Friday, 12 September 2014


Perhaps it does not feel like it, but for the past three months the JSE All Share index has trundled along inside a trading range of just 2000 points. This represents a variation of not even 4% of the average level of about 51 000. The JSE has been one of the most docile and pedestrian share markets on the planet. Of course no one knows when or in which direction the breakout will occur and it is unhelpful to state that the event is always getting closer. It is more than 5 years since this index recorded a double digit percentage monthly move. This was in July 2009 when a 10.1% gain occurred. Similar massive gains were also enjoyed in March and May of that year when the market was rebounding from the shock of the credit crunch.
Of course overall indices like this can conceal considerable pain or joy in individual sectors and shares within the market. Owners of mining shares – particularly platinums - have probably suffered the biggest erosion of value in this period. The news that AngloGold is rearranging its affairs has raised uncertainty levels as well. But because these days these companies have a much reduced weighting in the overall picture, their downward impact is easily matched in the calculation of the composite index by much more modest moves elsewhere. By the way, who really believes the AngloGold claim that SA political developments were not a factor in the decision to split the company?
Company results this week were largely rather good but there are still warnings being made that borrowers are not servicing loans as diligently as expected. The earnings of most workers are still too low to meet their aspirations and expectations. This is of course exacerbated by the examples being set by those who demonstrate that dishonesty and deceit are reasonable routes to influence and affluence. Under these pressures saving and providing for the future has scant relevance. Reportedly for example, teachers are resigning in scores in order to access pension savings. We may not have seen the last of the terrifying collapses.
The SABC is calling for proposals for the implementation of “an integrated internal control framework”. Presumably this is autobabble for something that managers should be doing as the main part of their job, but the national broadcaster wants outsiders to come and do it for them. Is this not perfect evidence that the obscenely overpaid, unqualified dodgy chief operating officer is incapable and should go? The problem is that his boss, the chair of the corporation has now also been found out to have lied about her qualifications and so also is not fit for purpose. It really is time that we all boycott the paying of TV licences and press for the privatisation of that sorry mess. It’s a tactic that definitely attracts the government’s attention as the e-toll saga demonstrates.
Perhaps one of the most alarming stories of the week is that the nation’s citrus industry has stopped exporting their produce to Europe. Apparently this avoids the probability of actually being served a permanent ban by the importers because some of the fruit is carrying a harmless but unacceptable black spot blemish. Clearly the industry has a huge problem on their hands and this is one occasion when an informed government intervention might help. However, in the meantime perhaps we could learn to drink Vodka and orange as presumably we must all do our bit and consume the unsold fruit.
The three rugby teams that I wanted to win last weekend all failed. The GP result was disappointing – can someone please develop an engine to beat Mercedes - and even the Bafana result was unimpressive. The cricket was great however, although the victory is being tarnished by numerous articles that point out that sport’s declining support in Australia.
My doctor has forbidden me to mention the All Blacks.
James Greener
Rhodes University Founder’s Day 2014.