Nigerians Vote and a South Pacific Remake

Good morning.

🇳🇬 Nigerians Vote

Nigerians will elect their new president and parliament this weekend with third-party candidate Peter Obi leading recent polls (ANAP Foundation). Obi has a strong following amongst younger Nigerians and a win would signal a break from some of the traditional political power structures in the country. However, there is still a significant margin for error in the polls and all three leading candidates have strong bases of support so a close election and run-off are still a significant possibility.

The four main candidates via Wikipedia. Currently, Obi, Tinubu and Abubakar are the leading three candidates.

Whoever wins the presidency will inherit a range of intractable economic and security issues and ‘quick wins’ will be in short supply. (See Bloomberg for more.) Traditional divisions between the north and south, and disappointment amongst supporters of the losing candidates, will further hobble the new president suggesting that there’s no easy path back to prosperity for Nigeria.

More coverage and analysis in The Conversation and The FT

Sabre Rattling in the South Pacific

Original Musical Poster, © Majestic Theatre

While much of the world’s attention has been on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there are several developments in the Asia Pacific region worth keeping track of. Most relate to the struggle for influence between the US and China but North Korea still remains a significant potential source of instability.

🇹🇼 On Thursday, there were reports that Washington will increase the number of troops in Taiwain from around 100 to 200. While the number is very small, this will be seen as a provocation by Beijing, increasing the tension that has risen since the Chinese surveillance balloon was shot down after passing over the US two weeks ago. (More in Blomberg.)

🇵🇭 Separately, the Philippines has strengthened military ties with the US as Manila takes a tougher security stance to protect her maritime interests in the region.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who took office in June, has adopted the most muscular foreign policy approach that the Philippines has seen in close to a decade. He is seeking out alliances, restoring his country’s defense ties with the United States and prioritizing his country’s territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea.

Earlier this month, Mr. Marcos agreed to grant the United States military access to four new defense sites in the Philippines. On the same day, Washington said it would restart its joint patrols of the South China Sea with the Philippines, which had been suspended by Manila for six years. There is speculation that Subic Bay, a crown jewel among the many naval sites in Philippines, will also welcome American soldiers in the coming months.

🇰🇵 Meanwhile, North Korea tested nuclear-capable cruise missiles on Thursday to demonstrate the country’s ability to mount a counterattack in the event of any hostile action.  

A strategic cruise missile is launched during a drill in this undated photo released on February 24, 2023 by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA via Reuters

“the war posture of the DPRK nuclear combat force bolstering up in every way its deadly nuclear counterattack capability against the hostile forces,”

🇰🇷 This test took place as the US and South Korea conducted tabletop exercises and joint military drills, preparing for an attack by North Korea. (Reuters.)

On to the numbers

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Relative Values (90-Days)

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Trends (21-days)

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Brent Crude

Potentially impacting: Fuel prices | Gound shipping costs. | Plastic prices | Changes to fuel subsidies (potentially leading to unrest) | Cost of living (especially transport and heating) | Changes to traffic volume/transportation choices | Demand for automotive products | Theft and smuggling.

Brent Crude is low for this 90-day interval. Prices ended relatively flat over the last 21 days after moderate fluctuation.

Iron and Steel

Potentially impacting: Cost of construction projects | Construction project timelines | Cost/availability of raw materials | Infrastructure project timelines/costs | Cost and availability of finished metal goods | Value of scrap | Value of 2nd hand equipment/vehicles.

Iron and Steel are very high for this 90-day interval. Prices ended relatively flat over the last 21 days after slight fluctuation.

Market Volatility (VIX-US)

Potentially impacting: Availability of capital for investment | Interest rates| Share prices | Consumer confidence | House prices/rent | Financial certainty/uncertainty | Financial models | Stock-based compensation values.

Market Volatility (VIX) is high for this 90-day interval. The index increased sharply over the last 21 days after moderate fluctuation.

Wheat

Potentially impacting: Bread, pasta, couscous & noodle prices | Changes to food subsidies (potentially leading to unrest) | Cost of living | Movement from low-income to food insecure to undernourished | Increased theft or graft in loosely governed areas | Demand on charities.

Wheat is high for this 90-day interval. Prices ended relatively flat over the last 21 days with little fluctuation.

Ocean Freight (FBX)

Potentially impacting: Supply chain costs (direct and indirect) | Supply chain delays | Port capacity/throughput speed | Customs clearance | Availability of goods and materials | Consumer demand/hoarding.

Shipping (FBX) is very low for this 90-day interval. Prices ended relatively flat over the last 21 days after significant fluctuation.

Up-to-date shipping data supplied by our partner Freightos

Election Watch

February 25: Nigeria, President, House of Representatives and SenateMarch 5: Estonia, Parliament

Palate Cleansers

Maybe this email should have been a Tweet….

Cats With Jobs on Twitter

Happy Friday!

Via Excel Humor

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