I don't know who else caught the interview with Chris Hart on GMSA this morning. He made a number of very valid points on the repo rate being used as a tool for controlling inflation. In fact, I wondered whether he's been doing his reading on The Forum SA
As we all probably know by now, the repo rate just hiked another 50 basis points yesterday, and predictably the banks are following suit today. These interest rate hikes have been going on for a year and some now and yet, if anything, inflation is gaining momentum. By now you would expect to see some curb on inflation if interest rate hikes were the appropriate tool.
It reminds me somewhat of the '97 business where the repo rate was used to protect the slide of the Rand. In the end all that turned it around was when the Reserve Bank stopped trying to protect the currency and being the sucker paying up for the speculators' games that was driving the run in the first place.
In a similar twist, government has tasked Tito to keep the lid on inflation, whilst they have personally caved on inflation issues and are embarking on the spending party of all time. Chris called it a hospital pass - How apt!
Chris reckons we need to rather focus on efficiencies if we are to head off the inflation monster. Now this makes perfect sense, but has one major obstacle...
Just about everything that government has been trying to achieve on the "reconstruction" front has, as part of its foundation, an aspect of capacitating and institutionalising inefficiency. Shut down preferential employment practices and preferential procurement? My prediction is it's not going to happen.
Maybe if Tito starts handing out the pain in 100 basis point measures, someone somewhere will wake up!
Or maybe say "Sorry guys - wrong tool for the job - Interest rates stay where they are before I sink the economy any further and let inflation run - If you want to fix it, start looking elsewhere."
What do you think? Is it time Tito handed the ball back to government?