The quickly dimmed optimism of a New Year

The year is 2020 and South Africa had walked into the year with a historic Rugby world cup victory to be crown world champions. There was so much optimism and positivity in the air that the year was dubbed ‘Twenty-Plenty’!
Liverpool was well on its way to an undefeated league victory and Kaizer Chiefs had spent the entire season at the Top of the ABSA Premiership log table.


It didn’t take too long for this year to show us it’s true colours. On the 2nd day of the new year, Australia was rocked by bushfires that drove them to declare a state of emergency. The fires burnt more than 12.6 million hectares, caused the deaths of 33 peoples and over one billion animals. The event also led to the slowing down of the Australian economy.
In the middle of that frenzy, Donald Trump orders an air strike that led to the killing of General Qasem Soleimani in Iraq sparking talk of a potential war between the two states. Emerging market assets fell on the back of a risk-off sentiment as fears of imminent war between Iran and the US rose. Safe haven assets, including Yen and gold, rallied. Iran was not going to take this lying down and they decide to launch more than a dozen ballistic missiles in response to the killing of top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. They struck two bases housing US forces in Iraq however there were no casualties among the troops.  Safe-haven assets traded higher as tension between the US and Iran escalates. Oil prices climbed sharply on the back of supply cut concerns.


On the east side of Asia, something massive had been brewing that would change the course of the world and its plans for the year. Chinese officials notify the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the group of cases of a viral pneumonia of unknown cause that has been identified in Wuhan. On the 11th of January, China reported the first death from the novel coronavirus.  A 61-year-old man died after contracting the virus at the live animal market in Wuhan.


I do think that we have firmly reached the end of the road for those yielding sharp objects in the expectation of further rate cuts. The Governor himself mentioned that the QPM model as this stage is forecasting interest rate hikes going into the next year and the following.


Down here at the Southern tip of Africa we were still worried about the outcomes of the State Capture commission, a passenger economy and State Owned Entities that never came right regardless of the amount of money we threw in their direction. The SARB throws in their bit and announces a surprise 0.25% repo rate cut to 6.25% due to low inflation and a weak economy.


Four years later, the UK formally leaves the EU following the public vote held on June 2016.
The first Covid positive case is reported in the United States when a man from Washington is diagnosed with novel coronavirus after he traveled to Wuhan, and obviously not because of the first case in the US, China imposes strict lockdown in Wuhan impacting 11 million residents as it is identified as the epicenter of the virus. The World Health Organization selects COVID-19 as the official name for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. COVID-19 is an acronym that stands for coronavirus disease of 2019.


Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, six family friends and a pilot died in a helicopter crash.
Oh boy were they right… plenty came at us - very thick and fast… and it was only the beginning!