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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
 
 
Monday 31st of January 2022
 
Morning
Africa

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The @federalreserve could entertain the novel idea of a sharp interest rate rise a la Volcker
World Of Finance


Conclusions

The Optimal move is to go to 0.75% immediately in order to do less in the round 

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Tsunamis also start by receding For years now Central Banks have been enabling governments unwilling to confront structural problems by flooding economies with money. @ELuttwak
World Of Finance



For years now Central Banks have been enabling governments unwilling to confront structural problems by flooding economies with money.  But when we had deflation instead of inflation, the Krugmans told us not to worry ("different this time") Tsunamis also start by receding


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

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@RahulGandhi was mocked for saying this. काश तब सुन लिया होता @SriniSivabalan @srinivasiyc
Law & Politics






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






https://bit.ly/2Wzp4Fg

Love Fellini. So brave, with that whiff of insanity. @DiAmatoStyle Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 @tcm
https://twitter.com/tcm/status/1232079264385773570?s=20


Mirrors on the ceiling, The Pink champagne on ice
https://bit.ly/3Bk45Gj

Last thing I remember, I was Running for the door

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29-NOV-2021 :: Regime Change
World Of Finance

A REGIME CHANGE IS UNDERWAY [in the markets]
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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Darker market mood sets in, one year after GameStop frenzy @FT
World Of Finance


This time last year, millions of amateur investors leapt in to risky corners of US financial markets in pursuit of riches, firing shares in downtrodden retailer GameStop thousands of per cent higher and leaving professional fund managers baffled.
Now investors large and small are watching the bets that defined a speculative craze deflate as the Federal Reserve retreats from the stimulus programme that has kept markets flying high for close to two years.
Prices of meme stocks, cryptocurrencies, cannabis companies and blank-cheque vehicles known as Spacs have all tumbled as the air hisses out of the assets that encapsulated that furious rally, leaving no doubt that the game in markets has changed.
“The Fed is not in the business to buoy equity valuations or crypto or Spacs,” said John Leonard, global head of equities at Macquarie Asset Management. “Long-duration hypergrowth stocks have been taken out and shot.”
The average stock in the Russell 3000, a broad gauge of the US equities market, is down about 35 per cent from its highest point in the past 12 months, according to data analysed by the Financial Times.

In the Nasdaq Composite, home to scores of fast-growing companies that were in vogue during the depths of the pandemic, the average decline is approaching 45 per cent.

Russ Koesterich, a portfolio manager at BlackRock, said speculation had been encouraged by “an environment of extraordinary liquidity” since the coronavirus struck.
As the pandemic devastated communities across the globe and sent financial markets reeling, the central bank and US government intervened, pumping trillions of dollars in to the economy to forestall a financial crisis.
“That was a big tailwind for all sorts of risky assets: it was Spacs, it was IPOs, it was cryptocurrencies,” Koesterich said. 

“You’ve seen a pullback in all of those recently and I don’t think they’re unrelated. The Fed has been very clear they want to rein in the excess. How far it goes is uncertain but what is clear is that you won’t have that same level of support we’ve had.”
The strain in the market became apparent even before the Omicron coronavirus variant was named a concern in late November when it rapidly spread across the globe.
Shares of lossmaking tech companies had struggled after an initial boom last January and February. 

But in October and November they had charged higher again, hitting their highest levels in eight months on November 9, the day electric vehicle start-up Rivian priced its initial public offering, according to a Goldman Sachs index. 

A day later the price of bitcoin surged to a record just below $69,000.
The euphoria was shortlived. While Rivian’s market value climbed for several days and briefly eclipsed Volkswagen’s, inflation data jolted the Fed and investors. 

Markets began to adjust to a new reality where rock bottom interest rates and easy policy were no longer guaranteed.
Shares of previously high-flying stocks including Virgin Galactic, sports betting site DraftKings and plant-based meat producer Beyond Meat all fell more than a third between early November and the end of the year. 

Bitcoin, which many investors now watch as a gauge of sentiment towards speculative assets, has slid dramatically, at one point halving in value from its November peak.
Ryan Jacob, a veteran tech investor who runs the Jacob Internet Fund and a tech-focused ETF, said the crypto market had “echoes of what happened in the dotcom boom”, when many investors were convinced that a new technology had potential but found it hard to tell which businesses in the new space would take off.
“There are going to be some very large companies coming out of this, but that’s the easy part,” he said. 

“The tricky part is finding which ones. Ninety per cent of the companies may be total garbage.”
For the companies at the centre of the meme stock frenzy, the swings have been particularly violent. Shares of video game retailer GameStop are down about 80 per cent from last year’s record. 

That is still far above the price that prevailed before day traders on Reddit, some of whom amassed on the r/WallStreetBets message board, helped spark a ‘short squeeze’ to inflict pain on hedge funds betting against the stock. 

But day traders have largely moved on.
Trading volumes in GameStop and other so-called meme stocks such as cinema operator AMC Entertainment, retailer Express and communications group Nokia have collapsed.

Instead investors have swarmed to other parts of the market, including to options that they had largely eschewed last year. 

Given the bumpier ride in the market — the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are no longer hitting record-high after record-high — traders this month set records purchasing equity put options. 

The contracts offer protection and the potential to profit from a slide in the market.

Strategists on Wall Street have noted that many of the new put options have been bought and sold on the same day, indicating traders are not simply trying to hedge themselves from a sell-off. Instead, it signals they are trying to profit from intraday swings in options prices.
Preston Seo, a US-based YouTube influencer, recently surveyed his followers and said most of them claim to be hunting for bargains, but that they are flooding his inbox with messages asking for guidance.
“Lots of these younger investors on the surface may seem confident in ‘buying the dip’. But behind closed doors, they are getting anxious because they likely haven’t faced a downturn like this before,” Seo said.
The threat of higher interest rates has helped fuel that anxiety. The Fed this week indicated it would in March lift rates for the first time since 2018, with chair Jay Powell leaving the door open to even more aggressive action to tame inflation and cool a fast-growing economy.
“People who put everything in there will find out there’s no shortcut to riches . . . this kind of speculative fervour eventually unwinds,” said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. “The good thing is it hasn’t taken out the whole market.”
Frederick added that the recent reversal would provide a harsh lesson for any new traders who focused their investments in a small number of assets.
“Every generation has to learn those mistakes on their own, no matter how much those of us who’ve been around a while will try to warn them,” he said. 

“It’s a slightly different game each time but the end is always the same. The hard point is pinpointing when it’s going to happen.”

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My Struggle: Book 3 Karl Ove Knausgard
Misc.


Zeitgeist comes from the outside, but works on the inside. It affects everyone, but not everyone is affected in the same way.

The ‘’Zeitgeist’’ of a time is its defining spirit or its mood. Capturing the ‘’zeitgeist’’ of the Now is not an easy thing because we are living in a dizzyingly fluid moment.


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It certainly feels like a decade of "semiotic arousal" when everything, it seemed, was a sign, a harbinger of some future radical disjuncture or cataclysmic upheaval.
Misc.


We now know that Nearly half of the atoms that make up our bodies may have formed beyond the Milky Way and travelled to the solar system on intergalactic winds driven by giant exploding stars, astronomers claim. 

The dramatic conclusion emerges from computer simulations that reveal how galaxies grow over aeons by absorbing huge amounts of material that is blasted out of neighbouring galaxies when stars explode at the end of their lives.
“Science is very useful for finding our place in the universe,” said Daniel Anglés-Alcázar, an astrono- mer at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. 

“In some sense we are extragalactic visitors or immigrants in what we think of as our galaxy.”
“Our origins are much less local than we thought,” said Faucher-Giguère. 

“This study gives us a sense of how things around us are connected to distant objects in the sky.” 

However Don DeLillo brings us right back to Earth pronouncing We’re the last billionth of a second in the evolution of matter.

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Milky Way discovery as astronomers uncover 'spooky' spinning object unlike anything seen before @SkyNews
Misc.


Astronomers think it could be a so-called magnetar, which is a special type of "dead" star with an ultra-strong magnetic field.

Astronomers have discovered a mysterious spinning object in the Milky Way that emits a radio wave beam every 18 minutes - and is unlike anything seen before.
The object has been observed to release a huge burst of radio energy for a whole minute every 18 minutes.
Researchers estimate that it is around 4,000 light years away and could be a new class of slowly rotating neutron star with an ultra-powerful magnetic field that can be detected by radio telescopes.
The observation is known as a radio transient, which refers to an object that periodically releases brief flashes of radio signals, as if it is switching on and off in space.
"It was kind of spooky for an astronomer because there's nothing known in the sky that does that," said Natasha Hurley-Walker, of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research at Curtin University, who led the team that made the discovery.

While the occurrences have been seen before - usually as very quick events that flash on and off within seconds or milliseconds or as longer pulses that last days - radio transients had not previously been detected appearing and disappearing over a few hours, Ms Hurley-Walker said.
The team is carrying out more research to figure out what is causing the bursts of energy, but the astronomers think it could be a so-called magnetar, which is a special type of "dead" star with an ultra-strong magnetic field.
Ms Hurley-Walker said the prospect of a repeating radio signal in space may cause some to think it could be a dispatch from aliens, but she said the observations spanned a wide range of frequencies - indicating that they have a natural origin.
Former undergraduate student at Curtin University, Tyrone O'Doherty, first discovered the object by looking at Milky Way observations from March 2018 and May 2018 and searching for any differences.
He said he hadn't expected to make such a fascinating discovery, telling a news briefing: "It really feels quite surreal to have found something like this."
To confirm the discovery, Ms Hurley-Walker sifted through extensive archives stretching back to 2013, to see whether the telescope had picked up any other activity from the object.
She found that it had switched on in the first part of 2018, emitting 71 flashes of radio signals from January until March, before switching off again. As she and her colleagues saw in their own observations, the pulses came at regular intervals.
"It's just every 18.18 minutes, like clockwork," she said.
Unleashing further details will require observing the object when it is active again or finding similar objects elsewhere in the Milky Way, Ms Hurley-Walker said.
The team also found that the newly detected object appears to be spinning much more slowly than other magnetars, suggesting it has outlived others that usually last only a few thousand years.
But Ms Hurley-Walker said it could also be an entirely new type of cosmic object that caused the flashes of energy.
"Because we didn't expect this kind of radio emission to be possible, the fact that it exists tells us that some kind of extreme physical processes must be happening," she said.
The researchers detailed the finding in a study published this week in the journal Nature.

There are dead stars that still shine because their light is trapped in time. Where do I stand in this light, which does not strictly exist? DON DELILLO, Cosmopolis


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Robert Frank @AndrewThomasJa1
Misc.


'Robert Frank, Swiss, unobtrusive, nice, with that little camera that he raises and snaps with one hand he sucked a sad poem right out of America into film...'Jack Kerouac

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My Struggle: Book 4 | Karl Ove Knausgard
Misc.


The first snow arrived in mid-October, went after a few days, but the next time it fell, at the beginning of November, it came with a vengeance, day after day it tumbled down, and soon everything was packed in thick white cushions of snow, apart from the sea, which with its dark clean surface and terrible depths lay nearby like an alien and menacing presence, like a murderer who has moved into a neighbouring house and whose unheeded knife glints on the kitchen table.


The wind had picked up. Down by the sea waves were hurling themselves at the shore like furious beasts. The wash that was always present had a darker undertone when there was a storm, a kind of boom or a muted rumble.

