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Could Tito Mboweni Be The Turning Point?

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Tito Mboweni inherits Africa’s recession-hit country as president Cyril Ramaphosa chases growth.

If the performance of South Africa’s currency in the week since Tito Mboweni was picked as finance minister is any good, Africa’s only economy in official recession might be on to a good thing.

The rand, Africa’s most freely-traded currency, gained more than 5% against the dollar in the week since the former central bank governor replaced Nhlanhla Nene who quit after lying about his dealings with a business family, the Guptas, accused of bribing government officials including former President Jacob Zuma.

The former labor minister brings a no-nonsense approach analysts say will be needed to take Africa’s second-largest economy out of a largely self-inflicted second recession in less than a decade amid graft allegations. He will need to rein in government spending, six months before elections that may drop the ruling African National Congress’ (ANC) support below half for the first time since the dawn of democracy in 1994.

“Fiercely independent and often regarded as a bit of a maverick, Mr Mboweni is nevertheless likely to emerge as one of Mr Ramaphosa’s more inspired decisions,’’ says Gary van Staden, analyst at Cape Town-based NKC Research.

“He is certainly among the more highly-regarded choices the president could have made and we expect him to add momentum to the decisions of the job summit and economic stimulus package.’’

Mboweni served four years as labor minister in former President Nelson Mandela’s government where he developed the first post-apartheid labor law. At the South African Reserve Bank, where he was the country’s first black governor, Mboweni spent a decade, and built a reputation as a conservative banker and defender of the country’s newly-adopted inflation-targeting regime.

His major achievement was building the country’s foreign exchange reserves from less than $10 billion to $40 billion when he left in 2009 after two terms deemed by most as successful.

READ MORE: One on One With Naledi Pandor SA Minister of Higher Education

“The economy is now in a safe pair of hands. It is someone senior both in the ANC and in the government as he served as a minister of labor previously. What is also important is we have ratings agencies watching us and this will bode well for them,’’ says independent economist Mike Schussler.

Mboweni takes charge of an economy that was in recession in the first six months of the year, hobbled by nine years of poor management under Zuma which left business confidence shattered. With the economy barely growing during the period, the country lost its investment grade rating from Standard & Poor’s (S&P) and Fitch Ratings.

Only Moody’s maintained its rating above junk and the company deferred a decision after Mboweni’s appointment, fanning hopes it will give him time to mend the country’s finances and present a credible growth plan.

But economists say it might be too late for a country that needs to cut spending while chasing economic growth.

“I am afraid we have overplayed our hand on the numbers,’’ says Dawie Roodt, an economist at Efficient Group in Johannesburg.

“The fiscal numbers are unsustainable and the debt numbers in particular are terrible. From a numbers point of view, I am afraid this is a downgrade.’’

The new minister has a full problem tray as he comes in: unemployment is sitting at 27.2% as companies grapple with soaring costs inflated by a weak rand, falling government revenues in a country where 17 million people depend on government grants, and weak business confidence.

But his appointment may provide the turning point the country desperately requires, according to Van Staden.

“The former Reserve Bank governor can be a difficult personality, but his skillset and deep understanding of financial markets are likely to see him embrace a market-orientated policy framework with a no-nonsense attitude and dedication to economic growth and social development. We expect the appointment to have a positive impact on the credibility of the Ramaphosa administration.’’

It is credibility Ramaphosa has been building and one he will need quickly, according to Ravi Bhatia, a director at S&P which rates the country’s debt junk with a stable outlook. Its next rating decision is scheduled to be announced on November 23.

“He will have to get up to speed quite quickly,’’ Bhatia said pointing to the country’s Medium Term Budget Policy statement released in October. “He will have to push through measures that will deliver growth. We want to see growth being delivered and the fiscal line being controlled.’’

– Godfrey Mutizwa

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South Africa aims to finalize long-term energy plan next month: minister

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South Africa is aiming to finalize a long-term plan for the country’s energy mix next month, and once that is done it will launch another round of renewable energy deals, Energy Minister Jeff Radebe said on Wednesday.

“We are aiming for February,” Radebe told Reuters, when asked when the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) would be completed. “Straight away after that we will launch more renewable energy contracts,” he added. -Reuters

-Alexander Winning

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The Happiest Companies To Work For In 2018

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Companies that keep employees happy aren’t just helping their workers—they’re helping themselves, since satisfied workers are more productive. In fact, a mutual fund that invests in companies with positive workplace ratings, Parnassus Endeavor, has beaten the market handily over the past 10 years.

What are the organizations with the happiest employees? Careers site CareerBliss launched its eighth-annual list of the happiest companies in America. It surveyed tens of thousands of workers and asked them to rate their employers on ten key factors, such as their relationship with management, workplace environment, compensation, satisfaction with job function and growth opportunities.

To see the top 10 happiest companies to work for, open the gallery below. For the full list of 50, see the end of this article.

Keller Williams Realty takes the top spot. The Austin, Texas company has 175,000 agents across more than 900 metro areas and claims to be the world’s largest real estate franchise by agent count. A Keller Williams Realty employee wrote on CareerBliss.com, “One of the greatest benefits is how our company promotes from within. All employees are encouraged and supported to be in control of their growth and career paths.”

Sneaker king Nike ranks second. It remains one of the most valuable brands in the world, and it’s navigating a big transition as more consumers shop online. In June it announced its “NIKE Direct” initiative—the company is trying to sell more of its products directly to consumers through its website and own stores, rather than rely on traditional retailers like Foot Locker.

