It’s been quiet here on the blog, but as quiet as it’s been here I’ve been busy at work. I’ll try pick things up a little on the blog, but keep to twitter-length posts.
African Eurobonds are taking an absolute beating at the moment and the proximate cause of this collapse seems to be the oil price collapse where the Brent crude price has nearly halved in the last few months.
My thoughts on the –at the time, still coming– Africa Eurobond collapse are outlined in this report I sent to African Alliance clients on October 15, 2014.
I spoke with Semeyi Zake of BusinessDay TV on Friday afternoon on Africa Business Today about the economy of Nigeria. Topics of discussion include the naira, the rate at which the CBN is burning through FX reserves, a potential devaluation, the Nigeria GDP rebasing, and the (massive) slowdown of NGDP growth in the economy. Video after the link. I come on at around 4 minutes in.
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My Africa investment strategy research was published by Marc Faber in his Monthly Market Commentary this month, available exclusively to his subscribers. The report titled The Africa Boom: It’s a ‘Government Cycle’, Not a ‘Business Cycle’ was sent as a standalone in addition to Marc’s MMC. Link. Visit Marc’s website.
A great article by the Economist explains life in one of the biggest ‘slums’ in Nairobi, Kenya. An estimated 1 million people live there.
It is arguably one of the freest markets anywhere in the world today. There is no government provision of any services. No taxation either. Individuals are actively engaged in providing each other with goods and services, of all kinds. Want security? Hire a Masai night guard who will accompany you at night. Want textbooks for your kid at school? Buy it from a street vendor. Want music on your iPod? Pull into a guy’s shack and get it loaded. There is a deep division of labour going on in this township.
What would really turn the standards of living around for people living in townships such as this is access to sound money. They need to be able to save money that maintains its purchasing power. These people need to be able to put some of their incomes away each month in order to accumulate enough in order to buy capital goods so they can increase their productivity and hence, living standard.
Unfortunately, the Kenyan central bank debases the shilling chronically and at a rapid rate. As a result, it is impossible to accumulate purchasing power by saving. As the Economist writes: “A market of one million potential customers crowds in on entrepreneurs, but raising the money to start a business is hard.”
Mobile money such as M-PESA has been a great technology to lower the cost of banking services and to roll it out to a broader user base at a low cost in low income areas in Africa (it eliminated the need to build physical bank branches), but it comes with a major downside. These societies such as Kenya will move toward a cashless society, and that means the central bank and commercial banking system can create limitless credit and money supply, and hence more price inflation that reduces the ability of Kenyans to accumulate purchasing power and capital even further.
You won’t get that bit about what’s holding Kenya back in the article, but to get a sense of the type of life in the slums of Kenya and how free the market is, the article is a must read. If this entrepreneurial spirit can be harnessed with sound monetary, regulatory and fiscal policies, the sky if the limit for African growth.
Read the full article: Boomtown slum.
For my in depth analysis of whether Kenya is moving in the right direction, subscribe to ETM Analytics’ Africa Advisory service.