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WATER WARNING:

By: Darlene Creamer     20th July 2012 Last week’s intervention by the Gauteng North High Court – giving the Gert Sibande municipality 72 hours to provide 17 000 citizens of Carolina, in Mpumalanga, with potable water – is a timely reminder of the downside risks associated with failing to move assertively and decisively to deal with... 

WATER WARNING:

HEAT, DUST & . . . :

By: Darlene Creamer     13th July 2012 The mining investment community is none the wiser about the African National Congress’s preferred approach to the mining sector following the party’s policy conference in late June. Yes, nationalisation is off. But what exactly is on? The longer the uncertainty persists, the lower the... 

HEAT, DUST & . . . :

POLICY & POLITICS:

By: Darlene Creamer     6th July 2012 The African National Congress’s (ANC’s) policy conference threw up the usual contradictory mix of messages over the state of the governing party. For the cameras, it was all smiles and comradely backslapping. But the undercurrents of division, suspicion and position jockeying remained. As with... 

POLICY & POLITICS:

GROWING CASH PILE:

By: Darlene Creamer     29th June 2012 It was reported earlier this month that corporate South Africa’s deposits have swelled again and that they currently stand at more than R530-billion. Owing to the prevailing economic and policy uncertainty, firms are hoarding cash instead of investing. For a country with a serious growth and... 

GROWING CASH PILE:

COLD SHOULDER:

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd June 2012 The Walmart-Massmart merger aside, a number of Western diplomats, as well as some potential investors, are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with some of the rhetoric flowing from the African National Congress regarding future economic ties. Secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has been... 

COLD SHOULDER:

FISCAL CLIFFHANGER:

By: Darlene Creamer     15th June 2012 Concerns over the potential for a sharp fiscal contraction in the US from January 2013 – also dubbed the ‘fiscal cliff’ – are beginning to be raised more vociferously. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, among others, is urging the US government to move more gradually in... 

FISCAL CLIFFHANGER:

ARRAY OF HOPE:

By: Darlene Creamer     8th June 2012 There was much argy-bargy between South Africa and Australia ahead of the big Square Kilometre Array (SKA) siting decision. But now that a dual-siting choice has been made, it’s time to make science, and scientific collaboration, the real winner. We wish the teams on both sides of the Indian... 

ARRAY OF HOPE:

HUE & CRY:

By: Darlene Creamer     1st June 2012 From afar, the war surrounding Brett Murray’s display of political satire at the Goodman Gallery must appear more than bizarre. The context, however, is a country with a vicious history of racial repression and one where opinions are often still divided on racial grounds. But the threats of... 

HUE & CRY:

DEAD WRONG:

By: Darlene Creamer     25th May 2012 JPMorgan Chase CE Jamie Dimon admitted last week that he had been “dead wrong” to dismiss concerns about the US bank’s trading a month before posting a $2-billion loss. Stories began circulating in April of material credit derivatives market losses. Dimon initially dismissed the concerns as a... 

DEAD WRONG:

AUSTERITY SMACK

By: Darlene Creamer     18th May 2012 Voters across Europe made it plain this month that they are more than unhappy with the austerity programmes currently being implemented by their governments to deal with the sovereign debt crisis. In France, a new ‘growth first’ President has been elected, while in the UK the fiscal conservatives... 

AUSTERITY SMACK

STILL HOARDING

By: Darlene Creamer     11th May 2012 It emerged last month that corporate deposits in South Africa exceeded R520-billion in January, as companies decided to hoard cash rather than invest, owing to weak domestic confidence and ongoing global economic uncertainty. The figure is below its peak of about R540-billion recorded in... 

STILL HOARDING

DOSING DESIGNATIONS:

By: Darlene Creamer     4th May 2012 The Department of Trade and Industry has identified a list of more than 70 pharmaceutical products that could be designated for supply from local drug manufacturers for a two-year R2.5-billion oral solid-dosage tender. The pharmaceutical designations for local procurement by the public sector... 

DOSING DESIGNATIONS:

STATISTICAL BLINDFOLDS:

By: Darlene Creamer     27th April 2012 All of us agree that the competition authorities have done a tremendous job in clamping down on anticompetitive behaviour. Their high-profile actions against the steel, construction, airline, automotive, pharmaceuticals, telecoms, petrochemicals and food sectors have certainly helped South Africa... 

