Edition: Mar - May 2014
Editorials

GRAVY

The weakened rand carries with it a particular social danger. It’s that top seafront properties – for instance, from the V&AWaterfront to Camps Bay in Cape Town – become that much more affordable as holiday homes for buyers from hard-currency countries.

Thus, as happened previously, these residences are progressively priced beyond the range of even rich locals yet remain unoccupied for perhaps nine months of the year.

It illustrates, for those living in the shanty towns of the Cape Flats, the in-your-face juxtaposition of wealth and poverty at its most extreme.

This is surely not a contributor to long-term social stability. Neither is it a potential revenue source for the fiscus to ignore.

What’s to be done? Take a leaf from the current debate in the UK coalition government about a tax on foreign property owners in central London, a swathe of the city where few Londoners can afford to live.


On the subject of property, it’s noted how the sector has fallen from JSE favour. PSG Asset Management, for one, has eliminated exposure to these listed companies in all its funds. It believes that the shares are overvalued and that there’s a looming oversupply of retail space.

These things work in cycles. However, it’s the retail thing that could prove most worrying for what’s traditionally been considered an inflation hedge. In the event of oversupply, the prospects for increasing shop vacancies loom. Base rentals become more competitive and, exacerbated by the effects of higher interest rates on consumer demand, turnover-related rentals similarly reduce.

These considerations are being factored. Another, probably still to be factored, is the longer-term impact of internet shopping. Once upon a time, newspapers were also thought to be immune from the technology tsunami.


There’s a consensus that more investors should become more “sophisticated”.
The Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines “sophisticated” as

1. Mixed with some foreign substance; adulterated; not pure or genuine;
2. Altered form, deprived of primitive simplicity or naturalness;
3. Falsified in a greater or lesser degree.


In terms of his plea-bargain agreement, the five-year suspended sentence on Peter Ghavalas (of surplus-stripping infamy) expired in February. So now that his sentence cannot be overturned – he’s given evidence for the state, whether or not to its liking – he can say what he wants and return to SA from Australia if he wants.

Ghavalas (of surplus-stripping infamy) expired in February. So now that his sentence cannot be overturned – he’s given evidence for the state, whether or not to its liking – he can say what he wants and return to SA from Australia if he wants.

But will he? Does anybody care, least of all him? The supposed kingpin in this supposed scandal is home free.


Another Sefricanism is “I’m not sure”. What it really means is “I haven’t a clue”.


Figures commonly touted around SA are that 6m taxpayers are supporting 16m people on social grants. Take heart from this letter concerning the Revenue authorities in Canada:

They are questioning me about the number of dependents I claimed in my 2011 tax return. I guess it was because of my response to the line: “List all dependents.”

I had listed 2m native Indians, 1m crackheads, 7,3m unemployed people, 100k people in prisons, 105 in the federal senate, 308 MPs and half of Haiti.

Evidently, this was not an acceptable answer. So I keep asking myself whom I might have left out.