South Africa: Business Confidence Is in (Extremely) Short Supply


Misery, it is often said, is a communicable disease. And so it is turning out for business confidence. Depression is feeding on itself, and that showed up on Wednesday 11 September in not one but two business confidence indices, which show pessimism is now at levels not seen in decades.

"It would appear," Rand Merchant Bank and Stellenbosch University's Bureau for Economic Research noted, ever so softly, that "more and more business people participating in the BER's survey are simply giving up hope." And this was the less depressing of the two indices.

The BER's business confidence index (BCI) dropped to 21 index points in the third quarter from 28 in the previous quarter, data released on Wednesday 11 September showed.

This is the lowest level since the 1998-1999 emerging-market debt crisis and comes after expectations that the level would remain unchanged at 28 points. Four out of the five sectors that make up the BCI deteriorated in the third quarter, with the one sector that was holding up, wholesale trade, joining the others on a downward trend. The only upward movement came from motor car retailers.

The SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) BCI fell to 89.1 index...

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