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U2 – an irritation on my phone

I was a big fan of U2 when they made politically relevant and amazing music when I was young. They went from singing about politics to singing about a beautiful day and their music of the last 10 or even 20 years really doesn’t echo with me. The biggest irritation though is the album that was downloaded to everyone’s iPhone account in 2014 for free called “Songs of Innocence”.  That album has the most wretched U2 music in my mind and I really don’t appreciate it being stuck in my phone.  For some reason it invariably starts playing when you sit on the phone incorrectly and even the album cover, pictured alongside, comes onto your phone while the music is playing.  It took me a long time to find out how to get it off my phone, but I hopefully have finally now deleted it!

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 28-Nov-19   |  Permalink   |  40 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Impeachment proceedings in America

I have no idea how the impeachment proceedings in the USA are going to turn out.  It is fascinating however watching them from the perspective of a lawyer where you watch one side make great points and the other side, who don’t have much to say, will pretend that those points were not made.

The media cover this by using a good legal adage which I thought is relevant considering that I am in law.  The lawyers say that if the facts are on your side then you must pound on the facts and repeat them again and again.  If the law is in your side, then you must pound on the law.  If neither the facts nor the law is in your favour, then what you need to do is pound on the table and express outrage.

That is pretty much what has been going on in the hearings so far from the one side and it is interesting for lawyers, especially those who go to court all the time, to observe that in action – how people without the facts or the law in their favour can still make it sound awfully good, just by pounding on the table and screaming outrage on anything they can think of, normally being procedure and insisting that the procedure is not fair!

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Friday 22-Nov-19   |  Permalink   |  26 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Depeche Mode movie

Today, around the world, there is a screening of a Depeche Mode concert video.  Its apparently more documentary, focusing on some fans of the group, interspersed with recent concert footage.  I am going along, for better or worse, because they are one of my favorite bands and much of what they pioneered in terms of electro pop and computer-based music has been copied by so many bands after them.  The movie is titled Depeche Mode: Spirits in the Forest.  I am not a big fan of the juvenile lyrics written by most pop bands, but Depeche Mode always kept it simple and true to life.  By way of example, talking about the world we live in now, the song Everything Counts deals with materialism, con artists and how people will do everything to keep that graph, of how much money and power they have, increasing:

The grabbing hands
Grab all they can
All for themselves after all

It's a competitive world
Everything counts in large amounts

The graph on the wall
Tells the story of it all
Picture it now
See just how the lies and deceit
Gained a little more power
Confidence taken in by a sun tan and a grin

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 21-Nov-19   |  Permalink   |  39 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Petrol up 33 percent since 2012

 read an interesting article recently indicating that the cost of petrol in South Africa has increased by 33% since 2012.  The article makes the point that the international oil price is exactly as expensive now as it was in 2012.

The reason that South Africans are paying more for petrol has got nothing to do with the oil price.  It is all about - according to the article - the increase in all of the taxes during that time, some of which of course is related to the R1,98 per litre that goes to the Road Accident Fund.  A lot of the increase is related to the general taxes that the Government raises on petrol which stood at R1,97 a litre in 2012 and are now at R3,52 a litre.  This is all despite what has happened with the Rand, which has also weakened during the time, because oil prices are actually lower now than they were in 2012, so despite the weakening of the Rand during that time South Africa pays less for a barrel of oil, in Rands, now than we did in October 2012!

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 14-Nov-19   |  Permalink   |  44 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Moody's negative outlook

As we all know, there was some celebration that South Africa dodged a downgrade to junk status by Moody’s.  That is a little bit of a surprise and the Rand actually rallied a little bit on Monday, 4 November, after that news, because Moody’s did exactly what had been expected. 

Consensus has been clear that Moody’s would not downgrade South Africa at that point, but would, as they normally do, change their long-term outlook. That change means that a downgrade is likely to come somewhere between the budget at the end of February 2020 and June 2021.  It may come sooner than people think but the belief of most of the media in South Africa seems to be that it is about 12 to 18 months away.

The real question is, are there steps we can take to avoid that downgrade and will the government take those steps?  Tito Mboweni said, “It is now or never – government, labour, business and civil society – we need each other more than ever before.”  The problems lie all over, but have obviously been exaggerated by Eskom and its massive debt and the fact that so many people do not even pay for their electricity in South Africa. It is important to understand that if Moody’s does cut our rating, it will fall somewhere between $10 billion to $15 billion of bond funds to automatically be sold, which would in turn increase borrowing costs for the government and put the government in a worse position than they are now.  We now need to hope that we can keep that Moody’s rating and not be downgraded. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Friday 08-Nov-19   |  Permalink   |  34 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Starbucks - disaster in South Africa

I was stunned to read how little Taste Holdings sold its 13 Starbucks stores for in South Africa.  They were paid only R7 million and they say that the launch store in Rosebank alone cost approximately R14 million to build, let alone what it cost to fit out all the other Starbucks branches around South Africa. 

I think that Starbucks is rather expensive by South African standards and it may well not have been positioned very well.  There is obviously also something to be said about having much smaller branches so that one pays a smaller rental.  Apparently, the shareholders of Taste had put in over R1 billion to fund the expansion of Domino’s Pizza and Starbucks and now the company has decided to get out of a losing business – so there are big losses all round for them.  Domino’s Pizza has had to buy back some of the franchises to the extent that now the company owns 58 out of the 81 stores according to an article I read. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 07-Nov-19   |  Permalink   |  45 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
World Cup euphoria

It is very hard for a small country, like South Africa, to win lots of international tournaments or Olympic medals.  Those wins that we do get are really treasured and probably mean more to us than to many other countries.  I remember the feeling in 1995 when we won the Rugby World Cup as well as attending the parades for the Springbok rugby team after the 2007 World Cup win.  Those are truly special times in a country which need to be savoured and enjoyed, because you never know how long you will wait for the next one – in rugby the pattern seems to be every 12 years.

We knew we had a good team going in and that we were one of the best teams in the world this time round, but both New Zealand and England looked formidable.  When England destroyed New Zealand it was no surprise that the bookmakers priced them up at 5/10 meaning that mathematically they had a 75% chance of winning. We took our 25% chance, which if course is not a huge outsider in any “two horse” race, but certainly a surprise - and it was a fantastic win for the team and the country.  To give you a perspective on the odds, Donald Trump always claims that he was a massive outsider when he won the Presidency.  That of course is not true in any race involving just two people or two teams, because its never a huge shock if the 2nd option wins, but Donald Trump’s odds of winning in 2016 were statistically better than the Springboks’ chance of winning.  Of course, that is not the way we, as South Africans, saw the Springboks’ chances because we know exactly how passionate and strong our teams are.  In fact, we have never lost in a Rugby World Cup, once we have made the final, and on almost all of the occasions we have not been the favourites.  

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 06-Nov-19   |  Permalink   |  45 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It

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Johannesburg based attorney specializing in personal injury matters including Road Accident Fund claims and medical negligence matters. My interests include golf, reading and the internet and the way it is constantly developing. I have a passion for life and a desire for less stress!
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