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Friday 14th of January 2022
 
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Africa

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Richard Leakey’s Life in the Wild @NewYorker Jon Lee Anderson
Africa


On the night of January 2nd, I got a text from Paula Kahumbu, the Kenyan conservationist. “Dear friends, sad news,” she wrote. “Richard Leakey just passed away at his home in Kona Baridi.” 

Leakey, the renowned paleoanthropologist and wildlife conservationist, had been her mentor—a mercurial, controversial advocate for African wildlife, whose tumultuous career was central to Kenya’s history in the past half century.
Leakey was always a cheerful combatant. When I last saw him, two years ago, in Nairobi, he told me that “the Grim Reaper” had been “lurking around here for a long time.” 

He had survived two kidney transplants, a liver transplant, and a plane crash that cost him both legs, but was as uncomplaining about his ailments as he was uncompromising in his views.
Leakey was working on a Museum of Humankind, to be built on a hilltop outside the Kenyan capital. 

A rendering of the design, by Daniel Libeskind, showed twin stone spires rising over the Great Rift Valley. 

The museum would help consecrate Kenya’s place as both the ancient cradle of humankind and a leader in current wildlife-conservation efforts. 

Leakey had secured a prominent role in both arenas; the museum would also be a monument to his life’s work. 

He acknowledged that he had yet to secure financing—the building alone would cost a hundred million dollars—but he seemed undeterred. 

He confided gleefully that he was having lunch the next day with an American billionaire whom he was courting.
Leakey was born in Nairobi in 1944, and in a sense he inherited the direction of his life’s work. 

His parents, the Anglo-Kenyan paleontologists Mary and Louis Leakey, had done pioneering research on the origins of the human species, and had also cultivated some of Africa’s most notable wildlife protectors. 

Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey, who carried out groundbreaking research on chimpanzees in Tanzania and mountain gorillas in Rwanda, respectively, were Louis’s protégés.
Fiercely competitive with his parents, Leakey dropped out of high school to strike out on his own, and soon began conducting paleontological expeditions. 

He had quick successes, with fossil discoveries that supported his parents’ findings, and Time put him on its cover, in 1977. 

Seven years later, he made a startling find: near Lake Turkana, in northern Kenya, he and his team unearthed the fossil remains of a 1.9-million-year-old hominid, the most complete skeleton of its kind ever recovered.
A charismatic man with big hands and a handsome face scarred by the sun, Leakey proved adept at securing publicity for his causes, and for himself. 

His biggest publicity coup came in 1989, when he presided over the burning of twelve tons of poached elephant ivory. It was the world’s first public ivory burning, and Leakey had conscripted Kenya’s President, Daniel arap Moi, to light the pyre. 

The stunt highlighted a stark fact: in the previous decade, the country’s elephant population had plunged from an estimated quarter of a million to around sixteen thousand. 

Leakey’s performance politics inspired global headlines, and hundreds of millions of dollars flowed to conservation efforts in Kenya.

Like his parents, Leakey was a favored beneficiary of the National Geographic Society. 

(I first introduced myself to him at a National Geographic event; I was fourteen years old and awestruck. When I reminded him of the meeting decades later, he said dryly that it couldn’t have happened that way, since we were obviously about the same age.) 

Over the years, he wrote a series of erudite books, examining the origins of humanity and its place in the world, and became one of the most in-demand speakers on international conservation. 

Kahumbu told me, “Everybody wanted to spend some time with him, but he was very selective and came across to some as antisocial.” 

In private life, she added, “he would spend hours on a chair under a tree in Maasai Mara—alone, communing with nature.” 

At teatime, he was often found on his veranda, talking with his wife Meave, an accomplished paleoanthropologist who once worked at his primate-research camp in Tanzania. 

“He was a serious man, but he had a surprising social side,” Kahumbu added. “He loved cooking and entertaining in his vast kitchen. He served wine from his own vineyard, and he had a wicked sense of humor.”

The environmental journalist Delta Willis, a friend of Leakey’s, told me, “The pride he felt for the beauty of his birthplace was contagious. He once announced, ‘I am from Kenya,’ the way you or I might say, ‘I won first prize.’ 

He spoke the melodic Kiswahili beautifully, just as his father had spoken Kikuyu.” 

Leakey had come of age among a dwindling British colonial class; when Kenya won its independence, in 1963, he was still a teen-ager. “Unlike any other white man in Kenya, many of his closest friends were Black,” Kahumbu said.
Also unusually for a white Kenyan, Leakey became involved in his country’s politics, with turbulent results. 

In 1989, he took charge of the Kenya Wildlife Service. Four years later, as his relationship with President Moi soured, Leakey’s plane crashed, in what he always believed was an assassination attempt. 

While he adjusted to the loss of his legs, he resigned from the K.W.S. and helped found an opposition political party. 

It was an audacious move that earned him a whipping at the hands of Moi’s henchmen, and also a seat in Parliament. 

Later, back in favor with Moi, he was appointed as the director of Kenya’s civil service. 

In that post, he ordered the dismissal of tens of thousands of public employees for corruption. Eventually, Moi fired him.
Leakey’s uncompromising nature and his sense of purpose could not always be reconciled. 

John Heminway, an American author and filmmaker who knew him well, told me that Leakey had decided early that “making friends wasn’t essential, but making a difference was.” 

He seized every opportunity to leave his mark. In 2015, after years of criticizing the K.W.S. as corrupt, Leakey returned as the chairman of its board. 

Away from government, he co-founded a conservation charity called WildlifeDirect, and, along with Long Island’s Stony Brook University, set up the Turkana Basin Institute, focussed on continuing the Leakey family’s field work in East Africa. 

On the shores of Lake Turkana, he helped construct a forty-million-dollar research facility, where every year scores of American and Kenyan students do field research, following his example.
Kahumbu, the C.E.O. of WildlifeDirect and one of the most prominent figures in African conservation, credits Leakey with inspiring her own career, after they met when she was a young girl in Nairobi. 

One of Leakey’s three daughters, Louise, is also a paleoanthropologist. Countless other scientists, activists, and aficionados have been inspired over the decades by his books and his talks. 

Willis told me that she had attended one of Leakey’s last lectures, at the Muthaiga Country Club, in Nairobi, last October. 

“He apologized for using a wheelchair, and explained that he’d contracted covid, which affected his breathing,” she said. 

“Then he spoke without notes for forty-five minutes, inspired. One saw a fragile fellow in a wheelchair but heard a boy with a dream.”
In the decades since Leakey torched the mound of tusks, Kenya’s elephant population has rebounded somewhat, to thirty-five thousand. 

