Peyton Gendron and the ineptness of the black political leadership class …

Shifting to the political portion of the political economy.  The mass shooting in Buffalo, New York where a teen-aged white male by the name of Peyton Gendron exposes an oft overlooked dimension of black politics: we cannot protect our own.

We have been seeing the predictable roll-out of platitudes by the Biden-Harris administration and the expressions of incredulousness on social media by members of the black community with most demanding that “something has to be done.”  The inconvenient truth is that the black community, given its lack of political leverage and ownership of less than two percent of American capital, should not expect anything from a government that does not look like it, does not share its lineage or story, and has no interest in promoting the interests of blacks.

For a person to travel three hours to another city with the expressed purpose of murdering black people should tell black political leaders that there is an intelligence network operating against the black community; that there is an organized war being waged against the black community.  Black political leadership should be asking themselves why a government that can thwart terrorist attacks overseas cannot be as aggressive here at home when it comes to terrorist attacks against black Americans. 

Instead, we get a black leadership that is fast to blame centuries old terrorist attacks on the delusion that the domestic environment of racial violence is orchestrated by one political party.  Never mind that Mr Gendron has been described as a left authoritarian, political nomenclature that would put him in the box along with democratic socialists as well as Nazis.

No. Rather black political leadership prefers to politicize the event for vote getting purposes when it should be asking if there is a system in place to provide citizens warning that a rabid terrorist dog is heading to their community.

The black political class is the last group of individuals that those interested in protecting the physical and emotional integrity of the black community should be looking to for help.

Alton Drew

17 May 2022

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Where Black political leadership failed on Ukraine …

Angus Roxburgh recently wrote an honest and insightful piece for The Guardian about how Western nations can bring about a quicker end to the conflict in Eastern Europe. Mr Roxburgh recommends that all interests of each stakeholder be taken into account in order to reach a resolution.  In the article he states the following:

“To get Putin to the negotiating table at all, everything would have to be up for discussion – including Ukraine’s borders, Russia’s age-old security concerns, perhaps even the very logic of basing today’s international frontiers in that part of Europe on what were internal borders in the USSR, drawn up by communist leaders precisely to prevent Soviet republics and regions from being viable independent states. The outcome of the talks does not need to be predetermined. The important thing is to talk rather than fight.”  

I agree with his assessment.  Americans in general and Black Americans in particular have begun and ended their analysis of the conflict with the mantra of Russia’s “unprovoked” attack on Ukraine.  In the world of geopolitics, I doubt there is such a thing as “unprovoked.”  Most Americans, for example, fail to incorporate into their conclusion that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was unprovoked when history demonstrates that United States’ aggression in the Pacific, particularly the restriction of access by Japan to oil supplies, was enough to rile up the Japanese to embark on a plan to push the United States out of the Pacific.  Japan’s attack was not unprovoked. It was a responsive measure.

A similar argument can be made by Russia.  For decades they have been apprehensive about the West, particularly the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s encroachment on then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics now Russia’s borders.  The fall of the USSR and NATO’s influence on Eastern Europe has been enough to give Vladimir Putin a few nightmares.  I could make the argument that Mr Putin’s 2022 invasion was also a preemptive strike much like Japan’s preventive strike in 1945.

To make this kind of analysis requires stepping outside of the flashing disco ball and looking at all sides of the issue, especially if the issue has some sort of ramifications economically.  Stepping outside of the issue in order to account for as many factors as possible aids in strategic positioning.  For the black community, applying this rule puts it in a position to garner more tangibles from trading in the political markets.

For example, black political leadership has fallen in lock step with the media and political narrative that the Ukrainians are Luke Skywalker and Russia is represented by the evil Darth Vader.  Black leadership never took on the burden of educating the black community on the factors and environment that turned Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader.  The overnight conversion of a group of Americans, who on 23 February 2022, couldn’t find Ukraine on a map, into flag waving Ukraine supporters on 24 February 2022 is near stunning. 

Black leadership apparently did what it did best: exchanged aggregated black support for a few political campaign finance crumbs from the leadership of the Democratic and Republican parties. 

True black political leadership would have leveraged black community political and demographic clout on a peace campaign.  Imagine black elected leadership getting 20 million blacks to write their representatives and the leadership of NATO expressing their displeasure with military action; recommending and urging a peace settlement; threatening their own domestic and foreign economic embargo as a response to unfair treatment of blacks in Ukraine; and not participating in the 2022 or 2024 U.S. elections if their demands were not met? 

