The value of companies on the JSE has been on a broadly downward trajectory since February and seems to be heading back to the range in which it has been stuck for the past four years. Looking at the longer term, it seems possible to now distinguish three major periods. The first is the recovery period after the recession between 2009 and 2014, when the JSE’s all share index (Alsi) moved from around 20,000 points to about 50,000 points, surpassing its pre-recession levels of around 30,000 points. A static period followed when stocks were range-bound between 50,000 and 55,000 for four years. That was followed by a fairly big run-up just prior to and after the ANC’s elective conference, during which the market hit another record, briefly breaching the 60,000 level in the wake of "Ramaphoria". That rise has subsided and the current level of around 58,000 seems disturbingly reminiscent of the doldrums of the 2014 to 2017 period.

Is the market telling us something beyond the obviou...

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