Algeria economy: Where has all the money gone?

Image result for Algeria economy: Where has all the money gone?As Algeria’s oil wealth dries up, people are demanding to know where the money has gone.

Corruption, youth unemployment and inequality have been at the centre of protests against the 20 years of rule by Algeria’s president, 81-year-old Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Despite agreeing not to stand for another term, Algerians have little faith in the business elite, military and politicians running the country.

The country’s wealth has been squandered. It had currency reserves of $179bn in December 2014, but that has shrunk to $79.8bn.

Rather than using the oil and petrol wealth to diversify the economy, more than a fifth of Algeria’s budget is used for subsidies.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says Algeria’s oil and petrol revenues account for 95 percent of its export earnings and 60 percent of its budget. But oil prices have been falling and the country’s oil and petrol production has also been in decline due to a lack of investment – meaning there isn’t the money to fill the coffers.

Unemployment in Algeria is running at 11.1 percent. But youth unemployment stands at 26.4 percent for the under 30s, who make up two-thirds of the country’s 41-million population.

Taieb Hafsi, strategy and society professor of management at the HEC Montreal, talks to Counting the Cost about the issues behind the protests and the challenges facing Algeria’s oil-reliant economy.

“The problem with oil is that it has generated a rent-seeking behaviour … and its not just the people at the very top who are rent-seeking. Bureaucracy is rent-seeking, private firms are rent-seeking, even the population is rent-seeking. So you have this incredibly lazy demeanour and of course that rent-seeking leads to corruption. As a result, if you will, it [oil] is a real curse … When you think about trying to diversify away from oil … then you have to realise that business is a source of power, so the government has been trying to keep it under control,” Hafsi explains.

“Algeria is one of the few countries in the world where you have to get permission to invest your money. No market behaviour, no discipline, so the result is no development … it’s no surprise. What’s happening in Algeria goes against all the norms of economic behaviour that we know about.”

However, Hafsi believes there is still a cause for optimism for Algeria’s economic future.

“The Algerian economy is really paradoxical … it’s very poorly managed and seemingly doomed, but also at the same time you see some very thriving segments,” he says.

“The real economy is mostly informal. About 60 percent of the economy is informal and it is not accounted for. How do firms actually survive in this very hostile environment? There are smaller firms all over the country trying to remain below the radar, if you will, but … succeeding. They are doing very well … They don’t rely on the state, they want to be excellent and often they become competitive on the world market. So in a sense, there is something happening bottom up that, in my opinion, is very promising.”

What will Rome get from Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative?

Britain’s decision to join China’s challenger to the World Bank drew a quick rebuke from Washington.

The US claimed the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank would extend Beijing’s soft power.

Three years on, the decision by Italy’s new populist government to sign up for investment from Beijing has raised concerns in Western capitals.

The US National Security Council warned: Endorsing the Belt and Road Initiativelends legitimacy to China’s predatory approach to investment and will bring no benefits to the Italian people.

Those concerns are already playing out. China’s largess is entrapping vulnerable nations in debt. You may recall Sri Lanka fell behind with payments and had to hand over a vital seaport that had been built with Chinese loans, on a 99-year lease.

Pakistan’s attempts to negotiate an IMF loan have been complicated by Washington’s unwillingness for the money to be used to pay back Beijing’s loans to Pakistan. And in Djibouti where the US has a military base, China opened its first overseas base. At the same time, the country’s debts have soared to 80 percent of gross domestic product from 50 percent.

In Italy’s case, it has a debt of 2.3 trillion euro ($2.6 trillion) and pays 64 billion euro ($72.5bn) every year in interest payments. Should it get into trouble, the European bailout fund would not be able to save the country.

China’s President Xi Jinping hopes the two countries can work together on everything from ports to telecoms and pharmaceuticals to football.

But what is at stake? And what will Rome get from the Belt and Road Initiative? Greg Swenson, founding partner of Brigg MacAdam, talks to Counting the Cost.

“It’s fine that they are reaching out. China is a great market for them … but it’s important to keep in mind, their first relationship should be with the EU and also with the US, given the membership in NATO and in the G7. So I think that they’ve gone a little overboard. Is it the end of the world? I don’t think so,” says Swenson.

“The EU is the number one market for China in terms of exports and China is the number two market for the EU, and notably, the US is the number one market for the EU, so I think Italy just has to do a better job of being diplomatic with their allies before … over-reaching out to China. But it is quite natural to want to sell products.”

According to Swenson “just embracing China, borrowing more money is not the answer” to Italy’s economic woes.

“We will see what happens. I hope there’s a bit of a … pullback on the part of Italy. The Investment Bank that’s announced is controversial, [but] … I’m not that worried about it but I do think it’s a moment for the EU to embrace their strategic partners, notably the US, and really make some sort of pushback against this expansion by China, both militarily and economically. And I think that will work out and I think that the EU and the US will win.”


