David Gracey

David Gracey

David Gracey

Head of Foreign Exchange and Fixed Income Trading

Eskom – the gift that keeps on giving

·        You may have noticed that I don’t provide commentary as often as I used to. After all, how many times can one describe the Rands manic/depressive behaviour in new ways to make it sound interesting?

·        How many times can one make fun of politicians and monetary authorities before it gets old and tired, just like the politicians.

·        Trump is gone, Biden sleeps most of the time, and CR remains “shocked”.

·        Currencies move up and down and Central Bankers are trained to sing from the same hymn sheet….Inflation is transitory, but not as transitory as it was a few months ago, and will be even less transitory in a few months time.

·        There are also only so many times one can extol the virtues of Bitcoin, and even as the price gyrates significantly, the bulls run riot as old school pundits remain resolute that there is nothing there…it’s a house of cards.

·        So the inspiration for interesting musings remains scarce.  

·        Like Shakespeare without Greek and Latin mythology, my pen remains poised, but motionless for lack of literal nutrition.

·        Except for Eskom……..the gift that keeps on giving. The giving of aneurysms, heart palpitations, apoplectic rage, and simple disbelief.

·        I recall when load shedding first raised its despicable head  some 13 years ago. We were then told that capacity was an issue because of years of stellar growth, and “minor” underinvestment. We were told that it would take a few years to be sorted. “Be patient please, we are experiencing technical difficultuies”

·        Almost a decade and a half later, and hundreds of billions of Rands worth of spend, and the situation is worse than ever.

·        Wet coal, broken bolts, the odd bout of sabotage, 9 CEO’s, 2 mega coal plants, and a war room that has not claimed a single victory, ever.

·        Where has all the money gone, what has been done, why are we still being dragged back into the stone age?  Questions and more Questions.

·        The situation is now so bizarre that former CEO’s are being pulled in front of the cameras to grace us with their wisdom.

·        The gall of some of these individuals is astounding.

·        And the Governments response is as perplexing. The President speaks about Eskom as if it’s a third party over which the Government has no accountability.

·        My head spins sometimes, but mostly I just feel anger. Anger at the ineptitude and disregard for the monumental mess up that has become Eskom.

·        The economic and social fallout is immense.

·        Never mind Covid…..Eskom is the real state of disaster. And frankly, Covid will be long gone, before Eskom travails ever end. 

 

    Therefore …

    our economy cannot grow

    we will not be able to pay down our sovereign  debt.

    Unemployment will not come down, and social anger will continue to proliferate.

    Our sovereign ratings will stay in junk territory.

    Kids will keep having to study in the dark for matric exams

    And on and on.

 

·        Our new Finance Minister delivers his Medium term budget this week, and there may be some good news WRT over recovery of revenue, and some underspend, but in the longer term he can forget about economic growth of any substance.

·        As long as we (public and corporate South Africa) rely on Eskom we will remain hostage to a power grid that is unable to deliver sustainable power.

·        The damage that has been done is now almost irreparable (in my opinion).  It does make you wonder about the long term prospects for our currency.

·        It’s time for a new deal.