Peter Bruce Columnist

Trevor Manuel was right. The markets are amorphous. After new finance minister Tito Mboweni's first medium-term budget policy statement last week, the rand fell sharply and the yield on South African government bonds maturing in 2026 rose to almost the highest level in a year, at 9.31%.

That last bit is the market signalling displeasure. Bond yields rise when bond prices fall. Mboweni was signalling that we were already in too much debt and would need more debt to get out of the "debt trap" beginning to enclose us. The "market" was saying: "Sure, Governor, we'll buy your bonds but we want to pay less for them and we want the same returns."

It would be naïve to expect less, I suppose. But we're traded by algorithms. It almost gives one hope, in the face of encroaching artificial intelligence. If the markets can't see the emerging political strength of President Cyril Ramaphosa now, and analyse what that might promise, maybe they never will.

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