Monthly Archives: January 2021

Capitalism: East or West?

By Rafiq Raji, PhD (Twitter: @DrRafiqRaji)

We are all capitalists now. Even still communist North Korea has a thriving black market. With so many variants of capitalism these days, it is increasingly hard to say definitively what capitalism is. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Capitalism, also called free market economy or free entreprise economy, is an economic system, dominant in the Western world since the breakup of feudalism, in which most means of production are privately owned and production is guided and income distributed largely through the operation of markets. A little complicated? I’ll simplify. In the June 2015 issue of Finance & Development (F&D Magazine), a publication by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), authors Sarwat Jahan and Ahmed Saber Mahmud, break it down quite well. Whereas in socialist societies, “the state owns the means of production, and state-owned enterprises seek to maximize social good rather than profits,” “the essential feature of capitalism is the motive to make a profit (Jahan & Mahmud, 2015).”

According to Jahan & Mahmud (2015), capitalism is founded on the six pillars of (1) private property, (2) self-interest, (3) competition, (4) a market mechanism, (5) freedom to choose, and a  (6) limited role of government. And “the extent to which these pillars operate distinguishes various forms of capitalism (Jahan & Mahmud, 2015).” Broadly, there are two forms of capitalism: free markets and mixed (Jahan & Mahmud, 2015). And I agree with Jahan & Mahmud (2015) when they assert that “mixed capitalist economies predominate today”. Most of the world’s economies take a middle course between private and state ownership; with the preponderance of either one suggesting the tilt. Consequently, varied classifications have emerged. One system identifies four types of capitalism underpinned by entrepreneurship: “state-guided capitalism”, “oligarchic capitalism”, “big-firm capitalism” and “entrepreneurial capitalism” (Jahan & Mahmud, 2015). This is a needless complication for our purposes.

The goal is to compare how the West (e.g., United States) and the East (e.g., China) have gone about achieving prosperity at scale for their respective populations. There is consensus that but for China’s embrace of some form of Western-style capitalism, it would have remained in the doldrums. What is interesting in the Chinese case is that it took lessons from the various Western experiences and those of pioneering Asian peers, replicating what worked, while avoiding some of their mistakes. We could not say for sure as yet which of the East or West got it right. And as we move further along in the discussion, the recurring insight is that there is truly nothing new under the sun and that ultimately, African economies looking to lift their populations out of poverty, would find that it is how they adapt what they know about these systems to their own peculiar circumstances that would determine how successful they become.

Intelligent learning

In his 2020 book, “China: The bubble that never pops”, Bloomberg chief economist, Thomas Orlik, attempts to explain what underpins China’s continued economic success. To be honest, and Orlik (2020) acknowledges as much, China’s resilience continues to surprise many. And even as it braves crisis after crisis, the sceptics believe it is only a matter of time before it unravels. That said, most agree that China’s resurgence began with Deng Xiaoping’s accession to paramount leadership in December 1978 with his “resolutely pragmatic ‘practice is the sole criterion of truth’…guiding philosophy (Orlik, 2020).”

Firstly, in December 1978, China abolished agricultural collectives, beginning the “household responsibility” system. Orlik (2020) asserts this was a turning point in China’s economic evolution because “by restoring the link between effort and reward”, China’s farmers stopped free-riding on their compatriots and “put their backs into it”. “By 1984, 99 percent of rural households were participating in the [household responsibility] system, up from 1 percent in 1979. Next came “enterprise autonomy” for industry, gradual elimination of price controls, allowance for sale of “above-plan output” and a greater profit-sharing in favour of entrepreneurs (Orlik, 2020).

Naturally, China was thereafter ready to conquer the world. In this regard, China set up special economic zones, within which “import and export tariffs were relaxed, businesses could operate according to market principles, free of the constrictions of China’s still-planned economy (Orlik, 2020).” From a real GDP growth rate of -1.6% in 1976, China grew by 15.2% in 1984 and after slowing to a 3.9% rate in 1990, has been accelerating largely above 6% annually ever since. Yes, there are contentions about the accuracy of its output data. What is not in doubt is its economic success. Even so, it is still widely believed that its success would not be sustainable.    

Pundits expected China to unravel in 2016, for instance. One Washington Post op-ed in mid January 2016 captioned “The China bubble pops” triumphantly opined “no longer are the country’s economic managers viewed as magicians who can orchestrate rapid growth whatever the obstacles.” Its equity market was in turmoil and its debt markets were on steroids. According to Orlik (2020), the authorities faced an imposible choice. They could sustain the credit bubble till it popped or they could deflate it. Either choice would be consequential for economic and social stability. Maybe the mostly western pessimists should have held their horses a little bit longer. Because to the surprise of many, the Chinese authorities managed to pull out a rabbit yet again. “Two years into the deleveraging campaign, China’s policymakers had achieved faster growth, a steady debt-to-GDP ratio, and a shrinking shadow banking sector (Orlik, 2020).”

So, how did the Chinese manage to do the impossible? Orlik (2020) believes the resilience of the Chinese economy was underestimated. More importantly, the “ingenuity of policymakers” and “unusual resources of an authoritarian state” proved decisive (Orlik, 2020). The politics underpinning Chinese capitalism, which ordinarily constrains the kind of game-changing innovations that only a free society can incubate, did come in handy when crisis hit, though. Actually, at the initial stages of an economy’s development, freedom might not be as differential we might think. A firm, determined and visionary leadership matters more in those early days. For instance, after witnessing the United States’ decimation of Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki with nuclear bombs, the Chinese saw an urgent need to have nuclear weapons of their own.

But how to go about it? Since they did not have the know-how, they sought help from the Soviet Union, which obliged in the “spirit of communist brotherhood” (Orlik, 2020). But not for long, as Soviet politics tilted towards a rapprochement with the West. In Orlik’s (2020) narration, Chinese leader Mao was not particularly enthused about acquiring nuclear weapons in any case. China would go on to detonate an atomic bomb in October 1964, five years after the Soviet abandonment. How did they do it? They did it by “drawing on what they had already learned from some fourteen hundred Russian advisors, gleaning further insights from scientific publications in the United States and Europe, and peeking in on other countries’ weapons tests (Orlik, 2020).” 

They would later apply the same “copy” strategy to strengthen their industrial base in the 2000s. China joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO), boosting exports. It closed many of its state-owned enterprises and cleaned up its banking system. But “even as exports were booming”, with annual growth in overseas sales topping 40 percent, Chinese firms made limited technological input (Orlik, 2020). “Chinese firms and workers were confined to the low-value, low-wage task of snapping the pieces together (Orlik, 2020).” Instead, “high-tech inputs came from Japan, Korea, and Taiwan”, with American and European multinationals retaining ownership and control of intellectual property and brands (Orlik, 2020).

“Multinationals did their research and development in their home country, leaving China in the dark on how new products and technologies were developed (Orlik, 2020).” Clearly, if China wanted to develop further, it had to do something drastic. And that is exactly what it did. According to Orlik (2020), China decided it would have “control of the technologies that were necessary to the next stage of its development (Orlik, 2020).” Leveraging on its huge population of more than a billion people, China demanded foreign firms form joint ventures with local firms or required they “hand over valuable technology as the price of market entry (Orlik, 2020).” The rest as they say is history.