This kind of leadership could have cemented American blacks not only as a domestic political force but as a player on the world stage.

This kind of leadership calls for vision.  Unfortunately, the black community’s current leadership does not have this kind of vision…  

Alton Drew

3 May 2022

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Black social media documents how not to approach global political power …

Commentary

Being a part of the African Diaspora, it is sad to see how Afro people in America and its Caribbean territories have been analyzing the Russian invasion of Ukraine through emotionally tainted lenses. On Facebook, for example, Afros quickly donned digital banners on their feeds expressing support for Ukraine. Some adopted the left-wing media narrative of tying former US president Donald J. Trump to the actions of Vladimir Putin, an easy low-hanging fruit move by Mr Trump’s detractors given his past expressions of admiration for the Russian Federation president.

The media has inundated Afro people in America and its Caribbean territories with plenty of images that stoke emotional responses. Crying children, concerned parents, people trying to leave on trains, bombed out buildings, and a young Ukrainian president in military garb are the content for countless press photos on Twitter and Facebook. Afros in America and its Caribbean territories dutifully share these photos thus aiding the narrative’s virality. What is puzzling is how Afro people in America and its Caribbean territories have not given any mention or included in their analyses similar actions taken by their own country with plenty of those actions based on contrivances just as grievous or more so than those conjured up by Mr Putin. Here are a few:

  1. The American invasion and occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934, under the guise of maintaining law and order so as to prevent European foreign influence in the island-nation.
  2. The American designed and supported Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961, under the guise of stemming the influence of the Soviet Union and neutralizing Cuba’s new left-wing dictatorship.
  3. The Kennedy Administration’s implied approval of the assassination of South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem who had shown himself to be ineffective in garnering the people’s support against the North Vietnamese.
  4. The United States invasion in 1983 of the island-nation of Grenada, pursuant to the assertion that an airport under construction on the island-nation was intended to serve as a staging area for Soviet Union military aircraft. Troops from Jamaica and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States also participated.

Fast forward to today and the Russian Federation is expressing its concern for possible NATO encroachment on Russia’s borders and that invasion of Ukraine is necessary for mitigating such a threat. Afro people in America and its Caribbean territories have not taken into consideration that they have seen this behavior before on the part of the United States and that such behavior, albeit egregious, is par for the course in world politics.

And it’s not like war on the European continent is that unusual, even today. Blood on the European continent was spilled during the Yugoslav Wars from 1991 to 2001, yet none of the concerns we heard back then come close to the amplification we hear today.

Given our marginal political power status, standing on the sideline and and acting like we are at a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader audition brings no dividends. The only question that should be asked about now is, “How do we benefit from this conflict?” In the short and intermediate run, nada, especially since Ukraine is not a major trading partner of the United States or the Caribbean.

The longer run is a different matter. The removal of certain banks from the Society for Worldwide International Financial Transactions, freezing assets in American and European banks, and the suspension of the Russian stock market should not provide the African Diaspora with any reason to do back flips and shake their pom poms. Quite the opposite. It should make you scared. The world is not western Europe. The populations of China, India, and the continent of Africa alone account for over three billion people. Technology is not limited to the United States. These areas can, with a lot of feasible work, create their own regional, integrated political and economic systems and trade among themselves. If that were to happen, then Afros in America, who already, as a collective. are on the bottom rung will suffer as their US dollar loses more value and poor working families are faced with the increasingly daunting task of keeping food on the table.

Rather than sending “prayers up” for (and to) a bunch of people who, when the dust settles, will be doing better than you, it is time for Afro peoples in America and her Caribbean territories to ask themselves, “How do we prepare?”

Alton Drew

04.03.2022

Interbank Market News Scan : A thought on creating an Afro-American currency …

My morning takeaway …

I think a currency should reflect the reality of the relationship between two distinct political economies that reside under a single flag.  I am specifically concerned with two groups under the American flag: Afro-America and the Virgin Islands of the United States.  Neither group have been fully incorporated into the American political economy.  There is only a 47-year difference between their starting attempts at incorporation into the United States with Afro Americans, at least on the surface, holding a lead in political-economic corporation due primarily to their physical presence in the contiguous United States, their 43 million population, and thus greater access to political channels.

