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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Thursday 27th of January 2022

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IMF's @GitaGopinath : We live in turbulent times on financial markets as geopolitical tensions and imminent interest hikes weigh on sentiment. @IMFLive
World Of Finance

23-AUG-2021 :: There is a fluidity at the Apex of World Power and this brings friction, increases risk and creates ‘’Geopolitical’’ Tail Risks across the spectrum.

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Post-Fed: Markets pricing in 20% (30bp) of a super-sized 50bp rate hike at the March meeting @EddBolingbroke
World Of Finance

Narrative shift (for now) to *at least* 25bp liftoff for March and *at least* four hikes for this year...

Terminal rate…

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2 Year Treasury Daily Moves @TheStalwart
World Of Finance

29-NOV-2021 ::  Regime Change

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

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The Markets Are Wilding Title: Bar, Las Vegas, Nevada Artist: Robert Frank
World Of Finance

Love Fellini. So brave, with that whiff of insanity. @DiAmatoStyle Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 @tcm

The Music has been playing for Eternity and its about to stop

Mirrors on the ceiling, The Pink champagne on ice

Last thing I remember, I was Running for the door

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We live lives that are waveforms constantly changing with time, now positive, now negative. Only at moments of great serenity is it possible to find the pure, the informationless state of signal zero.― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

''But it is a curve each of them feels, unmistakably. It is the parabola'' ― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

''But it is a curve each of them feels, unmistakably. It is the parabola. They must have guessed, once or twice—guessed and refused to believe—that everything, always, collectively, had been moving toward that purified shape latent in the sky, that shape of no surprise, no second chance, no return.

Yet they do move forever under it, reserved for its own black-and-white bad news certainly as if it were the rainbow, and they its children. . . .”
― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

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Dunning-Kruger Effect: a proficiency in metacognition (thinking about thinking).In other words, being stupid makes you too stupid to realize how stupid you are. @G_S_Bhogal

Dunning-Kruger Effect: Awareness of the limitations of cognition (thinking) requires a proficiency in metacognition (thinking about thinking). 

In other words, being stupid makes you too stupid to realize how stupid you are.

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My Struggle: Book 4 | Karl Ove Knausgard

I had the feeling I was walking on the edge of the world. That it wasn’t possible to go any further. One more step and I was gone.

But, my God, how fantastic it was to be able to live here.

Ha ha,’ I said, filling my glass with white wine and drinking it in one long draught.
The taste was of summer nights, discotheques bursting at the seams, buckets of ice on the tables, gleaming eyes, tanned bare arms.

And there was this silence. The murmur of the sea, our footsteps on the gravel, the occasional noise coming from somewhere, a door being opened or a shout, all embraced by silence, which seemed to rise from the ground, rise from objects and surround us in a way which I didn’t formulate as primordial, though I sensed it was, for I thought of the silence in Sørbøvåg on summer mornings when I was a child there, the silence above the fjord beneath the immense Lihesten mountain, half-hidden by mist. The silence of the world.

until in the end everything disintegrated and I drifted into a kind of ghost world.

The ghost world: when I was inside it went straight through me, and when I woke up from it there was little I could remember, a face here, a body there, a room, a staircase, a backyard, pale and shimmering, surrounded by an ocean of darkness.

It was nothing less than a horror film. Now and then I would remember the most peculiar details, like a rock at the bottom of a stream or a bottle of olive oil on a kitchen shelf, everyday items in themselves but as symbols of a whole night’s mental activity, in fact all that was left of it, which was bizarre.

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He was ambushed with a cake. @Channel4News
Law & Politics


A Conservative MP says that a birthday celebration held in Downing Street for Boris Johnson wasn't a "premeditated party".

It’s started on Have I Got News For You. He tells you exactly who he is. @JolyonRubs

Lawson, whose cookbooks include titles such as Nigellissima and Cook, Eat, Repeat, subsequently took to Twitter to propose that Ambushed By Cake be the name of her next culinary guide.

“This is just too meta. Plus, you think it’s a joke? Says it all”, read her reply.

BBC presenter Nick Robinson questioned whether or not the cake could be interviewed as part of ongoing investigations, posting: “The cake at the centre of the latest partygate allegations has denied ambushing the PM.”

TV critic Toby Earle meanwhile likened the defence to a Little Britain sketch, in which the fictional Conservative MP Sir Norman Fry reads outlandish apologies for his actions while surrounded by his family.
“… it was at that moment I was ambushed with a birthday cake and was unable to escape and forced to celebrate against my will…” read Mr Earle’s caption.

Twitter user @iucounu joked: “For his bravery in the face of the cake ambush the Prime Minister has been awarded the Victoria Sponge.”
While author and historian Greg Jenner shared an assortment of cake puns.
“As any historian can tell you, the Battle of Cannae was a decisive victory in which the Romans were destroyed in a pincer movement between creme brulee and a Victoria sponge,” he tweeted.


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Law & Politics

A large war in Europe is likely in the coming weeks. The current security architecture of the continent, the future of NATO, and America’s role in shaping security outcomes there are all at stake. 

Beyond Europe, this conflict would have profound implications for U.S. defense strategy, and may upset America’s best-laid plans to focus on the eroding military balance with China. 

Ukraine, whose fate hangs in the balance, may be at the center of the crisis, but Moscow has a greater goal in mind: the revision of Europe’s security order. 