Some time after the band stopped playing, the music was also switched off, and as people began to drift away the lights came on, harsh and quivering, and the magic veil in which the darkness had wrapped everything was torn aside. The dance floor, which moments before had been the scene for the sweetest and hottest dreams, was now bare and empty and covered with dirt and gravel from all the boots that had stomped around on it during the course of the evening. The space beneath the ceiling, which as if underwater had pulsated in hues of red, green and blue except when it had sparkled like a starry sky, was empty apart from a light rig with some light cannons and an idiotic cheap shiny disco ball hanging from the middle.

The sitting room was freezing cold, the window was still open. Noises filtered in from outside and filled the room, which in the atmospheric conditions became distorted, everything seemed to be close. It sounded as if the waves on the shore were beating against the house wall. Footsteps on the road, the crunch of the snow, seemed to come from out of thin air, as though a ghost were walking past, on its way to the sea.

May passed, June began and it was as though everything was dissolving into light. The sun no longer set, it wandered across the sky all day and night, and I had never seen anything like the light it cast over the wild terrain then. The light was reddish and full, it was as if it belonged to the ground and the mountains, it was them that were shining, as if after a catastrophe. On a couple of nights Nils Erik and I drove along the deserted coastal roads, and we seemed to be on a different planet, so alien was everything. Through sleeping villages, everywhere the reddish gleam and the strange shadows. The people were transformed too, out at night, couples walking, cars driving past, whole flocks of young people rowing out to the islands for picnics.

We sat on the doorstep with cold beers in our hands. From the sitting room ‘Teenage Kicks’ by the Undertones wafted over, evidently this summer’s favourite band.

The Undertones - Teenage Kicks


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CHINA WARNS OF RISK OF MILITARY CONFLICT WITH US OVER TAIWAN: FT Double attack.. russia/ukraine china/taiwan @AlessioUrban
Law & Politics


Jan 14, 2022· .@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 


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President Putin has fashioned an extraordinary even parabolic rebound in Russia's geoeconomic and geopolitical position over the last two decades.
Law & Politics

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.

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Putin, Ukraine, and the Preservation of Power @NewYorker David Remnick
Law & Politics


Vladimir Putin presents himself to his citizens and to the world as the standard-bearer of a modern counter-enlightenment. 

He has declared liberal democracy “obsolete,” a political arrangement that has “outlived its purpose.” 

One of his historical role models is said to be Alexander III, a reactionary tsar in the Romanov dynasty who instituted draconian restrictions on the press, sought to “Russify” his multi-ethnic empire, and mobilized against internal and external threats. 

Four years ago, Putin expressed his deep admiration for the tsar while visiting the Crimean Peninsula, a substantial and distinctly unthreatening parcel of Ukraine that Russia invaded in 2014 and has occupied ever since.
Once more, Putin is poised to invade Ukraine. His weapons include military hardware, malware, and propaganda. 

The last time he invaded, he did so with utmost stealth, employing the “little green men” of the special forces as temporary cover in the court of public opinion while seizing Simferopol, Yalta, and Sevastopol. 

Now he wants the West, distracted and in disarray, to know that Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Luhansk, in the industrial east, and even Kyiv, the capital, are potentially in his sights.
For weeks, Putin’s deputies and propaganda outlets have delivered contradictory pronouncements, at once denying any intention to invade and amplifying his urge to roll back what he sees as the galling encroachments of the West since the end of the Cold War. “nato Is a Cancer: Shall We Cure It?” was the headline last week in one pro-Kremlin newspaper, Argumenti i Fakty. 

In Literaturnaya Gazeta, Konstantin Sivkov, a military analyst, said, “Russia must take unconventional steps. Harsh ones. If we don’t, our ‘partners’ might think they can wipe their feet on Russia.” 

He wondered about the possible need to create warheads that could “strike Yellowstone Park” or set off a “deadly tsunami with waves hundreds of metres high that would sweep away everything in their path.”
Few leaders have leveraged inscrutability the way Putin has. 

His propagandists, kleptocratic allies, and secret services never know precisely what he will do next. But his general imperative is obvious: the preservation of power. 

As a trained K.G.B. officer, Putin senses threats in countless corners, and he is schooled in the history of challenges to Kremlin authority. 

He knows, for instance, that at around noon on August 25, 1968, four days after the Soviet Army moved into Czechoslovakia to crush the reformist movement known as the Prague Spring, eight Moscow intellectuals went to Red Square and briefly hoisted signs with such slogans as “For Your Freedom and Ours!” 

The poet Natalya Gorbanevskaya reached into a baby carriage and pulled out a Czech flag. 

This “anti-Soviet outburst,” as a secret report to the Communist Party Central Committee described it, lasted only as long as it took for K.G.B. guards to set upon the demonstrators, beat them, and arrest them.

But that fleeting protest had profound consequences. Vadim Delaunay, one of the Red Square demonstrators, said in court that his “five minutes of freedom” had been worth the thrashing and the prison sentence that was sure to come. 

He could not have known just how right he was. There were many factors that led Mikhail Gorbachev to propose the reforms known as glasnost and perestroika: the expense of empire, a shrivelling domestic economy, intellectual and scientific isolation, and the public’s indifference to Communist ideology. 

The dissident movement that took the Red Square demonstrators as an inspiration, though never large in numbers, was a powerful generator of free thought and possibility. 

By the late nineteen-eighties, even Gorbachev, as the General Secretary of the Communist Party, paid uneasy tribute to the movement’s most eminent leader, Andrei Sakharov.

Over and over, Putin has learned a singular lesson: crowds rarely come to the public square demanding more autocracy. 

At the May Day parade in 1990, citizen groups marched in front of the Communist Party leadership assembled atop Lenin’s tomb and aired their grievances with slogans and signs: “Down with the Politburo! Resign!” “Down with the Empire and Red Fascism!” 

A year and a half later, the Soviet Union dissolved—an event that Putin has declared the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the twentieth century. 

Since then, he has regarded opposition demonstrations—such as those in Moscow, on Bolotnaya Square, in 2011, or in various states within the former Soviet “sphere of influence,” including Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan––as an intimation of mortality. 

