home | rich profile | rich freebies | rich tools | rich data | online shop | my account | register |
  rich wrap-ups | **richLIVE** | richPodcasts | richRadio | richTV  | richInterviews  | richCNBC  | 
Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Monday 20th of September 2021

23-AUG-2021 :: ZigZag
World Of Finance

In one of his books Nassim Nicholas Taleb @nntaleb described his Trading Strategy as one which lost money 364 days of the year but made more on one day than was lost in those preceding 364 days. 
He makes the point that Few People or Trading Desks have the mental stamina to last those 364 days for that extreme one day pay out.

Paul Tudor-Jones
"I love trading macro. If trading is like chess, then macro is like 3D chess. You never have a complete information set or information edge the way analysts can have when trading individual securities." Paul Tudor Jones @NeckarValue
"When it comes to macro, you cannot rely solely on fundamentals; you have to be a tape reader, something of a lost art form''
''While I spend a significant amount of my time on analytics and fundamental information, at the end of the day, I am a slave to the tape and proud of it."
While I'm a staunch advocate of higher education, there is no training – classroom or otherwise.. that can prepare for trading the last third of a move, whether it's the end of a bull market or the end of a bear market. There's typically no logic to it; irrationality reigns supreme, and no class can teach what to do during that brief, volatile reign.
"This is the BIGGEST bubble I have seen in my career."— Stanley Druckenmiller @TihoBrkan
"As a macro investor, my job for 30 years was to anticipate changes in the economic trends that were not expected by others - and therefore not yet reflected in securities prices". Stanley Druckenmiller 

I think we are the Cusp of the Moment
The Music has been playing for Eternity and its about to stop

read more

09-MAY-2021 The Lotos-eaters The Consensus View appears to be that the Global economy is going to accelerate big time and that its going to BOOM! I beg to differ
World Of Finance

Ten- year yields initially plunged to a more than two-month low of 1.46%, then reversed to end the day at 1.58%. However, I am resetting my target Yield to 1.25% now.

Given the volume of money Printing and the extraordinary stimulus I have to say that the US Recovery is actually really weak and I believe it will be very short lived and the Penny will drop soon with the Bond Market and the Shorts will be forced to cover.

The Consensus View appears to be that the Global economy is going to accelerate big time and that its going to BOOM!  I beg to differ

read more

Mirrors on the ceiling, The Pink champagne on ice
World Of Finance

Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said "We are all just prisoners here, of our own device" And in the master's chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can't kill the beast
Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
"Relax, " said the night man,
"We are programmed to receive. You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave! "

And when the Feedback Loop kicks in I expect it to kick big to the downside
However, there are many discordant notes.

read more

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.

read more

"If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change." - Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa , The Leopard

"Now the road was crossing orange groves in flower, and the nuptial scent of the blossoms absorbed the rest as a full moon does a landscape ..all cancelled out by that Islamic perfume evoking houris and fleshly joys beyond the grave."

read more

The Leopard (Il Gattopardo) is one of the greatest Italian literary works of the 20th century.

Everyday activities foreground the novel: daily recital of the Rosary, evening readings around the fire, faded grandeur of meals where “monumental dishes of macaroni” are served among massive silver and splendid glass, a walk and hunting expedition in the sunburnt Sicilian countryside, a magnificent ball.
Although The Leopard is a representation of 19th century Sicilian aristocracy, it is also a contemplative and ironic distancing from this same world.
It is, above all, a novel that provides a profound meditation on transition and historical causality.

read more

— William Carlos Williams @EmojongIsaac

It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

   — William Carlos Williams

read more

Of the Threads that Connect the Stars Martín Espada

Did you ever see stars?  asked my father with a cackle. He was not
speaking of the heavens, but the white flash in his head when a fist burst
between his eyes. In Brooklyn, this would cause men and boys to slap
the table with glee; this might be the only heavenly light we'd ever see.

I never saw stars. The sky in Brooklyn was a tide of smoke rolling over us
from the factory across the avenue, the mattresses burning in the junkyard,
the ruins where squatters would sleep, the riots of 1966 that kept me
locked in my room like a suspect. My father talked truce on the streets.

My son can see the stars through the tall barrel of a telescope.
He names the galaxies with the numbers and letters of astronomy.
I cannot see what he sees in the telescope, no matter how many eyes I shut.
I understand a smoking mattress better than the language of galaxies.

My father saw stars. My son sees stars. The earth rolls beneath
our feet. We lurch ahead, and one day we have walked this far.

read more

#环球时报Editorial: No matter how Australia arms itself, it is still a US’ running dog. @globaltimesnews
Law & Politics

#环球时报Editorial: No matter how Australia arms itself, it is still a US’ running dog. 

We advise Canberra not to think that it has the capability to intimidate China if it acquires nuclear-powered submarines and offensive missiles. 

read more

Australia’s defence minister has warned that a war with China cannot be ruled out & Taiwan is most likely flashpoint, after Canberra announced a deal to buy nuclear-powered submarines @thetimes
Law & Politics

Australia’s defence minister has warned that a war with China cannot be ruled out and Taiwan is the most likely flashpoint, after Canberra announced a deal to buy nuclear-powered submarines in an alliance with the UK and US.
Peter Dutton said Australia needed to prepare for the risk of conflict over Taiwan and that it was one of the reasons why it was strengthening defence ties as part of the AUKUS pact. 

China has increased pressure on the island it claims as sacred territory, leading to Taiwan believing it faces a “severe threat” from its neighbour. 

President Xi has said Beijing aims to reunify the island by 2050, using force if necessary.
“The Chinese spokespersons for the Communist Party are very clear about their intention towards Taiwan. Nobody wants to see conflict but that really is a question for the Chinese,” Dutton, 50, told Sky News.
“As to whether, such as in Hong Kong, they decide to do something in regard to Taiwan, in that case what is the American response, and we obviously have an alliance with the US that’s been in force for 70 years — so we need to be realistic about that.
“We’re also a small population of 25 million, and we need to make sure we have the best friends in the world, and we do.”

Dutton’s comments came after Boris Johnson was challenged over fears that new pact could lead to Britain being dragged into war with China. 

Theresa May asked the prime minister in the Commons about the implications of the partnership in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

Johnson did not rule anything out in his response. 

He said: “The United Kingdom remains determined to defend international law and that is the strong advice we would give to our friends across the world, and the strong advice that we would give to the government in Beijing.”
China hit back at the decision by the US to sell nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, calling it “a naked act of nuclear proliferation” that was “contrary to the mission and core obligations” of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty all members had signed.
Wang Qun, the Chinese envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said: “China firmly safeguards the international non-proliferation mechanism and expresses grave concern over the development.

