Sat Oct 22 13:55:17 SAST 2016

It's crunch time

By unknown | Jun 12, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Marcia Klein

Marcia Klein

Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni will have the unpopular task of facing cash strapped South Africans to announce yet another rate hike today.

Of this South Africa's economists are certain. The only question is by how much.

This will be the 10th time Mboweni has increased rates since June 2006, and his preference has been for incremental increases of 50 basis points.

But economists are expecting him to hike the repo rate by a full percentage point to 12,5percent, which will see the prime interest rate go up to 16percent.

Share prices on the JSE have been under pressure in anticipation of another rate hike, and its effect on spending.

By midday yesterday, the all share index had dropped by nearly one percent and bank shares were under pressure.

Mboweni has been steadfast in his resolve to chase the three percent to six percent inflation target by raising interest rates, and while the rate hikes have not brought inflation down to anywhere near those levels, the effect of the hikes in tempering consumer spending and high debt levels has started to filter through.

Standard Bank said yesterday that inflation concerns were a global phenomenon and "the oil price is not playing a fair game".

Asked if there was a case to be made for leaving interest rates unchanged, Econometrix Treasury management managing director George Glynos said there always are, particularly from areas like labour and some sectors of business which would argue that interest rate hikes have not had the desired effect, but "at this stage, Reserve Bank priorities dictate that rates will go up".

Stanlib said the South African consumer had never been so indebted before, and that defaults on bad debts should continue to rise for the rest of the year.


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