Investors are fleeing South Africa to regions where economic policy is more stable, according to fund managers speaking to Bloomberg.
Less than 24 hours after President Jacob Zuma fired finance minister Nhlanhla Nene and replaced him by the unknown ANC back-bencher, David van Rooyen, fund managers and analysts are spelling doom for South Africa’s economy.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Investec Asset Management fund manager Malcolm Charles described the situation as a “self-induced crisis”, in which investors are “voting with their feet” and taking money out of the country to other markets.
According to Charles, who oversees R7.3 billion in assets, investors are selling at a loss, and are not looking back.
Preparing for a crash and burn
The South African rand once again hit new lows against the US dollar on Thursday, briefly reaching over R16 against the greenback, before settling at approximately R15.80.
Making matters worse, ratings firm Standard & Poor’s has warned that any deviation from South Africa’s fiscal plan by the new minister would very likely result in the country’s credit rating being junked.
This would make the lending rate for South Africa significantly higher, while professional investors, such as hedge funds, pension funds and asset managers would be prevented (through their own policies) from investing in country.
S&P recently changed its outlook on the country from stable to negative, following a year of creeping economic growth which is expected to be even slower in 2016. Other firms, Fitch and Moody’s have the country at stable on the lowest investment grade.
According to analysts, investors are preparing for the country to enter junk status – which would cause even more investment capital to flee the country.
Economist, Cees Bruggemans painted a bleak future for South Africa under van Rooyen, saying that, on top of junk status, South Africans can expect higher inflation, raised taxes and an even weaker rand.
“The dam wall has given way. Stand back while the world sits in judgement,” the economist said.