Economic focus

Kevin Lings

The economic updates below are compiled by Kevin Lings, STANLIB’s Chief Economist, as the economic news breaks. They include his analysis, commentary and trends in the economy. The list is in reverse chronological order.

Economic Focus Videos

  • South Africa’s growth outlook at the start of 2016
    Kevin Lings, Our Chief Economist, chats about how South Africa’s growth outlook at the start of 2016.
  • Will China rebalance in favour of the services sectors in 2016?
    Kevin Lings, our Chief Economist chats about what China needs to do to rebalance its economy in our latest Economic Focus video.
  • Budget Speech 2016
    Kevin Lings, our Chief Economist, gives a brief overview of the 2016 Budget Speech and what this means for you and for the economy as a whole.
  • Focusing on Consumer Spending
    Kevin Lings, Our Chief Economist explains the various factors that will cause pressure on consumers and what this means for the South African economy.
  • Focusing on South Africa Credit Rating
    Kevin Lings, STANLIB's Chief Economist will explain what this means for the South African economy and elaborates on the risk of a possible downgrade in the future.
  • Investment view: Brexit Explained
    Warren Buhai, Senior Portfolio Manager from the STANLIB Multi-Asset Team focuses on the implications of Brexit for our various investments and advises how STANLIB is positioned across our asset classes.


SA total new vehicle sales recorded a better than expected increase of 1.0%y/y in June 2017 with exports holding up well (posted 04/07/2017)
SA’s ABSA PMI declined in June 2017 to below the neutral 50 point mark (posted 04/07/2017)
SA recorded a welcome and relatively large trade surplus in September of R6.7 billion, helped by a sharp rise in exports and a significant decline in imports (posted 04/11/2016)
South Africa’s Barclays Purchasing Managers Index fell sharply by 2.6 index points to 45.9 index points - the lowest since January and well below the neutral 50-point mark (posted 04/11/2016)
SA lost 67 000 formal sector jobs in Q2 2016, according to Stats SA, but has gained 30 000 formal jobs over the past year. SA reporting of employment data needs to be a lot more rigorous (posted 12/10/2016)
SA current account deficit improved sharply in Q2 2016 to 3.1% of GDP, helped by an increase in export proceeds and a further decline in import volumes (posted 15/09/2016)
SA FNB/BER Building sector confidence regains some ground in Q3, but remains relatively low overall (posted 15/09/2016)
SA petrol price to decline by 18c/l in September. The decline is less than expected due to recent currency weakness that largely reflects renewed political turmoil (posted 05/09/2016)
SA recorded a further trade surplus in July 2016 of R5.2bn. SA trade account has improved meaningfully, on a trend basis, over the past year, but this largely reflects a slowdown in economic activity (posted 05/09/2016)
SA manufacturing better than expected in June 2016 (posted 12/08/2016)
SA unemployment rate remained exceptionally high at 26.6% in Q2 2016 (posted 02/08/2016)
SA petrol price to decline by a massive 99c/l in August, with a further large decrease possible in September. (posted 02/08/2016)
IMF talks about South Africa's economic challenges at the WBS (posted 21/07/2016)
SA consumer inflation increased to 6.3%y/y in June 2016, pushed higher by fuel and housing inflation. (posted 21/07/2016)
SA manufacturing production recorded another encouraging increase in May 2016 (posted 13/07/2016)
SA business confidence fell further in Q2 2016 (posted 08/06/2016)
SA consumer inflation eased to 6.2%y/y in April 2016, in-line with expectations (posted 18/05/2016)
SA consumer spending compared with other emerging economies (posted 13/05/2016)
SA manufacturing declined in Mar 2016, hurt by food, clothing, steel and furniture production (posted 13/05/2016)
Moody's confirmed SA's sovereign credit rating at Baa2 (posted 10/05/2016)
SA unemployment rate rose sharply in Q1 2016 to 26.7% (posted 10/05/2016)
SA Rand is now one of the best performing emerging market currencies in 2016 (posted 21/04/2016)
SA retail sales much better than expected in February 2016 (posted 18/04/2016)
