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RECOVERY POTHOLES:

By: Darlene Creamer     25th February 2011 South Africa is still in recovery mode following its 2009 recession, and there is also no question that the road remains pockmarked with hazards. Growth is subdued, unemployment high, inflation rising, and there are also serious constraints as a result of persistent infrastructure and skills... 

RECOVERY POTHOLES:

TOLL TROUBLES

By: Darlene Creamer     18th February 2011 Gautengers – who have endured the torments and inconveniences associated with far-reaching, but ultimately welcome, highway construction over the past few years – are now entirely miffed by the prospect of having to pay for the use of these roads, as from June 23. The fight against the South... 

TOLL TROUBLES

TIME FOR CHANGE

By: Darlene Creamer     11th February 2011 The call for change in Egypt came under the spotlight last week. It gained scale and momentum as hundreds of thousands of protestors called for the immediate departure of President Hosni Mubarak, 82, who has occupied power since the 1981 assassination of Anwar el-Sadat. However, what form that... 

TIME FOR CHANGE

DEFLATING

By: Darlene Creamer     4th February 2011 The South African rand has fallen sharply from its highs of December 2010. Nevertheless, a number of heterodox economic commentators believe that the currency still remains too strong to place South Africa’s productive sectors on a competitive footing. However, whether South Africa should adopt a... 

DEFLATING

NATURE’S FORCE:

By: Darlene Creamer     28th January 2011 Whether it has anything to do with climate change or not, nobody can deny that the weather has been the biggest news story of the year so far. The flooding in South Africa and Brazil was devastating for many, if somewhat underreported. Indeed, the coverage given to the floods in Australia... 

NATURE’S FORCE:

FOOD PRICE RISK

By: Darlene Creamer     21st January 2011 As the global economic crisis began gaining traction, in there was much concern about the so-called ‘triple threat’ associated with rising fuel and food prices and the emerging financial crisis. During the Great Recession, food and fuel prices receded along with inflation more generally. But... 

FOOD PRICE RISK

TIME FOR WORK

By: Darlene Creamer     14th January 2011 2010 was a strange and fabulous year, with the FIFA World Cup being the obvious highlight. But it was also a highly disrupted year, owing partly to the football tournament itself, but also to a hostile labour-relations environment. Surely, 2011 has to be all about getting back to work in earnest... 

TIME FOR WORK

THE YEAR OF JOBS

     10th December 2010 During the recession of 2009, South Africa’s already unemployment-stressed economy shed nearly one-million precious jobs. The figure deteriorated further during 2010, despite a return to growth, with unemployment, even on the narrow definition, again breaching the 25% level. As we enter 2011,... 

THE YEAR OF JOBS

BAIL-OUT BACKLASH

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd December 2010 The protests were relatively modest. Nevertheless, there were still clashes outside Leinster House, the national Parliament of Ireland, after the government there formally applied for a multibillion-dollar rescue package from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). With... 

BAIL-OUT BACKLASH

IN THE MONEY

By: Darlene Creamer     26th November 2010 Party political funding is a problem the world over. But the decision by the African National Congress (ANC) to persist with its Chancellor House structure is not only inappropriate, but also increasingly embarrassing. The sooner the ANC disentangles itself from the business, which is simply too... 

IN THE MONEY

QE2 WAVES

By: Darlene Creamer     19th November 2010 There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth when the US Federal Reserve confirmed that it would be embarking on a second round of quantitative easing, or QE2, involving $600-billion. It was said that the effect on emerging-market currencies, including the rand, could be extraordinarily... 

QE2 WAVES

MANUFACTURING MALAISE

     12th November 2010 Despite all South Africa's noble policy intentions, the domestic manufacturing sector continues to struggle. While the key Purchasing Managers' Index, or PMI, edged higher in October, it stayed below the breakeven level of 50 points, while the jobs data are more than troubling. Finance Minister... 

MANUFACTURING MALAISE

LOAD-SHEDDING TAKE TWO

By: Darlene Creamer     5th November 2010 Both Eskom and the medium-term risk mitigation strategy warn that South Africa is going to be seriously power short in 2011 and 2012. The power utility anticipates that South Africa's shortfall could peak in 2012 at 9 TWh, the equivalent of 1 000 MW. The only way to avoid the pain is to pull... 

