The theory is that the strength of a country’s currency roughly reflects that nation’s "share price" — the relative value of, say, SA Inc. Of course, it’s far more nuanced than that, with all sorts of other factors influencing a currency’s strength. But it’s hard to argue with the fact that in the week of Jacob Zuma’s inauguration in May 2009, the rand was at R8.30/$, and today, nine years later, it is R14.86/$. It’s a telling and tangible indictment of the years of listless rule, of Nkandla, the Guptas and Eskom being pillaged, and a graphic reflection of how SA slipped down the investment rankings. It also shows why the downgrades from Moody’s, S&P Global Ratings and Fitch were inevitable. This week, a London-based company called Brand Finance published its "nation brands" index, a slightly offbeat but intriguing way of tracking the value of a country’s brand relative to others. As the researchers say, it shows the benefits of a strong brand, as well as the damage that can be caus...

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