RESERVE Bank governor Gill Marcus was speaking for most South Africans when she expressed frustration at the manner in which the country's desperately needed economic growth has been hobbled by the global slowdown.

South Africa is indeed a place of "real growth opportunity", as she told a gathering in Johannesburg on Wednesday, yet this promise is not being fulfilled. Wise political leadership is going to be required to restrain those clamouring for quick-fix solutions, especially as concerns the alleviation of poverty and creation of employment.

The economic news out of Europe in particular does not augur well for the domestic economy picking up momentum in the near future, which increases the danger of populist leaders gaining support for unsustainable policies such as nationalisation and the imposition of new taxes.

However, the Bank has more stimulatory tools at its disposal than many of its peers in the developed world, especially when it comes to interest rates. The time is rapidly approaching when it will have to come off the fence and use them.

The European Central Bank (ECB), Bank of England and China's central bank all cut interest rates yesterday, the former to a record low of 0,75%, but the stimulatory effect is not expected to last long.

Even a 0% deposit rate, which acts as a floor for the money market, may not be enough to prompt European banks to lend to one another more, rather than parking their money with the ECB every night. The crux of the financial crisis in Europe is a loss of confidence in the banking system and member-states' capacity to support them. Lower borrowing costs will provide some relief for businesses and consumers, but they are not a panacea. There is no quick fix for Europe's deep structural problems either.

Once the initial, knee-jerk market reaction to the central banks' action has passed, it will dawn on investors that their money is doing even less for them in Europe now than it was before, and the search for yield will resume. And with the US seemingly poised to announce stimulatory measures of its own - probably in the form of further quantitative easing - which will be bearish for the dollar, there is every prospect that emerging markets will see significant capital inflows.

This should make the job of the Bank's monetary policy committee a lot easier than it has been in recent months. The money market has been discounting an interest rate cut for some time - Ms Marcus is now fully justified in giving it one.