Adobe is the fourth happiest company, according to CareerBliss. The Silicon Valley tech giant invented PDFs and launched them 1993. It claims PDFs have led to a 91% reduction in environmental impact and 90% cost savings when compared with paper-based processes. And Adobe’s Photoshop software is used by 90% of creative professionals. “The atmosphere is highly collaborative and energizing. People have always been friendly and helpful; very professional,” wrote one employee on CareerBliss.com.

Pharmaceutical giant Amgen ranks fifth. Arthritis drug Enbrel is its top-selling product, bringing in nearly $6 billion in sales last year. “The work-life balance is great, fantastic daycare on campus, lots of smart co-workers,” wrote one CareerBliss reviewer. “Working for Amgen was very rewarding to see the positive impact we made in patients’ lives,” reported a West Coast employee.

Full List: The Happiest Companies to Work for in 2018

  1. Keller Williams Realty
  2. Nike
  3. Total Quality Logistics
  4. Adobe
  5. Amgen
  6. Chevron
  7. Intuit
  8. Bristol-Myers Squibb
  9. PNC Financial Services Group
  10. TruGreen
  11. CIGNA
  12. Starbucks
  13. Apple
  14. Quicken Loans
  15. Leidos
  16. Qualcomm
  17. iGATE
  18. The Vanguard Group
  19. Citrix Systems
  20. Kaiser Permanente
  21. Chase
  22. Pfizer
  23. Fidelity Investments
  24. American Income Life Insurance Company
  25. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
  26. American Express
  27. GE Capital
  28. Merck
  29. American Airlines
  30. Microsoft
  31. Cisco Systems
  32. Nordstrom
  33. Exxon Mobil
  34. Alcatel-Lucent
  35. CenturyLink
  36. Bank of America
  37. The Walt Disney Company
  38. Wells Fargo
  39. Oracle
  40. Citigroup
  41. Broadcom
  42. Farmers Insurance Group of Companies
  43. DirecTV
  44. Dell
  45. Symantec
  46. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
  47. ABC News
  48. CareFusion
  49. Spectrum
  50. Verizon Communications
    – Jeff Kauflin

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5 Questions You Should Never Ask During A Job Interview

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So, you think you’re acing your job interview.


Your interviewer seems to like you. You like your job interviewer. The camaraderie couldn’t be better.

Then comes the proverbial: “So, what questions do you have for me?”

Whether you’re interviewing for a job at Google or joining your local small business, the questions that you ask your interviewer matter. It’s your opportunity to showcase your talents, knowledge, and judgment.

Here are 5 questions that you should never ask during a job interview (and three more that you should).

1. “So, how much will I get paid?”

This seems like a no-brainer, but for some reason, interviewees still think the question is fair play.

That said, it is a fair question. After all, you need to know how much you’ll be paid before you take the job. While that’s true, the interview is not the time to discuss salary.

If you receive a job offer, you can discuss salary at that time.

2. “How much vacation time will I get?”

Again, your vacation and personal time might be an important part of your calculus when deciding to take a job offer.

However, asking how much vacation time you’ll get demonstrates you’re focused more on time off than working.

Like salary, your vacation and other benefits should be reflected in the job offer. You can ask all the questions related to salary and benefits at that time. You can also schedule a follow-up session with the human resources department for a benefits deep-dive.

3. “How quickly can I get promoted?”

Climbing the ladder of your potentially new organization is admirable.

However, don’t assume during the interview that you have the job. It’s important to understand options for movement – both upward and lateral – within the organization. If you plan to work at this organization, it’s essential to understand your career trajectory.

You don’t want to come off as entitled. This question may convey to the interviewer that you think you already have the job (when you don’t).

4. “Why did the company fire so many people last month?”

It’s never a good sign to read about layoffs.

This is especially true when you may be joining an organization after a big headcount reduction.

It’s a fair question, and you should understand the details. However, the job interview is the wrong time.

When you receive your job offer, you can have a frank conversation with your manager about the layoffs, the rationale, whether additional layoffs are expected and other related information to fortify your understanding.

Before accepting a job, make sure to understand if the headcount reduction is expected to be ongoing or if it was a one-time occurrence.

5. “So, who do you consider your competition?”

Instead of asking your interviewer about the competition, spend the time asking questions that demonstrate your interest in the company and also show that you’ve done research prior to your interview.

Before the interview, you should have conducted due diligence on the competitive landscape.

That includes understanding key competitors, relative strengths and weaknesses, the supply chain, key opportunities and threats, barriers to entry and other pertinent market dynamics.

You’re better off weaving this information into the interview, rather than asking during the question period.

3 Questions That You Can Ask During An Interview

Here are three potential questions that you could ask during your job interview:

1. “What are the best attributes of the company’s culture?”

  • Show your interest in company culture.
  • Understand the key values that set this company apart.
  • Learn more about the company’s mission and value proposition.

2. “How much is collaboration across departments encouraged?”

  • Determine whether collaboration is promoted internally.
  • Learn more about ways in which collaboration helps create value for employees and customers.
  • See if the interviewer can share concrete examples to further your understanding.

3. “What would you like the person that you hire to accomplish over the next 6-12 months?”

  • Learn about your interviewer’s goals for the position.
  • Understand expectations.
  • This will give you insights because the question is specific to the role and shows your ability to think longer-term.
  • -Zack Friedman

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