Both Virgin Islanders and the Afro-American community have disproportionately higher poverty rates, lower incomes, and higher unemployment rates than their white American counterparts.  Both communities suffer from a dearth of capital and lack productive capacity, for now, through which they could independently sustain themselves.  Their banking markets are, like the rest of the United States, subject to the Federal Reserve, and the lip service of the Fed’s community development initiatives and the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977.

A priori, neither community draws the attention of family offices, hedge funds, investment banks, or individual trading desks in search of margin that supports any trade, including foreign exchange.  This is due primarily to both communities not having sufficient pooled natural and human resources upon which a currency (value or “energy”) can be calculated and leveraged.

Then again, under a credit creation theory of banking, this may not matter where credit, money, margin, are created out of thin air … but more on that at some other time.

In the mean-time I thought it would be interesting to add two proxy foreign exchange rates reflecting the currency of the Virgin Island (USVI) and Afro-American (AfAM) communities.  It is my endeavor, amongst too many others, to develop them in the near future …

20 May 2021

Currency PairsRates as of 2:00 pm GMT 20 May 2021Rates as of 12:44 pm GMT 19 May 2021
GHS/EUR0.14180.1419
GMD/EUR0.01610.0159
NGN/EUR0.00200.0020
SLL/EUR0.00010.0001
KES/EUR0.00750.0076
RWF/EUR0.00080.0008
ZAR/EUR0.05830.0584
MZN/EUR0.01370.0137
XCD/EUR0.30330.3033
USVI/USD0.00010.0001
AfAM/USD0.10000.1000
Source: OANDA, Alton Drew

Links you should follow …

Banks.  Three of the biggest US banking groups want the US Department of Agriculture to reconsider the terms of billions of dollars in planned debt relief for minority farmers, claiming it will cut into banks’ profits — and warn they may have to cut those same farmers off from future loans.  Banks say USDA’s debt forgiveness for minority farmers will cost them money and could affect future loans. Black farmers call that a threat. (msn.com)

Banks. Australian stocks closed higher on Thursday, marking their steepest rise in nearly two weeks, due to gains in tech and banking stocks and upbeat employment data.  Australian shares see best day in nearly 2 weeks on jobless data, banks boost | Nasdaq

Banks. In an effort stemming from the murder of George Floyd and at the behest of a Connecticut state official, a who’s who of financial institutions on Tuesday promised to address the effects of racial disparities in financial services by investing billions of dollars to support Black and Latinx communities. A state treasurer convinced big banks to commit billions of dollars to tackle racial inequities. This is the result. (msn.com)

Banks. Mike Mayo, Wells Fargo Securities senior banking analyst, joins ‘Power Lunch’ to discuss the competition banks could be facing from fintech, the future of bank branches and more. Banks are headed toward record efficiency, says Wells Fargo’s Mike Mayo (msn.com) Banks, central banks, digital currency. Can crypto benefit central banks? 3 ways digital currencies backed by central banks could benefit the global economy, according to Fitch (msn.com)

Central banks. The Bahamas became a global leader in e-money last year when it launched one of the world’s first central bank digital ­currencies—the “sand dollar”—beating China’s “digital renminbi” to the market by six months. How the Tiny Bahamas Beat Global Giants in the E-Currency Race (msn.com)

Interbank Market News Scan: If currency reflects value, Europe buys Africa on the cheap ….

My morning takeaway …

The value of a currency is determined by changes in supply and demand; the demand for Treasury notes denominated in the base currency; and the amount of the base currency held in reserve by foreign central banks.  The greater the amount of base currency held by foreign central banks, the lower the supply of the term currency, thus the higher the term currency’s price.

In the table below, the base currencies are on the left of the slash mark, the African currencies. The term currency, in the case the euro, is on the right of the slash.  So, today one Ghanaian cedi (GHS) is priced at 0.1419 euros.

At first blush it is tempting to consider the low euro price as a bad thing.  Yes, currency represents a country’s economic value and given these low absolute euro values a reader may feel despondent that Europe looks apparently with low favor on the African continent.  They would not be wrong.  The African continent has long been Europe’s supplier of resources with a well-documented imbalance in the relationship.