But many other species remain in peril, and in recent years Leakey sometimes seemed gloomy, if not resigned. 

“There’s a narrowing down of the options for humanity,” he told me, in Nairobi. “It may not be possible to recover the environment sufficiently for wildlife in the next thirty or forty years,” he went on. 

“But, you know, the planet has been here for three and a half, four billion years. Life has been on the planet for six hundred million years, humans have been living on the planet—bipedal creatures—for six million years, and we’ve been a technological species for four million years. So can’t we get through the next few hundred years and put our vision to restoring the planet?”

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Interview with Maria Joao Lopo de Carvalho about Luis de Camoes and her book which followed his c16th journey from Portugal to Macau via Cape of Good Hope
Africa


Interview with Maria Joao Lopo de Carvalho about Luis de Camoes and her book which followed his c16th journey from Portugal to Macau via the Cape of Good Hope Mozambique Mombasa Malindi Oman Hormuz Goa Sri Lanka Macau Malacca

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Pemba Island from the Sky Indian Ocean
Africa

 


Octavio Paz

https://j.mp/3tpERoq
   
The Street
A long and silent street.
I walk in blackness and I stumble and fall
and rise, and I walk blind,
my feet stepping on silent stones and dry leaves.
Someone behind me also stepping on stones, leaves:
If I slow down, he slows;
If I run, he runs.
I turn:
nobody.

Everything dark and doorless.
Turning and turning among these corners
which lead forever to the street
where nobody waits for, nobody follows me,
where I pursue a man who stumbles
and rises and says when he sees me:
nobody.



We live between oblivion and memory; Octavio Paz


We live between oblivion and memory;
This moment is a island ..
       .. weathered by incessant time.

                         Octavio Paz


 

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Increasingly repressive and violent acts against civilian protests by autocratic leaders and military regimes around the world are signs of their desperation and weakening grip on power, @hrw @guardian
Law & Politics


In its world report 2022, the human rights organisation said autocratic leaders faced a significant backlash in 2021, with millions of people risking their lives to take to the streets to challenge regimes’ authority and demand democracy.

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You’re a mutant virus, I’m the immune system and it’s my job to expel you from the organism. OCTOBER 30, 2014 BY @Dominic2306 The Hollow Men II
Misc.


1. Complexity makes prediction hard. Our world is based on extremely complex, nonlinear, interdependent networks (physical, mental, social).
Properties emerge from feedback between vast numbers of interactions: for example, the war of ant colonies, the immune system’s defences, market prices, and abstract thoughts all emerge from the interaction of millions of individual agents.
Interdependence, feedback, and nonlinearity mean that systems are fragile and vulnerable to nonlinear shocks:
‘big things come from small beginnings’ and problems cascade, ‘they come not single spies / But in battalions’.
Prediction is extremely hard even for small timescales. Effective action and (even loose) control are very hard and most endeavours fail.
Blofeld: Kronsteen, you are sure this plan is foolproof?
Kronsteen: Yes it is, because I have anticipated every possible variation of counter-move.
Politics therefore suffers from a surfeit of narcissists.
The occupants of No10, like Tolstoy’s characters in War and Peace, are blown around by forces they do not comprehend as they gossip, intrigue, and babble to the media.
The MPs and spin doctors steer their priorities according to the rapidly shifting sands of the pundits who they are all spinning, while the pundits shift (to some extent unconsciously) according to the polls.
The outcome? Everybody rushes around in tailspins assembling circular firing squads while the real dynamics of opinion play out largely untouched by their conscious actions.
In terms of a method to ‘manage’ government, it is not far from tribal elders howling incantations around the camp fire after inspecting the entrails of slaughtered animals.
It makes no sense because it is not based on the real world. Because of this systemic dysfunction, the rest of us get repeatedly ‘Macked’.

T.S Eliot said in The Hollow Men
http://bit.ly/2DbxreV

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom.

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Putin's Challenge to Western hegemony @adam_tooze
Law & Politics


As NATO meets to discuss the tension on the Russian border to Ukraine, and the papers fill with denunciations of Putin’s aggression, I still find it useful to return to the framework I developed in Crashed for analyzing the intersection of geopolitics and economics and the rise of Russia as a challenger. 

This framework consists of three basic propositions.
The first is that though it is tempting to dismiss Putin’s regime as a hangover from another era, or the harbinger of a new wave of authoritarianism, it has the weight that it does and commands our attention because global growth and global integration have enabled the Kremlin to accumulate considerable power. 

The sophistication of Russian weaponry and its cyber capacity betoken the underlying technological potential of the broader Russian economy. But what generates the cash is global demand for Russian oil and gas

And Putin’s regime has made use of this. It is reductive to think of Russia as a petrostate, but if you do indulge in that simplification you must recognize that it is a strategic petrostate more like UAE or Saudi than an Iraq, or Algeria.
Russia is a strategic petrostate in a double sense. It is too big a part of global energy markets to permit Iran-style sanctions against Russian energy sales. Russia accounts for about 40 percent of Europe’s gas imports

Comprehensive sanctions would be too destabilizing to global energy markets and that would blow back on the United States in a significant way. China could not standby and allow it to happen. 

Furthermore, Moscow, unlike some major oil and gas exporters, has proven capable of accumulating a substantial share of the fossil fuel proceeds. 

Since the struggles of the early 2000s, the Kremlin has asserted its control. In the alliance with the oligarchs it calls the shots and has brokered a deal that provides strategic resources for the state and stability and an acceptable standard of living for the bulk of the population. 

According to the WID-er data after the giant surge in inequality in the 1990s, Russia’s social structure has broadly stabilized.
Putin’s regime has managed this whilst operating a conservative fiscal and monetary policy. 

Currently, the Russian budget is set to balance at an oil price of only $44. That enables the accumulation of considerable reserves.
If you want a single variable that sums up Russia’s position as a strategic petrostate, it is Russia’s foreign exchange reserve.

Hovering between $400 and $600 billion they are amongst the largest in the world, after those of China, Japan and Switzerland.

This is what gives Putin his freedom of strategic maneuver. Crucially, foreign exchange reserves give the regime the capacity to withstand sanctions on the rest of the economy. 

They can be used to slow a run on the rouble. They can also be used to offset any currency mismatch on private sector balance sheets. 

As large as a government’s foreign exchange reserves may be, it will be of little help if private debts are in foreign currency. 

Russia’s private dollar liabilities were painfully exposed in 2008 and 2014, but have since been restructured and restrained.

