Friday, 26 May 2017


Nearly the only bellwether market indicator to be displaying any real activity at the moment is the dollar / euro in the favour of the euro. This gauge of investor opinion is hard to explain but foolish to ignore. It does suggest that the share market strength on Wall Street is largely domestic in origin though. Trump’s Grand Tour of the middle east and Europe clearly impressed only folk back home.
It is remarkable how similar the two narratives are. That President Trump of the USA will be impeached and that President Zuma of South Africa will stand down. Neither has the remotest chance of happening despite the loud and frantic insistence of the supporters of each proposal. The former was pretty fairly elected and believes he is doing what he promised his supporters. The second has a simple view that he is the chief and won’t shift until his tribe says so.
Time was when the sole people to post bulletins about what they were up to was the British royal family. A small framed notice on the railings at Buckingham Palace or a line or two in the Court Circular would tell the hoi polloi what they needed to know. Today nothing is too secret or irrelevant not to deserve a few hundred kilobytes on the internet. This is a very bad idea especially if you have no idea what you are doing anyway. The puzzling thing, however, is that even if later you blatantly lie about something you once proudly boasted about, no one is much concerned. The closest that any high ranking passengers on the state gravy train come to resigning in disgrace is to take unpaid leave.
The corruption and theft is now so open and organised that there is sufficient data available for an academic study to be carried out which confirms and details the huge extent of the condition. What a pitiful place we have come to.
So-called financial engineers are a very resourceful bunch. They use as many terms for describing a basic transaction as Brian Molefe has for not being at work. In essence every funding transaction however dressed up for tax or other purposes consists of a sum of money passing from A to B with the expectation that value in the form of repayments from B to A will take place in the future. The rights and duties of both parties vary enormously from deal to deal and importantly the consequences of a breach of any of these by either party is usually specified. The ratings industry has made a niche for itself in passing judgement on the likelihood of such a breach occurring.   This week we were introduced to the term “side pocket” to describe certain accounts used in the rehabilitation of African Bank who a few years ago were caught out when the people to whom they lent money, failed to repay it. This new term is both a noun and a verb and “to side pocket” sounds like a dubious practice but the story is that various players in the African Bank debacle are now reaching into these pockets and extracting previously stashed value. It seems somewhat like mining down the back of the sofa for coins and old potato and casino chips.
By the time you read this it will be too late for you to attend the public hearing at the Nelson Mandela Community Hall in Tarlton. If you like, however, there is another one tomorrow at the Sicelo Community Hall in Meyerton where you can catch up with what the Gauteng Economic Development, Environment, Agricultural and Rural Development Portfolio Committee has to say about the Plant Breeders Rights Bill and the Plant Improvement Bill. News like this makes one proud to be South African. Even our plants have rights and there are committees to look after them.
The Proteas, however, have some hard work ahead in England to restore their pride. Maybe the exceptionally lush greensward of the Headingly outfield distracted fellows more used to empty dams and parched crops. So many of our rugby players these days are too old, too young, broken or absent that assembling a team which will satisfy the millions of amateur selectors is very difficult. But the task is now done and all we need to worry about are the French who arrive next month. It is also worrisome that yet again the post office has failed to deliver my invitation to the Monaco Grand Prix.
James Greener
Friday 26th May 2017