Saturday, August 6, 2011

Is the West's economic woes helping Africa rise?

The Trillion dollar question: Where is the destination for global wealth?

By many growing accounts Africa is rapidly emerging as a destination spot for investors. The reason:

Africa is rich in mineral wealth and proven oil reserves, has a growing, urban middle class and undeveloped infrastructure.

The following two posts chronicle this phenomenom - even though the Time magazine article clearly has Western bias - and demonstrate the economic emergence of Africa.

. The oil-rich african nation of Chad has rampant corruption, unclean water, few tarred roads and patchy electricity. It ranks as the world's second most dysfunctional country, after Somalia, according to the 2011 Failed States Index of the Washington-based nonprofit Fund for Peace. In short, Chad seems a nightmare location for business — unless, that is, you are Papa Madiaw Ndiaye, 45, or Patrice Backer, 44, of Advanced Finance & Investment Group, a private-equity fund-management company in Dakar, Senegal, that has so far invested about $72 million in African financial institutions, agriculture and mining. Ndiaye, the fund's CEO and founder, and Backer, the chief operating officer, have been plotting how to get rich ever since they became best friends as freshmen at Harvard University and worked together at JPMorgan. Decades later, their most lucrative prospect last year was a bank in Chad. "It's like low-hanging fruit," says Ndiaye, describing the investment climate in Africa. "There is no competition. If you know what you're doing, it is a bonanza."

Such bonanzas — opportunities in troubled places with huge needs — are increasingly being sought out by a fast-growing group: Africans who have returned home after years of living, working and studying in the West. Though still a small subculture, African executives who have abandoned high-flying careers on Wall Street, in the City of London and in other financial hubs are becoming a force across the continent, their impact far outstripping their numbers. By moving home, they and others are bucking the trend of generations of Africans who headed west in search of brighter prospects, better education and decent jobs — and stayed abroad for good. Millions of African families have been kept afloat for decades by remittances from relatives working abroad as everything from street cleaners to physicians. Now with economic prospects and, in some cases, political stability improving in Africa while both are declining in the West, some of those relatives have concluded they are better off back home. "There is a momentum among young, upwardly mobile people to come home," says Rolake Akinola, a Nigerian business analyst with years of work experience in London. "We call ourselves the Repatriate Generation."
(See pictures of China's investments in Africa.)

The generation is a product of two colliding forces. The first is the global economic crisis of 2008, which resulted in millions of lost jobs in the U.S. and Europe and dampened employment prospects even for the best and the brightest. The other is the rocketing value of commodities, many of which are found in Africa. This has drawn new investment to the continent and pushed up growth. The upturn has been helped by deregulation in several countries, which has opened new industries to private investment, and also negotiations to end violent conflicts in places like Liberia and Rwanda. A report last year by McKinsey & Co. found that Africa's annual growth rate averaged 4.9% from 2000 to 2008 — more than twice the pace in the 1980s and '90s — and was likely to continue for some time as its middle class grows. Consumer spending on the continent could reach $1.4 trillion by 2020, the report claims. "If recent trends continue, Africa will play an increasingly important role in the global economy," it notes

Read more:

Africa investment urged to boost world economy

WASHINGTON — With an ailing US economy, European debt battles and Japan rebuilding after a crisis, investors should be looking south -- to Africa, the head of the African Development Bank said.

Investing in the continent at a time when developed countries' economies are struggling would boost the world economy, Donald Kaberuka told AFP in an interview in Washington this week.

Africa is rich in mineral wealth and proven oil reserves, has a growing, urban middle class and undeveloped infrastructure.

And its leaders are working to improve security, stability and rule of law. They have also learned from the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East that economic advances have to benefit a country's people, not just its president and his inner circle, in order to be sustainable.

"Opportunities elsewhere are not many. So Africa is the opportunity," Kaberuka said.

"Some of our bonds are better than, certainly, Greek bonds."

Economies in sub-Saharan Africa are projected to grow at 5.6 percent this year and 6.5 percent next year, with a dozen countries growing at the critical rate of seven percent, considered the minimum for sustainable poverty reduction.

