There are still opportunities for South Africans to start businesses despite the recession, says  Siphethe Dumeko, chief financial officer at start-up lender Business Partners.
 
South Africa's economy shrank by 2,2% in the first quarter, and 0,7% in the second quarter of 2018, landing the country in a recession.
 
Dumeko said that entrepreneurs starting companies will, however, face an uphill battle.
 
“Procuring capital to start a new venture is predicted to become increasingly difficult, as the majority of funding institutions are expected to adopt an increasingly risk-averse stance,” Dumeko said.
 
Still, Dumeko believes three sectors could prove recession-proof for entrepreneurs. 
 
Security:
“In spite of the continued underperformance of the country’s economy in recent years, private security has become an R45 billion industry with a growth rate of 15 percent per annum,” Dumeko said. He said this is because, during a time of economic recession and uncertainty, individuals tend to be more risk-averse.
 
Death-care services:
Dumeko said, as morbid as it might sound, that businesses offering services related to death, including funerals, cremation, burial, and memorials, are usually some of the most recession-proof operations. “Deathcare services usually have a steady stream of business, regardless of the economic climate,” he said. South Africa’s funeral industry is estimated to be valued between R7.5 billion and R10 billion.
 
Education:
Despite economic pressures, the underperforming public education sector has fuelled demand for alternatives, Dumeko said. It is also reported, he said, that South Africa is experiencing skills shortages in almost all of its sectors, emphasising the need service providers that offer more effective, affordable and accessible adult education. “Businesses that offer accredited online training platforms have especially seen increasing interest in South Africa, as well as on the rest of the African continent.”
The rand has been on a seesaw over the past 24 hours hitting above R15 to the US dollar.
 
Currently the rand is at High R14.60 Low R14. 57 to the greenback.
 
The rand has been under pressure for the past few weeks with ratings agencies Moody’s and Fitch citing continued political uncertainty.
 
Rising US interest rates have also had a profound effect on the rand which has plunged to levels last seen in 2016.
 
The local currency has also been volatile this week with economists concerned about the medium-term budget speech later this month.
 
All eyes will be on former Reserve Bank governor and now Finance Minister Tito Mboweni with rating agencies calling for more stability and transparency at the highest level.
 
 
Source: News24
The South African economy is in the midst of its longest business cycle downturn in more than 73 years, according to the Reserve Bank, and things aren't looking particularly favourable right now either.
 
The adverse business climate has impacted the stock market too this year, seeing listed companies declining year-to-date on the whole. 
 
According to analysis done by Corion Capital, a boutique hedge fund manager, 60% of listed counters had depreciated by the end of September, with more than a third slumping in excess of 15%. Only 16% of the stocks in the All Share Index gained more than 15% this year to end-September.
 
Topping the list of poor performers are Tiger Brands, off more than 40%, two healthcare companies, Aspen and Mediclinic, MTN, and Woolworths.
 
Performance of the top 40 JSE shares. Tiger Brands and Aspen were the biggest losers, while Sasol and BHP Billiton were the top performers. (Corion Capital)
 
Performance of the top 40 JSE shares. Tiger Brands and Aspen were the biggest losers, while Sasol and BHP Billiton were the top performers. (Corion Capital)
 
And the sharp sell-off has continued into October, with only the Resource Index managing to gain ground last week and the Banks Index hardest hit, losing 7%.
 
Garreth Montano, a director of Corion Capital, puts the bout of negativity swamping investor sentiment this year down to:
 
- Low GDP growth. South Africa has unfortunately missed out on a resurgence in the world economy and has been left well behind in terms of GDP growth. The reasons behind the sluggish performance of the domestic economy can be debated at length, but many view the Zuma era as a large contributor to the underperformance of SOEs, heightened corruption, lack of job creation and lack of investor confidence in attracting foreign direct investment.
 
- The land debate and mining charter have further dented prospects of new investment, which would aid growth as well as assist in creating new jobs. All of which are dearly needed.
 
- Many commentators believe that president Ramaphosa’s hands are tied until general elections, and the righting of the ship and benefits to the economy will start gaining momentum once there is more clarity around the land issue and elections are behind us.
 
To add to these internal challenges, emerging markets, as a whole, have had a difficult 2018, being largely led down by the crises in Turkey and Argentina. Trade wars have also had a negative effect, creating concerns about a drag on emerging markets exports due to potential for tariff impositions by the US, Montano says.
 
Locally the negative sentiment towards broader emerging markets has played out in large outflows fromn our bond market, as well as foreigners selling off equities, says Montano. Last week almost R6bn alone was taken out of South Africa by foreign investors.
 
These disinvestments have also played out in currency markets, driving the rand dramatically lower to more than R15 to the dollar at stages compared with its peak of almost R11.50 in February this year.
 