Balance matters

In his 2020 book, “When more is not better: Overcoming America’s obsession with economic efficiency”, Roger Martin, emeritus professor of strategic management at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, describes an American capitalism that has become “out of balance”. Americans feel left out from the economy. They do not “feel that the economy worked for them.” Additionally, “people were decisively disengaged from politics.” These were the findings from a study Martin (2020) prefaced his book with to show how Western capitalism is becoming increasingly underwhelming. As showed in the Eastern case, politics matter. And the whole essence of so-called “democratic capitalism” is the democratic component. But with people disillusioned with politics in the West, there is increasingly less democracy in the “democratic capitalism pudding.” The result? Increasing inequality, monopolies and an ineffective politics-business feedback mechanism. Big business could literally get any laws it wants passed through well-funded lobbyists. Politicians rely on donations from the business community to get and stay elected. Thus, the very elements of Western capitalism that recommended it to many, its free markets, transparent politics, and effective justice system, are increasingly falling victim to the deep pockets of business and associated corruption. “What was once a sterling feature of the American experience, economic mobility in the land of opportunity, has ground to a halt. Strong improvement in mobility in the 1940s and 1950s gave way to slower improvement in the 1960s and 1970s, and to slight decreases since (Martin, 2020).” But does that suggest the Eastern version of capitalism is better?

Martin (2020) argues that a preponderant focus on efficiency is largely responsible for the prevailing despondency with democratic capitalism in the United States. “Rather than striving singularly for ever more efficiency, we need to strive for balance between efficiency and a second feature: resilience (Martin, 2020).” According to Martin (2020), “a system is resilient to the extent that over time it can adjust to its changing context in ways that allow it to continue functioning and delivering its desired benefits (Martin, 2020).” And in the past, America demonstrated remarkable resilience. “In the depths of the Great Depression, American democratic capitalism was resilient. It shifted, adjusted, and adapted to the shocks to its core, but it maintained the combination of those two features: democracy and capitalism. In many other developed countries, democratic capitalism was not sufficiently resilient to survive and was replaced by fascism or communism (Martin, 2020).”

So, what has changed? How did a system, which came out of the trauma of the Great Depression even stronger, transform to the current sorry state? Martin (2020) blames the prevailing view of the American economy as an efficient machine. “Pursuit of efficiency is definitively not a bad thing. The rise in the standard of living of the average family in America from the Revolutionary War to the present is substantially the result of much higher efficiency today compared with that of centuries ago. But there is ample evidence that the pursuit of efficiency just isn’t working as well now – and hasn’t been for almost half a century (Martin, 2020).”

To fix things, Martin (2020) suggests seeing the economy as a complex adaptive system instead. That is, one that is not left unhinged, where profit is not the only motive, and allows for a systematic periodic adaptation to the inevitable change of circumstances, factors, and constraints over time. Ordinarily, it would be assumed that the American capitalist system would be easily adaptable to changing circumstances. After all, if a vibrant media keeps politicians on their toes, and errant public officials are replaced via the ballot box at regular intervals, and a meritocratic system ensures the best brains excel to the top, then the system should naturally evolve and correct itself as variables change, as they most surely do. And as Martin (2020) highlights, that was in fact the case in America once. That has changed, however. For instance, legislations are difficult to change once they become laws. Take Obamacare, which though loved by many Americans, was one legislation former President Barack Obama’s opponents in the Republican Party were determined to “repeal and replace” but have thus far failed to do (Martin, 2020). Knowing this, sponsors of self-interested legislations could milk the benefits for years before even the slightest possibility of a change. Martin (2020) suggests a remedy to the dysfunction: “Retire the machine model of the economy and consciously adopt the model of the natural system” with the three core features of “complexity, “adaptivity, and “systemic structure”.

Canada is proof western capitalism needs to have built-in safeguards. Does it surprise anyone that Canada was largely unscathed by the most recent global financial crisis despite its close connections with the United States? It was not just  good fortune. Martin (2020) points to certain features in the Canadian financial system to show why. For instance, there is a required decennial review provision in Canada’s financial regulatory regime. “Regardless of the situation, regardless of the political context, [Canada’s Bank Act] was to be formally reviewed every ten years (Martin, 2020).” Now shortened to every five years, the periodic review “enabled Canada’s regulators to balance continuity with change, tweaking regularly so that the system never becomes unbalanced (Martin, 2020).” There were other factors; like not allowing the big banks to merge, a more proactive informal non-punitive ex ante regulatory style, and so on. But the part about the review is more pertinent to our exposition as it is evidence that capitalism when left to its whims and caprices births an American and global financial crisis and when safeguarded like in the Canadian case, achieves better and sustainable outcomes.

That said, it might actually be erroneous to say America is in bad shape. Put another way, if the American economy seems sluggish or less vibrant, it could be argued to be the consequence and evidence of its success. That is the argument pushed by Dietrich Vollrath, economics professor at the University of Houston in his 2020 book “Fully grown: Why a stagnant economy is a sign of success”. “Slow growth, it turns out, is the optimal response to massive economic success (Vollrath, 2020).” According to Vollrath (2020), “starting around the early 2000s, the growth rate of real GDP in the United States dropped compared to the historical norm of around 2.25% per year, and now is somewhere around 1.0% per year (Vollrath, 2020).” Does that mean America is falling behind? Vollrath (2020) does not think so. Instead, he believes “compared to other developed economies, the growth slowdown in the United States is not extraordinary (Vollrath, 2020).”

According to Vollrath (2020), even though “China’s real GDP per capita grew very, very quickly compared to that of the United States in the past twenty years…[it] is not an indication that the US fell behind in the level of living standards.” In fact, Vollrath (2020) believes “even if China manages to retain its high growth rate, it will still be another twenty-five years before real GDP per capita catches up to the US level.” And he is doubtful that China would be able to sustain such high growth rates for long. In any case, an investigation into what underpins the prevailing US growth slowdown allows us garner insights into the potential pitfalls of Western capitalism to avoid. For instance, Vollrath (2020) finds that “the single most important explanation for the [American] growth slowdown was the decline in the growth rate of human capital per person.”

From a growth rate of 0.96% in the twentieth century, America’s human capital per capita has declined to -0.15% in the twenty-first century (Vollrath, 2020). “The fall in fertility rates during the twentieth century can explain much of that slower human capital growth”, Vollrath (2020) finds. And he argues this in itself is due to American success. Because as wages rose, Americans chose to marry later and have fewer children (Vollrath, 2020). Also, labour-saving household technologies “made remaining single a more attractive situation – for both men and women – and contributed to the delay in the age of marriage and a reduction in the marriage rate overall (Vollrath, 2020).” And having chosen to marry later, there was also a reduced amount of time to have and care for children. The resultant effect was slower population growth and by extension, reduced human capital.

Vollrath (2020) also suggests another reason for the American growth slowdown: “innovations are getting harder to find.” Another potential explanation, albeit tenuous, is the increased concentration of firms and the observed consequent reduction in net investment. This would be “consistent with the basic theory that firms with market power restrict output in favour of keeping their prices above costs (Vollrath, 2020).” It is also tempting to suggest that China’s rise underpins the American slowdown. This is not totally baseless.

