Of Horoscopes and Seeing the Future

20 November 2015

“Your story is not a picture of life; it lacks the elements of truth. And why? Simply because you run straight on to the end; because you do not analyze. Your heroes do this thing or that from this or that motive, which you assign without ever a thought of dissecting their mental and moral natures. Our feelings, you must remember, are far more complex than all that. In real life every act is the resultant of a hundred thoughts that come and go, and these you must study, each by itself, if you would create a living character.”

We would certainly like to claim such beautiful writing for ourselves, but we should be humble enough to admit that more than 120 years ago, these words were written, ostensibly by the great sci-fi writer Jules Verne, but now widely thought to actually be authored by his son, Michel.  We came across such writing because we were thinking about the future, as we often do.  And who better to think about the future than someone like Verne – someone who foresaw the arrival of television, underwater submarines, tasers, and videoconferencing, amongst other interesting modern phenomena.  And so then, in our endless research and analysis we find this wonderfully lucid bit of writing that proves to be particularly meaningful today. The above passage comes from the Verne short story titled  : “In The Year 2889”.

Long-time readers may well know that we have for some time been wondering how long it will take before we find a positive catalyst in the South African economic context. And we have expended much effort in analyzing the data and the outlook to seek that elusive answer. So of course we would forgive such readers for perhaps speculating that it was Jules Verne who foresaw the answer to that vexed question in his short story.  Phew!  We still only have 874 years left to go…

Easy there dear readers, remember that we are not in the business of speculating, so really, we would never get SO bearish.  Nonetheless, this week we did see another rate hike from the SARB, despite another depressing downgrade in growth prospects and a slight softening of the inflation outlook.  Well, it really does speak more to what the SARB actually fears more than anything else.  Yes, they hiked rates because of that inflation boogeyman that is waiting just around the corner.  They can’t see it yet, but they know it’s there, but they have seen the future, just like Jules Verne, and yes, be afraid, be very afraid. Perhaps they need to stop reading the horror-scopes, er newspapers and start reading sci-fi?

Ah, before we start exploring their motives, perhaps we should just stick with doing just what Verne said we should do in the quote above, which is to analyse the hundred thoughts that have come and go as our heroes (ahem, that’ll be the SARB MPC…) act out their roles.  Perhaps we too would then come to a similar conclusion as they did.  So we should not judge them too harshly.  But we would certainly not accuse them of lacking “elements of truth.”  Our respect for them stands. But the lack of elements of truth i.e. fiction?  That accolade instead belongs in the realm of the State-Owned-Enterprises – the SOE’s, where we already know that practically anything will fly. SAA.com? Hmmm, yes, that too. Et tu, Dudu?

Moving along rather swiftly then, so quick you could almost say WE were flying, we have also run our course this year, and the end is fast approaching, but we are constantly analyzing, and will continue to do so, because we tu want to create a living character.  But we want to do it long before 2889!  By which time we hope that the SA economy has long since recovered. Fingers crossed?