As the Number of SA Covid-19 Cases Rise, the Rand Sell-Off Continues

During the early trade on Monday, the rand sell-off continued, as it further weakened from the initial lows on Friday. 

The sell-off is mainly due to the pandemic of Covid-19 as well as that in a week two rating agencies have downgraded the country according to Bianca Botes, the executive director at Peregrine Treasury Solutions. 

After Fitch downgraded the country’s credit rating, the local unit on Friday surrendered 3% to the dollar, which caused it to an all time worst level and went above R19.

The downgrade for South Africa’s long term foreign currency debt went from BB+ to BB with a negative outlook. The reason being that there isn’t a well-defined path concerning government debt stabilisation as well as noting the impact that Covid-19 is having on growth. 

The South African Reserve Bank has said that it will be buying debt in the secondary market to boost liquidity. The central bank is now carrying the burden as the government lacks the fiscal space and resources to provide stimulus. However, even with these efforts, the central banks on there own will not be able to stimulate the regional economy out of a coronavirus crisis according to Bloomberg. 

It was noted that it could take up to three years for African economies to recover from the slowdown and the continent will need emergency stimulus of $100 billion including debt servicing waivers. 

Charlie Robertson, Renaissance Capital’s global chief economist has said that the governments probably feel they aren’t able to afford a larger fiscal response unless they are given the support they need from the G7. He went on to say that the virus is a global threat, so there are good, selfish reasons for the West to support African efforts to fund the suppression of the virus. 

According to Bloomberg Economics new global GDP tracker, the global economy is already contracting and is losing steam quicker than in the start of the financial crisis. 

The March tracker reading shows that the global economy contracted at an annualised rate of 0.5%, which is down from 0.1% in February and is down from the start of the year by 4.2%.

However, the March reading is probably not the worst of the downturn as lockdowns over March are set to stay in place in April. 

The rand at the start of Monday was trading dollar/rand at R19.28, pound/rand at R23.57 and euro/rand at R20.85.

Article Source: https://businesstech.co.za/news/business/387647/rand-sell-off-continues-as-sa-covid-19-numbers-rise/

In Case You Missed It – South Africa Delves Deeper into Junk by Fitch Downgrade

On Friday, the rand broke through R19 to the dollar and ended the week in a weaker position. 

On the 27thMarch, Moody’s downgraded the economy as the country entered into a 3-week lockdown. In the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic, global markets have plummeted. South Africa has been tarnished by consistently weak economic growth, policy uncertainty, high levels of unemployment and ongoing power outages that have been a constant economic drain over the last few years. 

Many economists and analysts say that Moody’s downgrade was long overdue, but it does mean that South Africa will be forced out of the Government Bond Index, which could lead foreign investment of R88 billion being erased from the economy. 

After the downgrade by Moody’s, Fitch who downgraded South Africa to junk in 2017 took the country down one level on Friday, 3rdApril. Fitch adjusted its assessment of the country from BB+ to BB with a negative outlook. 

Among the reasons for the further downgrade, Fitch noted the lack of clarity towards government debt stabilisation plus the impact of the coronavirus on public finances and growth.

South Africa’s finance ministry recognised the downgrade and said that to address the weak economic growth, structural reforms would be implemented. 

In a statement by Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, he said that the government holds the task of addressing and minimising the impact of Covid-19, setting government finances on a sustainable trajectory and to implement measures to improve economic growth. 

Due to the 21-day lockdown, Fitch expects the South African economy to contract by 3.8% in 2020. 

Article Source: https://businesstech.co.za/news/finance/387517/rand-ends-first-week-of-lockdown-over-r19-to-the-dollar-after-fitch-pushes-south-africa-deeper-into-junk/

When Should You Increase Your Life Cover? Here are Four Signs

With life insurance, you will not only need to determine how much is the right cover but also when it is time to increase the amount. The main reason you will need to you increase your amount of life cover is because your circumstances have changed. When this happens you will need to review your life insurance policy and make the necessary adjustments. 

Here are 4 signs you should increase your life insurance cover, to make sure that your loved ones will be provided for in the event of death. 