“As nuclear powers, the US and the UK are blatantly helping a non-nuclear power like Australia to develop military nuclear technology. This is a naked act of nuclear proliferation.

“Such an act will have an ill impact on finding solutions to hot issues such as nuclear problems on the Korean peninsula and in Iran.”
For the US and the UK to export highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology to Australia, it 

“once again proves that they adopt a double standard on the issue of nuclear export and use it as a tool of geopolitical competition,” Wang said. “This is an extremely irresponsible act.”
Wang said that China reserved the right to respond. “At the same time we call on the international community to take actions together to stop such dangerous acts,” he said.
Dutton rejected criticism that the new alliance left Australia vulnerable and at greater risk from China. “I think we made that statement 70 years ago . . . we have been with the US and UK in every major battle of the 20th century,” he said.
“And we have a great obligation into the next century to make sure we deepen that collaboration because it is the underpinning of our national security.
“There is no sense in us pretending if we ordered 100 subs tomorrow we could compete with a superpower like China.”
While the opposition Australian Labor Party has supported the new defence pact and the acquisition of nuclear submarines, Paul Keating, its former leader and a former prime minister, has emerged as a trenchant critic.
Keating, 77, who was prime minister between 1991 and 1996, warned the deal to obtain nuclear submarines through the US and the UK compromised Australian sovereignty and locked future Australian governments into conflicts that may be contrary to the nation’s interests.
He said the US could no longer win against China for primacy in the Indo-Pacific region and that its commitments can no longer be trusted following the American withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“If the United States military with all its might could not beat a bunch of Taliban rebels with AK47 rifles in pick-up trucks, what chance would it have in a full blown war against China, not only the biggest state in the world but the commander and occupant of the largest landmass in Asia,” Keating said.
While China was quick to denounce the new Indo-Pacific security alliance it was revealed today that Beijing had simultaneously applied to join a key Asia-Pacific free trade pact.
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) emerged in 2018 from efforts by the US to counter China’s influence. 

It includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam.
Wang Wentao, the Chinese commerce minister, said the world’s second largest economy had submitted its application to join the free trade agreement in a letter to Damien O’Connor, the trade minister of New Zealand.
New Zealand acts as the administrative centre for the pact.
Grant Robertson, the deputy prime minister of New Zealand, denied that the request had been directed to New Zealand because it was regarded as “a soft touch” on China.
Robertson said New Zealand welcomes any countries wanting to join “a high-functioning trade agreement”.
The UK is in the process of joining the agreement.

read more

China's belligerent responses to Australia's policies constituted a start of economic & political war. @Halsrethink
Law & Politics

Australian leadership saw this as a strategic, not tactical threat to their nation and quietly sought US-UK guidance on potential strategic responses, resulting in AUKUS.

read more

There’s a silver lining for France in the US-Australia submarine deal @POLITICOEurope @AntoineBondaz H/T @vtchakarova
Law & Politics

The defense technology alliance between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom is a real blow for France — given Canberra’s decision to cancel a €50 billion submarine deal with the country in favor of American-made nuclear-powered submarines.
But while Paris must seek to limit the damage and prepare for the future — notably by continuing to adapt its strategy in the Indo-Pacific — it would be pointless to add to the crisis by escalating a serious disappointment into a strategic blunder.
It’s politically dangerous for French President Emmanuel Macron, who will face attacks regarding his foreign policy as he seeks reelection next year. And it’s a personal disappointment for all those who had worked on the contract since 2014, including Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Some might now question France’s Indo-Pacific strategy — presented by Macron in Australia in 2018 — but it’s important to note that French interests in the Indo-Pacific region remain unchanged.
France differs from the other European Union countries because it has sovereignty interests in the region. 

More than 1.6 million French citizens live in overseas territories there, and three-quarters of the country’s exclusive economic zone — the second largest in the world — is located there as well. France is not a spectator in the Indo-Pacific, it is a resident power.
Because of that, Australia will remain a key partner in the South Pacific. 

Tensions may spike in the short term, but the strategic partnership between the two countries will endure.
If anything, this crisis should be used as an opportunity to accelerate the necessary adaptation of France’s Indo-Pacific strategy, with the government reassuring its Indian and Japanese strategic partners that its commitment to the region is not in question. 

There’s also a silver lining to this dark cloud. Given Paris’ worries about Beijing’s influence in the region, the government can take comfort in the fact that China is the other big loser in Canberra’s decision.
The regime in Beijing isn’t just worried about the increase in Australia’s military capabilities; it’s also concerned about the precedent the deal creates for other countries that would one day also like to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, such as Canada, Japan or South Korea. 

For China, the pact between Washington, Canberra and London is the realization of a long-standing fear: the multilateralization of American alliances in the region. 

Today, it’s Australia and the United Kingdom. Tomorrow, maybe Japan will join.
France might be bearing the cost of the deal, but it should nonetheless be happy about one thing: China’s argument that the U.S. is losing credibility with its allies has just been contradicted in the Indo-Pacific.

read more

My name is Rokhshana and I am a #Hazara woman from #Afghanishtan. This is my story. @Rokhshana8
Law & Politics

My story is of love and compassion. My story is of history, art, culture, & music. My story is of courage, bravery, & strength.
Not black & white, it's the story of colours. It is #Afghanishtan.

read more

Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Suppression of Vice was the most feared group in Taliban Afghanistan. Now it’s been re-established — in the building which previously housed the ministry of women’s affairs. @JohnSimpsonNews
Law & Politics

From 1996-2001 the ludicrously named Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Suppression of Vice was the most feared group in Taliban Afghanistan. Now it’s been re-established — in the building which previously housed the ministry of women’s affairs.

read more

23-AUG-2021 :: But Holmes was startled. “This virus has gone up three notches in effectively a year and that, I think, was the biggest surprise to me”

But Holmes was startled. “This virus has gone up three notches in effectively a year and that, I think, was the biggest surprise to me”
The 1918–19 influenza pandemic also appears to have caused more serious illness as time went on, says Lone Simonsen, an epidemiologist at Roskilde University who studies past pandemics.

 “Our data from Denmark suggests it was six times deadlier in the second wave.”

read more

Global region COVID19 avg case exponential growth rate (daily/total) @jmlukens

Oceania: 1.29%
North America: 0.36%
Middle East: 0.32%
Asia: 0.23%
Africa: 0.22%
Europe: 0.21%
South America: 0.07%

read more

19-JUL-2021 :: COVID-19

The Virus remains unresolved.

read more

“Many still see Alpha and Delta as being as bad as things are ever going to get,” he says.