There is evidence of significant American manufacturing unemployment owing to Chinese competition. But as Vollrath (2020) asserts, that in itself was not significant enough a factor in the American growth slowdown. “The growth slowdown would have happened even if China had never become a major exporter, as the US was already in the middle of a long-run shift away from goods production toward services production (Vollrath, 2020).” Yes, “China accelerated this in a small way but was not responsible for it (Vollrath, 2020).” What really underpins the American growth slowdown are “the drop in family size and population aging…[which] lowered the growth rate by about 0.80 percentage points all by itself,…the shift from goods to services [which] took off another 0.20 percentage points, at least…[and when put together, both]…account for the three-quarters of the drop in the [American economic] growth rate (Vollrath, 2020).”

Chart your course

Any form of capitalism can be dimensioned along three lines: politics, production, and profits. The politics determines the rules and ownership of production. How the surplus from production is shared determines the incentives for either efficient or innovative production or both. Efficiency could almost certainly be assured in a totalitarian state. Innovation, however, thrives better in free societies where risks are appropriately rewarded and the gains not expropriated by the state. Thus, what is ideal is to have an efficient and innovative production sphere. And as our exposition shows thus far, the eastern and western variants of capitalism have their pros and cons. The key then is not to be entrenched with either. Instead, an aspiring African country should look to take the pros from each type and do its utmost to avoid the cons.

Many African countries desire to follow in China’s footsteps. Unfortunately, they would only be able to do so to a limited extent. And as the increasing success of “copycat” Asian countries like Vietnam, Philippines and Bangladesh shows, even such small feats can still be transformational. However, even those countries may be approaching a premature climax. This is because the expectation that as labour costs rise in China, global supply chains would migrate to lower cost jurisdictions, may not materialise as much as hoped. The “mastery of a new generation of automated production processes may enable China to retain its low-cost advantage (Orlik, 2020).” Still, “China’s technological gains won’t end the migration of labor-intensive employment to Southeast Asia. But it could significantly reduce its scope (Orlik, 2020).”

More importantly, and certainly more relevant for African policymakers, is how the Chinese have approached development. In other words, what they have done is not really as important as how they have gone about doing it. Chinese policymakers’s success with bringing their 2015-16 financial market troubles under control did not happen by chance. According to Orlik (2020), an elite team from the central bank and thinktanks “delved into the history of the Great Depression of the 1930s and the great financial crisis of 2008, aiming to discover the underlying patterns at work (Orlik, 2020).” And even as they drew lessons from these experiences, they still charted an independent and clearly informed middle way that continues to be vindicated. For instance, when faced with the risk-reward tradeoff of opening its capital account, “China’s policymakers found a middle path – opening the capital account to long-term, patient investors while keeping it closed to the destabilizing influence of short-term speculators (Orlik, 2020).”

Quite frankly, China was not expected to make the transition from an investment-driven economy to a consumption-based one easily. “Ghost towns of empty property, local government debt, and shadow banking were all identified as triggers for a system-shaking crisis (Orlik, 2020).” Well, the pessimists have been proven wrong thus far. This is not entirely surprising. “China – for all its dysfunctions – can, when it needs to, move with unity of purpose (Orlik, 2020).” That is not something easily achievable in the West. In carte blanche competitive Western economies, “cooperative outcomes [are] harder to achieve (Orlik, 2020).”

That is not to suggest that Chinese capitalism may not yet unravel. Because despite its strong fundamentals, “China has faced and continues to face very serious structural problems (Orlik, 2020).” Still, the system has held up astonishingly well thus far. Why is that? Orlik (2020) identifies four factors at play: (1) “China has underappreciated sources of strenght” (2) “The tradeoff between policy choices is overstated” and (3) “As a single-minded, single-party state, China has unique resources”. Put another way, “one reason they’ve been successful: something economists call the “advantage of backwardness,” a path to growth simply by following in the technology and management steps traced out by global leaders (Orlik, 2020).” But is that enough? African countries are similarly poor as China once was but are yet to excel like it did. Orlik (2020) obliges: “What’s accelerated China up the development ladder is its 1.3 billion population and can-do-government.”

Besides, foreign firms did not mind giving away their technology in exchange for market access to more than a billion potential customers once the government insisted. A similarly determined African government could hardly muster as much clout. That could change, though. A continental free-trade area of as many customers on the continent means if similar cooperation can be inspired towards technology transfer, there might still be hope for Africa in this regard. Besides, China was at a vantage point to observe the successes and misadventures of neighbouring Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. “The combination of space for development, enormous size, access to foreign technology, and a ready-made blueprint for development gave China a major head start (Orlik, 2020).” “A high savings rate, controlled capital account, and a state-owned banking system” also helped (Orlik, 2020).

Also bear in mind that the state actually plays a more active role in Western democracies than is let on. This is the main point made by University College London economics of innovation and public value professor, Mariana Mazzucato, in her 2013 book “The entrepreneurial state: Debunking public vs private sector myths”. According to Mazzucato (2013), “despite the perception of the US as the epitome of private sector-led wealth creation, in reality it is the state that has engaged on a massive scale in entrepreneurial risk-taking to spur innovation.” Four prominent examples are the US government’s “Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), the Orphan Drug Act (the EU passed its own in 2001, imitating the US act passed in 1983) and the National Nanotechnology Initiative (Mazzucato, 2013).”

In his 2020 book, “Has China won? The Chinese challenge to American primacy”, distinguished fellow at the Asia Research Institute, Kishore Mahbubani, assesses the seeming American lethargy as follows. “One reason the West can no longer dominate the world is that the rest have learned so much from the West. They have imbibed many Western best practices in economics, politics, science, and technology. As a result, while many parts of Western civilization (especially Europe) seem exhausted, lacking drive and energy, other civilizations are just getting revved up (Mahbubani, 2020).” And on China, Mahbubani (2020) had this to say: “Chinese civilization has had many ups and downs. [Thus] it should be no surprise that it is now returning in strength.” Thus, what may seem like maverick or courageous divergence from orthodoxy on China’s part, could be traced to its complex history and evolution, which was characterised by huge failures and successes in almost equal measure.

As Professor Wang Gungwu of the National University of Singapore observes in Mahbubani (2020), “while the world has had many ancient civilizations, the only ancient civilization to fall down four times and rise again is China. As a civilization, China is remarkably resilient (Mahbubani, 2020).” African countries which see China as a model must bear this in mind. The resilience that underpins China’s remarkable success cannot be learned. There is a necessary indigenous and experiential element. Mahbubani (2020) highlights this feature in the Chinese case succinctly: “Cultural confidence, which the Chinese have had for centuries, combined with what China has learned from the West [are what] have given Chinese civilization a special vigor today (Mahbubani, 2020).” Besides “America has been walking away from [its] institutions, while the rest of the world, especially China, has been walking toward them (Mahbubani, 2020).” 

