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Volatile SA economy actually running on one spot - report

Jul 13 2017 12:58

Cape Town - Current economic activity in South Africa is down on last year's numbers in real terms, according to the latest BankservAfrica Economic Transactions Index (BETI) released on Thursday.

According to the BETI report, just when economic activity seems ready to pick up, short-term shocks project badly on actual economic transactions.

"The constant change in direction of the BETI suggests that the economy will remain low to flat in the immediate future. The only constant at present is the uncertainty of both business and consumers. On a bigger picture level, the data is revealing that the economy is changing direction so often that it is actually just running on the spot," states the report.

"The economy remains flat and that has been the history of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) changes over the last three years. Economic transactions that underpin the economy show that this uncertainty is still the dominant feature of the current period."

The BETI report describes current economic activity in SA as "incredibly volatile, with the topsy-turvy economic trajection seemingly the trend". This is as measured by the throughput of transactional data via BankservAfrica’s South African payment system.

The BETI data reflects transactional activity from individuals and firms making payments for goods and services both electronically and via cheques, and is regarded as a good measure of immediate economic activities.  

The BETI for June showed economic activity registered a 0.4% month-on-month growth after declining by -0.1% between May and April.

On a year-on-year basis, the BETI continued to decline compared to a year ago, as well as for the last nine months. However, the June year-on-year decline of 0.4% is the lowest in this period. For the second consecutive month, there was no change in the quarterly data.

READ: Negative impact of downgrades starting to show - index

Constant volatility
 
The BETI report says latest data suggests economic transactional activity is likely to be in a state of constant volatility in the longer term.

A retrospective view of the last 42 months shows monthly changes on the BETI registered 45.2% declines, with 4.8% showing no change and 50% of the monthly movements showing growth.

Similarly, the South African economy declined by 38.5% in the quarters measured in this time period, and grew 61.5% of the time.

"Moreover, 23% of this period recorded GDP growth of less than 0.5%, while 23% showed growth higher than the population growth of 1.7%," states the report.

The number of transactions as recorded by BETI data in June grew by 6.7%.

This, together with May’s strong growth of 9.3% on a year-on-year basis, would usually be a good sign of SA’s economic growth. However, the average value per transaction in nominal terms declined by 1.6% after posting a 1.1% decline on a year-on-year basis.

"For the first time since 2012, the average nominal value per transaction declined for three consecutive months in a row," states the report.

"South African economic transaction numbers have reduced even as inflation remains over 5%. This could be partly due to the shift in the types of goods that are moving though the economy at present."

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bankserv­africa  |  beti  |  sa economy
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