Coming terms with the imbalance should include African central banks and national governments taking fiscal and monetary actions to drive up their currency values.  The continent has taken small but important steps toward doing so with the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which went into effect last January.  The 54 signatories to the agreement hope that removing non-tariff barriers to trade, elimination of 90% of tariffs on internal trade, and the facilitation of the movement of human capital between nations will go far in stemming its move from the current colonial model and, in the words of Wamkele Mene, the AfCFTA secretariat, move Africa away from being a provider of commodities with final goods being processed elsewhere.

With a little resilience and focus, the Continent will get there and Europe will have to take another look at how she evaluates Africa’s value…

19 May 2021

Currency PairsRates as of 12:44 pm GMT 19 May 2021Rates as of 19 April 2021
GHS/EUR0.14190.1437
GMD/EUR0.01590.0162
NGN/EUR0.00200.0022
SLL/EUR0.00010.0001
KES/EUR0.00760.0077
RWF/EUR0.00080.0008
ZAR/EUR0.05840.0584
MZN/EUR0.01370.0135
Source: OANDA

Interbank Market News Scan: Remittances, foreign exchange; Africa sees average cost of remittances at 8.2% …

Foreign exchange rates of interest…

Currency PairsRates as of 8:13 am EST 17 May 2021
USD/AOA652.8280
USD/GMD50.9478
USD/GHS5.7535
USD/NGN379.9410
USD/KES108.0900
USD/SLL10134.0000
USD/RWF979.3480
USD/ZAR14.1119
USD/MZN58.3200
Source: OANDA

Links to follow …

Remittances. According to the bank’s latest Migration and Development Brief, officially recorded remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries reached US$540 billion in 2020, 1.6 per cent below the 2019 total of US$548 billion. Remittance flows remained strong during COVID-19 in 2020, says World Bank (jamaicaobserver.com)

Remittances, Philippines. Remittances continued to grow in March as more countries eased travel restrictions and reopened borders to foreign workers, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported Monday. Remittances up 4.9% in March (msn.com)

Remittances, Ghana. Remittances from Ghanaians grew by five per cent from $3.39 billion in 2019 to $5.57 billion in 2020, a World Bank report has said.
This was in spite of the grim economic outlook presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected people’s earnings and the economies of nations worldwide last year. Remittances From Ghanaians Abroad Increase | Social | Peacefmonline.com

Remittances, Nigeria. Pan-African credit rating agency, Agusto & Co has projected that Nigeria’s diaspora remittances will reach $22 billion by 2021, representing a year-on-year (y-o-y) rise of five per cent. Agusto & Co Forecasts $22bn Diaspora Remittances for Nigeria in 2021 | THISDAYLIVE

Remittances, Kenya. Kenya is targetting to collect at least Sh700 billion from over four million Kenyans working abroad, Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui has said. Kenya targets Sh700 billion in diaspora remittances annually (the-star.co.ke)

Identifying the economic value within the African Diaspora and designing currency to transmit it …

Today while waiting for a haircut, a lovely young lady, who was waiting on her companion, asked me if I was a professor.  I was caught off guard by the question for it seemed almost prescient in nature.  I had been an adjunct professor back in Maryland, I told her.  She then asked if I had been on television. Again I informed her that I had made two appearances on a business news channel.  I expected the exchange to end there since her companion was finished with his haircut, but fortunately the conversation did not end there.  She proceeded to ask my opinion about the current state of the economy as it impacted black people.  I was happy to oblige since the topic was interesting and yes, when you get to engage a very attractive woman on the state of the political economy (underscore very attractive), you don’t pass it up.

The conversation turned to whether African Diaspora communities could use their own currency.  My answer was yes, but to get there we have to first identify a resource that could be used to generate an underlying value for the currency.  A true community is built on a resource the extraction, processing, and distribution of which leads to an industry that generates the income necessary for sustaining the communities members.

Second, there has to be a banking/financing resource in place to convert the assets of the underlying resource into loanable funds.

Right now we have very little of the above two components.  For example, Africans in America hold very little of its capital.  By some estimates, Africans in America hold approximately two percent of total capital in the United States. In addition, consider farm holdings by Africans in America.  Africans in America hold approximately two percent of all farms in the United States, according to the website ShoppeBlack.us.

Compounding the farmland problem is the lack of strong financial infrastructure through which not only lending can be accomplished but also trade in the securities that have underlying them black farm output.  There are approximately 45 black-owned farms located in 20 U.S. states.  There are, however, 14 black owned banks located in eleven states to support these farms.  It is a strong financial infrastructure that provides funding for land acquisition, seed, and new equipment and the current black owned facilities for lending are not enough.

