Friday, 18 May 2018


The two global indicators which are steadily climbing without much pause or interference are commodity price indices and US long bond yields. Indices of course conceal slight underperformers if there are bigger out-performers in the same index. This is a particular problem on the JSE where a very skewed mix in size, quality and number of listed shares in various of the sectoral, and even overall indices, is causing mismatches between individual portfolio performances and the “market” performance.  The US rate thing is very interesting as it may at last be reflecting more actual market sentiment and less “official” manipulation through infamous programs such as “quantitative easing” .
President Cyril seems to have led a rather low-key but very important purge of the dangerously incompetent provincial leadership of North West province. This provides a glimmer of hope that he is planning similar coups in all the other areas in which his predecessor poisoned the wells and laid booby-traps. Is there any state agency, department or enterprise which does its job quietly, honestly and efficiently?
This week we were told that there are 9 481 million people unemployed. Who at the Union Buildings who even reads these statistics? We do know, however, that the fog of socialist dogma enables everyone to deny any link between their outdated and disproven theories and these utterly dreadful numbers. Hopefully the tiny spark of excitement in noting that the number of “discouraged job seekers” declined from 15474 to 15320 and the awful phrase “income-shy” are products of poor journalism and not official pronouncements.
The national airline SAA is irredeemably broken with yet more news of even more money that will be needed just to keep the lights on for a few more months. SAA’s plaintive whine that already their current budgeted income and expenditure numbers are awry because key assumptions and initiatives failed to materialise is actually quite funny.
The upturn in the frequency and ferocity of attacks on those armoured vans which are used to carry and deliver cash is extremely alarming. It is obvious and indeed proven that many of the perpetrators are members of either the police or army and are proficient in the use of tactics and munitions. That makes it very difficult to stop and so one wonders whether urgent attention is being given to move South Africa towards a cashless society. The facts about which nations have made how much progress with such plans are very interesting and even Kenya is already some way down the road. But banning, for example, any cash transaction above a really quite low level, like a few thousand, as is done in many European countries, will be deeply unpopular among the very many tax evaders that walk our streets. But it would reduce incidents such as took place this week in the forecourt of a Durban hospital where a gent with “enough cash to buy a car” was shot at and robbed. Reducing cash usage will also require our banks to get far less greedy about the fees charged for operating simple accounts and debit cards. On consideration, these conditions are unlikely to be met in a hurry and so it does seem that cash-in-transit heists will continue to be a growth industry for a while yet. Pity.
Apparently, most TVs will tomorrow be tuned into watching broadcasts from London sporting events rather than Super 15 which, if the press is to be believed, is a competition in poor health. Some of the blame for this is being put on poor refereeing, an ill which could be quickly solved by putting the chap from the end of the bar in a mauve shirt and handing him a whistle. Actually, just about anyone with a beer glass, who has never read the Rugby Laws and once played lock in the school U15 B team think they do a better job than the man (and even sometimes a woman) out there on the field. What’s on in London? A wedding (royal) and a soccer match (final).
James Greener
Friday 18th May 2018 (International Museum Day)