SA consumer confidence suggests that consumer spending should slow meaningfully in 2016/2017 (posted 07/04/2016)
SA manufacturing production had a very poor start to 2016, declining much more than expected in January 2016 (posted 11/03/2016)
SA NERSA approves a 9.4% tarrif hike for ESKOM. This is well below the amounted by ESKOM, but still high relative to South Africa's inflation target (posted 02/03/2016)
SA GDP grew by only 0.6%q/q in the final quarter of 2015. Slightly below expectations, with the primary sectors firmly in recession especially agriculture. GDP still projected at 0.5% in 2016 (posted 02/03/2016)
SA national budget remains one of the most transparent in the world. South Africa ranked 3rd in the world during 2015, beating the US, UK, Germany and France (posted 29/02/2016)
South Africa's major cities are ranked as having the best "Quality of Living" within Sub-Saharan Africa, but are less impressive when ranked on a global basis. Durban scores highest in SA (posted 23/02/2016)
SA consumer inflation higher than expected in January 2016, now up at 6.2%y/y. Food inflation at 7%y/y, but inflationary pressures have also broadened (posted 18/02/2016)
SA retail sales declined in Dec, but the sector had a good Q4 2015. Retail sales achieved an ave growth rate of 3.3% in 2015, helped by relatively low inflation. This will change dramatically in 2016 (posted 18/02/2016)
SA first summer crop estimate for 2016 much better than expected (posted 01/02/2016)
SA wage growth estimated at 7.7% in 2015 compared with an average inflation rate of 4.6%. The growth in real household income during 2015 supported retail sales, but this is likely to reverse in 2016 (posted 28/01/2016)
SA retail sales much better than expected in November 2015, despite weak consumer confidence. (posted 25/01/2016)
SA manufacturing production declined further in November despite sustained Rand depreciation (posted 12/01/2016)
SA consumer inflation edged higher in November to 4.8%y/y (posted 09/12/2015)
SA retail sales much worse than expected in Sep 2015(posted 10/12/2015)
SA consumer inflation edged higher in November to 4.8%y/y (posted 09/12/2015)
Fitch decided to downgrade South Africa's credit rating to BBB-, one notch above "junk" (posted 07/12/2015)
SA credit growth remains modest by historical standards. Mortgage activity is reflecting a slight upward trend, but still growing at well below 10% (posted 03/12/2015)
SA retail sales much worse than expected in Sep 2015 (posted 19/11/2015)
SA new vehicle sales declined again in October 2015, including passenger car sales (posted 04/11/2015)
SA MTBPS reflected the impact of lower economic growth and rising social demands on government's budget. Fiscal projections have deteriorated noticeably in the past six months (22/10/2015)
SA crime statistics for the year reflect another rise in violent crime, especially murder, attempted murder, carjacking and robbery (30/09/2015)
SA current account deficit much better than expected in Q2 2015, at -3.1% of GDP (posted 15/09/2015)
SA credit growth remained modest in July 2015 (posted 31/08/2015)   
SA petrol price to decline by a massive 69c/l in September and could decline by a further 55c/l in October (posted 31/08/2015)   
South Africa is not as vulnerable as most emerging economies to an increase global risk aversion (posted 21/08/2015)  
SA manufacturing surprised somewhat on the upside in June 2015 (posted 12/08/2015) 
SA Rand has weakened substantially, but is not the worst performing emerging market currency (posted 04/08/2015) 
SA petrol price to decline by a very welcome 51c/l in the beginning of August (posted 03/08/2015)
SA recorded a trade surplus of R5.8 billion in June 2015 (posted 03/08/2015)   
SA Reserve Bank decided to increase interest rates 25bps (posted 24/07/2015)  
SA formal sector lost a further 44 000 jobs in Q1 2015 (posted 30/06/2015) 
SA private sector credit continued to grow at a moderate pace in May 2015 (posted 30/06/2015)  
SA petrol price to rise again in July 2015 (posted 29/06/2015) 
SA retail sales better than expected in April 2015 considering the sharp increase in the petrol price (posted 17/06/2015)
