The cyclical rebound that had been anticipated to lift growth has been limited by weak confidence. The release of the Mining Charter and the proposal by the public protector to change the Reserve Bank's mandate will weigh further on confidence. It is therefore not surprising that South Africa has failed to capitalise on the favourable global backdrop and has decoupled from the uptick in global growth. Poor GDP numbers released for the first quarter confirmed that South Africa has not emerged from the business-cycle downswing. According to the Reserve Bank, the current business-cycle downswing is already 43 months in progress. This makes it the second-longest one in South Africa's history, surpassed only by the 1989-93 downturn. For the RMB/BER business confidence index to have fallen in the way it has, so late in the current downturn, is concerning. During the 2009 recession, authorities could at least sharply ease fiscal policy and aggressively cut interest rates to counter the fal...

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