|Tuesday 27th of August 2019
Here's how wildly stocks swing when Trump mentions the trade war
Put a whipsaw on a rollercoaster and you are close to how traders
would describe the recent spate of swings in U.S. stocks, kick-started
once more by a barrage of tweets by President Donald Trump.
It began Friday while investor focus was firmly on Federal Reserve
Chairman Jerome Powell’s speech in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Trump
quickly stole his thunder, labeling China’s Xi Jinping a potential
enemy on Twitter, announcing he’d retaliate against the Asian nation’s
latest tariffs and ordering U.S. companies out of the country. U.S.
stocks suffered one of their worst losses of the year, falling as much
as 3%, as investors rushed for the exits into the safer hands of
Treasuries and gold.
Cue weekend confusion when Trump acknowledged having second thoughts
on escalating the trade war -- only for his top spokeswoman to later
say he meant he regretted not raising tariffs even more. U.S. stock
futures fell another close to 2% when Asian markets re-opened Monday
Donald Trump’s comments on China have thrown U.S. stocks for loop in recent days
It was only when conciliatory noises came from China’s Vice Premier
Liu He that stocks pared losses, which obviously impressed Trump
enough to agree to “calm” negotiation.
The prospects for a deal with China are better now than at any time
since negotiations began last year, the president concluded, even as a
top state-media editor in Beijing questioned his version of events.The
net result of the three-day Tweetstorm left U.S. equities down about
1.5%, as of Monday’s close, and traders picking up the pieces.
“It’s the way I negotiate. It’s done very well for me over the years.
And it’s doing even better for the country,” Trump told reporters.
It’s not doing much for investor stress levels.
I dreamt I was falling in love with Alice Sheldon.
She didn’t want me. So I tried getting myself killed
on three continents. Years passed. Finally, when I
was really old, she appeared on the other end of the
promenade in New York and with signals (like the
ones they use on aircraft carriers to help the pilots
land) she told me she’d always loved me.
I set off, I took up the march and never knew
I set off, I took up the march and never knew
where it might take me. I went full of fear,
my stomach dropped, my head was buzzing:
I think it was the icy wind of the dead.
I don’t know. I set off, I thought it was a shame
to leave so soon, but at the same time
I heard that mysterious and convincing call.
You either listen or you don’t, and I listened
and almost burst out crying: a terrible sound,
born on the air and in the sea.
A sword and shield. And then,
despite the fear, I set off, I put my cheek
against death’s cheek.
And it was impossible to close my eyes and miss seeing
that strange spectacle, slow and strange,
though fixed in such a swift reality:
thousands of guys like me, baby-faced
or bearded, but Latin American, all of us,
brushing cheeks with death.
The president's chaos theory of negotiation is really a dead end. @Breakingviews
Law & Politics
Donald Trump’s approach to dealing with China on trade has set a new
high for erraticism. The U.S. president said on Monday that talks are
back on with Beijing, just days after escalating tariffs. But his
whipsawing makes it hard for counterparties to engage, as the G7
summit meeting in France demonstrated.
Negotiations with Beijing have taken plenty of twists and turns over
the past 18 months, but even so, the developments of the past few days
were head-turning. After ratcheting up tariffs on $550 billion of
Chinese imports on Friday and “ordering” U.S. companies to start
looking for alternatives to China, Trump and White House officials
sent conflicting signals from the G7 meeting over the weekend.
Then on Monday he announced that China was willing to come back to the
bargaining table. As an added flourish he said President Xi Jinping,
who he had labeled an “enemy” three days earlier, was a “great
The resumption of talks appears to represent at least a ceasefire. But
there have been several of those since the Trump administration first
threatened tariffs in March 2018 after accusing Beijing of unfair
trade practices over technology transfers and intellectual property.
American aims have at times seemed to shift. The latest escalation
broke out earlier this month when Trump said China had reneged on a
promise to buy more farm goods.
The president added to the uncertainty with a tweet on Friday saying
Americans “don’t need China,” suggesting the conflict runs far deeper.
That record may explain why markets took only modest comfort from
Monday’s news, with the S&P 500 Index up around 1% in early afternoon
Trump’s unpredictable behavior has already frustrated America’s
allies. Although the president did not disrupt the G7 summit in
Biarritz, France and sounded conciliatory about Iran after French
President Emmanuel Macron surprisingly invited Tehran’s foreign
minister to the gathering, the meeting broke up with no substantive
agreements and not even a communique.
