The headlines about the latest slide in the rand don’t make for pretty reading. It seems the initial trigger was last week’s terrible GDP data, which may or may not be a precursor to a more prolonged slowdown, something we can ill afford. When these episodes of rand weakness happen they tend to elicit a popular but misguided reaction — that it’s something that should worry only the relatively wealthy, those who tend to travel and consume more imported goods. This, of course, ignores the inflationary effect more broadly and the likely resulting spike in the price of essential commodities, such as maize, which are priced in dollars. They also present a headache for policy makers, from the South African Reserve Bank to the presidency, though they are unlikely to be seen offering running commentary on a daily basis. A glimpse at what happened in Turkey, where the central bank had to increase its main interest rate by 125 basis points to a staggering 17.75%, shows the real-life consequen...

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