“It would be wise to consider them as steps on a possible trajectory that may challenge our public health response further.”

Some dangerous variants may only be possible if the virus hits on a very rare, winning combination of mutations, Eugene Koonin told me. 

“But with all these millions of infected people, it may very well find that combination.” @kakape 

read more

The virus has mutated far more than most experts expected, becoming more contagious and beginning to pose a challenge to the vaccines that are currently available. @derspiegel

With the Delta variant now dominant around the world, one infected person infects six to seven other people without containment measures in place – more than twice as many as were infected by the original wild type of the virus circulating in 2020. 

The vaccines that are currently available still provide good protection against a severe course of the disease, but less protection against infection with the virus than for the previous variants that had been prevalent.

That's just one reason that hopes for herd immunity by this autumn have been dashed. 

The number of intensive care patients in German is once again rising significantly. 

"If we don’t manage to drastically increase vaccinations, the current fourth wave may be devastating," Lothar Wieler, the president of Germany’s center for disease control, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), said last Wednesday.

It could well be that the second pandemic winter will be a difficult one. 

And no one dares to venture a guess at what will come after that. 

What happens next depends not only on vaccination, but also on how the virus might mutate.

Even for leading epidemiologists, like Emma Hodcroft of the University of Bern, making predictions is something of a fool's errand. 

As part of the Nextstrain project, Hodcroft is collecting SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences around the world. 

"I don’t think we understand SARS-CoV-2 well enough to be able to give a definite answer to the question of how the virus might evolve," Hodcroft told DER SPIEGEL. 

"This virus keeps surprising us," agrees Mary Bushman, a mathematician and population biologist at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 

"No one expected such large jumps in contagiousness.”

read more

Nations w/ fastest avg COVID19 case growth rate (daily/total) @jmlukens

Palau: 21.43%
Grenada: 9.58%
Dominica: 3.57%
Brunei: 2.89%
Saint Kitts and Nevis: 2.35%
Australia: 2.34%
Vietnam: 1.88%
Burundi: 1.80%
Benin: 1.71%
Antigua and Barbuda: 1.65%

read more

Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.1714
Dollar Index 93.332
Japan Yen 109.85
Swiss Franc 0.9325
Pound 1.3704
Aussie 0.7233
India Rupee 73.6525
South Korea Won 1187.79
Brazil Real 5.2893
Egypt Pound 15.7099
South Africa Rand 14.84114

read more

09-MAY-2021 The Lotos-eaters
World Of Finance

Consensus View appears to be that the Global economy is going to accelerate big time and that its going to BOOM!  I beg to differ

read more

China's debt bomb is ticking faster and Evergrande is just part of a much bigger problem. @TaviCosta
World Of Finance

In my opinion, the PBOC will be forced to act and a currency devaluation is the next macro development to unfold.

read more

China’s Nightmare Evergrande Scenario Is an Uncontrolled Crash @YahooFinance
World Of Finance

Protests intensify at China Evergrande Group offices across the country as the developer falls further behind on promises to more than 70,000 investors. 

Construction of unfinished properties with enough floor space to cover three-fourths of Manhattan grinds to a halt, leaving more than a million homebuyers in limbo.
Fire sales pummel an already shaky real estate market, squeezing other developers and rippling through a supply chain that accounts for more than a quarter of Chinese economic output. 

Covid-weary consumers retrench even further, and the risk of popular discontent rises during a politically sensitive transition period for President Xi Jinping. 

Credit-market stress spreads from lower-rated property companies to stronger peers and banks. 

Global investors who bought $527 billion of Chinese stocks and bonds in the 15 months through June begin to sell.
While it’s impossible to know for sure what would happen if Beijing allows Evergrande’s downward spiral to continue unabated, China watchers are gaming out worst-case scenarios as they contemplate how much pain the Communist Party is willing to tolerate. 

Pressure to intervene is growing as signs of financial contagion increase.
“As a systemically important developer, an Evergrande bankruptcy would cause problems for the entire property sector,” said Shen Meng, director of Chanson & Co., a Beijing-based boutique investment bank. 

“Debt recovery efforts by creditors would lead to fire sales of assets and hit housing prices. Profit margins across the supply chain would be squeezed. It would also lead to panic selling in capital markets.”
For now, Shen and nearly all of the other bankers, analysts and investors interviewed for this story say Beijing is in no mood for a Lehman moment. 

Rather than allow a chaotic collapse into bankruptcy, they predict regulators will engineer a restructuring of Evergrande’s $300 billion pile of liabilities that keeps systemic risk to a minimum. 

Markets seem to agree: the Shanghai Composite Index is less than 3% from a six-year high and the yuan is trading near the strongest level in three months against the dollar.
Yet a benign outcome is far from assured. Beijing’s bungled stock-market rescue in 2015 showed how difficult it can be for policy makers to control financial outcomes, even in a system where the government runs most of the banks and can exert outsized pressure on creditors, suppliers and other counterparties.
Contagion risk was on full display Thursday. Chinese junk-bond yields jumped to an 18-month high and shares of real estate companies plunged after Evergrande had its credit rating downgraded and requested a trading halt in its onshore bonds. 

Some banks in China appear to be hoarding yuan at the highest cost in almost four years, a sign they may be preparing for what a Mizuho Financial Group Inc. strategist called a “liquidity squeeze in crisis mode.”
Where Xi will ultimately draw the line remains a mystery. While China’s top financial regulator has urged billionaire Evergrande founder Hui Ka Yan to solve his company’s debt problems, authorities have yet to spell out whether the government would allow a major debt restructuring or bankruptcy.

Even senior officials at state-owned banks say privately that they’re still waiting for guidance on a long-term solution from top leaders in Beijing. 

Evergrande’s main banks were told by China’s housing ministry this week that the developer won’t be able to make interest payments due Sept. 20, according to people familiar with the matter.

China’s government isn’t averse to taking over companies from the private sector if needed. 

It seized Baoshang Bank Co. in 2019 and assumed control of HNA Group Co., the once-sprawling conglomerate, in early 2020 after the coronavirus pandemic decimated the company’s main travel business. 

Court-led restructurings have also become more common in recent years, with more than 700 being completed in 2020.
The Evergrande endgame may depend largely on how Xi decides to balance his goals of maintaining social and financial stability against his multi-year campaign to reduce moral hazard. 

The timing is particularly tricky as China juggles an economic slowdown, a sweeping crackdown on the private sector and rising tensions with Washington -- all in the runup to a once-in-five-year leadership reshuffle in 2022 at which Xi is set to extend his indefinite rule.

