17 January 2014

South Africa: Merrill Lynch On SA's Economic Future in 2014 - in Good Shape, Except Where It Isn't


On Thursday, in a briefing in Johannesburg, Merrill Lynch's chief economist offered his annual assessment of the South African economy for the coming year - a kind of rosy scenario with all the possible downside footnotes inserted as needed. At this briefing, J. BROOKS SPECTOR heard an interestingly sanguine view, except for some worrisome things left unsaid.

Similarly to various other organisations and experts in the country, Matthew Sharratt, chief economist of Merrill Lynch (now a subsidiary of the Bank of America following its near-demise as an international brokerage firm in the world's 2008 financial meltdown) provided his views this week about South Africa's economic prospects for the coming year. And as intriguing as it was for the sophisticated, detailed analysis he brought to bear on this topic - the things left out gave it something of the texture of an investment banker's version of "The Hound of the Baskervilles".

Readers may recall that the hound terrorising the area did noy bark proved to be the key to Sherlock Holmes' solution of that puzzling case. Similarly, some of the facts left out in Merrill Lynch's projections of the likely developments of 2014 may, in the long-term, may prove to be...

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