And so, increasingly, he has become the philosopher and enforcer of authoritarian rule.
Enforcement comes with episodes of brutal intolerance. In August, 2020, Putin’s security services used the nerve agent Novichok to poison Alexey Navalny, the regime’s most prominent and impudent opponent. 

When Navalny survived, the authorities arrested him and, after a trial worthy of Kafka, locked him away in a prison camp near the city of Vladimir. 

Elections have been rendered a farce, courts a sham, parliament a plaything of the President. Various politicians, activists, and journalists deemed inconvenient to the regime have been murdered, assaulted, imprisoned, or forced into exile—not en masse, as in the days of Stalin, but often enough so that the limits of public life are made chillingly plain. 

The authorities have harassed human-rights organizations and liberal media outlets, such as Meduza and TV Rain, branding them “foreign agents.” Memorial, an organization devoted to the restoration of historical truth, has been ordered to close.

Putin is particularly expert at exploiting the vulnerabilities, hypocrisies, and mistakes of his opponents. 

He plays a weak hand to maximal tactical advantage, and, at the moment, his high cards are Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas and the destabilization of democracy abroad, particularly in the United States. Donald Trump’s Presidency, the January 6th insurrection, and the retreat from Afghanistan were especially gratifying to him. 

So is the fact that the supposed beacon of what used to be called “the free world” has millions of citizens who say they believe that their current President was elevated through a rigged ballot and ought to be turned out by force. 

It is a great deal easier to engage in a propaganda war with an opponent that is divided, dispirited, and worried about civil strife.
Ukraine is a sovereign nation of more than forty million people. It has been independent of Moscow rule for three decades. 

The country suffers from its own domestic crises––corruption, political division––but younger Ukrainians have been born into a far less autocratic political culture than have their Russian counterparts. 

It is not a sure thing that Putin will invade Ukraine. What is certain is that any attempt to occupy that nation will provoke resistance and lead to bloody disaster. ♦

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President Putin's Russia is oftentimes compared disparagingly on a GDP basis and Russian power projection dismissed out of hand.For example, @MittRomney described #Russia as a gas station parading as a country.
Law & Politics


Sun Tzu pronounced ''“Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.”

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. 


5 DEC 16 :: The Parabolic Rebound of Vladimir Putin


So much has happened in 2016, from the Brexit vote to President-elect Trump, and it certainly feels like we have entered a new normal. 

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.

5 DEC 16 :: Putin has proven himself an information master, and his adversaries are his information victims.



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It was the first non-linear war, writes Surkov in a short story, Without Sky,
Law & Politics

Putin's system was also ripe for export, Mr Surkov added. Foreign governments were already paying close attention, since the Russian "political algorithm" had long predicted the volatility now seen in western democracies.
The underlying aim, Surkov says, is not to win the war, but to use the conflict to create a constant state of destabilised perception, in order to manage and control

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If Boris Johnson thinks the Russia-Ukraine crisis will be his Falklands moment, he should think again
Law & Politics

While his official spokesman was trying to describe a No 10 birthday cake celebration as lawful because it was “on the edges of a work meeting”, Russian President Vladimir Putin was on the edges of Europe on the brink of a war.

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The world continues to be Omicronized @fibke
Misc.

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

The Invisible Microbe has metastasized into Omicron 

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


The transmissibility of #Omicron is not in question, it clearly has a spectacular advantage.
https://j.mp/32AZEK5

U.K. the reality is that they have been increasing for the last two weeks based on the Zoe data . Now at 176000 cases per day @timspector


While the U.K. official figures and ⁦@BBCNews say cases in U.K. have plateaued- the reality is that they have been increasing for the last two weeks based on the Zoe data . Now at 176000 cases per day 

The Virus remains an exogenous uncertainty that is still not resolved #COVID19
https://bit.ly/3szfEo5

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Europe 3,339 COVID deaths yesterday above accelerating 3,015/day avg. #Omicron @jmlukens
Misc.

US 3,288 COVID deaths yesterday above decelerating 2,295/day avg increase up 23% past 2wks 

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Aegon NV reported a 16% fall in third- quarter operating profit on Thursday due to higher COVID-19 related mortality claims in the Americas @Reuters
Misc.

Aegon, which does two-thirds of its business in the United States, said "unfavourable mortality claims" in the Americas in the third quarter were $111 million, up from $31 million a year earlier.
"Performance improvements across most of our businesses ... were offset by elevated mortality in the United States," Aegon Chief Executive Lard Friese in a statement.
Among other European insurers, Swiss Re (SRENH.S)said its life and health division incurred "significantly higher COVID-19 related claims of $1.2 billion" in the first nine months of 2021 "primarily originating in the U.S.". CEO John Dacey cited U.S. spikes in February and August.
Munich Re also saw a higher than expected COVID impact in its results earlier this week.
U.S. firm MetLife (MET.N)was hit at its domestic life operations in generally strong third-quarter earnings. 
It said that in the third quarter, 40% of U.S. COVID-19 deaths were of people under 65 years old, "the highest percentage in any quarter since the pandemic began".

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Israel - Pfizer's laboratory - offers a glimpse into where this policy is heading .. @martytwit
Misc.


23-AUG-2021 ::  We have now crossed peak Vaccine Euphoria
https://j.mp/384Arar


Omicron viruses can be divided into two major groups,  The vast majority of globally sequenced Omicron have been 21K (~630k) compared a small minority of 21L (~18k), but 21L is gaining ground @trvrb


Omicron viruses can be divided into two major groups, referred to as PANGO lineages BA.1 and BA.2 or @nextstrain clades 21K and 21L. The vast majority of globally sequenced Omicron have been 21K (~630k) compared a small minority of 21L (~18k), but 21L is gaining ground

28-MAR-2021 we are seeing a sustained acceleration in mutant viruses.
https://bit.ly/3szfEo5


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@aiww Ai Weiwei: ‘It’s obvious Covid is not a natural disease, it’s something that leaked out’ @Telegraph
Misc.