The Russian armed forces have conducted a substantial buildup around Ukraine, with Moscow threatening unilateral military measures if it is not able to achieve its goals at the negotiating table. 

President Vladimir Putin has been coy, but the threat is use of force on a large scale against Ukraine, including the possibility of regime change. 

Even if force does not get Moscow any closer to the wide-reaching concessions that it seeks from the West, Russia’s leadership likely judges that it will secure its influence in the country, deny Ukraine any hope of getting into NATO, and end NATO’s defense cooperation with Ukraine.
The unfolding events of the past year and the crescendo of the current crisis have been widely interpreted as a classic case of coercive diplomacy: threats, signals, and demands backed by a show of capability and resolve. 

However, it is more likely that Moscow was leaning towards a military solution. Russia’s diplomatic overture offered few prospects for success at the negotiating table. 

There is an eerie calm as Russian forces continue to position equipment and units around Ukraine. At this stage, 

Russia’s military retains operational surprise and could launch an assault on short notice. There will not be further strategic warning ahead of an offensive.

Prediction is always a fraught business, but it seems plausible that Russian forces would seize Ukraine’s eastern regions, as well as the southern port city of Odessa, and encircle Kyiv

The Russian goal would be regime change, perhaps via constitutional reform, and a settlement that would secure Russian influence over Ukraine. 

From a position of leverage, Russia would try to attain a U.S. commitment to give it a free hand in this part of eastern Europe. 

With Belarus firmly in Russia’s orbit, Moscow is eyeing using force to change Ukraine’s strategic orientation in an effort to create its own cordon against Western influence. 

An expanded invasion of Ukraine may not herald a prolonged occupation, but Russia appears prepared for that contingency. 

Russian force posture can enable a range of choices, but it is difficult to see how Moscow accomplishes any lasting political gains without having to resort to maximalist options.
How to Interpret Russian Demands
This crisis is not about NATO or Ukraine, but about NATO and Ukraine. 

Russia wants Washington to agree to a revised European order in which Russia has a veto over security arrangements and in decisions over security outcomes

By closing NATO’s open door, and halting defense cooperation with non-members, Washington would be acknowledging that Moscow’s security considerations supersede the right of its neighbors to choose their strategic orientation, and that security in Europe must be negotiated with Moscow.
Yet Russian demands for legally binding guarantees raise questions. 

On the one hand, Putin has railed against successive rounds of NATO expansion, encroaching military infrastructure, military exercises, and defense cooperation with countries like Ukraine. 

But he has also said that he does not believe in U.S. security assurances, and according to him Washington easily withdraws from treaties with or without explanation. 

So, why pursue such agreements with urgency when he believes that Washington may just bin them one day anyway?
There is also the nagging problem that no U.S. Congress, or any legislature in Europe, is likely to ratify a legally binding agreement with Russia based on such demands. 

Perhaps Moscow still assesses that the United States and its European allies might sign politically binding agreements that fall short of a treaty. 

While not legally binding, such agreements would hold strategic implications for European countries that are not NATO members. 

Those states would find their room for maneuver shrinking and would seek to hedge or to pursue a foreign policy that includes balancing relations between Europe and Russia.
Russia’s demands for a halt to NATO expansion, a rollback of defense cooperation with non-NATO members, and a return to force posture prior to 1997 (essentially a “go back to Germany” clause) seem to have little relationship to the deadlock over Minsk II implementation

These demands won’t secure a say over Ukraine’s domestic policy, or even get Russia out of the current sanctions regime. 

Furthermore, why didn’t Moscow make any of these demands during the spring buildup? The timing was no less auspicious. 

Why wait until the end of 2021 to come up with rushed proposals and demand rapid progress?
The diplomatic effort appears improvised, while the central demands were obvious non-starters for the West. 

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, often the last to know what is happening, was unsurprisingly surprised to find out it that was supposed to be coming up with these draft treaties in late December. 

Moscow has not only been asking for things that it knows it cannot attain, but it has been doing so in a manner that will ensure that it cannot attain them

Serious negotiations are usually done behind closed doors. By publicizing its demands and refusing to unbundle them in ways that might achieve compromise, Russia has made its diplomatic effort appear more performative than genuine.
Perhaps Moscow is just fishing for what it can get, but the political demands do not align with the military side of the equation. 

Settling for minor modifications to the already existing strategic stability agenda would appear to be a political retreat after releasing such ostentatious demands. 

Persistent references to internal time constraints, demanding “answers urgently,” suggest that Putin has been leaning towards using force all along

At Geneva, it became clear that Moscow views U.S. counteroffers for an expanded strategic stability agenda with much lower significance than its irreconcilable demands.
A dramatic expansion of the war is now the most probable outcome

In the spring the Russian leadership issued red lines, but if they really were interested in deterring an expansion of U.S. defense cooperation then such a demand would have been made at the June presidential summit, and they would have given the effort a bit longer than a few months to produce results.
Putin may see diplomacy as a last-ditch effort to avert war, but Russia’s posture suggests that he is leaning towards a unilateral solution

While some commentators may view this as a bluff, it hard to see how Putin imagined bluffing his way to a wholesale revision of Europe’s security architecture.
Why Now?
There are two overlapping issues: The first is Ukraine, where Russia desires to have a firm say over its foreign policy as well as aspects of its internal governance. 

The second is to block further NATO expansion and to roll back Ukrainian defense cooperation with NATO members. 