China’s lead negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, called for resolving
differences “in a calm attitude.” But Beijing has grounds for thinking
they might do better to prolong talks into the 2020 presidential
election year, to get better and more reliable terms from Trump or a
potential successor. That suggests the president’s chaos theory of
negotiation is really a dead end.
The specialist is monitoring data on his mission console when a voice breaks in
Law & Politics
The specialist is monitoring data on his mission console when a voice
breaks in, “a voice that carried with it a strange and unspecifiable
He checks in with his flight-dynamics and conceptual- paradigm
officers at Colorado Command:
“We have a deviate, Tomahawk.”
“We copy. There’s a voice.”
“We have gross oscillation here.”
“There’s some interference. I have gone redundant but I’m not sure
“We are clearing an outframe to locate source.”
“Thank you, Colorado.”
“It is probably just selective noise. You are negative red on the
“It was a voice,” I told them.
“We have just received an affirm on selective noise... We will
correct, Tomahawk. In the meantime, advise you to stay redundant.”
The voice, in contrast to Colorado’s metallic pidgin, is a melange of
repartee, laughter, and song, with a “quality of purest, sweetest
“Somehow we are picking up signals from radio programmes of 40, 50, 60
"From here you cannot tell there is a gigantic hole in that rock. There is a way through," Boris Johnson said
Law & Politics
At 7 a.m. on Sunday, Boris Johnson pulled on his swimming trunks and
stepped into the Atlantic, striking out for a rock off the beach in
Biarritz, accompanied by what he described as “special detachments of
Preparing for talks with Group of Seven leaders, the U.K. prime
minister was thinking, like most days, about his apparently
intractable differences with the European Union over Brexit.
Out in the ocean, the prime minister found reasons for optimism.
"I swam round that rock this morning,’’ he told ITV. "From here you
cannot tell there is a gigantic hole in that rock. There is a way
through. My point to the EU is that there is a way through, but you
can’t find the way through if you just sit on the beach."
While Brexit remains another rock on the not-so distant horizon, the
prime minister appeared to have gone down well with his G-7
He found a broad range of international issues he could agree on with
his main Brexit antagonist, European Council President Donald Tusk,
reinforced his bond with U.S. President Donald Trump, and made French
President Emmanuel Macron and his wife laugh -- in a good way.
Just over an hour after his swim, Johnson was tucking into veal
sausages, croissants and mixed fruit opposite Trump. Each man had
eight officials in tow as they sat down for a working breakfast to
discuss security, Iran and one of the great prizes of Brexit for
Johnson: the prospect of a trade deal with the U.S.
“This is a person that’s going to be a great prime minister in my
opinion,” Trump told reporters. “He needs no advice, he’s the right
man for the job. I’ve been saying that for a long time.”
There was also a promise from Trump of a “very big trade deal” once
the U.K. has shed the “anchor” of EU membership. Johnson later told
broadcasters that the U.S. wants to do the deal in a year.
Mindful of domestic criticism that he’s in Trump’s pocket, Johnson
also tried to show he’ll stand up to the U.S. president. He told Trump
the National Health Service and animal welfare standards were out of
bounds in trade talks and urged the president to open up U.S. markets
to British meats and shipping companies.
There was also a dig at the the escalating trade war between the U.S.
and China, as he called on the two nations to “dial it down a beat.”
At a European coordination meeting later in the day, he joined in with
Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in laughing as European
Council President Donald Tusk pointed at the EU flag and cracked a
joke that elicited the response “no no no” from the U.K. premier.
On his arrival at Sunday’s formal dinner, he headed off in the wrong
direction before suddenly pivoting and pointing his fingers at Macron
and his wife as they waited to greet him. The French first couple’s
faces creased with laughter.
If the Trump meeting was the most anticipated of the summit, the one
most likely to cause sparks was his bilateral with Tusk on Sunday
Before the summit, Tusk said Johnson risked going down in history as
“Mr. No Deal.” Johnson had retorted that that’s what Tusk would be
known as if the EU didn’t offer concessions on Brexit.
But both U.K. and EU officials characterized Johnson’s meeting with
Tusk as positive, the international agenda offering a counterpoint to
the Brexit discussion.
"So far in this G-7 I think it would be fair to say, Donald, you and I
have spent most of the conversations in completely glutinous agreement
on most of the issues that have been raised,” Johnson told Tusk.
"A demonstration of the closeness of the U.K. to our European friends
which will persist beyond Oct. 31, whatever happens."
Donald Tusk replied: "I couldn’t agree more."
An EU official later said Johnson was constructive and aligned with
the Europeans on issues like Iran, China, trade, Russia. A German
official agreed with that sentiment.