Ai Weiwei sighs and looks annoyed. “The West trying to understand China is like a soccer school trying to understand how to play a chess game,” he says. 

“It’s a completely different sort of system. You have too much confidence in your own ideology, or the kind of language you’re using, but you don’t understand the situation.”
I have just asked the 64-year-old Chinese exile – almost certainly the world’s most famous living artist – about the tennis player Peng Shuai. 

In November, on the social media site Weibo, she revealed her affair with China’s former vice premier Zhang Gaoli, and suggested that she had been pressured into having sex with him. 

Peng then vanished from public view, before giving an interview two weeks later retracting her claims.
“She is not a ‘MeToo’ – the West has confused themselves,” says Ai carefully. 

“Everybody in China knows, as a sportsperson or ­entertainment star, you’re always trying to find someone in a higher political position to protect you, as an umbrella.” 

Peng was involved with a man so powerful as to be almost untouchable.
To Ai, it’s clear that the pair were lovers, their affair consensual and that the private feelings expressed in the original Weibo post were later “cleaned up” for Peng by the Party. 

The West doesn’t understand, he says, that “in China, there’s no privacy or individual will. Everything belongs to the Party, you are the property of the Party.” 

He suggests people here put themselves in Peng’s shoes. “So, what do you want to do? Lose every­thing – your family and friends, your career – and just argue about something which is not a sexually offensive act?”
We didn’t begin this way. Ai – who, on the same day as Peng’s Weibo post, released a remarkable memoir, 1000 Years of Joys and ­Sorrows – has a solo exhibition opening next month at Kettle’s Yard, in Cambridge, the city where he lived from 2019 to 2020 with his partner, the film-maker Wang Fen. 

Their son, Lao, nearly 13, still goes to school there and is, says Ai, “already a very Cambridge boy”; one not shy of giving his outspoken father advice. “He says, ‘Keep your mouth shut!’”
Ai, who has since moved to a rural estate outside Lisbon, clearly has no intention of doing so. 

His book, written over 10 years and edited down from 800,000 words, tells his life story alongside that of his father, Ai Qing, a celebrated poet, who knew Mao Zedong personally. 

In 1967, when Mao’s Cultural Revolution turned against intellectuals and artists, Ai Qing was sent to a desert labour camp in “Little Siberia” to correct his “Rightist thinking”, because he believed writers should have creative freedom.
Weiwei lived there with him between the ages of 10 and 15, for part of that time in a dwelling that was no more than a covered hole in the earth. 

It’s not hard to plot a course from the child who watched his father publicly abused at denunciation meetings or made to clean frozen excrement from the camp latrines to the man who would later become such a thorn in the side of the ­Chinese government.
Ai’s “Citizens’ Investigation”, for example, was his attempt to record the name of every child killed when many shoddily constructed school buildings collapsed during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. 

“If you had just kept quiet, [the parents] would already have forgotten about it,” administrators told him. 

With the aid of 100 volunteers, he compiled a record of the victims that reached 5,219 confirmed names (Ai believes the final death toll to be 5,335) that was the basis of the work Straight – a 90-ton floor sculpture created from mangled steel rods pulled from the ruins and straightened by hand. 

It was shown at the Royal Academy in 2015, alongside the full list of names.
The project so angered the authorities that by 2009 Ai had been put under round-the-clock surveillance. 

In a police raid on his hotel room that year, he was beaten with a baton and suffered intra­cranial bleeding that required surgery (he later made an artwork of the brain scan). 

It was just one year after the magical Bird’s Nest stadium, which he had designed for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, had won China the admiration of the world.
Then, in 2011, Ai was detained for 81 days without charge; he was interrogated daily. In the lavatory, he had to ask the guards’ permission before he flushed. 

At the same time, his vast and beautiful Sunflower Seeds installation was still showing at Tate Modern. 

The carpet of 102.5 million ceramic seeds, hand-painted by 1,600 artisans, represented the artist’s understanding of his homeland – in Mao’s China, sunflowers often symbolised the people in propaganda posters – as well as the spiritual comfort of the dark days when a handful of sunflower seeds in his pocket were all that stood between the young Weiwei and hunger. 

Does he ever look back with disappointment that Tate visitors weren’t allowed to walk on the seeds after it was discovered that they released a fine silica dust?
“No, because I think the work has to be examined by reality, so it’s not just my imagination or fantasy,” he says. 

“And because the work cannot be repeated, you can never cross a river twice at the same time. That’s the past.”
Ai Weiwei’s new exhibition, The Liberty of Doubt, sets out to explore the freedom the West has, in contrast to China and other authoritarian regimes, “to question truth and authority, express doubt and seek transparency in political matters”. 

Not that he is wholly convinced by our version of freedom. “I think the West is in many ways under covert authoritarianism,” he says, “the culture, and even the so-called free media, is dominated by corporates.”
As for freedom of speech, he adds, the extradition of Julian Assange to the US (which the High Court ruled permissible in December), for the crime of having a platform to publish material the American government did not want released, “which any journalist should do”, shows it is a sham. 

He equates the “175 years of jail time” now facing Assange (pending a potential Supreme Court appeal) with the UK acquiescing to “assassination”. 

“If we don’t defend individuals, or those cases caused by freedom of speech, then what are we talking about? It’s ridiculous.”
Ai is a believer in a pure form of free speech, which extends to social media. “I don’t think anybody, if it’s on a public platform, should decide or censor any language or any ideas.”
The Liberty of Doubt also looks at the differing traditions in the art of the East and West in relation to authenticity. 