Moscow perceives its strategy in Ukraine as having generally failed, with diplomacy over the Minsk ceasefire agreement at a deadlock

while Ukraine is increasingly treated as a de facto NATO member. In statements, essays, and articles, Russian leaders have made clear over the course of 2021 that they believe that Ukraine and its territory are being used as an instrument against Russia by the United States, and if they cannot compel a policy reversal, they will seek military solutions

As Putin said in December, “if our Western colleagues continue their obviously aggressive line, we will take appropriate military-technical reciprocal measures and will have a tough response to their unfriendly steps.” 

What is remarkable about this crisis is how well it has been signposted over the course of 2021, with Russian political statements and military activity in close alignment.
Although the crisis has structural roots in the post-Cold War settlement, the proximate cause of this standoff is a series of political turns in 2020 and early 2021. 

After initially being open to dialogue, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s administration took a hard turn away from pursuing compromises with Moscow. 

Zelensky arrested Putin’s ally Viktor Medvedchuk and banned three pro-Russian television channels in the country. 

Putin has also railed against a discriminatory language law passed in 2019, which has just entered into force. 

Not only has Ukraine continued on a westward trajectory, but Zelensky has also chosen to take a hard line, and has begun to actively eliminate Russian influence in Ukraine. 

This turnabout dashed any hopes that Russia had of achieving a desirable political settlement and removed a path for Russia to get out from under Western sanctions. 

Russian officials have publicly made clear that they see no further point to negotiating with Zelensky, viewing his administration as a marionette of the United States, and have instead approached his patron — Washington.
European capitals and Washington have backed Ukraine’s position. Moscow is thus faced with a choice between accepting that Ukraine is slipping away, or escalation. 

Moscow judges that it has to act in order to prevent a fixed reorientation of the country and the destruction of the key pillars of its influence. 

Among Putin’s grievances is the belief that Ukraine will become a platform for U.S. power projection along Russia’s southwestern flank and he cannot tolerate this prospect (recalling Moscow’s fears that led it to invade Afghanistan). 

Last fall he remarked “what if tomorrow there are missiles near Kharkov — what should we do then? We do not go there with our missiles — but missiles are being brought to our doorstep. Of course, we have a problem here.” 

Whether genuine, or instrumental, Russia’s leadership have often used this threat to link Ukraine to broader grievances on European security.
Washington’s effort to launch a strategic stability dialogue has also played a role. The Biden administration sought predictability in the relationship, perhaps so it could focus on China and pressing domestic concerns. 

The administration was right to launch this initiative and see if Moscow was willing to engage, but as Oscar Wilde quipped, “There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” 

Moscow has now made clear what the price of predictability in relations is, and it is clearly one that the United States is unwilling to pay. 

Given that Washington has signaled that it sees Europe as a secondary theater, the price Russia would ask was inevitably going to be high.
Russia’s elite may believe that they are in a good position to conduct a military operation and weather the storm of Western economic punishment. 

Having stabilized the Russian economy, established a war chest of reserves (over $620 billion), and tightened the screws on its opposition, the regime is more confident economically and politically. 

Moscow has greater leverage over Europe due to surging gas prices and energy supply shortages. 

Putin might also judge that the Biden administration is reticent about enacting the most severe financial sanctions in its arsenal because these would cause ripples in the global financial system, a rise in U.S. gasoline prices, not to mention the impact on energy prices in Europe.
It also merits considering that Russian assumptions may be colored by war optimism.  

Moscow might believe that much of the Ukrainian public quietly holds pro-Russian attitudes and Russian forces might be greeted as liberators. 

Russian elites see Ukraine as a manipulable oligarchy with corrupt elites. Such assumptions and narratives run deep in Putin’s statements and writings. 

The Russian elite is deeply chauvinistic and has little regard for Ukrainian military capabilities. 

Moscow may judge the use of force to be preferable relative to the mounting costs of inaction, and the potential risks of having to use force later. 

Leaders talk themselves into war, imagining that the situation is imposed upon them and rationalizing that a conflict is inevitable so it is better to fight now than later. 

Russia would not be the first country to invade another, misjudging the socio-political dynamics, and the costs of occupation.
Can Putin Back Down?
The United States and its allies have made clear that while they are willing to discuss an expanded strategic stability agenda, they will not shut NATO’s open door, constrain military cooperation with non-member states, remove military forces and infrastructure from the territory of NATO members who have joined since 1997, or compel Ukraine to accept a form of neutrality. 

While a discussion on future missile placement, mutual reductions in military activity, and other measures might count as a diplomatic success for Moscow, it is unlikely that this is enough to satisfy Putin. If it were, why has he not pocketed the deal already?
After the meeting in Geneva, the United States was unable to determine if the Russian diplomatic effort was genuine or cover for a planned military operation. 

The head of Russia’s delegation, Sergey Ryabkov, didn’t appear to know either.
It is doubtful that the Russian leadership can back down without external and internal audience costs. 

Over the past month, the West has also been arming Ukraine in anticipation of a Russian attack, hardly a policy success for Moscow. 

If Putin backs down with nothing, the domestic and international perception will be that he was either bluffing or, even worse, was successfully deterred

Putin will end up with the worst of both worlds, seen as simultaneously aggressive and resistible.

 Also, while an authoritarian state may care less about domestic audience perceptions, the elites, or the so-called “selectorate,” are another matter. 

Authoritarian leaders like Putin can find their ability to manage political coalitions diminished if elites perceive them as reckless, incompetent, and increasingly unfit to rule. 

