Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Africa Had The Best Performing Stock Market In The World

Last updated: December 31, 2014 2:00 pm

Russian equities worst performers of 2014

aerial view of central Moscow©AFP
The combination of the oil price collapse and the continuing conflict in Ukraine proved particularly toxic for investors in Russian equities.
Russia was by some way the worst-performing country in 2014 among MSCI indices, showing a total return of minus 42.3 per cent, calculated on a dollar basis, which includes dividends and share price movements.
By contrast Egypt was the best-performing stock market tracked by MSCI, showing total returns of 31.1 per cent.
Reform is not a defining feature of Egypt, where 18 months ago an army coup toppled the democratically elected government of the Muslim Brotherhood and subsequently led to the election as president of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former army chief. But a relief rally after the turmoil of the Arab spring has led to the MSCI index for Egypt almost doubling since the middle of 2013.
Hopes for reform boosted Indonesian stocks, which have been among the best performers during the past five years and are again near the top of the table, with a total return of 26.6 per cent.
International fund managers are moving into southeast Asia’s biggest economy, attracted by the potential returns from managing Indonesians’ money. Investors have taken heart from early steps by the new president, Joko Widodo, to address some underlying economic problems.
Indonesia has just announced that it will ditch petrol subsidies and link retail prices to international oil markets, in one of the biggest reforms to its energy subsidies in decades.
Shares in the Philippines have grown steadily since the victory of the reform-minded administration of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino in 2010. Its stock market shows total returns of 26.4 per cent.
Investors are attracted by a structurally advanced economy, with a service sector that accounts for more than half the economy. A big proportion of that income comes from overseas.
India was another top performer, with returns of 22.6 per cent. Investors have been cheered by election successes of the governing Bharatiya Janata party, which they hope will encourage premier Narendra Modi to press on with his reform programme.
Global markets 1
Military rule has not prevented investors in Thailand receiving 16.8 per cent returns in 2014. The army coup in May in southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy was followed by pledges to tackle waste and eliminate corruption, although the junta has scrapped all polls and made only a vague pledge for their return.
There are also questions over the appetite for reform of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The former Turkish premier, who was elected president in August, is keen to stifle dissent in business circles and punish those with links to the moderate Islamist Gulen movement. But this fractious political backdrop has not stopped investors getting total returns of 17.8 per cent from Turkish shares.
Given the strength of the US economic recovery and the surge in value of the dollar, it is perhaps surprising that the US ranks only eighth in the MSCI league table, with total return of 14.5 per cent.
Exposure to the tumbling price of oil has hit Norwegian shares, returns of which were minus 20.3 per cent.
But Portugal was the worst-performing European country in the MSCI, with total returns of minus 37.2 per cent. Investors were upset by the rescue of Banco Espírito Santo, which was split into “good” and “bad” banks as part of a €4.9bn rescue that protected taxpayers and senior creditors but left shareholders and junior bondholders holding only toxic assets.
Portugal was also hurt by growing unease that deflation in the eurozone would particularly affect peripheral eurozone countries and concern that its elections in 2015 would provide an outlet for anti-austerity sentiment.
Global markets 2
Austria is seldom thought of as peripheral in the eurozone, but it too has been a laggard with total returns of minus 29 per cent. Analysts said this reflected the exposure of its banks to Russia and eastern Europe, which have been suffering from uncertainty caused by the Ukrainian conflict.
The stand-off between Russia and Europe over Ukraine has also hurt Hungary, where shares have suffered a return of minus 26.9 per cent for 2014. Hungary was one of the countries to express dismay when Russia abandoned South Stream, its $50bn gas pipeline across the Black Sea into Europe.
Hungary has alienated investors by taxing advertising revenues and forcing banks to compensate borrowers for what it sees as unfair conditions and charges on lending. However, in October Viktor Orban, prime minister, abandoned a plan for the world’s first internet tax following the largest mass demonstrations in Budapest in recent memory.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