In the show, 13 works by Ai – including his marble Surveillance Camera with Plinth and a Lego rendering of the earlier work Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn – are exhibited alongside 14 ­antiquities, some of them fakes that he unknowingly bought online at auction.
This mix of ancient and modern art has its roots in the period when Ai returned to China in his 30s after 12 years living in New York between 1981 and 1993, struggling to make it as an artist. F

or several years in Beijing, he tells me, he lived “outside of society, with no job”, just helping his younger brother Ai Dan, who was trading in antiques. 

It was a boom time for antiquities, he notes, because there was so much development and road building that new finds were continually being unearthed, yet people saw them as leftovers of a feudal society, which meant rich pickings.
“I spent about six years, day by day, all my time looking at the new finds in the markets,” he says. 

I wonder if he has a favourite period of Chinese history? “Yes, I have a strong admiration for the Bronze Age, which is the Shang (c 1600-1046 BC) and the Zhou (1046-256 BC) dynasties,” he says. 

He slips from his usual laconic mode into a voice that is plainly passionate and reverential. 

“If you look at many objects from the past, they are very primitive, but the Shang and Zhou [objects] are so powerful. They have clear bronzes and jades, which still, every time I look at them, I am almost speechless to imagine their lives. And, of course, you have the early silk weavings… oh my God, how were they able to make silk with such perfection? The sensitivity, the technical manner, everything, it’s a miracle to see.”
The immense antiquity of these pieces fills him with awe. “The monkeys come down from the tree to define themselves in such a way – it’s just unthinkable.”
The exhibition will also feature several of his films, including Human Flow (2017), about migration, and Cockroach, a stunning ­feature-length work shot in 2019 that documents Hong Kong’s last desperate convulsions of protest at the loss of its autonomy, rights and freedoms. 

It shows the dream of democracy dying in front of your eyes, yet it also captures the beauty and defiance of the human spirit. 

Drone shots depict patterns of disorder on the street, while behind-the-barricades footage captures the blood and emotion close up.
Ai directed the film remotely, sending in a team with 4K digital cameras while young men and women in T-shirts – faced with tear gas, water cannons and armed police – turned to bricks and Molotov cocktails. 

Does Ai believe it will be the last time we see large-scale protests in Hong Kong? “Unfortunately, this is the last time, yes. This was a unique situation of young people, all educated, very rational, who made a party of resistance, a celebration that turned out to have such a tragic end, but it can never be repeated.”
The last time I had spoken to Ai, in November, he’d told me that the imposition of Hong Kong’s new National Security Law – banning any act of “subversion” or “sedition” against the Chinese Communist Party – would be used to crush all dissent and “many people will be put in jail”. 

This has already happened to most of the talking heads in his film. New crimes under the law were announced only last week. 

The situation, he said, will “just take them time to wrap up… in China, if you disagree or talk to someone or argue with someone, you are subversive to state power. It all depends how sensitive they are. And now I think they’ve become extremely sensitive.”
He picks out China’s zero-Covid policy as an example of an authoritarian state exerting its dominance. 

“It has become a kind of psychological warfare to prove what China is capable of,” he says. 

“They are doing it through the strongest system ever seen in history. China has 1.4 billion people, and among them are 90 million Communist Party members who have to do whatever the Party wants them to do and keep the Party’s secrets. This is how every day they silence people.” 

In Xi’an, the central city that has been in lockdown since December 23, “where you find maybe a few thousand cases in something like 70 million people, they make sure to control them all in isolation, in a very dramatic, ice cold, cruel way”.
He has strong views, too, on the likely origin of the virus: “I made a film in 2003 about Sars, my first documentary film, which is where my understanding of these Chinese institutions comes from, and how it works. And it’s obvious the disease is not from an animal. It’s not a natural disease, it’s something that’s leaked out, after years of research.”
There are those who think that premier Xi Jinping is pushing China back towards the all-controlling personality cult of the Mao Zedong era. 

Is Ai one of them? In some ways, he says, the two leaders “are similar because they have the same kind of ideology. They strongly believe China can take over.” He pauses. “They might be right.”
The difference, he adds, is that “today, China has much more capital, is developing much faster in science and has also made a lot of connections and profit all over the world. China is not alone any more, and their competitors – the US and also England – are so dependent on China that it is not solvable, I think. The West is trying to find a safe way out, but it will still have to depend on China.”
I ask the joint architect of the Bird’s Nest stadium if he’s looking forward to ­Beijing’s Winter Olympics. 

“The Olympics is just a showcase,” he says, “it’s not really about human dignity or anything healthy. It’s a business event.”
As someone who has lived in the US, Germany, the UK and now Portugal, does he ever feel frustrated that his work is always seen through the filter of Chinese politics? 

“I don’t care,” he says. “I don’t even care if people call me an artist or not.”
Ai often talks in these provocative soundbites. Cockroach has a superb, jarring, metallic soundtrack composed by Hong Kong indie band Punkgod, yet he says he never listens to music, even though he is directing Puccini’s problematic “Oriental” opera Turandot at the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome in March. 

“I don’t listen to music, but I have good judgment, and I’ve become very picky in selecting musicians and giving clear indications to composers,” he says. 

“I never liked colours,” he adds, “but I’m an artist, so I have to use ­colours well.”
The more I talk to Ai Weiwei, the stronger the impression becomes that he rejects not just all forms of authority, but also the enclosing quality of language itself. 

Does he see himself as extraordinary? “I think I’m the most normal example of an individual,” he says, “but I think I’m quite liberated.”

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Controlling the COVID19 Narrative, suppressing the Enquiry, parlaying the situation into one of singular advantage marks a singular moment
Misc.


You will all be no better than fields of garlic chives, giving yourselves up to being harvested by the blade of power, time and time again.


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01-MAR-2020 :: The Origin of #COVID19
Misc.



What is clear is that the #COVID19 was bio-engineered.