Still, it would be hasty to dismiss America entirely. This is because it has entrenched cultural elements that suggest it would likely prove resilient and resurgent yet again. Where “in many societies, the tall nail that stands out is hammered down,…in America, the tall tree is worshipped (Mahbubani, 2020).” Thus, there is no gainsaying the fact that “no society has as powerful an ecosystem as America for producing strong individuals (Mahbubani, 2020).”  And eastern societies like China’s are not wired similarly. Put more dramatically, “China stood up again after a hundred years because of a towering figure like Mao Zedong. American society produces many Mao Zedongs (Mahbubani, 2020).” And despite China’s demographic advantages, America surpasses it by far in its ability to attract the best and the brightest.

Besides, “in America, the rule of law is stronger than the government of the day (Mahbubani, 2020).” We saw proof of that in how despite former President Donald Trump’s negative and disruptive tendencies, American institutions proved resilient. China has not been similarly fortunate; even by its own standards. For instance, President Xi Jinping has managed to install himself as leader for life in defiance or in spite of instituted term limits. And even as the Chinese Yuan is gaining ground in global marekts, it would hardly succeed in displacing the American dollar if China is unable to match America’s adherence to the rule of law and the primacy of democratic institutions over any individual, no matter how highly placed. And because America allows dissent, encourages and support diversity, and challenges conventional wisdom, it has created “the most powerful intellectual ecosystems in the world (Mahbubani, 2020).”  In China, where the reverse is the case, it is almost a certainty that its technological progress would be stunted at some point.

Still, China is almost certain to become the world’s largest economy in a decade or so. How long it would remain so when it does is anyone’s guess. But would that be evidence of the supremacy of its capitalism? After our exposition thus far, you could not say for sure. African policymakers would find useful ideas in both systems. Even so, there would always be peculiarities in their respective economies that require new and independent thinking.

macroafricaintel Daily Brief | 29 Jan

By Rafiq Raji, PhD
Twitter: @DrRafiqRaji, @macroafrica

Global Markets
• The “GameStop effect” could ripple further as Wall Street eyes short squeeze candidate
• Facebook shuts popular stock trading group, small investors behind surge hit by trading curbs
• Equity futures slide on nerves over retail-trading frenzy
• UK bans direct flights from UAE, shutting world’s busiest international route
• Oil steady as supply cuts offset demand worries on stalled vaccine rollouts
• Brent up 4 cents at $55.57, WTI down 7 cents at $52.27 (0520GMT)
• Gold on course for monthly decline as dollar firms
• Spot gold up 0.1% at $1,842.58/oz., futures up 0.2% at $1,844.20 (0326GMT)

Key African events or data releases today
[Posts & comments at my Twitter handles @DrRafiqRaji, @macroafrica]
• Ghana supreme court starts substantive hearing of Mahama election petition
• Kenya’s Council of Governors elects new chairman
• Kenya BBI campaigns intensify; Uhuru meets top Mt Kenya state officials on strategy in Sagana (30 Jan)
• South Africa state capture inquiry continues
• Virtual World Economic Forum (24-29 Jan)
• Bank of Ghana MPC meets [fcst. 14.5%, prev. 14.5%] (26-29 Jan & 1 Feb)
• Kenya inflation Jan-21 [fcst. 5.6% yy (1.0% mm), prev. 6.1% (1.0%)]
• South Africa PSCE Dec-20 [act. 3.6% yy, fcst. 3.6%, prev. 3.4%]
• South Africa M3 Dec-20 [act. 9.5% yy, fcst. 9.5%, prev. 8.2%]
• South Africa trade balance Dec-20 [prev. ZAR36.72B]
• Covid-19 updates by authorities across the continent

Key African events or data releases yesterday & early a.m today
Reuters
• South Africa trial of Novavax vaccine seen to be 60% effective says head of trial
• First know US cases of potent South Africa covid-19 variant found in South Carolina
• Nigeria repatriates hundreds of migrants from Saudi Arabia
• Story on Uganda army killing Somali militants withdrawn
• African Union secures extra 400 mln vaccine doses
• Toyota South Africa to produce new model creating over 1,500 jobs – CEO
• Death toll from storm Eloise rises to 21 across southern Africa
• Congo prime minister accepts vote of no confidence
• Budget woes mean South Africa doctors jobless while hospitals battle covid-19
• Anger in Somalia as sons secretly sent to serve in Eritrea military force
• South Africa regulator awards Eskom additional 6 bln rand revenue
• South Africa top court orders Zuma to appear before enquiry commission
• South Africa to issue covid-19 vaccine storage, distribution tender
• Africa secures 400 mln more covid-19 vaccine doses
• Hundreds of pelicans found dead in Senegal World Heritage site
• Kenya’s economy shrinks in Q3 2020 as covid hits tourism
• Tunisia president office gets letter with suspicious powder: source
• Uganda conducting clinical trials of possible drug against covid-19 infections – statement

Bloomberg
• Shell is back in court for Nigeria oil spills liability ruling
• AstraZeneca test results on South Africa variant due next week
• Covid variant fueled record infections in Africa, WHO says
• South Africa covid variant detected for the first time in US
• Nigeria central bank to start commodity exchange in 90 days
• Coronavirus variant from South Africa detected in US for first time
• Ethiopia moves artillery to Sudan border after deadly clashes
• Banks ordered to slash costs, placing Tanzania jobs at risk
• Africa covid vaccination plan to cost as much as $15 bln
• Uganda steps up virus response with vaccines, increased testing
• Nigeria manufacturers list dollar shortage as top challenge
• Zimbabwe miners say FX rule could trigger crisis
• Nigeria seen devaluing naira by as much as 10% in 2021, survey shows
• Mobile power ships eye Africa as virus stalls land projects
• South Africa court rules Zuma must testify at graft inquiry
• Deaths from South Africa’s covid-19 resurgence may have peaked
• Swedish fund’s fading Nigeria bet latest sign of foreign exit
• Kenya in first recession since at least 2000 on virus curbs
• Nigeria dependence on central bank money will be hard to cure

N.B. Full stories of above headlines are available on Reuters & Bloomberg

macroafricaintel Daily Brief | 28 Jan

By Rafiq Raji, PhD
Twitter: @DrRafiqRaji, @macroafrica

Global Markets
• GameStop, other retail darlings dented after Reddit group briefly shuts doors
• Biden takes sweeping measures to curb climate change, vows job creation
• Asia shares undone by Wall Street swoon, short seller squeeze
• Global oil demand to rise, boosted by vaccine distribution and economy: WoodMac
• Oil falls on demand fears, strengthening dollar
• Brent down 0.7% at $55.45, WTI down 0.6% at $52.52 (0452GMT)
• Gold falls as safe-haven appeal shifts to dollar
• Spot gold down 0.3% at $1,837.67/oz., futures down 0.6% at $1,833.70 (0308GMT)

