Africa

South Africa

‘BIG’ push in SA, FX distortions in Nigeria, tourism woes

Momentum behind proposals for a basic income grant (BIG) in South Africa appear to be building, suggesting that the authorities are leaning towards providing more fiscal support. Elsewhere, Nigeria’s unorthodox foreign exchange policy seems to be disrupting activity but the chances of policymakers reversing course are very low. Finally, a recent virus wave in the highly-vaccinated island nation of Mauritius has dampened its recovery prospects, but other tourism-dependent economies in Africa will probably fare even worse.

17 September 2021

SA to struggle to get back on economic feet after July hit

South Africa’s hard activity data for July underscored the severe blow to the retail and manufacturing sectors from violent unrest and tighter virus restrictions. While much of the hit has probably unwound more recently, weak growth momentum increases the risk of a contraction in GDP over Q3 as a whole.

15 September 2021

Putting risky asset valuations into context

This Update compares the valuations of the twelve different “risky” asset classes that we cover on our Asset Allocation service, both relative to one another and to the yields of “safe” assets, as well as explaining how those valuations inform our long-term returns forecasts.

13 September 2021
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Dollar rebound looks unconvincing

After weakening over the preceding two weeks, the US dollar has rebounded against most other currencies this week. Nonetheless, last week’s disappointing payrolls report and the slightly less upbeat tone in recent comments from FOMC members appear to have kept a lid on the greenback. We think an announcement on tapering asset purchases will now not be forthcoming at the September FOMC meeting later this month. But with new economic forecasts and the addition of 2024 projections to the “dot plot”, that meeting may still set the tone for the dollar for the next couple of months. A repeat of the hawkish surprise at the June meeting (which was in part driven by upward revisions to the “dot” rate projections) could well revive the dollar rally.

The pandemic and EM scarring risks

The pandemic is likely to inflict lasting damage on potential growth in economies in much of Latin America, Africa and South and Southeast Asia, adding to the structural headwinds that they already faced. However, the risk of permanent scarring in many other emerging markets – including much of East Asia and Emerging Europe – is overstated.

South Africa Manufacturing Production (Jul.)

South Africa’s manufacturing sector suffered a larger-than-expected fall in output in July and, while more timely data point to a rebound in activity, the weakness in July has increased the chances that the economy contracts over Q3 as a whole.

Evergrande & frontier sovereign debt risks build

The combination of large foreign-currency debt burdens, low FX reserves and weakening currencies means that the risk of sovereign defaults in Sri Lanka and Tunisia is growing. Elsewhere, China’s largest property developer, Evergrande, appears to be close to collapse, which would cause large losses for banks and bondholders. Were this to cause stress in the banking sector, the government would ultimately step in to restore stability. Elsewhere, banking sectors in Turkey, India and the UAE are points of concern.

South Africa GDP (Q2)

South Africa’s economy grew by a better-than-expected 1.2% q/q in Q2 as strong growth in exports made up for weak domestic demand. Tighter virus restrictions and violent unrest weighed on activity at the start of Q3 and the recovery is likely to be slow going from here on. This, combined with subdued inflation, means that the central bank is likely to raise interest rates later than most currently expect.

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