Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Kenya's adoption of the "spend now, pay later" model

If you were to be offered the choice of shopping using your credit card or somebody else's credit card, your behaviours would be very different.
The spend now, pay later model is now a key characteristic of Western capitalism. The 00s boom and its aftermath have been funded by private sector leveraging itself to the hilt. And the public sector (govts) stepping in to continue the leveraging and in effect spread the same to everybody. In layman terms, many people and companies borrowed more than they could afford on their credit cards loans, mortgages et al to finance a feel-good lifestyle. When the whole facade crumbled, governments stepped in and borrowed money to in effect repay these debts. They also performed a socialist service by making sure that the paying was spread out to everybody.

GoK has been borrowing to finance both its blotted bureaucracy and also development projects. Lately, private sector lending to finance mortgages, credit cards et al has also increased. While financing development projects such as infrastructure will pay itself back in due to course, the rest of the spending is unlikely to bring any returns. As such, paying back the borrowing will become a problem in the medium to long-term.

Rather than waiting for the medium-term, Kenyans need to start taking pro-active steps to ensure they leave and grow economically. Within their means.

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