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Brian Kantor: Not so Moody after all – simply don’t fall into recession

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By Brian Kantor*

Moody’s Investors Service showed its softer side when confirming SA’s investment grade credit rating. The rating agency made it clear that to maintain this grade, SA would need to increase its GDP – that is, simply not fall into recession. A mere 0.5% increase in 2016 would meet Moody’s modest expectation, followed by 1.5% in 2017.

Growth, as Moody points out, not only makes government debt easier to manage. It helps the banks and the households meet their obligations and will also encourage firms to invest more in additional capacity.

To quote the preamble to the report:

“The confirmation of South Africa’s ratings reflects Moody’s view that the country is likely approaching a turning point after several years of falling growth; that the 2016/17 budget and medium term fiscal plan will likely stabilize and eventually reduce the general government debt metrics; and that recent political developments, while disruptive, testify to the underlying strength of South Africa’s institutions.

“The negative outlook speaks to the implementation risks associated with the structural and legislative reforms that the government, business and labor recently agreed in order to restore confidence and encourage private sector investment, upon which Moody’s expectations for growth and fiscal consolidation in coming years — and hence the Baa2 rating — rely.”

Read also: Lessons from Brazil? Kickstart economy, fighting off recession could save Zuma

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