"Growth now is happening in emerging markets," Kaberuka said. read more

Philly News: Young Entrepeneur Opens Waterview Lounge

Delaware Avenue is now home to a new entertainment venue.

Markeem Kendall, the owner of Madness Studios, has opened the new Waterview Lounge, a 1,900 square-foot complex that is geared toward special events.

The lounge boasts floor-to-ceiling windows which offer an expansive view of Delaware Avenue and the Philadelphia skyline. The venue has a New York-style loft motif and features design elements such as exposed brick walls and chandeliers.

Kendall wants the venue to serve as a location for birthday parties, listening parties, wedding receptions, bar mitzvahs, fashion shows, business meetings and product launches.

He’s gearing up for a grand opening soiree to be held June 24 from 5 to 9 p.m. at 1020 N. Delaware Ave. The event, which features Miss Jones “Jonesy” of Power 99 FM’s “Morning Show,” is geared toward showcasing the venue to event planners and publicists.

Kendall, a 34-year old South Philadelphia native, was drawn to Delaware Avenue due to the new building and development occurring on that stretch of the city. The Waterview Lounge is located right across from the Sugar House casino, which opened in 2010.

Kendall did not let the challenges of the depressed economy deter him from launching the new lounge. Kendall believes that his investment will pay off.

“It’s challenging, but its something that’s needed. I’m preparing for the future, more than the present,” said Kendall, who specializes in artist management.
read more

Friday, August 5, 2011

Bloomberg: Let's invest in young Latino and Black Men

Time to shine the light on the commendable effort by New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg on reaching out to his city's highly marginalized young Latino and African-American males.

To further underscore his commitment, Bloomberg is reaching into his own very deep pockets - to the tune of 30 million smackers - to help finance the project.

To be fair, his efforts represent a tiny drop in the bucket. As the chasm of disparity between this demographic and mainstream America grows, we need more programs like this to address the crisis. We all know preventive medicine is cheaper than treatment medicine; hence, investing in our youth is cheaper and pays more long-term dividends than just locking them up.

Hats off to Mr. Bloomberg:

The administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, in a blunt acknowledgment that thousands of young black and Latino men are cut off from New York’s civic, educational and economic life, plans to spend nearly $130 million on far-reaching measures to improve their circumstances.

The program, the most ambitious policy push of Mr. Bloomberg’s third term, would overhaul how the government interacts with a population of about 315,000 New Yorkers who are disproportionately undereducated, incarcerated and unemployed.

To pay for the endeavor in a time of fiscal austerity, the city is relying on an unusual source: Mr. Bloomberg himself, who intends to use his personal fortune to cover about a quarter of the cost, city officials said. A $30 million contribution from Mr. Bloomberg’s foundation would be matched by that of a fellow billionaire, George Soros, a hedge fund manager, with the remainder being paid for by the city.

Starting this fall, the administration said it would place job-recruitment centers in public-housing complexes where many young black and Latino men live, retrain probation officers in an effort to reduce recidivism, establish new fatherhood classes and assess schools on the academic progress of male black and Latino students.

Mr. Bloomberg plans to announce the three-year program in a speech on Thursday morning in Manhattan, in which he will declare that “blacks and Latinos are not fully sharing in the promise of American freedom.”

Even as crime has fallen and graduation rates have risen in New York over the past decade, city officials said that black and Latino men, especially those between ages 16 and 24, remained in crisis by nearly every measure, including rates of arrest, school suspension and poverty.

Although the populations of young white, black and Latino men in New York are roughly the same size, 84 percent of those in the city’s detention facilities and nearly all of those admitted to children’s and family services facilities are black and Latino youth, according to data from the Bloomberg administration. “The magnitude of the disparities is stunning,” said Linda I. Gibbs, the deputy mayor for health and human services. “It’s tragic.”
read more

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Go Get The Money And Run

Did bankers help homeowners and small businesses after they received a 700 hundred billion dollar bill out from taxpayers?

