When Rory gave me the opportunity to write a monthly business article for the website, I jumped at the idea. I thought it would be a great way that I could impart some of the financial knowledge that I have gained over the years. Money, sadly, impacts all of us as our need to purchase the vital commodities such as food and fuel affects how we go about our daily lives.
What I hope to achieve through my monthly articles is to provide a better understanding of the financial world so that terms such as credit default swap and mortgage backed securities don’t seem so daunting any more. In keeping with the theme of the website, I believe that more knowledge and a better understanding of the world around us would lead to a greater enjoyment of life in general.
I won’t necessary be giving investments tips such as which next high rising stock to buy, or any get-rich-quick schemes. However, I will be giving my insight into some of the topical financial questions that have hit the headlines, such as the European financial crises, the reasons for the fluctuation in the rand dollar exchange and the effect of inflation on our lives.
A little bit about myself; after High School I studied accountancy at Rhodes University. Two of the courses that I enjoyed were economics and accounting. I then completed my articles with Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) and qualified as a chartered accountant. I was fortunate enough to be chosen to go on secondment to PwC in Kazakhstan at the beginning of 2008.
My Time in Kazakhstan
That was the year when the credit crises hit and world economy started to slow down. In South Africa we were relatively sheltered from the worst of the recession, but I got to see the effects for myself on my overseas excursions. Kazakhstan is one of the world’s big oil producers and their economy has experienced a massive growth rate over the last decade or more. While I was over there the oil price hit $100 a barrel (see how the price of oil affects you).
The effect of the credit crises was seen throughout Almaty where construction of apartment buildings had stopped overnight. Wherever I went the construction cranes were just standing still and buildings were left partly completed.
What had happened was the USA banks needed the money badly and they were recalling all loans given to 3rd world nations such as Kazakhstan. And since the Kazak banks were lending funds to construction companies, they suddenly had to withhold these loans.
The net result was that all construction stopped. A lot of my Kazak friends had bought into apartment buildings and had to wait until their buildings were completed before they could move into them. None of them knew when construction would commence again and had to live with uncertainty.
I only spent a few months in Kazakhstan and a short while afterwards the price of oil peaked to $145 a barrel and then hit a massive noise dive to just $30 in late December 2008. The low price of oil was attributable to the slump in the world economy.
The oil price only broke the $100 barrier again in January 2011, mainly due to the Arab spring. Currently the Oil price is at $100 a barrel which may indicate that we are coming out of the worldwide economic crisis.
The Cayman Islands and South Africa
I have also completed two years in the Cayman Islands, one of the biggest financial services sectors of the world. I worked for PwC auditing banks and captive insurance clients. I learnt a lot while I was over there and gained more insight into world markets, credit ratings and bonds.
I am now currently working for the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in South Africa and, while I don’t profess to know everything about the financial world, I am still learning as much as I can. I hope that I can impart some of this knowledge on the enjoylife.co.za website.