Your Family Has Grown

One of the main times you will need to increase your life insurance is when you have a child. With a new child comes a new sense of responsibility, new expenses and even new worries. You will need to think about the long-term future of your new addition and make sure that you will be able to provide for your child financially until they are an adult if you were to pass away prematurely. This means you will need to increase your life insurance policy and ensure your policy is adequate enough to provide for your child. 

You Have Received a Significant Increase

If your salary has had a significant increase due to a promotion or getting a new job then it might be time to increase your life insurance, especially if you haven’t evaluated your policy since you started your career. 

Life insurance is there to replace your income if you should die. With a significant increase in salary usually comes a higher living cost due to you changing your lifestyle. You then need to increase your life insurance cover so that your family can continue with their new lifestyle that they have been accustomed to.

Don’t Cut Life Insurance Because of Debt

When you are struggling with debt, you will usually need to cut costs so you can save money and pay more towards debt, but the one expense that you shouldn’t cut is life insurance and in fact, you should increase your amount of cover. If you cut your life insurance policy at this time and something happens then your family will be left with your debt burden, but if you increase the amount of coverage and something happens to you, then your family will have enough to cover all your outstanding debts. 

You Just Got Married

When you get married, you will have someone else in your life that can share the financial load and someone new to consider in terms of finances. If your spouse earns less than you or has stopped working, then they will rely on you financially. This means that you may need to increase the amount of life cover you have to ensure that your spouse can carry on living the same life if you were no longer around. 

When you are no longer here, it’s life insurance that will care for your family financially. You should review your policy every couple of years or when your circumstances change to make sure that you have adequate protection in place for your family.

April’s Petrol Price

Petrol prices have gone down and as published by the Department of Energy there will be a petrol price drop of R2 and a drop of R1.40 for diesel for April 2020. 

Petrol 95 will show a decrease of R1.88 for inland and R1.94 for coastal, petrol 93 will have a decrease inland of R1.76 and R1.82 for coastal, Diesel 0.05% will have a decrease of R1.34 inland and R1.40 for coastal, diesel 0.005% will have a decrease inland of R1.35 and R1.41 for coastal and illuminating paraffin will have a decrease of R1.84 for inland and coastal will have a decrease of R1.98. 

As the world is in turmoil due to the global coronavirus pandemic, a price war has broken out between Russia and Saudi Arabia, which led to crumbling oil prices. Brent crude prices have dropped to less than $25 per barrel. 

The price drop in petrol will greatly assist our essential services, which will be operating during the lockdown and will also aid Eskom who relies on diesel powered electricity generation during times of low supply. 

Local fuel prices are mainly affected by both the impact on the rand/dollar and resultant price of international petroleum products.

During the period of review, the rand depreciated against the US dollar and the average international product process decreased for diesel, petrol and illuminating paraffin.

During the period 28thFebruary 2020 to 26thMarch 2020, the rand/dollar was at R16.43, which led to a higher contribution to the basic fuel prices. 

In April, increased taxes will also be coming into effect. On the 26thFebruary during the Budget Speech by the minister of finance, it was announced that the fuel and Road Accident Fund levies on diesel and petrol will increase from the 1stApril. 

Also during the period, there was an increase in transport tariffs that factors into the inland costs of fuel.

Article Source: https://businesstech.co.za/news/energy/385665/here-is-the-official-petrol-price-for-april/

The Rand Pushes Past R18 to the Dollar amidst Junk Status

South Africa’s credit rating has been downgraded to junk by Moody’s, which added further pressure to the rand as Asian markets opened and pushed the rand to R18.03/dollar, which is a new low. 

However, early on Monday, some support came unexpectedly from China’s central bank who cut interest rates by 20 basis points, which helped the rand to recover some of its earlier losses. However, according to Bianca Botes, treasury partner at Peregrine Treasury Solutions the rand will feel more pain as global markets open. 

Botes said that the main contributing factors to the rating downgrade were poor structural economic growth prospects and deteriorating fiscal metrics.

The World Government Bond Index is set to be rebalanced at the end of April, which could then see a sell off of $11 billion. 