According to data released by the Bank of Russia, Nominal foreign debt of banks and non-financial companies (corporate foreign debt) increased by US$6bn to US$394bn in 2Q21 (c.25% of GDP), easily covered by the foreign exchange reserves.

This strong financial balance means that Putin’s Russia will never experience the kind of comprehensive financial and political crisis that shook the state in 1998.
Nor was it by accident that it was as those foreign exchange reserves approached their first peak in 2008 that Putin began to articulate his determination to end the period of Russia’s geopolitical retreat. 

This is the second key element of the diagnosis.
Putin laid out his position in no uncertain terms in his sensational speech to the Munich Security Conference in February 2007 in which he outlined his comprehensive critique of Western power and Russia’s refusal to accept any further eastward expansion of NATO.
Today, China’s fundamental opposition to American hegemony articulated from within the global economy dominates the global scene. 

But the first to expose the fact that global growth might produce not harmony and convergence but conflict and contradiction, was Putin in 2007-8.
Putin’s stance produces outrage in the West. His assertion of Russia’s autonomy by all means necessary exposes the vanity of the post-Cold War order, that assumed that the boundary between different forms of power - hard, soft and financial - would be drawn by the Western powers, the United States and the EU, on their own terms and to suit their own strengths and preferences

The West has itself always employed a blend of strategies - financial pressure, soft power and military force - to achieve its goals. Russia’s challenge has forced a reshuffling of that pack and new combinations of diplomatic persuasion, soft power, financial and ultimately military threats and coercion. That this should be happening in Europe compounded the scandal.
The third essential point is that the consequences of this resurgence of Russian power depend on where you are and how you are set up to meet the challenge.
In Eastern Europe the crucial question is how Russia’s neighbors, whether former Soviet Republics, or former Warsaw Pact members navigated the staggering economic and social shocks of the 1990s. 

In this regard, Poland and the Baltics are at one end of the spectrum. They have rebounded from the 1990s crisis, have relatively high-functioning post-Communist polities and gained membership in NATO and EU in early waves of expansion. Ukraine is, in every respect, at the opposite end of the spectrum.
What makes Ukraine into the object of Russian power is not just it geography, but the division of its politics, the factional quality of its elite and its economic failure.
The end of the Soviet Union may have given Ukraine independence but for Ukrainian society at large it has been an economic disaster. 

Like Russia, Ukraine suffered a devastating shock in the 1990s. GDP per capita in constant PPP terms halved between 1990 and 1996. 

It then recovered to 80 percent of its 1990 level in 2007 and has stagnated ever since. 

Thirty years on, Ukraine’s GDP per capita (in constant PPP dollars as measured by the World Bank) is 20 percent lower than in 1990.

Ukraine’s experience contrasts sharply with that of Russian Federation which since the 1998 crisis has seen much more dramatic and sustained recovery. It also contrasts painfully with the growth trajectory of Ukraine’s neighbors Turkey and Poland.

GDP per capita numbers paint a picture of painful stagnation. In addition, Ukraine’s weakness have left it vulnerable to repeated and painful foreign exchange and financial crises, best summarized by the erratic chart of the hryvina’s devaluation against the dollar and euro. 

There were big shocks in the late 1990s. In 2008. In 2014-5. Since 2015 the hryvina has swung around a new plateau. Given the depreciated level of the currency, in percentage terms the swings are now smaller. But Ukraine continues to be a fragile ward of the IMF.

Russian nationalist simply dismisses Ukraine’s claim to statehood altogether. That is propaganda. But what is clearly true is that Ukraine’e elite have not come up with a formula for delivering the material basis of legitimacy, i.e. a minimum of stability and sustained economic growth. 

Economic frustration compounds the divisions between regions, language groups, factional interests. Since independence, the oligarchic super-rich have played a baneful and disruptive part in Ukraine’s politics.

When President Zelensky declared after his first encounter with Putin in the talks in Paris in December 2019, “Ukraine is an independent, democratic state, whose development vector will always be chosen exclusively by the people of Ukraine”, we should bear these basic economic facts in mind. 

Clearly, Zelensky wished to insist on Ukraine’s sovereignty vis a vis an overmighty Russia. 

But if sovereignty consists in determining a development vector - which does seem like a good definition - what can one say about Ukraine’s sovereignty? 

At best it could be described as a desperate and so far vain search for a development model that could command the support of a majority in Ukraine.
That desperate search was made more urgent by the rising geopolitical tension announced by Putin’s speech in 2007 and by the financial shock of 2008. But it was also made more dangerous.
The basic options as discussed before 2014 were alignment with Russia, alignment with the EU-NATO or balancing between the two. 

Balancing between the two was the mode preferred in the 1990s and early 2000s. 

But by the mid 2000s in the wake of the color revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine in 2004, with both Poland’s prosperity and Russia’s ambition increasingly evident, the choices began to seem more stark.
Then in 2008, the Bush administration sought to decide the issue. It encouraged both Georgia and Ukraine to aspire to NATO membership and wrangled the other NATO members, at the NATO Bucharest conference in April 2008 into promising them membership. 

This confirming Russia’s worst fears. Ever since Ukraine’s politics has been torn by the scale of this choice. The worst consequences were graphically illustrated in Georgia.
Following the Bucharest NATO summit, Georgia’s ambitious leadership under President Mikheil Saakashvili concluded that to expedite NATO membership it would need to resolve outstanding issues with the breakaway region of South Ossetia. 

It also imagined that it had received a green-light from Washington. In August 2008, just weeks ahead of the Lehman crisis, Moscow’s massive military reaction to Georgia’s offensive in South Ossetia sent a clear and decisive message. 

Do not attempt to move forward on NATO’s ill-judged Bucharest commitments.
If that was not enough, economic and financial crisis in US and Europe halted any further moves in that direction. In 2008 Ukraine was immediately thrown into appealing to the IMF. Given its reliance on heavy-industrial exports, Ukraine was one of the economies worst hit by the 2008 shock.
By 2013, Kiev was desperately trying to play off IMF, EU and Russia looking for a deal. The result in 2013 was a winner takes all bidding war between the EU and Russia for influence over Ukraine’s economy. 

Yankukovych’s corrupt regime first encouraged its population to believe that it was swinging towards the EU. 

Then, faced with the niggardly European financial terms, and with a far more lucrative offer from Moscow in hand, it swung abruptly back towards Russia. That triggered the Maidan revolution. 

With the West hastening to recognize the revolution, Yanukovych was unwilling to stand and fight. 