No. Home foreclosures continued to climb and small businesses were still frozen out of credit.

Did the uber wealthy individuals and corporations create a job bonanza - as the GOP promised - upon receiving their Bush tax-cut extension?

No, they received the loot and gave us the boot - unemployment is still very high.

And now this:

Airlines are tossing consumers aside and grabbing the benefit of lower federal taxes on travel tickets.

By Saturday night, nearly all the major U.S. airlines had raised fares to offset taxes that expired the night before.

That means instead of passing along the savings, the airlines are pocketing the money while customers pay the same amount as before.

American, United, Continental, Delta, US Airways, Southwest, AirTran and JetBlue all raised fares, although details sometimes differed. Most of the increases were around 7.5 percent.

For consumers who wanted to shop around, only a few airlines were still passing the tax break on to passengers Saturday night, including Virgin America, Frontier Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

The expiring taxes can total $25 or more on a typical $300 round-trip ticket. They died after midnight Friday night when Congress failed to pass legislation to keep the Federal Aviation Administration running.

That gave airlines a choice: They could do nothing — and pass the savings to customers — or grab some of the money themselves.

"We adjusted prices so the bottom-line price of a ticket remains the same as it was before ... expiration of federal excise taxes," said American spokesman Tim Smith. US Airways spokesman John McDonald said much the same thing — passengers will pay the same amount for a ticket as they did before the taxes expired.
read more

This is not rocket science. This cock-and-bull scheme promoted by the GOP - give more tax breaks for the rich and our economy will grow on all levels - has no merit. Yes, put a fork in it because this con is so over and done.

The rich get the money and like Steve Miller sang:

Billy Mack is a detective down in Texas
You know he knows just exactly what the facts is
He ain't gonna let those two escape justice
He makes his livin' off of the people's taxes

Bobbie Sue, whoa, whoa, she slipped away
Billy Joe caught up to her the very next day
They got the money, hey
You know they got away
They headed down south and they're still running today
Singin' go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The GOP And Tea Party Love Affair

LZ Granderson writes in the Washington Post:

I guess if John Boehner enjoyed his party's in-fighting and hints of mutiny during the debt ceiling talks, then the 15 months leading to the general election will be pure ecstasy because it's likely going to be more of the same.

But if Boehner doesn't like being taken hostage by elements of his own party, then I suggest he adheres to the same criticism he hurls President Barack Obama's way -- stop leading from behind.

Man up and do what he, Sen. John McCain and many other top-tier Republicans know needs to be done for the sake of the party: Kick those freeloading tea partiers out.

Vote to censure, campaign against them and deny them GOP resources. Do whatever needs to be done to force them to get in line or stand on their own two feet.


Earlier this year, Donald Trump, who is essentially a reality TV star, was the Republican Party's potential leading candidate because he rang the birther movement's cowbell for a few weeks. Now it's the often fact-challenged Bachmann leading some polls. At this rate, Snooki might as well throw her name in. Why not?

If the GOP insists on claiming any one of their candidates would be a better president than Obama -- when most everyone can plainly see some of these folks are crazy -- then how can any rational independent voter continue to take the party seriously?

Boehner needs to step up and do some purging. Continuing to claim that the birthers, marriage pledge signers and all of the other radical elements of the tea party movement are among the best of the Republican Party is not a good look for him.
read more

Finally, the Big Press appears to be taking off the gloves and calling a duck, a duck. With all these certifiable quacks in the Tea Party holding the GOP, American economy and the World economy hostage, it's about time the national press aggressively challenges the legitimacy of the so-called Tea Party movement.

The Tea Party is indeed a lunatic fringe of the extreme right that has bullied their way to dominate GOP thinking. They are a Birch Society/Rush Limbaugh/Koch Brothers/FOX News creation. Their leaders or aspiring leaders are a dream team cast for One Who Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.

Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, and Donald Trump have all lead in GOP polling for presidential nomination at one time. The GOP Tea Party inmates are running the asylum and it is to the detriment of our country. It's about time more folks in the Big Press shine the light on the lunacy of this prospect.