Tag Archives: economics

Financial Fall: Labor Day Weekend Sales; From Clearance to Clear-Out.

 

Fall CleaningLabor Day weekend landed on the first weekend on my Financial Fast. As I tried to find alternative ways to have a good time and not spend a dime, the email and text alerts about all the fantastic deals and sales in stores were sooooo convincing. I thought about all the things I could possibly purchase if I was spending money, along with just ditching this whole fast thing and cop the latest Nike Roshe Runs.

While I prepared for the weekend and brainstormed of all the things I could do, I ran across a post about the benefits fall cleaning has on your health and your pockets. At that point, I was sold. Staying home and getting my life together was definitely in my budget! A non-cost, high productive activity.

This was no easy task. I’m sure we all dread stepping into our closet and noticing all of the clutter and mess that the racks hold. We dread the millions of shoe boxes that are thrown everywhere. But I held strong and committed.

Cleaning and organizing your closet is not only a great way to save money, but it also de-clutters your actual life! It gets rid of the things that you do not need and allows you to see what you absolutely need in order to have a functioning wardrobe.

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My biggest challenge during this clear-out was forcing myself to give things away. I continued to use statements like, “I could wear this on a rainy day.” or ” this would fit me eventually.”, when the reality of it was I never planned to wear that and it would sit and take up space in my closet. This is important in de-cluttering. WE MUST LET GO! Letting go will not only provide us with more space, but it will also leave us to things we only need. And just like this financial fast, we are beginning to step foot in a process of only keeping things that we need. No worries yall, it is ok to let go of those favorite jeans that cant fit you anymore. I promise.

My labor day clear-out not only left me with a solid list of essentials that I will need for the Fall season (tights, cardigans, sweaters, dresses, etc.) but it also is the starting works of creating a habit of making a way with my own things, knowing exactly what I need in a store, making a list of the essentials, and planning and budgeting properly how much these items were, instead of walking in a store without a clue and picking up pieces that i did not really need.

So not only am I starting the Fall season with an organized closet and a clear mind, but I removed the pressure of shopping during one of the  most daunting sale time in the summer, Labor Day Weekend.

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Financial Planning; Short Term Plans, Long Term Actions.

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Financial illiteracy has plagued and largely impacted the African-American community for many generations. Most of us are lacking when it comes to the understanding of how money works and how to efficiently manage and build wealth. Our impoverished communities continue to rest in this state because there is no transfer of wealth. Wealth continues to be held and dominated outside of our communities because of our low receptivity to financial literacy. Though the tides are beginning to turn on this matter as awareness grows, we as a people still have quite a ways to go. How do we regain prosperity? How do we bring it back to our communities and families? How do we protect it and keep it? How do we go from “new money” to “old money?”

Every great accomplishment begins with careful and strategic planning. While planning may be the answer, it may NOT be the solution. Integrated financial planning as the answer only becomes the solution when it is followed through. You need a plan, it begins with a plan! Wealth building is an ongoing process of structured forced, systematic, efficient and consistent saving habits.

While having a generous income does help, it is not entirely about how much money you make or the lack there of. It is about having the discipline to start today with a meaningful amount that you can commit to monthly or annually regardless of your economic status. Truth is there will always be a reason or rather an excuse NOT to save or invest. You have to conquer that need of immediate gratification by giving up the things you want now, to invest in what you will need in the future. Don’t put it off any longer because there is a huge cost in waiting. Time is our most valuable asset as well as our biggest liability. Due to compound interest of returns over time, essentially the more time you have or the sooner you begin to save, the less it will cost you to achieve your financial goals.

Find a trusted and competent advisor to help you with your financial planning. Google makes it very easy to self-educate, so I am sure that most of us are well capable of doing our own planning. One of the biggest reasons that I recommend you leave it to a professional is that we all have emotional attachments to our money, believe it or not. When it comes to money most of our decisions are made based on emotions and feelings, rather than logic. I have found it to be very helpful to have a fellow colleague as my advisor even though I am in the profession as well. It gives you someone to hold you accountable and to help take out the emotions to make sound financial decisions.

This is my last bit of advice and what I believe will catapult your finances to new unseen levels; pay God first. First and foremost, even before you save or spend, pay God what is due to him. As a devout Christian, I believe that being a faithful tithe payer is imperative to our financial success. With EVERY increase the bible says to give10% to the house of the Lord. In fact it is one of the few areas in our lives that God says “TEST ME!” (Malachi 3:10).

Financial Post

Questions & Inquiries

Laud K. Anderson

Website: Laudanderson.nm.com

Email: Laud.anderson@nm.com

Phone: 732-310-6697

Pray, Plan, Persist

The South African Rand and Brent Crude Oil Forecasts.

