Rex Column 4 January 2016
Thinking about the Rand
What is top of mind when thinking about Rand prospects, near term and far? It isn't all daily randomness. There is structure, some of it obvious, some of it requiring more digging, giving us a better probability of getting the levels right where the Rand may be residing over time. Even if we cannot pin it down in the very short-term.
The Rand defines our relationship with other countries and systems. That has its own rules about what flies and what doesn't. It allows a sketch to be made of the main forces that drives the Rand over time.
Rex Column 28 December 2015
Great Global Consumer Adjust
It has been a momentous adjustment decade for consumers nearly everywhere, with heavy cyclical & structural overlays. It has been slowly ending in some regions, in the nature of a recuperation gradually nearing an end, while still deeply worsening in others via vicious, belated and often prolonged recessions.
All hope to escape this great adjustment by at least this decade end, resuming a more “normal” life trajectory in the 2020s. But before we get to that, there will still be a few tailends to be absorbed.
Rex Column 21 December 2015
The Rake’s Progress
by Cees Bruggemans words 700
The original Rake’s Progress (1733) was a set of eight paintings showing the decline & fall of Tom Rakewell, the spendthrift son & heir of a rich merchant, who comes to London, wastes all his money on luxurious living, prostitution & gambling, and as a consequence is imprisoned (Fleet Prison) and ultimately ending up in Bedlam mental hospital where he died (Wikepedia).
SA has also been following a Rake’s Progress of sorts, so far signposted by events marking our general social, and of late our economic, impoverishment. The racial repression of centuries, the sacrificing of our national finances & stability in the 1970s & 1980s, sacrificing the education of a lost generation since the 1970s, the casual acceptance of skill losses through early retirement & emigration in the 1990s and 2000s, spreading of corruption, the adoption of widespread patronage, the decay of infrastructure, the demise of our world class mining, the shrinkage into oblivion of our manufacturing base, the steady loss of business confidence & growth momentum, the jeopardizing of our country credit rating, the loss of nerve generally, except in elevated political & elitist circles fattening on patronage.
Rex Column 7 December 2015
Stealth policy & Evasive action
by Cees Bruggemans words 650
Warfare isn't what it just to be: trying to stay below the radar, out of sight (stealth); and refusing head-on engagement, preferring evasive action, doing things stealthily in return, giving pursuers the slip.
What applies to warfare, can also be observed in the SA policy stance, and the business response thereto. This way, one nearly sleepwalks into nothingness, a remarkable feat, but not one that gives the nation the results it is craving.
Rex Column 30 November 2015
SA (multi-year) Drought
After a few days of sporadic thunderstorms, and good rains in places in the interior (100mm in places) in mid/late November, it was back to dry hot weather in too many places. Despite hopeful statements that this may merely prove to be a late start to otherwise still normal rain year, we seemingly continue being confronted by hard-biting drought in far too many places, calling forth memories of 1992, 1982 and even earlier.
Large parts of KwaZulu-Natal are reportedly in the grip of their worst drought since 1900. It also raises the specter of multi-year general drought in SA, even on a par with a century ago (and experienced again for instance in parts of Aussie in recent years).
Rex Column 23 November 2015
SA economy labours on
by Cees Bruggemans words 730
Despite an electricity starvation diet, and deeply depressed commodity export Dollar prices, the SA economy did not get tempted by recession in 3Q2015. And this could well remain true in the 4Q15.
Rex Column 16 November 2015
The 2016 Crises
We are less than seven weeks away from Yearend 2015. What possible crises will 2016 offer us? It will not be a Chinese economic implosion. Or an Anglo-Saxon financial crisis repeat. Or another energy crisis (on its own). These are spent efforts. Instead, focus elsewhere.
Rex Column 9 November 2015
Weak data, Strong heart
The high-frequency data (monthly reporting cycle) keeps spewing distressing news. Business chiefs merrily keep globalising, pushed by stagnation prospects to find better growth alternatives elsewhere, pitching ever higher foreign shares of activity, earnings & capex budget allocations, only having foreign IPOs and transfer of head offices to sunnier business climes when properly ready (but soon often not being soon enough, going by the body language).
Yet the labour force is hanging in there, and those Chiefs not migrating (except towards the coast) are quietly carrying on with their daily lives, if truly need be getting by without effective government. Doing what is needed by own efforts.
Rex Column 2 November 2015
Growth in a Time of Strife 2/11
by Cees Bruggemans words 1200
You might think that at revolutionary moments like these all our clocks stop, all attention is absorbed by the revolution, and the economy grinds to a complete halt. Not quite, though.
Rex Column 26 October 2015
The Breadwinner’s Dilemma
It is every household’s challenge – how to economise in tough times. And the living nightmare of every kind of supplier of household goods & services, for who feels it first, how bad, for how long?