Putin certainly has options, but this is not a contest in which he can afford to back down cost-free.
A More Dangerous Mobilization
While the military deployment may appear overly visible, lacking in initiative or surprise, in fact the opposite is true. 

Russia is indeed assembling this force in a manner designed to conceal its operational aims. To some extent it retains surprise and initiative. 

The Russian military is deploying a large force slowly, and deliberately, with equipment that can be parked in the field for months. Troops can be quickly sent to these encampments, fall in on equipment, and begin dispersing. 

This conceals the final disposition of forces, and the timing and scope of an operation. 

With large numbers of Russian forces having arrived in Belarus, and more on the way, a large-scale military operation in the coming weeks seems probable.
Ukraine finds itself in a mobilization trap. Kyiv might be reluctant to conduct large force shifts — if Moscow is spoiling for a fight, then a mobilization order could be used as a pretext by the Russian leadership, claiming that Ukraine intends to retake the Donbas by force. 

It is also expensive and economically disruptive. 

Yet on the brink of all-out war, the calm among Ukrainian elites is jarring. Rumors swirl that Zelensky thinks that this is a bluff, and even believes that the United States is exaggerating the threat intentionally to force him into concessions. 

Ukraine’s leadership appears to be more worried about the impact that this threat has on the economy and public sentiments, than about preparing the nation for the war.
Since 2014, the Russian military has shifted formations to Ukraine’s borders, resulting in roughly 55,000 to 60,000 ground troops permanently stationed in the region (a 250 to 300-kilometer range). 

The forces normally stationed on Ukraine’s border can generate about 25 to 30 battalion tactical groups and the forces that have been mobilized in recent months to join them represent another 35 to 40 battalion tactical groups. 

Recently arrived forces from the Eastern Military District might bring this figure to a total of 65 to 70. A battalion tactical group is a task-organized combined-arms maneuver formation, averaging 800 personnel per unit (though it can be as small as 600 and as large as 1,000). 

It is essentially a battalion plus enablers such as artillery, logistics, and air defense. These formations are an imprecise but useful unit of measurement when talking about Russian offensive maneuver potential.
Total estimated end strength is therefore already north of 90,000 personnel. These figures do not include airpower, naval units, or additional logistical components that are likely to support this force. 

Russian-led forces in Ukraine’s Donbas region might account for another 15,000 troops, but they have considerably lower combat effectiveness than Russian regulars.
The force gathered from other Russian regions largely consists of prepositioned equipment, but it is already sufficient for a military operation. There are indications that Russia has begun sending personnel. 

The current force is largely within the self-deployment range, which means they can move to the border in a matter of days once personnel arrive. 

Russia retains considerable force-generation potential and can surge units to the area on relatively short notice. 

Publicly available estimates suggest Moscow might gather a force of 90 to 100 battalion tactical groups, together with reserves, and auxiliary forces for a total of 150,000 to 175,000 troops. 

The Russian military is not yet in position for such a largescale operation, but it could have the requisite forces and elements placed in the coming weeks.
What are Russia’s Options?
A Russian military campaign could range from standoff strikes to a largescale invasion of Ukraine’s eastern regions, the encirclement of Kyiv, and the taking of Odessa along the coast. 

The question is not what Russia can do militarily in Ukraine, since the answer is almost anything, but what kind of operation might attain lasting political gains. Consequently, most scenarios seem illogical and politically counterproductive.
Given the stakes, and likely costs, any Russian military operation would have to attain political gains that give Moscow the ability to enforce implementation. 

In short, just hurting Ukraine is not enough to achieve anything that Russia wants. 

While some believe that Russia intends to compel Ukraine into a new Minsk-like agreement, the reality is that nobody in Moscow thinks that a Ukrainian government can be made to implement any document they sign. 

Such a settlement would be political suicide for the Zelensky administration, or any other. 

Russia has no way to enforce compliance with its preferences once the operation is over. This is, at least, the lesson that Moscow seems to have taken from Minsk I and Minsk II. 

Why would Minsk III prove any different? Russia has not struggled in getting Ukraine to sign deals at gunpoint, but all of these have resulted in Ukraine’s continued westward march and a decline of Russian influence in the country. 

It’s not clear how Moscow achieves its goals without conducting regime change, or a partitioning of the state, and committing to some form of occupation to retain leverage.
Those who think that Russia might simply conduct an airstrike campaign have an even bigger problem in explaining what possible political aims Moscow could attain via this type of operation. 

Most likely, the initial war effort will involve the use of artillery, precision fires, and airpower. Then ground forces would conduct a multi-axis attack from Belarus, Russia, the Donbas, and Crimea. 

A ground operation would entail the occupation of Ukrainian territory for some time to secure lines of communication and critical infrastructure, which requires follow-on forces and potentially reserves. 

The Russian military has been developing a sizable reserve and conducting partial callups to test it.
Russia could leverage the offer of an eventual withdrawal from Ukraine in exchange for a deal, figuring that the United States might prefer a broken Ukraine to a hard redrawing of the map of Europe. 

But this arrangement would undoubtedly combine current demands made to NATO with sovereignty impositions on Ukraine, including federalization to increase regional autonomy, and a rollback of defense ties with NATO members along with promises that NATO will never admit Ukraine. 

It is possible that Putin believes he can get such a deal, to be enforced externally by the United States, but only if he holds the bulk of Ukraine’s territory in his hands.
The increasingly likely scenario is that Moscow intends to install a pro-Russian government backed by its forces, which aligns with recently released claims by the United Kingdom. 