S&P decided to leave South Africa's credit rating unchanged BBB- (posted 15/06/2015)
SA foreign tourism arrivals continued to decline in early 2015 (posted 09/06/2015)
Fitch decided to leave South Africa's credit rating unchanged at BBB, with a negative outlook (posted 08/06/2015)



SA trade balance recorded another substantial surplus in May 2017 of R9.5bn (posted 04/07/2017)
Improving prospects for the Ghanaian economy (posted 04/07/2017)
STANLIB Interesting Chart #158: German business confidence at a record high in June (posted 04/07/2017)
SA vehicle sales recorded an increase of 3.7% y/y in January 2017, starting the year on an encouraging note (posted 20/02/2017)
STANLIB Interesting Chart #155: which countries are on the right track according to their own citizens and what are citizens concerned about? (posted 20/02/2017)
US added an encouraging 227 000 jobs in Jan 2017, but wage growth slowed (posted 20/02/2017)
SA unemployment rate eased to 26.5% in Q4 2016. Over the past year SA has created a total of 51 000 jobs, mostly in the agricultural sector (posted 20/02/2017)
SA consumer inflation down to 6.6% in Jan 2017. Inflation appears to have peaked in Dec 2016 and should slow further during 2017. Core inflation moderated meaningfully (posted 20/02/2017)
SA retail sales slowed sharply in December relative to the Black Friday boosted sales in November 2016 (posted 20/02/2017)
Nigeria inflation continue move upward as Naira loses value on black market (posted 20/02/2017)
Bank of Namibia keeps rates on hold even though inflation rates spike (posted 20/02/2017)
Central Bank of Kenya keeps rates on hold as inflation outlook remains benign (posted 29/11/2016)
Zimbabwe Bond Notes, is it a re-introduction of a new Zim currency? (posted 29/11/2016)
UK pound (Brexit) has underperformed the Mexican peso (Trump) year-to-date (posted 21/11/2016)
Nigeria inflation accelerates in October however we could be at a turning point (posted 21/11/2016)
STANLIB Interesting Chart #153: US government spending on infrastructure the lowest in 30 years. US infrastructure is graded as D+, versus a target grade of B (posted 21/11/2016)
Trump wins – But he is going to struggle to unite his party and the country (posted 09/11/2016)
US election: Trump vs Clinton some thoughts ahead of the vote tomorrow. (We will release a more detailed assessment of the winning candidates policies on Wednesday morning) (posted 08/11/2016)
US economy added a slightly disappointing 161 000 jobs in October, but previous 2 months data revised sharply higher and wage growth now up at 2.8%y/y (posted 08/11/2016)
Egypt devalues currency after a long wait; market responds positively to move (posted 08/11/2016)
UK high court has ruled that the government cannot trigger Article 50 without parliamentary approval (posted 04/11/2016)
US productivity growth rebounded strongly in Q3 2016, rising 3.1%q.q. Well ahead of expectations (posted 04/11/2016)
IMF and IIF Annual Meetings in Washington October 2016 - key themes discussed (posted 18/10/2016)
UK renewed concerns about the impact of Brexit, especially as the process and nature of exit is discussed more fully. These concerns are now showing up in key business surveys (posted 12/10/2016)
US created a somewhat disappointing 151 000 jobs in August. Unfortunately wage growth slowed and the intention to hire surveys have also softened. Rate outlook is uncertain again (posted 05/09/2016)
Nigeria's Inflation Rate Accelerates to 10-Year High And Will Continue On This Path in The Short Term (posted 05/09/2016)
Nigeria's Portfolio and Foreign Direct Investment Flows Fall of Sharply as Investors Sit on The Sidelines (posted 05/09/2016)
US Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen's speech at Jackson Hole attached. Yellen indicated that the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has strengthened in recent months (posted 29/08/2016)
Bank of Namibia keeps rates on hold even with deteriorating inflation outlook (posted 19/08/2016)
Bank of Botswana cuts rates to an all-time low (posted 19/08/2016)
Nigeria inflation highest in over ten years (posted 19/07/2016)
The US has reduced its annual defence budget by almost 20% since the peak in 2011 (posted 12/07/2016)