The timing of the downgrade couldn’t come at a worse time as South Africa and the rest of the world’s markets battle with the coronavirus pandemic. 

The government has recognised the decision by Moody’s to downgrade South Africa one notch below investment grade for their local currency and long term foreign debt ratings. 

The Covid-19 impact can be felt across numerous sectors of the economy, which includes the financial markets that experienced a significant sell off in bonds, equities and exchange rates as investors turned back to safe haven securities. 

Due to the depreciated currency, the cost of imported goods will be higher, which could then see a rise in inflation. This will then limit the reaction that the South African Reserve Bank can take against Covid-19, according to Sanisha Packirisamy, economist at Momentum Investments.

However, Packirisamy said that it’s not all bad news because the bulk of the South African equity markets earnings now come from global markets, which means that any extra near term rand weakness should have a positive effect on the South African equity market.

Article Source: https://businesstech.co.za/news/finance/385821/junk-status-sends-rand-past-r18-to-the-dollar-the-weakest-point-on-record/

South Africa to go into 21 Day Lockdown from Thursday

It has been announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa that from Thursday at midnight South Africa will enter into a 3-week lockdown to combat the spread of Covid-19. There will be severe restrictions on travel and movement which will be supported by the South African National Defence Force. 

Ramaphosa said that more needs to be done and staying home and avoiding social engagements and contact with others has shown to be the most effective way to avoid the spread of the virus. He went on to say that without decisive action the number of cases will increase and in a population like South Africa this is extremely dangerous. 

The number of infected people will rapidly increase from a few hundred to tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands in just a few weeks. 

The main measure that is to be put in place is a three-week lockdown that will take effect from Thursday 26thMarch at midnight to Thursday 16thApril. This means that:

  1. All South Africans will have to stay at home
  2. Those exempted are emergency personnel, health workers in both the public and private sectors, security services like soldiers and police, those that are part of the production and supply of basic goods and food and those who work in essential services. 
  3. South Africans will only be able to leave their homes in order to visit the pharmacy, buy food, seek medical care or to collect a social grant. 
  4. Shelters will be identified for homeless people. Quarantine areas will also be determined for those that cannot self isolate at home. 
  5. All business will close. Those to remain open include food stores, petrol stations, medical facilities, laboratories and pharmacies. 
  6. Essential transport services will continue.

Further details and plans will be published in due course. 

Those that are exempted from the lockdown are emergency personnel, health workers in both private and public sectors, those in security services like police, soldiers, traffic officers, military medical personnel and others that are needed in response to the pandemic. Also exempted are those that are involved in the production, distribution and supply of basic goods and food, essential banking services, telecommunications services, maintenance of power and water, laboratory services and the provision of hygiene and medical products. 

All shops and businesses will be closed apart from banks, pharmacies, laboratories, essential financial and payment services, which includes JSE, supermarkets, health care providers and petrol stations. 

The SANDF has been deployed to support government in the plan and screening and testing is to be ramped up to identify high risk areas. 

Other countries have taken similar measures including European countries when the spread has occurred at an exceptional rate, which has strained medical supplies and facilities. 

Support

The government has put measures in place to assist local businesses that will be negatively affected by the restrictions during the lockdown. 

Money will be spent to keep business alive as well as to save lives. Ramaphosa also noted that the Rupert and Oppenheimer families have each donated R1 billion to the cause. Ramaphosa has also called on large businesses to take care of their employees. 

The tourism sector has been hit hard due to the travel restrictions and R200 million will be made available to small and medium businesses in this sector. 

You can read the speech by Ramaphosa below:

https://www.gov.za/speeches/president-cyril-ramaphosa-escalation-measures-combat-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-23-mar

Article Source: https://businesstech.co.za/news/government/383927/ramaphosa-announces-21-day-coronavirus-lockdown-for-south-africa/

Covid-19 Debt Relief for SMEs from Standard Bank

On Sunday, 22ndMarch Standard Bank made a move and announced that they will be introducing a payment holiday for three months which will be extended to small businesses that have a turnover of less than R20 million and to full time students with a student loan. 

