Monthly Archives: January 2014

Interesting Interest Rate Hike

The unexpected has happened. Worried about inflation, with an eye on the weak rand and the rate of capital outflows from ZA, the Monetary Policy Committee of the Reserve Bank has raised ZA interest rates by 50 basis points. Governess Gill Marcus said that it had not been a unanimous decision – two of the committee had wanted to keep rates steady. However, with Turkey, Brazil, India and elsewhere in a rate rising rally, she and her team clearly decided it was wise to jump in. And the scale of the hike – twice the 25 basis point increase that might have been chosen – also sent a message. These people have a mandate to manage inflation, inflation is forecast this year to jump above the 3% to 6% target band, and the Reserve Bank must not hesitate to act.

The move will be welcomed, of course, by those in a comfortable financial position, who will enjoy better returns on their deposits. However, it can only act as a dampener on the property market.

Here is what Pam Golding Properties’ Dr Andrew Golding sad to say:

“While inflationary concerns and global economic impacts remain in the spotlight, the Monetary Policy Committee’s stance to increase the repo rate was unexpected, particularly given the sluggish economic growth currently experienced in South Africa. Despite this, the residential property market continues to reflect increasingly positive market sentiment and activity, fuelled by the fact that the market – including both buyers and sellers – has realigned itself in accordance with current trading conditions and the more exacting bank lending conditions required of purchasers.”

Conclusion:

More reaction will continue to pour in, but for now I can just worry that the disposable income of millions of South Africans will continue to shrink – with high food inflation, rising motoring costs and now higher monthly payments on home loans, car loans, credit card balances, overdrafts and so on. And today’s interest rate hike may not be the last…..


Investment Solutions Suggests that The Rand Might Fall Further

With the Reserve Bank meeting the media this afternoon to announce if there will be a change in interest rates, and a growing expectation that there may be a hike this year, Investment Solutions has raised the possibility of the rand slipping further – to as low as R13 to the dollar. Chief Investment Officer Glenn Silverman told a media briefing this morning that the global environment will “swamp” domestic influences, and we should be focused on what happens in the US. He is predicting that as there is a slowdown in the pumping of money into the system by the US Federal Reserve– known in the jargon as tapering – there could be a fall of 10% to 15% in the S&P 500, which might be expected to lead to a similar slide on the JSE. However, he argued that the rand might act as a “shock absorber” for the JSE, weakening to cushion the impact. In such a scenario, we might see the local currency fall to around R13 to the dollar. However, Silverman believes it could be a year of two halves, and following a possible decline in the rand in the first half of 2014, it could revive to around R11 to the dollar in the second half. “It may go down first, and then up later,” he suggested. Investment Solutions’ Market and Research Analyst Brad Fainsinger had earlier given the results of the multi manager’s survey of 20 top-rated ZA fund managers about their outlook for this year. This revealed that they expect a rise in global growth, leading to a 2.5% to 3.5% rise in ZA GDP. Inflation could break out of the 3% to 6% target range, coming in at between 6% and 7%, and there is also an expectation that interest rates will be hiked this year. (Ignore this last bit if you are reading ZA Confidential after this afternoon’s announcement from the Reserve Bank and they surprised us all with a hike…..). The fund managers expect the rand to return to a R10 to R11 to the dollar range. The fund managers expect a rise in the JSE all share index, although they anticipate a slowdown on the rates of growth of recent years. Resources are the most favoured sector, and industrials the least favoured. However Fainsinger pointed to a big contrast within resources, with gold being least liked of any sector and platinum shining through as the most favoured.

Tweets of the Day:
Funny Tweets (@iQuoteComedy): Me a nerd? Haha no, I’m just making sure I don’t end up working at McDonald’s with you in the future.
Politics & Law (@PoliticsL): Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks. Doug Larson
Mark Twain (@MarkTwainQuote): Familiarity breeds contempt – and children.
Lee Mack (@LeeMcKillop): How does that old saying go???? If you can’t beat them…………what’s the point in having kids….