“The government has to be very, very careful in balancing support for Evergrande,” said Yu Yong, a former China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission regulator and now chief risk officer at China Agriculture Reinsurance Fund.
“Property is the biggest bubble that everyone has been talking about in China,” Yu told Everbright Sun Hung Kai analyst Jonas Short in a recent podcast. 

“So if anything happens, this could clearly cause systematic risk to the whole China economy.”
Here are some of the factors that may sway Chinese leaders:
Social Unrest
Maintaining social order has always been paramount for the Communist Party, which has little tolerance for protests of any kind. 

In Guangzhou, homebuyers surrounded a local housing bureau last week to demand Evergrande restart stalled construction. 

Disgruntled retail investors have gathered at the company’s Shenzhen headquarters for at least three straight days this week, and unconfirmed videos of protests against the developer in other parts of China have been shared widely online.
Evergrande had 1.3 trillion yuan ($202 billion) in presale liabilities at the end of June, equivalent to about 1.4 million individual properties that it has committed to complete, according to a Capital Economics report last week.
“If Evergrande had to dump its inventory onto the market” it would “drag down property prices substantially,” said Hao Hong, chief strategist at Bocom International.
Without a social safety net and with limited places to put their money, Chinese savers have for years been encouraged to buy homes whose prices were only ever supposed to go up. 

Today, real estate accounts for 40% of household assets and buying a house (or two) is a cultural touchstone

While housing affordability has become a hot topic in the West, many Chinese are more likely to protest falling home prices than spiking ones.
“Given that the bulk of people’s wealth is already in property, even a 10% correction would be a serious knock to many people,” said Fraser Howie, an independent analyst and co-author of books on Chinese finance who has been following the country’s corporate sector for decades.

 “It would certainly knock their hopes and dreams and expectations about what property is.”
Another potential flashpoint is whether Evergrande can repay high-yield wealth management products that it sold to thousands of retail investors, including many of its own employees. 

About 40 billion yuan of the WMPs are due to be repaid, according to Caixin, a Chinese financial news service. 

Evergrande is trying to free up cash by selling assets, including stakes in its electric-car and property-management businesses, but has so far made little progress.
Capital Markets
Evergrande is the largest high-yield dollar bond issuer in China, accounting for 16% of outstanding notes, according to Bank of America Corp. analysts. 

Should the company collapse, that alone would push the default rate on the country’s junk dollar bond market to 14% from 3%, they wrote in a note this month.
While Beijing has become more comfortable with allowing weaker businesses to fail, an uncontrolled spike in offshore funding costs would risk derailing a key source of financing. 

It could also undermine global confidence in the country’s issuers at a time when Beijing is pushing for larger foreign investor ownership. 

Yields on China’s junk dollar bonds are nearing 14%, up from about 7.4% in February, according to a Bloomberg index.
The stakes are higher on the mainland, where the credit market is about 15 times the size at $12 trillion. 

While Evergrande is less of a whale onshore, a collapse could force banks to cut their holdings of corporate notes and even freeze money markets -- the very plumbing of China’s financial system. 

In such a credit crunch, the government or central bank would likely be forced to act. 

Banks involved in property lending may come under pressure, leading to an increase in soured loans. 

Smaller banks exposed to Evergrande or other weaker developers may face “significant” increases in non-performing loans in the event of a default, according to Fitch Ratings.
Economic Impact
Concern over Evergrande comes at a time when China’s economy is already slowing. 

Aggressive controls to curb outbreaks of Covid-19 are hurting retail spending and travel, while measures to cool property prices are taking a toll.
Data this week showed home sales by value slumped 20% in August from a year earlier, the biggest drop since the onset of the coronavirus early last year. 

Responding to a question on Evergrande’s potential impact on the economy, National Bureau of Statistics spokesman Fu Linghui said some large property enterprises are running into difficulties and the fallout “remains to be seen.”
China’s current priorities of promoting “common prosperity” and deterring excessive risk-taking mean there’s unlikely to be any easing of property curbs this year, according to Macquarie Group Ltd. 

The sector will be a “main growth headwind” for next year, although policy makers may loosen restrictions to defend growth goals, Macquarie analysts wrote in a Wednesday note.
A correction in China’s property market would not only slow the domestic economy but have global consequences too.
“A significant slowdown in property construction over the next few years appears probable already, and would become even more likely in the event of an Evergrande failure or bankruptcy,” said Logan Wright, a Hong Kong-based director at research firm Rhodium Group LLC. 

“A long-term slowdown in property construction, an industry that represents around a fifth or a quarter of China’s economy by most estimates, would cause a significant decline in GDP growth, commodity demand, and would likely have disinflationary effects globally.”

read more

19 APR 20 :: Tavi Costa tweeted
World Of Finance

1/12 A idealização do sucesso econômico Chinês sempre foi uma grande farsa. Durante a história tivemos diversos exemplos semelhantes de países comunistas que atingiram níveis de dividas internas e externas insustentáveis e que sofreram colapsos marcantes.

1/12 The idealization of Chinese economic success has always been a big scam. Throughout history we have had several similar examples of communist countries that have reached unsustainable levels of internal and external debt and have suffered marked collapses.
2/12 Para elaborar nessa proposição, considere a seguinte reflexão. De acordo com o PIB publicado pelo governo chinês, a China foi responsável por mais de 60% do crescimento econômico global desde 2008.
2/12 To elaborate on this proposition, consider the following reflection. According to GDP published by the Chinese government, China has accounted for more than 60% of global economic growth since 2008.
3/12 Com isso, ela passou a ser, incomparavelmente, a maior importadora de commodities no mundo. Se caso o seu crescimento de PIB tivesse sido tão expressivo, como justificaríamos a queda geral de preços de commodities no mundo?
3/12 As a result, it has become, by far, the largest importer of commodities in the world. If your GDP growth had been so expressive, how would we justify the general drop in commodity prices in the world?
4/12 Curiosamente, esse período marcou uma das piores décadas para esse mercado na história. É incontestável a contradição entre esses números, presumivelmente mais apurados, e os números “criados” pelo próprio governo comunista Chinês.
4/12 Interestingly, this period marked one of the worst decades for this market in history. The contradiction between these numbers, presumably more accurate, and the numbers “created” by the Chinese communist government is undeniable.

read more

You know something is wrong in China when industrial production of steel is at its lowest levels since the Global Financial Crisis. @TaviCosta
World Of Finance

This is much more serious than the meltdown of a massive property developer.
These are the signs of a countrywide debt problem now unravelling.

read more

But consider the implications if true: The crypto universe may be riding on the back of China’s collapsing property developers @TheLastBearSta1
World Of Finance

Again – its certainly possible Tether is buying other Chinese bank or developer CP or making up the CP concept entirely. But consider the implications if true: The crypto universe may be riding on the back of China’s collapsing property developers

read more

How to Get Rich @LRB @LalehKhalili

Anything can be turned into a commodity. Humans and their labour, flora and fauna, livestock and crops. 