 
Source: Business Insider

The impact of the escalating global trade war is likely to shave 0.1% off South Africa's gross domestic product (GDP) baseline forecast in 2019 and 0.2% in 2020, according to Fitch Ratings' June 2018 "Global Economic Outlook" baseline forecast.

Fitch forecast that the escalation in the trade war is likely to reduce the world GDP by 0.4% in 2019 and by 0.3% in 2020.

"An escalation of global trade tensions that results in new tariffs on $2trn in global trade flows would reduce world growth by 0.4% in 2019, to 2.8% from 3.2%," the Fitch Ratings said in a statement on Wednesday.

The US, Canada and Mexico would be the most affected countries. Fitch expects China would be less severely impacted, with GDP growth around 0.3% below the baseline forecast. Fitch points out that China would only be affected directly by US protectionist measures, whereas the US would be imposing tariffs on a large proportion of its imports, while being hit simultaneously by retaliatory measures from four countries or trading blocs.

"The imposition of further tariff measures currently being considered by the US administration and commensurate retaliatory tariffs on US goods by the EU, China, Canada and Mexico would mark a significant escalation from tariff measures imposed to date," according to Fitch.

"The tariffs would initially feed through to higher import prices, raising firms' costs and reducing real wages. Business confidence and equity prices would also be dampened, further weighing on business investment and reducing consumption through a wealth effect."

Export competitiveness in the countries subject to tariffs would decline, resulting in lower export volumes. The negative growth effects would be magnified by trade multipliers and feed through to other trading partners not directly targeted by the tariffs. Import substitution would offset some of the growth shock in the countries imposing import tariffs.

Fitch forecasts that most countries not directly involved in the trade war would see their GDP falling below baseline, though generally at a much lower scale.

Net commodity exporters would be more severely hit, as slower world growth would push oil and hard commodity prices down. On the other hand, for some net commodity importers, the benefits from lower hard commodity prices would more than offset the impact of lower world growth.

 

Source: News25

The SA Bureau of Standards (SABS) has been strongly criticised by business, which says the entity is losing the country at least R4 billion a year in exports in the manufacturing and engineering sectors alone.
 
This comes after years of businesses complaining about a lack of testing by the SABS, resulting in manufacturers losing contracts because they are unable to obtain the SABS mark timeously, or they have been unable to renew 2 600 permits to use the mark.
 
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies is assessing representations from the SABS board on why he should not go ahead with his intention to put the entity under administration for not performing to its mandate. The SABS falls under Davies’ department.
 
Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa economist Marique Kruger said the lack of testing and certification by the SABS within the required time frames was a concern, as certification was often needed for products to be sold locally and internationally.
 
Kruger said trade deals being delayed or cancelled due to a lack of testing hit smaller businesses the hardest and caused a loss of billions in exports a year in the manufacturing and engineering sectors.
 
“The impact on the domestic production value chain is also huge,” she said.
 
Director at GAP Holdings, Theuns van Aardt, said manufacturers in the solar water heating industry were “tearing their hair out” because they “cannot get a system approved by the SABS”.
 
He said the piping, pump and valve industries were similarly affected, and were “being put at massive risk”.
 
Business development manager Carolien van der Horst of the SA Capital Equipment Export Council said the SABS was also failing to audit the local content of products supplied in government contracts as stipulated in government’s Industrial Policy Action Plan.
 
Van der Horst said this resulted in companies possibly supplying imported products when servicing tenders from state entities. However, she said it seemed that no one wanted to pay for the SABS to conduct these audits.
 
SABS CEO Boni Mehlomakulu hit back at industry and the department of trade and industry this week, saying she was fulfilling her mandate according to policy that was implemented in 2005.
 
She said the issues affecting industry were inherent in the policy, which emerged from the 2004 National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) report, titled Modernising the South African Technical Infrastructure.
 
Informed by a department of trade and industry position paper in part authored by Lionel October, who was then the department’s deputy director-general, Nedlac agreed that the SABS should split into a commercial testing and certification entity, and its statutory standards setting body should be funded by government.
 
Previously, the SABS was the only testing entity, and business wanted policy changed to allow private testing laboratories to be able to compete with the SABS.
 
She said that, to protect the SABS from litigation where products had failed on the market as only select components had been tested, partial testing – up until then a norm – had been stopped in 2015, which elicited an outcry from industry.
 
There were also expectations that the SABS maintain 32 laboratories established in the 1970s – which Davies has said would take R1.6 billion to upgrade – and conduct the full array of tests for all compulsory standards, contrary to its commercial mandate.
 
Mehlomakulu added that there were certain companies that required a test once a year, and the SABS was expected to maintain the facilities and retain the expertise to conduct those tests, yet it was still required to be profitable.
 
She said she felt the department was not supporting its own policy: “For me, what’s unfair is the fact that no one wants to own the policy position, no one wants to talk about it.”
 
When questioned about the SABS’ R44 million loss in the 2016/17 financial year, she said the department pulled R55 million from its budget at short notice, so the loss was budgeted for and the SABS’ commercial arm was having to fund its statutory entity.
 
