Friday, 18 September 2015


Anyone who doubted that we have been celebrating Recycling Week hasn’t been paying attention to what the media was been regurgitating about either US interest rates or the Rugby World Cup. On both topics the pundits have been forced to fill screen time and columns with history, conjecture and waffle.
 In the end Governor Janet decided that the price of money in the USA at 0.25%  is just as perfect now as it was almost ten years ago when the last adjustment was made by her predecessor Helicopter Ben. We must all be grateful to these omnipotent and omniscient people who know what’s right for us. Just look how well the world works.
Also significant this week was the news that the world’s biggest brewer is keen to buy the world’s second biggest brewer which is of course the erstwhile employer of Charles Glass, the legendary creator of Castle lager. This exciting news caused the market value of SAB to increase by more than 25%. This added R260bn to the JSE’s total market capitalisation and caused the All Share index to tick up markedly and confuse people who weren’t paying attention to the details. In fact this month, except for the Consumer Goods sector which is home to SAB, almost all other major sectors are well down for the month.
Predictably, however, the regulators have appeared on the scene muttering that this merger of giants might not be a good thing and could harm consumer’s interests.  However, beer drinkers are a very discerning bunch and the astonishing growth of the so-called craft beer industry shows that many folk have already decided that big is not beautiful. Surely this is one of the most price and quality sensitive consumer markets in the world and both parties will tread very carefully. Messing with a man’s (and woman’s) beer is not a good idea.
Another unsurprising development is that all the published plans for getting the nation’s viewers into the 21st century and equipped to receive digital TV signals have turned out to be nonsense. Mysteriously the market is already swamped with cheap set-top boxes. Outrage and finger pointing has broken out as this was a project earmarked as a nice little earner for selected cronies. Interestingly the region identified for the first installation of this kit is that surrounding the large and growing radio telescope installations in the Karoo. Astronomers are not keen on watching SABC when trying to listen for messages from deep space.
R9.4m is the astonishing price which someone has paid for Hercules, a seven year old Kudu bull with 1.7m horns, It does seem to be a great deal of money for what in the end will probably be biltong and a gloomy stuffed head on a wall.
Meanwhile another bull has also grown (much smaller) horns and the rand has very slightly reversed its headlong plunge into oblivion. The prospect of a large and sustained recovery is quite poor while our politicians and their cronies continue to display woeful ignorance of economic realities.
Already some shifty and oleaginous characters have appeared in the frame to reassure us that the Commonwealth Games won’t hurt Durban ratepayers a bit. It’s all going to be assembled on a shoestring and will be so much fun. Well that may be but one wonders if the country’s rather stringent new visa regulations will have been relaxed by then otherwise all the overseas athletes under 18 will have to bring Mom and Dad along just to get through immigration. But perhaps that’s the plan. You sell more hotel rooms that way. And we sure need the money. A recurring theme in the local press is that the city is battling to make ends meet.
Finally the Rugby World Cup begins today and spirits will soar and crash over the next few weeks. The Russians, who are not taking part in this tournament, have arranged a counter celebration for tonight. The 2018 Soccer World Cup will kick off in their nation in exactly 1000 day’s time so that outranks any old rugby game.
James Greener
Opening Day of the 2015 Rugby World Cup