It's the 6th of February - a month where temperatures are supposed to be well over forty throughout,- I'm sitting having breakfast and I'm cold. Yesterday I felt cold in Swellendam, of all places. Where is summer? Evenings are pretty cool, mornings are chilly and the wind is going full steam since months.
Should the trend persists, we are going to freeze our but off well before winter.
Anyway I didn't mean to talk about the weather.
Today instead I want to talk about this flipping crisis. I can feel it in the bones, or I rather perceive it on the shelves of shops and supermarkets, in shopping centers and in front of estate agents' advertising boards. Doom and gloom all over! The pessimists are having the time of their life and the only ones who still smile are the die-hard optimists, those still stuck to the mind over matter story.
As far as I'm concerned, I'm more worried about the solutions than the crisis itself.
All over, governments are printing money and reducing interest rates - this is what worries me the most. They are intentionally igniting an inflation spiral that - they think - should theoretically counteract an inevitable price plunge and push people to get rid of their money in order to support the economy - if everything is going up, rather spend.
It worked in the past, but I seriously doubt is going to work now, given the present recession. It might work for a little while, mind you, but soon afterwards things will get worse.
The fact is that especially in the last 20/30 years the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. I.e. a policy of containment of salaries has been worldwide tacitly enforced with the result of reducing the masses to the breadline. At the same time costs kept escalating - basically everybody, except the masses, wanted to make money out of the masses. It couldn't last. If you don't pay people, you can't go back to people and ask for the money you didn't give them.
The dentist wanted more money, the government wanted more money, Eskom wanted more money etc. and up to here it works because you can't say no to the dentist, the government, Eskom and eventually the green-grocer. But then you have to say no to pizzas, new socks and a few days holidays, unless you're prepared to sleep in the back of the car and eat chips.
So restaurants are half empty, shops don't sell, doctors and lawyers run after ambulances.
To ignite a hyper-inflaction in the present situation is a risky business. People do not consume because they don't want to, but simply because they can't afford it. With an increase of prices due to inflation, people will consume even less and will get seriously irritated. The South African government, just to be on the safe side, should send an official delegation to Lourdes.
Looking at the bright side of life, we have already the first excellent victim: globalization - not dead yet, but comatose: cargo flights are down a serious 23.9% - serious but not dramatic - while shipping is down 93% - just dramatic.
As a consequence, industrial farming will end soon - hopefully; all those stupid and useless things from China will disappear by magic; mass tourism, the plague of the century, will come to a stop - many will cry, I won't; chain stores and colossal supermarkets will collapse like Goliath hit by the stones of David; local products will take over. That, especially, is going to save us a lot of money - having South Africans decided long ago that importing is easier then producing, there are basically no local products - wine and biltong apart.
The beauty of all this crisis is that there is absolutely nothing we can do. Or just about...
Personally, I'm already preparing some nice Christmas cards to send to all heads of state, finance ministers, tycoons, financial groups executives and newspaper editors. Something like this: