|Friday 11th of February 2022
The final denouement @hendry_hugh
World Of Finance
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. Paul Tudor-Jones
24 JUN 19 :: Wizard of Oz World.
World Of Finance
This is ‘’Voodoo Economics’’ and just because we have not reached the point when the curtain was lifted in the Wizard of Oz and the Wizard revealed to be ‘’an ordinary conman from Omaha who has been using elaborate magic tricks and props to make himself seem “great and powerful”’’ should not lull us into a false sense of security.
These became known as the halcyon days, when storms do not occur.
Wikipedia has an article on: halcyon days and it reads thus,
From Latin Alcyone, daughter of Aeolus and wife of Ceyx.
When her husband died in a shipwreck, Alcyone threw herself into the sea whereupon the gods transformed them both into halcyon birds (kingfishers).
When Alcyone made her nest on the beach, waves threatened to destroy it. Aeolus restrained his winds and kept them calm during seven days in each year, so she could lay her eggs.
These became known as the “halcyon days,” when storms do not occur. Today, the term is used to denote a past period that is being remembered for being happy and/or successful
A Movie Stoked Political Movements Across the Globe @newlinesmag @McilhaggaSamuel
Law & Politics
An object can have many lives and many uses, including the transformation of the historical and political contexts it enters.
A book, for instance, can be used, over the centuries, for pleasure and for educational purposes before becoming a tool for propaganda and then even its victim: burning in a fire as a consequence of censorship.
One such object, although intangible, that has had a surprising political journey through the events of the latter half of the 20th century is the film “The Battle of Algiers” (1966) by the Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo.
Pontecorvo was active during World War II as a communist partisan in southern France and northern Italy, witnessing great suffering and fighting alongside many in the resistance who would go on to help preserve French colonialism in Algeria.
Indeed, Pontecorvo’s experiences during the war led him to obsessively revisit the same themes — violence, politics, torture, morality and power — creating several films on insurgency including “Burn” (1969), which explores a Caribbean slave revolt, and “Operación Ogro” (1979), a retelling of the bombing campaign of the Basque separatist group ETA.
However, Pontecorvo’s 13th film, “The Battle of Algiers,” unlike his other efforts, has retained a large influence.
Banned in France for a decade, it has shaped the politics of anticolonial movements, the American and European New Left of the 1960s and 1970s and counterinsurgency discussions generated by the War on Terror.
Indeed, many articles, across magazines, journals and websites, claim “The Battle of Algiers” was a major influence on the Black Panthers, the IRA and the Pentagon’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The aim is to try to chart the film’s afterlife and dig into these often-repeated claims about its use as an insurgent and counterinsurgent instruction manual.
The film retells the history of an urban conflict between the FLN (National Liberation Front) militants and a French contingent of paratroopers led by Gen. Jacques Massu.
The battle was waged in the tight alleyways and streets of the medieval casbah and involved violence against citizens: It lasted a year, from 1956 to 1957.
While the French forces won the battle, they would go on to lose the political war, with Algeria gaining its independence in 1962.
The urban insurgency was led by Ali la Pointe, who died in the conflict, and Yacef Saadi, who died last September.
Saadi would go on to publish a book, “Souvenirs de la Bataille d’Alger” (1962), about his experiences before starring as himself in Pontecorvo’s film and becoming an Algerian senator.
Pontecorvo took Saadi’s writings and transformed them into a work of cinéma vérité inspired by the neorealism of Rossellini’s “Rome Open City” (1950).
The film was shot on black-and-white newsreel film. Surviving FLN commanders were invited to play themselves. Many from the city’s population were drafted as extras and untrained actors.
Almost immediately, Pontecorvo’s directorial efforts suddenly collided with political reality, setting a precedent that would shape the perception of the film up to the present day.
The start of filming coincided with Col. Houari Boumediene’s 1965 coup against President Ahmed Ben Bella.
The coincidence of the two events led to widespread confusion about what was fact and what was fiction, what was part of the coup and what part of the film.
“The presence of enormous tanks in the center of town on June 19 was thought to be décor for the film,” notes Elaine Mokhtefi, an American translator, journalist and radical activist who lived in Algiers from 1962 to 1974 and took part in the movie
. “I remember driving through the center of town, where the Grand Poste is located, and noticing the tanks. … I remember thinking that there was much less traffic than usual.”
Mokhtefi, who at the time was working for the Algérie Presse Service, the Algerian government’s official national press office, was asked to play herself, a foreign journalist, during the famous press conference scene where French Col. Philippe Mathieu justifies torture by arguing that if France was to stay in Algeria, then “you must accept all the consequences.”
“The offices of Algérie Presse Service were located in the small streets leading to the casbah. They were in the same neighborhood as the offices Pontocorvo was using for his film,” Mokhtefi told me,
adding that “a few days later, someone appeared in the press room and announced that there was a film shoot … and that they needed volunteers for the day. I shot up my hand. … It was an amazing day.”
She recalls that Pontecorvo was instantly recognizable as an auteur in complete control of his project.
He “stood all day long on a box set up in one corner facing the journalists in the room. He … was on a higher level and looked over us. [Pontecorovo] not only took in everything, but he also gave orders for everything and everyone, the dialogue, the cameras, timing, the actors, even the food and its distribution. It was an extraordinary performance.”
Mokhtefi was not just a journalist but also an influential activist within New Left circles in America.
During the late 1960s, she was instrumental in setting up and aiding the Black Panther Party (BPP) chapter in Algiers in 1970.
The Panthers had started migrating to revolutionary Algeria after Eldridge Cleaver, an early BPP leader, had fled to Havana and then Algiers after being charged with ambush and murder in the U.S.
“I was informed of his being in Algiers by the representative of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union, Charles Chikerema,” Mokhtefi tells me.
“I visited Cleaver at his hotel and then alerted the authorities. He was immediately granted asylum and other Panthers, on the run or not, started arriving. The regime was very open to liberation movements and to backing them.”
The film already had some influence in America by this point. In 1967, Newsweek reported that at a showing on Manhattan’s East Side, directly after the Newark riots of that summer, “many young Negroes cheered or laughed knowingly at each terrorist attack on the French as if ‘The Battle of Algiers’ were a textbook and a prophecy of urban guerrilla warfare to come.”
In 1969, 13 Black Panther activists, including Lumumba and Afeni Shakur, the stepfather and mother of the rapper Tupac Shakur, were arraigned on charges accusing them of planning armed attacks on police stations.
During the trial, an undercover detective testified that Lumumba had told him that the movie was required viewing for activists.
In 1970, the New York Times reported that the film was used as evidence by prosecuting attorney Joseph A. Phillips to convince the jury of the Panthers’ revolutionary intent.
The reporter noted that “twice during the movie, when French authorities offered a rebel a ‘fair trial’ if he would cooperate with them, there were snickers from the defense table and from the audience.”
In 1970 Mokhtefi screened the film herself for several leading Black Panthers and New Left figures in Algiers:
“I asked the Algerian FLN (National Liberation Front) office in charge of liberation movements to organize a screening of the film ‘The Battle of Algiers’ for the Black Panthers. … The FLN personnel set up a screen and projector in their offices.”
Mokhtefi recalls that “at the showing were Eldridge Cleaver, his wife Kathleen, Stew Albert and Judy Gumbo of the Youth International Party and perhaps Sekou Odinga, Larry Mack, Don Cox, Pete O’Neil. Eldridge was sitting next to me. … I think they were all impressed both with the film and with the fact that they were seeing it in the city of Algiers. They probably learned a measurable amount about their host country from that film.”
She argues that the movie’s legacy “is quite extraordinary” because “the film has been considered so close to reality that it has become reality.”
Indeed, the movie would find its way into a new political reality during the 1970s and 1980s, during the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
The casbah, desert heat, and mosques of Algiers would be translated into car bombs,
Protestant and Catholic churches, cold weather, and the closed-off working-class ethnic communities of Belfast, Derry and Omagh.
I talked to Danny Morrison, a former volunteer in the Provisional IRA who was interned in the British Long Kesh prison before becoming editor of An Phoblacht (The Republic) and a publicity director for Sinn Fein.
Morrison embraced third-world internationalism while interned in Long Kesh reading Franz Fanon’s “Black Skin, White Masks” (1952) and much of Albert Memmi’s work.
He adds that “when I was interned, in 1972, in the library in Cage 2 in Long Kesh Detention Centre were books on struggles in South America, and there was a famous book, which a friend of mine gave me, about the Battle of Algiers.”
It seems likely that this book was Saadi’s “Souvenirs de la Bataille d’Alger.” At the time, Morrison saw Algeria and Ireland as comparable:
“What happened in Algeria and the parallels between the North of Ireland were clear in terms of the Pieds-Noirs [French settlers] and the Protestant plantation.”
Although he adds the caveat that “it was easier for the Pieds-Noirs to withdraw to France. It would be impossible for people here who claim a plantation heritage to go back, because they’re here; this is their home.”
Morrison, after being released from internment, was introduced to the movie in 1974 by Liz Curtis and Alistair Renwick of the Troops Out Movement.
Morrison, along with others in the republican movement, organized a series of screenings at social clubs in Belfast.
“We got the film, and it was on reel-to-reel and we showed it in a variety of clubs in Belfast including the Marty Forsythe Club, which was named after an IRA volunteer who was shot dead on an IRA operation in October 1971,” Morrison told me.
“Our audience was working-class,” Morrison adds. “The audience that watched it in the Marty Forsythe Club … were people who experienced high unemployment, poor housing, lack of investment, sectarian discrimination, and who had family who were in jail [throughout the 20th century]. They could identify with figures like Ali La Pointe. His death was a martyr’s death to those around him.”
Across the city, in the richer quarters surrounding Queen’s University in Belfast, stands the Queens Film Theatre (QFT), a local arthouse institution.
Sam Manning, a film historian, told me that in 1971, “the cinema intended to show the film but then later withdrew it from the program given the escalating violence at that time.”
However, the QFT did manage to screen the movie in 1975.
“I have no memory of the film being shown in mainstream theaters,” Morrison says. The movie was probably a curiosity at the QFT in 1975.
However, in the working-class areas of West Belfast and the Short Strand, it was a “contribution to an understanding of struggle, of foreign power, the nature of conflict, how conflict can degenerate,” says Morrison.
The lessons of the Troubles, refracted through the film in terms of both insurgency and counterinsurgency, would be directly translated into the defining conflicts of the 21st century, including the War on Terror, the war in Iraq and the ongoing Israel-Palestine situation.
“The tactics used by the IDF in the Second Intifada were identical to what the British military used in Northern Ireland. The IDF did, in the West Bank, exactly what the British Army did regularly in Belfast and Derry. … ‘The Battle of Algiers’ would speak to this,” says Bruce Hoffman, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who served with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in 2004.
Hoffman penned an article in 2002 just before the start of the war in Iraq in The Atlantic urging American defense specialists to watch the movie, which he regularly showed to international relations undergraduates at the University of St Andrews to help them understand the ethical implications of antiterrorism intelligence-gathering.
“I think [the article] started it. I have no empirical proof, but I suspect it did because no one was really talking about ‘The Battle of Algiers’ at that point,” Hoffman says.
“Then Henry Kissinger recommended to President Bush that he meet with Alistair Horne, who wrote ‘A Savage War of Peace,’ which is the standard history [of the Algerian War of Independence].
So Algeria in the 2003 and 2004 timeframe was being thought about a lot, and that was because the situation was not going well in Iraq.”
While this was happening, an anonymous individual organized a screening of “The Battle of Algiers” at the Pentagon with a playbill describing the film as a lesson about how “to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas. … Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range. Women plant bombs in cafés. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar?”
The influence of Pontecorvo’s film would soon find its way out of the halls of the Pentagon, influencing junior officers serving in Iraq.
For instance, in an email released by the Pentagon, Roger Beaumont, a military historian and former military policeman in Iraq, describes how the treatment of internees reminded him that “reportedly they showed ‘The Battle of Algiers’ in defense circles before the Iraq war to sensitize them to these very pitfalls. Did they use it as a training film?”
A few years later, as Wikileaks has revealed, defense analysts at global intelligence firm Stratfor were recommending the movie as a source that was “surprisingly open about the terrorist tactics used by the FLN.”
Hoffman tells me that he showed the film in counterinsurgency circles because “it speaks to people on a very practical level. So you could use it for training and understanding the enemy. But also, it’s profoundly philosophical about the nature of this kind of warfare.”
He adds that he was “in discussions lots of times with people about [the film], because of basically [wanting to] avoid the same mistakes of the Battle of Algiers when you win militarily and lose politically.”
Hoffman immediately saw the relevance of the movie as a tool for counterinsurgency training when he arrived in Iraq to an unprepared army.
“The U.S. was starting from scratch,” he said. “It was completely ahistorical about insurgency … I thought to myself in meetings, and I was in meetings with Ambassador Paul Bremer, that they must have tried all the standard counterinsurgency tactics and they didn’t work and that’s why they’re going back to these older tactics that clearly hadn’t worked. …
Only after I was there for a while did I learn [that] no, they didn’t try any of the standard counterinsurgency techniques.”
In 2006, just after the Second Intifada, Hoffman screened “The Battle of Algiers” for IDF colonels at the Israeli National Defense College.
He told me that “several of them had been battalion commanders in operations Determined Path and Determined Way, during the Second Intifada. There were IDF incursions into Jenin and Nablus. Both of these towns have casbahs. [The IDF officers’] reaction was amazing.
They thought it was like a documentary. They said that ‘you could pick up the casbah in Algiers and just plunk it down as the old cities in either Nablus or Jenin.’ They said it was exactly what they were experiencing.”
How the film will inform, educate and inspire future conflicts and protest movements is an unanswered question.
However, its future relevance is almost guaranteed, perhaps as an “exemplar of postwar postmodern insurgency” as Hoffman claims or as an object to “be studied … [that] will inspire, will be emulated by those seeking freedom and justice,” as Mokhtefi tells me, adding: “What could we wish for more, in a world where injustice of all sorts is rampant?”
The follies of US, UK in Russia-Ukraine conflict @asiatimesonline
Law & Politics
The warning by the US that Russia could invade Ukraine sounds like a repeat of the warmongering rhetoric used previously by George W Bush’s administration to oust Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi from power over unsubstantiated allegations that they were in possession of weapons of mass destruction.
To avoid being drawn into another US-led war or being used as a political pawn by the US, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called a press conference on January 29 to state that his country’s current problems “came from the West rather than the East” and accuse the media of causing panic and creating misinformation.
He said destabilization inside the country was the real threat, and not Russia, and this pointed to the challenges the central government faced in keeping the various regions within Ukraine together as a unified republic.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also stepped up to question the US assessment of the “threat” posed by Russia, by urging people not to believe the “apocalyptic predictions,” and stressed that Ukraine has a strong army and unprecedented international support.
Simply put, Ukraine is struggling to address the growing concerns over separatists while the US and UK are looking to exact some advantages out of the situation.
Still, that does not explain why the US and its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are so eager to be pushing for another war by rushing troops into the region when the US has only recently pulled out of a 20-year war in Afghanistan, and not having won any war decisively since World War II.
Somehow in the latest conflict, the US, UK and NATO have chosen to ignore that prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there were several security assurances and memoranda provided by the superpowers involved, including the US, UK, France and Germany, to ensure that NATO would not expand eastward toward Russia or Ukraine, or act in a manner that might threaten or impair their security interests as sovereign nations.
As Russia is currently supplying more than a third of Europe’s natural gas, energy-hungry countries in the European Union have vested interests in seeking closer relationships with Ukraine and having it in NATO or the EU, which makes a lot of economic and security sense to those nations.
For the US, its vested interest lies more in using Ukraine as a political pawn to ensure that Russia, its old Cold War antagonist, will not become too economically successful like China to threaten its global leadership.
Saddled with a $30 trillion gross national debt, the US does not have many financial options in challenging the Chinese on a dollar-for-dollar basis and needs to use its limited financial resources strategically if it wants to close the economic gap with China.
However, its latest involvement in the Ukraine conflict is not making any strategic sense, since any escalation of the crisis will drive up oil prices, which will inevitably cause an increase in inflation globally that is detrimental to US fiscal health when its overall cost of borrowing gets compounded.
With President Joe Biden suffering from a drop in approval ratings after just a year in office, it is understandable that his administration is desperately trying to find ways to shore up his popularity, but rallying for another war is like shooting itself in its foot.
The truth is that US foreign policy is broken and its obsession with trying to contain China using its old Cold War mentality is only going to hasten its own downfall as the world’s global superpower, and will drive many of its allies into the arms of the Chinese.
To “build back better,” the US needs to return to its roots that made it superior, and that lies in its ability to imagine and pursue technological innovations instead of wars and deceptions.
To stay relevant, the US must start to reinvent itself, and its first priority is to fix its broken foreign policy in order to ensure the proper reallocation of its dwindling resources by investing in its people and its infrastructure, instead of its destructive defense sector.
In pushing for war, the US risks being caught flat-footed should both the Russian and the Chinese start their own offensives concurrently, and should therefore act with more restraint by avoiding the use of war or military intervention as its first course of action.
But the Biden administration can take comfort that his approval rating is still much higher than that of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose rating fell to a pathetic 24% in recent days.
With his political opponents calling for his resignation over the “Partygate” scandal, it is understandable that Johnson is a much more desperate man looking for just about any detraction.
Instead of working with the EU on the many unresolved border, trade and investment issues over Brexit, it is a surprise that leaders in the EU actually allow him to meddle with the affairs of the Ukrainians.
After Brexit, the UK is trying to pivot itself as a secondary superpower, but with Johnson meddling in the affairs of countries in crisis instead of helping to bring the UK beyond Brexit, its economy will continue to deteriorate, and this will bring greater hardship to its people and businesses.
As such, it is unlikely that politicians in the UK, even those in his own party, will tolerate for much longer his mischief and may boot him out of office in the coming weeks.
Setting aside the UK, no country in Europe wants the Ukraine conflict to escalate into a war, as that would mean Russia is forced to turn off the supply of natural gas, which would in turn cause many families in Europe to suffer needlessly from the cold of winter.
While Russia and Ukraine are no angels in this conflict, the way forward to de-escalate it is for all stakeholders to address the valid concerns of the Russians and the Ukrainians, and find an amicable solution for their peaceful co-existence so that the peace and security in the region will not be threatened by any expansionary aspiration of NATO or any country seeking to exploit resources out of the Ukrainian Republic.
In the short term, all parties can co-exist peacefully, and staying in constant dialogue is also vital for the region when Ukraine formally applies to join the EU in 2024.
If only the US had taken the initiative to act as the powerbroker in this conflict and assert its influence more strategically, this conflict could have been a great opportunity for the US to show its relevance as the world’s superpower and open up many opportunities for its businesses in the region.
.@WHO Weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 - 8 February 2022
Globally, during the week of 31 January to 6 February 2022,
number of new COVID-19 cases decreased by 17% as compared to the number reported during the previous week, while the number of new deaths increased by 7%At the country level, the highest numbers of new cases were reported from
United States of America (1 874 006 new cases; a 50% decrease)
France (1 738 189 new cases; a 26% decrease)
Germany (1 285 375 new cases; a 22% increase)
Brazil (1 241 025 new cases; similar to the previous week’s figures)
India (1 095 616 new cases; a 41% decrease).
The highest number of new deaths were reported from
United States of America (14 090 new deaths; a 15% decrease)
India (7888 new deaths; a 69% increase)
Russian Federation (4686 new deaths; similar to the previous week’s figures)
Brazil (4610 new deaths; an 39% increase)
Mexico (2910 new deaths; a 48% increase).
29-NOV-2021 :: #Omicron Regime Change
The Invisible Microbe has metastasized into Omicron and what we know is that COVID-19 far from becoming less virulent has become more virulent.
The transmissibility of #Omicron is not in question, it clearly has a spectacular advantage.
The Open Question is whether it is more virulent. If it is less virulent then #Omicron is breaking the Trend of increasing virulence.
Sub Saharan Africa
The African Region reported over 98 000 new cases, a 22% decrease as compared to the previous week.
This follows the declining trend observed since early January 2022.
Despite this, two countries still reported increases in new cases of over 20%; Comoros (101 vs 34 new cases, a 197% increase) and Guinea (250 vs 155 new cases; a 61% increase).
The highest numbers of new cases were reported from
Réunion (45 474 new cases; 5079.1 new cases per 100 000 population; similar to the previous week’s figures)
South Africa (20 580 new cases; 34.7 new cases per 100 000; a 7% decrease)
Algeria (8288 new cases; 18.9 new cases per 100 000; a 44% decrease).
This week, over 1400 new deaths were reported in the Region, corresponding to a 14% decrease as compared to the previous week.
The highest numbers of new deaths were reported from
South Africa (912 new deaths; 1.5 new deaths per 100 000 population; an 8% increase)
Algeria (85 new deaths; <1 new death per 100 000; a 15% increase)
Uganda (34 new deaths; <1 new death per 100 000; a 31% decrease).
Angola outpaces Ghana in pandemic reversal of fortune @Reuters @rachelmsavage & @KarinStrohecker
After an initial hit from the global market impact of COVID-19, oil price-dependent Angola’s fortunes have reversed, turning the tables on Africa’s perennial investor darling Ghana.
Angola has ploughed ahead with ambitious reforms, spurred by sovereign credit rating downgrades and tumbling bonds early in the pandemic, earning rating upgrades in recent months and placing its bonds among Africa’s top performers.
But over the same period, Ghana has seen investor confidence wane, its credit ratings deteriorate and its bonds hammered.
“It’s been evident from the middle of last year that ... the sentiment towards Ghana from investors has turned,” said Yvonne Mhango, sub-Saharan Africa economist at Renaissance Capital.
Last week Ghana's credit rating was cut here to very high risk by Moody's, prompting a furious response here from its finance ministry to the move, which placed it in the C ratings category with countries such as Ethiopia, Zambia and Mozambique.
However, not everyone shares Moody’s gloomy outlook as on the same day as its downgrade, S&P Global Ratings reaffirmed Ghana’s B- rating with a stable outlook.
That puts Ghana on the same S&P rating as Angola, which was last week upgraded to “B-” from “CCC+”, following Fitch in January and Moody’s in September.
“Positivity in Angola’s case is because they have stuck through their fiscal consolidation programme even through the pandemic,” Renaissance Capital’s Mhango told Reuters.
S&P noted that the Angolan government’s debt-to-GDP ratio was poised to shrink from 131% in 2020 to 68.5% this year thanks to a stronger currency and higher oil prices.
Since yields hit around 30% in March 2020 amid a pandemic-induced market rout, Angola’s bonds have outperformed indices tracking sovereign B-rated debt, Refinitiv data shows.
