When our newly minted minister of finance, Tito Mboweni, presents his update on the state’s finances later this month, he will have little alternative but to look through the rear-view mirror. GDP and the balance of payments — crucial information for the budget —will have been estimated only up until June 2018 and will be revised. The coinciding business cycle, which is a good proxy for GDP, calculated and published on a monthly basis by the SA Reserve Bank, is as out of date as the GDP numbers. September’s consumer price inflation data will also be released on October 24. He must hope that the misanthropes at his old Reserve Bank do not regard possibly higher inflation, in the wake of the weaker rand and the higher petrol price — very obvious negative supply side shocks to economic growth — as reason to hike interest rates. That would further depress growth in spending, GDP and tax collections without altering the path of inflation in any predictable way. Mboweni can take consolati...

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