The ocean yielded not only pearls and fish but whales, whose oil was used in lamps before a technique was developed to transform petroleum into kerosene. 

Anything extracted from the earth can be commodified. Oil, and all the metals – copper, mercury, lithium – that industrial production and commerce have depended on. 

Commodities from the colonies and the trade in slaves were the lifeblood of early European capitalism. 

Commercial contracts and financial devices became instruments of conquest, colonisation and commodification. 

Futures contracts were themselves turned into abstract commodities. 

By the mid-19th century, futures contracts at the Chicago Board of Trade for grain, timber and meat surpassed cash trades. 

As the historian William Cronon wrote in Nature’s Metropolis (1991), ‘one could buy, sell and settle up price differences without ever worrying about whether anything really existed to back up contracts.’

Traders and merchants have always, willingly or reluctantly, been used as the advance guard for powerful states. 

The World for Sale starts in 2011 with the late Ian Taylor, chief executive of Vitol, on board a private jet, heading to Benghazi in Libya. 

Vitol, the world’s largest oil trading company, had been asked by the government of Qatar to deliver diesel, gasoline and fuel oil to the rebels fighting Gaddafi. 

In lieu of cash payment, Taylor had arranged to receive a shipment of crude at the Egyptian terminus of a pipeline from the Libyan oilfields. 

Naturally, he had secured permission from the British government for the deal, along with a sanctions waiver from the US. 

Vitol was lubricating the war in Libya at the behest of foreign powers, but Taylor claimed his actions were not political. 

This seems to be the mantra of the titans of commodity trading interviewed by Javier Blas and Jack Farchy: 

‘We are just here for the money; we are not doing politics.’ I suppose it all depends on what you take ‘politics’ to mean.

These days, an intermediary role of the sort Marc Rich once took, transporting the oil of one state to the pipelines of another, may not be necessary. 

The oil that flows through the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline is now supplied by a company called Med-Red Land Bridge. Med-Red is a consortium between two Israeli hydrocarbon infrastructure firms and Petromal, a strange little oil services firm based in Abu Dhabi, whose ownership – once one peels back its shell companies – can be traced to two princes from the country’s ruling family. 

Meanwhile, Israel has unilaterally taken over the pipeline and is refusing to pay the $1.1 billion (plus interest) it owes Iran. 

The pipeline itself is a state secret, and a Knesset committee has ruled that anyone leaking information about it may be subject to a prison term of fifteen years.

read more

“Derivatives,” Alvin said. “I don’t speculate about the future, I trade it.” @NewYorker
World Of Finance

And they were cross‑linked and interwoven and resold in large bundles, “future on future,” Alvin said
“Forget about the forces of the free market, my friend. Commodity prices no longer refer to any value, past or present—they’re just ghosts from the future.”

read more

Third Wave of Virus Infections Continues to Rage in Africa @AfricaCDC @bpolitics

Africa remains in the throes of a third wave of coronavirus infections, despite a recent decline in new cases, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control & Prevention.

New infections and deaths fell 14% in the four weeks through Sept. 12, John Nkengasong, the center’s director said in an online briefing on Thursday. 

He estimates that 70% of the population may need to be inoculated to curb the spread of the disease. 
It’s unlikely that Africa has had “a significantly higher number of deaths than has been reported,” Nkengasong said. 

“What we know for sure is that we have an excess number of infections. There are people that have been infected and we didn’t count them.” 

read more

SA should exit the #3rdWave in the coming week if trend continues.. @rid1tweets

• Cases -35%
• Tests -11%
• Test positivity at 9.3%
• Hospitalisations -23%
• Deaths -3%

read more

Enemies of Progress Howard W. French @nybooks @hofrench

“Africa is the only continent which remains within France’s reach, within the range of its means. The only one where she can still, with 500 men, change the course of history.”
Paris’s domino logic pushed it into supporting Jean-Bedel Bokassa, the delusional autocrat who ruled the Central African Republic.
Feeling that France needed the country as a secure base from which to carry out its interventions in Chad, Giscard told Bokassa:
Believe me, Mr. President for Life, my dear relative and friend, that France deeply feels solidarity towards the Central African Republic which has, under your leadership, committed itself to an in-depth effort to promote economic, cultural, and human development.
This unreserved support continued even as Bokassa crowned himself emperor in December 1977 and spent an amount equivalent to the entire French annual aid allocation to the country on a gilded coronation patterned on Napoleon’s.
Habré’s archipelago of prisons and detention centers that bodies were accumulating most rapidly, especially at the most notorious of them, an underground, indoor swimming pool converted into a center of confinement and torture called La Piscine.

Hicks, who was present, recounts that at the start of the trial, Habré had shouted, with no hint of irony, “Down with imperialists. [The trial] is a farce by rotten Senegalese politicians. African traitors. Valet of America.” 

Thomas Sankara was murdered at his office in a carefully planned hit on October 15, 1987. 

Sankara’s successor, his former friend and ally Blaise Compaoré, whose indictment for Sankara’s murder by a military court in Burkina Faso was announced only last April, took over the country and ruled it as an authoritarian strongman for twenty-seven years, usually in close concert with France. 

In August, thirty-four years after the killing, Compaoré was finally put on trial, in absentia, by Burkina Faso for Sankara’s murder.

I decided to try to interview Compaoré, whom I had met at the same time I had gotten to know Sankara. 

By this time, Compaoré had constructed a lavish presidential palace for himself at Ziniaré, some twenty miles from the capital. 

In the spirit of dictatorial overkill all too common in Africa, its expansive grounds included a zoo, with a pet lion that was sometimes promenaded on a chain.

Compaoré remembered me, greeted me inside the gates with an awkward embrace, and insisted that we take a selfie together

He seemed on edge, and had to have known what I had come to ask him. 

We sat in the gardens, and I let the conversation unspool for a few minutes before coming to the point. 

“Did you order the murder of Thomas Sankara?” I asked. After a pause, Compaoré stood up and, looking shocked, declared the interview over.

Sankara’s followers—including at least one political party that reclaims him as its inspiration—nowadays celebrate his memory openly. 

