While things are starting to look grim in Europe, the situation in South Africa also gets somewhat cloudy. Remax in South Africa predicts that 17% of the South Africans could loose their house this year. In the US the mortgage crisis currently affects 2 million households. With an average of 3,6 Americans per household, this makes 7,2 million Americans and on a population of 200 million represents (only) 3,6% of all Americans affected.
And for the next two quarters, South African should brace itself for even harder months ahead. The consumer price index excluding rates on mortgage bonds was hovering at 7,9% year on year in November instead of between 3 and 6% as targeted by the SA Reserve Bank. At the end of this month the Reserve Bank will determine whether to impose another interest rate hike. It has already raised the interest rate four times in the past two yearts because inflation is not coming down. If raised, the interbanking prime rate would go beyond 15% !
However, for a variety of reasons I see light in the South African tunnel. Consumer debt is slowing since the introduction of the National Credit Act and the economic output is projected to keep growing at figures between 4 and 5% and the bulk of emplyment would remain relatively secure. With regards to growth and job security (South) Africa is much more resistant to the impact of this crisis in the long run than Europe is. The key question in both continents is how middle class will keep it's buying power in the coming decennium.