Mike Tyson famously commented that everyone has a plan "till they get punched in the mouth". Alas, the South African consumer has been punched in the mouth by the revanchist dollar. The stronger dollar means higher prices to come — petrol prices are leading the way, and other prices will soon rise faster, draining household budgets. Suppliers of goods will have little reason to invest in more capacity or workers. Without consumers who are willing and able to spend more, there is alas no cyclical recovery in sight for our hard-pressed economy. Exporters will benefit in the short term — until their costs rise to reduce operating margins — and tourists will be encouraged by the extra value to be found. Airfares and hotel and game lodge rates, especially when priced in dollars, will adjust faster than the menus still priced in rands for local customers. Yet an export-led recovery seems very far away. The forward-looking plans the Reserve Bank will have made for inflation and interest ra...

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