LOAD-SHEDDING TAKE TWO

CURRENCY WARS

     29th October 2010 The world over, authorities are doing what they can to weaken their currencies. Some, like the Brazilians and the Japanese, are actively intervening. Others, like the Chinese, are defending their decisions to keep their currencies from appreciating. Many, like South Africa, are simply victims of... 

CURRENCY WARS

MIXING IT UP:

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd October 2010 No doubt, the draft integrated resource plan, or IRP2010, will be heavily debated during the public hearings that will be held next month. But what is more or less certain is that coal, which has dominated South Africa's electricity generation landscape for decades, will begin to play a less... 

MIXING IT UP:

STEEP BOUNCE:

By: Darlene Creamer     15th October 2010 The strengthening rand has just about everybody worried, from the monetary authorities to trade unionists. But it is factory owners that are really battling to fend off the unit's steep rise. The September Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), which is seen as a key gauge of the outlook for... 

STEEP BOUNCE:

EXCITEMENT AND ANXIETY

By: Darlene Creamer     8th October 2010 There is undoubted interest in Transnet's branch-line concessioning process. Some 115 companies and individuals have registered their interest in the infrastructure, property and rolling-stock assets that could become available for private operation. However, there is also much anxiety about the... 

EXCITEMENT AND ANXIETY

PLUGGING LEAKS

By: Darlene Creamer     1st October 2010 Days after oil giant BP announced that it had finally plugged the Gulf of Mexico oil leak, African National Congress secretary-general Gwede Mantashe turned his attention to the governing party's own leak problem: the leaking of leadership discussions and decisions to the media. He said the... 

PLUGGING LEAKS

THE ALLIANCE KEEPS ROLLING

By: Darlene Creamer     24th September 2010 The infighting continues unabated. Rumours of recalls abound. And new camps are assembled and disassembled over remarkably short periods. But, until there is a viable political opposition, the ‘Alliance', comprising the African National Congress, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the... 

THE ALLIANCE KEEPS ROLLING

POWER CLOUDS GATHER

By: Darlene Creamer     17th September 2010 Although it may have felt like it, the power crisis actually never left us. If it had not been for the ‘breathing space' created by the 2009 recession, we would probably have had a far longer period of load-shedding. Well, the clouds are gathering yet again. The system, we are told, will be tight... 

POWER CLOUDS GATHER

ECONOMIC DECELERATION:

By: Darlene Creamer     10th September 2010 There are definitely renewed fears that the global economy seems to be losing momentum and there are fresh worries about the prospect for a double-dip recession. Perhaps, the policymakers, monetary and fiscal, will have to again begin emphasising stimulus over austerity. The problem this time... 

ECONOMIC DECELERATION:

STRIKE ESSENTIALS

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd September 2010 The public-sector strike once again shed more heat than light on the rules that should and shouldn't govern essential-service workers. While the right to strike is enshrined, it is surely no longer acceptable for those workers who quite literally hold people's lives in their hands to disregard... 

STRIKE ESSENTIALS

UNHEALTHY DEVELOPMENTS

By: Darlene Creamer     27th August 2010 President Jacob Zuma has done little to quell concern that moves are afoot to muzzle the media. In a recent online newsletter, Zuma asked: "Can a guardian (the media) be a proper guardian when it does not reflect the society it claims to protect and represent?" This red-herring-type logic is... 

UNHEALTHY DEVELOPMENTS

Calamitous Decline

     20th August 2010 The World Cup high sure didn't last long. We have lived through a whirlwind of destructive developments since July 11, which should have all of us more than a little concerned. As a publisher, we are naturally disturbed about the Protection of Information Bill, which could constrain our... 

Calamitous Decline

EVERY GRAM COUNTS:

     13th August 2010 As from next month, buyers of new passenger cars will pay a new carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions tax. It has been calculated that the tax will add around 2,5% to the price tag of a new car or bakkie. Last week, the automotive industry failed in its bid to persuade the National Treasury to exempt... 

EVERY GRAM COUNTS:

MORE LEAKS

By: Darlene Creamer     6th August 2010 Just as the Gulf of Mexico oil leak was being brought under control, President Barack Obama faced a very different kind of leak. A website known as WikiLeaks released thousands of secret documents painting a grim picture of the war in Afghanistan. The White House was particularly concerned that... 

