Friday, 5 August 2016


In a history of almost 40 years, the JSE All Share Index has never before experienced a less volatile period than the last half dozen years. Of course individual shares and sectors (for example Kumba Iron Ore in the past year, have seen massive swings in this time but the Overall Index has been exceptionally pedestrian.  Not since July 2009 has this index delivered a double digit monthly return either positive or negative. It is interesting to speculate whether the absence of large medium term moves might be a result of program trading which is mostly about spotting and trading even minute price discrepancies. Last month the performance of the All Share was 1.2% which is almost exactly the average for the past 84 months. The moral of the story is that if you seek excitement go hunting in the small and medium cap shares!
Does anyone call The Bank of England “The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street” anymore? If so she picked up her skirts and booted the ball firmly into the neighbour’s garden yesterday. She halved the bank rate to a record-setting 0.25% and then announced that she intended to deluge the nation with cash. Understandably this prompted people to sell pounds and even our little old ront benefitted so that today one needs only R18 to buy a British pound. This is 6 fewer than in January – a 25% strengthening. No wonder local businesses are out shopping for offshore companies. The other side of that coin though, is that move has somewhat dulled the lustre on the ABInBev buyout of SA Breweries. The new bosses have also told many of the big cheeses at the Charles Glass offices to clear their desks. That’s brave. You mess with a man’s beer at your peril. Those SAB folk know a great deal about the local beer markets and are fully aware that here on the eastern shores many still regard Cane Spirit with great affection.
One of the ballot forms presented to voters on Wednesday listed almost 30 different political parties competing for the proportional representation vote. This suggests a number of things. First that the barriers to entry must be rather low and that the authorities are delighted to collect the deposits and fees, fully aware that most of the parties will garner negligible support. Secondly it shows that the benefit of getting a seat on a local council is considerable, what with salary, perks and the opportunity to deliver patronage. Why, however, is it taking so long to finish the counting? Perish the thought that some last minute “massaging” is being performed.
The certain winner in the elections though must be the business that got the contract to supply all the polling station furniture. Not only were ballot boxes and voting booths delivered in flat-pack corrugated cardboard form, but there were tables and chairs available in the same material for the returning officer and staff. Hopefully export orders will flow in for these very clever designs.
The newspaper pull-out with all one needs to know about the Olympics and SA’s competitors is very welcome for those of us in charge of the TV remote. It is puzzling, however, that the program has been sponsored by the Durban University of Technology. Isn’t this one of the tertiary education institutions in great financial difficulties because it can’t collect fees from a large number of students? Fees which are unchanged from last year, thanks to a successful protest action. And also don’t they each year have far more applicants than places? So why spend money they don’t really have on this high profile marketing effort? Anyway thanks to DUT we see that the woman’s beach volleyball events will be on Supersport channel 5. How cruel is that for Bafana to draw Brazil in their opening game in Rio?
It is said that the dream of every Springbok rugby player is to be selected for the Lions.
James Greener
International Beer Day 2016