Bond Investors Are Rushing to Nigeria – I wrote a bit about Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell’s 60 Minutes interview earlier this week. Another thing he mentioned in that conversation was that at some point, the US was going to have to deal with the rate at which its debt is growing relative to its growth. You can look at the chart above and see that it’s not sustainable.
Policymakers in Nigeria have been trying to have that conversation for years now, but it’s like the country is in a vicious cycle of finding itself in situations where it needs to seek out more debt to finance its deficit. One hopefully long-term positive that has come out of this pandemic is that the government ended its practice of paying an oil subsidy in order to keep gas affordable. Those subsidies have been so expensive for the government. Imagine in 2011, the government spent $8B. The government’s budget for that year was over $11B. The country has a $27B budget this year, and the subsidy elimination saves the country at least $2B. The problem is that the government anticipates running nearly a $14B deficit.
As the country hopefully emerges from this COVID-19 situation sooner than later, how do the country’s leaders position it to foster really strong growth in order to chip away at the debt the country has taken on?
The Amazon-Berkshire-JPMorgan Health Venture Fails to Disrupt – A month or so ago, I was wondering what happened to the joint venture between JP Morgan, Berkshire Hathaway, and Amazon during this COVID-19 situation. The venture was supposed to change the game for what employer healthcare programs looked like. Well, apparently things weren’t going well. The CEO Atul Gawande resigned his post to focus on the pandemic. While he was at the helm, the company took more incremental steps towards figuring out how to develop a truly innovative employer healthcare program. That’s unfortunate, especially considering the number of people losing their jobs. A reimagined healthcare offering would have been real nice.
Low Covid-19 death toll raises hopes Africa may be spared worst – So far, African countries have avoided the devastation the US and Europe have experienced from Covid-19. The nervousness in my chest won’t leave for some time, and I pray that Africa countries continue to navigate this virus as best they can. It’s been encouraging to see several African leaders take aggressive measures to contain the virus. Hopefully, this amplifies the sense of urgency in developing infrastructure that furthers the resilience of Africa’s people. If Africa gets through this pandemic relatively safely, that doesn’t mean its countries will get through the next one in the same shape.
Ghana government to invest in healthcare infrastructure – President Akufo-Addo announced that the country will be building 88 100-bed hospitals across the country. This is good news, though you have to wonder where the money is coming from. China has put untold amounts of money into projects across Africa, and will leverage that diplomatically. As African countries make their way toward a post COVID-19 world, it’s imperative China isn’t able to make incursions on their independence because it has put billions of dollars into shaping their economies.
Covid-19 has blown apart the myth of Silicon Valley innovation – One of my favorite lines in scripture is “do not think too highly of yourself, but think with sober judgement.” I’m very curious to see how how Silicon valley culture evolves post COVID-19. Hopefully, it finds a path forward in it’s foundation in early Silicon Valley like Genentech that shifted science and life.
Why You’re Not One of the World’s Great Investors – There’s a great book on hedge fund manager Jim Simons called The Man Who Solved the Market. In it, you’ll see how this man used algorithms and math I’ll probably never understand to find trading opportunities. There’s a benefit to creating your own lane and not trying to find your fortune in someone else’s. Simons did that. He was a math professor before getting into the hedge fund world, and built a completely different way of approaching trading. As I continue this journey towards venture investing, reminders like these to keep doing me are helpful.
Antitrust After the Coronavirus – Matt Stoller put together an interesting piece here laying out the dangers potentially ahead of us in big corporations consolidating their industries with the help of the financial world. He calls for pause on merger activity and an act that would outline a path for breaking up companies that gain power due to pandemic. He also calls for a systematic process of working through that disappear due to pandemic situations situation. I’m with him. Corporations don’t have all the answers, just like governments don’t. They’ve got their own respective roles in making this thing work.
Perhaps a random aside, but has anyone heard from Haven? Amazon, JP Morgan, and Berkshire Hathaway made a big splash last year announcing this new business that was supposed to reimagine health care. Why have we heard nothing from them?