Angola's finance minister Vera Daves de Sousa told Reuters in January that it is planning a return here to international capital markets this year, looking to cover part of its $4 billion external funding needs through bond sales.
Kevin Daly, an emerging market debt investor at abrdn, which owns Angola’s 2029, 2048 and 2049 bonds, said a new issue of 10 or 15-year bonds would be oversubscribed.
“You’ll see demand anywhere between two to three times.”
Ghana, meanwhile, is in a “race against time” to reduce its fiscal deficit, abrdn’s Daly said.
Many analysts fear a debt crisis here, given the government's struggle with a double-digit fiscal deficit and high inflation, a lack of market access and what some say are unrealistic revenue forecasts and insufficient spending cuts.
Ghana is effectively shut out of financial markets, with yields on its international bonds above 10% since the fourth quarter of 2021 and now at 13%.
Its local 10-year sovereign bonds yield nearly 22% and its debt prices fell across the curve after Moody’s cut Ghana’s rating from B3 to CAA1.
In a statement on Sunday, Ghana’s finance ministry said it had appealed against the Moody’s downgrade and said the rating agency’s concerns were largely addressed by fiscal consolidation measures outlined recently in its 2022 budget “anchored on debt sustainability and a positive primary balance.”
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast in October that Ghana’s debt-to-gross domestic product ratio will hit 84.9% in 2022, rising from an estimated 83.5% in 2021.
And Ghana’s 2022 budget, which was signed off in November, showed temporary spending measures in response to COVID-19 seemed to have morphed into permanent ones, Ray Jian at Amundi, Europe’s largest asset manager, said.
“(They) continue projecting quite a high deficit number again, with adjustment only promised well into the future,” he said, adding: “That’s what lost the confidence of the market.”
For those sticking to investments in Ghana over Angola, however, some say it may just be a question of waiting.
“Ghana has a much more diversified revenue base and doesn’t face immediate pressures with external debt service payments,” said Razia Khan, chief economist for Africa and the Middle East at Standard Chartered, comparing it to Angola.
Fitch calculates that Ghana’s sovereign external interest and debt payments amount to $2.7 billion this year, while it puts Angola’s at $5.6 billion.
“There’s no basis for thinking Ghana wouldn’t have the space to just muddle through,” Khan added.
Fragile Five Indebted Africa Nations Red-Flagged by Top Lender @economics
Five key African economies will face debt risks over the next two years, according to the continent’s biggest bank, as an era of extraordinary pandemic-induced stimulus and relief for poor nations draws to an end.
“Debt sustainability now requires sharper focus,” Jibran Qureishi, head of African research at Standard Bank Group Ltd., said in an interview with Bloomberg News.
The Johannesburg-based lender named Ghana, Kenya, Angola, Ethiopia and Zambia as the “fragile five” of 18 countries covered in a recent report, and highlighted Uganda as among the continent’s brightest stars in 2022.
Ghana probably needs an International Monetary Fund package to restore confidence in investors, Qureishi said.
Holding the West African nation’s debt currently demands a premium over U.S. treasuries of more than 1,000 basis points, a level considered distressed.
Lenders see a re-financing in the Eurobond market to be unviable when the U.S. Federal Reserve increases interest rates and if Ghana’s budget targets prove elusive.
With China more cautious about lending to African nations, the IMF is Ghana’s main hope if the country can’t improve its fiscal position, the analyst said.
Stabilizing public finances may prove difficult given the government’s “overly ambitious” revenue estimates, while efforts to cut spending could face hurdles with public-sector wages and debt-service costs accounting for more than half of expenditure, he said.
Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta and minister of state at the finance ministry, Charles Adu Boahen, did not pick calls and text messages to their mobile phones seeking comments.
While Kenya is still able to refinance its debt and is considering a $1 billion Eurobond in the first half of the year, political risks linked to elections planned for August could delay efforts to rein in borrowings and narrow the budget deficit.
East Africa’s largest economy has accumulated debt, including a high concentration of commercial loans, meaning servicing costs now stand at 35% of foreign-exchange reserves and 43% of tax revenue, according to Standard Bank.
Kenya falls into the same bracket as Ghana from a fiscal perspective, said Qureishi.
The main difference is an IMF program that Kenya secured last year.
Angola was a major beneficiary of the G-20 nations’ Debt Service Suspension Initiative during the pandemic, allowing the crude-rich nation to delay almost $3 billion of payments last year.
But with an IMF program drawing to an end, uncertainty about further bilateral debt talks and weak investments in the oil sector that could curb production, Qureishi advises caution.
Still, Angola has the potential for credit-rating upgrades in 2022 if things go well, according to Standard Bank.
While Ethiopia’s debt may appear sustainable due to the relatively low proportion of loans held by commercial lenders, foreign-exchange shortages exacerbated by the pandemic and a protracted civil conflict mean it has to “reprofile” for that to hold water, according to the bank.
“Ethiopia is on the brink” of a potential default, said Qureishi.
Africa’s second-most populous country plans to reorganize borrowings under the G-20’s so-called Common Framework, a move that’s likely to hamper lending by foreigners and mean disbursements under an IMF program will only be reinstated when progress is made, he said.
Low foreign-exchange reserves, last reported at $2.3 billion in May, remain a concern, he said.
Zambia became the continent’s first pandemic-era defaulter in 2020. It’s since secured staff-level agreement for a $1.4 billion IMF facility that’s partly subject to progress on debt restructuring under the Common Framework.
Advances may however be limited as the role of China, the southern African nation’s largest external creditor, remains unclear, Qureishi said.
It’s not all gloom and doom: Uganda’s economy is expected to boom after its government lifted harsh Covid-19 restrictions.
