Items filtered by date: Monday, 22 October 2018
Scorpion venom is not only dangerous - it can also make you quite a bit of money.
The deathstalker is one of the most dangerous scorpions on the planet, and its venom is also the most expensive liquid in the world at R146 million per litre. To get this much you’d have to milk one scorpion almost 700,000 times.
 
The perk is it could save lives
 
The deathstalker is one of the most dangerous scorpions on the planet. It also happens to produce the most expensive liquid in the world costing R146 million per litre. Even if you had the money, you couldn't just go and buy a liter of the stuff, because you can only get it in tiny, minuscule amounts. Almost R1,900 will get you a droplet that's smaller than a grain of sugar.
 
According to Steve Trim, founder of Venomtech, one of the few people brave enough to milk these animals, one sting can be a hundred times more painful than a bee sting. There is a good reason why Trim is going to all the trouble to milk them. Scorpions are almost always milked by hand, one by one. And one scorpion produces, at the most, just two milligrams of venom at a time.
 
Inside that deadly venom, there's tons of useful components that are helping pioneer breakthrough medicines in science.
 
Hlorotoxins, for example, are the perfect size to bind with certain cancer cells in the brain and spine, which is helpful for identifying the specific size and location of tumors. And researchers have used scorpion to eliminate malaria in mosquitoes. Kaliotoxin has been given to rats to fight bone disease. Scientists hope it could work in humans too.
 
 
Source: News24
Published in Business
Monday, 22 October 2018 16:08

Kenya Sugar imports drop on swoop

Kenya Sugar imports fell to a multi-year low in the nine months ended September as traders shied away from shipping in the commodity following increased scrutiny by State enforcement agencies.
 
Some 189,620 tonnes of the sweetener were brought in to bridge the deficit in domestic production, data from the Sugar Directorate indicate, a sharp drop from 933,847 tonnes in the same period in 2017 and 219,118 tonnes in 2016.
 
The Treasury scrapped import duty on the commodity last year following a sharp decline in local production due to a biting drought that saw average retail price a kilo jump as much as Sh179 in May 2017.
 
The duty waiver from July last year resulted in a market glut earlier this year, pushing down consumer prices as low as Sh75 a kilo.
 
State agencies such as the Kenya Bureau of Standards launched a countrywide crackdown on counterfeit and substandard foreign-made sugar in May, confiscating more than 500,000 tonnes of the commodity.
 
The Sugar Directorate estimates local production by the country’s 12 millers in the review period at 362,018 tonnes, a 43.42 per cent growth over 252,415 tonnes in the same season last year on improved rains.
 
“All the sugar factories, with the exception of Muhoroni Sugar Company, recorded an improved production as compared to the same period last year,” the directorate said.
 
“The production was further boosted by operationalisation of Olepito Sugar Company and inclusion of processed bulk sugar imports at West Kenya and Sukari mills.”
 
The sugar millers were holding 15,762 tonnes of sugar in their warehouses at the end of September, three times more than 5,224 tonnes a year earlier, the sugar industry regulator said.
 
 
Source: Daily Nation
Published in Business
Perhaps the biggest financial market story in 2018 so far is the colossal fall from grace of the Chinese stock market, which has witnessed losses in excess of 30% since the start of the year.
 
The fall, which has seen the benchmark Shanghai Composite index drop to its lowest level in almost four years this week, is generally explained through the prism of investors realising that the blockbuster growth China has enjoyed over the last decade is on the wane, and that things are likely to slow down to a strong, but not stellar, rate.
 
Such a view has been exacerbated by the rise of the trade conflict between the US and China, which has seen the world's two largest economies exchange tit-for-tat tariffs, which now apply to goods totalling close to a cumulative $300 billion (about R4.3 trillion).
 
Many economists see the trade war having a major negative impact on Chinese growth, with JPMorgan earlier in October saying a full-blown trade war could have a 1% shrinking effect on the economy.
 