Alternatively, Russia may consider a partitioning of Ukraine. This would not be a total occupation of the country, but would include most of the country sans the Western regions. 

It would be terribly risky, and costly, but it would make Putin the Russian leader who restored much of historical Russia, and established a new buffer against NATO. 

A de facto occupation of most of Ukraine may be the only way that Russia can impose its will on the country if it cannot install a pro-Russian government. In launching an offensive, one of Moscow’s riskiest decisions will be whether to stay largely east, or to venture west of the Dnieper river.
Whether Russia intends to partition Ukraine or not, war is highly contingent. Russian forces may end up controlling large parts of Ukraine for a prolonged period either way. 

Indeed, this is how Russia originally ended up with the Donbas in the first place, having never sought to hold it indefinitely. 

Similarly, the Russian operation to seize Crimea shows little evidence that annexation was a premeditated outcome. 

Consequently, once an operation is launched, beyond the initial move it is difficult to predict how it might end.
Why not something lesser in scope? A smaller campaign, perhaps seizing the rest of the Donbas, would have high costs and risks. What does this gain Moscow in Ukraine, or in terms of revising its position in Europe? If anything, it worsens Russia’s current predicament. 

Russian leaders have acknowledged that their strategy of trying to leverage the Donbas has failed to deliver and are unlikely to double down or repeat something that they concede won’t work. 

The logic of a Russian military operation suggests that the best way in which Moscow could attain lasting political gains is to use force on a large scale and commit to an occupation for some period of time.
The Unfinished Business of Europe
If Putin’s aim is to see what he can get, then he may well take the low-hanging fruit of an expanded strategic stability agenda, pocket the win, and close out this gambit.

 Europeans would breathe a sigh of relief and U.S.-Russian relations would stagger on until the next crisis. This looks terribly unlikely. 

Alternatively, if Russia uses force on a large scale, Washington would have to make major shifts in force posture, reinforce deterrence on NATO’s flank, and reinvest in its ability to defend European allies, likely to the detriment of its aim to focus on the Indo-Pacific

The ensuing cycle of sanctions, diplomatic expulsions, and various forms of retaliation might escalate to the use of larger-scale economic and political instruments.
If Ukraine is unfinished business for Russia’s leader, then European security should be unfinished business for the United States. This is a defining moment

Russia may be able to temporarily set the agenda, but it has thus far not shown itself strong enough to make the United States and its allies in Europe restructure the current order to accommodate Russian preferences. 

There are fundamental disagreements in outlooks on international relations and which principles should govern them. 

Despite periods of cooperation, Moscow has long interpreted this as an order of exclusion, created and expanded during a time of Russian weakness. 

This is not just a phenomenon under Putin. Missed opportunities, choices made and not made, cast a long shadow over European security.
This crisis reveals a problem in U.S. strategy. European security remains much more unsettled than it appears. 

The most militarily powerful state on the continent does not see itself as a stakeholder in Europe’s security architecture. 

There’s little evidence that without the United States, European powers can deter Moscow or lead their way out of a major crisis. 

The European Union is nonexistent in the conversation, begging for relevance. 

Yet the United States is materially constrained, seeking to focus on the Indo-Pacific and redress a deteriorating military balance vis-à-vis China. 

Washington’s dream of making the Russia relationship more predictable via a narrow strategic stability agenda appears to be dissipating. 

The United States will have to manage China and Russia, at the same time, for the foreseeable future. 

For U.S. strategy, it was never going to be China only, but it will prove exceedingly difficult to make it China mostly — not as long as Russia gets a vote.

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Law & Politics

5 DEC 16 :The Parabolic Rebound of Vladimir Putin

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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24-JAN-2022 :: The Charge of the Light Brigade
Law & Politics

President Putin's Russia is oftentimes compared disparagingly on a GDP basis [the GDP comparison is made with Italy] and Russian power projection dismissed out of hand.

For example, @MittRomney described #Russia as a gas station parading as a country.

Sun Tzu pronounced ''“Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.”
The sheer arrogance and naivete of the Hashtag Warrior #StandWithUkraine @SecBlinken and ''the UK and our partners would impose a severe cost on Russia'' @LizTruss is simply unfathomable.
It is difficult to know who is producing a bigger guffaw in the Kremlin. It is a ''Charge of the Light Brigade'' moment.
The Charge of the Light Brigade was a failed military action involving the British light cavalry led by Lord Cardigan against Russian forces during the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854 in the Crimean War.

The Charge of the Light Brigade BY ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON
Half a league, half a league, 

Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred. 

“Forward, the Light Brigade! 

Charge for the guns!” he said. 

Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!” 

Was there a man dismayed? 

Not though the soldier knew
Someone had blundered. 

Theirs not to make reply, 

Theirs not to reason why, 

Theirs but to do and die.

Into the valley of Death 

Rode the six hundred.

President Putin has fashioned an extraordinary even parabolic rebound [“But it is a curve each of them feels, unmistakably. It is the parabola.''] in Russia's geoeconomic and geopolitical position over the last two decades.

Russia FX reserves hit all-time high at USD 630bn towards the end of 2021. That's about 40% of GDP! @akcakmak 

More than 75% of those reserves are backed by Gold. 

In a World of hocus pocus monetary policy making, the Russian Ruble is the soundest of sound money.

