Five reasons to be stoked on SA

Most of us know someone who has emigrated, or is about to emigrate. After several hard years for our nation, it can sometimes seem like the bad is overwhelming. And, the South African media often seem to talk about nothing except the next new ‘sure disaster’.

But it’s not all bad. There are some great things about being in South Africa right now! We’re not talking about the weather. Wherever you are, looking on the sunny side helps, whether you’re waiting for your green card or maybe sitting around the braai talking about the latest Moody’s rating.

Here, courtesy of Business Insider’s Helena Wasserman, are five reasons to be stoked you’re a ‘Saffer’:

1. Visitors are liking the vibe

South Africa relies heavily on tourism – which is why Statistics SA’s latest news was so great. After the bumper Easter travel season, Stats SA revealed the latest tourism figures ending after April. According to them, over 217 000 overseas tourists arrived in April this year – that’s a whopping 11.9% more than in April 2018. In terms of who our favourite visitors are, Europe still reigns supreme, with 25% more UK tourists and over 30% more Germans. Nations of good taste!

2. Exports are also excellent

If we’re dependent on people coming in, we’re almost as dependent on selling produce outside. According to Wasserman, who quotes the most recent Sars figures: “Exports jumped more than 8% to R112 billion” and “South Africa recorded a R1.74 billion trade surplus in May. This means we exported more than we imported.” This is huge, for a country with a bias towards foreign goods.

3. No rate cuts means easier spending

Two snippets of good news here: firstly, the South African Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee issued a substantial rate cut of 25 basis points last month. An interest rate cut effectively means it’s easier for us to spend and borrow from institutions – our rands aren’t more expensive than they were before but rather less. This makes it slightly easier for us to spend and support our local businesses, which indeed is what a rate cut is designed to encourage.

Then, on 18 August, at their next meeting, the tide seemed neap enough for interest rates to remain unchanged for the rest of the year. This means that not only is it effectively cheaper to buy and borrow than before but it is unlikely to increase all year.

4. Best of all? The economy is perking up

Yes, you read that right. A number of industries seem to be having a much happier and more productive season than many lately, with the numbers to match. According to Wasserman, “Manufacturing output increased by 4.6% in April 2019 compared with April 2018, with vehicle sector manufacturing up almost 19%. Wholesale trade sales rose by 5.5% in April 2019 (compared with April 2018) while retail trade sales rose 2.4%. Retail sales of clothing and footwear jumped more than 6%, and of household furniture, appliances and equipment by almost 5%.”

5. About those Moody’s ratings…

This will give you something to say to those naysayers around the braai. According to Wasserman, more and more fund managers are of the opinion that Moody’s won’t ‘junk’ SA after all. Last month, only a quarter of the international fund managers surveyed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch believed that we would not be kicked out of the index. This has now increased to 50% – this means that half of fund managers now expect us to keep our investment grade rating from Moody’s. On top of that, the survey also shows that for the first time in six months, managers see our bonds as ‘undervalued’,” she says.

So, perhaps South Africa is actually alive with possibility, after all? It just goes to show, sometimes it pays (financially) to look on the bright side.