It’s been a wild week in the wacky world of international finance.
No sooner had Moody’s adjusted our financial health outlook from stable to negative (with the very real prospect of junk status looming) than billions of rands of new investment came pouring into the country. Or that’s how it appears to have been reported in the mass media.
Mind you, one must take with a large fistful of salt the sort of stuff one reads on News24. For example, last week they excitedly reported that the sale of some Olivia Newton-John memorabilia had raised an astonishing R35 billion, with the black jacket and tight pants she wore for the song ‘You’re the one that I want’ netting a cool R59 million at auction.
Given the apparent huge popularity of used clothing on the world auction market, one wonders if we shouldn’t follow Olivia’s example and shove a couple of Madiba’s old shirts into the next auction catalogue. We would be well on the way to bailing out Eskom with any luck.
Of course, the sale of ON-J’s memorabilia didn’t raise anything like the $2.4 billion that News24 claimed. Someone obviously had a problem with converting dollars to rands – but that’s what happens when you leave these matters to the staff at W24, the sort of people who have body piercings and strange hair colouring. Odd that a sub editor didn’t notice it, though, but full marks for later correcting it to R5.9 million after I mocked them on Twitter. Unfortunately they still insisted that R35.4 billion was raised in the auction, but I guess there’s only so much good advice that News24 is prepared to accept from a toxic white male. They would no doubt call it ‘mansplaining’.
But back to the good news, and I have to say that after the many decades I spent messing around in the financial markets this is the first and only time I have seen bad news prompt a buyer’s feeding frenzy. One might expect some buying interest when a stock like Steinhoff plummets in price, but that is generally from the sort of uninformed investor who believes that when a stock loses 95% of its value the next move must be up. Dead-cat bounces (as they are known) are no great guarantors of wealth creation.
However, international investors aren’t stupid and if they are suddenly prepared to pledge what our friends at News24 called a ‘R363 billion investment haul’ then clearly they know something the rest of us don’t.
According to an article by Ferial Haffajee, the person who has pulled the bunny out of the hat isn’t actually Cyril, it’s his hand-picked economic adviser Trudi Makhaya. Her massively impressive CV indicates that this is one of those rare examples where somebody has been appointed to a position on merit. That’s a strange thing indeed for the ANC, who much prefer employing complete incompetents under the guise of cadre deployment.
Oxford educated, Makhaya has an MBA and an MSc and quickly rose through the corporate ranks at AngloGold Ashanti and Genesis Analytics. This would suggest that anything she may have to say concerning the economy will fly way over the heads of people like Gwede (Tiger in the bedroom) Mantashe and the lamentable bunch of commies who have been dragging the economy into the mire for the past 25 years.
The question has to be, is this all about to change? Will Trudi be able to persuade the unions to give up the jobs they should never have had in the first place at Eskom? Will she be able to convince these new investors that they will have adequate supplies of electricity and water when they set up these exciting new job-creation factories? What about the labour laws? Will the new investors be happy to be told who they have to employ and how much they have to pay them, I wonder?
Another point is, at what stage does a ‘pledge’ turn into hard cash and job creation? I have in the past been an auctioneer at a couple of charitable events and it’s amazing how generous people can be when they have a few drinks inside them and want to upstage the guy at the next table. But trying to get the money out of them isn’t always quite so easy. That signed Bafana Bafana shirt doesn’t seem such a great buy at R15 000 at the end of the evening; particularly if you have to explain your folly to the MD the next morning.
Finally, it has been suggested by some malcontents on social media that this isn’t all new investment. Much of it had reportedly been in the pipeline for some while and has just been resurrected as part of the feel-good factor for the conference. Whether or not that’s the case, though, is irrelevant. What matters is the truth and South Africans have become so used to being fed utter bullshit by the ANC that this curiously timed tsunami of good news seems very suspicious. As one well respected African Twitter commentator wrote, ‘…since the last investment drive, our economy lost more jobs and unemployment levels increased to highest levels since the dawn of democracy’.
South African voters are fed up with ANC lies. So tell us how much is coming in and from where, how many jobs will it be creating and how will the government be supporting this investment initiative. Oh….and, since you have form in such matters, you might like to mention any onerous quid pro quos and kickbacks involved.
The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the IRR.
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