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The South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) kept interest rates steady at 3.5% at the scheduled September 2020 interest rate-setting meeting despite downwardly revised growth and inflation views. This decision tied in with the view of 15 out of the 25 analysts surveyed by Reuters, while we were one of the ten favouring a 25-basis point cut.
The idea of American Exceptionalism has been a favourite rhetorical device of US presidents since the days of John F. Kennedy. It goes beyond conveying the sense that the country is richer and more powerful than other countries, but also that its unique culture and historical path render its destiny superior.
Following the South African Reserve Bank’s (SARB) decision to cut its lending rate by 0.25%, we will be reducing our prime lending rate to 7% from 7.25% with effect from Friday 24 July. The recent FNB/BER Consumer Confidence Index revealed an alarming but understandable slump in confidence, which has not been seen since 1985.
A sharp fall in the rate of consumer price inflation has defanged what was initially paraded as 'aggressive' monetary policy action intended to stimulate the floundering economy. Given a muted inflation outlook, and the depressed economic setting, the question is not if the South Africa’s Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) will cut interest rates this week, but rather by how much?
South African investors are still absorbing the twin blows of being downgraded by Moody’s into junk territory and, just four days later, the expected Fitch decision to take the South African sovereign debt rating down a further notch into junk territory.
The Covid-19 crisis has brought much of the world economy to a sudden stop. Millions upon millions of people are in lockdown across the world, preventing them from working, buying, producing and selling goods and services. Global and local supply chains are interrupted, and small and large companies see a collapse in income. Households are under similar pressure.
Recent weeks have seen the local market hit by a triple whammy. Both local and global markets have crashed as the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic begins to be felt resulting in a market sell-off; a rapid decline in oil prices has created a global supply shock. In addition to that, ratings agency Moody’s downgraded South Africa’s credit rating to junk or sub-investment grade.
Investors’ appetite across the globe for exchange-traded funds (ETFs) was strong in 2019 and shows little sign of slowing. I share some of the themes and trends that I see ahead in 2020. The tailwind for ETFs going into not only a new year but a new decade couldn’t be stronger. Last year, global ETF assets under management (AUM) surpassed US$6 trillion, and in Europe we broke US$1 trillion in AUM.1
Despite various geopolitical and economic challenges at the beginning of 2019, markets managed to deliver very strong returns for the year. And investors will be relieved to see that equity markets look set to start 2020 on a slightly better footing, as many of these uncertainties have been addressed to some extent over 2019.
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