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Picture: 123RF/ALLAN SWART
Picture: 123RF/ALLAN SWART

If there’s one thing you can say about our president, politics of inertia aside, it’s that he’s a bit savvy when it comes to ye olde cash flow.

Had other investors stashed loose change in the Bank of Edblo before last week’s almighty market crash, they’d be wealthier for it. Inflation in the US has been rising for months, but it really blew out last Thursday, tipping the scales at 8.6% in May, year on year.

Those numbers fired a red-tinged dart into markets across the world: on Monday, the S&P 500 plunged 3.9%, while global markets tumbled 3.7%. Since hitting recent highs, the US index has lost 20%, while SA’s JSE has shed 14% over the past three months. That’s pretty much what your retirement savings has probably fallen by.

The Reserve Bank, run by Lesetja Kganyago, has done superbly to keep a lid on SA’s inflation

With all the delicious bogeymen around — the conniving Arthur Fraser, the self-satirising Julius Malema and the vibey Zweli Mkhize — we tend to forget about the disembodied evil that is inflation. Yet inflation is a stealth tax which, economist Sam Ewing once said, forces you to pay $15 for the $10 haircut you used to get for $5 when you had hair. It means that 2l of milk, which would have cost R1.72 in 1980, now costs R28.74.

The upside is that the Reserve Bank, run by Lesetja Kganyago, has done superbly to keep a lid on SA’s inflation, despite petrol skidding north of R20 this year and kleptocratic municipalities hiking rates to pay salaries they don’t deserve.

SA’s inflation rate is now 5.9% — unbelievably, lower than inflation in the US, the eurozone and the UK. So it seems almost unfair that we’re still getting swept up in the US maelstrom. But then, who said life was fair? If you don’t like it, buy a lockable mattress. 

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