Oil & gas is now only 15% of Russia’s (official) GDP (so even lower, in reality) 

The country is the world's biggest grain exporter, second in weapon’s exports and the largest exporter of complex nuclear reactors.
In fact 2/3rds of Russia's economy is actually services.
In fact My Trade of the Year in the Markets would be to buy The Russian Ruble and the Stock Market. Of course, Timing is everything.

Returning to ''geopolitical'' scenario, it is clear that looking through the deluge of hashtags, Russia has largely triangulated Europe. 

The Gas dependency is real and the asymmetry of military forces very real. 

The idea that Erdogan and his Bayraktar TB2 drones are going to rescue Ukraine is simply quaalude level [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’’].delusion.

There is no stomach for a fight. Furthermore, We exist in a Tripolar World and the West appears to be inviting its own triangulation.
@JoeBiden is in a Pincer with Xi & Vladimir holding the console & ratcheting up the pressure & they own the timing on the Ukraine Taiwan Two Step 

https://twitter.com/alykhansatchu/status/14684989803424 84992?s=20
The West seems determined on its own kamikazi.

Putin sees this optimal window of opportunity to test the readiness of US for bilateral talks with Moscow but also the red line for future concessions if Washington really intends to get Russia out of China’s orbit in the long term. Moscow has put its conditions on the table. tweeted @vtchakarova.

and added ''Amid bifurcation of the global system, think of Machiavelli: „There’s nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, then to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.“ Because this is what Russia’s doing now''
Will the West deal? Anyone who follows international affairs and who appreciates that outside the Yemen its no longer a Unipolar World has to understand ''The Great Balancer'' has to be accommodated.

The Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava by William Simpson (1855), illustrating the Light Brigade's charge into the "Valley of Death"

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These are S-300V-series air defense/ballistic missile defense systems reportedly in Bryansk near the border with Ukraine. @RALee85
Law & Politics

A potentially pretty significant development. These are S-300V-series air defense/ballistic missile defense systems reportedly in Bryansk near the border with Ukraine. These would be used to defend against Ukrainian Tochka-U tactical ballistic missiles. 

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.@WHO Weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 - 25 January 2022

Globally, the number of new COVID-19 cases increased by 5% in the past week (17-23 January 2022), while the number of new deaths remained similar to that reported during the previous week (Figure 1)

Across the six WHO regions, over 21 million new cases were reported, representing the highest number of weekly cases recorded since the beginning of the pandemic

Nearly 50 000 new deaths were also reported. 

At the country level, the highest numbers of new cases were reported from 

United States of America (4 215 852 new cases; a 24% decrease)

France (2 443 821 new cases; a 21% increase)

India (2 115 100 new cases; a 33% increase)

Italy (1 231 741 new cases; similar to the previous week)

Brazil (824 579 new cases; a 73% increase). 

The highest number of new deaths were reported from 

United States of America (10 795 new deaths; a 17% decrease)

Russian Federation (4792 new deaths; a 7% decrease)

India (3343 new deaths; a 47% increase)

Italy (2440 new deaths; a 24% increase)

The United Kingdom (1888 new deaths; similar to the previous week’s figures)

29-NOV-2021 ::  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.

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Global 3.4M average COVID cases/day exponentially growing total 1% each day. #Omicron @jmlukens

The transmissibility of #Omicron is not in question, it clearly has a spectacular advantage.

• >50% of the world will be infected w/ omicron by end of March. says Chris Murray of ⁦@IHME_UW @GHS

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function."

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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Nations w/ most avg COVID19 deaths/day @jmlukens

US: 2,258
Russia: 668
India: 466
Italy: 360
Brazil: 332
UK: 265
France: 265
Mexico: 262
Colombia: 210
Poland: 202

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Israel: over the last week, 1% of the population got confirmed with COVID every single day @fibke

[Israel] This is not the reason. Our adult population is 90%+ vaccinated, and they are the ones that are flooding ICUs. @dvir_a

The reason is the uncontrolled spread of omicron in Israel spearheaded by government, under false belief that if we let it spread fast it will end fast.

23-AUG-2021 ::  We have now crossed peak Vaccine Euphoria

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Israel ICU not looking good. @Gab_H_R

There is a widespread, rosy misconception that viruses evolve over time to become more benign.  @Nature @ArisKatzourakis

Consider that Alpha and Delta are more virulent than the strain first found in Wuhan, China. The second wave of the 1918 influenza pandemic was far more deadly than the first.

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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France via @Gab_H_R H/T @DGBassani

28-MAR-2021 we are seeing a sustained acceleration in mutant viruses.

More fuel to the hypothesis that BA.2 may lead to more severe disease than BA.1. As if we needed any. @DGBassani

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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Insurance Companies Note Jump In Death Payouts Amid 40% Rise Among Prime-Age Americans @zerohedge

“The data is consistent across every player in that business,” Davison said. 

“And what we saw just in the third quarter—we’re seeing it continue into the fourth quarter—is that death rates are up 40 percent over what they were pre-pandemic. Just to give you an idea of how bad that is, a three-sigma or a one-in-200-year catastrophe would be a 10 percent increase over pre-pandemic. So 40 percent is just unheard of.”

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.121995
Dollar Index 96.675
Japan Yen 114.6815
Swiss Franc 0.92496
Pound 1.342460
Aussie 0.706575
India Rupee 75.1825
South Korea Won 1202.85
Brazil Real 5.4329726
Egypt Pound 15.744269
South Africa Rand 15.431980

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.@WHO African Region Weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 - 25 January 2022

The African Region reported a continued decline in case incidence in the past week with over 131 000 new cases reported, a 31% decrease. 