Faced with a fait accompli Russia decided to save what could be saved. In 2014 it annexed Crimea and intervened to create Russian-backed separatist Republics in the Eastern Donbass region.
This is where the current media story typically begins: “Russian aggression against sovereign Ukraine in 2014”.
Desperate to hold the Kiev regime together, the West instrumentalized the IMF under Christine Lagarde to provide financial assistance to Kiev. 

This was the first time that the Fund has made a program for a country in Ukraine’s unstable condition, with an ongoing conflict on its territory. But neither the EU nor the US had any intention of backing Ukraine sufficiently to win the war in the East. 

Instead, the Obama administration backed away and handed off the Ukraine crisis to France and Germany. 

In the so-called Normandy format negotiations - amidst the eruption of the Eurozone clash with the new Syriza government in Athens and the swelling refugee crisis (the original polycrisis) - Berlin and Paris =shepherded Ukraine into the Minsk II agreement in 2015. 

After years of alienation (remember Snowden 2013) it was a moment of restored US-German harmony.
The Minsk agreement of 2015 is key to the current crisis. 

The original deal was a reflection of Russia’s massive military superiority over Ukraine but also Russia’s unwillingness to escalate to the point of full-scale invasion. 

The deal satisfied Russia because it promised a decentralized Ukraine with language rights guaranteed for Russian speakers. 

That in Moscow’s view was enough to ensure that Ukraine would not slide into the Western sphere of influence. 

If no progress was made on implementing the deal, Ukraine would be left in a state of frozen conflict. 

The ongoing conflict might not stop IMF support, but it would rule Ukraine out as a candidate for closer integration with either the EU or NATO. 

But it is also a painful provisorium. It is deeply unsatisfying to the increasingly nationalist tone of politics in Kiev. Moscow found itself backing the Donbass region and having to adjust to life under a sustained sanctions regime imposed by the US and the EU.
Resolving the Minsk agreement impasse is what the argument has been about since 2019 when Zelensky was elected on a peace-ticket and President Macron of France took steps to revive the process in the hope of bringing Russia out of the deep freeze.
With Trump in the White House and increasing concern about China, France did not want to persist with the status quo. 

An independent Franco-European diplomacy towards Russia has been a fantasy since the days of De Gaulle. Germany has continued its economic relations with Russia regardless of the Ukraine crisis, notably in the energy sector. 

The agreement between Gazprom, Royal Dutch Shell, E.ON, OMV, and Engie to build Nordstream 2 was signed in the summer of 2015 and though it was put on ice, German permits were issued in January 2018 and construction on the German end began in May of that year.
But moving beyond the Donbass impasse requires concessions from both sides. Russia would need to concede at least independent monitoring of elections and institution-building in the Donbass segment it controls. 

And Ukraine and Russia would need to agree on the ultimate goal. To satisfy Russian concerns, Minsk envisioned a high degree of autonomy for the Eastern regions. 

The most Kiev is willing to agree to is the incorporation of Donbass into general structure of federation which does not go anywhere near far enough for Russia. 

Furthermore, after years of struggle Ukrainian nationalists regard any steps towards the actual implementation of the Minks agreement in a form that would be acceptable to Moscow, as an act of treason.
So if this is the backdrop to the impasse in Ukraine, and if 2019 seemed to open a new era of engagement, what I have been trying to figure out is what explains the current escalation to the point in which since the spring of 2021 we have had two major war scares in the period of 12 months. 

Furthermore, these are war scares of a different order of magnitude. .
Russian military analysts will tell you the Russia has been building capability for a while so it may simply have been a matter of time before they decided to wield this instrument of coercion.But that still begs the question of timing.
It is sometimes suggested that Putin needs a war scare for domestic political purposes. The annexation of Crimea in 2014 earned him a huge popularity bump. That has dissipated. 

There is little evidence from Lavarda polling data to suggest that the Russian population would welcome a new war and particularly not one with Ukraine.
It is true that since 2014 the gloss has come off Russia’s economy. Putin’s regime can no longer offer a good news story of an improving welfare bargain. 

In 2018 it raised the pension age, further undermining morale. As analysts at the Carnegie center have remarked, the Putin-era social contract - “you provide for us and leave our Soviet-style social handouts alone, and we’ll vote for you and take no interest in your stealing and bribe-taking” - has worn thin. 

In the autumn elections to the Russian parliament the legacy Communist party gained strength. But, again, that hardly provides a good reason for a sudden escalation to the current level of military tension.
The more compelling logic is driven by the tensions within the Minsk compromise, Russia’s geopolitical concerns about America’s stance, and Putin’s own political clock.
Inside the Kremlin, Putin’s own timeline is crucial. In 2024 he faces a choice as to whether to continue in power or to begin to prepare his final exit. 

Russia could step away from the Ukraine issue. But Putin is too dug in. He wants to resolve Ukraine. This does not mean annex it. It means achieving what the struggle between 2007 and 2015 was about i.e. drawing a line on western expansion. 

That needs to be achieved both by consolidating a Russian veto in Ukrainian politics and driving home the message to the West not to attempt a further expansion. 

If 2024 is the date that is on Putin’s mind, then this overlaps with the term of the Biden Presidency. So, setting the terms of Russo-US relations on the issue as early as possible must be a priority for the Kremlin. 

The Biden administration has clearly signaled that its priority is China and that it is willing to pay a political price for retrenching its strategic position (Afghanistan), perhaps that opens the door in Ukraine.
Then there are internal dynamics within Ukraine. The Western media tend to treat Russia’s commentary on Ukraine as purely instrumental talk. But what if we take seriously what the Russians say? 

In that case what they are concerned about is something like the Georgian scenario. 

An over-ambitious or desperate nationalist regime in Kiev, encouraged by loose Western talk about NATO membership, attempts, through force, to reincorporate Donbass. 

That would require Moscow to react with massive force. Better to resolve the issue on Moscow’s own terms by making clear the vast imbalance in military power and forcing the US to engage with the diplomatic process, out-maneuvering Berlin and Paris, which Moscow regards as helpless and pro-Ukrainian.
In 2018, Putin publicly declared that a Ukrainian attempt to regain territory in the Donbas region by force would unleash a military response.
The election in 2019 election of Volodymyr Zelensky was seen as potential opening. 

He ran as a peace candidate. He returned to the Normandy format negotiations and Russia put a lid on any violent clashes in Donbass. 

But Zelensky’s popularity has collapsed. Like all his predecessors he faces a choice between Russophone opposition based in the east of the country, and the nationalists rooted in Ukraine’s west. 