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There have been some arguments that the weakening of the South African Rand against the US Dollar will somehow stimulate the economic growth. However, this is rather a misleading advice as rand weakness raises inflation and so results in increased strike action (labour unrests) and higher wages. This article will give a snapshot of the exchange rate outlook (ZAR/USD), as well as the Brent Crude Oil outlook.

Exchange rates (ZAR/USD) Insights

The South African Rand has been one of the most volatile currencies amongst its peers, and continues to be rated amongst the “worst performing” currencies within emerging markets. Of course, there is no consensus on what a best performing currency is. The main driving factors behind this volatility have been ranging from domestic (i.e. labour relations) and international environment (i.e. US quantity easing and slow global economic growth) (Investec, 2014). The discussion relating to the level of the exchange rate has been around for a long time, with different financial institute sharing different views on future outlooks (see table 1 and 2).

The global economic outlook is still lacklustre; the IMF (2014) lowered the prospects for world economic growth for 2014 from an expected 3.7% earlier in the year to 3.4%. This decrease was mainly due to lower growth in the United States, China and emerging markets (SACCI, 2014). Additionally, the IMF expects this year’s domestic economy to grow by 1.7%.

There have been some arguments that the weakening of the exchange rate will somehow stimulate the economic growth. However, Investec (2014) reckons that this is a misleading advice as rand weakness raises inflation and so results in increased strike action and higher wages.

 

 

Oct 14 Nov 14 Dec 14 Jan 15 Feb 15 Mar 15 Apr 15 May 15 Jun 15 Jul 15 Aug15 Sep15
10.84 10.87 10.91 10.87 10.84 10.80 10.78 10.76 10.75 10.82 10.89 10.96

Table 1: Exchange rates outlook (ZAR/USD)

Source: (Nedbank, 2014)

 

Oct 14 Nov 14 Dec 14 Jan 15 Feb 15 Mar 15 Apr 15 May 15 Jun 15 Jul 15 Aug15 Sep15
10.25 10.05 9.85 9.80 9.90 10.00 9.65 9.75 9.85 9.45 9.55 9.65

Table 2: Exchange rates outlook (ZAR/USD)

Source: (Investec, 2014)

Brent Crude Oil Insights

For some time, the world oil prices have been quiet volatile. In the last two month, unrests in Iraq added upward pressure on the world oil prices, pushing the Brent crude oil prices to levels of $115/barrel (bbl) (EIA, 2014). However, oil prices are expected to soften in a medium term, owing to expected increase in supplies (see table 3).

The US Energy Information Administration (2014) projects world petroleum and other liquids supply to increase by 1.5 million barrel per day (bbl/d) in 2014, and by another 1.2 million bbl/d in 2015. Large part of production growth is expected to come from countries outside of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Russia).

At the same token, world oil consumption is expected to grow by an annual average of 1.1 million bbl/d in 2014 and 1.5 million bbl/d in 2015 (EIA, 2014).

However, it is worth noting that the geopolitical tension in North Africa, Black Sea and the Middle-East adds significant uncertainty into oil production outlooks.

Q1, 2014 Q2, 2014 Q3, 2014 Q4,2014 Q1, 2015 Q2, 2015 Q3, 2015 Q4, 2015
108.17 109.70 111.33 109.00 106.00 105.00 104.67 104.00

Table 3: Brent Crude price Outlook

Source: (US Energy Information Administration, 2014)

Further Reading:

EIA, 2014. Short-Term Energy Outlook, Washington: US Ernegy Information Administration.

IMF, 2014. World Economic Outlook, Washington: International Monatory Fund.

Investec, 2014. Economic Review and Outlook, Johannesburg: Investec Bank Limited.

Nedbank, 2014. Economic Outlook, Johannesburg: Nedbank Group Economic Unit.

SACCI, 2014. Business Confidence Index, Johannesburg: South African Business Chamber.

I’m Too Sexy For My Farm.

images-149Research by various institutions, such as the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) suggests that global food demand will increase significantly in the next 30 to 40 years. Population growth is expected to be the main driver behind forecasted global food demand; which is reckoned to reach about 9 billion by 2050, with 6 billion being the developing countries.

At this time, the greater number of people are likely to be wealthier, hence creating demand for various value added, high quality (nutritious) products. The positive thing is that South Africa and other African fast growing economies such as Nigeria, Angola, and Botswana etc are more likely to be part of the countries with large middle-class population, hence high demand. South Africa and Nigeria are large African economies and likely to continue experiencing a high level of urbanisation; and of-cause putting increased pressure to agriculture (high population growth and demand).

However, the best part of knowing these expectations is that large part (more than 65%) of African population is under the age of 30. This gives hope that Africa can be the next economic powerhouse in the world. Nevertheless, given the historic incidences of the continent, which most are still visible even today, developing Africa will need inspired, motivated young Africans. Most African countries largely depend on Agriculture. Given the land availability and the expected global demand, that makes agriculture a cornerstone to development.

