I subscribe to the “Stock Gumshoe” blog, which specializes in ferreting out the truth behind those teaser ads for scores of investment newsletters and tipsheets that promise you 1,400% returns in six months, but only if you take advantage of this limited time subscription offer, a $1,000 value for only $695. In addition to debunking these extravagant claims, the blog’s publisher and author, Travis Johnson, analyzes various investment opportunities he finds interesting, some of them off the beaten track, and he doesn’t charge you hundreds of dollars to reveal the names and details. Recently he posted a lengthy article on Africa, with a particular focus on Lonrho, a U.K.-based company with a long history in Africa and a newly revitalized Afro-centric investment strategy. Here is my comment, posted on Travis’s blog: [click to continue…]
There is more to Pakistan than just suicide bombs. Economic growth, and its distribution, is also important, and not just because economically marginalized people have a greater propensity to join up with the terrorists. Pakistan desperately needs foreign investment to overcome persistent budget and trade deficits, but flows have been hit hard by the triple threat of political instability, redoubled terrorist activity, and the world economic crisis. In the year to July 1, foreign direct investment (FDI) fell from $5.4 billion to $3.7 billion, and even the previous year’s figure is nothing to get excited about for a country with 175 million people. Nigeria, with around 150 million people and a lower per capita GDP than Pakistan, attracted $20 billion of FDI in 2008 – true, it does have oil, which Pakistan does not – and Egypt, a slightly richer country with just over 80 million people, took in $8 billion in the year to July 2009, down from $13 billion the previous year. [click to continue…]
I arrived in Pakistan a little over a week ago and virtually the first thing to happen was that my computer’s motherboard died. After many frustrating hours on the telephone to Dell it transpired that Pakistan is on some kind of embargo list and they could or would not send me a replacement part, which could not be found locally at any price. As a result, I have been working on an ancient borrowed computer (remember when a 20-gig hard drive was really big?) with limited internet access.
The next thing to happen, certainly of greater import, was a suicide bombing in a Peshawar marketplace, leaving more than 50 dead, followed by an audacious armed attack on General Army Headquarters in Rawalpindi, just down the road from Islamabad, where I am staying. At least 10 more terrorist incidents have occurred since then, and these don’t even include the Pakistani Army raids on terrorist redoubts in South Waziristan, of which there have been several. Some of them, registering only a few deaths, are reported only in the back pages of the newspapers. [click to continue…]