An Incredible Couple

Yesterday evening Elena and I went to a post Christmas party hosted by Dr. Al and Liz Globus. These people are incredible. They raised five of their own children. After the Rwanda massacre they took in 4 your people from Rwanda and raised them. We had a wonderful time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Trophy Hunters Return To Cape Town's High-End Property Market

December 19, 2014 2:48 pm

Trophy hunters return to Cape Town’s high-end property market

Demand is growing for top homes in South Africa’s most expensive suburbs, with sales rising to $102m this year
Aerial view of Camps Bay and the Twelve Apostles mountain range©Martin Harvey/Alamy
Aerial view of Camps Bay and the Twelve Apostles mountain range
n Cape Town’s affluent coastal suburbs the houses are becoming more opulent and spectacular as they tower imperiously over the Atlantic Ocean from their mountainside perches. Yet for sheer extravagance one property stands out above them all — the aptly named Enigma Mansion.
The 7,000 sq metre, château-style building, completed in 2011, features an eclectic mix of styles, in turns elegant, gaudy and kitsch, while numerous portraits of naked and semi-naked voluptuous women lend it an air of eroticism.
The mansion in Camps Bay has been on the market with a price tag of R300m ($25.8m) for about two years, making it the most expensive private residence ever put up for sale in South Africa. Yet the identity of the owners, who designed and built the property, has not been disclosed (at least not officially). Those involved in its sale will only describe the owner as a “retired European investment banker”. The South African press, however, have reported that he is married to a former adult movie star, with the added titbit that many of the nude pictures are of his wife.
The intrigue surrounding the property may not have helped it to sell and earlier this month the owners slashed the asking price to R172M. Still, Enigma Mansion has brought attention to Cape Town’s high-end property market as it bounces back from a lull triggered by the 2008 economic crisis. This year, 39 “trophy” properties in Cape Town have sold for more than R20m ($1.7m) each, representing a total value of just under R1.2bn ($102m), compared with just 25 “trophy” sales worth a total of R712m in 2013, according to Seeff Property Services, a South African real estate agency.
The average sale price at the top end of the Atlantic Seaboard, which includes the suburbs of Camps Bay, Clifton, Bantry Bay and Fresnaye, is about R31m, up from R29m last year, the agency adds.
Sitting room at Enigma Mansion, originally priced at $25.9m, making it the most expensive private house ever put up for sale in South Africa
Sitting room at Enigma Mansion, originally priced at $25.9m, making it the most expensive private house ever put up for sale in South Africa
Another high-end property for sale along the Seaboard is a R65m mountainside home on sale with property agents Pam Golding. North facing to capture the best of the sun, the four-bedroom home has an infinity pool, an indoor pool, a home theatre and a lift.
Cape Town — South Africa’s second city — is famed for its sea views, the dramatic backdrop of Table Mountain, and proximity to the country’s picturesque wine-producing regions. For an African city, it has a distinctly European feel with chic cafés, cobbled pedestrian areas and pristine white beaches.
Indeed, Western Cape, its home province, is unusual in many ways. It is the only province where black South Africans are not in the majority: they comprise about a third of its 5.8m population. It is also the only one of nine provinces governed by the country’s opposition instead of the ruling African National Congress.
For many black South Africans the so-called “Mother City” has been slow to transform in the 20 years since the end of apartheid, and is at times viewed pejoratively as an enclave separate from the rest of the country. Many of the structural and economic barriers that are a legacy of apartheid linger, with white residents tending to live in the leafy, affluent suburbs, while many mixed-race residents live in the rundown “Cape Flats” and the majority of the black population in ramshackle townships.
However, the black middle and upper classes are growing, albeit gradually. Between 1994 and 2008, the country’s black middle class more than doubled to 5.4m, or 14 per cent of the black population. This in turn has led to more wealthy black buyers looking to the higher end of Cape Town’s property market. “The last two years have been defining,” says Basil Moraitis, at Pam Golding. “Until then, we had very few black buyers.”
Capetown map
Pam Golding’s biggest residential sale in South Africa this year is a house in Bishopscourt — part of the southern suburbs where high-end houses stand in large grounds — which was bought by a black businessman for R69m. Another property still on the market in the southern suburbs was once owned by Charles Spencer, the British earl, and was where he hosted his sister, Diana, Princess of Wales, months before her death in 1997. The sprawling Tarrystone estate in the Constantia suburb is the epitome of opulence, with its lavish, thatched main house, guest cottages, landscaped gardens, tennis court, gym and sauna. The estate, which Earl Spencer sold more than a decade ago, is available through Seeff priced R70m.
As the market has rebounded, property consultants say a key a challenge is finding adequate stock at the top end, particularly along the Atlantic Seaboard. The difficulty is that prime coastal areas are trapped between the sea and the mountains. “It’s not as if you can open up new portions of land — what is there is there,” says Stefan Antoni, a prominent South African architect who has designed dozens of homes along the Seaboard.
He is building his own 1,500 sq metre property on Nettleton Road, a cul-de-sac considered the most expensive street in South Africa. As well as being the highest street in Clifton, Nettleton also offers, for those who can afford it, a key Cape Town ingredient — protection from the notorious south-easterly winds in summer. “Once you have paid a premium on your land you may as well maximise your land, so people are definitely building bigger,” says Antoni.
Andrew England is the FT’s Southern Africa bureau chief

