South African Markets Stable Through U.S. Debt Downgrade

South African markets are stable enough to function through the knock-on effects of the United States debt downgrade, the department of finance and the SA reserve bank (Sarb) said on Monday.

“Our financial system remains strong, with adequately capitalised financial institutions supported by a robust regulatory framework,” they said in a joint statement.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Sarb governor Gill Marcus discussed the possible impact of the US downgrade and the on-going sovereign debt concerns in Europe on South Africa’s financial stability on Monday.

They said that rating agencies had given South Africa an investment grade.

“Standard and Poor’s, in particular, affirmed South Africa’s sovereign rating and even revised the rating outlook from negative to stable,” they said.

“These ratings are a testimony to our sound management of the economy, and public finances and demonstrate confidence in our fiscal consolidation measures.”

UK analysts said on Friday that Standard & Poor’s downgrade of US’s debt rating from a AAA to AA+ was set to cause turmoil on global markets and potentially jeopardise Europe’s attempts to solve its own financial crisis.

The downgrade is the result of a US14 trillion debt owed by the federal government to the US public, businesses and foreign governments who bought US treasury bills, notes and bonds.

“South Africa will, as a member of G-20 remain in close contact with other member countries ready to take action to ensure stability and liquidity in financial markets.

“The National Treasury [of South Africa] and the Reserve Bank will continue to actively monitor the situation to mitigate any financial stability risks and any adverse short term and long term effects on the broader economy.”