Like all his predecessors he is trying to deliver for the electorate whilst negotiating with the IMF. Ukraine’s economic situation continues to be miserable.
The divisions within Ukrainian politics continue to be extreme, with the nationalist exerting a whip-hand. In March 2020 Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, Andryi Yermak, met with the Putin’s point man Dmitry Kozak, and agreed on a special Advisory Council in which Ukrainian officials would discuss the peace process with representatives of the Russian-backed separatist governments. 

On his return to Kiev, Yermak was slapped with criminal charges by the Ukrainian security services and faced accusations of treason in parliament. 

This confirmed Moscow’s view that nationalist zealots in Ukraine call the shots.
Meanwhile, the NATO-Ukraine issue continues to bubble.
In early December 2019 the Ukrainian parliament adopted a resolution "regarding priority steps to ensure Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic integration and acquire Ukraine's full membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization."
Nor was this simply an appeal from the Ukrainian side. According to Carnegie Moscow center’s Vladimir Frolov, the moment when Moscow’s strategic patience regarding the Zelensky government finally snapped was in June 2020, when NATO decided to grant Ukraine the status of Enhanced Opportunities Partner.
This was welcomed by a representative of Zelensky’s party as follows:
Over the summer of 2020, there was talk in Kyiv of attaining the status of Major Non-NATO Ally, which would remove virtually all restrictions on military cooperation with the Americans.” That is probably the main Russian worry at this point.

As far as the Carnegie team working under Dmitri Trenin can judge, this was a crucial turning point.
Moscow, however, did not immediately move to a war footing. In the second half of 2020 it had to deal with two other major crises in its immediate neighborhood. 

In August the rigged presidential elections in Belarus triggered an unprecedented storm of protest. 

In September 2020 war broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan, with Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey, scoring a major victory. A fragile peace was achieved in November 2020 with Moscow acting as the broker.
Both of these crises could have provided a reckless regime in Moscow with opportunities for dramatic intervention. In neither case did Moscow push hard. 

In the Caucasus conflict it has adopted a balancing position. In Belarus Moscow’s aim seems to be largely defensive, to avoid what for Putin would be a Maidan-style distater. 

But it has not foisted on Lukashenko a complex or expensive new integration with Russia. The Russo-Belarusian integration agreement of November 2021 is an empty letter. With Lukashenko beginning to plan his exit,
the main objective for the Kremlin is to maintain a controlled, pro-Russian transition of power. It wants to prevent Lukashenko and the Belarusian elite from casting around in search of new allies and hatching harebrained schemes. 

Such behavior might escalate the domestic situation and prompt the EU and the United States to look for new approaches, which might again steer Belarus toward the West.
As for Ukraine, the decisive escalation in the spring of 2021 was triggered by actions taken on the Kiev side over winter of 2020-2021.
In December Ukrainian Defense Minister Andrii Taran announced that Ukraine hopes to receive a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) at the upcoming NATO summit.
He stated this at a briefing entitled "Defense aspects of Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic integration: key aspects and tasks for the future," according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry's website.
"Please inform your capitals that we count on your full political and military support for such a decision [granting Ukraine the MAP] at the next NATO summit in 2021. This will be a practical step and a demonstration of commitment to the decisions of the 2008 Bucharest Summit," Taran said
According to him, today Ukraine's course for full membership in NATO is enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine, and the rapid receipt of the NATO Membership Action Plan is a goal set in the recently adopted National Security Strategy of Ukraine. 

Taran noted that over the past seven years, Ukraine has firmly defended not only its own independence, but also the security and stability of Europe, and acts as a powerful outpost on NATO's eastern flank.
"We believe that Ukraine and Georgia's joining the Alliance would be the right decision for NATO. Our countries have a lot in common. These are post-Soviet republics, the countries that have been affected by Russian aggression. From our point of view, Ukraine's and Georgia's potential membership in NATO will have a significant impact on Euro-Atlantic security and stability, in particular in the Black Sea region," Taran said.
2021 February, in an unexpected move the Ukrainian authorities announced severe sanctions against pro-Russian politicians and media. 

On February 2, Zelensky shut down three pro-Russian TV channels, accusing their owner of financing Donbas separatists. 

This was followed on February 19 by sanctions against Ukrainian and Russian individuals and companies on the same charges. 

Most dramatically, Kiev struck against Viktor Medvedchuk, who in recent years has been Putin’s only interlocutor in Ukrainian politics and is a crucial go between. 

Given the strong support for his pro-Russian party Medvedchuk was also a serious challenger to Zelensky in political terms.
Clearly this merited a reaction from Moscow. In direct response, Moscow unleashed the separatist forces in Donbass resulting in a surge in ceasefire violations. 

But intensifying the fighting in Donbass was one thing, why the full-scale military mobilization?
Here the military logistical issues may play a role. Russia has the means. But it also had the motive not simply to intimidate Kiev but to test the relationship between Kiev and Washington. 

It was in early 2021 that Moscow source began to refer more often to Mikheil Saakashvili syndrome. Would Zelensky attempt something similar in Donbass in 2021, in the expectation of American support?
The Kremlin does not treat Ukrainian politics very seriously. They are strongly convinced that the real force in deciding Kiev’s actions is Washington. 

Russia had nothing good to expect from an in-coming Democratic administration and Biden had made clear his determination to take a firm line in the campaign. 

The attack on Alexei Navalny and his jailing added further tension. By raising the military pressure on Kiev, Moscow would test Biden’s mettle and make clear that if the Ukraine situation was to be resolved, then Washington could not rely on Europe to deliver a resolution by means of the Minsk process.
During the crisis, Kozak, who is also the Kremlin’s deputy chief of staff, essentially repeated President Vladimir Putin’s earlier stern warning that a Ukrainian offensive in Donbas would spell the end of Ukrainian statehood. And Washington responded.
Throughout 2021 the Biden administration has walked a line between seeking a working relationship with Russia and responding to pressure to take a strong stance on what are judged to be Russian provocations. 

Given that the Biden administration’s clear focus is on China it is striking how much attention has been directed towards Russia.
From this initial escalation in the spring, triggered by Zelensky’s moves against pro-Russian political forces, by way of the telephone diplomacy with Biden, which led to a deescalation in April, to the June summit in Geneva, the sparring in the summer, and the reescalation of tension since August, we can retrace the steps which by November led back to an acute war scare.
On the Russian side, one significant moment in the longer-term may turn out to be the publication on 2 July 2021 of Russia’s new National Security Strategy. 

