In 2013, an article in The Washington Post raised the question: what makes people more miserable — inflation or unemployment? It has occupied my mind ever since Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago’s announcement last month of an increase in interest rates.

Kganyago is often at pains to explain that the primary role of the Bank is to keep inflation low and stable. This, he says, is for the benefit of the poor. But we’re living in times of extreme unemployment, so a supportive environment for investment, the opening of small businesses and consumption are important. This means the rates hike raises the question: which is more painful — high unemployment or high inflation?..

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