Posted inMedia

Truth, lies and scepticism in the media

I approach writing that finds news media fallen from grace into the gutter with deep suspicion. There never was a golden age of journalism, and each generation feels its problems to be unique. A new book by UK journalist and documentary-maker Nick Davies about the defects of global news media has some of this, to […]

Posted inBusiness

Keep it real

As Louis Gossett Jr advises in the Windhoek ads, “Keep it real”. When it comes to interest rates and alcohol, real is better. So forget about inflation-targeting. Let’s have a new target: a positive real interest rate of say 3%. What this simply means is that if inflation is 14% then the Reserve Bank’s influential […]

Posted inNews/Politics

Big man, big cabinet

Is the enlarged South African cabinet, announced by President Jacob Zuma, too big? Perhaps, but not much more than many countries. If South Africa is suffering from cabinet minister inflation, so is the rest of the world. A glance at the number of cabinet ministers in a range of countries, some in the developed world, […]

Posted inBusiness

How not to report on economic matters

An article that damns South Africa as the riskiest of emerging market economies is a good example of how not to write about economics for a popular journal. The Economist article, titled Domino Theory, published on February 26, used several indicators to compile a ranking according to risk. These seemed mainly to be taken from […]

Posted inBusiness

No sympathy for estate agents recently ran a story on its website that South Africa’s property industry has already lost 55 000 registered estate agents out of 90 000 as a result of the weaker housing market. As interesting as the story were the comments left on the web page by readers: Stan About time, with their exorbitant commission at 7% […]

Posted inBusiness

How bad is the global economic crisis?

Headlines from the Financial Times, February 21: Markets tumble amid fears over banks Investors flee to gold and government bonds 19 000 Anglo American jobs to go Saab files for bankruptcy protection Eurozone lurches deeper into recession Other headlines Soros sees no bottom for world financial “collapse” — Reuters Roubini says crisis end distant — […]

Posted inBusiness

The crisis: get a grip

A phrase that seems to be cropping up lately is, “It may not technically be a recession, but it doesn’t matter whether it is or not, it feels like one”. Well, recession for me means an actual contraction in the economy as a whole. We are either in it or not. What worries me is […]

Posted inBusinessNews/Politics

How credible is the cut?

For those prepared to listen, it was a mini-lecture on monetary policy. And more entertaining than lectures on monetary policy tend to be. The occasion was the press conference the Reserve Bank governor gives to explain the reasons for decisions of the committee that decides on interest rate policy. Tito Mboweni was explaining on Thursday, […]

Posted inNews/Politics

Is the end of the equity cult nigh?

A deep and cold current of fear running through the markets right now is something market commentators will avoid speaking about openly. I’m not referring to the credit crisis and widespread recession. That is worrying enough. I’m talking about the meltdown of stock markets themselves. Markets rise and markets fall, and then rise again. The […]