Rand at mercy of whims of global currency traders

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It might be worth pleading with and begging the platinum mineworkers to put their demands on hold and go back to work; we might even be tempted to try to persuade the gold miners to abandon their planned industrial action; all in a bid to persuade the global currency traders that South Africa is a top-notch investment destination. But it would all be pretty pointless.

The global currency traders have decided that emerging market currencies are out of favour. Nothing substantial has happened in the past few weeks that would seem to justify the dramatic change in sentiment and currency values.

But, for whatever reason, powerful traders in markets across the globe have decided that the dollar, sterling and euro are the only places to be.

The prospect that the US Federal Reserve will cut back on the amount of money it has been pouring into the American economy, in a not-very-effective bid to get it growing, is seen as the major reason for the current meltdown of emerging market currencies on all continents.

But that prospect has been on the cards for some time now.

In addition, there’s the uncertainty about the prospects for the Chinese economy – but there’s been uncertainty about the Chinese economy since it first emerged from its Communist-era sleep.

The reality is that anyone looking for reasons to hit a currency will find them – whether in South Africa, Brazil, Turkey, Indonesia, Russia or Argentina.

So, even if South Africa did manage to rein in its workers by some hideous anti-democratic means or suppress the amount of service-delivery protests, we probably wouldn’t see much strengthening in the local currency.

If that suppression were to happen, currency traders would of course be talking about the fundamental threat to a currency posed by the combination of an oppressive regime and so much poverty. page 17

Cyber attacks

A cyber attack or the loss of a digital device can cause an average household user loss of $418 (about R4 625 at yesterday’s exchange rate) in the value of multimedia files, according to the findings of a survey that Kaspersky Lab published in South Africa yesterday.

To put that figure into perspective, the loss is a little more than the $414 gross domestic product (GDP) per capita between 2009 and 2013 for Liberia, according to World Bank data. Liberia had the lowest recorded GDP per capita figures.

The files can be lost either through the loss of a device, when the device is stolen, or if the person falls victim to malicious online users.

The Consumer Security Risks Survey was conducted by B2B International and Kaspersky, a leading international provider of digital security solutions.

Studies have also revealed that the younger respondents are generally more susceptible to the loss of multimedia content because they download more music and movies.

Respondents in the 16 to 24 age group could face an average loss of $670, while those in the 25 to 34 group could incur an average loss of $455. Users aged 45 and older would lose an average of $227.

Chinese and Russian citizens could incur the highest average losses, according to a comparison of the value of data losses in different countries. The average loss in China is considered to be $816 per user and in Russia it is expected to be $807.

The figures drop considerably to $378 per user in Europe and $342 per user in North America.

The consequences can be avoided if users regularly back up their data and secure their personal devices against malicious attacks that are designed to steal or extort data, according to Kaspersky.

Smartphones and tablets usually also have additional tools to help locate a lost device and mitigate the potential damage of theft.

Last year antivirus firm Norton estimated that the loss per victim of a cyber attack could be $300.

Fidentia

They say lightning does not strike twice in one place, but Danisa Baloyi, a former member of the board of directors of Absa and currently a luminary of the Black Business Council, seems to be an exception.

She was fired by Absa after her role in the Fidentia scandal was revealed.

Now she is one of the 19 defendants, including Old Mutual and Investec Bank, that Living Hands is suing for the dissipation of over R1 billion of beneficiary funds by Fidentia. J Arthur Brown, a convicted fraudster and a former director of Fidentia, is also one of the defendants.

A Financial Services Board (FSB) report on Fidentia Asset Management accused Baloyi of being exposed to a conflict of interest in her role as a trustee on the board of the Living Hand Trust and a director of Fidentia.

Baloyi’s removal from office at Absa was by a resolution signed by all other directors. In an interview with Moneyweb at the time, she said she was asked by Absa to explain her participation in Fidentia.

Baloyi said about her removal: “I then explained in full, first to the chairman, then to the company secretary, then to the director of affairs committee, and I thought then all of that would be compiled and put through the board.

“Instead, the same old clippings, press clippings, some of which have been found not to be true, were the ones being taken to the board.”

Baloyi said she intended challenging the Absa move, but that vanished into thin air. Baloyi also had to resign as chancellor of the University of Fort Hare because of the Fidentia scandal.

Fidentia’s curators uncovered a loan of R8 million allegedly paid to her, which Brown denied had been written off.

Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Ann Crotty, Asha Speckman and Wiseman Khuzwayo.


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