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Update 1 africa money food inflation entrenched in southern africa


´╗┐(Adds Mozambique, editing)By Ed StoddardJOHANNESBURG Aug 10 Food inflation is taking hold in southern Africa, putting pressure on some state budgets and making it hard for central banks to loosen monetary policy in the hunt for growth and jobs. U.S. drought has driven corn prices to historic peaks, and maize and wheat futures in South Africa, the continent's biggest producer, are at or near record highs, raising the stakes for governments such as Mozambique that subsidise the cost of basic food. The price pressures constrain central banks in the region, notably in South Africa, which is feeling the pinch from economic stagnation in the euro zone, a major trading partner. Already drawn to the region by attractive but waning bond yields, foreigners may choose to pile in in greater numbers if bubbling inflation contributes to higher returns. Politicians, too, will be taking note, given the relative size of spending on food in the average household's budget and the potential for hungry masses to take to the streets, as happened two years ago in Mozambique. Compared with the food price crunch of 2008, headline inflation is still moderate, but looks unlikely to stay that way, especially as the price of corn is felt across the food chain in southern Africa, one of the few regions where the crop is mostly grown for human consumption instead of livestock. In South Africa, the continent's biggest economy, inflation was 5.5 percent in June compared to 11.6 percent at the same point in 2008. It accelerated to 13.6 percent in August that year. In Zambia, inflation ended 2008 at almost 17 percent but is currently 6.2 percent, a trend mirrored elsewhere in the region.

South African inflation is not seen racing to 13 percent next year but pressure from food prices -- which account for 14 percent of the inflation basket -- are seen remaining in place. Local wheat prices, for example, are sizzling with the December contract hitting record highs in July. There is a strong-nine month tie lag between South African consumer inflation and domestic wheat futures. Inflation pressures 9 months hence could have wide consequences as mine workers and platinum, gold and coal bosses will start sitting down then to hammer out new wage deals. This in turn could keep the pedal on overall prices in the economy if the settlements far exceed inflation. INPUT COSTS

Even if grain futures suddenly fall back to earth, the prices consumers pay in South Africa and elsewhere in the region may not follow suit because of ballooning input costs. According to Mike Schussler, director of economists.co.za, South African seed prices have been rising at almost 18 percent per year since 1999, almost triple the average inflation rate over the same period, because there are so few distributors."Regionally I think food inflation is likely to be higher for the next 18 months to two years," Schussler said."I think the whole costs base here in southern Africa is under pressure as diverse costs such as rail fees and port fees and seeds all are increasing above the rate of inflation."With inputs so high, commercial and peasant farmers alike will have no incentives to plant big crops if global grain futures do cool off and domestic prices fall with them. This in turn could push domestic prices back up.

And in the longer run, the outlook for regional food prices can only be skyward because of demography, which will lift demand, and also possibly climate change, which may hit supply if events such as the current U.S. drought become frequent. Take Zambia and Malawi. Both countries have been reaping bumper harvests in recent years, helping to contain inflation. Zambia needs around 2.5 million tonnes of maize for human consumption and output has been topping that. The 2010/2011 season saw a record crop of over 3 million tonnes. But this 500,000-tonne surplus could get snapped up by population growth if harvests don't continue to grow. According to the U. N. Population Fund, 46 percent of Zambia and Malawi's populations are under the age of 15, a trend seen in other countries in the region such as Angola. In South Africa the number is lower but still high at 30 percent. Such a demographic profile can only mean demand for maize will continue to rise briskly for the foreseeable future. It also points to an economy where dependents far outnumber breadwinners, a scenario that further feeds into labour wage demands in the most unionised region on the continent. Southern Africa also has a growing middle class that will rely less on maize as a staple but trends in other emerging markets suggest this shift in diet will boost consumption of meat products such as beef which also rely heavily on corn. It all points to growing demand amid uncertain supply: the key ingredients for a food inflation recipe.

Your money rebranding you five tips for a personal relaunch


´╗┐Cait Flanders was wrestling with a common life question: Who am I?Not in an existential sense, but a professional one. The popular personal-finance blogger had worked for six years on developing a recognizable name for herself as "Blonde on a Budget" as her website name and social media handles. She passed along tips on how to spend less, save more, and build a successful financial future. But then Flanders decided that her brand just did not work for her anymore because it sounded immature and pigeonholed her."So many people warned me that I would lose traffic for a while," says the 31-year-old from Vancouver, Canada. It is a problem facing many professionals. In this era of "Brand You," a sizable chunk of the workforce is comprised of freelancers and contractors, marketing themselves and their skills on a near-constant basis. By 2020 an estimated 40 percent of the American workforce will be freelance or non-permanent workers, according to a study by software firm Intuit. Brands - whether corporate, or personal - do not stay the same forever. Sometimes they need to be tweaked, or refreshed, or even thrown out altogether, says Dorie Clark, author of "Reinventing You" and an adjunct professor at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business."You need to adapt and move forward, to remain professionally relevant," Clark says. When you have been known for years by a particular handle, you have essentially been spending time and money building up brand equity. Changing that handle is similar to a company relaunch. And that can come with costs. True to her budget-conscious background, Flanders was able to pull it off on the cheap: She kept all her Twitter followers with a renamed account, reserved a new Web domain for $15 a year, did the design herself, and paid a techie friend $100 to redirect traffic from all her old posts to her new site (caitflanders.com). Here are a few tips for making that personal relaunch both successful, and seamless:

1. Go all the wayIf you are going to rebrand, then commit to it. If your new website says one thing, but your Twitter account says something else? That is the kind of marketplace confusion you do not want."You need to take inventory of all the ways your are presenting yourself, from business cards to stationery to social media," says Clark. "You want people to find only current information, rather than someone who is half-in and half-out of an old identity."2. Explain the shift

Set the tone yourself, spelling out for clients why you are making the shift. Handy places to do that, suggests Clark: The "About" page of your personal website, or the "Summary Statement" on popular networking site LinkedIn. "If you don't provide that narrative, people just get confused."3. Be patientIf anyone knows about the personal rebrand, it is Gary Vaynerchuk. For years the CEO of Vayner Media was known primarily as a wine commentator, making energetic and witty videos for followers. So when he decided to pivot toward his current status as a marketing and business guru, it was a jarring shift for some fans.

"People will struggle with it, because it is difficult for them to wrap their heads around," says the author of the new book "#AskGaryVee." "Just know that it will take 24, or 36, or 48 months for people to look at you in a different way. It requires a lot of humility and patience."4. Play to your strengthsOften people will rebrand themselves based on whatever business trend is hot at the moment, and not what they are actually good at, Vaynerchuk warns. That is a recipe for disaster."We all want to be something we're not," he says. "These days everybody wants to be an expert on entrepreneurship - even if they have never sold anything in their lives."5. When in doubt, stick with your own nameCait Flanders thought about another clever moniker, but went with a simple solution that would not leave her rebranding again in another couple years. "Your interests will change every few years," says Flanders. "But your name is something that is not going to change."