Economic Outlook November 2022

The next 12 to 18 months could prove to be a difficult period for the global and SA economy, with growth forecasts being downgraded. However, beyond 2023, an environment of lower global inflation and presumably also some relief on the interest rate front should see improved global growth. If, at the same time, the rollout of green-energy projects in SA picks up momentum, SA medium-term real GDP growth could double relative to the poor performance in the five years before COVID. This report details how the latest forecast balances the opposing forces that are set to impact the SA economy.

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After improving by 14 index points in 2022Q3, the FNB/BER Civil Confidence Index rose by a further 7 index points to record a level of 31 in 2022Q4. Underlying the improved mood was better activity that supported profitability. Furthermore, insufficient demand as a business constraint eased.

The seasonally adjusted Absa Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose firmly back into expansionary terrain in November. The index rose to 52.6 points, up from 50 in October and an average level of 49.6 recorded in the third quarter. On its own, this suggests that the manufacturing sector could book another slight expansion in the fourth quarter.

After dipping from 42 to 39 in the third quarter, the RMB/BER business confidence index (BCI) slipped to 38 in the final quarter of 2022. A rebound in building confidence made up for the first significant falls in wholesale and retail confidence since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. Escalating load-shedding could easily have dashed business confidence in the fourth quarter. The fact that the RMB/BER BCI essentially remained unchanged indicates the presence of some underlying resilience as well as countervailing forces at work.

The FNB/BER Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) recovered from -20 to -8 index points during the fourth quarter of 2022. Although the index remains in weak terrain relative to its long-term average, it has regained all the ground lost during the first half of 2022. The rebound in consumer sentiment shows an improved willingness to spend among consumers, but consumers’ ability to spend would also need to improve in order to translate into a significant increase in consumption.