Even more explicitly than its predecessor document of 2015 it sets out a new and antagonistic view of the world.
On the Ukrainian side one might point to the Crimean Platform summit that president Zelenskiy opened in Kiev on 22 August, “to build pressure on Russia over its annexation of the Crimea territory, …Officials from 46 countries and blocs are taking part in the two-day summit, including representatives from each of the 30 NATO members. The U.S. delegation is headed up by Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.”
The structure of this conflict is clear as are the routes which generate escalation. 

The question is, can it be resolved? 

Personally I am sympathetic to Anatol Lieven’s take in the Nation. Or the proposal by Thomas Graham (NSC Russia Director for George W Bush) and my colleague Rajan Menon in Politico.
Whichever route one proposes, it will be a disaster for US grand strategy if the upshot of the current crisis is a military escalation or an increase in hostilities with Russia that drives if further towards China. 

The Putin-Xi summit is already scheduled for the winter Olympics in February.

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We exist in a Tripolar World [US China and Russia] with rapidly emerging Middle Powers.
Law & Politics




I am not discounting Fortress Europe but one senses the Fortress is keener on a more defensive posture unlike the US [notwithstanding its withdrawal from Afghanistan], China and Russia. 



5 DEC 16 :The Parabolic Rebound of Vladimir Putin
https://bit.ly/3xLiyJE 

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


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Taiwan and Ukraine are the immediate geopolitical flashpoints.
Law & Politics



29-NOV-2021 ::  Regime Change



Regime Change came to Saddam’s Iraq and for a while regime change was de rigeur.
Muammar Gaddafi was decapitated and the domino effect only stopped when Vladimir Putin decided he was going to put a stop to it and intervened on behalf of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria.

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Lavrov: Russia will not wait for a long response from the United States and NATO. @RealPepeEscobar
Law & Politics

Some sort of response, in principle, should arrive before next Wednesday.
Cryptic Lavrov said negotiations went "as expected".
We all know what this means.

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@WHO Weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 - 11 January 2022
Misc.



Globally, the number of new cases increased markedly in the past week (3-9 January 2022), while the number of new deaths remained similar to that of the previous week. 

Across the six regions, over 15 million new cases were reported this past week, a 55% increase as compared to the previous week and over 43 000 new deaths were reported

The highest numbers of new cases were reported from the 

United States of America (4 610 359 new cases; a 73% increase)

France (1 597 203 new cases; a 46% increase)

United Kingdom (1 217 258 new cases; a 10% increase) 

Italy (1 014 358 new cases; a 57% increase)

India (638 872 new cases; a 524% increase)


29-NOV-2021 ::  Regime Change
https://j.mp/32AZEK5

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.

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Data from #Covid19 worldwide to January 11: + 2,868,671 cases in 24 hours @CovidTracker_fr
Misc.

The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.
https://j.mp/32AZEK5

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.14780
Dollar Index 94.653
Japan Yen 113.7200
Swiss Franc 0.90962
Pound 1.37350
Aussie 0.728940
India Rupee 74.1255
South Korea Won 1186.35
Brazil Real 5.5292000
Egypt Pound 15.691400
South Africa Rand 15.354100

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Netflix Needs New Subscribers. Its Korean Playbook Is Its Secret Weapon.
World Of Finance


In the race to global streaming domination, Netflix’s success with ‘Squid Game’ and ‘Kingdom’ gives it a map to winning over the rest of Asia. 

It took “Squid Game” just four weeks this past fall to become the most-watched Netflix Inc. show ever released in any language. 

But when it comes to the streaming giant’s global ambitions, what happened afterward matters even more — viewers who devoured “Squid Game” started watching more shows in Korean.
During the week of Oct. 11, “My Name,” a drama about a woman seeking to avenge her father’s murder, jumped into the Netflix top 10 for non-English series. 

The following week, “The King’s Affection,” a romance set during the Joseon Dynasty, did the same. 

The week of Nov. 15, “Hellbound,” a fantasy thriller set in the near future, supplanted “Squid Game” as the most-watched non-English show on Netflix across the world.

The series weren’t just popular in South Korea. People were consuming them in Indonesia, Thailand, Colombia and Mexico. 

All told, over the past six months, South Korea has contributed more popular Netflix programs than any country other than the U.S., according to the company’s weekly top 10 lists. 

Now, Netflix is hoping to ride its Korean surge to greater success elsewhere in the Asia Pacific zone. 

Netflix, which reports earnings next week, ended September with 213 million subscribers, the most of any streaming service, and executives believe it can one day reach 500 million customers. 

The pressure remains to keep growing its audience. Investors, who value the company at more than $230 billion, expect Netflix to continue its track record of adding 20 million or so customers each year. 

To do so, Asia Pacific currently represents Netflix’s greatest opportunity for growth, said Michael Morris, an analyst with Guggenheim. 

“If you are on this path to hundreds and hundreds of millions of subscribers, a lot of it has to come from Asia given how big it is,” said Morris.
Capitalizing on its current momentum in Korea will be crucial. Already, Netflix has tapped Minyoung Kim, once its top creative executive in South Korea, to oversee programming across all of Asia Pacific, excluding India. 

Kim and her colleagues who helped forge Netflix’s hard-earned success in South Korea are betting the lessons they learned there and the pipeline of local-language shows they have built can be used to jumpstart Netflix’s growth in myriad other countries.
“We do believe there is a global audience,” for those programs, said Kim.
Not long ago, such optimism might have seemed far-fetched.
In 2016, Netflix launched its streaming service in South Korea with high hopes. 

At the time, Korean culture was already shaping up as a major player in the emerging, globally interconnected market for video games, music, fashion, cuisine, television and movies. 

K-pop was starting to find fans all over the world, and Korean dramas were captivating viewers across China, Japan and Southeast Asia. 

From the start, however, Netflix’s arrival in South Korea did not go smoothly. The company struggled to do business with anyone in the local entertainment industry. 

The country’s biggest TV studios and networks were reluctant to license their shows to Netflix, an unknown foreign service with almost no brand recognition among viewers in the country. 

Directors, writers and actors were even more reticent, with the cast of one project going so far as to drop out once they learned that Netflix had bought their show. 

“They thought it was too small,” said Kim.

Prior to joining Netflix from Twitter Inc. in 2016, Kim had spent years working at CJ ENM Co., one of South Korea’s largest media companies. 

Kim started reaching out to her former colleagues, aiming to build up Netflix’s credibility in the Korean entertainment industry while coming up with an original programming strategy that would give Netflix some life.
The first idea was to try to carve out a niche by differentiating Netflix’s menu from what could already be found on Korean TV. 