It should be acknowledged that currently, there’s a wide range of barriers to land accessibility, almost in all African countries. One of the problems that should also be highlighted, at the same time being the motivation behind this treatise is attitudes, “young African’s attitudes towards agriculture; Yes, food production”.

Having had conversations with many young Africans and bringing the subject of agriculture on the table, the attitude that one experiences are those of “I’m too sexy to be a farmer, to be in agriculture”; some people usually utter those words while having beer etc, forgetting that what they are eating, drinking, wearing is actually agriculture.

The reason behind this behaviour is the confusing of thinking that anything agricultural is “cows, tractors etc”, young people forget that agriculture needs scientist, economists, etc that are mainly trained to focus on agricultural issues.

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However, this treatise does not intend to point fingers or anything negative but to open conversation about African future, and the opportunities that she has for her people and the world. Given, African population is younger than the age of 30, this is a right time to re-think the way agriculture is viewed, inspire more to get involved, learn and get ready to feed the world. Thomas Jefferson ones wrote “Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness” , lets always keep these words close as we move forward to better Africa.

With such greatness ahead, “I should say, it feels good to be an AFRICAN and I’m too sexy for my farm.

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Wandile Sihlobo is a South African Economist and the International Afromadu Editor; his main interests are Agribusiness, International Trade and Public Economics. 

A Drastic Fall of South African Maize (Corn) Prices.

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In the South African grain markets, the fourth quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014 were largely dominated by high (white and yellow) maize prices, and there were steaming worries of rising food prices. On the 11th of March, yellow maize prices were in all time high of R3 850/ton; at the same time white maize reached R3 765/ton. However, from April 2014, the situation turned around; on the 15th of May Safex yellow maize traded around R2 072/ton and white maize traded around R2 089/ton.

These price hikes were mainly driven by increasing demand in the world market, and tight stocks in the domestic market. The leading importer in 2013/14 white maize was Zimbabwe with quantity at 246 692 tons, followed by Mexico at 190 097 tons, the rest mainly went to the BLNS countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland), Angola, Mozambique and Cameroon. For 2013/14 yellow maize, Japan was the leading importer with quantity at 596 315 tons, followed by Taiwan at 168 680 tons, the rest went to the BLNS countries, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, Cameroon, South Korea, Madagascar, North Korea and Nigeria.

Some producers might have hoped that the high maize prices were going to last for a prolonged period, but the early deliveries/harvest pressure have significantly decreased the domestic prices. There is also a weak demand in the international markets, especially for white maize. The largest importer of the previous season “Mexico” is reported to be having a favourable producing season, hence expecting an increase on domestic white maize production. This will mean there are limited chances that South African 2014/15 white maize will reach the Mexican market.

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Most African countries such as Malawi and Zambia a said to be having favourable 2014/15 production season, with production expected to reach 3.9 million tons and 4 million tons, respectively. Malawi is having 1 million tons for export market, which might serve the rumoured expected 2 million tons demand from Kenya. Zambian 2014/15 maize production is mainly driven by increasing fertilizer subsidies by their government, hence an expected significant increase of 700 000 tons. This significant increase in Zambian maize production might pose a strong competition to the Zimbabwean market.

According to the Crop Estimate Committee, South African 2014/15 maize production is also expected to reach 13 million tons, with white maize expected to be at 7 million and yellow maize being around 6 million tons. This significant increase in production is also among the factors that are currently keeping maize prices on the low levels.

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Furthermore, in the United States maize production is expected to reach 13.9 billion bushels, up slightly from the 2013/14 record with higher expected yields more than offsetting the year to year reduction in planted area. On a global view, maize production for 2014/15 is expected to reach 979.1 million tons, which almost unchanged from 2013/14’s production. Expected decreases for Ukraine, Brazil and India are mostly offset by increases for China, Argentina, Russia, and Mexico.

For the rest of the year, South African maize prices might continue to trade at low levels. Good planting progress in the United State, expected large domestic crop, domestic harvest pressure will continue to suppress the prices.

However, even though this might be putting a strain on South African farmers, it is good news for the consumers. Stats SA reported in April that Agricultural commodities’ price inflation has dipped to 8.0% year on year from 13.3%, owing to a bumper maize crop; with the cereals and other crops price inflation rate falling to 9.7% year on year from 26.5% year on year in March. This means that in a month or two (leg effect), South African consumers will start to see low prices of grain related products on their retail shelves. Furthermore, Grain South Africa’s Supply and Demand figures show that the country still has more than 1.7 million tons of maize for export market. So, given the weak demand on the traditional South African export market, this is going to continue suppressing prices for a prolonged period.

 

1236455_10201166193989847_169122925_n  Wandile Sihlobo is a South African Economist; his main interests are Agribusiness, International Trade and Public Economics