MORE LEAKS

CAP-AND-TRADE BP STYLE

By: Darlene Creamer     30th July 2010 Embattled oil giant BP probably never dreamt that it would participate in a cap-and-trade system purely of its own making. However, having reported some success in capping the Gulf of Mexico spill in early July, it then set about trading oil assets to help pay for the clean-up. The group has set... 

CAP-AND-TRADE BP STYLE

VUVU CONFIDENCE

By: Darlene Creamer     23rd July 2010 Memories of the FIFA World Cup success will fade. But, hopefully, we will be left with a sense that South Africa is more than capable of dealing with complex challenges when it puts its mind to it, sets up the necessary supporting structures and dedicates the appropriate resources. Therefore, the... 

VUVU CONFIDENCE

COLLUSION CLEANUP

By: Darlene Creamer     16th July 2010 The Competition Commission and its commissioner, Shan Ramburuth, have successfully placed the cleanup of anticompetitive practices right at the top of corporate South Africa's agenda. The latest victory in this regard came last week when Sasol indicated that it would disinvest from certain... 

COLLUSION CLEANUP

WHAT NOW?

By: Darlene Creamer     9th July 2010 As the 2010 FIFA World Cup nears its end, there is much talk about post-tournament blues, especially for those who placed their personal and working lives on hold to gorge on the month-long football feast. For South Africa, as a whole, there is also likely to be a period of postmatch depression... 

WHAT NOW?

OVERREACHING?

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd July 2010 There is growing debate about whether the US government is beginning to cast such a big shadow on corporate America that it could result in dampening America's enthusiasm for business and enterprise. Interventions around the banks, executive pay and automotive company officials have been followed... 

OVERREACHING?

ANGER AND FRUSTRATION

     25th June 2010 ANGER AND FRUSTRATION: There is no question that President Barack Obama's had the toughest job on the planet even before the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico - now it's just tougher. Such was the build-up of anger and frustration that, by mid-June, Obama felt compelled to address the nation... 

ANGER AND FRUSTRATION

BEYOND THE RAINBOW

By: Darlene Creamer     18th June 2010 It's more than likely that, for many, the enduring memory of the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be how the country exploded into colour. It has been fabulous to see the flags along the highways, the colourful rearview mirror socks and the growing stream of yellow and green attire worn on the Fridays in... 

BEYOND THE RAINBOW

POWER SHIFT

By: Darlene Creamer     11th June 2010 Without the recently announced amendment to the Mozal aluminium smelter contract between Eskom and BHP Billiton, Eskom's financial results for 2009/10 would have been "a disaster", finance director Paul O'Flaherty reflected last week. The change means that the contract is no longer perceived as... 

POWER SHIFT

HOISTING RENEWABLES

By: Darlene Creamer     4th June 2010 It's not just that coal is dirty - it's also because coal-fired projects are slow. It takes years of planning, engineering and construction before a new coal station can deliver any energy. By contrast, renewable projects, particularly wind and some solar technologies, can be brought on line far... 

HOISTING RENEWABLES

DEBT CLOUDS

By: Darlene Creamer     28th May 2010 South Africa is entering a period of relative euphoria as the FIFA World Cup offers some economic and psychological respite from the usual flow of bad news. But there is a definite cloud forming over the world, and it does not have its genesis in the fire and ice of Iceland. Instead, the fallout... 

DEBT CLOUDS

THE SHAPE WE'RE IN

By: Darlene Creamer     21st May 2010 There was much optimism, at the start of the year, that the world economy was in full recovery mode following the ‘Great Recession' of 2008 and 2009. However, recent events in Europe have led to fresh doubts. There is now much talk of "double dips" and "inventory cycles". It's all very confusing.... 

THE SHAPE WE'RE IN

GULF OIL SPILL

By: Darlene Creamer     14th May 2010 BP America has been heavily criticised for its handling of a recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill, with its initial response, at least, having appeared wholly inadequate. Somewhat surprisingly, the oil super major's resources were also shown up to be insufficient to deal with what became an... 

GULF OIL SPILL

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