For decades, Korean dramas had been widely popular across Asia and were known for melodramatic, fairytale-style romances. 

Netflix set out to make romantic comedies that blended personal struggles, science fiction and elements of espionage into the typical formulaic love stories.
Netflix’s early attempt to make Korean rom-coms different failed to resonate widely with viewers. 

At the same time, Netflix hit on a better approach: mining the scrap heap of discarded ideas from local television.
Bound by certain social taboos and rules on what could be shown on public broadcast TV, mainstream networks in Korea typically passed on most of what they got pitched. 

The resulting flow of rejected ideas created an opening for Netflix. Because it is a paid private service, Netflix enjoyed more leeway in terms of what it could show its viewers. 

Netflix began harvesting ideas considered too edgy for the broadcasters and building a slate of programming that leaned into sex and violence, as well as prickly themes, such as social inequality and politics.
The new strategy paid off. One of the first shows that Netflix bought in the new mold was “Kingdom,” a zombie costume drama that creator Kim Eun-hee had been pitching unsuccessfully to Korean broadcasters for more than five years. 

In 2019, when Netflix released “Kingdom,” viewers responded favorably to the dark material, and the series grew into the service’s first breakout hit from South Korea.
“That’s when people started to open up and to be willing to do business with us,” said Kim.
While Netflix was developing “Kingdom,” Kim went out and hired Don Kang, an executive at CJ ENM. 

“I used to meet and deal with every single sales person in Korea – he, by far, was the toughest negotiator,” Kim said. “So I thought, I need that guy on my side.”
The success of “Kingdom” inspired Netflix to give Kim and Kang more resources to invest in local originals and to add additional staff.
“We started with hiring the local industry people who have the connections and industry experience,” said Kang, who is now the company’s head of programming in the market.
In 2019, Kang struck a deal with Studio Dragon, a subsidiary of CJ ENM that is South Korea’s largest studio. The arrangement gave Netflix the exclusive overseas streaming rights to a valuable slate of popular TV series such as “Crash Landing on You” and “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay.” 

Moving forward, many popular shows that debuted on Korean TV would then go on to stream on Netflix all around the world.
The combination of Netflix’s edgy, Korean originals and the shows it licensed from Studio Dragon quickly proved to be a potent mix. 

Soon, Netflix was picking up customers in South Korea and across the region, including in Japan.
In 2020, the company turned its first annual profit in South Korea while reporting sales of $356 million

South Korea is now one of Netflix’s largest markets in Asia, trailing only Australia and Japan

The company has more than 5 million subscribers in South Korea, according to Media Partners Asia. To date, Netflix has spent more than $1 billion on programming in Korean, one of its largest content investments outside the U.S. 

Along the way, Netflix’s status has flipped. Once shunned by the local creative community, Netflix is now courted.
“There’s a line out the door of producers wanting to do projects with Netflix,” said Chris Lee, a leading talent manager in South Korea.
After ending 2019 with 16.23 million subscribers in the Asia-Pacific, the company is currently on pace to double its subscriber base over two years. 

Even so, Netflix still faces plenty of daunting obstacles throughout the region.  
In South and Southeast Asia, Netflix’s strategy of using unconventional shows to grab audiences has already run into setbacks in an area rife with cultural differences and conservative policies. 

In 2020, the Netflix series “A Suitable Boy” caused an uproar in India over a scene showing its Hindu female protagonist kissing a Muslim man. 

Last year, India  introduced stricter rules for streaming services, including more oversight for content containing sexually explicit scenes, violence and abusive language. 

Netflix is also under increased scrutiny in Vietnam, with officials complaining in 2020 that it failed to comply with tax and content laws.
Another issue is price. For many potential customers, Netflix is quite expensive and in many parts of Asia doesn’t provide as much local content as it does in South Korea or Japan. 

Less-expensive local streaming options continue to attract more customers than Netflix in markets such as Indonesia and Thailand. 

The area is also rife with illegal pirate websites that allow viewers to stream hit movies and TV series, cribbed from legitimate services like Netflix, without paying.
“Netflix is still finding its way in Southeast Asia,” said Myleeta Aga, a former Netflix executive who previously oversaw programming in the region.
Additionally, Netflix is likely to face growing competition from a strong field of international and regional players. Walt Disney Co. launched Disney+ in Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong in November with local-language titles and is working on a slate of local originals. 

WarnerMedia opened a new office in Singapore and plans to introduce HBO Max to Asia soon. 

Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. already offer video services across Asia and have the resources to compete for top projects, as do Chinese streaming services backed by Baidu Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. IQiyi Inc., one of China’s leading streaming services, has ramped up its production of originals outside China, announcing plans for shows from Korea, Thailand and Malaysia.

Despite the many challenges, Netflix executives are confident they can succeed by following their Korean playbook: hiring top executives with deep connections to the local entertainment industry, identifying content that can travel across cultures such as Korean-language shows and Japanese anime, and increasing local-language programming.
“We are really aiming for local impact,” said Kim.
Netflix’s growing investment across Asia is proceeding. The company has leased 172,000 square feet of studio space in South Korea, a work space in Tokyo and a facility in Mumbai. And the streaming service is starting to boost its spending on anime, as well as on programming from Thailand and in Mandarin.
One thing Netflix learned in South Korea is that global rewards can eventually come from patient experimentation in a resistant market.  
“We’ve only been here for five years,” said Kim. “We are just starting.”

SEP-2019 a ‘’conviction’’ Buy at Friday’s closing price of $270.75. $NFLX
http://bit.ly/2m9jhnh

My Mind kept going back to an Article I read in 2012 ‘’Annals of Technology Streaming Dreams’’ by John Seabrook January 16, 2012.
“People went from broad to narrow,” he said, “and we think they will continue to go that way—spend more and more time in the niches— because now the distribution landscape allows for more narrowness’’
Netflix is not a US business, it is a global business. The Majority of Analysts are in the US and in my opinion, these same Analysts have an international ‘’blind spot’’
Once Investors appreciate that the Story is an international one and not a US one anymore, we will see the price ramp to fresh all-time highs.
I, therefore, am putting out a ‘’conviction’’ Buy on Netflix at Friday’s closing price of $270.75.

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True GDP growth in 2021 isn't remotely near the numbers we all use, as the COVID recession in 2020 was so deep & left big base effects (blue). Strip those out & true growth is very different (red). @RobinBrooksIIF
Emerging Markets

True GDP growth in 2021 isn't remotely near the numbers we all use, as the COVID recession in 2020 was so deep & left big base effects (blue). Strip those out & true growth is very different (red). Chile (CL) has the strongest 2021 growth by far. India (IN) is among the weakest.