For all the good spirits, Johnson is realistic about the challenges he
faces even as made his pitch to launch Melton Mowbray pork pies
He acknowledged there would be “tough talks ahead” to secure a U.S.
trade deal. And as for getting a Brexit deal with the EU by Oct. 31,
he said: “I think it’s going to be touch and go.”
Also touch and go was the England cricket team’s efforts to keep the
Ashes contest against Australia alive. Throughout Sunday, aides said
Johnson would emerge from meetings and fulminate about England’s woes
when he learned the latest score as England appeared to be heading for
But during his last bilateral of the day Indian Prime Minister
Narendra Modi informed him that England had snatched an unlikely
victory, offering him a boost ahead of Monday’s meeting with
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison -- and another handy omen for
the Brexit battles ahead.
Some of the usual rules of emerging-market investing have broken down, @shuli_ren explains
Emerging-market currencies are having their worst month since May 2016.
So far, the yuan has been an effective weapon in this trade war, one
that Beijing is using carefully. At a fixing of 7.25, a weaker
currency could offset the current 25% tariff imposed by the U.S., HSBC
says; and it would need to weaken to as much as 7.70 to counterbalance
a 10% tariff on the remainder of China’s exports that currently bear
no levy. So you could argue that after President Donald Trump’s
weekend Twitter tirade, the fix should have been 8.0. Conversely, if
things go swimmingly between Washington and Beijing – Trump on Monday
said that China asked to restart talks – don’t be surprised if the
yuan falls sharply below 7.0 again.
Sub Saharan Africa
Congo government announced 8 months after Tshisekedi won vote @ReutersAfrica
Congo’s prime minister announced a new government on Monday, eight
months after President Felix Tshisekedi won an election, with around
two thirds of posts going to allies of former president Joseph Kabila.
The cabinet list released by Prime Minister Illunga Illunkamba on
Monday consisted mostly of people with little or no government
experience. Of the 65 ministers named, 42 were from Kabila’s coalition
and 23 were from Tshisekedi’s.
As well as retaining outsized influence over various security
agencies, Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC) coalition won about 70
percent of seats in the lower house of parliament and an overwhelming
majority of provincial assembly seats in elections also held on Dec.
Kabila had always been expected to have a big say in the government of
Democratic Republic of Congo, a vast, mineral-rich central African
country of about 80 million people which he had been in charge of
since the death of his father, Laurent, in 2001.
In May, Tshisekedi named Ilukamba, a close Kabila ally with years of
government experience and previously the head of Congo’s national
railway company, as prime minister. But negotiations over other
government posts had been stalled since.
The new list has Gilbert Malaba, a member of Tshisekedi’s party, as
minister of interior and security, while the defence ministry went to
Ngoy Mukena, a close Kabila ally.
The mining portfolio went to Willy Samsoni, a member of Kabila’s
coalition and a former mines minister in the local government of Haut
Katanga province, while Congo’s former director general of taxes Sele
Yalaghuli, also a Kabila stalwart, was named finance minister.
Tshisekedi ally Jean-Baudouin Mayo Mambeke took the more junior role
of budget minister.
Since being inaugurated in January, Tshisekedi has signalled a break
with his predecessor in some areas. He pardoned three prominent
political prisoners and 700 regular ones in March, a marked shift away
from the policies of Kabila, who had scores of his opponents jailed.
'Russians have special status': politics and mining mix in Guinea @guardian
When Alpha Condé started hinting he wanted to change Guinea’s
constitution to allow himself a third term as president, he found a
fervent supporter in an unexpected quarter.
Describing Condé as “legendary”, the Russian ambassador to Guinea
backed a change of the constitution to allow the octogenarian
president to “reinvigorate” the country.
“Do you know many countries in Africa that do better? Do you know many
presidents in Africa who do better?” Alexander Bregadze asked in a new
year’s broadcast on state television. “It’s constitutions that adapt
to reality, not realities that adapt to constitutions.”
The opposition, civil society and the Guinean press were quick to
criticise the ambassador’s “populist and demagogic” meddling. “He’s
campaigning, supporting the president, encouraging the diplomatic
corps to support a third term. It’s anti-constitutional,” said Alpha
Baldé, of the opposition Guinean Democratic Forces Union.
In May, leaving his post as ambassador, Bregadze took a job at the
Russian aluminium firm Rusal. He now heads up Rusal’s key unit in
Guinea, home to its biggest mining interests.
While it cannot compete with China’s economic might on the African
continent, Russia is carving out its own role, focusing on
relationships such as that with Guinea.
Formerly a self-described Marxist socialist revolutionary state and
the first French colony to become independent in Africa, Guinea was
ideologically very important for the Soviet Union.
