Another week, another blow. This time by Fitch, who having downgraded us to BB+ last year has seen fit to remove that +, on the grounds that we don’t have a clear path towards resolving our debt position, particularly in the light of the current global crisis. Fitch expects that our consolidated fiscal deficit will hit 11.5% of GDP in 2020/21, 3 percentage points up from Moody’s prediction. The dear old ZAR promptly fled for the high ground, finishing last week at over 19 to the dollar, and economists are predicting GDP could shrink by -4.7% to -5.9% this year.
Comment: Frankly, we don’t know what to say. So we will leave you with some words of hard comfort from the formidable Gloria Serobe, co-founder of women’s investment group Wiphold, chair of the coronavirus Solidarity Fund, and then-finance director of Transnet, which dug itself out of a post-apartheid debt hole back in the mid-90’s, the last time we were rated junk. “The nice thing about a credit rating,” she says “is that it has a line. You just have to follow that line. You know exactly why you are in trouble.” And speaking of lines: “There is a line of technocrats behind government that must just do what is required to get us out of where we are.” Wrapping up: “It’s not a PR game. It’s just about doing what you have to do. Focusing on fixing what is wrong.”