The good news is that the market value of assets held abroad by South Africans as direct investments and in portfolios offshore (R5.65-trillion at 2017 year end) now closely matches the value of SA assets owned by foreigners. That our foreign assets are as valuable as our foreign liabilities is especially pleasing given that South Africans have had to give up so much of their patrimony over recent years to fund the excess of their spending over their incomes. Such financing opportunities provided by foreign savers have come with a cost to South Africans. It has meant giving up a share of the companies they own and incurring more debt to foreigners. Yet despite the extra debt SA taxpayers have incurred over the years since 2002 and the assets sold to foreign investors, (a cumulative R5.7-trillion between 2000 and 2017, according to the financial accounts) we appear no less (net) asset rich than we were. What is perhaps less pleasing is that South Africans still pay out far more in in...

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