The scheme will start on the 1stApril and will end on the 30thJune 2020. Standard Bank will create new automatic payment terms that will help small business clients, so they can manage their cash flow better and more importantly pay their employees. Lungisa Fuzile, Standard Bank South Africa CEO explained the relief is done through the capitalising of interest and fees, which are usually paid to the bank and the repayment terms will be changed to a later date. 

Full time students that have a student loan with Standard Bank will also be given a payment holiday with 0% interest with zero fees. The payment holiday will be applied automatically by the bank to qualifying customers. 

Other customers will need to contact the bank to show their circumstances says Fuzile. 

Standard Bank will also be offering other forms of assistance including the option to defer payments for a certain period of time and customers will also be able to restructure and consolidate the overall debt. 

What Are Our Other Banks Doing?

Nedbank

On Sunday night, Nedbank stated that they will be supporting clients with individual solutions to cash flow challenges that they might be experiencing due to Covid-19, which will also extend to any loan agreements with Nedbank in good standing. 

The support could include extending existing loan periods, deferring payments for a suitable amount of time or extending additional credit to manage cash flow shortfalls. 

Clients will need to contact Nedbank to change or restructure payment arrangements. 

Absa

A spokesperson for Absa said that the bank will continue to evaluate the Covid-19 impact, which includes the economic impact on an ongoing basis.  They went on to say that it is too soon to speculate about the impact on defaults and that Absa is looking at various possible scenarios and related actions that might come into effect if their customers find themselves in financial difficulty.

First National Bank

FNB has said they have aligned with the view of the Banking Association of South Africa, (Basa) and at this stage do not have any further update. 

Basa said in a statement that they are speaking with banking regulators and competition authorities as a matter of urgency so that they can come to a conclusion as to how the banking industry will protect staff, customers and small businesses from the impact that Covid-19 will have socially and economically. 

Cas Coovadia, Basa Managing Director said that they are fully aware that the country is facing a crisis, which demands an urgent response, but they need to ensure any action taken is legal, fair, sustainable and effective for the duration of the pandemic and afterwards. Any steps to be taken will be detailed as soon as possible. 

TymeBank

Tauriq Keraan, CEO noted that the bank is not yet lending to students or businesses. However, he said that they will be keeping their GoalSave interest rates at existing levels despite the recent interest rate cut. Customers can then still earn up to 10% interest per year if they have money in GoalSave for longer than 90 days and if they give only 10 days’ notice. 

Article Source: https://www.moneyweb.co.za/news/companies-and-deals/standard-bank-provides-covid-19-debt-relief-for-smes-students/

As the Coronavirus Spreads the Rand Hits New Lows

The rand is trading at new lows as the coronavirus continues its spread across the US and Europe. 

Investors piled into haven assets as the greenbacks flew against emerging market currencies including the rand according to the Bloomberg. There is fear among investors that Covid-19 will push the economies into a freefall. 

As the market processes the implications of a continued economic downturn and job losses, the dollar is rallying on haven demand according to Christopher Wong a senior foreign exchange strategist from Malayan Banking Bhd. Currencies that are susceptible to capital outflows and currencies that were favourite carry trades will start to feel fresh selling pressure. 

Treasury partner at Peregrine Treasury Solutions, Bianca Botes has noted that the measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 have intensified, which will have a further knock on the global economy. Flights have been cancelled and lockdowns in a number of countries have intensified if an effort to stop the spread. 

There are still many questions looming over how the coronavirus will impact the economy, which in the fourth quarter slipped into a technical recession. 

On Friday, the country could be losing its last investment grade credit rating from Moody’s. If this happens then it could lead to heavy outflows, which will batter the rand even further. 

At the moment the rand is trading at new lows. The dollar/rand is trading at R17.75, the pound/rand is at R20.69 and the euro/rand is at R19.07.

Article Source: https://businesstech.co.za/news/banking/383863/rand-reaches-fresh-lows-as-coronavirus-continues-rapid-spread/

Don’t Have Kids…You Still Need Life Cover

If you have children that are dependent on you then you will already know that life insurance is essential, but if you don’t have kids, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need life insurance. There are several other reasons that you may need life cover. You should definitely have life insurance if anyone is depending on your income. 