‘Overwatch’ League Shop Goes Live With Gear From All 20 Leagues

The official “Overwatch” League Shop is now live for users in the United States, with free shipping available on all orders until Feb. 1.

The “Overwatch” league Shop features a collection of jerseys, shirts, hats, and more for all 20 “Overwatch” League franchises, as well as merchandise for the league itself. The shop also includes gear for the eight expansion franchises: the Atlanta Reign, Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, Paris Eternal, Toronto Defiant, Vancouver Titans, and Washington Justice. Storefronts in other regions, including Europe, will launch later this year.

Fanatics has also released a new Profile Collection product line for each team. The New Profile Collection gear and new product lines will be unveiled throughout the 2019 season.

The Overwatch League unveiled the multi-year deal with licensed sports merchandiser Fanatics last year. The deal has Fanatics handle all fan gear sold across retail and wholesale channels worldwide via a dedicated website for Overwatch League gear.

“As we’ve gone around building out the Overwatch League, we’ve continued to figure out how we can find the right partner to take our business and build the Overwatch League,” Brandon Snow, chief revenue officer for Activision Blizzard eSport leagues, told Variety at the time. “One of the big areas to build the brands of these teams and service fans is with products and merchandise.”

The “Overwatch” League second season kicks off on Feb. 14.


New app allows two-factor authentication for all apps

Rivetz Authenticator protects your identity using the secure hardware

The traditional method of using a username and password is no longer sufficient to protect your banking, social media, emails and other digital accounts. Passwords can easily be forgotten or even stolen, making two-factor authentication are integral in protecting your identity and online account access.

Two-factor authentication (2FA) does an excellent job securing your digital accounts, but what happens when your phone is stolen or gets misplaced? Or what if you’re updating to a new device and have to re-authenticate everything? And, even if you have the keys saved, manually resetting two-factor authentication for every account is going to take its fair share of time.

Rivetz is a mobile cybersecurity specialist that is ending all your 2FA woes with the launch of a new Authenticator app. Rivetz’s Authenticator app is the first two-factor authentication solution with backup and recovery. The app recovers 2FA keys using a mobile’s existing hardware security capabilities, while also giving you complete control over encrypted backup files. The app was created to eliminate frustrations users face with their 2FA accounts when migrating to new devices.

While 2FA apps generate their code in software, Rivetz Authenticator generates codes in a phone’s hardware chipset, protecting them from phishing attacks, malware and the other threats. This secure hardware chipset is called Trusted Execution Environment, which is already embedded in millions of Android devices. The app also features a Trusted User Interface (TUI) for supported devices that ensures malware doesn’t infect a transaction.

Rivetz Authenticators is engineered from scratch, using hardware-based trusted processing. It is compatible with all your favourite online services like Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, Coinbase, Binance, work accounts and more. The Authenticators also monitors the state of your device for changes caused by spyware or malicious malware software, and will instantly notify you if any such change is detected. You can save all your services as encrypted backups and easily recover then if your phone is lost or stolen. Rivetz strongly believes in prioritising privacy, which is the primary reason why the app functions offline within your device.


Now Paytm Money users can track all their mutual fund investments on its app; claims over 1 million customers

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Paytm Money claimed of registering over 1 million users within six months of launch.

Popular online payment platform Paytm has said that its users would now be able to track the performance of their mutual fund investments on its subsidiary portal Paytm Money for free.

Investors would have to upload their Consolidated Account Statement (CAS) generated via Karvy Fintech on Paytm Money to track their all investments in their portfolio on the Paytm Money app, the company said in a statement.

Paytm Money claimed of registering over 1 million users within six months of launch.

Mutual fund investors putting their money via multiple channels including asset management companies, banks, advisors and distributors don’t get to look at the performance of their investments cohesively under a single platform.

Investors who haven’t invested via Paytm Money app can also track their daily portfolio performance irrespective of their channel or the mode of investment.

“We received many requests & feedback from Paytm Money users to be able to import their external investments to our platform. This assists an investor in keeping track of all investments in one place, further helping in their investment decisions,” said Paytm Money whole-time director Pravin Jadhav.

Paytm Money claimed to have partnered with 34 asset management companies covering over 94% AUM of the mutual fund industry.

Paytm’s mutual fund arm operates from Bengaluru and has a team of over 250 members Paytm Money, which aims to become a full-stack investment and wealth management services company, offer users mutual fund investments starting with Rs 100 via systematic investment plan or lump sum mode.

Recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Paytm’s chief financial officer said that the company is looking at expanding to 1-2 more developed markets this year. He told Reuters that the company has already found its footing in Canada and Japan while many of its commerce and financial services businesses have started to generate revenue and profits.

The company is also reportedly planning to expand into lending and credit cards services.