ZA Confidential will soon be available in full only to those who subscribe. For details on subscription rates, please contact: zaconfidential@gmail.com. Media releases, invitations to presentations, and feedback on ZA Confidential can also be sent to the same address. Add some gravitas to your conference or event by hiring ZA Confidential Editor John Fraser as a speaker or MC. Follow us on twitter: @ZAConfidential and/or John on @clasfras1


Die Vine Intervention Altydgedacht Pinotage 2011

For our latest Die Vine Intervention podcast we taste a fruity red, the Altydgedacht 2011 Pinotage.
And we discuss whether pinotage might lead the branding and marketing of ZA wines. With guru Michael Olivier and guests Jeremy Sampson and Chris Gilmour. On http://www.zaconfidential.com


Davos Doubts

I was chatting this morning over a coffee with one of SA’s black diamonds – a highly successful businessman who has run some pretty important companies. You would recognise him if you saw him. He reminded me that when we chatted a few months ago, he had predicted the rand would continue weakening and the economy would be in trouble. Now he is predicting that it will be difficult for South Africa to avoid some pretty nasty unrest, as actual food inflation climbs, eroding the spending power of the people. He is also not convinced that the current leadership is capable of doing much about all this. We also chatted about Davos. Now I am sure there are benefits for seven of our ministers if they go to this global event and network away and get a better perspective on the world. But they are also justifying the trip by trying to sell government’s National Development Plan, to convince the world we are the place to do business. As my pal suggested, they haven’t had a lot of
success pushing the investment case within SA – witness last year’s cold feet (or should that be cold tyres?) by BMW. Nonetheless the TV and radio networks are full of chummy interviews with normally aloof and inaccessible ministers, who gush in their belief that they are doing an important job in convincing the world that SA is an ideal investment destination. Who is their audience, really? Those listening to the interviews and reading the reports back in SA, or the global business leaders? It is hard not to be cynical as we approach an election. I suspect a lot of taxpayers’ money is being spent (and I have no clue of the extent to which ZA media presence at Davos is being subsidised by Brand SA or other state bodies) to put forward an image. That we have impressive politicians, at ease with the world’s political and business elite, and they are doing a far better job in Switzerland than they would if they were back home attending to the sinking rand, a labour
crisis in the mining industry, a power utility which is urging its customers not to use much of its product, and traffic lights in Sandton which still don’t work. I hope I am wrong. I hope the Davos dividend is massive. But I am not holding my breath.

Tweets of the Day:
Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow): What do you get when you cross a parrot and a lion? I don’t know, but when it talks, you’d better listen. #ClassicJokeWednesday

ZA Confidential will soon be available in full only to those who subscribe. For details on subscription rates, please contact: zaconfidential@gmail.com. Media releases, invitations to presentations, and feedback on ZA Confidential can also be sent to the same address. Add some gravitas to your conference or event by hiring ZA Confidential Editor John Fraser as a speaker or MC. Follow us on twitter: @ZAConfidential and/or John on @clasfras1


Ellies Stumbles

On the face of it, electronics manufacturer and distributer Ellies had some pretty poor results for the 6 months to October, with revenue down 3.8%, earnings a share down 40.7%, and the loss of an important Eskom contract. However, ZA Confidential went to the company’s Johannesburg analyst presentation to try to get a better feel for how things have been going…. CEO Wayne Samson said that the underlying consumer and infrastructure businesses have been growing well. He says the company is working hard on keeping up sales to consumers at a difficult time. Meanwhile, the weak rand has been forcing up costs, and these are now being pushed through to retailers. He says the Ellies brand has been built, and there is a lot of in-store presence for their products. However, there is a big challenge with a lot of competing unregulated “illegal” products on sale in some ZA retailers. The regulator appears not to be doing much to tackle these cheap imports from China. “We spend a fortune on tests and approvals and for other guys to come in without doing this is not a level playing field,” Samson complained. Ellies has cut its own HQ office electricity costs from R250 000 to R150 000 a month – and offers a service to other companies to help them do a similar job. “We have invested a lot in R&D. Most products are designed in-house. With the rand where it is at the moment, it makes sense to manufacture locally,” Wayne said. He noted there are a number of energy projects in the DRC. What do our experts make of it all?

Simon Brown from justonelap.com:
Weak results, which were telegraphed by CEO Wayne Samson at the last set of results – revenue was off 3.8% while HEPS fell just over 40%. The consumer segment under pressure with the weak rand hurting costs – the impact of which has not been fully passed on to consumers, and hence the company saw a shrinking of margins. The new OpenView HD launch was delayed so only accounted for a few weeks in these results while DDT is still not rolling out, albeit likely to start this year. Overall nothing special in the results, but equally no horror stories – with the second half of the year likely to remain tough.

