Currency Comment: Welcome back

  • Imagine if you will…you are at the home of the prettiest/cutest girl in high school, her parents have gone out, the lights are off and just as you are ready for some quality time alone, her parents return home early, turn the lights on and…I leave the rest to your imagination.

    Of course, in my case, this never ever happened. Firstly I was at an all-boys high school, and secondly, I was such a halfwit that I would have been lucky to get a date with my best mates 3rd cousin twice removed. But I digress...

    This is similar to what happened at the ANC’s 110th birthday celebration. Some poor souls paid 1.2 million rand to be seated at the Presidents table. Except in this case the lights went out.

    Imagine…just as the conversation gets interesting and you were looking for a return on your 1.2 million rand “investment”, the star of the show had to be whisked away for security reasons when the lights went out.

    How deliciously symbolic of the rotten sandwich that has become the South African political and economic buffet table. Whether it was sabotage, or load shedding, or some local issue is of lesser importance. The symbolism is important.

    If this was the isolated event of the last couple of weeks, one could be excused for simply ignoring this, however, taken in conjunction with a massive fire in Parliament, and a significant event at the constitutional court just when justice Zondo was about to handover his State capture report, one has to wonder if these events have deeper significance.

    The President has spoken often about renewal and cleaning up and routing out the corrupt elements within the ruling party. He also in the past spoke enthusiastically about a new dawn, and performance management, and the 4th Industrial revolution. #justsaying…….

    Twenty twenty two promises to be a long year indeed, both domestically and internationally. And the Rand has begun the year in a spectacular display of multiple personality disorder.

    Last Tuesday it was easy for making a case for a weaker ZAR…Global bond yields were rising quickly and the Rand responded by weakening quickly to 16/USD and above. However, just when you thought the trajectory was easy to predict, the Rattler turned and chased all the bears away.

    It’s tough to see just why the Rand performed so well…except to say that exporters remain active. This even while there are warning signs flashing all over the developed world.

    Higher rates internationally pose a significant risk to emerging market currencies, and early signs are that bond yields may have reached a tipping point.

    Inflation has raised its head, and the US in particular looks underprepared for what is to come.

    Our trade and current account surplus do offer some protection, but other domestic factors are hardly encouraging.

    As the country returns to work after the December holidays, we can expect some pressure on the energy grid and  …..wash/rinse/repeat ….blah blah blah. No need to repeat the headlines of the last few years.

    For those only returning to work today - I wish you all a great year.