Friday, 12 June 2015


At long last the “experiment” being conducted by central banks of holding interest rates at ridiculously low (negative even) levels may be coming to an end. Numerous doctoral students now have floods of material for their theses and the debate about the effectiveness and success of the policy will rage for years. Those of us who believe that even the price of money is best resolved in a free market will begin to feel a bit happier. Savers have had the worst of it and there is scant evidence that borrowers did very much more than use the opportunity to extinguish debts incurred a decade ago. Economic recovery has been patchy. A widely held theory maintains that higher interest rates tend to depress share prices. Present movements in the markets seem to lend support to that theory. The JSE is rather wobbly.
It will be surprising if Telkom’s plan to let a quarter of its workforce go doesn’t cause a great deal of labour unrest. It will surely not improve telephone line repair response times. Surely all government departments and state owned enterprises could also fire 25% of their staff. And do so starting at the top. A pair of photographs published on the web, show the official line-up of Obama’s and Zuma’s cabinets. The USA squad is sparse and sleek. But only a wide-angle lens was able to capture all of JZ’s top team. It’s now dawning on us that the plan to create millions of jobs is largely about making every government supporter a civil servant. If there’s any sort of problem there, well no one in power has spotted it yet
The snappy BRICs acronym that was coined a few years ago for four countries with similar economic potential is no longer very useful. The rot probably began when South Africa invited itself aboard and capitalised the fifth letter.  Despite the insistent claims, our mismatch with most of the other members is massive and the presence and contribution of our delegates to the meetings is probably regarded by the by the Chinese and Indian behemoths as a comedy slot by a potential (very) small customer. It remains to be seen just what benefits, if any, our nation gains from this club beyond a dodgy deal for nuclear power, medical treatment for Number 1 and the obligation to help fund a brand new development bank. Wouldn’t it be fun to learn that the others ran a book on which wife JZ brings to the junket each time?
At last the mystery of youth has been solved. There is no limit to being young. The ANC Youth League has scrapped the 35 years upper age limit for membership. After all, 35 was just a number and the rule was quite probably ageist. Now let’s wait to see if the ANC Woman’s League removes their sexist membership criteria. However, what is most definitely racist is the innovative and unusual government program to lend to suitable black farmers each a herd of 30 cows in-calf plus a bull. The debt is repayable with a similar sized herd in 5 years time. Successful ranchers could soon be reaping handsome profits if the bull is up to it.  The nice part is that the cattle are of the majestic and beautiful Nguni breed! 
Apparently our locational privacy is under threat. This is the newest and strangest reason being advanced for opposing the e-toll system. The problem is that the government could use the e-toll records to monitor our movements.  While this is true, cell phones also have that capability and can do so all over the world, not just on a few roads in Gauteng.. But given that the government can’t yet send out correct and timeous invoices for the tolls perhaps we have little to fear from any imminent queries about our suspicious journeys.
The rugby being played by the baby bokke is entertaining and gratifyingly successful, unlike most of Sharks’ games this year. Tomorrow’s match will be so hampered by emotional farewells that the Stormers have sent their B team reserves to Kings Park to wrap things up. There will be more tissues than tries you can be sure of that.

James Greener
12th June 2015