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Interactive influence of house prices and the repo rate on household debt in South Africa

Juniours Marire
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Juniours Marire: Department of Economics and Economic History, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa

Journal of Economic Analysis, 2024, vol. 3, issue 1, 58-78

Abstract: The recent interest rate policy decisions of the South African Reserve Bank have been criticized significantly by left-leaning political parties and civic society organisations for being anti-poor, anti-labour, and pro-capital because of their implications for household debt. Existing literature has established that interest rates and house prices are insignificant determinants of household debt dynamics in South Africa. Taking advantage of additional data for the period 2013-2022, and contrary to the previous studies, the paper maintains that house prices and the central bank policy rate play a crucial role in household debt dynamics. Applying a Markov Switching regression to quarterly data for the period 1981Q1 to 2022Q1, the paper finds that house prices and the policy rate have a significant influence on household debt dynamics. It establishes the existence of a ‘house price boom, low policy rate burden’ regime and a ‘high policy rate burden, low house price’ regime. The coexistence of the ‘house price boom’ and the ‘low policy rate’ explains the debt euphoria characterised by significant household leveraging.

Keywords: House prices; repo rate; household debt; Markov Switching; interactive effect (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2024
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