If anything, outside of Burkina Faso his standing as a martyr and inspiration to new generations of African youth has grown even more impressively. 

On a continent that by 2040 will have 60 percent of the world’s people under thirty, most of the celebrations of Sankara are conducted by those with no direct recollection of him.

For me, if there is a lesson to his life, it is one that is best seen in contrast to the Habrés and Débys and Bokassas who litter postindependence African history: Western powers have achieved little good or mostly wreaked grave havoc on this continent by imposing their priorities and picking its leaders.

read more

Alpha #Condé has had his television removed from his private suite because, according to his guards, "He gets angry every time he sees Lieutenant Colonel #Doumbouya on the screen and this affects his health" @TheAfricaReport

Deposed president of #Guinea Alpha #Condé has had his television removed from his private suite because, according to his guards, "He gets angry every time he sees Lieutenant Colonel #Doumbouya on the screen and this affects his health"

read more

Turning to Africa

Democracy has been shredded.
We are getting closer and closer to the Virilian Tipping Point
“The revolutionary contingent attains its ideal form not in the place of production, but in the street''
Political leadership in most cases completely gerontocratic will use violence to cling onto Power but any Early Warning System would be warning a Tsunami is coming

read more

Slick, invisible shadow states infest Africa’s democracies @mailandguardian @thecontinent_ Idayat Hassan

Democracy and development in Africa are under threat from powerful networks that join forces with government politicians to capture political institutions and use them to further their own interests, according to two reports published on World Democracy Day.

The reports from Democracy in Africa and Centre for Democracy and Development-Ghana feature case studies on nine African countries. 

Taken together, they document the existence of broad and well-structured – but often invisible – networks that connect judges, political leaders, businessmen, multinational companies, securocrats, ruling party leaders and their family members. 

Through their privileged access to the state, these individuals misappropriate government resources while using their control of the legislature and the courts to get away with it.
The extent to which democracy has been captured in this way varies across the continent, and is lower in countries that initially developed stronger democratic institutions and have a longer history of placing checks and balances on those in power. 

But where these networks become so strong they come to represent a “shadow state” that holds more power than elected officials, the impact on justice and development is profound.

Take a look at Nigeria. According to a former Supreme Court justice, Kayode Eso, the country features many “billionaire judges”, who made their wealth by accepting bribes to exonerate defendants. 

This allows irresponsible politicians, corrupt businessmen and criminal gangs to go free, generating a culture of impunity.
It then becomes much more difficult to prevent the theft of state resources and deter human rights abuses. 

In turn, this demonstrates one of the biggest challenges generated by the rise of shadow states – their control over the security forces and judiciary enables these networks to overcome resistance to their activities.
Democracy capture is not an African phenomenon, of course – it happens everywhere self-interested elites meet weak institutions – but its impact is particularly devastating on a continent that already suffers from high levels of poverty and inequality. 

Unless shadow states are identified, exposed and challenged, countries such as Nigeria will never fulfil their developmental and democratic potential. ■

read more

Coups are always a bad idea – even the popular ones Problems can’t be solved by pointing a gun at them, however just your cause @thecontinent_ @SolomonADersso

The coup d’état in Guinea earlier this month was just the latest manifestation of a worrying trend: an increase in the frequency of military coups in Africa. 

In 2019, there was one successful seizure of power (Sudan), and another one in 2020 (Mali). So far in 2021 there have been three: Chad, Mali again, and Guinea. 

This has prompted the African Union’s Peace and Security Council to identify the resurgence of “unconstitutional changes of government” as one of Africa’s most pressing security threats.
On the streets of Conakry, there appears to be plenty of support for the coup. 

In Mali and in Sudan too, the ousting of the sitting president by the military was mostly greeted with celebrations by the public. 

But these celebrations are more about the end of the old regime than an expression of support for increased military intervention in politics. 

After all, in almost all cases, the military and other security services are the primary means of enforcement of authoritarian and repressive regimes.

The celebrations in Guinea can be compared directly with the celebrations in Zambia last month. 

In both cases, an unpopular ruler was deposed; but in Zambia the change of power happened through the ballot box rather than at the business end of a semi-automatic rifle. 

Zambians were able to celebrate a political system that is doing what it was designed to do – and the incoming government of President Hakainde Hichilema has enjoyed widespread international support as a result. 

Guinea, on the other hand, has been suspended from regional and international organisations.
Why are coups happening more frequently? Each context is different, of course, but there are a few common trends, the most significant of which is the deepening democratic deficit across the many African countries (and a corresponding decline in effective enforcement of democratic norms by international organisations such as the African Union).
Civil space is narrowing, while activists, opposition groups and independent media face undue restrictions and attacks.
Another symptom of this deficit is the slew of attempts, often successful, of leaders to extend term limits to keep themselves in power. 

Over the past two decades there have been 26 instances in 20 African countries in which constitutional changes led to the relaxation or removal of term limits. 

It is striking how often these attempts by leaders to remain in power spark further social and political unrest – and sometimes prompt a coup.

That’s exactly what happened in Guinea, where Alpha Condé fiddled with the constitution to allow himself to run for a third term. This prompted widespread political unrest, and eventually the military stepped in.
But it should not be up to armies to determine who holds power in any particular country. 

What makes soldiers more qualified to make this call than any other institution in society? It is only their weapons that set them apart. Allowing political problems to be “solved” by the people with the biggest guns is a recipe for disaster.
Why are coups happening more frequently? The most significant trend is the deepening democratic deficit across many African countries, and a corresponding decline in effective enforcement of democratic norms.
The idea of a “good coup” is an oxymoron. The norms established by the African Union are right in rejecting coups in general as unconstitutional, and therefore not deserving of political and legal recognition.
But regional and international bodies can do more when it comes to enforcing these norms.

In the case of Guinea, international actors, including the African Union, should go further than just suspending the country until a transitional government is in place and new elections are convened. 

Experience shows that these measures do not guarantee that further coups will not occur. 

The international response needs to address the deeper issues of the democratic governance deficit. 

A good place to start would be to prevent term limit extensions; encourage less power to be held in the hands of the executive; and segregate the army and the security sector more broadly from politics.

Until these reforms are widespread, it can only be a matter of time before another coup.

read more

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.
The Event is no longer over the Horizon.

read more

The world watches as Abiy loses it — and risks losing Ethiopia, too @WorldPeaceFdtn Responsible Statecraft by ALEX DEWAAL

Out of the headlines, the civil war in Ethiopia rages on. 