Buying guide

Afrikaans is widely spoken together with English
Like much of South Africa, which has a murder rate of about 47 per day, security is an issue. Many homes have high walls and electric fences, although most crime occurs in the Cape Flats and townships
Western Cape’s climate if often compared with that in the Mediterranean, with rainy, cold winters and hot, dry summers

What you can buy for . . . 

£500,000 A four-bedroom house, with two garages and a pool in Claremont, one of Cape Town’s leafy southern suburbs
£1m A three-bedroom house with a heated pool and sea views in Fresnaye
£4m A four-bedroom house in Clifton, the priciest suburb of the Atlantic Seaboard
Main photograph: Martin Harvey/Alamy

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Birthday in a Box - animated Flash ecard by Jacquie Lawson

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My Wife Gave Me $10,000,000 For My Birthday!

My friends and loved ones 66 years ago today I came into this world. I was premature by a month and a half.My survival prospects were not good.
One intrepid young doctor named Harold Ross worked on me all night long and saved my life.
When I would come home to see my mother, she would smile. Then she would bury her face in both of her hands and remain silent for a moment. When she looked up she would always utter the words: "Son it's a miracle that you're still alive."
At this special moment I stop and gives thanks to God for allowing me to stay on this earth for 66 years and to have the wonderful gifts that I have been given. I think about those close to me who did not make it this far including four friends who died in the Vietnam war.
If you were the house right now, I would take you to the dining room. Elena jokes that it looks like an African museum. On the dining table you would find a thick and transparent picture frame. Inside the frame is a $10,000,000 Zimbabwe dollar note. Elena gave it to me as my birthday gift. It's actual monetary value is $50.00 US, at best.
It is a treasure to me. It symbolizes the special 44-year relationship that I have had with this small and often troubled African country just north of South Africa.
I was first introduced to Zimbabwe when I was an undergraduate at Tulane University in 1970. One of our neighbors in the married student's dorm was a man named Mutizwa Chirunga. He was older than me and a graduate student. He was an articulate and intelligent man. He spoke English with a beautiful British accent. He would spend hours talking to me about his native country. He taught me much about his culture and values. I began to see how native people in African countries resented the colonialism imposed on them by European countries.
Mutizwa's wife Jackie gave birth to a son. He was also named Mutizwa. When the little baby had its christening ceremony, my first wife and I were the only Europeans invited to a ceremony attended by Africans living in New Orleans. We were touched and honored.
In 1971 I said goodbye to Mutizwa and Jackie as I left Tulane to go to the US Navy. I never saw him again. I later found out that he had died at age 62 of cancer in 2004.
I never forgot all of his tales of his native country. In September of 1981, I drove across the South African border and found myself in Zimbabwe. It was not as Mutizwa had described it. I saw no jungles. It was all high veld or high plains. I did not see any improvement of the life of the African population after Robert Mugabe had come to power. I drove through the country side and ended up in Harare. It was an educational experience for me. I boarded a flight for Frankfurt,Germany. I did not see Africa again for nine years.