Key African events or data releases today
[Posts & comments at my Twitter handles @DrRafiqRaji, @macroafrica]
• Central Bank of Kenya’s Njoroge briefs press on MPC decision
• Fitch briefs on SSA sovereigns & banks credit outlook
• South Africa PPI Dec-20 [fcst. 3.1% yy, prev. 3.0%]
• South Africa’s Ramaphosa speaks at virtual 20th NEPAD symposium
• Kenya’s Uhuru & Raila intensify BBI campaigns; duo take on Ruto as process moves to counties
• South Africa state capture inquiry continues
• Virtual World Economic Forum (24-29 Jan)
• Kenya’s Council of Governors elects new chairman (29 Jan)
• Bank of Ghana MPC meets [fcst. 14.5%, prev. 14.5%] (26-29 Jan & 1 Feb)
• Kenya inflation Jan-21 [fcst. 5.6% yy (1.0% mm), prev. 6.1% (1.0%)] (29 Jan)
• South Africa PSCE Dec-20 [fcst. 3.6% yy, prev. 3.4%] (29 Jan)
• South Africa M3 Dec-20 [fcst. 9.5% yy, prev. 8.2%] (29 Jan)
• Covid-19 updates by authorities across the continent

Key African events or data releases yesterday & early a.m today
Reuters
• Three teens arrested in Denver, US fire that killed 5 Senegal immigrants
• South Africa, hit hard by coronavirus 2nd wave, expects first vaccines Feb. 1
• South Africa’s Ramaphosa urges businesses to contribute financially to Africa’s vaccine rollout
• Former US envoys alarmed by violence and hate speech in Ethiopia
• South Africa Treasury: could cost 20-24 bln rand to vaccinate 40 mln people
• South Africa Airways administrators gets 1.3 bln rand from govt
• South Africa opposition party goes to court to seek vaccine clarity
• South Africa approves AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use
• Gambia vows to name and shame latest covid-19 quarantine cheats
• Mali says joint military operation with France kills 100 terrorists

Bloomberg
• South Africa’s first vaccine to arrive amid storm of criticism
• Zimbabwe to fund covid-19 vaccines with govt finances
• No food for 100 hours: The state of South Africa health care
• Africa Finance Corp. to more than double lending in virus battle
• Congo govt falls after censure vote in win for president
• South Africa needs big fiscal effort to stabilize debt, IMF says
• Mozambique central bank surprises with 2021’s first rate hike
• South Africa allows use of parasite drug to treat covid patients
• Tanzania president cautions against coronavirus vaccines
• South Africa’s Naspers looking at how to ease dominance of Johannesburg bourse
• Egypt to reopen LNG plant in push to be major European supplier
• West Africa pirates spur ship lines to seek military help
• South Africa stocks slide for 2nd day after IMF cuts growth forecasts
• Vodafone considering options for Ghana in Africa restructuring

N.B. Full stories of above headlines are available on Reuters & Bloomberg

macroafricaintel Daily Brief | 27 Jan

By Rafiq Raji, PhD
Twitter: @DrRafiqRaji, @macroafrica

Global Markets
• Global covid-19 cases surpass 100 mln as nations tackle vaccine shortages
• Asia shares slip, Microsoft’s brisk earnings boost tech sector
• US consumer confidence edges higher; house prices accelerate
• China’s industrial profits extend growth in December amid brisk factory recovery
• US judge blocks deportation freeze in swift setback for Biden
• Oil rises as US oil stockpiles drop, new Chinese covid-19 cases decline
• Brent up 0.2% at $56.02, WTI up 0.2% at $52.71 (0229GMT)
• Gold steady ahead of US Fed policy decision
• Spot gold little changed at $1,849.76/oz., futures down 0.1% at $1,848.60 (0031GMT)

Key African events or data releases today
[Posts & comments at my Twitter handles @DrRafiqRaji, @macroafrica]
• Central Bank of Kenya decides interest rates [fcst. 7.0%, prev. 7.0%] 
• Nigeria’s Buhari cabinet meets; after welcome replacement of military chiefs
• Kenya’s Uhuru & Raila intensify BBI campaigns; duo take on Ruto as process moves to counties
• South Africa state capture inquiry continues
• Virtual World Economic Forum (24-29 Jan)
• Bank of Ghana MPC meets [fcst. 14.5%, prev. 14.5%] (26-29 Jan & 1 Feb)
• Fitch briefing on SSA sovereigns & banks credit outlook (28 Jan)
• South Africa PPI Dec-20 [fcst. 3.1% yy, prev. 3.0%] (28 Jan)
• Kenya inflation Jan-21 [fcst. 5.6% yy (1.0% mm), prev. 6.1% (1.0%)] (29 Jan)
• South Africa PSCE Dec-20 [fcst. 3.6% yy, prev. 3.4%] (29 Jan)
• South Africa M3 Dec-20 [fcst. 9.5% yy, prev. 8.2%] (29 Jan)
• Covid-19 updates by authorities across the continent

Key African events or data releases yesterday & early a.m today
Reuters
• Gambia vows to name and shame lastest covid-19 quarantine cheats
• Nigeria names new military chiefs amid rising militant violence
• Lilly testing new antibody for South Africa coronavirus variant, says company executive
• ‘Everywhere I am in chains,’ says Uganda’s Wine after home arrest lifted
• Pirates kidnap 15 Turkey sailors in attack on container ship off Nigeria
• Stop hoarding covid-19 vaccines, South Africa’s Ramaphosa tells rich nations
• Nigeria central bank holds benchmark lending rate at 11.5%
• Aid workers warn on covid-19 in camps for Mozambique cyclone victims
• Kenya to cut fiscal deficit in 2021/22 to 7.5% of GDP, Treasury says
• Morocco prepares to launch covid-19 vaccination programme
• Tunisia president rejects reshuffle, escalating political crisis
• South Africa plans three renewable energy rounds over coming year

Bloomberg
• Oil companies fear Nigeria plan may deter offshore investment
• South Africa starts $79 mln fund to help tourism industry
• Nigeria central bank chief rebuffs money-printing criticism
• Zimbabwe plans to buy virus shots for two-thirds of population
• Ivory Coast cocoa farmers bemoan bean sales despite good weather
• Uganda’s Bobi Wine demands supporters release after he’s freed
• South Africa cracks down on bitcoin after alleged ponzi scheme
• Tunisia premier promises broad economic reform amid unrest
• Libya oil flow rises on pipeline fix as pay talks continue
• Liberia sees $800 mln ArcelorMittal investment this year
• African Bank reports loss a day after CEO’s surprise resignation
• South Africa stocks post biggest drop this month on Tencent effect
• In Zimbabwe, coronavirus sick told to buy their own ventilators

N.B. Full stories of above headlines are available on Reuters & Bloomberg

macroafricaintel Daily Brief | 26 Jan

By Rafiq Raji, PhD
Twitter: @DrRafiqRaji, @macroafrica

Global Markets
• US Senate votes overwhelmingly to confirm Yellen as first female treasury chief
• China to conduct military drills in South China Sea amid tensions with US
• Asia stocks post biggest fall in 2 months on US stimulus worries
• Oil drops as US stimulus wrangles, rising covid-19 cases hit sentiment
• Brent down 0.5% at $55.60, WTI down 0.5% at $52.52 (0431GMT)
• Gold rises on US stimulus hopes; firm dollar weighs
• Spot gold up 0.1% at $1,856.33/oz., futures up 0.1% at $1,856.80 (0549GMT)

