MONEY MARKET

Time to big up the dosage of Quaaludes

When the music stops, everyone will dash for the exit and the currency will collapse just like its collapsing in Lusaka as we speak

In Summary
  • Last week Moody’s Investor Services downgraded Nigeria to negative Foreign Investors are propping up the Naira to the tune of NGN5.8 trillion ($16 billion).
  • But conspiracy theorists, living mainly overseas, will always find a reason to accuse the other of being responsible for this self-inflicted catastrophe
A trader changes dollars for naira at a currency exchange store in Lagos, Nigeria, February 12, 2015. /REUTERS
A trader changes dollars for naira at a currency exchange store in Lagos, Nigeria, February 12, 2015. /REUTERS

I could have written about the Banana that was duct-taped to a Wall at Art Basel Miami Baech, sold for $120,000 and then eaten by a fellow called David Datuna. Perrotin Gallery spokesman Lucien Terras told the Herald that Datuna did not "destroy" the artwork because "the banana is the idea" I could have written about how ''the presidents free lawyer took Wizz Air to Ukraine for all the Criming'' [@MollyJongFast] However, What with the Victoria Falls now a trickle, a Famine ravaging the Land in Southern Africa, Floods and Desert Locust swarms in Eastern Africa, Buildings collapsing in Nairobi, You might finding yourself turning to the Bible and reading verses about the signs of the End Times. 

Luke 21:11: There will be great earthquakes and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

Revelation 6:12-13: When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.

And then You might cast your mind back a few years and recall the IMF's Africa Rising conference in 2014 when I quaffed the most flavoursome Tiger Prawns and in between mouthfuls the conversation was all about how Africa was finally rising and Fund Managers from far and wide were salivating at double-digit local currency yields and life was hunky-dory and so peachy. What we know now and that's after the Tuna Bond Scandal is we were all popping Quaaludes [Quaaludes ''to promote relaxation, sleepiness and sometimes a feeling of euphoria. It causes a drop in blood pressure and slows the pulse rate. These properties are the reason why it was initially thought to be a useful sedative and anxiolytic It became a recreational drug due to its euphoric effect’’].

Today wherever you care to look [There are a few exceptions, Egypt is one, Cote D'Ivoire another], we are looking at ''the decay of that colossal Wreck'' 

This week Moody’s Investor Services downgraded Nigeria to negative and we learnt that Foreign Investors are propping up the Naira to the tune of NGN5.8 trillion ($16 billion) via short-term certificates. Everyone knows how this story ends. When the music stops, everyone will dash for the Exit and the currency will collapse just like its collapsing in Lusaka as we speak. Nigeria matters and it has not posted positive GDP growth above its population growth for a number of years. Essentially Baba Go Slow's Nigeria is in reverse gear as is Ramaphosa's South Africa which reported -0.6% Q3 2019 GDP. President Ramaphosa, however, was awarded the Grand Croix de l'Orde National du Merit, on behalf of the Grand Master, His Excellency President Alpha Conde of the Republic of Guinea. The two biggest beasts in Sub Saharan Africa are essentially providing fewer opportunities and their Citizens have been becoming worse off year after year for more than five years now. 

What is also clear is that currencies represent the best Proxy. Bloomberg reported last week that the Ghana Cedi is headed for its 25th straight year of depreciation against the dollar.  The cedi is down 13% so far in 2019, according to data compiled by Bloomberg decades of high inflation led to a redenomination in 2007, when the new cedi was phased out and replaced by the current currency at a ratio of one to 10,000. It has since lost about 80% of its value. And Ghana is often touted as a success story. Bloomberg also reported that Zambia’s kwacha fell the most against the dollar in four years and may continue to slide to record lows as “panic buying” of the U.S. currency sets in, according to FNB Zambia. The currency depreciated by as much as 5.3% to 15.5750 per dollar, bringing its drop so far this year to 21% and making it the world’s third-worst performer in 2019. Thursday was the first time it reached 15 per dollar. Zambia’s economy has been ravaged by a regional drought and repeated budget deficits that have sent government debt soaring. Economic growth won’t reach 2% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund, while sovereign debt will end 2019 at 91.6% of gross domestic product. Currency weakness makes servicing foreign loans more costly and could also drive up an inflation rate that’s already at 10.8%, the highest since 2016.

The kwacha’s depreciation is “regrettable” and the central bank is looking at ways to arrest the slide, Vice President Inonge Wina told lawmakers Friday in Lusaka, the capital. They are still popping Quaaludes in Lusaka. 

Stratfor has headlined their latest article about Zimbabwe as follows ''As Its Economy Worsens, Zimbabwe Teeters on the Edge of Chaos'' and the first sentence reads With an increasingly cash-strapped and hungry citizenry, the survival of Zimbabwe's current government will hinge heavily on keeping its security forces paid and happy. 

Here in Kenya David Ndii headlines his latest Opinion Piece in the Elephant ''An IMF Straightjacket Is a Fitting End to Jubilee’s Reign of Hubris, Blunder, Plunder, Squander and Abracadabra''

Meanwhile, Jack Ma beats the Drum of the African Entrepreneur and I will just quote Howard French 

Be candid what's really at stake here: interest of players like these is really harvesting eyeballs, coins, and talent from Africa the purses of the biggest demographic pool of the 21st century @hofrench

Herve Gogo can have the final word:

It’s a big tragedy indeed, for Zimbabweans and for the continent. But conspiracy theorists, living mainly overseas, will always find a reason to accuse the other of being responsible for this self-inflicted catastrophe. Naipaul would have called them some Kunta Kinte manqués