Feeble growth shows strain in SA economy
Cape Town - The commodities slump, falling tourist numbers, labour action, a tanking rand and bearish financial markets are all taking their toll on the South African economy, which has nonetheless stayed above recessionary levels - but only just.
This is according to the BankservAfrica Economic Transaction Index (Beti) numbers for November, which recorded R739.8bn in transactions, 10.2% higher than November 2014.
The Beti grew 2% year-on-year, and on a monthly basis by 0.1%. “However, viewed from a quarterly perspective, the Beti remains in decline, creating a conflicted picture,” said Mike Schüssler, chief economist at Economists dotcoza.
“The distorted image is a result of the fact that the different periods of measurement reflect weak business conditions and a cyclical downswing.”
Export earnings are feeling the effect of slower inflows of funds because of weaker commodity prices. On the plus side, consumers have received a slight boost from lower inflation and 13 months of year-on-year declines in the retail petrol price. This has made more disposable income available in households.
“Overall the number of debit transactions has shown poor growth for nine out of 11 months for 2015 with the value of these debit transactions struggling to grow in real terms, indicative of weak household credit growth over the last few years,” said Dr Caroline Belrose, head of fraud and data analytics at BankservAfrica.
This shows consumers are reluctant to take on new debt burdens as they consolidate and reduce their debt levels - a good indication that both banks and households are becoming more careful about managing household debt.
Credit transfers are still growing in real terms, a sign that the savings of debt repayments are being replaced by direct purchases by electronic means.
“The Beti shows that the economy is still growing, but at a very slow pace. Mixed outcomes over different periods indicate that the economy is still marginally positive,” said Schüssler. “Overall the Beti data is weak and South Africa remains close to recessionary conditions.”