STATISTICAL BLINDFOLDS:

MIND SHIFT:

By: Darlene Creamer     20th April 2012 Until a few weeks ago, all things economic seemed to be going in the right direction – despite ongoing dire warnings from certain economists. Global markets had a great first quarter, the US seemed to be growing and creating jobs, and fears about a Chinese slowdown were downplayed. Then, the news... 

MIND SHIFT:

PUNCH DRUNK:

By: Darlene Creamer     13th April 2012 When hearing that a litre of petrol was poised to rise to close to R12 from April 4, some Gauteng motorists initially thought it was a cruel April Fool’s Day joke. But it wasn’t. Some are also still hoping against hope that the e-toll project will be abandoned later in the month. For some... 

PUNCH DRUNK:

BOOK BUILDING:

By: Darlene Creamer     6th April 2012 The immediate outlook remains horrible. But one of the highlights of the recent reporting season among South Africa’s listed construction firms was the steady growth reported in orders. Much of this increase also predates some of the workflow that could arise from the R845-billion public... 

BOOK BUILDING:

BREWING INFLATION:

By: Darlene Creamer     30th March 2012 Most economists still do not believe the South African Reserve Bank will move to raise interest rates any time soon. But governor Gill Marcus has cautioned that inflation pressures are becoming more broad-based and could reflect the emergence of demand pressures. How she will balance this threat... 

BREWING INFLATION:

MUTED APPLAUSE:

By: Darlene Creamer     23rd March 2012 There is little question that Eskom and the Department of Public Enterprises put in an extraordinary effort to help moderate the power tariff increases from April 1, 2012. For their labours, they deserve genuine praise. But the price shocks over the last few years have been dramatic and there is... 

MUTED APPLAUSE:

Syrian Siege:

By: Darlene Creamer     16th March 2012 Last week, people were fleeing the Homs suburb of Baba Amr, in Syria. As they fled, they related stories of serious atrocities by the security forces. It is difficult for the claims to be verified, but tales of summary executions and the cutting of prisoners’ throats are simply too horrific to... 

Syrian Siege:

ON THE ROAD AGAIN:

By: Darlene Creamer     9th March 2012 The opposition remains as vociferous as ever. But the Gauteng e-tolling project appears to be back on the road, literally, with the South African National Roads Agency Limited having received a R5.8-billion fillip from the National Treasury, which has enabled it to reduce the tariff to 30c/km,... 

ON THE ROAD AGAIN:

Mighty Smack:

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd March 2012 Perhaps the only hitting similar in its venom to Richard Levi’s record-breaking performance in Hamilton, New Zealand, was a smack dished out by President Jacob Zuma in response to some outlandish land claim comments made by his Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Deputy Minister Pieter Mulder.... 

Mighty Smack:

NO EASY ROAD:

By: Darlene Creamer     24th February 2012 The emphasis given to infrastructure development by President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation address has been widely applauded. But Zuma and his Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission have some way to go if they are to close a credibility gap that has emerged in the... 

NO EASY ROAD:

LAST NAIL, BUT . . . :

By: Darlene Creamer     17th February 2012 The African National Congress’s (ANC’s) long-awaited report into mine nationalisation may officially still be a ‘study without status’. But it most certainly can be seen as the beginning of the end for a policy proposal that would have been an ‘unmitigated disaster’ for the South African economy... 

LAST NAIL, BUT . . . :

MIND THE APP

By: Darlene Creamer     10th February 2012 In January, Apple launched its iBooks textbooks for the iPad tablet, leaving school authorities globally to consider whether or not to adopt such materials. Some South African schools have already decided to take the leap, with many of the early adopters being the more well-heeled independent... 

MIND THE APP

TURNING OFF THE TAPS

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd February 2012 Internal African National Congress politics aside, most South Africans are relieved that the National Treasury is finally taking active steps to deal with poor financial controls, fraud and corruption in Limpopo. It is unfortunate that the intervention has become politically tainted, which is why... 