While these two factors are evidently at play, there's reason to believe that another factor could soon come into play, and force Chinese stocks even deeper into bear market territory - forced selling.
 
In China, hundreds of companies use their shares as collateral for loans, but when share prices fall they are forced to sell in order to maintain a certain level of balance in brokerage accounts, used to lend the companies money.
 
According to the Report available, about 4.18 trillion yuan (R8.6 trillion) worth of shares have been put up by company founders and other major investors as collateral for loans, accounting for about 11% of the country's stock market capitalisation, based on calculations using China Securities Depository and Clearing Corporation data.
 
The South China Morning Post, citing a report by Tianfeng Securities, said earlier in the week that more than 600 company stocks have fallen to levels where forced sales may kick in.
 
"It's a vicious cycle: share drops lead to liquidation and liquidation leads to further share drops," Wang Zheng, chief investment officer at Jingxi Investment Management told the South China Morning Post earlier in the week.
 
"The recent declines, particularly in small caps, are blamed for the problem arising from share pledges."
 
 
Source: Business Insider
Published in News Economy
Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) have invested a total sum of about N4.22 trillion in Federal Government of Nigeria Bonds in August.
 
Data obtained from the National Pension Commission (PenCom) on Sunday revealed that the amount represents 50.63 percent of the total pension assets of N8.33 trillion in the review month.
 
Besides, N1.48 trillion was invested in Treasury Bills, while Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), Sukuk and Green Bonds got N10.91 billion, N53.15 billion and N6.95 billion, respectively.
 
This brings the total investment in Federal Government’s securities by the PFAs to N5.78 trillion as at August, representing 69.30 percent of the total pension assets.
 
State governments borrowed a total of N154.43 billion from the pension funds through issuance of securities. N400.45 billion was invested in corporate bonds, banks had N849.09 billion while corporate infrastructure bonds took N7.33 billion.
 
Others include commercial papers with a total investment of N116.76 billion; real estate properties, N226.64 billion; and supra-national bonds, N6.67 billion.
 
Mutual funds got N21.29 billion as open and close end funds and reits took N12.18 billion and N9.10 billion, respectively. Private equity fund, N38.57 billion; infrastructure fund, N16.07 billion; cash and other assets, N24.56 billion.
 
Furthermore, the pension assets were reclassified according to new structures of Retirement Savings Account (RSA) Fund I, II, III, and IV.
 
RSA Fund I recorded N4.55 billion; RSA Fund II, N3.69 trillion; RSA Fund III, N1.96 trillion and RSA Fund IV, N619.05 billion.
 
Also, Closed Pension Fund Administrators (CPFAs) Fund stood at N1.08 trillion while Existing Schemes (ES) was N957.50 billion.
 
 
Source: The Vanguard
 
 
Published in Bank & Finance

South Africa's Verimark Holdings said on Monday its majority shareholder intended to acquire the remaining shares and delist the firm which sells direct response television products.

The company said it had received notice from the Van Straaten Family Trust, which holds around 64 percent stake in Verimark, that it planned to acquire the minority interests.

Verimark said on Monday its revenue for the six months ended 31 August 2018, fell 1 percent to 207.5 million rand on the back of lower consumer confidence due to the country's recession and most retailers tightening up on stock holding.

 

(Reuters)

Published in Business

When President Emmerson Mnangagwa campaigned in July for Zimbabwe’s presidency, he promised to be a business friendly leader, and to return his country’s economy to twentieth century times of plenty and prosperity.

But Mnangagwa has already shown himself incapable of jettisoning the state centrist, rent-seeking predilections of his predecessor. A “big-bang” sharp break with Zimbabwe’s recent past is essential to reassure consumers and capitalists. Yet Mnangagwa and his cronies have so far rejected anything forward-looking and sensible.

Mnangagwa’s administration is struggling to overcome the national economic destruction wreaked on Zimbabwe over two decades under Robert Mugabe. This included profligate spending, immense debt pileup, colossal corruption, and ravaging of the country’s once immensely productive agricultural sector.