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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.11597
Dollar Index 97.146
Japan Yen 115.5175
Swiss Franc 0.9315000
Pound 1.34108
Aussie 0.701105
India Rupee 75.05900
South Korea Won 1211.805
Brazil Real 5.36675
Egypt Pound 15.721385
South Africa Rand 15.587500

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DXY - THERE ARE SOME BIG LEVELS TO KEEP IN MIND. @Bellehos 97.146
World Currencies


97.70 FIBO level is massive, a break and it could RUN
94.50 FIBO level is support
93.40 breaks down and the UP trend reverses.

Conclusions

I am expecting it to run. 

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24-JAN-2022 :: The Charge of the Light Brigade
Emerging Markets


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.

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Russia Risk Pricing update @Callum_Thomas
Emerging Markets

-RUB stabilizing vs EMFX
-Russian equities bounced vs STOXX50
-Sovereign yield/CDS spreads pulling back
Overall the invasion risk premium is clearly still in the price, but coming back from the brink for now...

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Africa is currently reporting a million new infections about every 24 days @ReutersGraphics
Africa


3 countries are still at the peak of their infection curve. Egypt, ReUnion at peak, Algeria 97% Tunisia 82%

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Decline of #COVID19 cases and test positivity rates in South Africa stalled this week, plateauing at a much higher baseline than before Eyes @rid1tweets
Africa

The slight increase nationally driven by an uptick in the inland provinces, including Gauteng, where #Omicron first emerged

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20 JAN 20 :: The Intrusion of Middle Powers
Africa


And [how the] U.A.E. approached Sisi and outlined the terms of their financial support before Morsi’s overthrow.
“I think there’s every reason to believe he staged a coup,” 

“For a tiny country in the Persian Gulf to overthrow the ruler of Egypt and put their guy in, that’s a big achievement.”

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.@FitchRatings Affirms Ethiopia at 'CCC'
Africa


Ethiopia's 'CCC' rating reflects the risk of a default event that may result from the government's participation in the G20 Common Framework (CF) debt relief initiative, given the mechanism's guiding principle of comparable treatment for both official and private creditors. 

The rating also reflects the risks from low levels of foreign reserves, increasing gross external financing needs, and delays to expected sources of external financing.
We forecast that Ethiopia faces USD1.9 billion in external debt servicing costs (amortisation and interest) in FY22, which is higher than the authorities estimate of USD1.5 billion. 

Fitch estimates that international reserves reached USD3.5 billion as of August 2021. However, we forecast reserves to fall to USD2.4 billion at the end of FY22. 

This is equal to 1.3 months of current external payments (CXP). By comparison, the 'B'/'C'/'D' median forecast is 4.2 months of CXP.

We forecast an annual average CPI increase of 26% in FY22, up from 20.2% in FY21. Inflation is well above the 'B'/'C'/'D' median of 5%.

Ethiopia which was once the Poster child of the African Renaissance


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A billion people are expected to be competing to survive along the Sahel by 2050. @thecontinent_
Africa


Intense heat, failed states and violent uprisings already make survival difficult. 

Three countries in the region have recently fallen to military coups, with many citizens cheering bthe rise of the generals who have promised to restore order and quash insurgency. 

But military leaders are rarely well equipped to deal with the complex challenges of governance. 

It’s coup season in the Sahel @thecontinent_
https://bit.ly/3r9wYSg

The Sahel is what ecologists call a “realm of transition” – a vast, semi- arid landscape stretching from one coast of Africa to the other, separating the harsh desert of the north from the more fertile savanna and rainforests of the south.

On Monday, Burkina Faso became the fourth country in this neighbourhood to experience a military coup in the past 18 months, after Mali, Chad, Mali again, and then Guinea.

Although each coup was prompted by different, country-specific political dynamics, the trend raises uncomfortable questions for the region as a whole.
Perhaps most uncomfortable of all is that in several cases the rise of military men was facilitated by widespread popular protests against civilian governments that had failed to deliver on basic governance responsibilities such as tackling corruption, increasing prosperity and keeping citizens safe. 

No wonder people celebrated: they want to try something – anything – different.

For all the generals’ bravado, the task ahead of them is daunting. Thanks to its harsh climate and vast distances, the Sahel is one of the world’s hardest places to govern. And it’s going to get harder.
The Sahel is home to the world’s fastest-growing population: a billion people will be living in the 23 countries of the Sahel and Equatorial Africa by 2050, according to the World Bank.
Because of its young population, it has the world’s highest dependency ratio, with 87% dependent on the remaining 13% to provide for their basic needs.

By 2050, temperatures will also have risen by between three and five degrees celsius, more than 1.5 times the global average, in a place that already experiences monthly averages of 35 degrees.
“The region is a canary in the coal mine; a presage of what is to come in other vulnerable parts of the world,” said the World Economic Forum in 2019. “Rainfall is erratic, and wet seasons are shrinking. There are lean times ahead.”

The junta leaders will have to have the imagination to come up with other solutions. But if the non-promise made by Burkina Faso’s new rulers this week is anything to go by, don’t hold your breath. 

They effectively said: we shall see once peace returns. 

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On the streets of Ouagadougou people cheered the coup leaders who ended President Roch Kaboré’s administration on Monday. @thecontinent_
Africa


The Burkina Faso situation had been deteriorating for several months, starting with the Solhan massacre in June 2021. 

Marauding militants linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State attacked Solhan, a mining town in the country’s Sahel region, and executed at least 132 people. 

Residents who buried the bodies put that number at closer to 160. With sentiment growing that he was failing grossly at countering terrorism, calls for Kaboré’s resignation began.
Then, in August 2021, a convoy was attacked in broad daylight at Gorgadji on the Dori-Arbinda Road. Some 180 people were reportedly killed. 

The last straw, however, for both the national army and ordinary Burkinabé, was the November incident in Inata: 57 people were killed,including 53 soldiers who had been starving for days and waiting to be replaced by a contingent that was delayed. 

