Ratings agency S&P Global this week published a report titled Crossing the investment-grade divide: what makes sovereign rising stars and fallen angels move? The report is a systemic assessment of countries whose credit ratings have been downgraded to junk status, referred to as fallen angels, and those that recovered to investment grade, known as rising stars. Since 1991 S&P Global has sent 24 countries to junk status - only eight managed to recover - while 26 became rising stars. Fourteen have become junk at least twice in the 26 years; South Africa is one of them. South Africa was in junk status in 1994 and became a rising star in 2000 until April this year, when it scored own goals in the cabinet reshuffle to move it back to junk status. In those 17 years the country managed to keep a lid on its budget deficit, averaged 5% economic growth (albeit jobless growth) and kept the wage bill low. Between 1994 and 2005 South Africa received the highest rating from S&P through a series o...

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