The BankservAfrica Economic Transaction Index (BETI) for April 2020 recorded the biggest decline in its history across monthly, quarterly and annual levels.
“The annual rate of decline was 13.9% in April and on a quarterly basis, this was -15.2%,” says Shergeran Naidoo, Head of Stakeholder Engagement: BankservAfrica. “Between April and March, the BETI dropped by 12.3% – the biggest monthly decline on record.”
The BETI is the quickest and broadest monthly indicator of economic activity in the local South African economy. With data going back to January 2002, the BETI is an insightful tool that captures interbank electronic payment transactions under R5 million to provide almost immediate feedback on the economic performance of most sectors.
“The South African economy shrank at the fastest rate on record in April while March also recorded a significant decline. The latest data provides a clear and broad indication of an economic collapse due to the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent nationwide lockdown,” says Mike Schüssler, Chief Economist at economists.co.za.
The fall is also evident in the volume and value of transactions. “The annual actual volume of transactions fell by 16.4% in April,” says Naidoo. The standardised nominal value of transactions, recorded by the BETI, declined in nominal value to R709.2 billion.
“Consider for a moment that the actual real value of transactions in the BETI for April was at a level lower than at any time since February 2006. This means the actual value of transactions was the lowest in 14 years,” says Schüssler. “May numbers will likely be similar, which means the SA economy will have lost the advances it has made over the last 14 years.”
Parts of the economy will pick up again after the crisis is over and the BETI will reflect that. However, at present, the economy is doing the same real value of ‘turnover’ that it did 14 years ago. “The disappearing economic transactions in the crisis reflect the massive underlying economic damage the crisis has created,” says Schüssler.
This collapse is evident throughout all sectors of the economy as economic role players cannot transact with one another as they did before the crisis hit.