When I returned to live in South Africa, I ran into many people who had fled Zimbabwe to avoid the rule of Robert Mugabwe. I even dated a beautiful woman originally from Zimbabwe.
I left South Africa in December of 1994. My next contact with Zimbabwe was during the time that I was international sales manager for Telewave, Inc. I sold some products to Zimbabwe. Our South African representative, Mike Daykin was also from Zimbabwe. During my time at Telewave l also developed a wonderful friendship with Zimbabwean Mandy Findlater. I also developed a wonderful friendship with Zimbabwean Andrew Field and former Zimbabwe soldier Tim Bax.
Ten years ago I opened a modest brokerage account with a company in Johannesburg, Imara SP Reid. It has been a wonderful business relationship that prospers to this day. It is an investment company started in 1938. It is basically a Zimbabwe company. I have built wonderful relationships at this company including Guy Algeo, Cameron Horsfall, Rajeev Sokur, and Warwick Lucas.
In one of Zimbabwe's presidential elections, it appeared that Robert Mugabe was going to be voted out of office and replace by Morgan Tsvangarai. Elena and I made a substantial investment in the Zimbabwe stock exchange. Sadly for us, Robert Mugabe won reelection because a third-party candidate had taken votes away from Morgan Tsvangarai.
Hyper inflation racked Zimbawe. At one point our account there was worth tens of billions of Zimbabwe dollars. I would joke with Elena that it was the only time in her life that she was a billionaire.Then the whole market crashed. It appeared for a while that we had lost our entire investment. Then some sanity returned and we recovered 60% of our investment. Our money was sent back to Johannesburg. The skilled investment management of the Imara team recovered our loss.
Zimbabwe eventually gave up on the Zimbabwe dollar as currency. Now all business is done in US dollars and South African Rands.
For the longest time I have wanted one of those big-denomination Zimbabwe dollars. Elena got lucky and found one for me in Sedona, Arizona of all places. A man from Zimbabwe named Gedion Nyanhongo supplied it to her. Elena thank you for a wonderful birthday present that touched my heart. Zimbabwe thank you for being a part of my life for 44 years and making my life richer!

Monday, October 20, 2014

My Prediction On The Final Sentence In The Oscar Pistorius Case

Hi everyone Elena and I are back from Sedona and doing the usual "mad catch up game"after being away. We had a wonderful time and saw a lot of beautiful views of an incredible area. We also enjoyed the wonderful hospitality and friendliness of the people of Sedona, Arizona.
Tomorrow Oscar Pistorius gets sentenced. I would not want to be in the shoes of the judge who must make the fateful decision with the entire world literally looking over her shoulder.
I have observed law around the world for over 40 years. After a while, one sees that throughout the world there is a market value for sentences for various crimes (With the exception of some states that still use the death penalty and others that have abolished it.
In the case of manslaughter, the sentence virtually anywhere int he world can range from probation to a mid range of two years up to four years on the top end. Look for a final outcome somewhere in that range.
This case has been a tragedy for all concerned. I'm glad that it's coming to an end.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Out Of Africa Too Long!!!!!!!

