Let us for now ignore the fact that 90 percent of Zambian adults do not have a proper job; let us ignore the "elite capture" whereby the rich get very rich as the poor remain poor; let us ignore figures of childhood stunting and early death, and the variety of problems with education and health.
Let us, for now, treat Zambia as if it were a corporation, a "black box" which buys and sells things, lends and borrows money, and has a balance sheet and a profit and loss account.
This "dehumanised" vision of Zambia is one that appeals to many people - especially bankers both Zambian and international, and of course it appeals to people who do have proper jobs and are getting richer.
And it's not that I want to brush the human aspect - the "political economy" - under the carpet. I just want to separate it off so that we can make space in this article to take an uncluttered view of Zambia as a business and learn certain things as a result.
Viewed purely as a business Zambia is not doing too badly. From a background of a failing copper industry, zero growth, foreign exchange shortages and associated runaway depreciation of the kwacha, the country is now undergoing a resurgence in all these respects.
And it is doing this while the world at large is still wrestling with recession and its consequences. We must be very clever!
Actually, I do not think this is the explanation. At one point, for a short time, it looked as if the consequences of the recession would damage Zambia. Copper prices fell, and with them the value of the kwacha.
However, copper prices soon rose to record levels and have remained there. What gives?
The trite answer is that China has managed to keep its economy growing and that copper demand has been buoyant as a result. However, this cannot be a complete explanation, since China's economy even in the best of times is only a fraction of that of the whole world.
Demand for consumption in China cannot therefore account for record prices, especially in the face of the ongoing supply response triggered by surging demand a few years ago.
What must be happening is that some buyers are using copper as a reserve metal - like gold - as a hedge against falling value of other forms of reserve (e.g. the dollar).
I mentioned some months back that the Chinese were, as a matter of policy, building strategic reserves of copper, not just using the metal to wire new houses and make toys.
This is hedging by the state and not just the private sector.
If the "speculative" picture of the copper market is correct then we have reason to be thankful for the present - and worried about the future. It is the recession that has driven people to look for metals as a means of hedging.
One day, perhaps soon, the world economy will return to normal - meaning to the condition that obtained not just before the recession but before the various bubbles that expanded, burst and caused it.
When that happens then commodities currently being held as a hedge will lose value. That includes gold - and copper. So, from the Zambia viewpoint we should pray for the recession to continue.
It is our Father Christmas; once he has stopped making his visits we may find ourselves ruing the day we under-taxed the mining companies.
There are other unlooked-for benefits to Zambia from the recession. One is the new soft-look IMF, charged up with the milk of human kindness and distributing first world money to the third world to assist it in remaining stable in the face of the recession.
The IMF I knew in the early 1990s would never have tolerated the haemorrhage of politically driven subsidised fertiliser and transport that attends the overblown maize industry today. We were told to stop spending national resources on an essentially wasteful venture.
Now fertiliser is being pushed so far that it is putting household food security at increasing risk - maize being an unreliable staple crop in many parts of Zambia where it is now being promoted.
And then there are the currency wars amongst the world's leading manufacturing countries. The Chinese Yuan is too cheap and has caused joblessness in the United States. The US wants to weaken its currency in turn in order to level the playing field. So do the Europeans. Guess what?
The Zambian kwacha appreciates. This is because it is expressed in dollars, and dollars are becoming weaker.
If it were expressed in Martian krutniks (fictional currency of Mars) it would remain unperturbed perhaps. Meanwhile we can buy cars and fridges and toys more cheaply than we could.
Aren't we clever?
No, we are lucky bystanders of the recession - beneficiaries who will get their punishment if we don't take the opportunities afforded to us to hedge against a painful future. We have been along this road before…..
Ask KK, I am sure he remembers.
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