1.14%

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Current vaccines are only 80-90% effective at reducing COVID transmission. @robertwiblin

So if there's a strain that would have had an R0 of 7 you'd need almost the entire pop to have been double vaccinated, or have had COVID, to achieve herd immunity at Feb 2020 levels of social contact.

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Powell Marks the Start of a Treacherous Retreat @markets @bopinion @johnauthers
World Of Finance

The Fed’s prediction for this year is 7%, to be followed by 3.3% in 2022. 


The Fed to managed to be inflation hawks without so much as raising a feather or baring a talon - @BChappatta on the absurdity that predicting rates might be as high as 0.75%, 30 months from now, these days counts as hawkish

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.1987

Dollar Index 91.453

Japan Yen 110.66

Swiss Franc 0.91035

Pound 1.3989

Aussie 0.7618

India Rupee 73.7491

South Korea Won 1131.78

Brazil Real 5.0554

Egypt Pound 15.65

South Africa Rand 14.0122

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A stronger dollar might create problems for emerging markets, whose currencies sold off quite sharply. @bopinion
Emerging Markets

Emerging markets wobbled close to disaster in the aftermath of the 2013 taper tantrum. This time, taper talk may be safer because their currencies have been strengthening from an all-time low:

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Africa is currently reporting a million new infections about every 87 days @ReutersGraphics

Of every 100 infections last reported around the world, about 6 were reported from countries in Africa

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@PMEthiopia has launched an unwinnable War on Tigray Province.

Ethiopia which was once the Poster child of the African Renaissance now has a Nobel Prize Winner whom I am reliably informed

PM Abiy His inner war cabinet includes Evangelicals who are counseling him he is "doing Christ's work"; that his faith is being "tested". @RAbdiAnalyst

@PMEthiopia has launched an unwinnable War on Tigray Province.

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Africa’s Top 250 Companies in 2021 African Business

Total market capitalisation of all 250 firms on the list this year is nearly $710bn, up a massive 69% on the comparative value for these firms last year

However, some of the gains are to do with vagaries of timing, since figures for the survey are set for 31 March, and in 2020 this was only a few days after stock markets crashed worldwide before later rallying from the low base.

This year’s total is close to the total $748bn for 2019 but far below total market capitalisation of $887bn in March 2018 and the peak value of $948bn in 2015, during the heady days of “Africa Rising”.

This year, financial services feature strongly in the tables, with a 24% share of the total value. 

Consumer goods and mining-related companies come second, each with a 22% share.

A strong market rise and strengthening currency means that South African firms have strengthened their domination of the ranking.

Africa’s economy, measured by gross domestic product (GDP), contracted by 2.1% in 2020, the first recession in 25 years.

Tourism, which provided 24m African jobs in 2018, all but disappeared in the first half of 2020 and only restarted slowly after August, slamming economies such as Mauritius and Kenya

Fiscal deficits across Africa have doubled in 2020 to 8.4% of GDP, a historic high. 

Portfolio investment inflows reversed from a $23bn net inflow in 2019 to a $27bn net outflow in 2020. 

This and other disruptions to foreign fund flows such as remittances (down from $86bn in 2019 to $78bn in 2020) and aid have meant that many African currencies also had a torrid year in 2020, particularly in the frontier economies.

The world’s biggest free trade area by number of countries participating was officially launched on 1 January and offers Africa’s leading businesses huge potential for growth.

Growth is projected at 3.4% in 2021 (compared to an IMF forecast of 4% recovery in 2021, published in April 2020), provided that tourism starts again, commodity prices climb and restrictions are ended. 

However, the bounce-back is far less than many countries in other regions are enjoying and Africa’s ongoing high population growth means per capita incomes will have fallen significantly.

For the year to December 2020, Nigeria was hailed by Bloomberg as “the world’s best performing” stock exchange, with its All Share Index (ASI) up 50% for NGN investors and over 40% for US dollar investors. The main index retreated slightly in the first quarter of 2021. 

However, research house African Markets says the “best-performing” crown rightfully belongs to Zimbabwe. 

In 2020 the ZSE ASI index had a lift-off year, up 1,045.8% for investors in Zimbabwean dollars (ZWL) and up 135% in US dollars. It rose another 70% for ZWL and 65% for USD investors over three months to March 2021. 

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Uganda’s central bank surprised with a benchmark interest-rate cut to the lowest level ever, saying economic recovery still requires monetary policy support. @economics

It’s the third institution in Africa after Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo to have reduced borrowing costs this year. 

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Nigeria’s currency weakened to a four-year low in the parallel market @markets

Unauthorized dealers were offering the naira at 502 per dollar on Wednesday from 500 last week according to abokifx.com, a website that collates the data. That’s the weakest since February 2017. 

The rate widens the spread between the official and the parallel market rate to 22%, when compared with the spot rate of 411.13 naira a dollar as of 1.55 p.m. in Lagos on Wednesday.

“Dollar demand is high; people are buying for storage,” Abubakar Mohammed, chief executive officer of Forward Marketing Communications bureau de change, said by phone from Lagos, the nation’s commercial hub.“There is no effect yet from any increased sale by the banks.”

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"Growth expectations could swing between 7.6 % on a more optimistic scenario & 3.2% on a worst-case."- NCBA @MwangoCapital
Kenyan Economy

"Growth expectations could swing between 7.6 % on a more optimistic scenario & 3.2% on a worst-case. This reflects the persistent uncertainty presented by the pandemic & underscores the need for flexibility and continued support from the government & the central bank"- NCBA

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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
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June 2021

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