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The South African Financial Cycle and its Relation to Household Deleveraging

Adél Bosch and Steven F. Koch

South African Journal of Economics, 2020, vol. 88, issue 2, 145-173

Abstract: This paper considers the extent to which South African households have deleveraged, since the global financial crisis of 2007/2008. We extend the official South African Reserve Bank business cycle methodology to date financial cycles, from which we identify the peaks and troughs of the South African financial cycle going back to 1966. Our composite financial cycle index peaks in April 1974, January 1984 and May 2007; it has bottomed out in July 1979 and February 1999. Thus, we still await the trough. We further compare and contrast the deleveraging process in the current downward phase to the experiences from previous financial cycles. We find that the average period of the financial cycle in South Africa is much longer (approximately 17.3 years) than that of the business cycle (approximately 5.8 years), and that deleveraging has not yet matched the degree of deleveraging seen in previous downward phases. Our results suggest that further deleveraging is necessary, before we can expect to turn the financial corner.

Date: 2020
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