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Rex Column

Rex Column                                                                             19 December 2016

Growing SA fruitiness    

by Cees Bruggemans          words 800

When does one harvest? Presumably not when under-ripe or overripe. Yet our SA wait in kick-starting the economy into high gear is getting long in the tooth, unlike elsewhere in the world where vroom-vroom action is taken.

Trumpian trumpets blasting it out (deregulation, tax cuts, infrastructure renewal and more, much more). The ECB quietly extending its bond buying in 2017, initially confusing markets (it will be less monthly) but then connecting joyfully (“skinnier for longer, with upside whenever required”!!!). China providing more support for infrastructure. In comparison, our belt tightening is downright self-flagellation. Could it turn out different as 2017 progresses?

Rex Column                                                                             12 December 2016

Hungrily awaiting 2017    

by Cees Bruggemans          words 600

That was a very poor start to the 4Q. RMB/BER business confidence down and still in dregs, the Barclays PMI remaining below 50 and FNB/BER consumer confidence still well below its long-term average. This besides car sales keeping declining, and mining and manufacturing taking another heavy dip.

Then again, the JSE All Shares showed great liveliness. Though hardly changed for the year overall, its components saw much change, with especially mining and financials favoured towards the end, reflecting global trends and us after all not being downgraded.

Rex Column                                                                               5 December 2016

A race for the finish line    

by Cees Bruggemans          words 800

SA is engaged in various races for the finish line, races in which the participants appear to be steadily losing energy even as the finish is coming into view. Will they collapse before crossing it, or pull through with their last remaining energy?

What am I talking about? Zuma, credit ratings and our balance of payments funding of course. Each in turn crucial to our collective well being. But each losing vitality, the longer and drawn out this Zuma interim is becoming.

Rex Column                                                                            28 November 2016

Growing distance     

by Cees Bruggemans          words 860

The Zuma era has something in common with the Trump era in America. A growing distance between major social/political blocs. In SA this concerns the traditionalist Zuma patronage network seeking to build its own economic dispensation free of western influence; and urban groups, constitution-based and rule-bound.

In the US, we get the Trump phenomenon, pre- as most as post-election, its conservative behaviour and what it stands for, as opposed to liberal, intellectual elitism refusing to treat the Trump phenomenon with respect or as authority, assuming it will fail and bring on disaster.

Rex Column                                                                            21 November 2016

Cometh the late hour…    

by Cees Bruggemans          words 630

A week before the rating agencies start their public pontifications about our net worth (investment grade or junk, it sounds so crass, nearly Trumpian), there was the first real hint of a labour market reform move (secret strike ballot, minimum national wage, phased in over three years), perhaps most unwilling in certain quarters, but force majeure and all that forcing the limp wrist.

There was also yet another hint all isn't well between government department and mining sector. It took a court last week to lay down the rule that officials shouldn't be overly trigger happy in imposing regulatory interventions & cause far too much lost mining production. And, of course, there is the mining charter which apparently just doesn't want to reach finality as especially the government argues right past the industry.

Rex Column                                                                            14 November 2016

World back on its feet?    

by Cees Bruggemans          words 880

I know it is ahead of its time. But with so many convinced about the slow pace of global recovery-cum-recuperation, inviting us to believe in structural stagnation forever, can't they be wrong about THAT as well?

Such growth stagnation affecting in differing ways various regions of the world, the general impression is still one of lack of confidence, underinvestment, slow productivity growth, chronic unemployment (in places) or only slow revival (in others), and yet others mired in indefinite misery, mostly of their own making. And trade growth having come to a near standstill. With fear of recession or debt bubbles collapsing remaining current.

Rex Column                                                                               7 November 2016

Confidence still key    

By Cees Bruggemans                    Words 1150

Last week provided strong proof of the strength of our institutions. The fraud case against the finance minister was withdrawn, and the court gave the green light for the State Capture report of the public protector to be released.

It was a week in which SA social and public media gave vent to their frustrations by focusing on anyone in authority trying to defend the indefensible. Thus Shaun Abrahams & Brian Molefe had to discover their cover stories were rejected, with scorn or heavy-handed humour, even when there was support for them from the ranks of the main political party.

Rex Column                                                                                 31 October 2016

Times aren't stagnant    

by Cees Bruggemans          words 950

Aside of collapsing car sales (AM amazed at levels of new car prices, but level of household uncertainty perhaps even more crucial in new purchase decision), start of rainy season in summer rainfall region (ending the drought, doubling the maize harvest or all as yet not a given, given the regular heatwaves?), and commodity prices well off their 2016 lows (though yet to be inked by major producers, all expecting some kind of relapse as global oversupply lingers), there is a lot more going on shaping us and our economy.

Say hello to another 45c/l petrol & 63c/l diesel price increase tomorrow. Also D-Day for whether we will see Thuli’s state capture report legally (with fangs) or leaked (without). On Wednesday, Gordhan’s spectacle takes flight, and director of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams crashes (if not already doing so today)? But there is more.

Rex Column                                                                                 24 October 2016

SA growth & inflation    

by Cees Bruggemans          words 880

It is an odd couple, SA growth & inflation. The one distinctly down next year, the other really not going anywhere except at the decimal-point level, provided we stay lucky (never a given). And SARB in the role of the unwilling bride…

The 3Q16 is going to be unimpressive growth-wise after an explosive catchup in the 2Q16 being mostly a base period recovery effect. Looking through it, the 2Q16 wasn't all that impressive. Only a depressed base helped.

Rex Column                                                                             17 October 2016

Things coming to a head?   

by Cees Bruggemans          words 1000

It looks like a very busy legal fortnight ahead, with frankly momentous implications for SA society and her economy if we understand the situation. Of course, not fully understanding the situation has happened before, and why would now be different? Still, the looming clashes have the air of wanting to cut Gordian Knots?

The battles are focused on Gordhan, Guptas, Thuli Madonsela, and the Zuma fall guys at NPA, with looming above them the August presence of our esteemed president, again residing somewhere else rather than home, with everyone meeting at court to get fresh instructions. This remains a working Democracy, rule bound by law, even if flaunted in the breach, an apparent “Indianisation” of critical processes with fascinating ramifications, depending on which ways cookies crumble.

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