What lies ahead in 2009?

2008-12-21 00:00

THE festive season is upon us and in keeping with the spirit of the times, some prudent insights on what awaits us in 2009 would not be out of place.

Right now is a time of giving; of course, that generally translates into an expense of one sort or another. Or does it? At home, for instance, we’ve decided not to buy gifts this year as we all actually have what we need. Rather, we’ll celebrate being together, and pray for a nicely temperate outdoors day.

More seriously, though, according to the people who track the flow of money, most consumers are heeding the call to watch their spending, especially so in the wake of the double dose of relief — the drop in fuel prices and the recent half a percentage point decline in interest rates.

The single biggest drawback is negative sentiment from global investment markets that has seen offshore investors selling out of emerging markets, including South Africa.

The sharp depreciation of the rand, high inflation, high interest rates and lacklustre demand for resources has produced a poor local economic outlook. In relative terms though, we are escaping the worst of the excesses in the First World, and investors need to tread with utmost caution.

The upside is that despite the flood of bad news, and the irrationality it creates, significant investment opportunities are starting to emerge.

One wonders what portfolio managers are saying?

Prodigal daughter to fill prodigious shoes

LIKE her predecessor, the new marketing manager of the Golden Horse Casino enters the fray at a unique stage in the development of the city’s most ambitious entertainment destination.

Hope Moche joins the GHC at a time of great change — at an estimated cost of R80 million — that includes a complete décor makeover, the addition of two new fast-food eateries and a Nino’s outlet, more parking and a planned switch to a cashless gaming system.

Moche will fill the shoes of Trevor Taylor, who was part of the team that commissioned the GHC seven years ago and is moving on to explore work opportunities in Australia.

In Moche, Taylor has a more than capable successor. She boasts extensive experience in the gaming world and having cut her teeth with the Gold Reef City Group, moved to the rival Peermont group. But the chance to become part of the team that maintains the lustre of the jewel in the Gold Reef City crown, not to mention the superlative quality of life in Pietermaritzburg, was enough to lure her back into the fold.

We wish her an exciting and rewarding tenure, and Taylor a happy bon voyage.

Separation anxiety

SPEAKING of bidding people goodbye, a book by Methodist minister Delme Linscott tackles the heartbreak of loved ones living a world away in a practical, no-nonsense manner.

Appropriately titled Living Oceans Apart, the book addresses the fear, loss and sense of abandonment of those affected by one of the world’s most remarkable migrations.

Drawing heavily on a faith-based system of beliefs, Linscott approaches the topic and its manifestations as one would expect a pastor to do — by offering insight, comfort, advice and hope.

Given that the purpose of the book is to help people cope with the separation of family and friends, it is less concerned about the reasons for emigration. Linscott does make the point though that emigration is by no means the preserve of white South Africans, and that migration is very much part of the human psyche.

Put differently, people throughout history have been settling elsewhere for many reasons, sometimes successfully, other times less so.

No amount of understanding and rationale takes away the pain of separation that is felt equally by the departed and those left behind though. Enter Linscott and his book to ease that hurt and make it just that little bit more bearable.

A brave book at a time when we need all the courage we can muster. For more information, see www.livingingrace.co.za

Small victory

THE cut-off date for public comment on the controversial Wild Coast toll road has been extended to January 22 — a small victory for those opposed to it.

The extension followed concerns that the original cut-off date of January 9 would have excluded comment from people on holiday.

Other concerns are still to be addressed, including the staging of public open days in only KZN and the Eastern Cape. Proponents of a more inclusive forum feel that there are enough interested and affected parties elsewhere in the country to at least warrant open days in Gauteng, Free State and Western Cape.

Cutting it fine

MUCH as we appreciate the rush to cut grass verges ahead of the festive season, was it necessary to do it on the public holiday of December 16?

Many a tractor, mower and team were observed cutting grass furiously, but then forgetting to rake up the debris.

We trust this spurt of activity has nothing to do with overtime pay on a public holiday ahead of the Christmas shopping season?

Treasure trove

SHOPPERS and investors alike will discover a veritable treasure trove of delights at the new Trade Routes outlet in Victoria Street.

The revamped facility has several arrows in its quiver and comprises the outlet for Asian and antique furniture, a Santa Claus attic, florist, intimate coffee shop and a cake outlet.

The main feature is the stunning range of authentic Asian antiques, and the array of accoutrements and accessories that are showcased throughout the extensive building.

Having recently opened from its consolidated premises, Trade Routes is a must-see before Christmas.

Last word

FINALLY, we wish readers a happy and peaceful festive season. We too will take a break and the column will appear again on January 12 next year.

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