Securing valuable votes on the UN security council and worrying
western nations are two reasons for the Russian push in Africa,
analysts say. Russia has succeeded in the latter: the US general
responsible for military operations in Africa said in February that in
CAR “elected leaders mortgage mineral rights for a fraction of their
worth to secure Russian weapons”.
Perpetual Debt in the Silicon Savannah @BostonReview H/T @rhaplord
As one Nairobian told us, these apps “give you money gently, and then
they come for your neck.”
One Kenyan argued the apps are “enslaving” people—from the working
poor to the salaried classes—by making claims on their future labor.
Indeed Kenya’s new experience of debt is worrying. It reveals a novel,
digitized form of slow violence that operates not so much through
negotiated social relations, nor the threat of state enforcement, as
through the accumulation of data, the commodification of reputation,
and the instrumentalization of sociality. Kenyans are being driven
into circuits of financial capital that are premised not—as the
marketing would have it—on empowerment, but on the profitability of
perpetual debt. The eruption of over-indebtedness in Kenya marks the
intersection of a faith in finance to ameliorate the lives of the poor
and a recognition by techno-capitalists that those same populations
are the source of runaway profits.
Its loan service, M-Shwari, launched with the Commercial Bank of
Africa, has been replicated in partnerships with other banks. By
mid-2018, M-Shwari alone had dispersed 230 billion Kenyan shillings
(KSh) in loans. Its profitability depends, in part, on a discursive
gymnastics that defines the 7.5 percent premium on borrowed funds as a
“facilitation fee” rather than an interest rate
Safaricom offers other loans too. At the start of 2019, Safaricom
inaugurated a new overdraft facility, Fuliza, which lends to M-Pesa
subscribers who have run out of digital value. Users are alerted of
their inability to pay, and Fuliza is proffered as a real time
solution, offering subscribers access to small loans to bridge the gap
at a premium. In its first month alone, it lent more than KSh 6
billion, with each customer charged an initial one percent fee plus a
daily fee of up to KSh 30. Fuliza expands the logic of Okoa Jahazi, an
airtime credit service through which around one-third of Safaricom’s
airtime is sold at a 10 percent mark-up to Kenyans short of cash. Okoa
Jahazi is so popular, one investment banker told us, that were it
regulated, it alone would make Safaricom one of the middle-tier banks
in the country.
Two of the most prominent fintech apps are Tala and Branch. From their
California headquarters, these firms export Silicon Valley’s curious
nexus of technology, finance, and developmentalism. Small shops across
the country are painted in Branch’s brand of blue, with slogans
offering “loans for the way you live.” Quickly downloaded onto Kenya’s
proliferating smartphones and utilizing the country’s ubiquitous
mobile money transfer system, these apps mine people’s devices and
social media accounts for signs of their creditworthiness. While their
lending algorithms are closely guarded secrets, industry insiders
suggest an ambitious effort to track everyday behavior and social
relations. In line with the belief that “all data is credit data,”
these firms seek to analyze everything from whether you call your
family regularly, go to the same workplace every day, and have an
extensive network of contacts. Tala’s CEO reported that “repayment of
a loan is more likely by someone whose contacts are listed with both
first and second names.” Branch, for its part, relies on a user’s
smartphone data, though what among the likes, links, locations, and
browsing is noteworthy—let alone whether financiers should have such
access—is less discussed. While these firms offer little transparency
to the public, they tell investors that money is pouring in: Tala has
raised more than 109 million U.S. dollars while Branch has received
nearly 260 million U.S. dollars from investors keen to capitalize on
poor people’s debt and data.
Crucial to the fintech business model is an endless stream of nudges,
exhortations, and incitements to borrow. Unsolicited text messages
interrupt people throughout the day, enticing those in need to borrow
at extraordinary rates. Many pointed to the high rates of borrowing on
weekend nights as evidence that loans are marketed and taken in
moments of inebriated revelry.
Those at risk of default receive just as much hectoring (one study
found 50 percent of Kenyans repaid a loan late). A University of
Nairobi graduate told us how embarrassing it is to be in a meeting—or
worse, a job interview—and have repayment reminders pop up on your
screen. “It’s so embarrassing! They text all the time. You get
stressed.” Another of these apps, Okash, took this logic of
stigmatization even further, harvesting users’ contacts and calling
bosses, parents, and friends to shame defaulters into repaying.
One loan officer at an upcountry bank branch was only somewhat
exaggerating when she told us 80 percent of would-be customers were
listed with CRBs due to fintech loans.
This “reputational collateral,” to use Keith Breckenridge’s term, is
strengthened each time a customer engages Safaricom. Since the 2007
launch of M-PESA, Safaricom has broadened the realms from which it
accumulates its cache of user data. Information on users’ rates of
sending and receiving money, the quantities moving through their
accounts, and their reliance on Okoa Jahazi (the short-term loan for
emergency airtime) were all mobilized to assess the creditworthiness
of potential borrowers when M-Shwari was first launched in 2012. The
result is that Safaricom is coming to look more and more like a credit
bureau—while avoiding being regulated as such.
. More than a third of digital debtors are using the loans to meet
day-to-day household needs—the type of routine expenses that are
unlikely to disappear with borrowing.
Across the country, millions of Kenyans work in a condition that
Michael Denning has referred to as “wageless life.” Whether hawking
mitumba (used clothing) along Kenya’s streets, working in the
privatized transport sector, or operating as a mama mboga (vegetable
seller) in Kenya’s markets, people in this labor market make money on
the day. But their fiscal horizons are unpredictable and subject to
volatility. Instead of selling their labor power in exchange for a
wage, these men and women toil in what more closely approximates a
piece-work regime, making a small margin every time the negotiation
for a piece of clothing is finalized, a vehicle is boarded, or a bag
of potatoes is sold.
Safaricom, too, was a “pioneer” in this regard, allowing customers to
purchase low-value airtime scratch cards, costing as little as KSh 10.
The irony, however, is that it is expensive to be poor: while
accessible due to their small size, products for the kadogo economy
cost proportionally more than the conventionally sized goods available
to wealthier buyers.
We think of this in terms of the zero-balance economy. Unlike the
kadogo economy, which names the resizing of goods, the zero-balance
economy is characterized by the temporal disconnect between available
cash and necessary expenditure
If the kadogo economy was a commercial means of capitalizing on the
paucity and daily uncertainty of wageless life, digital lenders, armed
with user data, are now profiting from the temporalities of the
zero-balance economy. Unlike those peddling single-serve products,
merchants of debt have a battery of digital data and algorithms at
their disposal, not to mention a largely unregulated lending frontier.
They offer customers a means to buy time, but at a premium so costly
it would be illegal for a Kenyan bank.
Transcentury reports H1 2019 EPS 0.32 Earnings here
Closing Price: 3.87
Total Shares Issued: 280284476.00
Market Capitalization: 1,084,700,922
Trans-Century PLC H1 2019 results through 30th June 2019 vs. 30th June 2018
H1 Turnover 2.527203b vs. 2.283692b +10.663%
H1 Cost of sales [1.711341b] vs. [1.658661b] +3.176%
H1 Gross profit 815.862m vs. 625.031m +30.531%
H1 Net other income 1.277960b vs. 145.037m +781.127%
H1 Operating expenses [850.716m] vs. [695.775m] +22.269%
H1 Profit from operations 1.243106b vs. 74.293m +1,573.248%
H1 Depreciation and impairment [302.787m] vs. [314.714m] -3.790%
H1 Net finance costs [322.323m] vs. [444.404m] -27.471%
H1 Profit/[loss] before income tax 617.996m vs. [684.825m] +190.241%
H1 Income tax charge [320.354m] vs. –
H1 Profit/[loss] for the period 297.642m vs. [684.825m] +143.462%
Basic and diluted EPS 0.32 vs. [1.36] +123.529%
Total Equity [3.002930b]
Cash and cash equivalents at 30th June 211.628m
TransCentury PLC is pleased to announce the un-audited financial
results for the six (6) month period ended 30 June 2019. Key
highlights: The Group recorded net profit of KShs 298 million compared
to a loss of KShs 685 million over the same period last year.
The highlights of this performance are:
1. 11% growth in revenue driven by enhanced execution of our order
book in line with our strategy.
2. 31% increase in gross profit driven by focus on high margin business.
3. Achievement of a key milestone in our groupwide debt re-profiling
strategy resulting in KShs 1.3 billion net gain included in other
4. 24% reduction in finance costs on the back of continued success of
our initiatives to optimize our capital structure.
The above gains are as a result of our investments over the years in
installed capacity, skills development, good relationships with our
stakeholders, strong brands, prudent capital allocation and enhanced
The Board of Directors do not recommend payment of an interim dividend.
Overall, the main markets that we operate in continue to display
favorable conditions for our business model and strong growth
prospects in line with our expectations.
The operating businesses within our portfolio remain market leaders in
their industry segments with strong brands and our teams continue to
develop innovative products that are opening additional pockets of