Significant investments in oil and the construction of a pipeline that will turn the landlocked East African nation into a significant crude exporter are expected to bolster output, according to Qureishi.
9 DEC 19 :: Time to Big Up the Dosage of Quaaludes
and life was hunky-dory and so peachy
Quaaludes [Quaaludes ‘’to promote relaxation, sleepiness and sometimes a feeling of euphoria. It causes a drop in blood pressure and slows the pulse rate.
These properties are the reason why it was initially thought to be a useful sedative and anxiolytic It became a recreational drug due to its euphoric effect’’].
Why countries should restructure debts sooner rather than later @FinancialTimes @simonh_dk
The writer is portfolio manager at Sampension and a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics.
Despite a recovery in the global economy from the pandemic, many developing countries are approaching a default on their debts. The lessons from history is that they should not delay a decision to default for too long.
The reasons why countries postpone a decision are understandable. Finance ministers fear for their jobs, bankers and lawyers talk about lost credibility, and surely markets will not forget the next time a country wants to borrow money. At least that seems to be conventional wisdom.
The cost of a sovereign default can be significant, but depends crucially on how and why it occurs.
In a “hard” (or unilateral) debt default, where the country is unwilling or unable to pay, economic growth can, and often does, deteriorate.
The risk of knock-on effects from the currency or banking system in these situations is high.
But many sovereign defaults are negotiated (so-called soft defaults), where the economic costs are often far smaller.
Recently, Ecuador and Belize undertook successful sovereign debt restructurings, where market access was restored after a debt restructuring.
The political consequence of a default can be significant, but it does no good to delay the inevitable.
In fact, continued repayment of unsustainable debts has far bigger political risks.
If countries pretend that they will pay back their debt, a much more likely outcome is that they burn precious cash reserves which make an eventual restructuring harder.
Such repayment favours certain creditors over others and makes it more difficult to reach an equitable agreement later.
Fewer cash reserves inevitably mean creditors must accept a higher haircut on their claims, which leads to higher interest rates in subsequent years.
A serial defaulter, such as Argentina, has a harder time issuing new debt, but that is to a large extent because of its structural economic problems, failed bailouts and unwillingness to write down debt.
The main problem is an inability to generate exports — a failing Argentina shares with many other countries, and something that is not addressed in the outline of its pending deal to restructure $44.5bn of IMF debts arising from a 2018 bailout.
Recent IMF programmes in Kenya, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Ecuador all assume export growth that is way above historical trends.
These optimistic assumptions have not materialised. If countries do not possess enough income from exports, it is difficult to service increasingly large debt burdens — burdens that are large enough to cause structural problems in many parts of the developing world.
The G20 Common Framework for debt treatments offered a way to pause payments and bring together official creditors and debtors, but lacked an enforcement mechanism to get private creditors on board. It was only a small step in the right direction.
The desire to keep up with interest payments in the hope of an economic miracle is powerful, but enforcing debt contracts is not without risk because money that goes to debt service cannot be used for productive domestic investments.
We see this in periods after wars. Victors have often imposed large war reparations on the losing country, which were repaid at high economic and political costs.
Many countries’ bonds trade at levels which indicate a high likelihood of a sovereign debt restructuring — Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Lebanon, Ethiopia, Zambia, El Salvador and Argentina are cases in point.
All of these have had some form of contact with bondholders, bilateral creditors, or the IMF.
Each country has its own economic problems, but they share a lack of hard currency exports that is commensurate to their debt burden.
More countries are likely to join the list if the US Federal Reserve tightens monetary policy as expected, China slows down, or global trade contracts.
Much of the world needs capital to finance green investments. But the debt should be sustainable and not leave countries scrambling from one coupon payment to the next.
The restructuring of Belize’s sovereign debt showed that there is room for creativity and win-win deals.
It boosted the debt sustainability of the country while creditors walked away with an acceptable deal with parts of the proceeds going to sustainable projects.
It does no good for anyone to assume that everyone can export their way out of trouble.
The current structural economic problems need to be addressed, but not by forcing repayment of clearly unsustainable debt burdens.
Archipelago Zanzibar Has $2 Billion Plan to Move Beyond Tourism @bpolitics
Zanzibar is touting a $2-billion plan to entice shipping, explore for oil and process seaweed as it seeks to expand beyond tourism that makes up more than a quarter of its economy.
The five-year blueprint proposes developing an oil and gas industry alongside efforts to boost its “blue” economy, Hussein Mwinyi, president of Tanzania’s semi-autonomous archipelago, said in an interview.
The government will hire an adviser for the financing and debt needed to fund almost two dozen wide-ranging projects estimated at 5.5 trillion shillings ($2.4 billion), he said.
The Indian Ocean islands are seeking new sources of income and to reduce dependency on the mainland for provisions, including power.
It wants to encourage fishing and better use of the seaweed that’s exported for use in food and beauty products, with a renewed push for diversification coming after global Covid-19 restrictions caused travelers to stay away from its tropical beaches and resorts.
“We need to capitalize on oil and gas,” Mwinyi said from his office in Zanzibar City, the capital of the island state of 1.6 million people.
Zanzibar has commissioned the collection of data to help attract investment, he said.
The move will boost access to electricity, currently delivered through undersea transmission lines.
Talks about building as much as 180 megawatts of renewable and possibly gas generation have started, according to the president.
It’s also looking to promote its position off Africa’s east coast to create a shipping hub where cargoes can be offloaded and rerouted -- using the experiences of Dubai and Singapore.
“Their economy grew because of the ports -- it was transshipments,” said Mwinyi, the 55-year-old ex-Tanzania defense minister and the son of the nation’s former, President Ali Hassan Mwinyi.
“We want Zanzibar to be a hub of shipments of cargo, make it a logistic center for the region.”
Made up of Unguja, Pemba and several small islands, Zanzibar accounts for about 6% of the gross domestic product of Tanzania, East Africa’s second-biggest economy.
