Business

Economics for ordinary people

I write a weekly economics preview for the Mail & Guardian Online. Every Monday morning, before South Africa’s markets open, I preview the noteworthy economic events and data releases likely to generate headlines and move markets in the week ahead. The economic events that I cover vary significantly from one week to the next. One…

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Christmas spending: where’s the money coming from?

Sandton City is a madhouse. The reports are disturbing: gaggling crowds of teens everywhere, shops heaving with bodies, zombies wandering from store to store, gift lists clutched in clammy hands. Some of my hollow-eyed acquaintances report that they didn’t even make it beyond the parking lot. Christmas is coming, and apparently South Africans are shopping…

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How to occupy the world

The leading tagline of the Occupy Wall Street movement reads: “Protest for world revolution.” This is an ambitious claim. In most respects it seems to ring quite true: the movement has successfully taken root not only in cities and towns throughout the United States but also in major urban centres around the world. On October…

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Are Christmas gifts just a horrible waste of money?

December is almost upon us and Christmas is less than a month away. Already the malls are heaving with hollow-eyed wrecks ticking off mental lists of people on their Christmas gift lists (some of them fantasising, no doubt, about bombing a place that approximates Dante’s fourth circle of hell). Ernst & Young is predicting a…

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Julius toppled by vaginas…and T-shirts?

Julius Malema has been toppled by vaginas and sexist T-shirts. Who would have thought that the posts that attract the most reads should be about plastic surgery for fannies (over 5 000, a record for me) and T-shirts bearing legends like “You looked better … from behind”. Admittedly, a lot of the comments would indicate that…

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Imagine your electricity bill went up 459%

You’ll often hear that renewable energy is a nice idea, but it’s simply too expensive to be a realistic option. The choice between burning coal and switching to renewable energy is said to be a simple cost calculation — one that coal wins every time. It’s the rationale for why Eskom is going ahead with…

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Here’s to South African creativity

So the announcement has finally been made: Cape Town is World Design Capital for 2014, ahead of Dublin and Bilbao. This is great news for creativity in South Africa. Cape Town has long focused on positioning itself as a creative hub — film, advertising, design — and this is paying off. It’s the kind of…

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Why I’m boycotting the Foschini Group

T-shirts that are offensive towards women, ignorant of the HIV/Aids pandemic in South Africa, or are simply offensive are a reflection of a culture that says we shouldn’t care about these things, because misogyny, HIV/Aids and women’s rights are not something to be taken seriously. When a major brand like Foschini chooses to produce shirts…

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Things aren’t alright

I’ve been writing for Thought Leader for roughly two years, and consistently on the same types of issues. I write about consumerism, “affluenza”, climate change, environmental degradation, oil and coal addiction, and the politics of eating meat — and after each piece, when I go through the comments, I’m left with the same overwhelming feeling:…

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Sweatshop sugar

When you pour a packet of South African-made sugar into your morning coffee, you can feel good about the fact that the workers who milled, refined, packed, and shipped it are paid relatively decent wages, enjoy basic benefits, and are protected against severe exploitation. In many respects, South African sugar is about as “ethical” as…

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