The decline in both consumer and business confidence seems to have carried over from the first quarter into the second, as April numbers suggest that the strong increase earlier in the year (due to lower inflation) has faded.
However, compared to last year the BankservAfrica Economic Transaction Index (BETI) looks more stable and predictable, which is preferable to the volatile nature of the index in 2014.
The BETI is the broadest and closest indicator to reflect on the total economy, including services, with a relationship of close to 100% with actual economic GDP growth.
“The latest BETI shows that, despite power cuts and recent fuel price hikes, the overall South African economy is growing, albeit at a somewhat pedestrian pace,” explains Dr Caroline Belrose, Head of Fraud and Data Analytics at BankservAfrica.
At present the economy is still on course for about 2% growth for the year and the second quarter. The growth over the last year is 1.9% which is ever so slightly up from the 1.8% growth seen in March 2015.
Data from the last four months indicates that a greater number of transactions have taken place, but real growth inside the South African payment system remains slow. The year-on-year growth has been between 1.2% and 2.1% over the last five months.
“It is almost as if the growth in economic transactions remains range bound. This is why the BETI appears to stay the same, reflecting that, short of a major upheaval of some kind, the volume of economic transactions are just hovering around the same high as in the last few months,” says Mike Schüssler, Chief Economist at Economists dotcoza.
Monthly numbers remain somewhat volatile but the increase in April cancels out the decrease of the previous month.
After a disappointing decline for March in month-on-month growth, April reflects a positive growth rate, but at 0.3% this growth is still far from strong. The quarter-on-quarter growth is better at 1.8% but seems to be due to the strong February numbers, when inflation was low.
“The plain fact is that the South African economy is being held back by power outages and large fuel price increases. While the actual petrol and diesel prices are still well below last year’s levels the 14% increase in one month has certainly hampered confidence and spending power,” says Schüssler. “There is no clear shift in economic growth rates and, apart from February, the BETI indicates that growth remains lacklustre.
” While other figures released show a weakening manufacturing sector and fewer car sales, the BETI indicates that the economy as a whole is subdued rather than shrinking.
“The fact that there was positive growth in the first quarter means 2015 should fare better than 2014,” Schüssler added.
The actual numbers behind the BETI
The number of actual transactions declined by 1.2% but the average value of transactions increased 6.7% over the last year. The total nominal value change was 5.4%.
The standardised BETI was R689.6 billion while the number of transactions came to R82.8 million.
“The BETI does appear to indicate that, despite the three public holidays, April 2015 was just an ordinary holiday month showing that the value of transactions is still growing at a subdued pace,” concludes Belrose.
Contact Wendy Fourie for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org or 011 497 4119.
Notes to the Editor:
The BETI stands for the BankservAfrica Economic Transaction Index. BankservAfrica is a payment enabling organisation operating between the various South African banks with a very secure messaging environment in place. Economists dotcoza is an economic consultancy that helped develop the BETI.
The BETI is a very fast and broad overview of current economic trends over a broad range of sectors, making use of economic transactions as captured by BankservAfrica. Like the Swift Index, the BETI is considered a “now-cast” number as a result of its speedy ability to convey the overall economic conditions to the market. Where most economic indicators can take anything between 38 and 76 days to become public knowledge, now-cast indicators take less than a month after the facts were revealed to come to the market.
The BETI is also the broadest of the “now-cast” indicators to come to the market, as it covers economic transactions across the whole economy. Very big distortive economic transactions do not form part of the BETI. This is also on its own a trend-strengthening indicative factor.
BankservAfrica is a payment enabling organisation which sits between the various South African banks. The organisation has a very secure messaging environment in place.
Economists dotcoza is an economic consultancy that helped develop the BETI.