Ian Cruickshanks from the SAIRR:
My initial shock at a substantial profit drop was partially offset by Wayne Samson’s confident presentation on the handling of the setbacks, which included the non-recurrence of the Eskom project. However, fears remain on Ellies’ large exposure to foreign exchange, with rand positions only 50% hedged (Wayne’s comfort level). However there remains a 50% high-risk discomfort level. Their strategy of big investment in R&D is likely to bring results in both domestic markets, and in exports. Their commitment to hydroelectric projects in the DRC is likely to bring good returns in the longer term.

Conclusion:
There remains enough entrepreneurial vision and solid business brains within Ellies to keep me on-side, even though the numbers did look a bit disturbing. I just think that a company with such diversity, and a commitment to green energy, has to prosper. Nice to see, too, their efforts to build in the rest of Africa.

Tweets of the Day:
Hazel Porter (@michowl): I named my WiFi after my last boyfriend because it’s never fully connected with me. And also because I caught my neighbour using it.
Funny Tweets (@Funny_TweetsQ): There’s an app on my phone that makes me look fat. It’s called camera.
Best Jokes (@best_jokes): “Doctor! Doctor! I feel like a pack of cards!” “Sit down and I’ll deal with you later.”…. #cards
Funny Tweets (@iQuoteComedy): My girlfriend told me to go out and get something that makes her look sexy….. I came back drunk.

ZA Confidential will soon again be available in full only to those who subscribe. For details on subscription rates, please contact: zaconfidential@gmail.com. Media releases, invitations to presentations, and feedback on ZA Confidential can also be sent to the same address. Add some gravitas to your conference or event by hiring ZA Confidential Editor John Fraser as a speaker or MC. Follow us on twitter: @ZAConfidential and/or John on @clasfras1
The Business News you can’t afford to miss.


Die Vine Intervention: Durbanville Hills Sauvignon Blanc

Michael Olivier introduces a youthful and refreshing 2013 Durbanville Hills Sauvignon Blanc to Chris Gilmour, Jeremy Sampson, Malcolm MacDonald and John Fraser.

The panel also discusses the recent surge in ZA wine exports – a real achievement, or the bulk dumping of plonk?


Does a Weak Rand Make Us Strong?

One of our most respected economists Mike Schussler wrote an excellent piece on Moneyweb about the weak rand, pointing out – among other things – that it has not stimulated exports to the extent that might have been expected. Given that the ZA currency remains at weak levels, ZA Confidential asked some of our experts for their reactions to what Mike had to say….

John Cairns from RMB:
The rand is helping us. Exports will respond and so too will imports. This, though, will take time – and anyway in South Africa this price effect is quite small, meaning we have to see large rand moves to have any real economic impact (the price elasticity of mining exports in particularly is very low). The alternative anyway to rand weakness is too ghastly to contemplate: jacking up rates aggressively in order to attract more capital. Arguably, what we are seeing is the perfect adjustment – a slow steady decline in the rand and a corresponding slow adjustment in the economy. It would be far worse if this adjustment was forced to take place quickly, whether by rates hikes or a short, very sharp currency fall. 2014, of course, has started with sharp rand weakness; let’s hope this doesn’t become a run and force a rapid economic adjustment.

Russell Lamberti of ETM:
Mike Schussler hits the right notes. Logically and empirically a weak nominal exchange rate cannot help grow the economy or make it more productive – any more than diluting the quality of a car’s fuel can make it go faster. It was also nice to see Mike have a little dig at Jo Stiglitz, if only because it is painful to see how easily a foreign ‘heavyweight’ like Stiglitz, with an impaired understanding of monetary economics and practically zero understanding of South Africa, can influence the discourse. Mike has helped debunk some common myths in this article. It’s not just that a weak rand doesn’t help the economy; it actually hurts it. What can be done? It’s time for South Africa to have a “strong and stable” currency policy. SA needs to recognise that productivity and competitiveness are driven by capital accumulation. More capital means higher productivity, and more savings means more capital, and a strong and stable currency means more savings. The only sustainable way to achieve that is by reversing current excessively loose monetary and fiscal policies, balancing the budget (after interest payments on debt), keeping interest rates well above inflation, de-monopolising State Owned Enterprise-dominated sectors, reducing the size of the state, and slashing business and labour red tape. These reforms would rebalance the economy, re-emphasise production before consumption, and would give rise to a far stronger and more stable currency that fosters saving, capital accumulation, and competiveness.