Facebook: "I have a wonderful book dealer in South Africa. Over the years he has provided us with incredible books. Yesterday he sent us a book on Mount Kilamanjaro in Africa. This peak is 19,000 feet tall. But it is a gentle climb and not as dangerous and deadly as mountains like Mount Everest. Elena has considered this climb for a long time. I asked her to read the book. I have been "out of Africa" for almost 20 years. It's time to return. I will take Elena to climb this mountain in 2015!"

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ebola Outbreak Poses 32.6 Billion Threat To West Africa Economy

October 8, 2014 12:01 pm

Ebola outbreak poses $32.6bn threat to west Africa economy

epa04434906 A Liberian man walks past an Ebola sensitization mural in Monrovia, Liberia 06 October 2014. Figures released from the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) indicate the death toll from Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has exceeded 3,400. In neighbouring Sierra Leone, 121 deaths from Ebola were recorded in one day, according to government health statistics compiled by Sierra Leone's Emergency Operations Centre, bringing the total number of deaths to 678 on 05 October 2014, up from 557 the day before. EPA/AHMED JALLANZO©EPA
The Ebola outbreak in west Africa is likely to result in a $32.6bn hit to the region’s economy over the next 15 months if it is not contained in the three countries now affected most, the World Bank warned on Wednesday.
The estimate made by economists for the bank ahead of its annual meeting this week provides the starkest picture yet of the growing economic cost of an outbreak that has already left more than 3,400 people dead in west Africa and this week saw a nurse in Madrid catch the virus, the first case to originate outside Africa.
The bank’s economists said in the new report their forecast would justify the world spending billions to contain the outbreak which has spread largely unchecked in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone due to the poor health infrastructure in those countries.
Under a “Low Ebola” scenario which would see the outbreak contained to those three countries by the end of this year the impact on gross domestic product would amount to $3.8bn by the end of 2015, the economists said.
But under a “High Ebola” scenario under which the outbreak spreads to neighbouring countries in west Africa such as Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, the hit to the region’s economy would be $7.4bn this year and a further $25.2bn in 2015, or the equivalent of 3.3 per cent of regional GDP.
“This is an enormous cost, not only for the most affected countries, but for the region as a whole. It has the potential to be deeply destabilising and requires an immediate response,” the 71-page report said.

FT Video

The death toll from the worst Ebola outbreak in west Africa is mounting, and for the first time the disease has spread to major urban centres
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned last month that, if uncontained, the outbreak could lead to as many as 1.4m cases of Ebola and about 700,000 deaths by the end of January next year in the three most-affected countries. That, the World Bank economists said, would be equivalent to the number of people who die in those countries in three or more years and amount to a “catastrophic mortality event that has not been seen on earth since the 1918 influenza epidemic”.
Under their “High Ebola” scenario the World Bank economists modelled the impact of a less catastrophic outbreak that would see about 200,000 cases spread across west Africa and 100,000 deaths before the outbreak was extinguished by the end of 2015.

Experts reject fears Ebola could become airborne

FILE - This undated file image made available by the CDC shows the Ebola Virus. And across the U.S., one of the nation's largest ambulance companies has put together step-by-step instructions on how to wrap the interior of a rig with plastic sheeting while transporting a patient infected with Ebola. (AP Photo/CDC, File)
Virologists rejected suggestions on Tuesday that Ebola might mutate to become an airborne virus after a Spanish nurse became the person to contract the virus outside of west Africa.
Continue reading
The main impact on the economy would be through lower growth with the rate across the region expected to tumble from the 6.7 per cent growth forecast for this year to 4.1 per cent in 2015.
“With swift international action Ebola can be contained and not only thousands of precious lives could be saved but also economic cost for the region could be limited,” the World Bank economists wrote. “If the outbreak is not contained the economic costs could run into billions of [dollars] in foregone output.”
“Acting fast not only saves precious lives, but our estimates indicate that spending even billions of dollars to contain the spread would be cost effective,” they said.


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