A perfect storm occurs when everything goes wrong at once with the weather. Similarly, SA’s current economic malaise arises from an unusual collision of international and domestic policy uncertainties and economic trends. Effective responses have to deal with this complex situation. It won’t help to fall back on the more usual approach of blaming everything on domestic policy shortfalls, frequently with a view to justifying longstanding conventional policy demands.

In the first quarter of 2019, SA’s GDP fell 0.8%; investment 1.1%; and exports 2%. Employment dropped 1.4%, or 240,000 jobs. In contrast, from 2008-2018 the seasonal job loss in the first quarter averaged only 0.1%. Meanwhile, in the fourth quarter of 2018 — the most recent data available — SA lost R35bn in net portfolio outflows, marking only the second net outflow since the 2008 global financial crisis.

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