Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni criticised the media on Thursday for inaccurately reporting his remarks, while also calling on black financial professionals to put something back into their communities.
The governor was addressing a meeting of the Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals (ABSIP) at Summer Place, the Johannesburg home of the late Italian millionaire Mario Chiavelli.
Mboweni described how he had been in a currency trader’s dealing room when a news agency headline had been flashed on the screen saying ”Ecuador’s cabinet resigns”. His host immediately sounded ”Sell Ecuador!” — without having read the whole news story. When Mboweni asked his host why he had sold without reading the entire story the man said he had to protect the interests of his shareholders.
It later emerged that the cabinet had in fact resigned because they were corrupt and the next day his host indiscriminately ‘bought Ecuador’, but the damage had been done. Mboweni wondered whether there might be something in the trading culture that could influence currency dealers to think more deeply before trading, especially in cases where mistaken reports were fed through to markets and decisions were made on incorrect information.
There was laughter when Mboweni said ”I won’t say anything you can trade on tonight”.
Renewing his criticism of media reporting Mboweni said that to avoid misinterpretation one could stop giving speeches. ”That is an attractive option — one could do as Alan Greenspan did and only speak from a prepared text or do what a deputy governor of the Bank of England did and refuse to take questions from wire services.”
The Governor called on his audience to make a contribution towards uplifting the poor and gave an example of a public works project in Limpopo which required the local community to grow vegetables, which would be kept in a cold storage facility, and a market to be built. There was also to be a bakery and a sports stadium.
All this cost government several million rands but the bakery ran for a while and then stopped. The market was empty and the cold room stood idle. ”You as skilled professionals need to spend more time in communities,” Mboweni told his audience, adding that project management skills and advice were needed that black professionals could provide. – Sapa