The government had allegedly ignored calls for supplies and reinforcements.
In the wake of the Inata incident, President Kaboré demanded an investigation, reshuffled his cabinet, replaced the chief of staff of the army, appointed young officers to head most of the army’s structures and carried out a cabinet reshuffle.
In retrospect, this was a tactical error. One of the younger officers promoted in December was Damiba, who led this week’s coup, and the reshuffle eroded support within his own political party.

By the eve of the coup, Kaboré’s hold was threadbare. When the government banned the Saturday march against him, demonstrators set fire to a ruling party building. 

On Sunday, Ouagadougou woke to the sounds of heavy gunfire coming from the Sangoulé Lamizana military camp. 

On that cold morning the same sounds echoed through the cities of Kaya, 100km away, and Ouahigouya, 200km away. The army was mutinying.
By Monday evening, Kaboré had resigned, and – like Mali and Chad, two other Sahel countries – Burkina Faso was under military rule.

Regional bloc Ecowas says it considers Kaboré’s resignation to have been obtained under threat and intimidation, and has suspended Burkina Faso. 

The G5-Sahel, African Union, European Union, United Nations and France have all condemned the latest putsch.


10 NOV 14 : African youth demographic {many characterise this as a 'demographic dividend"} - which for Beautiful Blaise turned into a demographic terminator
http://bit.ly/2PoFJTD

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The coup in Burkina Faso is the sixth in Africa in the past 18 months, including two in Mali. @business Next Africa
Africa

Turning To Africa
https://bit.ly/35ekJJr

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

3-NOV 2015 I cannot help feeling we are like frogs in boiling water. We have created massive interference in the "cosmic tuning" phenomenon
http://bit.ly/2Nuxi76


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



Lorenz wrote:
"At one point I decided to repeat some of the computations in order to examine what was happening in greater detail. I stopped the computer, typed in a line of numbers that it had printed out a while earlier, and set it running again. I went down the hall for a cup of coffee and returned after about an hour, during which time the computer had simulated about two months of weather. The numbers being printed were nothing like the old ones. I immediately suspected a weak vacuum tube or some other computer trouble, which was not uncommon, but before calling for service I decided to see just where the mistake had occurred, knowing that this could speed up the servicing process. Instead of a sudden break, I found that the new values at first repeated the old ones, but soon afterward differed by one and then several units in the last decimal place, and then began to differ in the next to the last place and then in the place before that. In fact, the differences more or less steadily doubled in size every four days or so, until all resemblance with the original output disappeared somewhere in the second month. This was enough to tell me what had happened: the numbers that I had typed in were not the exact original numbers, but were the rounded-off values that had appeared in the original printout. The initial round-off errors were the culprits; they were steadily amplifying until they dominated the solution." (E. N. Lorenz, The Essence of Chaos, U. Washington Press, Seattle (1993), page 134)[7]
Elsewhere he stated:
One meteorologist remarked that if the theory were correct, one flap of a sea gull's wings would be enough to alter the course of the weather forever. The controversy has not yet been settled, but the most recent evidence seems to favor the sea gulls.



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.@binance Restricts Nigerian Crypto Accounts on Security Concern @crypto
Africa


Binance Holdings Ltd., one of the world’s biggest crypto exchanges, said it restricted the personal accounts of some Nigerian users to comply with anti-money laundering regulations and ensure the security of the platform for traders.
“Protection mechanisms such as know your customer, anti-money laundering measures, collaboration with law enforcement, and account restrictions are in place to ensure our community remains protected,’ the crypto exchange said in a statement on its website. 

“Some 281 Nigerian accounts have been affected by these personal account restrictions, with approximately 38% of these cases restricted at the request of international law enforcement,” it said.
Many Nigerians trading on the Binance platform complained recently of inability to initiate or complete transactions. 

Users from the West African nation have faced challenges trading crypto since the Central Bank of Nigeria last year asked lenders not to transact with cryptocurrency exchanges and ordered digital currency traders to shut down accounts.
Notwithstanding, Nigerians continue to use the virtual currencies to hedge against inflation and naira slide, as well as to remit money. 

Individuals in the country hold the world’s highest proportion of such assets per capita, according to a survey by Statista.
Binance has resolved 79 of the account restriction cases and plans to deploy more customer service personnel and risk agents to quicken the resolution process, it said. 

“All non-law enforcement-related cases will be resolved within two weeks,” it said. 

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#Ghana FX reserves drop by $1bn from $10.7bn in Oct to $9.7bn in Dec. @Markbohlund
Africa


Current account deficit widens to $2.5bn, 3.3% of GDP, in 2021, from $2.1b in 2020 as trade surplus falls 46% to $1.1bn, 1.5% of GDP. I'm expecting a 100bp rate hike to 15.5% on Monday.

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Between 2000 and 2019, African governments and state-owned enterprises received at least $153-billion in loans from China, according to Johns Hopkins University’s China Africa Research Initiative. @thecontinent_
Africa


On average across 33 countries where Afrobarometer asked the question between late-2019 and mid-2021, fewer than half (47%) of citizens knew their country received loans from China. 

But among those who knew, a majority (57%) said too much had been borrowed. 

Only one in five (21%) said their country had not borrowed too much from China.
In 23 of the 33 countries, at least half of citizens thought they were in too deep. 

The four countries receiving the most money had large majorities who said too much was borrowed: Angola ($42.6-billion, 75%), Ethiopia ($13.7-billion, 63%) Zambia ($9.9-billion, 77%), and Kenya ($9.2-billion, 87%). 

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S&P upgrades DRCongo rating to B-. reflecting #DRC's moderating external imbalances, with FX reserves rising to $3.5bn at end-2021 from less than $800m at end-20, @Markbohlund
Africa

S&P upgrades DRCongo rating to B-. reflecting #DRC's moderating external imbalances, with FX reserves rising to $3.5bn at end-2021 from less than $800m at end-20, underpinned by higher prices for copper and cobalt as well as funding from the IMF. 

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