It has its own government and runs a separate budget, but has been pushing for a greater share of foreign loans and grants amid negotiations with the mainland over revenue-sharing from fossil fuels.
While the growth plan reflects the priorities of developing nations to secure its own power sources and thrive from trade and natural resources, it clashes with environmental concerns that are especially key to coastal areas and island states.
Zanzibar is directly affected by climate change with saltwater infiltrating areas including rice farms.
It’s also threatening the local water supply, causing residents near the capital to suffer from headaches and nausea when no other water source is available, according to a United Nations Environment Programme report.
Coral reefs have been destroyed by people and the government is encouraging fishermen to move to other areas, Mwinyi said.
At the same time, Africa is not to blame for significant greenhouse-gas emissions, he said, and states like Zanzibar should be able to utilize natural resources to grow their economies.
“So if we happen to find this gas which we are going to find because all indications are there, we must use it for economic development,” Mwinyi said.
Madagascar's Death Toll From Cyclone Batsirai Rises to 92 @business
The toll of Cyclone Batsirai in Madagascar has risen to 92 deaths and more than 112,000 people displaced by the tropical storm which rampaged across the island earlier this week, the national disaster management office announced Wednesday.
Among the deaths, 71 people died in Ikongo district about 530 kilometers (330 miles) south of Antananarivo, the capital, said officials.
“Most of the houses are made of earth and when there are floods, the houses become like mud and they collapse,” Ikongo district deputy Jean-Brunelle Razafintsiandraofa said.
“They collapsed on people and became like tombs for people who were asleep.”
The rural district remains completely isolated because landslides have blocked road access, he said.
"The inhabitants need help,” Razafintsiandraofa said.
After gaining strength as it moved across the Indian Ocean, Cyclone Batsirai landed on Madagascar's east coast late Saturday near the town of Mananjary with winds of 165 kilometers (102 miles) per hour and peaks of 235 kilometers (146 miles) per hour, according to the national weather department.
Heavy rains caused flooding and significant damage to homes and infrastructure.
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.
"At one point I decided to repeat some of the computations in order to examine what was happening in greater detail. I stopped the computer, typed in a line of numbers that it had printed out a while earlier, and set it running again. I went down the hall for a cup of coffee and returned after about an hour, during which time the computer had simulated about two months of weather. The numbers being printed were nothing like the old ones. I immediately suspected a weak vacuum tube or some other computer trouble, which was not uncommon, but before calling for service I decided to see just where the mistake had occurred, knowing that this could speed up the servicing process. Instead of a sudden break, I found that the new values at first repeated the old ones, but soon afterward differed by one and then several units in the last decimal place, and then began to differ in the next to the last place and then in the place before that. In fact, the differences more or less steadily doubled in size every four days or so, until all resemblance with the original output disappeared somewhere in the second month. This was enough to tell me what had happened: the numbers that I had typed in were not the exact original numbers, but were the rounded-off values that had appeared in the original printout. The initial round-off errors were the culprits; they were steadily amplifying until they dominated the solution." (E. N. Lorenz, The Essence of Chaos, U. Washington Press, Seattle (1993), page 134)
Elsewhere he stated:
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.
COVID-19 only heightened Kenya’s existing economic problem @ONEAftershocks @RasnaWarah
Last year, Njeri, a hawker in Nairobi, was paying 90 shillings (roughly $0.8) for a packet of maizemeal. Today the same packet goes for 120 shillings, a 30% increase.
She is also paying more for non-food items, such as rent and electricity. Njeri’s rent for a single room in Kangemi, an informal settlement, increased by more than 10%, from 4,500 Kenya shillings to 5,000 Kenya shillings (roughly $44) a month, which is nearly a third of her income.
As a result of the price hikes, Njeri and her three children often miss meals. She has also decreased her consumption of electricity, preferring to use the cheaper paraffin to light her house.
Njeri is not alone. The shopping baskets of most Kenyans have become significantly smaller since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lost or reduced incomes and the rising cost of living are causing significant hardships for many Kenyans.
Between June 2020 and June 2021, Kenyan consumers paid 8% more for food and beverages, 14% more for transport, and 4% more for water, electricity and housing, according to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).
Inflation hit a 23-month high (6.91%) in September 2021, and is currently around 5.8%.
Although inflation caused by supply chain disruptions and the rising cost of crude oil in the international market is being felt globally, the cost of living in Kenya has been increasing significantly for at least a decade.
The prices of basic commodities, such as maize flour, sugar, cooking gas, and petrol, have increased by more than 46% since 2013, according to KNBS data.
And recent surveys show that the prices of most commodities, including bread, tomatoes, rice, potatoes, and meat, have been rising by between 16% and 53% since 2011.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has promised to make Kenyans’ lives a little easier by reducing the cost of electricity by 30%. But reduction in the price of electricity will most likely benefit the upper and middle classes and large businesses that use electricity the most.
Low-income households that rely on the other forms of energy, such as paraffin or charcoal, will still face rising costs of food and other basic items, which are increasing every day.
Additional taxes, rising debt, and corruption
Increasing inflation in Kenya is the result of a variety of factors, including policy failures that have led to a significant rise in the cost of living.
Additional and high rates of taxation, astronomical national debt, and endemic corruption have placed punitive financial strains on ordinary Kenyans. The government has not done enough to alleviate the burden.
When COVID-19 struck in 2020, the Kenyan government reduced taxes on cooking oil and gas to 14%, as part of a package of measures to help Kenyans deal with the economic shocks of pandemic.
However, it reintroduced the 16% tax on cooking oil and gas in 2021, even though the country had not yet fully recovered from the economic impact of the pandemic.
The government also introduced new taxes that raised the cost of living further. It increased excise duty on airtime and telephone services from 15% to 20%.