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@WHO African Region Weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 - Epidemiological week 3 – 9 January 2021
Africa


African Region
After showing a continuous increase in weekly cases for six weeks, the African Region reported an 11% decrease in weekly cases as compared to the previous week, with over 260 000 new cases reported this week. 

This decrease was mainly driven by decreases in new weekly cases reported by Mozambique (17 667 vs 26, 860 new cases) and South Africa (53 433 vs 60 142 new cases). 

However, one- third of countries (16/49), still reported increases of over 50%. 

The highest numbers of new cases were reported from 

South Africa (53 433 new cases; 90.1 new cases per 100 000 population; an 11% decrease)

Zambia (23 628 new cases; 128.5 new cases per 100 000; a 10% decrease)

Ethiopia (18 999 new cases; 16.5 new cases per 100 000; a 34% decrease).
The number of new weekly deaths continues to increase in the Region, with over 2100 new deaths reported this week, an 84% increase as compared to the previous week. 

This increase is largely due to retrospective reporting of 500 deaths on 6 January, resulting in an increase in weekly deaths of 176%. 

The highest numbers of new deaths were reported from 

South Africa (1173 new deaths; two new deaths per 100 000 population; a 176% increase)

Zimbabwe (131 new deaths; <1 new death per 100 000; a 1% decrease)

Madagascar (90 new deaths; <1 new death per 100 000; a 190% increase).

"#COVID19 deaths rose by 64% in the past week mainly due to infections among people at high-risk. Nonetheless, fatalities recorded so far in the fourth wave remain below those in the previous waves." - Dr @SalamGueye @WHOAFRO



29-NOV-2021 ::  Regime Change

https://j.mp/32AZEK5

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.


19-JUL-2021 Many Folks seem to feel we are in the final Act of the COVID-19 Play. I would be limit short that particular narrative.
https://bit.ly/3Bk45Gj

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7 most expensive African countries to live in due to high inflation rates Business Insider Africa H/T @DollyOgutu
Africa


See the list below and do note that we used data derived from very reliable sources, including Statista, Reuters, Bloomberg etc. 

Also note that inflation rates are not constant. So, if you are reading this at a later date, chances are the rates might have changed.

Sudan: The Republic of Sudan, which is located in the Northeastern part of the continent, has the highest inflation rate on the continent. According to Reuters, the country's inflation rate stands at a staggering 387.56%
Zimbabwe: At 56% inflation rate according to Bloomberg, Zimbabwe has the second highest in Africa.
Ethiopia: This country in the Horn of Africa saw its inflation rate rise to 34.2% in October 2021, according to Reuters. The ongoing war in the country has affected the economy.
Angola: Angola has the fourth highest inflation rate in Africa at 29.7%.
South Sudan: The inflation rate in this country stands at 29.68%.
Zambia: This country has an inflation rate of 16.4% according to Bloomberg.
Nigeria: Africa's biggest economy has an inflation rate of 15.99%.

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Ghana Debt Moves Deeper Into Distress as Investors Lose Patience @markets
Africa


The West African nation’s dollar bonds have slumped 10% in 10 days, moving deeper into distressed territory as investors judge that re-financing debt in the Eurobond market won’t be an option when the Federal Reserve hikes rates and budget targets remain elusive.
The extra premium demanded on Ghana’s sovereign dollar debt jumped on Tuesday to an average 1,145 basis points, from 683 basis points in September

Its $27 billion of foreign debt had the worst start to the year among emerging markets, extending last year’s 14% loss, according to a Bloomberg index.
Investors are questioning whether Ghana -- the region’s second-biggest economy -- can sustain its debt levels if a surge in borrowing costs shuts it out of international markets. 

Government debt climbed to 81.5% of gross domestic product at the end of last year, from 31.4% a decade ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 

“The market has woken up to the fact that this is a country with a lot of outstanding bonds,” said Kevin Daly, investment director at Aberdeen Standard Investments in London. 

“A lot of people went into last year with overweight positions and a lot of them have started to throw in the towel.”

The West African nation’s $750 million bonds due in March 2027 fell 10 cents this month to 78.6 cents on the dollar on Tuesday, sending the yield to nearly 14%

Of 14 Ghanaian dollar bonds, 13 are trading with an extra premium of at least 1,000 basis points, a level considered distressed, a Bloomberg index tracking sovereign debt showed.
“I don’t expect them to default in 2022, as they have enough foreign-exchange reserves, but medium to longer term, it becomes an issue as Ghana has lost access to the Eurobond market for rolling over debt,” said Joe Delvaux, a portfolio manager at Amundi in London. 

“They have too much debt for the size of the economy and investors have lost conviction in the government’s willingness to consolidate spending and take necessary measures.”
The government’s failure to pass a new levy on electronic money transfers through parliament in November also made investors doubt whether it has the political capital to pass revenue-raising measures in parliament or reign in spending to reduce borrowing needs.
The opposition to the tax reform and plans to end a subsidy on pharmaceutical and vehicle imports will make it hard for the government to meet this year’s budget deficit target of 7.4%, down from 12.1% last year.
“There’s no appetite for a new Ghana issuance at this stage and probably won’t be until the government has consolidated is public finances more meaningfully,” said Carlos de Sousa, who helps oversee a $3.8 billion developing-nation bond fund at Vontobel Asset Management in Zurich.

9 DEC 19 Time to Big Up the Dosage of Quaaludes


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.@WorldBank GDP growth forecasts #HornOfAfrica: @PatrickHeinisc1
Africa


#Djibouti 2021: 5.1% (2022: 4.3%; 2023: 5.5%)
#Eritrea 2.9% (4.8%; 3.8%)
#Ethiopia 2.4% (4.3%; 6.5%)
#Kenya 5% (4.7%; 5.1%)
#Somalia n.a.
#South_Sudan -5.4% (1.2%; 3.5%)
#Sudan 0.1% (3.5%; 5%)

Conclusions

the embedded assumption in these @WorldBank forecasts seems to be stabilisation in Ethiopia & Sudan 


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Interesting that Binance, the biggest crypto exchange & TikTok, are both sponsoring AFCON 2021. These digital behemoths see Africa as a key market & both are led by Chinese CEOs @moseskemibaro
Africa

Interesting that Binance, the biggest crypto exchange & TikTok, the fastest growing social media platform are both sponsoring AFCON 2021. These digital behemoths see Africa as a key market & both are led by Chinese CEOs

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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
 
 
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January 2022
 
 
 
 
 
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