Mehlomakulu said the backlog of expired permits had been dealt with and she had developed a corporate plan to approach private funders to raise the capital to upgrade infrastructure because previous requests to Treasury had been turned down.
 
Regarding the auditing of local content to comply with recommendations in the Industrial Policy Action Plan, she said government entities saw it as another auditor-general activity and complained that the SABS was too expensive, while on the verification of local content on Transnet’s 1 064 locomotive purchase, the SABS “was blocked, totally blocked”.
 
“They would rather give the work to a private company because there aren’t all of these rules for transparency, reporting and all of that.”
 
Asked whether she believed private companies were getting paid off to produce compliant audits, she said: “I’ve seen it.”
 
Source: News24
Inflation eased to 4.4% for May compared to 4.5% in April, despite the implementation of a VAT hike implemented in April.
 
This is according to Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), which on Wednesday released the consumer price index figures for May. The index increased 0.2% month-on-month.
 
The market consensus was for CPI to accelerate to 4.6%, and in a market update on Wednesday RMB economist Isaah Mhlanga had projected an increase to 4.8% having considered the VAT pass-through.
 
Mhlanga also expected the fuel price and weak rand to impact inflation. “The oil price and a weak rand have had a huge impact (on inflation), but the second-round effects will only be visible in the months to come and they are difficult to quantify and separate from the first-round effects,” said Mhlanga.
 
He expects the current account deficit data due on Thursday to be a “shock to the currency”, RMB projects it to be 5% of GDP.
 
By 10:23 the rand was trading 0.44% firmer from the previous close at R13.68/$. 
 
Contributors to May's inflation include food and non-alcoholic beverages which increased 3.4% year-on-year. Inflation for restaurants and hotels increased by 5% year-on-year.
 
Transport contributed to the month-on-month inflation, the index increased 1.2%.
 
In May the CPI for goods increased by 3.5% year-on-year, unchanged from April. The CPI for services increased by 5.3% year-on-year, also unchanged from April
 
South: Fin24

South Africa’s economy fell into a recession for the first time since 2009 after it contracted for a second straight quarter in the first three months of the year as all bar two industries shrank.

Gross domestic product receded an annualized 0.7 percent in the first quarter from a contraction of 0.3 percent in the previous three months, Statistics South Africa said in a report released on Tuesday in the capital, Pretoria. The median of 19 economists’ estimates in a Bloomberg survey was for 1 percent expansion. There was only one forecast for a contraction.

While rains are helping Africa’s most-industrialized economy recover from a 2015 drought that was the worst since records started more than a century earlier, political uncertainty has hampered implementing reforms aimed at boosting growth. President Jacob Zuma changed his cabinet and fired Pravin Gordhan as finance minister in March, a move that saw the nation lose its investment-grade status with two ratings companies for the first time in 17 years.

“There is a risk that these contractions are not over and we could see another negative coming out in the second quarter of this year,” Annabel Bishop, the chief economist at Investec Ltd., said by phone from Johannesburg.

Industry Performance

All industries except agriculture and mining contracted in the quarter, the statistics office said. The finance, real estate and business services industry shrank 1.2 percent, the first decline since at least the first quarter of 2013.

The rand lost 1.4 percent to 12.8920 per dollar by 12:22 p.m. Yields on rand-denominated government bonds due December 2026 rose 6 basis points to 8.49 percent, the first increase in five days. The six-member banks index extended declines after the release, dropping 1.7 percent in Johannesburg.

S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings Ltd. affirmed South Africa’s debt at the highest non-investment grade last week, with both companies saying policy uncertainty, political turmoil and slow economic growth pose a risk to fiscal consolidation. Moody’s Investors Service, which rates the nation at two levels above junk, has the nation on review for a downgrade.

“The rating agencies, even if they have already done their assessments, will no doubt be downgrading their GDP outlook off the basis of these numbers,” Gina Schoeman, an economist at Citigroup Inc. in Johannesburg, said by phone.

South Africa’s growth slowed to 0.3 percent last year, the lowest rate since 2009, after low commodity prices, the effects of the prior year’s drought and weak demand for locally made goods weighed on output. Unemployment rose to a 14-year high in the first quarter. The business confidence index remains near the lowest level in more than two decades.

“The first quarter ended with the cabinet reshuffle and the second quarter started with the credit-rating downgrades, so in terms of consumer and business sentiment I can’t see an improvement,” Christie Viljoen, an economist at KPMG LLP in Cape Town, said by phone. “I’m not excited about a big turnaround in the GDP numbers for the second quarter, there’s just no reason to believe that at this stage.”

The central bank on May 25 reduced its forecast for growth this year to 1 percent from 1.2 percent, and trimmed the outlook for 2018 to 1.5 percent from 1.7 percent because of the anticipated impact of the downgrades.

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