Friday, 5 September 2014


Thanks probably to the developments in European markets (see below) a somewhat selective bull has returned to the JSE and the All Share index has nosed back over 52 000. The week’s batch of company reports were rather mixed in fortune and outlook suggesting that this is not a tide that is raising all ships equally. Not an easy market to buy. Mind you, it rarely is.
The folk running the finances of Europe are desperately fighting a battle against the wrong enemy. This week they cut interest rates for the euro even further in the near helpless attempt to get the citizens of that awkward and unhappy union to borrow and spend money. For at least  a decade and probably far longer, however, this method for stimulating economies has not been working. It would appear that the category of people who in the past might have been inclined to go into debt and also accept the obligation to repay that debt, currently have little interest in playing that game. Instead their feelings of prosperity and security are being overwhelmed by the impression that their governments are ceaselessly growing pools of self-enriching bureaucrats pursuing policies of entitlement and distribution.
The popular but obviously unsustainable belief that the many can be supported by the efforts of the few may be nearing its long overdue exposure as a lie. Hastening the arrival of this point are the baffling displays of disdain and animosity shown by a very unpleasant cohort of the beneficiaries towards their benefactors and their beliefs, faiths and customs. This disturbing and very unsettling development must surely be a factor in deepening the reluctance of the true wealth creators to play the roles that are being scripted for them by the leaders.
From Washington to Pretoria we are hearing another chorus of howls about how unpatriotic (but note, not illegal) it is for businesses to arrange their affairs to minimise tax. People who feel that citizens need to be “punished” for choosing business practices that maximise the value added simply don’t understand how economies work. A century or two of democracy and civilisation have created way too much legislation and far too many legislators. Growth will come not from tampering with interest rates but by reversing the growth in numbers of tax eaters compared to the number of tax payers. The pruning process needs to start with all those who have assumed the powers of price setting of everything from money to labour, for these are the most lethal and expensive of that group. Surely we now have ample laws on the statute books and need just to enforce them fairly and swiftly? And of course discard those that are needless.
Trying to get his voice heard in the same corridors of power where this week’s non-coup of Lesotho was getting attention was King Buyelekhaya Dalindeyebo of the AbaThembu who fears that his Certificate of Recognition is about to be cancelled. Is there really a department of layabouts who issue these things? Are they like a drivers licence requiring regular renewal after passing a test of sovereignty? What benefits and powers accrue to the holder? Is there a monthly stipend which can be collected by joining the queues of pensioners and mothers on the 1st of the month? And at the now infamous and salacious reed dance ceremony, another king in the region selected his 16th wife (a teenager) from the throng of swaying maidens.
The JSE are to be congratulated and admired for yet again nailing down the award for running the best and safest stock market in the world.
 There is something underwhelming about these triangular cricket tournaments – unless and until one’s side is winning I suppose. Beating the Aussies is always good. I am not sure if I have the courage to watch the ‘bokke face the Wallabies in Perth tomorrow. On recent evidence we should do OK as long as we don’t have to scrum, take part in line-outs or pass the ball too often. The Sharks too seem to wobbling a bit of late so perhaps this is not the right time to draw attention to the fact that the Lions are top of the Currie Cup log.
James Greener
5th September 2014