US added a surprise 287 000 jobs in June, well ahead of expectations (posted 12/07/2016)
STANLIB Interesting Chart #148: US labour market tightness is at a cyclical high (posted 23/05/2016)
Nigeria contracts in the first quarter of 2016 and faces possibility of recession (posted 23/05/2016)
Nigeria removes fuel subsidies and increases caps (posted 13/05/2016)
IMF revised down their world growth outlook for 2016 and 2017 (posted 19/04/2016)
SA manufacturing production had a very poor start to 2016, declining much more than expected in January 2016 (posted 18/04/2016)
Euro-area unemployment rate down at 10.3% in February 2016 (posted 05/04/2016)
Nigeria GDP growth slows even further as forex liquidity constraints take toll on economy (posted 11/03/2016)
ECB announced a further package of policy measures to try and avoid deflation (posted 11/03/2016)
US employment rose by a massive 242 000 in Feb 2016, well ahead of expectations. US employment is now 5 million above the previous peak (posted 08/03/2016)
Globally the average sovereign credit rating has fallen by one notch since 2008. A decline by SA to below investment grade would, however, make us one of the worst performing countries in terms of credit ratings (posted 07/03/2016)
US consumer inflation rising quicker than the market expected, especially core PCE inflation. US inflation will push higher once the high oil inflation base dissipates (posted 07/03/2016)
Kenya inflation surprises to the downside, pressures for tight monetary policy wear off (posted 02/03/2016)
SA manufacturing production better than expected in December, but the sector remains under pressure. For 2015 as a whole manufacturing grew by -0.03%, worst annual performance since 2009 (posted 12/02/2016) 
US industrial production is in decline, hurt by a range of factors. Could the weakness in US manufacturing push-back into other sectors of the economy (posted 12/02/2016) 
US GDP grew by only 0.7%q/q in the final quarter of 2015. Slightly below expectations, hurt by a decline in net exports as well as further drop in inventories (posted 02/02/2016) 
US leading indicator slowed further in December, while the Chicago Fed Activity Index remaines negative. US economy losing some momentum, but not reflecting recession conditions (posted 25/01/2016) 
US economy added a further 292 000 jobs in December, well above expectations. Unemployment rate steady at 5%, but wage growth remains disappointing (posted 12/01/2016) 
S&P decided to revise down South Africa's credit rating outlook from stable to negative. This is an extreme concern given the damage a full ratings downgrade would inflict on the country (posted 08/12/2015) 
IMF's Special Drawing Rights (SDR) have been expanded to include the Chinese Renminbi (posted 01/12/2015) 
Central Bank of Nigeria surprises market with substantial 200bps cut in interest rates (posted 26/11/2015) 
Euro-area GDP grew by a slightly disappointing 0.3%q/q in Q3 2015 (posted 16/11/2015) 
Japan back into recession with a GDP decline of -0.8%q/q in Q3 2015 (posted 16/11/2015)
Euro-area GDP grew by a slightly disappointing 0.3%q/q in Q3 2015 (posted 13/11/2015) 
Brazil business confidence at its lowest level since the data series started in 1995. Economic malaise continues to worsen (posted 22/10/2015) 
IMF and IIF meetings: general feedback and the concern about about corporate leverage in emerging markets (posted 12/10/2015)
IIF and IMF meetings: updated outlook for US interest rates (posted 12/10/2015) 
IMF revised down their world growth forecast, yet again (posted 07/10/2015)
Central Bank of Nigeria keeps rates unchanged, but is concerned about the growth outlook of the economy (posted 23/09/2015) 
US analysts expect the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates next week, although the Federal Funds Futures is priced for a hike in December (posted 11/09/2015) 
China currency devaluation is modest (posted 18/08/2015) 
Nigeria Inflation Rate Stays Above Target (posted 14/08/2015)
US employment rose by a solid 215 000 jobs in July 2015 (posted 12/08/2015)  
US GDP grew by 2.3%q/q in the second quarter of 2015 (posted 03/08/2015)  