This has impacted the more than 21 million internet users and 59 million sim card subscribers who rely on mobile phones to communicate and to make and receive payments.
Airtime is among the largest single expenditure item among Kenyans, so this tax increase has significantly impacted their mobile phone use.
The Kenyatta administration’s borrowing spree has added an additional load on Kenyans. By the end 2021, Kenya’s debt stood at nearly 70% of GDP, up from 50% at the end of 2015.
China is Kenya’s largest bilateral creditor, accounting for 67% of Kenya’s bilateral loans (mostly for infrastructure projects), up from 13% in 2011.
In 2021, multilateral debt accounted for 41% of external loans, while bilateral debt accounted for 28%.
“Big ticket borrowing has squeezed the government’s income, which in turn has squeezed citizens to fill the gap,” says Aly-Khan Satchu, a financial analyst based in Nairobi.
“The squeeze is in fact amplified at the bottom of the pyramid because people at the bottom spend most of their income on food and housing.”
Out of every dollar of taxpayers’ money, 57 cents go towards servicing the country’s burgeoning debt, according to data from the Central Bank of Kenya.
Kenya’s public debt rose to Sh7.7 trillion (about $70 billion) last year – a 13-fold since 2000.
Unfortunately, much of the government revenue raised to service debts is lost to corruption. Up to 2 billion Kenya shillings (roughly $18 million) are lost to corruption every single day, a fact that even the president has acknowledged.
Government ministries and departments have been implicated in various corruption scandals, including a recent one involving the state medical supplies authority, KEMSA, which was accused of flouting several laws in the awarding of COVID-19 related tenders worth about $72 million in 2020.
Corruption in Kenya has far-reaching impacts. It makes the cost of doing business and living in the country very high.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the crisis, making it much more difficult for small businesses and low-income earners to survive.
Kenya is considered one of the strongest economies in the Eastern Africa region. It has a vibrant private sector and a large pool of educated and highly skilled workforce.
But optimistic projections of economic growth rates bouncing back to around 6% this year are not translating into a better quality of life for most.
“There is a famous refrain, ‘You can’t eat GDP,’” explains Satchu. “GDP expansion does not necessarily result in a better standard of living.”
Like most other countries, Kenya experienced a significant downturn in economic activities during the first few months of the pandemic. But the country was already on a downward spiral before COVID-19.
A new report shows that the proportion of people living in multidimensional poverty began rising as far back as 2013, increasing from 38.9% in 2014 to 53% in 2018.
The report defines poverty as not just lack of income, but lack of access to healthcare, education, decent housing, and other basic services.
Job losses in the formal and informal sectors and business closures have increased the number of people with no or reduced income.
By the end of 2020, Kenya had gained an additional 2 million “new poor,” according to the World Bank.
One survey found that more than a third of small businesses in Kenya had closed down by July last year.
The businesses that survived the pandemic reported earning two-thirds of their pre-COVID revenues.
This is significant because small and medium-sized businesses constitute 98% of all businesses in Kenya. And they create 30% of jobs annually and contribute nearly 3% of GDP.
In the first year of COVID-19, the United Nations warned that the pandemic threatened to reverse almost all the gains toward the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
And while the virus had impacted everyone, the most vulnerable groups, including people living in poverty, were the most affected.
“Due to unemployment and underemployment caused by the COVID-19 crisis, some 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy – half of the global workforce – may be significantly affected,” stated a UN policy brief.
The pandemic is exacerbating existing inequalities and making life much more difficult for most Kenyans.
Kenya is now further away from its SDG goals of eradicating poverty and reducing inequalities than it was eight years ago.
Kenya is entering an uncertain and potentially polarising election year, and the economic outlook does not look very promising.
Elections in Kenya are usually accompanied by declining economic activities and reduced investments as businesses and investors adopt a “wait and see” attitude in case of any election-related violence or unforeseen changes in government.
Election years also do not usher in major policy reforms, as legislators are more focused on elections than on policy changes.
This means Kenyans must bear the status quo until at least the August 2022 elections.
Prospects of a rapid economic recovery for Kenya and a better quality of life for most Kenyans in a post-pandemic period look increasingly grim.
Eveready East Africa Ltd. reports FY EPS [0.17] versus [0.33] Earnings here
N.S.E Equities - Industrial & Allied
Par Value: 1/-
Closing Price: 0.94
Total Shares Issued: 210000000.00
Market Capitalization: 197,400,000
Eveready East Africa Ltd reports FY Earnings through 30th September 2021 versus FY through September 2020
FY Sales 89.816m versus 133.59m
FY Gross Profit 21.12m versus 27.935m
FY Other Income 10.4m versus 9.066m
FY Admin Expenses [52.507m] versus [65.127m]
FY Selling & Distribution Expenses [10.335m] versus [12.881m]
FY Loss before Tax [38.976m] versus [49.937m]
FY Loss after Tax [34.691m] versus [69.010m]
FY EPS [0.17] versus [0.33]
Cash and Cash Equivalents at End of The Year 29.444m versus 67.621m
The year began on a low note following the challenges experienced in the previous year and was made worse by the operational challenges occasioned by working capital, supply chain globally and effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in the first half of the fiscal year.
This subsequently improved in the second half of the year as the Company redefined its supply chain strategy to align with global trade flows by considering new trade agreements and appointing alternative suppliers from (SADC) and (COMESA) to mitigate the supply chain risk.
The Company reported a loss after tax of KES 35 million compared to KES 69 million the previous year, a 49% improvement.
There was a 33% decrease in revenue due to lower sales numbers during the period principally because of the Covid-19 pandemic which impacted our customers and our supply chain and route to market in the period.
We adopted strict cost saving measures in response to the pandemic which resulted to 17% reduction in overhead costs.
The Directors do not recommend the payment of a dividend.