Friday, 30 October 2015


Exactly as everyone suspected, the US Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged but did pop a somewhat thin and mangy cat into the pigeon loft by muttering the dreaded words “Next time….”! Share prices, however, are so determined to go up, that adverse reactions were meagre. Developments in SA though are turning many an analysts’ mind towards further rand weakness and a touch of the inflations perhaps. Hence the scramble to own more shares, which in theory, should offer some protection against currency calamity – especially if the company has a forex earnings stream. This doesn’t get away from the fact that almost all of those companies are expensive by any traditional valuation measure. Just closing one’s eyes and buying doesn’t feel like a strategy.
If you don’t pay careful attention it is easy quickly to lose track of all the different mechanisms the government has for spending our money.  Now in the news, because of course it has dried up, is a fund under control of Minster Red Rob Davies called the Manufacturing Competitiveness Enhancement Program or MCEP to its mates. The very name is chilling, implying that there are bureaucrats who are able to judge Competitiveness and distribute cash accordingly. Reportedly about 1250 companies have shared in the R5bn of taxpayer’s money that was used to launch the program half a dozen years ago. That of course was the time of the great “global financial crisis” when banks realised rather belatedly that lending to people who were very unlikely to repay the money was a poor business model and closed their doors to any more similar borrowers. Hence the government decided that it would then play the role of banker, and predictably the chickens are now roosting. The massive student support fund is suffering an identical fate.
Student Ms Anele Nzimande is obviously not yet up to date with her swatting program for the end of year exams. As leader of an outfit named the National Shutdown Coalition she has been offering her opinions about the protest movement. Apparently she believes that “People listen when students speak.” But when they say things like it would be “morally repugnant” for students to give up their protests and write their exams, most people probably stop listening. What we all would really like to see and hear from our future leaders is a clear and simple proposal of where the R20bn that the universities need will come from.  Frankly, those threatening newspaper adverts being placed by the Taxman about not trying to hide one’s wealth isn’t going to rustle up that kind of cash.
And Comrade Dr Blade Nzimande (no relation?) hasn’t come up with anything very good yet either. He has spoken about raiding a few caches of unspent funds in various training budgets and maybe slap a tax on graduates. Rather revert to Plan A which is to cut down on corruption, wastage, and grandiose schemes that the country just can’t afford. Like having one of the largest diplomatic corps in the world.
And now in the wake of unwinding the disastrous changes to the visa rules, the government is offering a R1m a year salary to someone who will set up and run a Socio-Economic Impact Assessment System (SEIAS). This outfit will check proposed legislation for “unexpected” reactions to proposed laws It would of course be a whole lot cheaper and more effective if the lawmakers listened to and heeded the comments and criticisms that they actually invite the private sector to make before sending the dog’s breakfast to parliament for approval.
The main concern at the bowling club bar is that laws of the sport don’t envisage a result where both teams in the Rugby World Cup Final can lose. The best we green and gold supporters can hope for is that the ref dishes out a royal flush of yellow and red cards and the resulting brawl sees the match abandoned! And the Cup is then awarded to the team that comes third, which tonight will be the ‘bokke.

James Greener
Friday 30th October 2015

Thank you to the many readers who sent words of comfort and outrage about our burglary last week. A common theme in those messages was how many of you had suffered similar experiences.