Key African events or data releases today
[Posts & comments at my Twitter handles @DrRafiqRaji, @macroafrica]
• Central Bank of Nigeria decides interest rates [fcst. 11.5%, prev. 11.5%]
• South Africa state capture inquiry continues
• Virtual World Economic Forum; South Africa’s Ramaphosa speaks today (24-29 Jan)
• Bank of Ghana MPC meets [fcst. 14.5%, prev. 14.5%] (26-29 Jan & 1 Feb)
• Central Bank of Kenya decides interest rates [fcst. 7.0%, prev. 7.0%] (27 Jan)
• Fitch briefing on SSA sovereigns & banks credit outlook (28 Jan)
• South Africa PPI Dec-20 [fcst. 3.1% yy, prev. 3.0%] (28 Jan)
• Kenya inflation Jan-21 [fcst. 5.6% yy (1.0% mm), prev. 6.1% (1.0%)] (29 Jan)
• South Africa PSCE Dec-20 [fcst. 3.6% yy, prev. 3.4%] (29 Jan)
• South Africa M3 Dec-20 [fcst. 9.5% yy, prev. 8.2%] (29 Jan)
• Covid-19 updates by authorities across the continent

Key African events or data releases yesterday & early a.m today
Reuters
• No word from pirates who seized sailors off Nigeria, Turkey says
• Rwanda’s Kagame backs proposed global social protection fund
• At least 11 killed after fighting erupts in Somalia’s Jubbaland – doctor
• Egypt arrests cartoonist on 10th anniversary of uprising, sources say
• Minors arrested in sweeps on Ethiopia rebels, says rights group
• Zimbabwe covid-19 deaths pass 1,000 as infections surge
• Thirteen dead, thousands homeless in southern Africa after storm Eloise
• Nigeria lawmakers target April or May to pass oil reform bill
• Uganda court orders opposition leader’s freedom, troops still block his home
• Zambia allocated 8.7 mln covid-19 vaccines from AU
• Gunmen kill 6 Mali soldiers in coordinated attacks
• Severe winds wreck homes, displace thousands in Mozambique – agency
• Pirates kidnap 15 sailors in attack on Turkey container ship off Nigeria

Bloomberg
• Nigeria central bank keeps analysts guessing on rates
• In Zimbabwe, coronavirus sick told to buy their own ventilators
• Zimbabwe gets coronavirus vaccine offers from China, Russia
• South Africa’s Steinhoff revives plans for Pepco listing after pandemic delay
• South Africa’s excess deaths soar as new virus variant spreads
• Uganda court orders authorities to free Bobi Wine from house arrest
• Moderna plans to test booster shot against South Africa strain
• Qatar Air adds Africa flights as Saudi ban lift shorten trips
• Attack in Somalia’s Gedo region escalates tensions with Kenya
• South Africa’s lone female bank chief, Basani Maluleke, quits
• South Africa’s Ramaphosa strikes back at critics over steps to secure vaccines
• Kenya economy seen growing this year after dodging shrinkage
• South Africa stocks rally to record as Tencent surge boosts Naspers
• Zimbabwe seeks to list company holding state mining assets

N.B. Full stories of above headlines are available on Reuters & Bloomberg

macroafricaintel Daily Brief | 25 Jan

By Rafiq Raji, PhD
Twitter: @DrRafiqRaji, @macroafrica

Global Markets
• Asia shares rise as US stimulus plans offset virus woes
• Big Oil hits brakes on search for new fossil fuels
• Global green bond issuance hit new record high last year
• Saudi sovereign fund to double assets in next five years to $1.07 tln: crown prince
• Oil prices fall for 2nd session as covid-19 lockdown concerns cast pall over demand prospects
• Brent down 0.3% at $55.26, WTI down 0.2% at $52.19 (0158GMT)
• Gold ticks up on weaker dollar, US stimulus hopes
• Spot gold up 0.1% at $1,854.95/oz., futures down 0.1% at $1,854.30 (0329GMT)

Key African events or data releases today
[Posts & comments at my Twitter handles @DrRafiqRaji, @macroafrica]
• US to impose South Africa travel ban to combat new covid-19 variant
• Uganda court expected to order release of opposition leader Bobi Wine from house arrest
• South Africa’s Eskom reduces load in some parts of country
• South Africa state capture inquiry resumes
• Nigeria southwest governors meet cattle herders over incessant conflicts with farmers
• Central Bank of Nigeria decides interest rates [fcst. 11.5%, prev. 11.5%] (25-26 Jan)
• Virtual World Economic Forum starts (24-29 Jan)
• Bank of Ghana MPC meets [fcst. 14.5%, prev. 14.5%] (26-29 Jan & 1 Feb)
• Central Bank of Kenya decides interest rates [fcst. 7.0%, prev. 7.0%] (27 Jan)
• Fitch briefing on SSA sovereigns & banks credit outlook (28 Jan)
• Kenya inflation Jan-21 [fcst. 5.6% yy (1.0% mm), prev. 6.1% (1.0%)] (29 Jan)
• South Africa PPI (28 Jan), M3, PSCE, trade balance (29 Jan)
• Covid-19 updates by authorities across the continent

Key African events or data releases over the weekend & early a.m today
Reuters
• Exclusive: Biden to impose South Africa travel ban to combat new covid-19 variant – CDC
• ICC has arrested CAR war crimes suspect: statement
• UK detects 77 cases of South Africa covid variant, 9 of Brazilian
• Pirates kidnap 15 sailors in attack on Turkey container ship off Nigeria
• ‘Choose – I kill you or rape you’: abuse accusations surge in Ethiopia’s war
• Hundred march in Tunisia as protests sharpen
• Cyclone hits Mozambique port city, brings property damage, flooding
• Panama detects first case of South Africa covid-19 variant – health ministry
• Exxon Mobil lifts force majeure on exports of Nigeria’s Qua Iboe crude oil – spokesman
• Uganda army says it has killed 189 al Shabaab fighters in Somalia
• Violence in West Africa’s Sahel displaces record 2 mln people, UN says
• Nigeria stunt crew aims to kickstart Nollywood action boom
• Zambia, IMF to hold talks on credit facility from next month
• South Africa tackles secretive party funding with law, but still allows anonymous donors
• Morocco gets 2 mln AstraZeneca vaccine doses, first big shipment to Africa
• After pandemic, oil firms even less willing to cover $3.9 bln cost of South Africa’s clean fuel plan
• Ivory Coast cocoa exporters curb exposure and inventories amid glut
• UK bans passengers from Tanzania, DRC to control spread of covid variant
• UK to extend £330 mln bridge loan to clear Sudan’s debt to ADB
• South Africa’s Mr Price sales rise on work-from-home boost, covid-19 aid
• Nigeria approves release of $16.9 mln to set up oxygen plants amid covid-19 surge
• Brazil’s Vale hires banks to sell coal assets in Mozambique – sources
• New Covid-19 variant in South Africa defeats plasma treatment, may reduce vaccine efficacy
• South Africa presidency minister, former ANC activist Jackson Mthembu dies from covid-19