TURNING OFF THE TAPS

Screeching Halt:

By: Darlene Creamer     27th January 2012 The proposed February implementation date for the controversial Gauteng e-tolling system was unceremoniously scrapped in early January by the newly appointed South African National Roads Agency Limited board. No promise was made about abandoning tolling entirely, though. Instead, the board said... 

Screeching Halt:

ENTER THE DRAGON:

By: Darlene Creamer     20th January 2012 The Chinese New Year, which will be celebrated on January 23, will herald the start of the ‘Year of the Dragon’ – one of the 12 animals featured in the Chinese zodiac. The dragon is considered especially auspicious and it is, thus, expected that many Chinese families may seek to bear a child... 

ENTER THE DRAGON:

SUNSET CLAUSE

By: Darlene Creamer     16th December 2011 As the sun sets on 2011, there is already an economic disclaimer attached to prospects for 2012 – and it’s not even in the fine print. Every newspaper, every economic commentator and just about every politician is warning that it’s going to be a tough year. The eurozone crisis will continue to... 

SUNSET CLAUSE

FEELING EMPOWERED

By: Darlene Creamer     9th December 2011 A total of 6 209 Kumba Iron Ore workers became pretax half millionaires last week, when the JSE-listed group paid out R2.7-billion as part of the first phase of an employee share ownership plan, or Esop. What is more is that all the beneficiaries are below the managerial level. The success of the... 

FEELING EMPOWERED

BLACKOUT TUESDAY

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd December 2011 There is no doubt that the Justice Portfolio Committee did some sound work in refashioning the Protection of State Information Bill into something that was almost acceptable.  

BLACKOUT TUESDAY

NATIONALISATION RIP

By: Darlene Creamer     25th November 2011 It seems the nails are finally being hammered into the mine nationalisation coffin. Not only does the proposed policy of nationalisation without compensation run counter to South Africa’s Constitution and the country’s prevailing mining legislation, but it is also hitting political and societal... 

NATIONALISATION RIP

TOLL TUSSLE

By: Darlene Creamer     18th November 2011 The fight over the implementation of the Gauteng toll roads entered a new phase last week. The Department of Transport and the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) seemed to be singing from the same hymn sheet in terms of the system going ahead. But the confusion caused by... 

TOLL TUSSLE

BUY SOUTH AFRICAN

By: Darlene Creamer     11th November 2011 Government, business, labour and community organisations signed a potentially far-reaching ‘buy local’ accord last week. An aspirational target of 75% was set for local procurement by government, State-owned entities and even business (but on a voluntary basis). Defining what exactly constitutes... 

BUY SOUTH AFRICAN

POLICY RESERVE

By: Darlene Creamer     4th November 2011 The headline from the latest Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, released by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan last week, was the rise in the deficit to help support the economy, which had lost momentum. But there was also a strong underlying theme of wanting to rebuild a fiscal policy reserve,... 

POLICY RESERVE

NO LIFEBOAT

By: Darlene Creamer     28th October 2011 A Nedgroup Investment report estimates that corporate deposits stood at a whopping R470-billion in June. But, given the prevailing uncertainty about prospects for the domestic and the global economy, there is little chance that this cash will be deployed as part of any countercyclical stimulus... 

NO LIFEBOAT

POWER DELAY

By: Darlene Creamer     21st October 2011 Eskom confirmed last week that the first unit at its 4 800 MW Medupi power station project, in Limpopo, may not be delivered by the end of next year as planned. Whether any delay will result in the lights going off or not will depend materially on the outlook for economic growth. Should South... 

POWER DELAY

TROUBLED TIMES

By: Darlene Creamer     14th October 2011 The news flow changes from day to day and markets are reacting, mostly negatively, to the slightest hint of possible new risks. Sadly, the double-dip threat appears increasingly real and the lack of clarity from the eurozone about how it plans to prevent Greece’s woes from spreading has done... 

TROUBLED TIMES

TURNING THE TABLES

By: Darlene Creamer     7th October 2011 For years, leaders in Africa, Asia and Latin America were forced to doggedly implement painful, sometimes poisonous, structural adjustment programmes to reduce debt and improve financial management. Now it’s the turn of leaders in Europe and the US to do likewise, the African delegates to the... 

TURNING THE TABLES

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