Thousands are dying in bloody battles between Tigrayan resistance fighters and the ill-trained recruits that the Ethiopian government is deploying to shore up its shattered army

More than 200 massacre sites have been documented in Tigray, and thousands of women were cruelly raped. There’s a man-made famine. Ethnic hatred whipped up by government propaganda threatens to dismember the country.
These brute facts are obscured by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s bizarre confidence that he is destined to re-create the mythic glory days of the Ethiopian empire and by his loyalists’ aggressive media campaigns. 

The United Nations and African Union have taken the path of least resistance, taking Ethiopia’s diplomatic blandishments at face value. 

The United States has called out Abiy on his deceptions and self-destruction. 

That’s the correct position, but no outside power can save a country whose leader is blithely leading it into disaster.
The war began on the night of November 3-4, 2020, when a political dispute between the Federal Government in Ethiopia, headed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and the Regional National Government in Tigray, headed by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF, turned violent.
The causes of the war are complex and controversial. The two sides quarreled over the rights of states within the federation: the Tigrayans had held an election against the federal government’s decision to postpone elections due to COVID, and each side denounced the other as illegitimate. 

The first shots were fired by the Tigrayans and within days, a well-prepared ground and air attack was launched by a combination of Ethiopian federal troops, militia from the next-door Amhara region, and Eritrean troops to the north. 

Before the month was out, this coalition captured the Tigrayan capital Mekelle, forcing the Tigrayan leadership to flee to mountain redoubts.
For the next seven months, the Ethiopian government repeatedly assured the world that it was on the verge of wiping out the remnants of the TPLF. 

Despite a tight information blackout, disturbing information leaked out about egregious violations of human rights, certainly crimes against humanity. 

Ethiopian and Eritrean troops were branded as war criminals. The atrocities also drove Tigrayans — TPLF and non-TPLF — to unite in armed resistance. The war — with its mounting battlefield casualties — stayed below the media’s radar.
In June, Tigrayan guerrillas turned the military tables on the Ethiopian army, scoring decisive victories and forcing the federal army to abandon most of Tigray, including Mekelle, in disarray. 

The government, however, retained control of Western Tigray, an area bordering Sudan, where ethnic cleansing of Tigrayans continues. The Eritreans withdrew to defensive lines along the international border.
After this rout, Abiy announced a ceasefire but made it clear that he intended to regroup and return by force as soon as possible. 

With good reason, the TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda, who enjoys a reputation for provocative tweets, dismissed the ceasefire announcement as a “sick joke.”  
Most importantly, Abiy continued to use his most potent weapon — starvation. Ethiopia and Eritrea encircle Tigray and enforce a blockade. 

Banks are closed, commercial traffic is stopped, and humanitarian aid is confined to a trickle. 

Over five million people in Tigray need emergency aid — an estimated 4,000 tons per day that would take 100 trucks to transport. 

Since the Tigrayans took back control, a total of just 435 trucks have been allowed in. That’s an average daily ration of about 40 grams, little more than a third of a cup of flour, per person. 

The obstacle isn’t generalized insecurity but a government policy of using starvation against a civilian population — a war crime.
The Regional National Government of Tigray says it is defending Ethiopia’s federal constitution. Adopted in 1995 when the TPLF was in government, that constitution controversially provides for each Ethiopian region to have the right of self-determination up to and including independence. 

This is exactly what Abiy’s vision of a unified Ethiopia seeks to deny. He has become an ultra-nationalist, seeking to resurrect the glory days of the Abyssinian empire.
After recapturing Mekelle, the Tigrayans did not wait for a counterattack. Armed with captured tanks and artillery, they took the offensive while their adversary was in disarray. 

They swept out of Tigray into Afar and Amhara regions, but TPLF leaders haven’t explained their war aims. 

Did they seek to break the blockade and secure roads for aid? 

Did they want to overthrow the government in Addis Ababa? 

And if so, did they want to return the TPLF to power or to form a coalition with insurgents in the south of Ethiopia?
With half his army destroyed and his triumphalist claims punctured, a leader might be expected to panic or flee. Not so Abiy Ahmed

With serene confidence, he proclaimed that he was destined to prevail. He showed visiting diplomats his gleaming refurbished palaces and parks and waved away the Tigrayans as a minority that had blighted the country, insisting that no tears should be shed over their destruction. 

Abiy assures African leaders that he has a plan to win the war and, they add, he truly believes it.
And Abiy has turned up the volume of nationalist-populist rhetoric to maximum. Ethnically charged, often frankly hateful messages that had previously been confined to fringe diaspora groups are now mainstream. 

Abiy describes the TPLF, and Tigrayans in general, as hyenas, cancers, and weeds to be uprooted

Many Ethiopians, especially from the historically dominant Amhara group, are heeding his call for every able-bodied Ethiopian to take up arms to fight for their land against the Tigrayan “traitors” and “terrorists.” They fight with zeal. 

Peasants, students, and urban youth, with just a few weeks’ basic training, charge TDF positions in human wave attacks. 

Sometimes the second wave doesn’t even have guns and have been told to take weapons from the enemy. 

Among them are priests and nuns with crosses and tabots (replicas of the Arc of the Covenant).
This kind of war blurs the line between combatant and civilian and between combat and massacre. 

There are half a dozen reports of TDF killings of villagers, each case trumpeted by Ethiopian media.
The mass attacks are a hemorrhage of young lives and a stark warning of future grievance. But they stalled the TDF advance and bought time for Abiy. 

The Eritrean army has sent armored divisions back into Ethiopia, and the government has been shopping for new equipment including drones (reportedly from Iran, Azerbaijan, and Turkey).
With every setback, Abiy digs in deeper. When his ambassadors failed to convince foreign governments, he eviscerated the diplomatic corps, reducing embassies such as the one in Washington to just the ambassador and a skeleton support staff. 

Abiy reportedly said that diaspora volunteers do a better job of presenting his case than professional diplomats, though he has also hired commercial lobbyists too. 

Ethiopian “twitter lions” engage in social media combat with venom and determination. 

Every independent journalist or human rights advocate faces the online version of a human wave attack — relentless twitter trolling and hate mail.
Intimidation works in tandem with standard diplomatic blandishments. 

In a world beset by crises, Ethiopia is no one’s priority disaster, and so it’s convenient to dilute the frightening realities. 

The default storyline of foreign affairs officials is that the conflict is complicated, the facts aren’t clear, there are no good guys — and the government has given solemn assurances to make things better. 

Such thinking is lazy and demonstrably false — but pervasive.
Foreign leaders who have discussed the war in detail with Abiy and who have examined the grim evidence on the ground don’t buy his story; they think he is delusional and is leading Ethiopia into self-destruction. 