Bloomberg
• US plans entry ban for most non-citizens from South Africa
• In Zimbabwe, coronavirus sick told to buy their own ventilators
• 4th Zimbabwe cabinet member dies of covid-19 in surge
• Libya guards to halt oil shipments at eastern port in spat
• Labour allies of South Africa’s ANC slam party for inaction
• Pirates attack Turkey ship off West Africa kill 1, kidnap 15
• South Africa’s vaccine holdup heaps pressure on Ramaphosa
• Seychelles imposes curfew as new coronavirus cases rise
• IMF urges spending control for a Tunisia gripped in protests
• Libya reopens oil pipeline to biggest port after fixing leak
• Nigeria to bar exporters witholding proceeds from bank services
• Atlas Mara mulls Nigeria bank options after takeover approaches
• South Africa coronavirus death toll breaches 40,000 mark
• Mauritius receives first 100,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine
• Angola’s Sonangol reaffirms interest in keeping Galp stake, Diario says
• Seychelles sees national carrier as ‘great problem,’ Nation says
• Ports, power plants brace for storm heading to southern Africa
• South Africa regulator backs distribution of AstraZeneca shots
• Uganda’s Bobi Wine urges protest against disputed vote results
• Steinmetz sentenced to 5 years in jail in Swiss bribery case
• Zimbabwe govt reduces operations amid covid-19 resurgence
• Kenya beats back fresh wave of desert locust invasions
• South Africa’s widening budget gap may drive up tax targets
• South Africa president signs political party funding act
• Uganda to maintain Facebook ban indefinitely, New Vision says

N.B. Full stories of above headlines are available on Reuters & Bloomberg

macroafricaintel Daily Brief | 22 Jan

By Rafiq Raji, PhD
Twitter: @DrRafiqRaji, @macroafrica

Global Markets
• Not company earnings, not data but vaccines now steering investor sentiment
• Wall Street hedges against possible bumps in US vaccine rollout
• Asia markets step back from stimulus-driven record highs
• US labour market recovery fading; housing, factories underpin economy
• Oil prices fall as China’s surging covid-19 cases trigger clampdowns
• Brent down 0.8% at $55.65, WTI down 1% at $52.60 (0445GMT)
• Gold eases as yields tick up, but set for best week in five
• Spot gold down 0.3% at $1,863.56/oz., futures down 0.1% at $1,863.90 (0233GMT)

Key African events or data releases today
[Posts & comments at my Twitter handles @DrRafiqRaji, @macroafrica]
• South Africa’s ruling ANC NEC holds virtual “lekgotla” (22-24 Jan)
• South Africa’s Eskom reduces load in some parts of country
• CAR declares state of emergency to combat rebels
• Nigeria central bank decides interest rates [fcst. 11.5%, prev. 11.5%] (25-26 Jan); Ghana & Kenya central bank MPCs meet next week as well
• Covid-19 updates by authorities across the continent

Key African events or data releases yesterday & early a.m today
Reuters
• Africa’s Covid-19 case fatality rate surpasses global level
• CAR declares state of emergency to combat rebels
• UK bans passengers from Tanzania, DRC to control spread of covid variant
• Nigeria appeals court throws out blasphemy convictions that caused outcry
• Egypt & Qatar agree to resume diplomatic ties, Cairo says
• South Africa presidency minister, former ANC activist Jackson Mthembu dies from covid-19
• Journalist shot dead in Ethiopia’s Tigray – aid worker, residents
• South Africa to pay $5.25 a dose for AstraZeneca vaccine from India’s SII
• Namibia govt supports calls to boycott Shoprite amid wage standoff
• Ethiopians dying, hungry and fearful in war-hit Tigray: agencies
• Ivory Coast appoints Mars executive to lead cocoa initiative
• Ivory Coast says delivery of its first doses of Pfizer vaccine delayed to mid-Feb
• Bovac to distribute vaccines to South Africa healthcare workers – letter
• Zambia expects to find new Mopani investor by year-end, IMF examines Glencore transaction
• Kenya reports two cases of new coronavirus variant first seen in South Africa
• South Africa’s Massmart posts lower Q4 sales on softer Black Friday, signs deal with Genpact

Bloomberg
• South Africa’s vaccine holdup heaps pressure on Ramaphosa
• India begins covid-19 vaccine exports to Brazil, Morocco
• South Africa: Gold Fields hires CEO who may fix troubled giant mine
• South Africa stocks set record as CEO news boosts Gold Fields
• Africa trade pact secures $1 bln to offset revenue losses
• Ethiopia denies Somalia forces involved in fighting in Tigray
• Kenya bourse eyes incubator for record listings this year
• Sudan to spend 60% more in 2021 in its bid for economic growth
• Libya to lean on foreign oil firms to fix rotting infrastructure
• South Africa holds key rate and signals hiking may start sooner
• South Africa perplexed over inertia in Mozambique crisis
• Nigeria now expects first covid-19 vaccine doses in February
• Eskom’s biggest union blames CEO for South Africa’s power cuts

N.B. Full stories of above headlines are available on Reuters & Bloomberg

macroafricaintel Daily Brief | 21 Jan

By Rafiq Raji, PhD
Twitter: @DrRafiqRaji, @macroafrica

Global Markets
• Asia stocks at record highs as Biden inauguration lifts stimulus hopes
• Biden swiftly begins sweeping away Trump’s immigration barriers
• Biden announces return to global climate accord, new curbs on US oil industry, revokes KXL permit
• Dollar on back foot as Biden optimism bolsters riskier currencies
• Oil dips after surprise rise in US crude stocks; focus on Biden, stimulus
• Brent down 0.4% at $55.86, WTI down 0.5% at $53.07 (0500GMT)
• Gold scales 2-wk high as dollar slips on stimulus optimism
• Spot gold up 0.1% at $1,872.25/oz., futures up 0.3% at $1,871.70 (0308GMT)

Key African events or data releases today
[Posts & comments at my Twitter handles @DrRafiqRaji, @macroafrica]
• Kenya IEBC publishes verified BBI signatures
• South Africa central bank decides interest rates [fcst. 3.5%, prev. 3.5%]
• World Bank hosts East Asia – Africa policy dialogue
• South Africa public protector Mkhwebane faces perjury charges
• South Africa retail sales Nov-20 [fcst. -4.9% yy, prev. -1.8%]
• UK foreign secretary Raab visits Kenya (from 20 Jan)
• Covid-19 updates by authorities across the continent

Key African events or data releases yesterday & early a.m today
Reuters
• Ethiopians dying, hungry and fearful in war-hit Tigray: agencies
• 43 Africans drown off Libya in first Mediterranean shipwreck of 2021 – UN
• Nigeria restaurants struggle as inflation compounds pandemic impact
• Egypt & Qatar agree to resume diplomatic ties, Cairo says
• Intensifying insurgency drives Mozambique humanitarian crisis
• UK helps Kenya prepare to rollout covid-19 vaccine
• South Africa experts urge govt to lay out covid-19 vaccine plan
• Tunisia protesters revive ‘Arab Spring’ chant, riots continue
• Kenya to save 27 bln shilling from China debt service suspension deal
• Covid-19 shots to cost $3 to $10 under AU vaccine plan
• Zimbabwe foreign minister dies after contracting covid-19
• Dam down, water supplies failing in Ethiopia’s conflict-hit Tigray
• Ivory Coast cocoa backlog threatens forward sales, sector sources say