As a result, Zimbabwe now lacks foreign exchange with which to buy petrol and ordinary goods to stock the shelves of its supermarkets. In the last few weeks many shops – such as Edgars, a long-time clothing store; Teta, an eatery; KFC, a fast food outlet – have simply shut their doors. Queues for petrol stretch for miles.

Banks have no US dollars, or South African rands or Botswana pulas (the notional national currency), and therefore cannot supply stores or customers with the funds to carry on business as usual.

This week the locally created Zimbabwe bond note, officially supposed to trade 1 to 1 with the US dollar, has traded as high as 10 to 1 on the Harare black market. Sometimes it trades for a little less. It is unofficially called the zollar.

The new administration has naturally resorted to printing its own faux money. That inevitably has led, as always, to hyperinflation and monetary collapse.

China may yet help Mnangagwa – but in exchange for multi-years worth of precious minerals and Virginia tobacco at discounted prices. With Zimbabwe’s leadership so thoroughly tainted by decades of peculation and mendacity, and devoid of any real notion of “the public interest,” Mnangagwa’s regime is otherwise unlikely to clean up the prevailing fiscal mess because of its refusal to break sharply with the fiscal derring-do of the Mugabe era. Its principals continue to profit from Zimbabwe’s economic mayhem.

What went wrong

Zimbabwe’s economic weaknesses are unsustainable. Governments in such parlous straits would turn, even now, to the International Monetary Fund, for a bailout – as Pakistan has just done. But Zimbabwe is already in arrears to the international lending institutions and has very few helpful friends left.

Government is running a hefty overdraft. And it’s been unable to collect as much as it needs from the national tax base. Its now attempting to impose a 2% tax on internal electronic financial transactions. This only shows desperation. If implemented, it could yield twice as much revenue as is derived annually from VAT. But that losing manoeuvre has already helped drive commerce underground. It has also undermined what little confidence consumers and financiers have in their current rulers.

The Mnangagwa government has also reimposed import and exchange controls, thus creating additional incentives to avoid regular channels of commerce. Those controls also permit officials to allocate “scarce” resources and licenses to import, export, and so on. These are well-known occasions for corruption and for giving rent-seeking opportunities to cronies.

It wasn’t always this bad. Despite the massive loss of formal employment that occurred under Mugabe, the informal sector flourished and Zimbabwe’s poor probably benefited. This was partly because under the unity government of 2009-2013, when Tendai Biti of the Movement for Democratic Change was finance minister, there were no such controls and there were plenty of US dollars and no questionable bond notes and Treasury bills. Hard currency (the US dollar) permitted Zimbabwe to start growing economically after the long Mugabe slide, and individuals and businesses to prosper. The country ran a budgetary surplus.

But this all came to an end when the government of national unity collapsed in 2012.

What needs to happen

To begin to restore the economy, the government needs to acknowledge corrupt dealings and repatriate the huge amounts of cash that have fled the country as laundered money.

The regime could also try to take ill-gotten gains away from Mugabe and Grace Mugabe, as Malaysia’s new government is doing to its previous kleptocratic prime minister and his wife.

Gestures in that direction would help to begin to restore confidence, a step towards eventual prosperity. So would promises to restore the rule of law. Investors might also return if a sound currency was likely. But that would only follow shedding of ministers, civil service layoffs, military reductions, and many other indications that Mnangagwa and his minister of finance were serious about reducing the debt hangover.

Cutting some sort of deal with the IMF would also be worthwhile, but that could mean giving control over the Treasury to foreign advisors. Zimbabwe is and, since Biti’s day, has been, a basket case. It’s time to acknowledge that fiscal reality and to do something about it.The Conversation

 

Robert Rotberg, Founding Director of Program on Intrastate Conflict, Kennedy School, Harvard University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Economy

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