The downward phase of the South African business cycle has likely already lasted for 68 months, according to data contained in the latest BankservAfrica Economic Transaction Index for July.
The index report refers to this as a historic downward record and points out that it would make the next upswing slower to start.
At the same time, the latest BETI data seems to indicate that the SA economy is not in a recession but could rather be described as being stuck in a very low growth phase. The real value of underlying economic transactions in the domestic SA economy were stagnant between July and June.
"The July BETI indicates a low growth economy that is on a very slow road with hills and dongas every few months," states the BETI report.
"With unemployment at record levels and car sales still in a slump while the latest Absa Purchasing Managers' Index shows some growth, the BETI indicates the broad economy remains in the slow lane but at least not stuck in reverse."
In a broader context, the report points out that global economic data shows slower trade growth as a result of the trade war between the US and China, the two largest economies in the world.
The BETI measures monthly transactions paid into the South African National Payments System, managed by BankservAfrica.
The July BETI shows the number of transactions increased by 3.6% on a year-on-year basis with July 2019 having one extra working day more than July 2018. This typically adds at least 2% to the actual number of transactions as weekdays have far more transactions than weekends and public holidays. The average value of all transactions was R8 890, which was 4.7% higher than July 2018. This increased for the fifth consecutive month on a year-on-year basis and reached the highest average value per transaction in nominal terms in the history of the BETI.
One of the trends reflected in the July BETI was large growth in the use of real time clearing as payment form. Authenticated early debit orders also remain popular.