Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ USD dominance threatened with Saudi in talks to price oil in Yuan.
High Court granted Mareva injunction on USD1.42 bil assets of Jho Low and father. What happens in a nuclear blast in a major city? RM3.6k to turn Myvi into a Level 2 self-driving car.
1. MARKET SUMMARY
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
10,000 people or firms are subject to American sanctions, involving more than 50 countries. Often they make little difference — case in point, full embargoes on Iran and Venezuela have been crippling but not toppled regimes.
21,007 — the number of suicides in Japan last year. The number of women who took their lives rose by 42 to 7,068, the second straight year of increase. Suicide has a long history in Japan as a way of avoiding shame or dishonour.
€280 mil — the price paid by Spotify to rename Barcelona’s stadium as the Spotify Camp Nou. The four-year partnership also includes Spotify’s name on men’s and women’s team shirts and training kits.
3. COVID-19 SUMMARY
As many as 25,122 patients who have recovered from Covid-19 are receiving treatment for long Covid, according to the Ministry of Health. If you’re experiencing long Covid, you can seek rehabilitation services at 41 Rehabilitation Medicine facilities around Malaysia.
In collaboration with LEAD
Want to hit your weight goals? Make cardio fun again when you do it with your friends. Join the ‘We Hate Cardio’ virtual run and stand to win prizes over RM33,000, plus get your team’s name displayed on one of Malaysia’s biggest billboards.
4. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Yet again, the government claims it is helping the rakyat by using the rakyat’s own money, allowing EPF contributors to withdraw up to RM10,000, marking the fourth EPF withdrawal facility since the pandemic started. Only members below 55 can apply for the facility from Apr 1 to Apr 30, with payment starting on Apr 20. Savings from Account 2 will be fully utilised first before Account 1 can be used. EPF says this will be the last of such facilities allowed.
Under these facilities, 7.34 mil EPF members have withdrawn a total of RM101 bil. Just last Monday Finance MInister Tengku Zafrul shared in Parliament the second-order effect of these facilities - it has adversely impacted 2021’s dividends (could have been as high as 6.7% instead of the announced 6.1%) and increased the interest payment of government by RM830 mil due to EPF portfolio rebalancing.
There’s no such thing as free lunch. Someone at some point in time will be forking the bill and it’s the rakyat that will bear the long term consequences. The government’s latest decision defeats the purpose of having a provident fund.
The latest from the 1MDB saga:
Najib Razak’s appeal to adduce new evidence in his RM42 mil SRC International Sdn Bhd case has been dismissed by the Federal Court, stating that “the appellant (Najib) suffered no prejudice and was not denied the right to be heard”.
The KL High Court granted a Mareva injunction sought by 1MDB and its for subsidiaries to bar a total of USD1.432 bil from being transferred by fugitive Jho Low and his father Larry Low Hock Peng (also on the run). Both individuals are given 14 days to furnish the court with the details of their assets, whether they are held locally or abroad.
The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) ban on Sime Darby Plantations Bhd export to the US is due to the company’s practice of employing parolees, which CBP deems as forced/convict labour, according to Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin. Parolees are prison inmates that are released earlier if they abide by certain behavioural conditions.
Zuraida will be leading a delegation to the US to meet the CBP on this matter.
Prudential BSN Takaful Bhd through its charity arm PruBSN Prihatin will offer free takaful (Islamic) insurance PruBSN Microtakaful Jariyah coverage to 30,000 recipients from the B40 group this year to provide basic protection of one year to B40 family breadwinner. It will provide RM10,000 in compensation if the family breadwinner dies. B40 households are highly vulnerable to financial shocks as they often have low levels of savings.
According to BNM’s research, the uptake of life insurance family takaful amongst the B40 is disproportionately low relative to the national population - 30.3% penetration rate at end-2016 amongst the B40 working population vs national working population penetration rate of 50.4%.
AirAsia X announced that it had completed its debt restructuring and will write RM33 bil back to profits in the coming quarter (its accounting profits, not real profits per se). Its creditors and the High Court of Malaya last year approved its restructuring proposal where it would pay just 0.5% of the debt owed and end its existing contracts. The restructuring will pave the way to a proposed RM500 mil fundraising. Tony hopefully will soon be able to refund AAX customers.
Capital A’s e-hailing business, one of its super app initiative, airasia ride, will expand its e-hailing service to Thailand next month, beginning with Bangkok and it will start with 5,000 taxis, then only open to private drivers. Launched in Aug 2021, it has more than 30,000 drivers so far and has completed over 700,000 rides across the country.
5. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
The US Federal Reserve approved a 0.25 percentage point rate hike, the first increase since December 2018, to address spiralling inflation without torpedoing economic growth. Officials hinted there could be hikes at each of the remaining six meetings in 2022.
The US announced an extra USD800 mil in military aid to Ukraine — the money will go towards anti-armour and anti-aircraft weapons. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky invoked the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Sep 11 terror strikes on America during his address with the US Congress as a plea to get more aid.
Russia teeters on the brink of a historic default as it could not pay the USD117 million in interest on two dollar-denominated sovereign bonds. Sanctioned Kremlin might pay in roubles — triggering a default anyway. Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said the payment had been made and reached the correspondent American bank.
Saudi Arabia is in talks to sell oil to China and be paid in yuan, according to the Wall Street Journal. It would bolster China’s currency at the expense of the dollar, threatening the US dollar’s dominance in the global petroleum market. Saudi Arabia has grown unhappy with the Biden administration due to the latter’s reluctance to do more in the Yemen civil war and push to revive the Iran nuclear deal.
The Petrodollars system (pricing oil in USD) was one of the primary reasons that helped the US achieve global hegemony.
China’s top economic official, Liu He, intervened on Wednesday to reassure investors that Beijing would take measures to “boost the economy in the first quarter” and introduce “policies that are favourable to the market”. Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng index had its best day since 2008, rising more than 9.1%.
Facebook’s algorithm offers cheaper advertisement deals to India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over other political parties, according to The Reporters’ Collective and ad.watch. The favourable pricing allowed the party to reach more voters for less money, giving it a leg up in the election campaigns. The data was retrieved from Meta Platform Inc’s transparency tool — Ad Library Application Programming Interface (API).
El Salvador is preparing to launch a bitcoin bond despite growing criticism from the US and IMF. Its President Nayib Bukele is relying on interest in the bitcoin-backed bond from retail investors worldwide to help bail the nation out of its financial hole. Bukele expects to raise USD1 bil from the bond, but institutional investors are reluctant to participate and with the price of bitcoin in decline, the launch may not be a success.
The London Metal Exchange (LME) was forced to suspend trading after prices instantly fell 5% and caused a glitch just minutes after reopening from a rare week-long break. Nickel prices skyrocketed above USD100,000 a ton last week due to a “short squeeze” and LME responded by suspending trading and cancelling USD3.9 billion worth of trades in an extremely rare move.
6. FOR YOUR EYES 👁👁
The body language is very telling of the ones who are in control, and the one that is being controlled. On a lighter note, the action below gives “PM tepi” a whole new meaning.
Documentary filmmaker Neil Halloran x Nobel Peace Prize — Research and Information collaboration simulating a nuclear blast in a major city