Just as it did this week, Stats SA shocked the market in June 2017 with the news that the economy was in recession. A year later, that recession disappeared thanks to a routine revision that showed one of the two negative quarters had in fact been a slight positive. This time, we will not be so lucky. This recession is much deeper, with contractions of 2.6% in the first quarter of this year and 0.7% in the second quarter. The first-quarter numbers have already been revised, for the worse. And the world is much more unfriendly to emerging markets such as SA now than it was then. The R-word could hardly have come at a worse time, and the danger is that it feeds into a vicious cycle in which investors shun SA even more than they have already, putting more pressure on the rand, raising the spectre of interest rate hikes, and further undermining SA's growth prospects and its public finances. The only silver lining, as Reserve Bank deputy governor Kuben Naidoo argued when he addressed San...

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