However, four countries (4/49; 8%) reported increases of 20% or greater: 

Algeria, Réunion, Burkina Faso (542 vs 425 new cases; 28% increase) and the United Republic of Tanzania (998 vs 831 new cases; 20% increase). 

The highest numbers of new cases were reported from 

Réunion (31 401 new cases; 3507.3 new cases per 100 000 population; a 93% increase)

South Africa (22 795 new cases; 38.4 new cases per 100 000; a 35% decrease)

Algeria (9052 new cases; 20.6 new cases per 100 000; a 142% increase).
The number of new deaths also continued to decline in the Region with over 1700 new deaths reported, a 14% decrease compared to the previous week. 

The highest numbers of new deaths were reported from 

South Africa (785 new deaths; 1.3 new deaths per 100 000 population; a 13% decrease)

Ethiopia (105 new deaths; <1 new death per 100 000; a 5% decrease)

Namibia (98 new deaths; 3.9 new deaths per 100 000; an 8% decrease)

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.

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The IMF projects sub-Saharan Africa to grow at 3.7% in 2022. @IMFAfrica

Anyone with even a sketchy understanding of the Cold War knows that it was a time not only of intense direct competition between the reigning superpowers, but also of grand schemes by both the U.S. and USSR for integrating their allies and clients into adversarial blocs, as well as for poaching the partners of the rival power—especially in the developing world—into their own camp.
Throughout much of this era, the West regarded professions of neutrality among poorer countries with skepticism or even outright hostility. 

Beginning with the Eisenhower administration, the view took hold in Washington that non-alignment was just a pose, and that those who declared it had already begun an ineluctable drift into Moscow’s clutches.
The Soviet Union basically agreed. With far less wealth than the United States or its collection of allies, many of which were then reluctantly transitioning one by one away from imperialism, Moscow felt it could afford to be tolerant of the non-aligned. 

The greater the distance that newly independent countries established between them and their former colonizers, the more likely, the Kremlin felt, they would adopt a worldview that was sympathetic to socialism.
In my column last week, I discussed how some of the early to middle Cold War-era rivalry played out in Africa. 

In 1956, sensing the imminent end of the age of colonial rule, then-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev abruptly pivoted his country’s foreign policy to invest much more political energy and financial resources in cultivating the so-called Third World, and Africa quickly developed into a priority theater for the Russians.
At a time when domino theories still received respectful hearings in the West, the United States and its European allies were forced to make a pivot of their own, and they suddenly began paying much more attention to Africa than had ever, especially for Washington, previously been the case. 

Development assistance, or so-called aid, became a major feature of Western foreign policy. 

The White House and European capitals began to see a parade of visits from African leaders. 

And a small and then not-so-small industry of economists, other social scientists and nongovernmental organizations was born, whose aim was to help figure out the challenging puzzle of development—and for the latter group, the NGOs, not incidentally, to capture some of the government’s generous budgetary outlays.
What is lost in this deliberately streamlined narrative, appreciated far too little both in popular memory and among mainstream historians, is the energy, resourcefulness and creativity shown by many African leaders during the transition out of colonial rule amid a raging Cold War.
Kwame Nkrumah led the way after Ghana’s independence in 1957, furiously attempting to conceive of an approach that would move his country quickly out of poverty and into the ranks of middle-income or even industrialized countries. 

He sensed that he needed engagement and help from both West and East in order to achieve this, and toward that end he joined the Commonwealth and maintained surprisingly flattering relations with Queen Elizabeth as well as with U.S. President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline.
Nkrumah, an unapologetic socialist, thought that this would win him space to entertain productive relations with the Soviet bloc and pursue a policy of drawing African countries together under the banner of pan-Africanism. 

For him, the dual priorities of securing continental unity and positive engagement from the world’s major powers in his development agenda were matters of African survival

But the fierce Cold War competition then underway would not afford him much maneuvering room, and Nkrumah was overthrown in a coup that enjoyed—at a minimum—a wink and a nod from the CIA in 1966.
Other African leaders of this era were granted even less wiggle room. 

Following Ghana into independence in 1958, Guinea was punished by France under President Charles de Gaulle for opting not to join a paternalist, Paris-led community of newly independent African states. 

To make an example of the Guinean anti-colonial leader Sekou Toure for its other African colonies, the French pulled out of their former colony almost overnight, famously trashing everything from government records to office furniture, abandoning hospitals and ripping out phone lines.
With time, though, playing one superpower off another became more normalized and ceased being the province of left-leaning governments in Africa. 

Despite being the United States’ most important client on the continent during the Cold War, Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko, whom the CIA helped install in power, eventually flirted with both China and North Korea. 

Ethiopia and Somalia, rivals in the Horn of Africa region, swapped their allegiances between Moscow and Washington in the late 1970s. 

And Angola, a steadfast Marxist client of the Soviet Union, astutely gave the American company Chevron the leading role in producing oil from its Cabinda enclave, under the theory that business interests would help temper America’s anti-communist ardor during Angola’s long, foreign-supported civil wars.
Beyond these kinds of acrobatics, though, what is most impressive about the 1960s in Africa is the variety and extent of economic and political experimentation on the continent, and the resourcefulness and imagination of leaders, beginning with Nkrumah, who sought desperately to forge a path toward greater prosperity. 

