Since February 2006, the South African Rand is in freefal. This year, the currency has been constantly drifting downwards. I was in South Africa early December and I was stunned how cheap life in South Africa has become when you calculate back to Euros. A Big Mac Meal in Cape Town costs SAR 16,75 or 1,67 EU. Last year I would pay 2,5 EU for that same Big Mac Meal in Cape Town. According to this Big Mac index the Rand is seriously under valuated. And this is exactly the strange thing, the interest rate in South Africa is high, but still much lower than what it has been in the past; the growth rate is on track (4,8% GPD growth this year) and things are looking good for the ecoomy in 2008 (5,2% estimate for 2008). But still the rand falls.
While the Brazilian Real keeps scoring records; the slide of the South African Rand is continuing on a daily basis. Economists are clueless. They think the reason is a mix of more emotional factors: the Zuma factor, the politicians and their position with regards to AIDS, the situation in Zimbabwe. But none of these can justify the movement of the currency. The slide now has a momentum of its own. This is the time to enter the South African market or take a stake in a South African exporting business. The South African central bank is trying to dam panic and avoid inflation impacts by raising the interest rates -another reason to enter with money into South Africa-
My advice: wait until the SAR drops to 0,093 against the EU -very soon, a matter of weeks- and wire some money into South Africa and let it yield a healthy 11% on a Money Markets account until the currency takes up again by the end of 2008. Or better even: take a stake in a South African exporting business which is independent from importing machinery or raw materials.