US employment compensation costs rose by a mere 0.2%q/q in Q2 2015 (posted 03/08/2015) 
US Federal Reserve Chair Yellen explicitly stated that she expects the first US rate hike to occur later this year (posted 13/07/2015) 
IMF revised down world growth again for 2015 (posted 10/07/2015)
Kenya surprises market with significant hike in rates (posted 09/07/2105) 
Greece opinion polls suggest the majority of the population want a deal that ensures they stay in the Euro (posted 30/06/2105) 
US Federal Reserve kept interest rates on-hold as expected (posted 18/06/2105)
Global bond markets have adjusted sharply in response to the recent economic and inflation related data (posted 12/06/2015)
US created a very impressive 280 000 jobs in May well above expectations (posted 08/06/2015)
US index on policy-related economic uncertainty is almost exactly in-line with its long-term average (posted 08/06/2015)
Japan GDP growth better than expected in Q1 2015 (posted 20/05/2015)  
US housing starts surged by more than 20% in April 2015 (posted 20/05/2015)  
US added a solid 223 000 jobs in April 2015 (posted 11/05/2015)
US headline consumer inflation remained in deflation during March 2015 (posted 20/04/2015)   
US Federal Funds Futures now pricing-in a rate hike in only 2016 (posted 17/04/2015)   
Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of opposition party APC wins elections (posted 01/04/2015)  
US added a very impressive 295 000 jobs in February 2015 (posted 09/03/2015) 
Emerging market currency movements are slowly reflecting economic fundamental and not simply a search for yield (posted 06/03/2015)
China cut interest rates by a further 25bps on Saturday (posted 02/03/2015)



SA trade balance recorded a relatively modest deficit of -R2.5bn in April 2015 (posted 29/05/2015) 
SA private sector credit grew by a slightly more robust 9.3%y/y in April 2015 (posted 29/05/2015)
SA GDP grew by only 1.3%q/q in Q1 2015, below expectations (posted 26/05/2015)
SA leading indicator declined further in March 2015 (posted 26/05/2015) 
SA Reserve Bank decided to leave the Repo rate unchanged at 5.75% (posted 22/05/2015)  
SA retail sales declined in March 2015 (posted 20/05/2015)  
SA consumer inflation increased to 4.5%y/y in April 2015 (posted 20/05/2015)  
SA credit rating agency, Moody's Investor Service, has indicated that they don't expect to adjust SA's credit rating over the next 12 to 18 months (posted 20/05/2015)  
SA manufacturing surprised strongly to the upside in March 2015, but is expected to have weakened in April (posted 12/05/2015) 
SA consumer confidence weakened sharply in the beginning of 2015 (posted 05/05/2015) 
SA new vehicle sales declined further in April 2015 (posted 05/05/2015)
SA petrol price remains unchanged in May 2015 (posted 05/05/2015)
SA Kagiso PMI manufacturing index fell sharply to 45.4 in April 2015 (posted 05/05/2015)
SA retail sales much better than expected in February 2015 (posted 16/04/2015) 
SA manufacturing production improved somewhat in February 2015 (posted 14/04/2015)
SA petrol price to rise by a massive R1.62/l in April (posted 30/03/2015)  
SA Reserve Bank kept rates unchanged as expected (posted 27/03/2015) 
SA formal sector employment declined by 20 000 jobs over the past year (posted 24/03/2015)
SA consumer inflation fell to 3.9%y/y in February 2015 (posted 18/03/2015) 
SA manufacturing had a shocking start to 2015 (posted 02/03/2015)  
SA Kagiso PMI manufacturing index decreased significantly in February (posted 02/03/2015) 
SA petrol price to increase by 96c/l on Wednesday (posted 02/03/2015)
SA private sector credit grew by a robust 1.9%m/m in January 2015 (posted 02/03/2015)
SA recorded a record trade deficit of -R24.2 billion in January 2015 (posted 02/03/2015)
Eurogroup Finance Ministers agreed to extent the bailout funds to Greece (posted 23/02/2015)  
Nigeria scraps RDAS forex window (posted 19/02/2015) 
Surprise 100 basis point cut by Bank of Botswana (posted 19/02/2015)
SA retail sales grew by a slightly more encouraging 3.4%y/y in December 2014 (posted 19/02/2015)  
SA consumer inflation down at 4.4%y/y in January 2015 (posted 18/02/2015)  
Weaker Currency Beginning to Impact Nigeria Inflation (posted 17/02/2015)   