Equally impressive, and if anything even more important, is that regardless of ideology, every one of these attempts resulted in dead ends.
These include the agro-industrial state capitalism forged in Cote d’Ivoire by the conservative Felix Houphouet-Boigny in the 1960s and 1970s, which for a time, using commodity exports and migrant labor, made his country appear to many to be an economic miracle story. 

They also include the Tanzania of Julius Nyerere, who dreamed of nudging his nation forward in an egalitarian way through collective agriculture and a homegrown socialism shorn of ideas like class struggle and emphasizing industrial-led growth

From left to right, others tried an impressive variety of strategies, but by the 1970s in many African countries, and by the 1980s nearly everywhere on the continent, this economic and ideological experimentation had failed, and people in much of the continent were thrust back to per capita levels of income no better than what they had known at independence.
This, in fact, is the central and unacknowledged challenge that Africa poses to the world in the 21st century. 

No one seems to have much of a picture of how the continent that will see the overwhelming bulk of the world’s population growth over coming decades will reach the much higher economic equilibrium that is so urgently needed. 

Today, far fewer brains and even less good will seem devoted to this question, one of the most important problems facing humanity in the 21st century, than there were, say, in the early 1960s

And although we are a long way from the cut-and-slash great power competition of the Cold War, the strongest and wealthiest countries of the world show no sign of working together with the nations of Africa nor even, frankly, of competing among themselves to help solve their problems and fundamentally improve the lot of their people.
Africa’s economic impasse has been written off in a morally dishonest way for far too long. 

The pat, self-exculpatory answer offered for its inadequate progress has been corruption or a combination of bad choices and incompetence. 

To be sure, there have been plenty examples of these, but African corruption is unlikely to be very different in extent from the corruption seen in many other times and places. 

And the so-called bad choices of African governments must be weighed against the constantly shifting and often disastrous advice they have received over the decades from the outside world, and against the courageous, if so often forgotten, struggles of leaders in the early independence era to find a place for their nations in a global economy that is happy to extract wealth from Africa, but otherwise remains forbidding and hostile. 

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Economists slammed as unworkable Sudan’s 2022 budget that seeks to more than double tax revenue to replace foreign aid suspended after October’s coup, saying it was likely to fuel more turmoil and anger against the ruling military. @business

The impoverished North African country, which looked like rejoining global markets after the 2019 overthrow of dictator Omar al-Bashir, has revised down its growth target to 1.4% and is racing to find the means to fund this year’s expenditure of 3.69 trillion Sudanese pounds ($8.3 billion). 

The U.S. and other donors say a civilian-led government must be restored before they resume financial support.
But plans that include a 145% rise in tax revenue to 1.9 trillion pounds and increasing gold exports to cover key commodities like wheat and fuel may face difficulties. 

Rampant smuggling can dent Sudan’s income from natural resources, while a population suffering from inflation in excess of 300% and low wages means there’s little tax base to draw from.
Turning to domestic revenue “is unrealistic given the current economic and political crisis,” said Zaynab Mohamed, an analyst at NKC African Economics, a South Africa-based research firm. 

With purchasing power declining and little support for military rule, tax hikes will push Sudan further into political turmoil, she said.
The Oct. 25 military takeover, which undermined plans for a transition to democracy after three decades of Bashir’s autocratic rule, has already taken a bloody toll. 

At least 76 people have been killed by security forces in near-daily protests in the aftermath, according to a doctors committee that supports the demonstrations. 

The United Nations this month began consultations with the army and its opponents in a bid to reach a political solution.
The putsch, which sidelined civilian politicians and led the U.S. and development agencies to suspend hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and budgetary support, is also hampering Sudan’s eligibility for $50 billion of debt relief under an International Monetary Fund initiative. 

Senior U.S. diplomats visiting Sudan last week also threatened targeted sanctions on unidentified individuals.
General expenditure in Sudanese pounds rises by roughly a third in this year’s budget, although authorities sharply devalued the currency in February 2021. 

Summary documents don’t detail any specific tax increases nor break down spending by sector, but state some funding is earmarked for election preparations.
Sudan has regularly spent significant annual sums on the military and security. 

The government said the budget seeks to direct financial resources toward reducing inflation, poverty and unemployment while boosting productivity in key industries.
“Sectors including agriculture, manufacturing are on the verge of stopping as there is no real administration” following the coup, said Mohamed Aljak, an economics professor at Khartoum University. 

“Such deterioration will definitely affect the general mood of the people. The aggravated economic and political situation can lead to the expansion of the protests.”
Those who took to the streets again Monday in demonstrations that saw three deaths, said economic conditions were making life increasingly difficult.
“One cannot form a new government to lead the economy and at the same time spend huge money on the logistics and other needs of the security organs and police to crack down on protests,” said Salim Nasser, a member of a self-styled resistance committee in Khartoum. 

“This situation will lead to total economic collapse.”

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Time to Big Up the Dosage of 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’’

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#South_Sudan's central bank chief "The US dollar will drastically drop against South Sudanese Pounds (SSP) in the coming week" @PatrickHeinisc1

#South_Sudan's central bank chief highly optimistic about the #exchange_rate: "The US dollar will drastically drop against South Sudanese Pounds (SSP) in the coming week due to liquidity of hard currency in the market." B/w Mar-Nov the SSP depreciated from 186 to 412 vs. 1 USD.

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

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