David Gracey

David Gracey

David Gracey

Head of Foreign Exchange and Fixed Income Trading

Woke or Broke?

• Last night I enjoyed a lovely dinner with some friends at a nice, if somewhat pricey seafood restaurant here in Johannesburg. I think the fish cost a little more than the boat used to catch it, but I digress.

• Our group chatted about this and that – politics, sport, economics and other topics were all on the agenda and it was a great evening. 

• You may be wondering if this commentary has suddenly turned into food channel. Not so.

• At the end of the dinner one of our friends children called. He is based in Europe for studies and he informed us that news had broken that some Russian missiles had fallen into Poland and had killed 2 people.

• Poland is a member of NATO and thus the Ukraine conflict immediately escalated a few notches.

• Extremely concerned for the fate of the world I immediately checked the value of my currency portfolio which was of course underwater because, amongst the plethora of market moving factors, I had failed to anticipate the fact that Russia, whilst getting a red haired step child beating at the front, would lob a few hundred missiles deeper into Ukraine, some of which would miss their intended target and land over the Poland/Ukraine border, thereby threatening to ignite World War 3.

• When we got home I was able to access the news channels which were obviously filled with news and commentary about Putins mad gamble.

• Everyone had suddenly become a geopolitical expert and various “solutions” were suggested. These views quickly reaffirmed my view that the world is a confused mess.

• Thus this morning’s rant as opposed to my usual measured commentary.

• There was a time in the early 90’s that the world seemed a much simpler and better place. The Berlin wall had fallen along with Communism. Apartheid had been abolished, and aside from a few hotspots in Yugoslavia and Africa everyone was cooperating and friendly. It was even hard to differentiate between the Republicans and Democrats in the US. China had moved on from Mao’s idiotic despotic rule and by and large the global community was on a new path.

• What happened?

• In amongst all of last night’s news was the confirmation that the Donald Trump had decided to run for President again in 2024.

• This made the MAGA brigade very happy. If we are honest though, his previous tenure in the white house had done nothing to make America great again. He had however succeeded in making America angry again. Perhaps his new slogan should be MAAA.

• What was slightly more alarming than the actual news was the polarized viewpoints that this confirmation had elicited.

• It raised the question – why are voters so very stupid? 

• I often use this forum to poke fun at our global leaders, but in truth, it’s the voters that should be pilloried.

• It seems that there is no longer a place for moderates in today’s world. There is no longer intelligent debate that takes place. Social media is a place for extremists and lunatics. And it spills over into the real world.

• And don’t for one moment think that it’s only the MAGA’s that are a little loopy. The blue side of the fence is as extreme in its wokeness.

• I am all for equality and social awareness, I think it’s a great thing. I am a “live and let live” kind of guy,  but the amount of energy that is spent on silly issues is mind boggling. 

• Populism is on the rise, but the difficulty is trying to decide whose populism is the right kind.

• On the one hand you have the nationalists like Trump and Putin and Orban and Erdogan, and on the other, you have the inclusionists and woke army. 

• And as a result the middle ground is swampy and uncomfortable and feels quite lonely.

• And in the meantime there are very real issues facing the global community. Issues that require dialogue and compromise. Climate change, global debt, poverty, war – are all major challenges.

• Yet we spend most of our time arguing about our individual positions in the world.

• It’s no different here at home – our voters stick to their positions regardless of all the evidence available that our political landscape and policy choices are slowly leading SA down a very slippery slope.

• But there is very little evidence that you can change people’s mindsets, and so the more things change the more they stay the same.

• Today NATO  will convene a special sitting to decide on its response to the Russian missile attack. This is what Article 4 of the NATO constitution demands. 

• Article 5 states that when a NATO member is attacked a military response is required. 

• What is required is cool composed minds. Some kind of response from Nato is guaranteed, but this is an extremely sensitive situation.

• In a world filled with extremist experts………[insert your own opinion here]