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DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

Africa's standard story

Written by Iain Gibson, associate partner
Edited by Harriet Moll, creative director
30 October 2020

Good morning,

Whilst Americans prepare for the potential of a losing Trump failing to accept the US presidential election result, 8000 miles away in Tanzania it is an all too familiar tale.
 
Opposition leaders in Africa’s fifth-most populated country are alleging that ballot boxes in this week’s presidential and parliamentary elections have been stuffed full to ensure the governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi party remains in power. There are also reports that the government is blocking access to WhatsApp and Twitter. The main opposition presidential candidate, Tundu Lissu, has called for peaceful demonstrations and questions are now being asked of the role that corporations have played in facilitating the communications blackout.
 
President John Magufuli, something of a populist, was elected in 2015 on the promise of tackling corruption and addressing challenges such as erratic power supply. Yet criticism of his achievements in office, including his eccentric handling of the Covid-19 crisis, have led some to think that, in a fair fight, he would have some difficulty holding onto power.
 
Contested elections are nothing new on the African continent. This year alone we have seen court battles in Burundi,  an opposition boycott in Benin, and people killed in Guinea just this week. Indeed, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s most recent democracy index showed that Africa recorded its worst score in a decade.
 
Just one of 50 countries in Africa, the island of Mauritius, was considered a full democracy, with only seven others partially qualifying and half (25) classed as “authoritarian”. Tanzania ranked 14 overall and was considered to have a “hybrid” model, although these latest troubles will do nothing to advance it up the list.
 
The question now is: really, what can anyone do? At the best of times, global leaders have found it difficult to intervene in disputed African plebiscites – see Kenya in 2017. With much of the world struggling under Covid-related restrictions, the ability, and perhaps even the desire, to get too involved is not in evidence.
 
As someone fortunate enough to have seen Tanzania; to sample its vibrant former capital Dar es Salaam and to spend some time in majestic Zanzibar, the thought of the people I met having their voice denied is a tough one. We may be about to witness an attempt at democratic denial across the Atlantic, but we can be sure if that happens, there will be one almighty fight for liberty and truth unleashed. Our African friends are unlikely to find that level of consternation heading their way anytime soon.

News

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published damning findingsabout the extent of anti-Semitism during Jeremy Corbyn’s time as leader of the Labour party. Sir Keir Starmer has accepted the findings in full and the whip has suspended Mr Corbyn, leading to a backlash from his allies.
 
The Scottish government unveiled its new tier system for classifying restrictions in local authorities across the country. No area was placed into tier 4, the highest measure, despite North and South Lanarkshire meeting the criteria at all levels, with most of the central belt in tier 3. Several local authorities further north, such as the Western Isles, Highlands and Moray, made it into tier 1.
 
New Zealand has voted, in a referendum, to legalise euthanasia. At the time of writing, with some votes still to be counted, the proposition was being passed by 65% to 34%. A vote on whether or not to legalise marijuana looks set to keep the status quo, with 53% voting against the measure.

Business and economy

The latest quarterly GDP figures in the United States saw a record annualised growth rate of 33.1% during Q3 2020. However, some economists have predicted a significant slowdown in the fourth quarter. This morning, France recorded a better-than-expected 18.2% growth in GDP for the third quarter.
 
Pizza Express said it would cut 1,300 more jobs across its 370 UK restaurants. The news comes weeks after the firm announced 1,100 jobs would go and 73 restaurants would close.
 
A vaccine bond has raised $500m from investors, to help fund immunisation programmes in developing countries. The money was raised for Gavi, the UN-backed vaccines alliance, by the International Financial Facility for Immunisation. (£)

Columns of note

Writing in The Times, James Forsyth looks at the disparity between western countries now suffering a second wave of Covid-19, while life in other parts of the world, especially in Asia, is returning to normal. He suggests that this dynamic will only further dent faith in the traditional democratic system, unless the machinery of government is swiftly amended to combat the problem. (£)
 
The editorial board of the Financial Times lauds the innovation of some companies to return to work fast during the pandemic, and the resilience of industry in the face of an unprecedented challenge. The board urges governments around the world to follow these stories more closely to learn what they can, and fast. (£)

Cartoon source: Guardian

Markets

What happened yesterday?

The positive GDP news from the US led to a stock market rally, with both the S&P and Nasdaq rising by 1.2 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively. In Europe, major indices such as the FTSE 100 and CAC 40 in Paris both ended the day flat.
 
In commodities, oil is set to have its worst week since April, with brent crude slipping 3.4 per cent to $37.81 a barrel.
 
Currency-wise, the euro fell against the dollar and the pound, to $1.1674 – its lowest level in a month – and 90.3p.
 
In company news:
 
It was a big day of earnings for tech companies, with Amazon increasing its Q3 sales by 37%, Youtube pulling in $5bn more in advertising, Facebook achieving $21.5bn more in revenue year-on-year and Twitter seeing a 14% rise in revenue over the same period. There were slightly more concerning results for Apple, which saw its iPhone revenue down 21% – linked to the delay in bringing out the new iPhone 12.

What’s happening today?

Finals
Oncimmune

Interims
Bion

AGMs
Atlas Mara
Ferro-alloy Re.
Gateley Hldgs
Intosol Holdin.
Maxcyte (Di)
Provexis
Sensyne Health.
Smartspace
Springfield Pr.
Vietnam Holding
Zanaga Iron

UK economic announcements
(00:01) BRC Shop Price Index

Int. economic announcements
(07:00) Gross Domestic Product (GER)
(07:00) Retail Sales (GER)
(07:00) Import Price Index (GER)
(10:00) Unemployment Rate (EU)
(12:30) Personal Spending (US)
(13:30) Personal Consumption Expenditures (US)
(13:30) Personal Income (US)
(13:45) Chicago PMI (US)
(14:00) U. of Michigan Confidence (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

The man who filmed the Wright brothers’ historic first flight on 17 December 1903, John T. Daniels, was also involved in the first ever plane crash, later that same day.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

No business scheduled

House of Lords 

No business scheduled

Scottish Parliament 

No business scheduled

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