SA petrol price could rise by R1.00 per litre in March (posted 17/02/2015)  
SA unemployment rate eased to 24.3% in the final quarter of 2014 (posted 10/02/2015) 
SA update on tax revenue collection to end December 2014 (posted 06/02/2015)  
SA Kagiso PMI manufacturing index rose by 4 index points (posted 02/02/2015)  
SA credit growth slowed noticeably in December 2014 (posted 02/02/2015) 
SA recorded a welcome trade surplus in December 2014 (posted 02/02/2015)
Greece: quick update following the Eurogroup meeting on 11 February (posted 02/02/2015)  
US GDP grew by a relatively modest 2.6%q/q in the final quarter of 2014 (posted 02/02/2015) 
SA petrol price to fall by a further 93c/l on Wednesday, 4 February (posted 01/02/2015)
SA Reserve Bank decided to leave interest rates unchanged (posted 30/01/2015)
SA consumer down at 5.3%y/y in December 2014 (posted 22/01/2015)   
India central bank cut rates by 25bps to 7.75% yesterday (posted 16/01/2015)
Swiss National Bank removed their currency cap yesterday (posted 16/01/2015)
Central Bank of Kenya keeps rates on hold as disinflation continues (posted 16/01/2015)
Eskom unplanned loss of generating capacity (posted 15/01/2015)  
SA retail sales better than expected in November 2014 (posted 15/01/2015)
Euro-area inflation now negative at -0.2%y/y (posted 14/01/2015)
SA Kagiso PMI manufacturing index declined (posted 14/01/2015)
SA growth and inflation should benefit meaningfully in 2015 (posted 13/01/2015)
Decline in SA manufacturing production (posted 12/01/2015) 
Petrol declines in January 2015 (posted 12/01/2015)
US increase in employment since 2010 has overwhelmingly favoured older people (posted 27/01/2015)
European Central Bank announced an outright QE programme of €60 billion a month (posted 23/01/2015) 
Central Bank of Nigeria keeps rates on hold (posted 22/01/2015) 
IMF revised down world growth significantly for 2015 and 2016 (posted 20/01/2015)


Interesting Charts

STANLIB Interesting Chart #143: US home ownership has fallen to its lowest level in 50 years. Instead, households have substantially increased their demand for rental properties (posted 04/11/2015)
STANLIB Interesting Chart #140: US employment by age continues to reflect an under-utilisation of middle-aged workers (posted 12/08/2015) 
STANLIB Interesting Chart #139: US commercial property prices are at a record high (posted 12/08/2015) 
STANLIB Interesting Chart #138: World debt at a record high relative to the size of the world economy. Can the world afford higher rates? (posted 02/07/2015) 
STANLIB Interesting Chart #137: SA equity market capitalisation is at a record high relative to GDP (posted 03/06/2015) 
STANLIB Interesting Chart #136: US number of oil and gas rigs engaged in exploration and production has declined by a massive 51% since the end of last year (posted 15/05/2015) 
STANLIB Interesting Chart #135: US full-time employment still 850 000 below the previous peak (posted 15/04/2015) 
STANLIB Interesting Chart #134: The highest 10% of income earners in SA pay almost 87% of all income tax (posted 02/03/2015) 
STANLIB Interesting Chart #133: World trade has been relatively weak in years since the global-financial-crisis (posted 15/01/2015) 
STANLIB Interesting Chart #132: Emerging market currencies (posted 14/01/2015) 
STANLIB Interesting Chart #131: US Federal Reserve balance sheet (posted 05/12/2014)
STANLIB Interesting Chart #130: US interest rates are still expected to increase (posted 04/12/2014)
STANLIB Interesting Chart #129: US number of people quitting their job has risen (posted 18/11/2014)
STANLIB Interesting Chart #128: US businesses intend raising wages over the coming months (posted 17/10/2014)
STANLIB Interesting Chart #127: IIF survey of key global concerns and risks over next 18 months (posted 13/10/2014)
STANLIB Interesting Chart #126: GDP growth amongst the BRICS has slowed appreciably (posted 17/09/2014)
STANLIB Interesting Chart #125: United States job openings (20/08/2014)
STANLIB Interesting Chart #124: South African tourism receipts have well out-performed the weakness of the Rand and are at a record high (17/07/2014)
STANLIB Interesting Chart #123: SA private sector vs public sector (10/07/2014)