Issue: September-November 2011
Editorials

GRAVY

It’s high time that the savings industry took on the retail industry over use of the word “save”. You can’t save by spending, and retailers should be forced to stop telling consumers that they can.

When you buy an item that you don’t need from one store for R45, as opposed to buying it from a rival store for R50, you aren’t saving R5. You’re spending R45. The more consumers spend, the more they spend; not the more they save.

A formal complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority is in order. ASA is the self-regulator of the marketing communications industry. It’s there to ensure that advertising messages are informative and factual.

This perpetual confusion of saving with spending is intentional, for obvious reasons. Until a halt is put to it, the savings industry will be fighting with a hand behind its back and consumers’ mindsets will never change.

On the subject of language misuse, but this time appropriately, note the name of Zimbabwe’s minister of indigenisation, youth and development. The first name of Mr Kasukuwere is Saviour.

Since the indigestible word “indigenisation” is merely a sweeter sounding synonym for asset seizure, in the footsteps of land seizure, Mr Kasukuwere will be the saviour of Zim’s youth from prospects for development.

Maybe it won’t be too bad for them. An SA business delegation, which recently met with Zim cabinet ministers, reports a hostile reception. It was clear that they don’t like the way South Africans do business in Zim. By contrast, they like the way the Chinese do.

In the unfolding robbery process, it’s easy to predict in whose favour the dice will be loaded.

Julius Malema says he isn’t a capitalist.

Good. Now let SARS assess his capital at income tax rates.

Believe that Malema actually said this in a Radio 702 interview:

“The purpose of Telkom is not to make a profit. Its purpose is to provide electricity.”

A trade unionist, prominent in the retirement-fund industry, tells me that an asset manager of his multibillion rand fund insists on a separate and additional fee for managing the fund’s assets according to environmental, social and governance principles.

If the unionist is entirely right, and hasn’t misinterpreted what had been proposed, there’s no question that the asset manager is utterly wrong. Should funds’ trustees get the idea that CRISA is a carpet-bagging operation, it’s dead in the water.

My advice to the unionist? Change asset managers.

The best explanation for a stock market, in my view, is found in Marxism; specifically in the theory of dialectic materialism. It postulates that every economic order grows to a state of maximum efficiency (thesis), during which it develops the seeds of its own decay (antithesis), so that there emerges a new order (synthesis, in turn becoming the new thesis).

Isn’t that just how the market works? Somebody’s bid at a price to buy (thesis) is met by somebody else’s offer at a price to sell (antithesis), whereupon a new price level is found (synthesis), and it immediately becomes the new thesis …

In other words, stock exchanges practise communism.

Help a man when he’s in trouble and he’ll remember you when he’s in trouble again.