Dawie Roodt from the Efficient Group:
Sadly……Mike is right. ‘Experts’ like Stiglitz and Cosatu prescribed a weaker currency as the answer to our anaemic growth because it is the easy option. A weaker rand (is supposed to) adjust our local costs structures by stealth (real rather than through more efficiency) but what happens in practice is that organised (and militant) labour can also make sums. They quickly learned that if the rand falls that they (and the rest of us) are all poorer. So, instead of accepting lower (rand adjusted) wages they intimidate and disrupt until their members’ wages are adjusted again (to the detriment of the unemployed and the newly unemployed). The only real answer is not a currency adjustment but good old fashion hard and efficient work – something we will eventually learn, I hope!

Ian Cruickshanks of the SAIRR:
The extent of the decline in the currency since 1994, and the decreasing competitiveness of our exports in global markets, is primarily due to the steep depreciation in the rand’s nominal effective exchange rate – that is the trade-weighted rand. It has fallen from an index level of 180 in 1994 to the current index level of around 60 index points. That means two thirds of the rand’s previous buying power has been lost over this period. This trend exacerbates the rocketing cost of mainly-imported capital equipment needed in the manufacturing sector, which overwhelms short term gains in current global price competitiveness from current rand weakness. Manufacturing has fallen from 20% of the economy to 10% over this period – a weak currency kills the sector.

Conclusion:
It must be a concern if our exporting industries cannot reap the benefits of the weak rand, and it is of great concern that this weak currency is likely to stoke inflation, with all the ills that will bring. For the moment we will watch, wait and cut back on our purchases from Amazon.

Tweets of the Day:
Mark Twain (@MarkTwainQuote): Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.
Barry Hilton (@barry_hilton): I called a 24hr plumber with a plumbing emergency last night. He told me not to worry, he’d be around within the next 24 hrs. #Hermanus

In a few weeks from now, ZA Confidential will again go behind a firewall, and will be available in full only to those who subscribe. For a limited period there will be very generous discounts to those discerning folk and companies who take out a subscription for the whole of 2014. For details on subscription rates, please contact: zaconfidential@gmail.com. Media releases, invitations to presentations, and feedback on ZA Confidential can also be sent to the same address. Add some gravitas to your conference or event by hiring ZA Confidential Editor John Fraser as a speaker or MC. Follow us on twitter: @ZAConfidential and/or John on @clasfras1


African Outlook. Frontier Advisory Conference

What is the outlook for Africa? ZA Confidential listened to three experts this morning at Frontier Advisory’s Africa Outlook Conference 2014 in Sandton, and here is brief summary of their thinking:

Frontier Advisory CEO Martyn Davies:
The golden decade of growth in Africa has passed. The China- driven commodity cycle is not what it was a few years ago. The growth model needs re-thinking – we need economic diversification. We need more companies. A country without companies is not a successful society. Is Africa the next Asia? Does the Africa nation state have a future? There are political and economic failures due to failure of leadership to create nation states. Companies that are first movers will be the winners. The most successful companies take advantage of less competitive environments, and create sustainable businesses. Examples include Naspers, Shoprite, SAB Miller.

Sim Tshabalala, joint CEO Standard Bank:
We at Standard Bank remain very bullish about the African Continent. SA should get back to 3% growth by end of this year. The NDP will provide greater policy certainty. Offshore gas will boost GDP. A 5 percent growth rate is not in the realms of the impossible by 2015. It is crucial South Africans guard against arrogance in dealings with the rest of the Continent. We have a lot to learn from our northern neighbours, and we need them more than they need us. It seems likely the era of steep commodity prices has come to an end. The trend is strongly upward in inter-regional trade. But there is far too much red tape and corruption. There is a great deal of money to be made in African banking. The IT revolution in Africa is all about mobile banking. It spurs economic activity. And we are still only at the start of the banking explosion. Retail banking will be transformed from branch-based banking to a (banking service) carried in your pocket. The new opportunity in
retail banking in Africa is due to what is happening with mobile. But there are 6 very significant challenges we need to tackle head on:
* European contagion: could drag Africa’s growth slower.
* Cyber-crime: is significant: banks lose as much of 5% of their revenue to cyber-crime. African banks are going to have to spend a great deal of money combatting this threat.
* Regulation and regulatory cost: most African banks hold more capital than global regulations require. Obliging African banks to de-risk further is perverse. This may create unfair advantages for banks headquartered in developed world.
* Diverse needs of a rapidly expanding continent: such as credit to micro enterprises and SMEs. The shift from cash-based to card based requires financial literacy and education.
* Political and social and economic rights: need to become more universal .A key element is zero tolerance for corruption. Corruption raises the costs of doing business. It is the very opposite of victimless crime – it hurts all of us.