To its credit, the Biden administration is in this camp. Among its few public allies are Ireland, Norway, and the European Union Commission.
Privately, African leaders are terrified that Abiy will drive Ethiopia into state failure, which would in turn deepen instability throughout the Horn of Africa, but they can’t bear to admit that there’s no African solution for this African problem

If Washington announces tough measures, Africans may publicly complain about American bullying but they will be privately thankful. 

Such arm-twisting cannot come quickly enough. Ethiopia’s tragedy may be that the country unravels before its leader’s reputation does.

read more

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.

read more

November 8, 2020 .@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.

read more

February 1st 2021 ‘The genie out of the bottle’ @AfricanBizMag

It’s impossible for the state to manage a guerrilla war up there and at the same time manage to control the rest of the country.

read more

What is clear is that Abiy’s campaign to centralize power in the capital is in tatters.

With many regions seeking more devolution, the conflict threatens the integrity of the state, according to a key Western diplomat, who asked not to be identified citing the sensitivity of the matter.

Abiy’s authority is at serious risk unless he can find a way to force the Tigrayans back. The Nobel peace prize winner has awakened more enemies than just the TPLF.
“We have one thing in common and that is we are fighting the same enemy,” said Kumsa Diriba, the commander-in-chief of the Oromo Liberation Army.

read more

Desolate villages face famine in Madagascar drought @FRANCE24

Nothing to eat, nothing to plant. The last rain in Ifotaka fell in May, for two hours.

Across Madagascar's vast southern tip, drought has transformed fields into dust bowls. More than one million people face famine.
Across tens of thousands of acres, the countryside is desolate. Harvest season begins in October, leaving long, lean weeks before the meagre crops come in.
Some villages are abandoned. In others, people should be working the fields, but instead are languishing at home. There's nothing to reap.
Hunger weighs people down, both in mind and body. They move slowly, and struggle to follow conversation.
"I feel sick, and worried. Every day I wonder what we're going to eat," says Helmine Sija, 60 and a mother of six, in a village called Atoby.
A petite woman with grey hair and a hardened face, Sija tends a boiling pot of cactus in front of her home. She chopped the pricks off with a machete to prepare them for cooking.
It can't really be called food. The concoction has little nutritional value, but it's a popular appetite suppressant, even though it causes stomach aches.
Her three oldest children have left home to look for work in other towns. She's caring for the young ones.
"I want to move somewhere more fertile, where I can farm. But I don't have enough money to leave," she says.

Arzel Jonarson, 47, a former cassava farm worker, now gathers firewood to sell, earning about a 25 US cents a week. Enough to buy one bowl of rice.

In Ankilidoga, an elderly couple and their daughter are making a meal of wild herbs, which they season with salt to cut the bitterness. 

In better times, these were cast off as weeds. But their crops of corn, cassava and sweet potato have failed.
Their village does have a reservoir to collect rain water. No one can remember the last time it was full.
"I haven't received any aid for two months," said Kazy Zorotane, a 30-year-old single mother of four. "That last time, in June, the government gave me some money."
Malnutrition afflicts southern Madagascar regularly. But the current drought is the worst in 40 years, according to the United Nations, which blames climate change for the crisis.
Around the town of Ifotaka, people said the government had brought some rice, beans and oil. But that was in August. Of 500 people designated for financial aid, about 90 received the $26.
Doctors Without Borders has dispatched a mobile clinic to travel from village to village. 

Children clutch at packets of "plumpy", a peanut butter-flavoured paste designed to help the severely malnourished.
Through the waiting crowds, nurses and aides spot the most urgent cases, guiding them to the front of the line. Small children are weighed in a blue bucket.
Measuring tapes are wrapped around their tiny arms, to get an indication of just how acutely malnourished they are.
In Befeno, another village, nine-year-old Zapedisoa came with his grandmother. 

He's sluggish, his eyes look vacant. At 20 kilos (44 pounds), he's showing alarming symptoms, and is given medicine and food supplements.
Satinompeo, a five-year-old with short hair, weighs only 11 kilos. She's severely malnourished, but she's terrified of the doctors. She hangs onto her father's yellow shorts and cries.
Families are sent home with a two-week food supply, based on the number of children in the house.

In Fenoaivo, two sisters and a brother, all retirees, share a home.

"It's been a long time since we grew anything. On good, days, the three of us share a bowl of rice," said Tsafaharie, 69.
At another home in this town, a 45-year-old man holds watch over his father's body.
While it is hard to determine an accurate death toll from hunger, that is why he died in in June, his family say.
"We don't have enough money to buy a (cow) to feed mourners, so we can't have a funeral," Tsihorogne Monja said.

The corpse is in a separate hut, partially covered by a cloth.

"My father was very hungry. He ate too much cactus and tuber bark. That's what killed him. It's like he was poisoned."

read more

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.

One meteorologist remarked that if the theory were correct, one flap of a sea gull's wings would be enough to alter the course of the weather forever. The controversy has not yet been settled, but the most recent evidence seems to favor the sea gulls.

read more

In Madagascar, the Dead Are Dug Up so They Can Party With the Living

Music, food, and love are poured into the Famadihana festival I’m teetering on the roof-edge of a concrete tomb. 

The air is filled with the scent of sweat and rum, and I’m being jostled from all sides by excitable, dancing men, hollering announcements in Malagasy to the surrounding crowd of two or three thousand people.

The crowd waits eagerly, many of them clutching rolled-up straw mats.
They demand the men dig faster, and bring out their dead.
So, you know, basically a typical Friday.
This is Famadihana, or the “Turning of the Bones,” a festival for the dead held in the highlands of Madagascar. 

Every five to seven years, people honor their ancestors by exhuming them from the family tomb and wrapping them in fresh shrouds.

“Eric,” I say, gripping the dusty pink cross on top of the tomb, “did you say this is all one family?”

The importance of ancestors in Madagascar is visible to the naked eye; as we drove across the red earth topped with patches of faded green grass, I noticed tombs made of concrete and granite sitting on hills, watching over villages of tiny houses made of mud, sticks, and straw.

I feel a knock in the back of my head — it’s a freshly wrapped corpse on the shoulders of three men, who laugh and say “Azafady!” (“Sorry!”). Cadavers are being lifted into the air all around us.

I shut the car door and gaze into the rearview mirror, barely able to process what I’ve just seen. Eric starts the engine. 

The wheels puff clouds of dust into the air behind us, obscuring the family of thousands, dancing with their dead under a setting sun.

read more

by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
Login / Register

Forgot your password? Register Now
September 2021

In order to post a comment we require you to be logged in after registering with us and create an online profile.