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There was a weird mania in SA in the week before the budget. A three-letter swear-acronym was being liberally bandied about: IMF! It was the end of days. I was waiting for someone to scream “won’t someone think of the children!”. Such “hyper-vigilance” (as Jonny Steinberg termed the general distrust in SA in these pages last week) is not a bad thing and forces an awareness of risks. However, the IMF end-point diagnosis from many in the business community and some in the financial community misunderstands what is actually going on with fiscal policy. It also meant expectations were set exceptionally low, and when that happens one is invariably surprised to the upside. Hence the bond and currency markets, after an initial spike weaker, ended budget day stronger. The budget was broadly credible in its growth and revenue outlook. More than that, the loud thud of the Eskom elephant landing on the fiscus was muffled by challenging reductions in the public sector wage bill and non-core ass...

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