Jay Naidoo: Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN):
How are South Africans seen on the Continent? People don’t like us. In our history we have been a part of Europe rather than part of Africa. We have tended to upset a lot of people. An example is how we put forward our candidate as leader of AU – in the past this post has tended to be (filled) from smaller countries. How much longer are we going to be the dominant economic power in Africa? Nigeria will overtake us. By 2050 one in four African is going to be Nigerian. In SA there is an obscene disparity in wealth, and in our Continent. We need growth to provide opportunities for people to leave poverty, or it will explode in our faces. We haven’t understood the impact of the technological revolution. We have had a revolution in the last few decades. There are now close to 800 m mobile phones in Africa. This demonstrates we can do something across the Continent that is revolutionary. Once you have a platform of ICT, people will use it to deliver other things. Like
mobile money. The pre-paid card enabled the revolution. What are the other assets in Africa? We are able even to skip over the PC age – from mobile phones to mobile broadband, with Africa being at the cutting edge of that. By 2050 there will be 2 bn people on this Continent – one quarter of working age population of the world. By the end of this century half of people of working age will be African. That is a democratic dividend. How do we leverage these assets? If we don’t get these people out of poverty, it will become a democratic nightmare. I see a lot of anger in the slums of Africa. One in 3 young people in sub-Saharan Africa lacks even the most basic skills. We have 60% of the remaining arable land in the world. Yet many children are malnourished. The cost of solving malnutrition is miniscule compared to the costs that society pays much more later in life. When you look at university graduates, only two % specialise in agriculture. (On
corruption) Bribing – why are we afraid to challenge this abuse of power? Mo Ibrahim built up a telecommunications network in Africa without paying a single bribe. Why can’t you all do that? It’s about transparency and governance. The gap between the poor and rich hasn’t improved. That’s a worry for us. If you live in a bad neighbourhood (as a country) you are going to have trouble. It matters to us what happens in Zimbabwe or Swaziland or Somalia or the DRC or Cote d’Ivoire. Some things are improving, but certain things are declining. Africa still has 54 separate economies and countries. That weakens our bargaining position. How do we leverage our assets and build our bargaining power? How do we build integration and infrastructure to facilitate economic development, or we will remain underdeveloped and very poor? It is worrying there are consistent attacks on institutions that are there to protect citizens. We need an independent media to uphold the rights of
citizens. We need an independent and robust civil society. We should reclaim the essence of what Mandela stood for. The essence of Mandela is about human rights, integrity, and service.

Tweets of the Day:
Awkward Posts (@awkwardposts): They say so many people die because of alcohol. They never realized how many of them are born because of it.
Tom O’Halloran (@TPO_Hisself): Did you hear? They took the word gullible out of the dictionary!
Funny Tweets (@iQuoteComedy): Neil Armstrong lands on the moon: 5 pictures. Girl goes to Starbucks: 47 pictures.

ZA Confidential will soon go behind a firewall, and will be available in full only to those who subscribe. For a limited period there will be very generous discounts to those discerning folk and companies who take out a subscription for the whole of 2014. For details on subscription rates, please contact: zaconfidential@gmail.com. Media releases, invitations to presentations, and feedback on ZA Confidential can also be sent to the same address. Add some gravitas to your conference or event by hiring ZA Confidential Editor John Fraser as a speaker or MC. Follow us on twitter: @ZAConfidential and/or John on @clasfras1


Die Vine Intervention Gravel Hill 2008

A classy red is on the table this evening for our Die Vine Intervention wine tasting podcast.

Michael Olivier introduces the Gravel Hill Shiraz 2008 from the Hartenberg Estate to John Fraser, Jeff Osborne, Malcolm MacDonald and Gareth Stokes.


Do the MINTs Suck?

Just as we were getting used to the BRICS, they appear to own yesterday’s acronym, with the emergence of a new emerging nation cluster – once again devised by Goldman Sach’s Jim O’Neill. The MINTs (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) are clearly not on the same scale as the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in terms of wealth or population, but O’Neill seems to think they have great expansion potential. Of course, if the MINTs become the new bloc on which to kid, that might have consequences for South Africa, as we in ZA are the ‘S’ in the BRICS – even though many don’t think we are a natural fit. Do our experts think the MINTs are meaningful?

Martyn Davies from Frontier Advisory:

Yet again, economic commentators seek to create acronyms that are intended to somehow guide investment in what remains a very complex and uncertain global economy. The BRICS was nothing more than an intended indicator of future consumer demand in emerging economies with sizeable populations; the MINTs appears now to be the B-Team of emerging markets. Once again South Africa has been excluded. I doubt that members of the MINTs will be motivated to create a political bloc like their forerunners in the BRICS have. I also doubt that they’ll be inviting South Africa to join, either!