Bloomberg
• Nigeria reopens schools after lockdown triggered spike in dropouts
• CDC Group targets $1 bln of Africa investments in 2021
• South Africa’s vaccine holdup heaps pressure on Ramaphosa
• Egypt to toughen penalties for FGM
• South Africa study into new virus strain raises vaccine fears
• South Africa wealth tax could raise $10.7 bln, study shows
• China delays $245 mln of Kenya govt debt payments

N.B. Full stories of above headlines are available on Reuters & Bloomberg

macroafricaintel Daily Brief | 20 Jan

By Rafiq Raji, PhD
Twitter: @DrRafiqRaji, @macroafrica

Global Markets
• Biden to assume US presidency amid deep division and raging pandemic
• Alibaba’s Jack Ma makes first live appearance in 3 months in online meet
• Biden intelligence pick favors ‘aggressive’ stance on China threat
• Asia shares hit a record high after Yellen calls for big spending
• Brent up 0.3% at $56.09, WTI up 0.3% at $53.15
• Gold gains as dollar weakens on US stimulus outlook
• Spot gold up 0.6% at $1,850.66/oz., futures up 0.5% at $1,850 (0604GMT)

Key African events or data releases today
[Posts & comments at my Twitter handles @DrRafiqRaji, @macroafrica]
• Ghana’s Akufo-Addo to announce new cabinet; appoints new staffers
• South Africa inflation Dec-20 [fcst. 3.1% yy, prev. 3.2%]
• PM Johnson hosts UK-Africa investment conference
• Nigeria governors meet on covid-19 2nd wave
• South Africa retail sales Nov-20 [fcst. -4.9% yy, prev. -1.8%] (21 Jan)
• South Africa central bank decides interest rates [fcst. 3.5%, prev. 3.5%] (21 Jan)
• Covid-19 updates by authorities across the continent

Key African events or data releases yesterday & early a.m today
Reuters
• EU eyes scheme to share surplus covid-19 vaccines with poorer nations
• Violence flares for third day in Sudan’s Darfur
• Dozens of migrants scale fence into Spain’s Melilla enclave
• Macron opens door to France pulling some troops out of Sahel
• Tunisia protesters revive ‘Arab Spring’ chant, riots continue
• Nigeria to seek covid-19 vaccines less dependent on cooling facilities – official
• Liberia’s Johnson Sirleaf discouraged by covid vaccine rollout plan
• Vedanta Resources settles Zambia copper mine pollution claim
• Kenya braces for return of devastating locust swarms
• Cash-strapped Zambia takes on $1.5 bln debt to buy Glencore copper mine
• Uganda accuses US envoy of subversion for trying to visit candidate
• Violence create food crisis in northern Mozambique – WFP
• Nigeria’e exhausted medics keep waiting for covid-19 vaccines
• Rwanda re-imposes strict lockdown in capital after covid-19 cases surge
• Young Tunisians clash with police days after revolution anniversary
• Striking Ivory Coast cocoa growers threaten to block deliveries
• Nigeria requests 10 mln covid-19 vaccine doses from AU

Bloomberg
• Oxygen demand in Nigeria’s biggest city jumps as covid-19 spikes
• Uganda opposition leader Bobi Wine confined at home
• Macron signals he’s set to scale back France mission in Africa
• US imposes visa restrictions on Tanzania officials over vote
• Tunisia premier labels unrest ‘criminal’ as protests rage on
• Fourfold pay hike offer falls short of Zimbabwe banker demands
• Nigeria’s biggest bank picks 8 Africa nations for expansion
• Africa private equity has $2 bln cash pile after virus dip
• Libya forum agrees on way to select transitional govt
• New year, old problems see South Africa yield curve steepen
• Piracy pays in Africa’s Gulf of Guinea
• Algeria to take axe to spending as energy revenues tumble
• Ramaphosa’s nemesis clings to South Africa ruling party post
• Chevron to invest in pipelines to send Israel gas to Egypt
• Glencore seals Zambia copper sale but must wait for the cash
• Sudan races to quell Darfur violence in test for govt
• Rebel attack heightens risk of war in Russia’s Africa ally CAR
• South Africa’s new virus strain is 50% more infectious
• Uganda’s election loser now has the world’s attention
• Ethiopia pulls Tigray party license ahead of June elections

N.B. Full stories of above headlines are available on Reuters & Bloomberg

macroafricaintel Daily Brief | 19 Jan

By Rafiq Raji, PhD
Twitter: @DrRafiqRaji, @macroafrica

Global Markets
• Asia shares look to China for recovery lead, earnings in focus
• IMF chief sees ‘high degree of uncertainty’ in global outlook
• Yellen says US must ‘act big’ on next coronavirus relief package
• Outlook darkens for Wall Street as Biden’s regulators take shape
• US asks Australia to scrap proposed laws to make Facebook, Google pay for news
• Brent edges up as optimism over economy trumps demand concerns
• Brent up 0.3% at $54.92, WTI down 0.2% at $52.25 (0150GMT)
• Gold gains as dollar eases off 4-wk high
• Spot gold up 0.2% at $1,840.81/oz., futures up 0.5% at $1,839.40 (0226GMT)

Key African events or data releases today
[Posts & comments at my Twitter handles @DrRafiqRaji, @macroafrica]
• Ghana supreme court begins hearing of Mahama election petition
• South Africa mining production Nov-20 [fcst. -4.0% yy, prev. -6.3%]
• South Africa inflation Dec-20 [fcst. 3.1% yy, prev. 3.2%] (20 Jan)
• PM Johnson hosts UK-Africa investment conference (20 Jan)
• Nigeria governors meet on covid-19 2nd wave (20 Jan)
• South Africa retail sales Nov-20 [fcst. -4.9% yy, prev. -1.8%] (21 Jan)
• South Africa central bank decides interest rates [fcst. 3.5%, prev. 3.5%] (21 Jan)
• Nigeria central bank MPC meets (25-26 Jan)
• Covid-19 updates by authorities across the continent

Key African events or data releases yesterday & early a.m today
Reuters
• Malawi to close schools, make bars shut early to curb pandemic
• Violence flares for third day in Sudan’s Darfur
• China says its ready to help Kenya deal with its debt challenges
• Vaccine nationalism puts world on brink of ‘catastrophic moral failure’: WHO chief
• Uganda opposition says troops raid its offices amid election challenge
• CAR top court confirms President Touadera’s re-election
• Ghana president warns of health system overload as covid cases soar
• South Africa is promised 9 mln J&J vaccine shots – Business Day

Bloomberg
• Africa central bankers out of policy space to fight recessions
• Ivory Coast cocoa farmers strike as unsold beans pile up
• South Africa mining dealmaker plots M&A push before retirement
• Bobi Wine faces uphill slog to overturn Uganda election outcome
• Deadly fighting rocks Sudan’s Darfur after peacekeeping mission ends
• China in talks with Kenya for debt relief after Paris Club deal
• South Africa opposition demands clarity on vaccine strategy
• Mozambique president hands control to army in insurgency battle
• Zimbabwe banks shut 17% of branches as virus drives digitization
• Hundreds arrested in Tunisia protests as PM plans new cabinet

N.B. Full stories of above headlines are available on Reuters & Bloomberg