Some South Africans still think that ratings agencies, tainted as they were by their failings in the lead-up to the global financial crisis a decade ago, shouldn’t be taken seriously. They also have ideological reasons for their aversion to the companies and respond with a not insignificant amount of disdain when others discuss government policies or economic performance with an eye on what the ratings companies’ response is likely to be.

Unfortunately, whether we like ratings agencies or not is irrelevant. The reality is that their pronouncements have an immediate effect on how bond investors perceive the country and how much they charge the government when it goes looking for funding. That matters for people countrywide. ..

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