Economic review


Maputo has declared a state of debt distress. That country’s debt ratio is set to reach 113% (its Finance Ministry says 130%) of GDP this year.


Sub-Saharan Africa has performed well, economically speaking, over some 20 years. Now the IMF says that this region’s growth is set to slow down to 1.4% this year, with a modest recovery next year.


The cult of the financial guru: how many central bankers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

One: Greenspan holds the bulb and the world revolves around him.

It is reported that the pendulum is swinging back and that the awe in which persons, such as Greenspan, was held is waning. Reassuring but also not. At least one such as he could persuade us that one man could indeed save the world.


I was passed on a very interesting article on productivity; which leads to a discussion of arcane subjects such as Baumol’s cost disease. It deals with wages and the cost of low-productivity compared to a high productivity. Take a look:


Business review


Our Statistician-General, bless his soul, has spoken of the constipation of our tertiary education system. When one combines the total enrolment of new students in South Africa, we should have some 600,000 students in the system; yet there are 1 million enrolled. The difference appears to be owing to those students who cannot complete their degrees in the allocated time.

This same gentleman has proposed a tax payable by graduates once in work. I know that New Zealand has such a system in which the taxman deducts repayments directly off salaries once in work.


Christopher Marlowe will appear for the first time as co-author of Henry IV after a bunch of academics had concluded that Shakespeare must have collaborated with Marlowe in the writing of that play.


Scientists accidentally discovered that a very low voltage run through soda water converted the suspended carbon dioxide into ethanol. Almost-free fuel? Was this not known to whiskey drinkers?


Transport: the Dutch are set to install a plastic road comprising lightweight modules with hollow interiors that can be fitted with cables, pipes and the like. These roads will be recyclable at the end of their life-cycle and so on.

On the subject of transport, Geely, the owner of the Volvo brand, will be shaking up the market with a new offering sold as Lynk.  The intent is to cut out the distribution chain of vehicles, a luxury which adds some 25% to the total cost of a vehicle.


Discovery will be setting up its own bank shortly.


Blackness as commodity: increasingly black persons are offering themselves for fronting purposes. As with anything, if there is a market….


Property review


“Interprovince relocation” is the phenomenon which is said to account for the astonishing buoyancy of Western Cape property prices. Property prices, generally speaking, are holding at just above our inflation rate, owing to the demand for housing outstripping supply. This in turn is caused by rapid urbanisation and the slowing of supply.

At the same time it is reported that the value of approved building plans has declined. Wait for it: this is an ever-repeating cycle – prices drop, fewer houses are built, demand arises, prices go up, more houses are built et cetera.


A new house will cost you 25% more than an existing one.

Statistically, urban land values have been escalating faster than improved property values (at some 10%).


In Gauteng house price growth in the 3rd quarter has slowed to 2.1%.


First-time house buyers are generally in the late 20s with household incomes of between R25-R35k. Demand in that sector has risen quite strongly, despite home loan advances to such applicants dropping in real value.


Practice review


Our NPA is engaging in the ever-increasing desperate behaviour to gather evidence against our Minister of Finance. Mr Abrahams will shortly ponder the difference between breaking the law and committing a crime.


It is reported that president Zuma has announced his intention to suspend NPA advocates Jiba and Mrwebi. Eventually.


"You seem to have more than the average share of intelligence for a man of your background,

"sneered the lawyer at a witness on the stand.”

"If I wasn't under oath, I'd return the compliment," replied the witness.


A scorching, if over the top, comment on advocate Abrahams can be found here:


I hold an article by Prof Locke on the capacity and representation of special purpose companies. This is not for the uninitiated. Ask me for a copy.




The fact is that the (tertiary education) system is constipated, costly, inefficient, ineffective, wasteful in short and cannot just breathe. Pali Lehola


Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions. Their lives a mimicry. Their passions a quotation. Oscar Wilde




Ashes to ? The Catholic Church does not recommend cremation but, if this must be, has directed that the conservation of ashes should be kept in a sacred place and not scattered to the wind. TIA; we plant people anywhere!


Lighten up


*  Vriendin: 'Weet jou nuwe vriend hoe oud jy is?'  'Ja, gedeeltelik.' 


De joviale directeur tegen een van de bedienden: `Zozo, gelukkige vader, u hebt er dus een erfgenaam bij.´  `Erfgenamen kan ik me helaas niet veroorloven, mijnheer de directeur, alleen kinderen.´   


I’ve been so busy, I didn’t even have time to cook for my kids. I don’t wanna say we go out a lot, but I’ve noticed that lately when I call my kids for dinner, they run to the car. Julie Kidd


On the Irish: let’s be honest: isn’t a lot of what we called tap dancing really just nerves? Handy.