Life Insurance is for Anyone You Support Financially, Not Just Kids

You may be under the impression that you only need life cover if you have children, however, there might be other people who rely on your income and without it, they would struggle financially. 

Those that rely on your income will benefit from you taking life insurance as it will provide them with financial security when you are no longer around. 

Here are the questions you should be asking yourself, so you can decide if you need life insurance even though you don’t have children. 

Do You Support Family Members Financially?

Are you offering financial assistance to anyone in your family? Like paying for family members that live with you, paying the rent for your parents, giving a loan to a relative or anything else. If you were no longer able to offer these family members financial help, would they be able to cope?

A life insurance policy will payout to these family members that you support, so they can get a financial boost and still be able to afford their lifestyle when you are no longer here. 

Are You Living or Married to Your Significant Other? Then You Need Life Cover

When living with a partner or married our finances usually become one. We might pay for different things or contribute in different ways, but we often share everything. 

If you were no longer around then your partner would only have one income to pay for everything that you were both paying for, so you need to ask yourself if they would be able to afford it. 

Losing your partner is tough and life insurance can’t replace the one you love, but life insurance will make things easier for the surviving partner and they will be able to carry on with their lifestyle and be supported financially even when you are no longer around.

Do You Have Debt?

You should take a look at your finances and determine your total amount of debt. Now think about what happens to your debt when you die. Well, your debt doesn’t disappear when you are no longer here, it still needs to be paid. This burden will often end in the laps of your family, but with a life insurance policy in place, the payout could be used to pay your debts, so that your family doesn’t have to. 

You Can Still Help, Even When You Are No Longer Here

There are probably a hundred different ways that you contribute to your family and friends and that is just a part of life and who you are. Your financial contribution no matter how big or small does make a difference to their lives and you can continue this when you pass on by having life insurance in place, so you can still help those that relied on you. 

Who Will Take Care of Your Family When You Are No Longer Here…Why You Must Choose a Beneficiary for Life Insurance

Life insurance is there to take care of your loved ones financially when you are no longer here. If you are the main breadwinner in your family, then you will need a life insurance policy. Naming a beneficiary is then important when you take a life policy, as this will be the person that will receive your life insurance benefit in the event of your death. 

If you have not named a beneficiary then the policy pays to estate, which includes all your property and debts. This can cause a couple of issues. Firstly, the money that is in your estate won’t be immediately available to your family and the legal process can take up to a year. The second issue is that once the insurance pays to your estate, any money that you owe can be claimed. 

Why You Should Name a Beneficiary

If you have named a beneficiary of your life insurance policy, then the payout will be made as soon as the claim is approved. Your family will then have immediate access to a lump sum. As the money is paid to your beneficiary and not your estate, creditors will not have any claim to it. 

Often naming who your beneficiary should be is straightforward as it is usually a spouse or an adult child. However, if you have younger children then you will need to rethink as a minor cannot be a beneficiary and they will need to have someone to manage the money on their behalf. 

This means that you will need to have a will that states who the guardian will be. You will need to choose someone responsible and trustworthy as well as someone that will carry out your wishes and take care of your children. You need to be honest with yourself and choose someone whether it be a family member or a friend, that will do the right thing when you are no longer here. 

What You Need to Know About Beneficiaries

With a life insurance policy, you can change the beneficiary at any time. Many people change beneficiaries when life circumstances change like if they get a divorce or if a child has reached adulthood. Review your policy often to make sure that you are still adequately insured as will as checking if your beneficiaries are still appropriate. 

If the beneficiary that you have chosen dies before you then you can call your insurance provider and name a new beneficiary. If the beneficiary dies at the same time as you, then the policy will payout to your estate. 

You can have multiple beneficiaries on your life insurance policy and you can stipulate the portion of benefit that each beneficiary will receive. 

It can be hard to think about these things and to discuss them with your loved ones, but it is necessary. You will need to have a will in place so you can be sure that your family is looked after once you are gone. 

Making these decisions now can give you and your family great peace of mind, so make sure that you have a life insurance policy in place and that you have named your beneficiaries.