Money is created when loaned funds for land acquisition, seed, and equipment are placed in a farmer’s checking account.  At this point black-owned banks could issue currency distributed by the Federal Reserve or create its own currency where a special currency is designed to be used by black farmers and any other industries related to or depending on black-owned farms including black-owned suppliers, black-owned restaurants, black-owned pharmacies and wellness stores, etc.

There is theory and there is application. With one to two trillion dollars in output, Africans in America could invest in more farmland while expanding their financial infrastructure in order to support lending, securitization of debt, and issuance of their own debt.  Where more land is not available, the next move may have to be the cultivation of intellectual capital and thus make greater inroads into the creative industry space.

On the other hand, Africans in America, rather than trying to replicate the existing model, may have to consider a completely new model for generating and trading currency, one where the resource is unique to and managed solely by Africans in America.

 

Will regulating social media benefit content providers in the African Diaspora?

Late last May, President Donald Trump stepped up his battle with social media by issuing an executive order intended to prevent the censure of political speech expressed on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.  Mr Trump allegedly saw the last straw when Twitter showed the nerve to fact check the President by attaching a number of links to some of Mr Trump’s tweets.  He didn’t like that.

Mr Trump is not alone in his frustration with social media.  Other Republicans and conservatives have complained in recent years about what they deem as bias against conservative political viewpoints and alleged liberal political positions taken up by executives at the social media companies.

To combat the alleged bias, Mr Trump issued an executive order that would call for the Federal Communications Commission to issue rules that clarify portions of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (47 USC 230).  The Act excludes Twitter, Facebook, and other interactive computer services from civil liability where they exercise good faith in removing and otherwise not accepting certain harmful content.  Taking censorship action beyond the scope of the “Good Samaritan” exceptions would paint them as publishers and cost them their protection from civil liability claims.

Specifically the Act reads as follows:

(c)Protection for “Good Samaritan” blocking and screening of offensive material

(1)Treatment of publisher or speaker

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.

(2)Civil liability. No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—

(A)
any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or

(B)

any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph (1).[1]

Mr Trump would like rules that clarify the interaction between section (c)(1), exemption from treatment as a publisher, and section (c)(2), exemption from liability of a publisher, of the Communications Decency Act.  My issue is whether Mr Trump’s proposed path of action in any way hinders the ability of the African Diaspora community to exchange ideas and content for commercial purposes?

Maya Dollarhide defines social media as a:

” …. computer-based technology that facilitates the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and information through the building of virtual networks and communities. By design, social media is internet-based and gives users quick electronic communication of content. Content includes personal information, documents, videos, and photos. Users engage with social media via computer, tablet or smartphone via web-based software or web application, often utilizing it for messaging.”

A high percentage of adults within the African Diaspora use social media.  According to Pew Research, 69% of African American adults use at least one social media site compared to 73% of whites.  Whites and blacks appear on par when it comes to social media usage.

When it comes to commercial reasons for using social media, 29% of consumers use social media platforms to research or buy products and services.  Although the “social” or lately the “political” component of social media gets a lot of attention these days, there is a marketing component to social media where these networks allow for businesses to engage with their customers.  Social media provides a relatively lower cost alternative to traditional media marketing mechanisms.  A well done social media campaign can have information go “viral” about goods or services, and send this information instantaneously around the globe.

We have to be mindful that the drafting and implementation of rules to be used to keep social media companies in compliance with the Communications Decency Act may not come to pass depending on the outcome of this fall’s election.  Should Mr Trump lose in November, the Democratic victor will likely put in place a Democratic chairman and along with his or her Democratic colleagues squash the idea of going forward with any rules that give the impression that the Commission has entered the business as social media speech police.

Even if Mr Trump wins and a Republican majority remains in place at the Commission, I believe the Commission will craft very narrow rules in order to prevent any First Amendment violations.  More importantly, rules that keep social media companies from acting as editors benefit the global exchange of commercial information between members of the African Diaspora.

While I doubt that it is ever in the best interest of Facebook to edit or alter purely commercial communications, advertisements, etc. between an African American wholesaler in Atlanta, Georgia and potential retail distributors and/or end users in Accra,  Ghana, added protections that keep communications unimpeded cannot hurt.

The narrower the rules, the better it is for our self-interests.