International Relations consultant John Mare:

I think it is not unexpected that the MINTs have now come into the spotlight as epitomising the cutting edge of rapidly expanding economies/markets in the world and that Jim O’Neill should have again coined (or minted ?) the word “MINT” for the group. As with the BRICS, in which SA membership has generally been accepted – as being the best developed anchor economy for accessing the economies of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) – the MINTs are rapidly growing economies with varying combinations of larger than usual land area, populations and (especially as regards I and N) vast resources along with strongly developing sophisticated economies. As with BRICS they occupy important geo-strategic locations. Nevertheless, while the economies of the BRICS have seemingly suffered in recent months those of the MINTs have not suffered as much. In addition the MINTs are not global heavyweights like the members of the BRICS in many politico-economic-strategic dimensions – which made them the obvious choices to lead the new wave of so-called emerging economies to challenge the “North” – the traditionally developed world – for domination in the global community. Remember that the BRICS contain (i) two long-standing global super-powers (China and Russia) offering long standing challenges to the “West” and (ii) the most populous country on earth second to China, ie India, which has tried to be a prime leader of the “Third World” and “Non-Aligned Movement” against the “West” since the Bandung conference. The MINTs do not have the traditional political baggage to slow them down in any way, nor the enormous sizes of the original BRIC members – which come with their own logistical challenges. Nor do they have the apparent ongoing fractured and troubled nature of key aspects of SA – despite it inheriting a wonderful platform to lead SSA into the 21st century in 1994. As such, the MINTs have flexibility on many fronts to use their favourable locations/populations/resources and so on for further strategic growth nationally, regionally and in the global dimension. Given the above I see greater success for and in the MINTs in the coming decade, on all fronts. To give some detail: Nigeria is increasing its position as an alternative to SA as the “prime” platform to access the SSA economy, especially re Western Africa and the EU/North Atlantic community . One day Kenya, in the more integrated Eastern African region now rising, will be a logical third “hub” for business in SSA – especially vis-à-vis the Middle East/Asia. Naturally there are other potential exceptional BRICS, MINTs and hubs/anchors, as things now stand. Some such as Ukraine are on the brink of making it, while others such as the DRC may wait for decades.

Craig Pheiffer from Absa Investments:

It seems the latest sport is working out acronyms for developing market groupings. We’ve had the BRICS and the CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa) and Jim O’ Neill’s “Next Eleven” and now the MINT countries. Mostly these acronyms reflect groupings of emerging market countries that are expected to show strong economic growth over the coming decades. That’s how BRIC and more recently BRICS came about. Economists and Heads of State frequently argue over inclusion or exclusion from these theoretical groupings. The one difference with the BRICS, though, is that the five countries have formed an organisation, the BRICS Forum, to actively promote trade among themselves and improve co-operation between the five states at various levels. At the recent BRICS Summit in SA the organisation also set in motion the process of creating a BRICS Bank. The BRICS countries will continue their annual get-togethers with their sixth annual summit in Brazil this year. This active collaboration is what currently differentiates the BRICS from other groupings sprouting forth from research articles and economic journals.

Duane Newman from Cova Advisory:

I am a bit sceptical of this new acronym – MINTs. I am struggling to understand the need for such a new, small grouping. The linkages between these countries are tenuous at best, and their growth potential is subject to so many factors.

Conclusion:

The BRICS have accepted the role suggested for them as leaders of the Emerging Nations. The MINTs are still in mint condition, in terms of this degree of political will and economic momentum. The concept of the MINTS may need to be sucked on for a while before we discern its true flavour.

Tweet of the Day:

Jonathan Jansen (@JJ_UFS): If you had 10 children in grade 1 and only 4 made it to grade 12, would you be celebrating?

In a few weeks from now, ZA Confidential will again go behind a firewall, and will be available in full only to those who subscribe. For a limited period there will be very generous discounts to those discerning folk and companies who take out a subscription for the whole of 2014. For details on subscription rates, please contact: zaconfidential@gmail.com. Media releases, invitations to presentations, and feedback on ZA Confidential can also be sent to the same address. Add some gravitas to your conference or event by hiring ZA Confidential Editor John Fraser as a speaker or MC. Follow us on twitter: @ZAConfidential and/or John on @clasfras1


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